Anniversary Syndrome

It is clear to perhaps everyone out there that at some point after Eitan was born at week 27 I should have found a really good therapist and dealt with it. I didn’t. I’m pretty self-aware (meaning, I know the event shook me to the core even though I may not know exactly what to do with that information), but I was also juggling 2 small kids at home and one uber-small kid in the hospital. So I stayed untherapized.

As penance, maybe, for not kicking my shoes off, lying on that couch and crying a lot, I have anniversary syndrome. Every year for the week leading up to Eitan’s birthday, I fall apart. Not in a public way — my eyes aren’t swollen and red, I don’t shut down, but in a very very private way I lose it. I go back to the place that was so full of fear that I am genuinely surprised I got through it.

For the first few years, I had an outlet for my meltdown. I would dress Eitan up and take him to the NIC-U that we escaped after 67 days. His doctors and nurses would hug and kiss him and hug and kiss me, we’d all cry (total lie: just me, I’d do about 99% of the crying) . I’d bring them muffins and we’d move on with our day. But after a few years, the doctors and nurses had moved on and so we did too.

Now, each year, a different detail will sneak up on me. Something that I had forgotten or something that out of self-preservation I banished from ever thinking about again. But each year my adorable subconscious will toss out just the smallest nugget to remind me. The oppressive heat in the NIC-U, the smell of the soap that we used to scrub in each morning and evening, the fact that Eitan was translucent, the wonderful doctor who brought Eitan up to my hospital room while I was in my morphine-haze before transporting him to another hospital — just so I would have a chance to see my baby, in case…

I am well aware that we walk around with a miracle. I actually lose my breath when I think about what could have been. I don’t think I exhaled fully until he started the second grade. But to meet the red-headed, freckle-faced, bespectacled, lanky boy who loves Lego and the Hobbit and Indiana Jones and Temple Run, who is desperate for a dog and kind to small babies — is to know the embodiment of joy.

And now that I’m in the throes of my wonderful week of could haves or what might haves, I’m going to head to the Lego store and drop a small fortune on Indiana Jones Lego. Shehechiyanu VeKiyemanu VeHigiyanu LaZman HaZeh.





  1. Devorah Starr

    thinking of you

  2. Toby

    Very touching. May your kids continue you great joy and nachas.

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