Everything has changed and nothing has changed.
This thought has rolled around in my head a lot lately as I near the end of this pregnancy, possibly days away from meeting Ruthie Lou's brother.
Everything has changed and nothing has changed.
Looking superficially at our life, nothing has changed. It is still Chris, our dog, cat and me. I am still (once again) pregnant. We are still (once again) expecting a child. Chris still keeps his same job, working to finish his paramedic, I still teach 5th grade. We still do the same activities, he loves to work out and I do too, if I were able to right now. We still laugh, we still play, we still surround ourselves with friends. Nothing has changed.
Until you look closer.
Everything has changed. We had a baby, a beautiful little girl, our sweet precious child. We are parents even if nobody outside us can see that. We are pregnant with our second child, not our first, even though his sister isn't carried in our arms. Chris and I are stronger because we share the largest bond that parents do, the unique love for your child, and our love continues to struggle in this new role not because we sleep deprived with an infant as we wish, but because we are sleep deprived in grief at times. He is the only one in the world who endured each experience before, during and after our daughters short life, the one who loves and misses her equal to me. The only one.
Everything has changed. Our outside relationships are so different now, all of them. Some have suffered, changed and/or ended, struggling to find how to "be" with us. Some have left and unknowingly we don't if that was a conscious choice, ours or theirs. Some have triumphed where it was so hard in the beginning but the love for each other so so worth it, we figured it out leaving the relationship even more valued that we worked through it. Some have strengthened, the "be"ing second nature, natural, so easy. Not one relationship is the same anymore because we have all lost someone we loved this year whether it was our sweet girl or the friend you once had, the people that Chris and I used to be.
Everything has changed. I am not naive to think that pregnancy=baby anymore, I wish I was. Birth is no longer my biggest fear in pregnancy, survival is. I was so scared of the pain and recovery of Ruthie Lou's birth. I wish that were my only fear now. I still fear birth, but I fear our boys survival of birth now. I fear that he dies before he gets in my arms. I fear he is missing chromosomes. I fear I fell in love with my child again and we won't get to keep him.
Everything has changed. I miss feeling normal. Most times I do feel normal because our life hasn't changed outwardly but I miss the way things used to be. The stupid things I would worry about, the unimportant things that would create chaos in my life. I miss being carefree in my love for my babies. I miss the life we didn't get to have with our daughter. I wish my relationship with my daughter were tangible, seen by others, not created without ever being able to have her here. I get tired of thinking about death. I miss feeling understood.
Everything and nothing has changed. If nobody would notice a difference from the outside, why do I feel like an entirely different person leading an entirely unknown life?
We enjoyed the most beautiful Ruthie Lou birthday. After much anticipation and anxiety leading to the day, not knowing what to expect or how we might feel, it was so peaceful. What a relief! We loved her entire birthday; the magic, the signs, the community, the beauty, the peace, the serenity, the love, and the thoughtful caring compassion of those who continually surround us near and from afar. Thank you endlessly.
We are now in Ruthie Lou's "month". We have had nearly a year of practicing this "new" life and at times it feels like an eternity while other moments it has felt like an instant. I can remember experiencing these days like it was yesterday, the hope, the prayers, the love, the devastation, the heartbreak. Unbelievably at times it still feels unreal. It felt so good to spend the day celebrating the moment Ruthie Lou set foot on this Earth, to truly celebrate that day, the time before we knew what the future held. We could not have endured the last year without support and we are so grateful to be continually provided with love and respect for us and our sweet girl.
Also, thank you for posting your stories and her stories, sharing your love and sharing her love. We have appreciated the time you have spent contributing to her "book" for her siblings and encourage you to find some time before her "special day" September 10th to write your message. It has felt so good to read the messages thus far, to hear stories that we never have before and to be reminded of those we have forgotten. As each story has trickled in, they have warmed our hearts and brightened our day. What a beautiful gift this will be for Ruthie Lou's siblings and for our family. We are so grateful.
Once again, thank you for being part of our daughter's life.
Thank you for being present in our life.
We need your love and we need you.
You are so appreciated.
"For a moment out of time We hold in our hands A life that hovers Between two worlds." Beneath the Surface, Sheila Pyatt (author & Ruthie Lou's Aquatic Therapist)
For a brief moment we held her...and held her and held her and held her. We held her as much as we physically possibly could and it was still not enough. It would never have been enough, we knew that then, we know that now. Nearly 366 days ago, of course this a leap year, was the best day of my life. I birthed my sweet beautiful perfect girl. I gratefully labored hours for her, I knew she was worth all the pain. And she was.
I look back to the moment leading up to the day of her birth and I wonder what guided us through that time? Why did we make one decision over another? How did all this come together so that we would get 33 days with her? Each decision made, knowingly or unknowingly, provided us with as much time as we possibly could have had with our sweet Ruthie Lou. It was not the miracle we had hoped for but it was still nothing short of a miracle in itself. Her life was already determined, as all of ours are, yet there were certain things that had to fall in place in order for us to get so much time with Ruthie Lou. It was truly a miracle to have had so much time. Not enough time, but there is never enough time to say good bye to the most loved person in your life.
