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.
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|
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 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.
|Gorgeous. Although Justin was not impressed at his flowers being outdone. (Thank you Kati).|
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!)|
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.