November rolled in, bringing with it illness for me and Annabel. Annie is “kid sick.” You know: play play sniffle cough barf play play play. I don’t know how she does it. I was slammed with the whammy of infected sinuses, a sore throat, and a hideous cough. I’ve had to push through it to do a few things, but by Friday evening I had to admit total defeat. I canceled our weekend plans and have been crashed out in bed or on my couch, at the mercy of the germs.

November has been a hard month since Maddie died. It holds her birthday and the beginning of the holiday season. When we gather with our families her absence is felt more prominently. This November promises to be particularly hard. Jackie!’s birthday is two days after Maddie’s, and Jackie! was a girl who loved her birthday as much as I love mine. We were also supposed to be welcoming a new baby around Thanksgiving. This November is the month of Could Have, Should Have Been.

It would be easy for me to be sad, sick and pathetic under my blankets. I certainly have my moments, but Maddie’s premature birth almost five years ago taught us to appreciate what we have, when we have it. And if that didn’t drive it home, the hurricane that hit the Northeast last week certainly did a good job of it. Perspective doesn’t take away the sadness of loss, but (with time) shines a light on what remains. I have lost a lot, but I still have so much.

We also have this:

We are farther along than we were last time, although things are still technically early. I know from personal experience that there is no real “safe” point at any time in pregnancy, but I am not going to let the fear of “what if” control me this time. This is my last pregnancy, for better or for worse. I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. Even when I’m puking a dozen times a day. Even when I’m jabbing needles into my skin. Even during that terrifying moment during an ultrasound when Dr. Risky is looking for the baby’s heartbeat.

Five Novembers ago, I was in the hospital. I was scared, but I also knew that I was doing everything I could to help Maddie. I get to spend this November at home with Annie, with weekly doctor visits ensuring I’m doing everything I can for this baby. This November has extra sadness but it also has hope. Hope that what the doctors and I are doing is making a difference. Hope that when late spring rolls in, instead of illness it will bring a healthy baby.