Abigail's first birthday was yesterday. We celebrated her party on Saturday. I feel so grateful that I have her to celebrate. I remember thinking I would never get to see a first birthday. There were aspects of grief that made her birthday hard-the fact that Caleb didn't get one-or at least not one like I would have liked to give him. The weird feeling that while Abigail is growing up-Caleb remains forever an infant. He never changes. And then the unknowns of all the questions that flew through my head:
What would his party have looked like?
Would we have thrown a big party?
What would he have been into?
Would he have been walking already?
As I was grabbing one last item from our attic the morning of her party-I caught this out of the corner of my eye. It was in the pile of his clothes that I plan to make a quilt out of.
Birthday Boy-12 months in size-tags still on it. I can't remember if I bought this or if he got it as a gift. Either way- we all thought he would wear it. I have clothes for him all the way up to month 24! I still have clothes upstairs in my attic for my dead child that he still would not have fit into yet! It all seems strange to me...
Sometimes I think there was some wisdom in the olden days of keeping stillbirth a hush-hush topic. Things like this-trying to live in parallel worlds- have the ability to make a person a little crazy. But then I think- having two kids makes anyone a little crazy. Yes, I parent Caleb very differently than Abigail-but I still parent him. That is why I am thankful that the tide is turing in some sense on the secrecy of stillbirth. I am free to share him with the world, even if it doesn't look normal.
Speaking of which, here is an excellent article published recently on breaking the silence of stillbirth. Still amazing to me that
"about26,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth in the United States each year, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s about 1 in 160 pregnancies. More than one-third of these deaths are never explained. To compare, SIDS takes the lives of 2,500 babies each year in the United States."
There really needs to be more done to help spread the word about stillbirth. So if you feel like sharing the article, please do.
In summary-I feel relieved that I made it through Abigail's birthday. Now I can start to gear up for Caleb's birthday. We are planning a small weekend trip for his birthday this year. Just the three of us-probably to St. Louis to visit the zoo. I'm not exactly sure yet, but I know I want to leave. I don't want to be here for year two.
There is one thing I know-that Caleb was smiling down on his little sister Saturday at her party. I imagine he laughed with the rest of us as she inhaled her cake! Feeling grateful for both my children today, but still wishing they were both here...