Happy Birthday, Jillian

Dear Jillian,

Happy Birthday, Monkey. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since you were born. In some ways, it feels like yesterday, but like I said to Daddy the other day, I can barely remember life before you.

Even though I’ve been planning to make this a nice day, I know it’s going to be hard. I know that all day, I’ll be reliving everything. In the late afternoon, I’ll remember that it’s about the time that my water broke, and later in the night, I’ll be thinking about the moment you were born, and the three tiny cries that came from you. I’ll remember being wheeled into the NICU to visit you for the first time and being so scared that I would hurt you. I’ll be reliving your entire life in my mind over the next few days – the moments when you made Daddy and me so proud, made us laugh so hard, the fear we felt, and of course the moment our entire world crumbled into pieces around us.

I am still so heartbroken, stunned, and angry about losing you, but I’m trying to focus on how fortunate we were to get the time that we did. I’ve said this before, but if I could choose between never having you or this pain, or having things just the way they are, even with all the heartache, I would choose you every time. I wouldn’t trade our time for anything. When I’m feeling really down, I remember how lucky we were to have you, no matter how briefly. As scary and sad as they were, those were the four most important days of my life and I will cherish them until I die.

Last night as I was making cookies for your day, the fact that I was making cookies for my dead daughter’s birthday hit me like a ton of bricks. Either way, I would have been making cookies, but I would give anything for them to be for your first birthday party instead of a day of remembrance. Suddenly, I found myself trying to figure out if the past year had really happened, hoping that I would wake up, still 24 weeks pregnant, living the blissful, happy life that I had taken for granted. Obviously that’s not the case. Instead, I’m 28 weeks pregnant with your little brother, and I still have a wonderful, happy life, but there will always be something missing. I will always wonder how things would be if things had gone the way the wanted them to and I will always wish that we still had you here with us.

We’ve received some gifts and cards for you, which means more than I can express. Everyone remembers you, little one. It makes me so happy to know that Daddy and I aren’t the only ones remember what a beautiful, strong, little girl you were.

We love you and miss you so much, Jilly Girl. I could write that I love you a million times and it wouldn’t be enough. Happy birthday, love.

Love,
Mommy

9 months

Dear Jillian,

Happy 9 months, baby girl. I didn’t think it would ever be possible to miss you even more, but as time goes on, I do. Being pregnant has intensified it. Everything I feel is a reminder of being pregnant with you, which of course makes me think about you being gone.

Whenever I cry, it’s for two reasons. The strongest grief is because I’m missing you, but I also cry because I’m worried that being pregnant will make everyone forget. I’m afraid that people think that just because I’m pregnant again, we’re okay. I’m afraid they’ll think we got over you. I’m afraid that the new baby will be celebrated as our first. Daddy keeps reminding me that we’re the only ones who matter, and we know that you were our first child, first love, and we will never forget, but I’m still afraid. I’m so protective of you, and I’m a little scared of how I’ll react if someone leaves you out. I’m a little afraid I’ll wind up in jail for assault.

I’m hoping we’ll find out soon whether your sibling is a brother or sister, and to be honest, I’m scared. We will obviously be happy either way, but I’m worried about the feelings I’ll have. We will be ecstatic to have another girl, but then I think about the big sister she won’t have here with her, and I ache at the thought of you missing out on her. I think of her wedding day, and it stings to know that you can’t stand beside her. If this baby is a boy, we’ll still be ecstatic and I’ll still grieve the relationship you’ll each be missing. I love my brothers so much and am so thankful for them, and I don’t want you missing out on that.

We’ll be okay, though. We’ll get through it together, and I can promise you that your little brother or sister is going to know all about you. He or she will see your pictures, hear all about you, use your blanket, and know the footprints and handprints hanging on our bedroom wall are yours. He or she will know that you were the bravest little girl who fought so hard, and because of you, he or she will never be taken for granted. His or her life will be better because of you, just like Daddy’s and mine.

We love you and miss you so much, Monkey. I love you more than anything.

Love,
Mommy

Eight Months

Dear Jillian,

How is it possible that it’s been eight months already? We have so much going on that time is flying.

While I usually feel pretty good about how fast time is going, sometimes I hate it. Last week, after we went to bed, Daddy mentioned that he couldn’t believe it was almost August. He then said that he doesn’t think about things in terms of “the summer flying by” anymore, and when he started to say how he thinks of it, I finished his sentence: now it’s how long you’ve been gone.

I told him I needed to stop talking about it because I was going to cry. I thought about how before we know it, it will be a year since I’ve held you, kissed you, smelled you, or told you that I love you more than anything in the world. I still tell you that every day, but it’s not the same as telling you while I’m sitting at your bedside or holding you. Suddenly, I was crying harder than I have in a while. I couldn’t catch my breath and the world was closing in on me. It’s just so unfair that the most important part of our lives is gone. We’re both so thankful for all the good things in our lives, and we know that in some ways, we’re very fortunate, but most of it doesn’t mean anything. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t give up to have you back, even for just another minute.

