|Taken at daycare, just hours before she passed away|
I always pumped in the morning, and I fed her a bottle of breastmilk in her little rocker while I pumped. I talked to her and held her bottle while I pumped for her next feeding. But that morning I had propped it up for a second, she wiggled and lost the nipple, and the milk from the bottle dribbled all over her neck and clothes. She was pretty wet, so I had to change her again. I don’t remember dressing her the first time that morning…but that second time, where I had to pick out another outfit for her, I remember having a difficult time. I grabbed one outfit from the 6-9 month clothes I had just washed. She was just outgrowing the 3-6 month ones, and was fitting in to some of the 6-9, but as I grabbed it I thought, “Oh no rush, she’ll have plenty of time to wear this one.” And I grabbed her pink sweatpants outfit with an elephant on the jacket. When I pulled off her outfit, I kissed her little tummy, and she giggled and pulled at my face. I remember that open-mouthed grin, the one where her eyes got so squinty they almost disappeared…that meant she was SO happy! I sang to her, and she giggled and smiled some more.
That whole morning seems so surreal now. But I am so, so happy, that one year later I am still able to look back and be thankful for the moments that I had with her. I can honestly say that though I miss her immensely, and would do anything to have her in my arms again, I don’t let the “what could have been” moments consume my days. I am thankful that God allowed me to have that little angel in my life, even if she couldn’t stay for my entire life as I had dreamed she would. I wouldn’t trade those 4 months and 21 days for anything, even if it meant I never had to know pain like this.
And I still think that her 4am wake-up calls that whole week were just to give me extra moments with her. I think she knew she wasn’t staying. I know that probably sounds crazy to some, but to those who have experienced having an angel in their lives, I think they will understand me perfectly.
One of the most difficult things is that I don’t have a physical scar. When people look at me, they can’t tell that I’m in pain. Not like if I had lost an arm or a leg. On the outside, I look just fine. If I’m having a bad day, people make their comments or look at me sideways. And I wish, for just TEN SECONDS they could feel what I’m feeling. I wouldn’t wish it on them their whole life, no one should have to carry this pain around with them…but just for a few seconds, just so they understand that just because someone “appears” to have this wonderful life, it doesn’t mean they do. It just means they are making the most out of what they have.
And, while I’m making wishes…I wish that everyone who lost a baby to SIDS got to take a year off after their next child is born. That seems fair. If only that were possible, but sadly, in our case it is not.
We actually got Josh a puppy a few weeks ago. His name is Peanut. Honestly, Peanut has been a blessing for us. I was completely opposed to getting a dog, especially a small dog, but I fell in love. I had to have him. Hearing Josh call himself “big brother” again, brings tears to my eyes. I seriously should’ve done this shortly after losing Reese, I think it would’ve helped him quite a bit. But, better late than never!
|Josh and Peanut|
At this time of sadness and despair, our family also has a little bit of happiness. We are celebrating life. A new life, to be exact. I am 12 weeks pregnant with our 3rd baby. I took Josh to the ultrasound on Monday, and he was mesmerized (well, for a whole 5 minutes!) with that tiny little baby on the screen, with its hands up by its mouth. It is strange to feel so much happiness and so much sadness at the same time. But I know that Reese is watching us. I think she already knows this baby, and this baby will have a connection to her that none of us could even dream of.
I want to thank all of my friends and family who supported me over the last year. And thanks for the beautiful flowers, cards, and gifts we received this week. The love and support is overwhelming.
|AJ and I visiting Reese on her First Angelversary|
In the words of Josh, who at the age of 4 ½, is wiser than most adults I know, “It will be sad when we die, but it will be so wonderful to see Reesey again.” Truer words were never spoken. Until I see you again, sweet baby girl, Happy First Angelversary! And one of these days, I hope your wings bring you down here for one more smooch for Mama!