Sammy's picture of Baby Jacob with angel wings in a heart...
I can't believe it's already been 11 days since Jacob's birthday. The boys and Alex were finishing up the last of Jacob's cake last night. That kind of got to me...I knew that we had reached the "end". The last physical reminder of our birthday celebration of love for our little Jacob in Heaven was being eaten and soon to be cleaned up for good. I quickly asked Alex to save me a sliver of what was remaining of the cake. He licked the icing off of the Tigger who had been happily standing guard on the last chunk and set a tiny piece aside for me. A short while later I found Tigger had fallen onto the floor somehow. I scooped him up and found myself so grateful that the dogs hadn't found the sugary-scented bouncer first or I would have found him all chewed up. I don't think I would have reacted well to that.
So it's now just a short week and a half later and you'd almost never knew that we had Jacob's birthday events. That's totally normal and to be expected of course. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring just a little pang in my heart last night--a tiny pang--but it was there nonetheless. It was something I noticed and probably only because we were cleaning up the last of the cake. If Jacob was here, physically here with us, none of this would matter. I'd put away his birthday gifts, his birthday hats, the Tigger. I'd toss the remaining cake and throw away the box with the price tag that shows we were overcharged by $8.00 (and that I never bothered to call about because it didn't matter to me). I'd wash his birthday clothes, more than likely with icing on them, and photograph his gifts for my scrapbook later. His birthday would be over and life would go back to normal.
But there's something different about holding a birthday celebration for a loved one who is no longer here with you. There is the anticipation, the planning, the excitement, if you will, of knowing you are doing something special that allows all of your love to freely come out...to be focused on a particular day or activity and to acknowledge it in really special ways. And then there is the "afterwards". Everything gets put away. Things get back to normal. And normal means going back to your every day routine without that special person in your life. Jacob is not here physically with us. Even though we've adjusted to that fact since October 25, 2010, I can't say it's not just a little bit sad to face once again after the several beautiful days leading up to Jacob's birthday and then throughout his birthday weekend.
Jacob's tree in our front yard. I tied this blue ribbon around the tree a few days after Jacob died. My original thought was that I would replace it with a new ribbon on his first birthday...but I decided to keep it as is. We hope to move this fall and only then will I remove it. Alex tied it tighter at one point in the last several months and it's drooping, but it's still there as a sign of our love for our baby.
I wanted to share a recap of how we celebrated our love for our sweet Jacob over several days...
Friday, April 20, 2012 --Happy First Birthday Jacob!
Of course Friday came much sooner than I would have liked. I didn't have as much ready as I would have hoped but no surprise there. With Alex out of town it was just me running the ship so my plate was already pretty full with the boys, the animals and the house...you know, life.
I did make time to go outside to take Jacob's "birthday" photos. I had bought flowers at Walmart a day or two prior and tried to arrange a colorful display on my favorite tree stump in the front yard. I also lugged Jacob's garden angel down the driveway to the stump. Boy is that thing heavy!! It normally sits right next to a garden angel that came with the house in a flower bed at the top of the driveway. My idea of including the angel in these photos was nice, but not so practical without my hubby present to do the lifting!
Here are a few photos showing Jacob's garden angel sitting on the tree stump...
I also put out little garden stakes in the tree stump photos and around Jacob's tree in the front yard. I had found these stakes months prior on clearance somewhere. I just knew they would look perfect for something special like this. It was supposed to rain Friday night so I put them out early and brought everything in before the rain hit.
Animal garden stakes by Jacob's tree (I haven't weeded yet, daffodils still there along with lots of weeds!)
The boys and I sang happy birthday to Jacob at dinner and I worked on Jacob's little birthday display on the table. It wasn't much...just a few things I had pulled out. I had bought him a new giraffe. Don't ask me why but I did. I just felt like it was something I wanted to do. This was more expensive than the first giraffe I had bought after my D&C as this little guy plays music. I also arranged some little angel figurines and a few more small giraffe characters that I pulled out of the boys' toys. My little "centerpiece" still faces me each day when I sit down at my dining room table.
