I held my baby, the greatest gift of all today, the day of my 31st birthday. Ruthie Lou took her final breath in our arms this afternoon. She was welcomed with the angels patiently waiting her arrival. We imagine her grammas swooning over her, Papa Jock welcoming her, Captain's tail wagging so hard as it knocked everything over, along with the many others we couldn't wait for her to meet...or see again. It was a beautiful and heart wrenching moment that maybe I will share later but for now, I wrote the following journal as I patiently waited for my turn to hold Ruthie Lou this morning, it was only fair for dad and me to take turns....the entry ends abruptly as my turn began and all attention given to my sweetest angel. She eternally blessed us as I hope she has blessed you.
We fell asleep Thursday after saying what I thought would be our last goodnight. Earlier in the evening I asked Chris what he wanted to do in case it was Ruthie Lou's last night and he said,"Are we gonna do this tomorrow night, too?" I replied, "If we're lucky. I hope we do."
Friday morning we up with Ruthie Lou silently breathing right beside us. I sang her the "good morning" song and she was able to muster a smile for her mama. Her color had lightened, her breathing more shallow, but she was there with us, once again refusing to leave. We spent the day doing Ruthie Lou's favorites. We went to the hot tub earlier than normal, loved her up in her favorite place to be, the water. One day, a lady here asked how we know the water is her favorite and let me tell you, a mama knows! The moment Ruthie Lou's body touches the water, her body relaxes, awake or asleep, it always ends the same way, she eventually falls asleep! Dad had to run out for a bit so Ruthie Lou and I sat in our favorite rocking chair, listened to the wind and watched the critters fly, the bees, bugs, moths, butterflies and our friend the hummingbird. We could even hear Pistachio, a cousin of Peanut and Almond (dad, you know who I mean!)
And finally, last night we watched the sunset once again from our favorite chair. We didn't talk much, I don't have much else to tell little miss Ruthie Lou, we are beyond words. Instead, we sang lots of songs, she even curled her lips for a quick smile here and there. Somehow songs are saying all the words I have run out saying. I love to sing to Ruthie Lou, although she's probably the only one who loves to hear me sing! We ended the night same as always, quiet, with lots of love, kisses and goodnights.
Today is my birthday.
31 years old.
Last year on my birthday, we found out I was pregnant, it was the best birthday ever, I could not have asked for a greater gift. I imagined that this birthday, I would be celebrating with my little one, and I am. A lot can happen in one year. As my friends/family know, we lost that pregnancy and it was devastating. I loved that baby from the moment I knew it was there. I then, imagined this birthday being full of heartache, remembering the baby that should have been here, but then Ruthie Lou came along. She was a surprise, wanted for sure, but not intentional at that time, we were waiting to recover from before. But Ruthie Lou helped heal my heart, she was a blessing from the very first moment she arrived, I had never been happier than to feel her grow inside my body. I loved every minute of it, all the uncomfortable, miserable, large moments of pregnancy, none of them mattered because I was in love, in love with Ruthie Lou.
Today I woke up too nervous to look at Ruthie Lou, afraid of what I would see. But then I heard her, her little purr breathing not steady but still there. I rolled over, she was pale and tired, but she wasn't about to miss my most special day of my year. She never wants to miss a moment, I think that's why she's still here. I woke up so sad to see her holding on, not letting go, not resting. I don't want her in pain, I don't want her to hurt. The nurses promise me she's comfortable and she looks like she is. Right now she's snuggled with dad. We take turns nearly on a timer now because neither of us WANTS to share but we both love her as much as the other so sharing is the only answer. *************************************************************************************
Ruthie Lou is slowing down. Her body is tired, she has done her job here. We have given her more love than we could ever imagine, we have lived in pure bliss as a family these last ten days. There is no predicting a timeline or schedule but she is definitely tired, definitely slowing down.
