Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy First Birthday in Heaven Jacob!

Happy First Birthday in Heaven Jacob! :)  Mommy loves you so very, very much sweetheart! I wish so much that we could be celebrating with you today but I know you are very loved and so very happy up in Heaven.  You are having a far better party there than we could ever do here for you!

Wow...here it is, finally.  Jacob's first birthday.  Or, what would have been.  It's kind of funny when you think about it in all of those ways...if Jacob hadn't passed away on October 25, 2010, how much longer would he have lived?  Would I have made it to the end of my second trimester?  Would I have made it to the point where his lungs developed in the third trimester?  Jacob had Trisomy 13 and babies with that typically pass away much earlier in the pregnancy than Jacob did.  Some live longer, some even make it to be born.  For those babies who are born, some live only a few precious minutes or hours or days.  Some a few months.  I can't remember from my research if many Trisomy 13 babies make it to their first birthdays or not, but sadly for those that do, I don't think it's much past that that they to live. 

So how are we looking at this?  It's hard to say.  I know very well that had Jacob made it to his "birth" day in April 2011, it might not have been much longer that he would have been here with us.  I try to imagine what he would be like on this day and that's the hard part.  I think for me, I've chosen to remember my baby in this way.  If he would have made it to be born, if he would have made it to turn 1, he probably would still have many ailments and would be a very sick little boy.  I'm sure the last year with him would have been one where we would have done our best to treasure each day knowing that at any moment, that day could be our last with our precious son. 

But there's another way that I'm remembering Jacob today on his first birthday.  And that is, that Jacob is perfect.  That he is a perfect, beautiful little one-year old boy.  After all, he is in Heaven and there is no illness, no frailties and no Trisomy 13 there.  I imagine him with a beautiful smile on his face.  I think that is how I choose to think of my baby on this day...and on future birthdays. If I kept my thoughts solely earthbound, it would get difficult after awhile knowing that Jacob wouldn't have made it long with Trisomy 13.  But releasing those thoughts and dreaming of him in Heaven allows me the joy of knowing that he is whole.  That he is experiencing all the love he can hold up in Heaven.  And that just makes me smile from ear to ear. 

If you would have asked me back in 2010 how I would have thought this time without him would have passed, I honestly would have had no clue. I probably would have responded with despair and saying only that I missed my child, the child that I so desperately wanted to have.  But thankfully Jacob's death wasn't a destination that I was forced to remain at.  Instead, it was a journey and something happened along this journey that I am so incredibly grateful for...healing.  It's come bit by bit, piece by piece...but it has come, and continues to come.  Does that mean that I don't miss Jacob or wish he was here with us?  Does that mean that I never have a pang in my heart when I see the baby items in Walmart?  No.  I have all of those things from time to time, that's normal, and I'm okay with it.  I'm okay with a good cry sometimes.  Just as I am with happy tears that swell in my eyes when someone sends me a giraffe graphic, a card or even mentions Jacob's name.  It means that I have moved forward from those dark days in 2010 to a place where I try to focus more on the light...on things that lift me up to that place where I feel the joy and love for Jacob.  I truly believe that's a big part of what's gotten me through.  God has been there with me every step of the way and I know that He has put so many beautiful people on my path to help me through our loss.

If you would have asked me back in 2010 if I would have been planning a birthday party for my son, I would have wondered why you would have tortured me with such thoughts.  But with where I am at in my journey, it just feels right, it feels natural to do this for our baby...more importantly for us.  It's our way of acknowledging our love for our sweet child and for including him in our family memories.  I'm so glad planning this party has occupied my time...it's filled my mind with happy thoughts, truly.

Well, mostly happy thoughts!

