This is by the far the hardest post I’ve written in the past twelve months. It has been a full year since my heart was broken in the cruelest way. It has been twelve months since I gave birth to my daughter, my firstborn, the child who made me a mother. Twelve months since I’ve seen her face and kissed her forehead. Twelve months since I had to watch the nurses take my daughter away knowing I would never see her again.
There is something about 12 months that opens the wounds again. I should be planning her first birthday and picking out what gifts we were going to get her. Probably arguing that her birthday is close to Easter so we don’t really need to get her that much. And she’s only one, how much does a one year old need for their birthday? But instead, it’s deciding what is appropriate to honor her birthday. Should we do anything this year? Can we handle the day?
This has been difficult for me. I am not a person to look back on what was or what should have been. My general outlook in disappointments is that I wasn’t supposed to have that. I wasn’t supposed to make that cheerleading team, marry that boyfriend, or get that job. I never looked back because I always assumed something better would be coming along. Always had faith that life would turn out like its supposed to.
But then I lost my daughter. This was not supposed to happen. Please don’t ever tell me that. This is not what was supposed to happen, it should never happen to anyone. And generally over the last 12 months I have tried to not let my mind wonder what would have been. Seeing my dear friends and family raise their children and get to see all their baby’s “firsts”. It did not trigger me like I thought it would – I do not know why. I loved seeing them raise their babies and love their kiddos. It provided me an outlet to get my baby fix by loving their kids.
Then we had our son, Rowan. And suddenly I knew what I was missing. This caused the grief to rip wide open. I suddenly knew what snuggles I’d missed. I knew what listening to Paul sing our son to sleep looked like. I saw Rowan’s milk drunk smiles in his sleep that make my heart leap. The overwhelming feeling of sadness comes on quickly. And then it goes away after a few minutes. It’s just moments. Its a reminder that I will be grieving the loss of my daughter my entire life. It will not go away.
The grief washes over me usually late in the night/early morning when I am up nursing Rowan. The lights are low and when I look down I can see glimpses of Cora. When his eyes are closed and lips pouty – I see her. Or when his long fingers reach up to swat at my face – they look like Cora’s long fingers. And then it starts, I just cry. Poor kiddo gets tears on his head but he doesn’t seem to mind. I weep because I miss her. I want the chance to do these things with Cora but I won’t ever have them.
Then I cry more when the moment passes and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Rowan. I am so lucky to be holding him in my arms. I am so lucky to be sleep deprived and exhausted. At times I have felt guilty for feeling sad or letting my grief drown me for the moment. I know so many who are trying to have a baby, struggled to have a baby, or have been told they will never carry a child. Why should I want more when there are so many who will never get this chance? My doctor said we have permission to say this part, the newborn phase, is hard and isn’t always fun. That its okay if we feel that way. I understand what she is saying and tried to fight it. But honestly, having a newborn is really hard. And having a newborn while still grieving the loss of our daughter is really hard. He is not a replacement for what we have lost. He is not a band-aid.
A year without Cora means a year closer to seeing her face again. But as much as I want to see her again, I do not want that time to come anytime soon. In my really weepy moments, I try to remember what I said at Cora’s memorial – to have courage and be kind. I have to start shifting my mind to “what would have been” to what I can do for her legacy.
I wanted to do something for Cora’s birthday this year that was inspired by a friend and fellow loss mom. She has given to charity in honor of her daughter with age appropriate items. I remember reading about her donating books to a local school well before we had Cora and thought what an incredible act of kindness it was. And an incredible act of love. Taking the pain of loving and losing a child and turning it into a gift for others.
Between the newborn fog and the closeness of their birthdays, I’m not as organized as I’d hoped. And that’s okay. I plan to donate formula and diapers to a local charity that help teenage mothers in honor of Cora this year. It won’t happen this weekend but I’ll get myself in order to do it in a few weeks. But I would like to task those of you reading this to please consider doing your own act of kindness in memory of our Cora. It doesn’t have to be today, this week, or even this month. But if you feel so inclined, go out of your way to do something kind for someone else. Or have the courage to pick someone else up when they are down, even if it’s not in your normal comfort zone. Go to your local park and pick up trash or bring breakfast tacos to the office. Put something wonderful out into the world.
Cora cannot leave her own legacy. We must do it for her. I want her legacy, her impact in my life and others lives to be that of kindness and courage. To seek kindness in our hearts admist our deepest pain. To seek the courage to face the dark days and know that the sadness is temporary. There will be joy again one day. And there will be happiness again.
Cora, our sweet girl. We love you with all of our hearts and we miss you every day. We are thankful for the time we had with you & the impact you have had on our lives. Your life has already shaped us into the parents we are today and will be in the future. We will always love you & we will never ever forget you.
Fly high my sweet angel💜.