June is my least favourite month and not because it’s the start of winter, although I don’t like the dark, dreary mornings either. (Having been brought up in Zululand, for me cold is anything below 20 degrees!) Both my parents passed away in June, 17 years and 18 days apart, so it’s a very sad time. Every year, during this month, I can’t seem to shake the feeling of impending doom. It’s like I wait for something bad to happen and it’s a terrible way to live. Some people are superstitious about Friday the 13th – for me it’s June. It’s the only month in the year, where I literally have to cross the days off my calendar; a countdown to my sanity resuming. Family and close friends know to just let me be. It’s a temporary lapse in positivity, but I know it’s short-lived.
My first two boys were spring babies, born in September and October. I was never that keen on a winter baby, but my husband convinced me that July is a great month to be born in (yes, he’s a July baby!) and it would probably take us a few months of trying for number three anyway. It did not and our third son was given the due date 22 July 2012.
This I could handle. It would be cold and we would have to really bundle up our newborn when going anywhere, but at least it wasn’t June. My other two were natural deliveries and had missed their due dates by mere hours, so I assumed July was a safe bet.
As the pregnancy progressed and my amniotic fluid lessened, I just hoped that we could make it to July. I had bought Disney on Ice tickets for the Sunday, 1 July 2012 and that day was going to be a huge milestone. June would be behind me and I would officially be 37 weeks, considered full-term. It was to be celebrated with a fun outing for the family. Sadly it didn’t go according to plan. I found out on the Tuesday earlier in the week, that a Caesar had to be scheduled. The date was Thursday, 28 June. I was going to have a June baby, slightly premature.
My in-laws very kindly offered to look after our other two and though the news of the early Caesar came as quite a shock, I was determined to stay positive. Packing up the boys was a sad reminder of doing the same thing two years previously, when I rushed to my mom’s bedside but didn’t make it in time (she passed away from cancer, 29 June 2010), but I was grateful we had missed her anniversary by a day. My husband and I went out for dinner the night before and chatted about what lay in store. We were in unfamiliar territory but I was adamant that this was going to be a magical experience. It was the birth of our third son and all that mattered, was that he was born healthy, regardless of how or when he made his arrival.
Nothing could have prepared us for Nicholas’s birth. To this day, I still feel bitterness that this poor little boy had to enter the world under such sad circumstances. I’m not angry at anyone in particular – it’s no one’s fault. But our beautiful son joining our family, should have been a happy and exciting occasion. In addition to the unexpected diagnosis of Down syndrome, shortly after birth, my husband’s uncle sadly passed away later that afternoon. I just kept asking why. Why such sadness felt through the family the day that Nicholas was born? It was so unfair. I felt robbed of a joyous arrival of our son. Thankfully those emotions have faded with each passing year.
28 June has come to be a day of reflection and gratitude, a beacon of light in the month I dread. Jarod Kintz said ‘the year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating’. The words ring so true for me. We have come to know this extraordinary little person that is Nicholas and every day with him, is worth celebrating. And despite not receiving the arrival he deserved, that sadness lessens as the joy he brings to us, fills our heart.
This past Sunday, for Nicholas’s birthday, we went to Disney on Ice, just the five of us. The show has always been a mental block for me – it’s a reminder of what could have been and so I’ve always avoided it. But this year, I feel like we came full circle and it was a very special day. Since Nicholas turned one, we’ve held a birthday party two weeks after his birthday. Not because I wanted to celebrate outside of June (although it’s a bonus!), but because of it being school holidays and many people are away. We still have the Barney party to look forward to next weekend, when we celebrate with family and friends.
We are now finally in July and another month of June has come and gone. It is incredibly hard when you’re in the moment and experiencing the shock of the diagnosis, to really see the ‘bigger picture’. Three years down the line and I see it now more than ever. I can honestly say that one of the saddest days of my life has without a doubt, resulted in one of the best things that has ever happened to me – and that is Nicholas.