I called and ordered Jacob's cake yesterday.  I had a limited selection of bakeries who would be open when we needed to pick up the cake.  Well, wouldn't you know the bakery I picked can't do a giraffe!  ARGH!  I was more than a tad disappointed but quickly tried to find a cute substitute...baby bunny?  Nope.  Cute little animals of some kind?  Nope, none of those either.  Okay...so I asked,  "What do you have for babies or babies first birthdays?"  Clowns, I was told.  Clown faces!  Somehow, I just DON'T see clowns on my precious Jacob's cake!  Totally not what I was going for!  :)  I finally asked for Pooh Bear.  The old stand-by.  Yup, they did have a Winnie the Pooh kit and described all of the characters, including Tigger!  Made me think of my broken-tailed Tigger that I used for the boys' cakes and I had to say yes.  I think in some ways it is fitting that Jacob's first cake be Winnie the Pooh since that's what I had for both Sammy and Benny's first birthdays.  I think Jacob would have loved it too.  Oh, and I'll definitely have to post a picture because supposedly on the cake they are putting bumblebee picks (I guess that fits with Winnie the Pooh, right?) and a Cross made of roses.  AND! I plan on sticking a plastic giraffe on the cake somewhere...should be an interesting piece of art, don't you think?  :)

What was interesting about the plans for Jacob's party on Thursday is that I ran into snags and not just with getting my giraffe cake.  I found myself getting really frustrated and down at one point.  And then I stopped and almost laughed.  How wonderful that things weren't going perfectly!  I mean, would I really want everything to?  I'm not sure if that makes sense but having things go awry kind of makes it feel more normal...more like it's a real event, rather than some picture-perfect event where everything had to be beyond beautiful and special. 

Let me tell you about my snags...the first bakery I called for the cake had a substitute worker.  Apparently he had never spelled the word, "giraffe", before so that took a few seconds to make sure he wrote down what I was hoping that they could do.  And then the poor man couldn't tell me what the difference was between butter creme and freeze whip icing.  Or how many people 1/8, 1/16, etc. cake sizes would hold.  It was almost comical and I was a bit exasperated after our conversation.  Alex then called with an alternate bakery that would work better for picking up the cake according to our time frame.  Great!  I was excited to call and find a possibly better place who would make my sweet Jacob's giraffe cake.

Welllll......this lady knew how to spell giraffe but unfortunately told me they couldn't do it because they didn't do pictures any more.  I was surprised to hear this because I thought that's how bakeries pulled off such awesome designs.  I know our folk dance group had our logo put on a cake for our recent 60th anniversary party so someone must have pulled some strings because I'm getting the cake from the same place!  Anyway, I felt bad because I made the poor woman cry.  Yup, when I told her what I wanted written on the cake, "Happy First Birthday in Heaven Jacob", she started crying so hard that she had to pass me off to her manager!  I felt terrible!  I guess I caught her off guard and tried to keep my composure as I explained our little party and that we were okay with things...that this was a celebration of love.  She was a grandma and apologized for losing it on the phone.  We shared a nice teary laugh after that!

So, finally my cake dilemma was resolved as well as it could be.  On to the next snag...a slide show.  I had this grandiose thought that maybe I could pull together a last minute slide show/video for Jacob's birthday.  It was something I'd thought about for months and I had a friend offer to do his memorial show last October but I couldn't get all of the photos to her through email.  My stupid account picked and chose which to send/not send due to file size. I finally got so frustrated back then that I just dropped it and hoped to resume later. 

I had heard of a software program that a few of my friends had used to do slide shows so thought I'd tinker with it for a few minutes to see what I could do, if anything.  I thought it would be fun to spend time with Jacob in this way...to do something for him, to think of him...something relaxing and creative, you know?  All was going well until it came time to upload my song.

Okay...time to insert major embarrassment here.  :)


I don't know how to download a song. 

Okay, not totally, but close enough!  Big sigh. I don't know where to go to download songs that won't get you in trouble later!  I'm sure I sound totally stupid right now!  How many of you are chuckling?  :)  We don't use MP3s...IPODs, etc.  I've never had a need for a song that isn't on YouTube, a CD or the radio.  Yes, I have downloaded songs to my phone for ring tones but that seemed to work differently.  I just haven't gotten around to getting an IPOD yet.  Some day. :)

I wanted "Hug Him Once for Me" by Erica McClure.  I fell in love with this song last October and knew it was perfect for Jacob's birthday slide show.  It is so uplifting, so beautiful and just so full of what I feel for Jacob that I knew I had to use it.  And of course it brings me to tears every time I hear it.  What a great song!  The trouble is that whenever I found it and tried to download it, I couldn't understand the jargon in the "agreement" ...you know that thing you are supposed to read and agree to before you click, "download"?  One site kept saying the download was only temporary, and that they would track how many times you played it...good grief!!

