Today is December 31st. It is mere minutes before the end of 2012 and the Apocalypse never came. Today is the day when people celebrate the end of old chapters, and welcome new beginnings. Today is the day when I would have held my newborn child for the first time, when I would have welcomed the beginning of a new life – his, and mine. Today was my due date.
I spent the day today breathing in the sweet smelling breath of a tiny infant, rocking him to sleep in my arms, rubbing his tummy when his colic made him cry, changing his diaper and cleaning his spit-up off myself with nary a cringe, and listening to the raspy sound of every breath he took into his somewhat congested lungs once he finally fell asleep laying tummy-down with his cheek against my chest.
(*Cue Twilight Zone music*) No, I did not miraculously manifest the reality that I longed for eight months ago, nor did I step over into a parallel universe. (*End music with screech of needle being pulled off record*) I am visiting my brother for the holidays, and while I’m here, I’ve been helping to take care of his three children, including one brand-spanking-new baby boy. I have no words to describe how … odd it feels. I feel like I am living, dazed and a bit numb, in a reality that might have been. Once the baby was asleep, instead of putting him down in his crib, I carried him into the bathroom and stared at the image before me in the mirror: there I was, 9 months after the day I got pregnant, with an infant in my arms. I noticed how he snuggled into the soft, warm curves of my chest, how my body was built to comfort this tiny little creature. I noticed my arms and my hands, how sure they were of how to hold this delicate being. I noticed, when I put my cheek against his, that we shared the same skin tone, that this child was of my flesh and blood.
And I wondered, achingly, what my life would have been like today if I had chosen that other path. What it would feel like if this warm little bundle in my arms was my own child.
I doubt that the memory of my brief pregnancy and its termination will ever be something that I will be able to revisit with the kind of breezy nonchalance that I envy some other women for possessing. But, perhaps, the weightiness of this memory will give new meaning to this date on the calendar, this randomly chosen point in time that I have always found too arbitrary to take as seriously as most people do (I mean, come on! Just because a bunch of Catholics decreed it so, people now celebrate this random point in time – time, which in itself may be random, may not even be a measurable entity nor a dimension of its own – and they crowd into the streets in below-freezing weather to watch a 6-tonne ball creep slowly down a pole? I mean, if you’re going to celebrate a complete revolution around the sun, you could choose a better day to mark the beginning, like a solstice or something, ya know?).
But I digress. For me, from this point onward, December 31st might always be the day of what-may-have-been. And so, as the clock signals the end of this day, I now make a resolution. I now remind myself why I chose the path that I did. And I now remind myself of the huge sacrifice I made to be on the path that I am on today. And I resolve not to let that sacrifice be one made in vain. I resolve to do everything I can to be the kind of person that I want to be, to accomplish all that I want to accomplish, so that I can be someone who – if she is ever given the chance again – will be exactly the kind of person who can and should procreate. And also, to be someone who, if never given that chance again, will still be happy on the path she chose for herself.