I know it doesn't sound like much, but just doing those things throughout the day felt special...it made me feel closer to Jacob some how. I'm glad I took the time to do what I had to.
I had written Jacob's birthday blog post purposely the night before so it would be dated April 20, 2012. I didn't want anything to get in the way of his birthday post being dated on the 20th. Knowing me and how things go around there, it was highly possible that I could have gotten distracted and not written until later that night. So throughout the day I checked in to my blog and was able to see how many people were reading it. Boy did that ever warm my heart! Thank you so much for your support!
And it wasn't just my blog that I was checking on. I had posted Jacob's birthday invitation on Facebook so was trying to keep up with acknowledging so many of you who had written the sweetest words to me and for him...when I think back to it now, it just brings tears to my eyes. Never in a million years would I have ever thought about how important of a role technology would play in something like this in my life. Facebook allowed my friends and family to connect with me on a day when I so needed it...I read and am still so very grateful for every single post on my wall and on Jacob's birthday page. It just meant so much to see all of the kind words, the prayers and the love and hugs heading our way on such a special day. Thank you to everyone who wrote something--even the comments on my blog are something that I truly treasure!
My heart also jumped for joy every time I received a graphic with his name on it. Graphics have become very popular in the babyloss community. We all know that we have a limited amount of photos of our baby--some women have none, others only a few ultrasounds and others a box of photos of the short time their child was on earth--but sadly, that's it. There will be no yearly school photos, photos with Santa or photos to mark special occasions like "first day of school". So baby name photos are extremely popular and treasured. And so are graphics which are beautifully designed with words and images of things special to you or your baby. Here are just a few that I was so thankful to receive.
Aren't they all just so beautiful? I am so touched that so many people took the time to create such special graphics for me and for Jacob. I am touched beyond words. Some of them showed candles that were lit for my little baby...to know that he was thought of and remembered with love all around the world was more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you to everyone who shared their time, talents and love to make Jacob's birthday so special in this way. It felt in so many ways like we had a "real" birthday party for him, do you know that? Even though he wasn't here with us, he had his birthday party and it was so full of love! That's all I ever wanted.
If all of these wonderful graphics and messages weren't enough, I was surprised by two boxes that came on Friday. My mom had surprised me with a beautiful jewelry/keepsake box that had a photo frame on top. In two of the four photo openings she had placed sweet baby giraffe photos. One of the photos was of a baby giraffe with angel wings! Did I cry? YOU BETCHA! :) Just something my grandma would say...yes, I most definitely cried...happy tears. I can't wait to put one of Jacob's ultrasound pictures in one of the openings and a name photo in the other. And of course I will put a lot of his smaller memory items inside.
The other surprise box was sent by a very dear friend in time for Jacob's last "First". She sent me a memory box for Jacob and I remember gasping as I pulled out each item in the beautiful blue box. She put so much care and time into everything that she packed for my sweet baby. I remember grinning from ear to ear while tears camped out on my face. I can't thank her enough for doing this for me.
Saturday, April 21, 2012--The Day After
Something ate Jacob's flowers! I came out Saturday morning with the dogs and went to check on Jacob's flowers, yes the very ones I had photographed with his baby garden angel the day before and the pink petunias were gone! Well, the flowers were gone, the remaining green stems and leaves were still there but all of the vibrant pink was gone. My jaw dropped and then slipped into a frown. I felt my heart get heavy for a second. I just couldn't believe it. I had bought those flowers as something cheery for Jacob's birthday...something beautiful. I planned on planting them once the spring warms up soon and whammo...something already got them.
When I told my mom later that night I said I figured it was a deer since we had so many deer in our neighborhood. I thought it was odd though. I had a ton of petunias in three different flower beds last summer and none of them were ever touched. Mom said it may have been a deer who went after my flowers because of it being early spring and there were not a lot of flowers blooming yet to munch on. Mom also said it could have been a bunny. We both smiled at that possibility...because of my connections of bunnies and Jacob (giraffes and bunnies...two very opposite animals, I know!). I felt better after that.