Talk about like feeling like an idiot.  I was talking with Alex in tears in my eyes and said I should just give up and leave making videos to the young people in the world.  Here I am with a Master's Degree and I can't even understand simple terms of downloading!!  UGH!! 

Well, I really hope that I was just a bit of stress talking yesterday because now I read what I wrote and it sounds really funny.  Thankfully,  my sweet hubby was supportive and encouraging and told me not to feel bad since we just don't do that often enough to know all of the lingo, the best sites, etc.  Plus, he reminded me that our computer isn't the hottest, most awesome thing on the block either.

I finally decided to do the one thing that made sense...I found the songwriter's email address and wrote her asking for how and where to download/buy her song legally (and hopefully easily!)  I really hope to hear from her and can't wait to tell her how much her song means to me, and to so many other mom's I'm sure!

And, after that song struggle wouldn't you know that I found an easier video program to use?  Just kind of stumbled on it...I'd like to think God was giving me a bit of a break so and old string of posts about video programs just happened to pop back up to the top of a group page for me to see it.  I loved working with the new program and once I get my song, well, hopefully soon I'll be putting the final touches on Jacob's birthday video!  Whoo hoo!

So, all in all, it's been totally fun and totally normal getting ready for Jacob's birthday.  I've felt some anxiety, yes.  Some sadness here and there.  Some frustrations.  Will there be things I'll probably regret not doing?  Things that I wished I would have spent time on rather than rushing at the last minute?  Oh sure.  I'm human.  I'm sure I'll regret something!  But I hope no matter what I do or don't do throughout Jacob's birthday and the rest of the weekend when we celebrate our son, I hope that I keep looking for and keep feeling the joy that simply loving him brings.  That's what is most important.

Did I tell you that I saved a butterfly a few days ago?  That might not sound like much to some people but I haven't seen a butterfly in probably at least a year.  Oh the boys keep pointing out those little white moths which they call butterflies, but I haven't seen anything with color.  So many of my baby loss friends write about seeing butterflies.  They post beautiful pictures of butterflies coming to visit them on gorgeous flowers.  Lately I've just really wanted to see a butterfly...where was my butterfly?  It's kind of been bugging me I guess. 

Well I was moving something around in the garage and heard a rustling.  I figured it was the dumb June bug that we saw the other day.  I turned and saw what I thought was a brown moth fluttering away on the garage door window trying desperately to get outside.  I walked away at first but then knew I couldn't just leave that moth there.  I decided against opening the garage door because I figured the thing would just ride up and get stuck even further.  I finally found a container and gently caught him.  It was then that I saw the orange on the inside of his wings.  It was a butterfly, not a brown moth!

I took him outside where he immediately landed on a bush and opened his wings showing me all of the vibrant colors.  He just sat there for a few minutes.  I got my camera and almost got a picture of him but moved the wrong way so must have spooked him.  I know I just had a big smile on my face though when I came back inside.  Not only had I save the little creature from drying out in our hot garage, but I actually saw a butterfly!  And, how ironic that it happened 2 days before Jacob's birthday?

Babyloss moms know that butterflies are a symbol in our little community.  Well, I think I've even heard that butterflies are a symbol for others as well...a dear friend told me she thought that my butterfly was Jacob coming to visit me. :)  Maybe it was Jacob, maybe it was a message from Jacob...or from God...saying that Jacob was okay...letting me know that I'm okay, that we're all okay.  Whatever the message, I got it.

So those are the little things I'll be looking for this weekend amidst the regular life that we still will be muddling through.  Amidst the "perfect" party things that I will plan for and try to do, I'll be simply hoping to find and to cherish those little moments of joy because they make me feel closer to my baby.

And close to Jacob is where I love to be!  Happy First Birthday Jacob!!  Thank you for sending Mommy that butterfly the other day!  You know you are always welcome to visit Mommy in her dreams...just once I'd love to see your sweet face!  I love you Jacob, you live in Mommy's heart and will forever...until we are together some day! 

