The next morning was my doctor's appointment. This aggravated me. It was hard having to wake up Ethan to drop him at my mother's house and then get myself to the perinatologist for my routine monitoring. I had preeclampsia with Ethan and so as a precaution, my doctor ordered me weekly routine ultrasounds from my second trimester onward. I had two more to pass before they could ease up on me and let me finish out my last weeks of pregnancy like a normal person. The ultrasound technician was quiet and thorough. This aggravated me, too. I was hungry and I just wanted to pick up Ethan because we had plans later that afternoon with a friend. I was worried my mother was feeding him sugary breakfast cereals and chocolate milk and the entirety of our day would crash to pieces. The technician finished and then I was dressing, wiping the globs of goo from my belly. And then a doctor walked in. Not my doctor, but a different one who had seen my scans in passing. "Can you just lay down for one more minute?" She had a gentle face, a nice face, but I knew. "Is it her heart?" I screamed this into the darkness and I'm not even sure what prompted me to think it.
Five minutes later, my world would come crashing down on me as I sat alone in a doctor's office. The cardiologist referral came next, I'm sure of it, but I don't remember much else except for the world ending. I'm still not sure how it all resumed.
I still believe, after all that I went through, that diagnosis day was harder than birth. Medical professionals spoke of my beloved daughter in the past tense, with I'm so sorry remarks and hand squeezes as her little feet kicked at my insides. Soon, her movements would slow. Eventually, they would stop. In just a couple of weeks, I would be giving birth to my daughter who never even got to take a breath. But diagnosis day will always haunt me the most, even more than choosing her urn while she wiggled inside of my body.
The day after Mother's Day was a rebirth. Well, it was more like a descent. A descent into a hell that I could not climb out of but Ethan needed me to and so I tried until my fingernails were worn down to the quick and every muscle in my body ached.
Two years later and this Day After is being spent just like this, right now, and I am unable to form the words. In a few short weeks, I should be celebrating my eldest daughter's 2nd birthday but she will not be turning 2. I am hanging onto this little one for balance. As I stare down at this sweet face, I know that this will be the Day After were the ascension begins. There is renewal in her life, her existence. She has given us so much of ourselves back.
I think her big sister would have loved her just as much as we all do.