thejuliemeister

Musings from an unsuspecting navy wife


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Due Date

In an alternate world, today would be different. It wouldn’t just be a day that I took off work to enjoy Hawaiian living. It would be a day when I was carefully driven to Tripler hospital to give birth to my first child. I imagined using a special water-birthing chamber. It sounded so much calmer than a typical frenetic hospital ward. It would be warm, and peaceful and by the end of the day I’d have a sleeping baby that I could contemplate in its Buddha Zen. Pink cheeks. Ten fingers, ten toes.

 

We aren’t in an alternate world. We are here. Today. And even though it’s my due date, there is no baby. I lost it months ago.

 

Its been hard knowing that everything I do right now would be so drastically different in that alternate world. Last week I went to the Big Island for work. I hiked around Volcano National Park and gained over 20,000 steps each day. It was beautiful and amazing and there’s no way I could have done it if I was 9 months pregnant. It’s hard to hold both truths in my mind. Then I remember there is only one truth, the one where that baby, my first, was never destined to be.

 

I thought about driving up to the North Shore today and buying a lei, then throwing it into the sea. A symbolic goodbye. I took a nap instead.

 

Part of my apathy is survival. I can’t feel it all again right now. It was too much when it happened. I can’t go through that again. Not today.
In a more hopeful way, I feel I’ve already said goodbye. It happened maybe a month ago.

 

Right after the miscarriage I commissioned a bracelet stamped with the initials of the baby, had it been a girl. ALY. Amelia Leilani Yaste. Our Aly girl. We never picked a boy name.

 

I wore it always. It was something that was part of me. That and my wedding band never left my person. I was afraid that without it, I would forget, and do some disservice to the child that would have been. I won’t ever forget though.

 

Then one day, I was wearing the bracelet, and suddenly I wasn’t. I didn’t take it off. It broke.

 

I remembered that a friend told me once that when a bracelet breaks off, it’s good luck. I texted her asking if that was true. I didn’t give her the details. She told me that when a bracelet breaks off, it’s a sign of completion or closure.

 

That same day someone messaged me on Twitter about how an article I’d written about miscarriage gave her courage to write about her own. Her blog was heart wrenching and beautiful in its honesty.

 

It felt right. I’d spent so many months focusing only on loss. This was an opportunity to move forward. Not to forget. I’ll never forget. But to find a path where I can remember without being totally undone.

 

When my mom stayed with me after the miscarriage she suggested I should have a mantra. Something I could say to myself to feel better in some way. I never found a mantra, but I did find a prayer.

 

Please grant me strength and shepherd the spirit of my child.

 

I don’t know exactly what I believe in. I have a complicated history with faith. But I say this to myself throughout the day, every day.

 

Somewhere, I’m sure, ALY is safe.

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Basil

After the miscarriage mom came out for a few days to be with me. Cameron was out to sea. She coddled me, bought us fine wine to share, and made all of my favorite childhood foods. Among these dishes was what we lovingly call Mommy Pasta. It’s a simple pasta with red sauce that tastes divine. I’ve never been able to replicate it.

 

In order to make it she needed fresh basil. I picked the only fresh basil I could find at the store. It was the living kind that still had roots attached. After my mom was done cooking she cut the top off a soda can and put the remaining live basil in it with a little water.

 

The basil sat there on my kitchen counter for a few days, even after mom flew home. I didn’t know what to do with it. I’ve never had a green thumb, but I couldn’t throw it away.

 

I found an old small pot that a friend had painted to say “Julie” in middle school that I’d used as a pencil holder off and on over the years. I bought the smallest bag of potting mix I could find and transplanted the basil to its new home.

 

Some of it died, but not all. Sometimes I’d forget to water it and the basil would wilt in dehydration, but it always perked back up with a little feeding.

 

We moved houses and the basil came with us. Cameron returned from sea. I repotted the basil in an even bigger planter and started growing other fresh herbs. Cameron uses them to cook. The basil is thriving. It’s huge and expanding with large fragrant leaves.

 

The one thing mom said when she found out I’d planted the basil was to never let it flower. If I saw a shoot of flowers start I needed to pinch it off immediately, otherwise the plant would die, its lifecycle complete.

 

For months I was vigilant. I watched the tiny herb grow but not flower. It didn’t seem like it would happen.

 

Then recently, I saw its first tiny bloom. It’s been about five months since the miscarriage. I know a few women with due dates similar to what mine would have been and I can see their growing bumps and know about how big I’d be by now.

 

I plucked the budding flower and dropped it in the grass.

 

The next day there was another bud. I plucked that too. Now it’s almost daily that I’ll find one or two floral shoots and I pluck every one.

 

So now I have this basil that I can only keep alive by preventing its bloom. It’s constantly trying to blossom, and I keep pinching it back. It seems so desperate to flower, to move to its next stage, even if that stage is moving on entirely.

 

I think sometimes about letting it flower. Letting it move through the natural lifecycle progression. I may. Basil isn’t hard to grow, and I could always start another plant. But I guess I’m just not ready yet. Maybe I never will be.