And, because I can't hug you yet sweetie, I'm asking Jesus to give you a huge hug from Mommy today!  Here is my favorite song for thinking of you with joy and love in my heart!  I love you!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jacob's Birthday Preparations

Well, I'm back!  I had no idea that I would ever be gone actually.  First let me apologize to everyone who read my blog faithfully or even who just occasionally popped in to check this mother's journey...I never had any intention of taking a break from writing something which was so dear to me.  You probably noticed that my last post was the day before Jacob's first angelversary (the first anniversary of his death) and then everything dropped and went silent.  I am so sorry for disappearing without a word or update in the last 5.5 months.

Something happened on Jacob's anniversary which caused me to stop writing.  I've thought for months now about how I would come back...what would my first post say as far as explaining what could be strong enough to keep me from writing for so long.  I longed to write, I needed to desperately but just couldn't.  Until now.  It's time.  It's time to come back to what helped me heal so much in the beginning.  It's time to come back to writing also what I hope helps others whether they are baby loss moms or not.  It's time to come back to writing about Jacob and my journey through motherhood.  How can I deny my heart any longer? :)

Jacob's first birthday is coming up in a matter of days and I knew I had to be writing by then so here I am.  I want to focus on nothing but the joy and love I have in my heart for my sweet baby in Heaven so for now, just know that I humbly apologize for my disappearance last fall.  I would be so honored if you would consider once again reading my blog.  Your support has always meant so much to me and has truly touched me since day one of my writing.

While I have so many posts drafted up right now, I had to start with something most timely for my first post back.  I've already mentioned that Jacob's birthday is coming up.  This Friday, April 20, 2012 my sweet little baby would be turning one had he lived to be born here on Earth.  I remember last year when I calculated his due date.  I was originally given an early May date but knew Jacob would have come early just like his brothers.  Sammy was born 10 days early.  Benny was born 14 days early.  I picked a mid-way point and calculated that my sweet Jacob would have been born around 12 days early, so April 20, 2011 became my "due date" or what would have been his "birth" day.  So this is the day that we will lovingly celebrate every year.  I love that it's in April too--just 16 days after my birthday--makes me feel even closer to him knowing that he would have been the sweetest birthday present ever last year.

The other night I sat down and did something I had been meaning to do for months.  I sent out Jacob's invitations to his birthday party.  Okay, that would be Facebook Event invitations that I "sent out".  I had meant to do it awhile back as so many baby loss moms create those special birthday and angelversary events far in advance.  I hadn't created Jacob's yet because I've been trying to get some things ready first.  Can't say more than that right now but that was my delay.  Well, you know how you can try for so long to get everything "just right" and then before you know it, you've missed the boat altogether? 

I told myself that no matter what I was sitting down that night and creating the event regardless of what was done or not.  The boys were outside playing while Alex mowed.  The dogs were chowing down on their food.  The laundry was movin' and groovin' downstairs.  I finally took the precious time I needed to create Jacob's birthday note.  I cannot tell you how happy and how proud I felt.  I know it probably sounds silly but I was a mommy who was truly excited to celebrate her son's first birthday and to share my love for him with everyone.  Well, happy and proud just doesn't describe enough how I felt.

I found myself thinking back to Sammy and Benny's first birthdays.  Neither boy had a big birthday party that required invitations as it was just immediate family who came.  What I do remember though is how much fun I had picking out the birthday decor and a cake theme for each.  I know I did Winnie the Pooh for each because I'd always loved Pooh Bear and it just fit so well with a one-year old party.  We still have the hats and even a few spare plates that were never used.  I will be pulling them out this Friday!

It was so fun buying all of that stuff back then...the plastic tablecloth, the party hats, the birthday badge, the plates, the napkins.  And I remember Sammy's cake had plastic birthday figures on it.  Sammy loved Tigger and ended up breaking Tigger's tail off at some point when he was a little older.  He was so upset about that poor Tigger.  Right now I can't remember Benny's cake exactly but I know I recycled the Pooh characters for it as well...broken Tigger and all.

