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!