We love you and miss you so much, Jilly bear. I still can’t believe that I was lucky enough to be your mommy. Even though I’ve been very sad, nothing makes me smile as much as thinking of you.

Love,
Mommy

Seven months

Dear Jillian,

I don’t know how this day is here already. I guess we’ve been busier than I thought. Looking through my posts here, I obviously haven’t been posting as much. I think it’s partially due to healing, but I also don’t have much to say that I haven’t already written. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about you constantly.

My birthday was on Saturday, and I had been dreading it. I couldn’t have the only thing I wanted, and it was a reminder that you’ll never have a birthday. It ended up being a lot like my due date – the anticipation was much worse than the actual day.

On the other hand, I hadn’t really considered how difficult yesterday would be. We came to the Cape to spend the holiday with friends. These are the same friends whose Christmas party we were getting ready for when my water broke. Fortunately, we’re at a different house. I haven’t been to their home since then, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to go there. Anyway, just seeing them is a reminder of the Christmas party we never made it to, and everything that happened afterwards.

The hardest part has been watching the mommy with her two daughters. Her love is obviously fierce and they clearly adore her. All I can think about when watching them interact is the relationship we missed out on, and it hurts. Watching the younger daughter is more difficult. She’s hilarious and sweet, and she always has a look in her eye like she’s up to something. It’s how I imagined you would be and it makes me miss you like nothing else. I kept picturing you in the white dress with red and blue anchors that is hanging in your closet and imagined how big you would be and how proud I would have been to show off my sweet girl.

There were so many times yesterday when I wanted to jump into the car and drive home. I wanted to escape, but I knew that leaving here wouldn’t help me escape anything. If we had gone home, I’d still be in the same hell I’ve been in since we lost you. There is no escape. Time has made it easier, but I will never stop wishing I could change everything.

We love you and miss you so much, Monkey. You are my heart and i don’t know how I’m surviving without you.

Love,
Mommy

Five months

Dear Jillian,

I can’t believe it’s been five months already since you were born. Daddy and I are hanging in there, but we still miss you so much that it hurts our hearts. We talk about you every day, think about you constantly, and still talk to you all the time.

I had a pretty rough weekend. Well, it was a great weekend because I was with some friends that I love very much, but one of them has a baby who was born two weeks before you. She is such a sweet baby, and I loved every second I got of holding her and playing with her, but at one point, it hit me that I should have been at home tickling your belly and telling you what a pretty girl you were. Thankfully, my friends were very supportive and understanding, but it’s still tough.

While I was traveling, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Aidan’s mommy, Maggie. We had such a good visit and it was so nice to know that we could say whatever we wanted knowing that the other would understand and wouldn’t be uncomfortable. I was lucky enough to see a picture of Aidan, and he was gorgeous. I’m thinking you already know this, because I know in my heart you’re playing together and taking care of each other.

I got a new pendant for my necklace this weekend. It’s a tiny key, and I put it next to the little urn I wear. The card the key came on reads “Memories are like treasures. They are always there to appreciate, and only become more valuable with time. Wear your necklace as a reminder that your most joyful moments live forever in your mind.” How true that is.

I miss you so much, Monkey. Even though I feel like we’re learning to live this new life without you and we’re coping as well as we possibly can, I still can’t believe you’re gone. ¬†We love you more than anything, Jillian.

Love,
Mommy

Four Months

Dear Jillian,

Happy four months, baby girl. I feel like I say this every fifth of the month, but I can’t believe it’s been another month already.

I had a dream about you last night. I don’t remember much about it other than holding you in my arms and staring into your big brown eyes. We never got to see your eyes open, but I’m sure they looked like mine. It was such a peaceful dream. You were big and healthy, and there were no tubes, wires, or beeping machines. It was just us, happily gazing at each other. I woke up from the dream very suddenly and realized I was cradling our bunched up comforter in my arms. I tried to fall back asleep so I could hopefully see you again, but instead I lay there, wide awake, for almost four hours.

I was telling Daddy yesterday how that in spite of losing you, I feel happier now than I have in years. We were trying to figure out why that is. Daddy mentioned that it could be from all the love and support we’ve received, and while he’s right about that, there’s so much more to it. I go through each day fighting for you. I feel like because your life was so short, I owe it to you to live the best, happiest life I possibly can. All I want is to make you proud. You, Jilly bear, are getting me through this. I won’t lie – the Zoloft helps, but most of the credit goes to you. You are my strength.

We love you and miss you so much, Jilly. I hope I see you in my dreams again soon.