If you are a baby loss mom, then you've probably heard or read a sentence like this before on another baby loss mom's or group's page,  "I should be...(fill in the blank regarding what she would do if her baby was still here)".  Well, here's my go at it...  Right now had things gone differently in 2010 and Jacob not passed away, I should be planning Jacob's first birthday party. I should be digging around the baby wipes boxes that I use to store the boys' plastic figures and trying to find that missing tailed Tigger.  I should be talking to my mom about what cake to order for when we would come up to celebrate with the rest of our family for the big "baby's first birthday party".  I should be buying a new tablecloth, plates and then checking the Pooh hats to make sure the strings all still work.  I should be picking out which birthday outfit Jacob would be wearing and wondering if the icing will stain it or not.  I should be checking out the newest baby toys in the store to find something different that Jacob would like.

But, I'm not doing all of those things...and that's okay, because I am doing some of those things.  :)

I AM planning Jacob's first birthday parties.  Yes, you read that right.  I am actually planning two little celebrations of joy and love for our sweet Jacob.  One little birthday party we will hold on his actual birthday, Friday, April 20.  Because Alex will be out of town it will just be the boys and I.  But you can bet your boots that I will pull out what I can of the Pooh birthday stuff for one more party.  I will pull out whatever I can find that is left from the boys' first birthday parties.  I will be hunting for Tigger and the gang to join us as well.  Benny is asking for Valentine cookies (it doesn't matter what holiday or season we are in, Benny likes Valentine cookies) so we will see what is on the dessert menu for the night. :)

And then on Sunday when Alex will be home, we will have our sweet little family birthday party...this time with a giraffe theme.  Even though I always made a cake for the boys whenever we celebrated at home (we would have either a bakery-bought or one of mom's cakes at her house), I have just been wanting to something really special for Jacob's birthday and that is to order a bakery cake with a giraffe on it.  I'm far from a great cake decorator so don't even want to think what my version of a giraffe would look like if I do it on my own!

The night of my D&C back in 2010 we stopped by Walmart for something that we probably couldn't live without, who knows what it was.  It donned on me that night as I trudged through the aisles with a very heavy heart and eyes that burned from crying way too much that I hadn't yet bought any kind of stuffed animal for Jacob...something personal just for him.  I wished I had more to choose from than just Walmart's selection of baby plush but I couldn't be choosy at that point. I needed something desperately and decided upon a small pale yellow giraffe with a white tummy, brown spots and the sweetest smile.  It's the kind of stuffed animal just right for a young baby--no fuzzy hair, just a smooth and soft feel to it.  And no pull-on eyes or features either...just eyes and other features sewn flat. 

That sweet little giraffe would have been perfect for chubby little baby hands, perfect for little drooling baby gums and perfect to chunk from a high chair.  I'm sure Jacob would have loved it.  Just like his mommy loves it now.

That giraffe might not have ever been chewed on, spit up on or thrown from a grocery cart, but wouldn't you know it means the world to me.  I take Jacob's giraffe with me every time we travel.  I've taken it with me sometimes when we just so somewhere locally--to church, to a special event like the Memorial Walk we went on for Jacob last October, to the Christmas Tree Lighting Remebrance Ceremony for Jacob, etc.  Yup, if you see me someday and happen to sneak a peak into my purse or bag, you might just see my little buddy travelling with me. 

Here's my little buddy.  You can see his neck getting a little floppy and his paws are getting nubby. 
He's been loved a lot by this mommy.

This is a new giraffe that my Sammy surprised me with about a month or two ago!  The boys were shopping with Alex while I was in another store.  We met at the car and Sammy quickly pulled out this giraffe for me for Jacob.  Yup, I cried right there in the parking lot.  My boys are so incredibly thoughtful.

And here they are together.  What sweet little buddies.
Giraffes obviously have become one of the two animals that remind me of Jacob.  Giraffes and baby bunnies.  I'll talk more about baby bunnies another time.  For this first birthday party though giraffes are the theme that I am going with.  No, I'm probably not going to deck the house out in spots, but I will have my giraffe cake for our sweet baby!  I can't wait to see it.

