Sunday, November 8, 2015

First Birthday Recap

I could feel Lydie's birthday approaching for weeks.  No way to stop the calendar from marching forward.  The lead-in to it was so emotional.

But the day itself?  Not as bad as I thought it would be.

First, there was getting through the 5th.  As one friend called it "helliversary."  Yes.  

But -- a good friend came over, a friend who knows what it feels like to cremate your child.  Benjamin graced us with a long nap, Josephine graced us with cuddles, and the sunshine graced us with unseasonably warm weather.  Oh, and a bottle of Pinot Grigio graced us too.  We sat on my patio and talked.  I missed Lydie.  And I laughed quite a bit.

Thanks Jeanie.  
Then, the big day arrived.  We started the day with the presentation of the Cuddle Cot to St. Ann's Hospital.  I cried on the way there, listening to one of my Lydie songs, "If I Die Young" by the Band Perry.  But a "Happy birthday Lydia" cake and presents greeted us!  

Our amazing nurses, who delivered both Lydie and Josie, turned the Cuddle Cot presentation into a bit of a birthday party.  And I had told Lydie there would be no party!

Sharing a few words about stillbirth, our daughter, and the Cuddle Cot
Sixty-three friends, family members, and even complete strangers allowed us to to donate the Cuddle Cot to this hospital.  Thank you, thank you.
It felt appropriate, it felt right, to be at the place where Lydie was born.  I talked about how one year ago, I was in labor with her.  I cried when I said it is excruciatingly horrific to be in labor with a baby you know is not alive.  I spoke of our time with her, how she had big, flipper feet and a full head of her dad's hair.  I spoke of how we'll never get that time back.  Justin said how it is a testament to our nurses that we chose to return to St. Ann's for Josie's birth, how many parents would never walk through the doors of the same hospital again.  We spoke of how we wish there was never a need for Cuddle Cots, but the reality is that every 1 out of 160 pregnancies ends in a stillbirth.  And often, like in our situation, there are no risk factors and no warning signs.

Ben helps us open Lydie's birthday present
I told you these nurses are amazing.

Amanda and Beth, on the left, delivered both Lydie and Josie.  Christi, on the right, rocked and sang to Lydie as we said our goodbyes.

It was mostly a happy occasion, a reunion of sorts for all the people who met Lydia.

I wish there were more of you that met Lydia.  

A whole spread!

Add in Oma Jo, who also wanted to celebrate her granddaughter.  Plus, she loves our nurses too.

We came home, we watched the clock for 12:14 pm, and we lit our candle for Lydie.  And then we opened the many cards we had received.  

Thank you for the outpouring of love.

Soon after, I did this:

This was the point I reminded myself that I have birthed three babies. 

That's right; I got a tattoo.  If you know me, you know I'm NOT a tattoo person.  I also always thought my dad would kill me... but figured he'd let this one slide.

I began thinking about this soon after Lydia died.  A way to leave her mark physically on me.  A way to write on my body what is written in my soul. 

I decided on her name on my wrist soon after I got pregnant with Bowie... so then I waited.  I don't think they generally like to do tattoos on pregos.  Plus, you know, I had to make sure I only needed one tattoo.  

Although I felt like chickening out many times this week, I went through with it!

The result.

The tattoo artist told me tattoos are addicting, and mentioned several times my "next tattoo."  I told him unless I have another dead child, there will be no more tattoos. (Please let there be no more tattoos).

Make that $95 in alcohol, $5 in flowers.

We had left Oma Jo with a bottle of milk, Josie, and a sleeping Ben, so from there, Justin and I headed to buy balloons... and also $100 worth of alcohol.  Hard to reign it in at Trader Joe's on your dead daughter's first birthday.  I caught Justin eying these flowers, and though the man hasn't bought his wife flowers since their wedding day, I knew he was wanting to buy them for his daughter.  

We also came home to beautiful flowers from a friend.
Gorgeous.  Although Justin was not impressed at his flowers being outdone.  (Thank you Kati).
Oma Jo was debating driving home that evening or staying the night.  When she heard about the 100 bucks of alcohol, she quickly exclaimed, "I was thinking that I'll leave in the morning!"

Later, Benjamin colored a picture for his sister and Oma Jo wrote her granddaughter a note.  Justin and I had already written our letters.  We planned to tie them to the balloons... but did you know one piece of paper and some tape is enough to hold a helium balloon down?

Yeah, neither did we.
Josie holds her balloon for her big sister

Ready to send our balloons to Lydie.

A Happy Birthday balloon, a star balloon, and a 1 balloon.
So we just read our letters out loud to Lydie instead.  

"Where dat balloon going?" - Ben
"It's going to Lydie, in the stars." - Dad
"I go to Lydie too!" - Ben 

Happy birthday dear Lydie.  (And thank you Jeanie!)
I wasn't sure about doing the balloon release.  I know it's bad the environment, and I kind of like the environment.  But honestly, it was really beautiful, and it was such a nice moment for our family.

We came in, cracked open some of that alcohol, and enjoyed our evening as a family.  Uncle D showed up just in time for dinner (and the lighting of Lydie's candle) as he usually does, and after dinner, the six of us sang "Happy birthday" to Lydie.  (And I didn't even cry during that part!)

At the end of the evening, I let out some deep breaths.  The first birthday down, and it wasn't as bad as I anticipated.  For the most part, I felt like we managed to celebrate our little girl.

One year down, a lifetime to go.

We love you, Lydie.


  1. The build up for me is always so much heavier and worse than the day itself. You paid tribute to Lydie in such lovely and meaningful ways. I wish the day had been so different, but I think she felt the love.

  2. So much love. Your nurses are so freaking awesome.

    Also, latex balloons are biodegradable which I remind myself of when doing a balloon release. I know it may take awhile, but still makes me feel better.

    Tattoo looks great.

  3. Looks like a wonderful special day celebrating Lydie. Your tattoo looks good! Yes, I wish things were different too. xoxo

  4. I don't know you, but you are amazing.

    love the tattoo!

  5. Brooke is totally right--the lead-up to the day is usually much worse for me than the actual day itself....

    But all of beautiful. One year. So much has changed. But you are living and you have a tattoo for your beautiful girl. So much love.

  6. I hate that it has become to cliche to say this, but Heather, the way you mother Lydie is such an inspiration. The strength it took to walk into that hospital a little over a year ago, and then to do it again just proves the lengths you'll go to for your children. You are strong, you are brave, you are bold (welcome to the tattoo club!), and most of all you are the best mother to your three children. Love you Heather, and love you Lydie.


  7. This is all good. Keep doing that.

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