Ruthie Lou and I had a great talk last night at sunset. I have always told her don't wait for me to be ready to leave, I will never be ready. But last night the talk was different. I will still never be ready, one more day will never be enough, but she looks ready, she has given all of herself to us this last 30 days. She has performed daily miracles and blessings, transformed lives, families, ideals and priorities. She has woke up everyday, made us laugh, given us the family that we imagined and now it's our time to give to her, as we promised we would. I told her last night that I am still not ready but it's ok to let go, its ok to rest. We talked about all the people (and Captain) who are anxiously awaiting her arrival and that she will be so loved on the other side, to not be afraid. We went to sleep last night in peace and she didn't fail to wake us up in the middle of the night as she loves to do.
This morning when I opened my eyes, I was so grateful to see her sleeping peacefully next to us and see her beautiful blue eyes open as I sang her the "good morning" song. Yet again, an unselfish gift from Ruthie Lou. Today I ask that you keep Ruthie Lou in your hearts, keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Please join us in spirit as we pray for her comfort and healing of her earthly body as her soul transitions into peace.
We hope for many more moments with her but are prepared to give her rest, it would be selfish otherwise. Recently, I was given this poem and although I had seen it long ago, I must remember it everyday. Today this weighs heavy on my mind.
On Children Kahlil Gibran
"Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
Once again and forever more, I thank you for your unending support and unconditional love. WE LOVE YOU RUTHIE LOU, TODAY, FOREVER & ALWAYS.
Holding Ruthie Lou is the best place in the world. Hearing her breathe, watching her expressions as she sleeps on my arm, are pure bliss. I could sit here forever. There is a lot of time to think when you're sitting with a sleeping baby.
While sitting this morning with the most beautiful baby in the world, I was reminded of this story that I came across as we were staying in the NICU. It offered me a new perspective to life. We always imagine things are going to be a certain way, we count on life to give us certain things and we are so shocked when life turns out differently than expected. We mourn the loss of our expectations, the dreams that we had for the life we "deserve". But there are no guarantees, no entitlements and if we get caught up in what we have lost, we are unable to appreciate what we have been given.
This story really encapsulates the way in which our life has changed, the way it will continue to change when we come home...
Welcome To Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
* * * We were supposed to go to Italy. We were supposed to be on the same flight as all our friends, our family. We expected to see the same sights, have similar stories, join the club of families that we have waited so long for. But life has given us a different plan. We have joined a different club. We are a family still, but a different family than what we see around us. In the meantime, Holland is beautiful. Ruthie Lou is beautiful. The outpouring of support, the wonderful families and people we are meeting are beautiful. We have been given a different gift with Ruthie Lou, one that all of you get to experience with us, too.
I mourn the loss of the life I imagined, the little girl I dreamed to watch grow old, but the experience we are having right now, thru the pain and heartache is also beautiful, if I can stay focused on it. The small things in life take on a bigger meaning, the little experiences will now be our greatest memories and have/will forever change us. We have a great routine going on over here at the house, one I wish we could have forever. It's a slow lifestyle, comfortable. We get up, lounge around holding Ruthie Lou while we read, write or watch TV. We have to take turns holding her, and while we so graciously share her, it really is reluctantly so! The house makes us every meal and most afternoons, after lunch we get Ruthie Lou ready for the hot (warm) tub. She LOVES it! If she's asleep, she stays asleep and if she's awake, she lasts about ten minutes before her body relaxes and she's quickly asleep.
At sunset, Ruthie Lou and I stroll outside, sit in the wood rocking chair under the gazebo where I sing to her and tell her stories about life. It's our special bonding time, I treasure those moments. She also continues to give us all the new parent initiations and we love it, she makes us laugh so hard. She gives us dirty looks when we do things that she dislikes, you know, like changing her diaper or making out with her, as I like to do! She also peed all over the bed as I was taking pictures of her skinny little naked booty yesterday. The girl likes to be naked, what can I say, she is that relaxed!!
Our time here is precious, sacred and invaluable. We wake up honored each morning for another day to share with Ruthie Lou. We are a good balance between Chris and I, reminding each other to stay in the moment and giving one another space when we need it. But one thing is for sure, this little girl has made our hearts grow larger than we could have ever imagined, and we love each other even more because of her.
Thank you for your continued emails, messages, texts. We still love them, encourage them and appreciate you keeping us in your hearts. Even if you have nothing to say, because there are no words, the messages of love are priceless to us.
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.