I'm still hammering out plans for the whole weekend trying to figure out what I will do with just the boys, as opposed to when Alex is back and we celebrate all together.  Even now though I can tell you I'm excited.  Just a month ago I planned Sammy's first "friend" birthday party.  He turned 7 and we had 20-some kids show up and bounce off the walls for 2 hours.  It was a super-hero theme and I had set up "superhero training" stations for the games, prizes, name tags, you name it.  The party was a total hit with Sammy, Benny, the kids and their parents.  I had so much fun planning it and every throb of my head that night after the screaming children left was worth it.  So I hadn't slept because I was stuffing goody bags and pulling all of the signs and supplies together.  So I'd been on my aching feet forever in my "Super Mommy" costume boots (all of the kids came in superhero costumes).  Sammy's smile (and of course Benny's) was priceless and I'd to it all again for my sons without a doubt.

Just as I was excited to plan that party for Sammy because I love him so very much, I feel the same amount of excitement, joy and love at planning this little celebration for Jacob.  It doesn't matter that he isn't here physically, that he was never truly "born" here on Earth and that we've never met him face-to-face.  He is our son, our precious child that I carried for 13 wonderful weeks.  He is a part of Alex and I. He is the boys' little baby brother that they couldn't wait to meet and that they still talk about today.  He lives in our hearts and always will.  And that's enough.  That's more than enough reason to remember him and to celebrate the love we feel for him on such a special day.  I know the boys will have fun at our little parties and it will be a wonderful time of making precious memories for our family as we include our baby up in Heaven.

And I have to try to describe one more thing I am feeling today as I write this post...overwhelming gratitude.  As soon as I posted my event invitation on facebook, I started seeing friends and family accept it.  The notification, "__________________ is attending Jacob's First Birthday Party in Heaven" was silently and ever so sweetly popping up on the lower left side of my screen.  As more and more notifications came in, one right after another, the tears started flowing.  I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to see people's quick responses.  Do you know what it means to a baby loss mom to hear/see her child acknowledged and remembered by others?  There are no words to describe the feeling fully. 

Our friends and family have come and will continue to come to parties for Sammy and Benny through the years--they saw the "smash cake" that Sammy dug into at his first birthday party, they saw the icing smeared all over both boys' faces, they saw the tears when both boys grew tired of smiling for pictures...they saw the boys learn how to unwrap gifts--a nice slow tear of wrapping paper when they were both younger which has now turned into a frantic 'rip-fest'...echoed by Benny's excited shouts of what he got and his "...ooh, nice!" following each item.  They will continue to see how the boys grow and develop each year.  They've seen what is on each cake--Winnie the Pooh, Thomas, Power Rangers, Spiderman, Micky Mouse, Ben 10...and will wonder who the lucky characters will be next year.  They will see how big the boys smile when we all sing "Happy Birthday" to them...ah, how I've loved this part of our birthday celebrations!!  Both Sammy and Benny smile so big when we break into song.  The candles light up their joyful smiles and you can see how truly special they feel when it is their turn to be the "birthday boy.".  Our friends and family will be a part of these precious memories through the years.

But the same can't be said for Jacob's birthday parties.  Jacob won't have candles illuminating his face or icing in his fingernails.  He won't have his birthday hat sliding off of his head or wrapping paper to tackle. He won't have years of birthday party photos that mommy will need to scrabook someday.

But he will have love and so much of it.  He will have the love of his family and friends who acknowledge that he was here, even if only for a short 13 weeks.  He was here and will forever be a part of our family.  So for that, please let me express my heartfelt thank you to everyone who is "coming" to Jacob's birthday party.  It may seem silly to those of you who aren't baby loss moms that I'm even holding such an "event" but it means so much to those of us who are, me included.  Thank you for simply acknowledging Jacob and our love for him.  It truly touches my heart.  For those of you who are reading this and who don't know me personally on facebook, thank you as well for sharing in my joy at planning Jacob's First Birthday Party.  I hope you'll check out my next several posts as I share more of our party preparations and photos!

So with that, my friends, let me apologize once again for my absence of the last few months.  I appreciate that you are reading this now and hope to hear from you some time.  For those of you who are "coming" to Jacob's birthday party, thank you for your acknowledgement and support of our love for him.  And if I missed anyone accidentally, or if you'd like to "come" to our little shindig on facebook, please let me know so that I can invite you! :)

You'll be hearing from me...soon.