Love,
Mommy

Three Months

Dear Jillian,

Happy three-month birthday, monkey bear. I can’t believe how quickly the last month passed. Aside from February obviously being the shortest month, it went by in a flash. It feels like I just wrote your two-month letter yesterday.

I miss you more than ever, but I’ve been doing okay. The only thing that has changed is we got a dog named Baxter. He’s little and funny and gives me love as much as he can. I have so many projects I want to work on but I haven’t touched them because I cuddle with Baxter all day. I’ve already told him all about my favorite baby ever (you, obviously) and he does his best to comfort me. I wish you could be here to meet him.

Your due date is getting closer and I’m not handling it very well. I’m hoping that Daddy and I will be able to spend the day thinking about all the happiness and joy you brought into our lives, but I know we’ll be doing some crying, too.

I miss you and love you so much, Jilly girl. You are constantly on my mind and in my heart. I will never stop missing you.

Love,
Mommy

P.S. Now that we have Baxter, I can tell you that I still love you more than both kitties and the dog combined times a billion.

Two months

Dear Jillian,

Happy two-month birthday, love. It’s hard to believe that you made your entrance into this world two months ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like it was ages ago.

We’ve been doing okay, but some moments are so hard. Realizing that you’re really gone and won’t be returning is the hardest part. I think I was in such a state of shock for a while after you died that it hadn’t really sunk in, despite the heartbreak we were both feeling. We talked last week about how you have made us realize how strong our relationship is, and you’ve helped us to be better parents. Even though nobody will ever replace you, we hope to have another baby as soon as we can, and we know that you would want that for us. We’ll be better parents to that baby because of everything you taught us. You did so much for us in your short life. You changed us forever, for the better.

I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not I would have made different decisions if I had known how soon your life would end and how much pain your death would cause for Daddy and me. I know that we would have made the same choices because we wouldn’t want to have missed out on the time we had with you. The only thing that would change my thoughts on that is knowing that you may have been suffering and in pain, but the doctors and nurses did everything they could to make sure you were not in pain, so I’m comfortable with that. I’d do it all over again for the amazing experience of being your mother.

I wouldn’t be surviving this without your daddy. Sometimes I feel guilty about my pain causing more pain and worry for him, but we’re in this together, so it is what it is. Sometimes, when I see him from the side, I see a flash of you. It takes my breath away. Even though the nurses said you got my nose (thank goodness), I see your profile when I look at his, especially your chin. Sometimes I stare at his chin while he’s sleeping (I promise, it’s not as creepy as it sounds), and I lie there smiling as I remember you.

Every now and then, I sit here and imagine what would be happening if you were still here. I think about how big you would be and all of the progress you would have made by now. Sometimes it feels like I’m torturing myself, but the escape from reality warms my heart like nothing else. I also like to think about the actual time we had together. I can still feel your tiny fist near my neck as I held you, and I remember feeling like you were trying to burrow yourself into my skin. It’s amazing that the best and worst times of my life are all the same moments.

I love you with all my heart, Jilly bear. I will never stop missing you

Love,
Mommy

One month ago today

Jillian was born one month ago from today. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like it was all a dream. I was lying in bed this morning thinking about how different life was a month ago, and I just couldn’t believe what has happened and how much everything has changed.

We managed to get through yesterday. There were some tough moments. One of the hardest moments happened when I checked the mail and found Jillian’s insurance card inside. The timing of so many things has been difficult. Why coudln’t it have come on Saturday, when Dave was here with me, or even today, after I’ve had a day to adjust to him being at work? There have been some crappy coincidences, too, like Dave getting a jury notice for March 24, which was Jillian’s due date. These are the kinds of things that make me want to stay in bed.

I’ve been reminded since Jillian was born and since she died that are truly good people in this world, which is something that’s easy to forget sometimes. Friends and family have been unbelievably supportive, even through their own grief. People who just a short time ago were strangers on the internet have become a lifeline. Friends I’ve fallen out of touch with, including high school and college classmates that I haven’t spoken to since graduation, have contacted me to let me know that they’re there if there’s anything they can do. I am so grateful for all of the support we’ve received.

Dear Jillian,

Happy one-month birthday, Jilly Girl. We still miss you so much and love you more than anything. Daddy and I wouldn’t be able to get through this if we weren’t together, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without knowing that you’re watching over us. As much as it hurts to be without you, we’re going to be okay. It doesn’t feel like it sometimes, but we’re doing everything we can to get there.

I saw a magnet while I was out yesterday that made me think of you. It said “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” It was a good reminder that we’ll survive this. While our world never be complete, hopefully we’ll be able to find happiness and beauty in life again. It will be bittersweet because you aren’t physically here with us, but we know you’ll feel our happiness.

I love you more than anything in the world, even more than both kitties combined times a million (but you still can’t tell them I said that).

Love,
Mommy