For the rest of the day, I remember feeling sluggish, kind of like I was in a funk. I didn't do much. I spent some time on the computer sending a graphic to a friend on mine who was celebrating her baby's first birthday in Heaven too. His name is also Jacob and I wanted to support her however I could that day. Doing that helped a bit. Other than that, I just putzed around the house. I think I was just feeling the after effects of Jacob's birthday...all of the "hoopla" was done. There wasn't anything left to plan. It was just me and the boys...and quiet. It was still. I needed busy but I found that I had to just allow the quiet because other than my "normal" routine, there was nothing else "big" I could do that day. So, I let the quiet come.
Sunday, April 22, 2012--Cake Day!
Daddy was home! After two back-to-back trips, Alex was finally home to be with us and to celebrate the love for our little sweetheart. His flight was late but I am so grateful that he made it home safely and not any later because I knew how tired he already was.
I cooked a yummy meal that he really enjoyed. The boys weren't too in to the Alfredo sauce but since my hubby liked it, I was happy! With daddy being gone recently, it was like everyone wanted his attention--I wanted to talk with him about Jacob's birthday and all of the sweet support we had gotten, the boys wanted his help transforming their transformers and the dogs (and cat) all wanted to be acknowledged too. I didn't mind. This is sometimes the norm for our house. Lots going on. We have young children who like to talk and to be heard. And we have animals who want a rub or a treat if they can get it. Alex and I usually just laugh...or share a wink when we can. It's much better than getting frustrated all the time!
I don't remember what happened but somehow our night ran late, probably all of the visiting and catching up we were doing. We hadn't done Jacob's cake yet and I could tell how tired Alex was. He was almost falling asleep at the table. I ran to quickly get the birthday hats and cake and he asked if we could celebrate tomorrow instead. I said, "No..." that we had to celebrate then as I'd been looking forward to this for days now. The boys had been looking forward to Jacob's birthday cake too. We had to squeeze it in if we could. I'm grateful that he understood.
When Alex first came home he left the cake out in the garage. I went out to get it and cried...the design was just perfect. Alex told me when he picked it up the woman who was working was the same woman who broke down on the phone with me when I ordered it. She told him it was hard to make and that she would never forget that cake. I hope that's a good thing and not a bad thing...I hope she remembers only the love that prompted the cake's design.
I love how the cake turned out! The Birthday Pooh and Tigger are reminiscent of both Sammy and Benny's First Birthday cakes. The yellow flower cross with the bees was a beautiful touch. And I told you I'd be adding a giraffe, didn't I? Found the perfect spot for him! I think he fits right in! :)
Here's a close-up of a toy giraffe I found hiding in a toy drawer. Just kind of shoved his feet straight into the cake. Benny added a few touches to my "display" in the back of the photo. :)
Notice this Tigger is on a stand. Our original birthday Tigger was balancing solely on his tail. Guess they firmed him up through the years. The birthday Pooh is the same. :)
I got the boys and I a piece of cake and we were so ooh-ing and aww-ing all over the place! Oh my goodness was that cake good! I am SO glad I picked that bakery...who, you ask? Kroger's! Butter creme icing! If you have a Kroger's near you, I wouldn't pass them up for anything! Boy was that cake good! (I hate to say this but it was WAY better than Sammy's birthday cake from another store just a month before! Even Sammy acknowledged it. My four-year-old Benny noted that it had, "...way more flavor", than Sammy's cake!)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - Jacob's birthday balloon launch...finally!
After several days of Jacob's birthday balloons hovering in our dining room, we finally stole a few moments to dash outside to launch them. Instead of walking down to the park at the end of our street like we did this past October for Jacob's first Angelversary, we stayed in our driveway.
Sammy, Benny and Daddy ready for launch!
Looking up towards Heaven...
Mommy and the boys looking towards Heaven (I was super casual obviously!)
Happy First Birthday Jacob...Mommy loves you so much!
This was our "count-down"...where we said our birthday wishes for Jacob. :) Don't you just love the balloons Alex picked out? I was so touched! He knows I love stars for Jacob...and butterflies. We had a butterfly, a baby themed balloon, a star and Sponge Bob! How appropriate and how fun!
Away they go!
Just barely cleared the tree!