Miracles of her birth to allow her so much life: She came early. Her cord was wrapped and meconium inhaled. Coming early was a blessing. Her cord was wrapped, she inhaled meconium. This criteria helped send her to Oakland. Ruthie Lou's birth was non medicated and supported by the wonderful staff at Santa Rosa Kaiser. It may or may not have helped Ruthie Lou, but there was not a "bed" for me in Oakland. So free from meds, this allowed me to walk out of the hospital when I needed to, to be discharged within hours of birth to drive to Oakland ASAP. She was sent to Oakland. There was no damage from birth. We discovered her chromosomal abnormality. It was a blessing to have been discovered. We knew her genetic makeup. Had we brought her home from the hospital, she could have died there without any explanation to us. Our Kaiser Oakland nurses fed us, loved us, loved Ruthie Lou. They helped give us the nutritional energy and loving support to be present every moment for our girl.
We hella love Oakland!
The same nurses/staff introduced us to George Mark Children's house, Ruthie Lou's home. We were given the "gift of time". We spent her final 12 days free from machines, enjoying LIFE with our daughter, being supported through her life, her transition and today....the nurses, staff and founders are forever our family. Each and every physical step of Ruthie Lou's life was a miracle, a blessing. It was not as we had hoped. It was not what we wanted. But if we had to endure the same outcome, we feel so fortunate that this was the path of her life, that these steps must have been taken so we could have her as long as physically possible. It was never enough nor would ever be enough but it was as long as we possibly could have had with our sweet girl in our arms, 33 days to hold and love our child. Our first born, our beautiful, perfect girl. We love her so much.
Ruthie Lou experienced unconditional love her entire life from the moment she was born until the moment she left our arms. Each miracle sent our way allowed us to provide her life with TIME to show her the warm sunshine on her skin, the sounds of the waterfall, the birds and critters flying trough the trees, beautiful sunsets, the warm tub she loved, arts and crafts, snuggles all day & night, and the sound of her mama and dad, loving, laughing, crying, singing, reading, and talking to her and each other ALL DAY LONG.
Her life was real and it was full and it was important.
The last year....
Has been unbelievable
Has been hard
Has been a journey
Has given meaning to our life
Has given us a passion to be our best
Has prioritized everything
Has been an instant
Has been filled with tears, hope, joy and beauty
Has bonded life long unbreakable relationships, friendships, family
Has taught me more about myself than I ever knew or probably ever wanted to know
Has created comfort in an imperfect life
Has shown me a great man, my husband, Ruthie Lou's dad
Has been nurtured by the love FOR and FROM our daughter
I remember writing when Ruthie Lou was alive, asking, how do people survive this heartbreak. I still do not have the answer other than, THEY DO. Humans are resilient. So resilient. Even when we would rather give up, that choice was never a choice for us. We love Ruthie Lou too much to ever give up. We love each other too much to give up and leave the other alone in this life. We made a pact to each other before Ruthie Lou died that the life we live and the love we give is all because of our love for her. We live, we love because she is not here. Our life is the proof of gratitude for her choosing us. It is not always easy, it is not what we wanted but we know what she wanted for us, to live a good, loving , and full life and so we do it for her.
Ruthie Lou's birthday MAY be a hard day for us, it MAY NOT be. Sometimes the anxiety or apprehension of an event is worse that the actual day. We know it can't be any harder than the 11 months of days we have endured without her. So we are not anticipating the day to be one way or another and we hope you can do the same for us. Ruthie Lou's labor was beautiful and the day of her birth was so full of love, we did not know what the next month would bring.
So we will celebrate her LOVE and LIFE on Thursday, August 9, 2012 as we have each day since last year. Celebrations can look so different, sometimes filled with laughter, stories, smiles and love and sometimes filled with sadness, aching pains and tears because we love so much. Both are beautiful and both are necessary and both are love.
For Ruthie Lou's birthday and month of her life please celebrate with us. I have another request from those of you who still read our sweet girl's updates- please comment on her GUESTBOOK, NOT Facebook or email. Caringbridge offers beautifully bound books of all the updates and messages that are shown on these pages and after Ruthie Lous "month" has ended, we will be publishing this Caringbridge book for her siblings to know her through you, for us to remember her joy always, and to chronicle her life in print. We would love to have your current messages to print. We ask that these messages be sent in the next 33 days this year to celebrate her 33 days of life last year.
We so desperately want her siblings to know her and this book will be that gift to them Please share anything you like! If you need guidance we would love to hear once again but now with a year of experience:
How has your life been touched, changed, blessed because of our daughter?
How has her brief journey on Earth affected you?
How do you live differently? Love differently?
How do you regard the sweetness of family, friends, nature, and life since the last year has passed?
What is your favorite "Ruthie Lou" memory having met her or not, a ladybug or story of love that was your symbol of her this last year?
All these messages help us in our hardest days, the moments we need your support but don't have the energy to call. The written word can so beautifully provide the love that we need in a moment and throughout our lifetimes to be reminded that Ruthie Lou's life MEANT something to YOU, too. . Please celebrate Ruthie Lou on her birthday this week and all through this month from 8/9-9/10 and share with us the love her life has shared with you.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.