The wind changed direction suddenly and Alex's star, Benny's butterfly and Sammy's Sponge Bob all sailed safely past the trees and into the sky.
But not mine! Mine got stuck! It was the tag I had attached to the end of Jacob's balloon that got caught as it attempted to manuever through some tree branches! I couldn't believe it.
I had written this heartfelt note to Jacob and here it was keeping my balloon stuck in the tree...would you believe that it had gotten stuck in Jacob's tree?
I had written this heartfelt note to Jacob and here it was keeping my balloon stuck in the tree...would you believe that it had gotten stuck in Jacob's tree?
My balloon stuck at the top right of Jacob's tree...
guess I couldn't have asked for a better tree for it to get stuck in!
I put on a happy face for the boys and said, "Well, maybe Jacob's balloon doesn't want to leave Mommy yet...it wants to stay here for awhile longer." Benny and Sammy both were concerned that the balloon was stuck and that it wouldn't make it to Heaven. I was ready to go back into the house and figured that sooner or later the balloon would either free itself or it would just deflate, droop and then hang there for days--a constant reminder of my failed balloon launch. It was then that Alex came out of the garage with a bag of soccer balls. He intended to free my balloon and I wondered how pitching soccer balls that high in to the air would turn out. I kept imagining myself attempting such a feat and saw either soccer balls getting flung into the street or me injuring myself somehow! After several attempts that had us all cracking up, wouldn't you know that Alex did it??? At first he just nudged the balloon a little higher to the next tree branch up, but then with the next toss he did it. What perfect aim! The balloon's "tail" with my heart-note was finally freed and it slowly drifted it's way upward. I joked with Alex that we'd probably find the balloon on the next street over as its helium wasn't the greatest since we'd had the balloons a few days. At least my balloon was free...just like my love for Jacob is free to soar forever.
Hubby waiting for the soccer ball to come back down
Wow! Finally knocked loose and free!
The wind changed direction again and my balloon followed the same lazy path as Alex's and the boys.
Can't see it here unfortunately!
Can't see it here unfortunately!
And so our lives went back to "normal" after several wonderful days full of love, full of support and full of taking the time to remember our sweet Jacob. I'm grateful for everything and so grateful too that I returned to my normal active life. I think having an active schedule kept me busy enough to not worry about the things I didn't get done--so I didn't have giraffe plates or get to do a giraffe craft with the boys...so they haven't made Jacob's birthday pictures yet...so Alex was super tired during our "Happy Birthday" song...so the sky wasn't blue when we released our sluggish balloons...so I forgot to pull out the Pooh plates...so the boys picked Cars hats instead to wear. So what.
What was important was the love that I felt, that we all felt during such a special time. It was truly a birthday party that I will remember always. It's just so freeing to know that we can include our baby in our lives even though he's gone. Will I have birthday parties every year for him? I can't say that for sure. I'd like to think that we probably will always do something little, maybe not as "planned" as this year's was, but who knows. I'm allowing myself the freedom and the choice to do what feels right each year. I will let my heart lead just as I have since the day we found out about Jacob's Trisomy 13 and his fatal diagnosis. For now, let me just say that I can't wait for next year's birthday. :) I spotted lots of giraffe birthday decor online that I just might like to order for down the road. And, since I don't think I can talk the boys into having that theme for their birthdays, I know Jacob will humor Mommy again and go for the spots! :)
I hope all of you know how very much I appreciate you...even the smallest of gestures can have tremendous impact on someone's life. They surely did mine. We just never know when we will make a difficult day for someone truly special. Thank you to everyone who did just that...and way more than you will ever know. :)
I have been working hard since Jacob's loss to give back to the babyloss community in as many ways as I can. I'll be sharing more about what I've been doing (and planning) in the next several months. One way that I'd like to give back is to hold more giveaways on my blog. I hope you'll check back here on Friday for my next giveaway! A wonderful author friend of mine is donating an autographed copy of one of her new releases! To enter, all you will need to do is to comment here on Friday, May 5! See you soon!
With grateful thoughts of all of you...thank you for making Jacob's First Birthday so special and so memorable. May your love for those in your life and in your heart soar freely too...