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.
Breathe in, breathe out. Smell her, taste her kisses, feel her soft skin, stare at her, memorize her every feature, her every expression and reaction. Be still, be in the moment. All day, everyday, I repeat this in my head. Since before Ruthie Lou was born I have wanted to honor her arrival, wanted to bless her little spirit. Always knowing she was special, but never knowing the extent of her presence, it has been important to me to bless her with all the important, good, pure, and loving things of the world. Realizing we have limited time, borrowed time, I began having anxiety of how to go about appropriately making this happen for Ruthie Lou. Who should officiate? Who should be there? What should we do? All along with the logistical thoughts of what can I plan? Do I have time to plan? Do we get tomorrow? I woke up Saturday morning feeling the urgency to do something that moment. Ruthie Lou has taught me to live in the moment, not count on tomorrow, it may not be here, act now. After talking to chris and getting the "go ahead" we made our calls to invite our first guests to the house. Chris was concerned that it was short notice and it was, just about 2 hours for family to get up and go. We also knew it was Labor Day weekend and many people we love were away, but sometimes that's life. It isn't perfect, can't always be planned and cannot accommodate everyone. Some family couldnt make it, some felt it too difficult to come and some family got unintentionally overlooked because the normalcies of life right now are not normal and important things unfortunately get forgotten. We would love to have had the world, all of you standing by our side but you all were there, all your messages, your energy, your thoughts, all were with us that afternoon even when your physical presence was not. There are so many people in our life that we would've loved to have here, too many to even allow, so we made it as small as possible, intimate, with only Ruthie Lou's aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents. As predicted our early birds arrived early and our late arrivals surprisingly got here on time! Ruthie Lou and I added that to our "blessing of the day" list, which I finally started writing down as the blessings big and small show up everywhere. Pretty quickly our studio apartment was over capacity so we gathered in the "Great room" to write blessings and messages to Ruthie Lou. Here at the house, they have an Art room available to the children and families equipped with a teachers dream of art supplies. I gathered up a scrapbook, some markers, colored pencils and gave all my "teacher" directions and away the messages flowed. It was so special to see the process and blessings that were written for Ruthie Lou and even the messages that were too hard to be written down, in that moment, all thoughts were with Ruthie Lou. It was nearing sundown but the weather was still calm, we gathered outside near one of our favorite spots, the gazebo. Standing in a circle, I tried my best to articulate the intention of our blessing ceremony, of our welcoming ceremony for our sweet angel. We had no officiant, just me, with my server experienced public speaking that matured into my teaching voice. Chris, the strong silent type, who isn't always comfortable at these public emotional moments, stood tall next to us, shades on as if that meant the tears weren't really there. Sometimes when you're in the moment, the words just flow but when you think back you're not really sure what you said. Having only two hours to plan i really just spoke from my heart, trying to convey our love for this little girl, this blessing we have been given, this honor that we have to care for. We were fortunate to capture it on film but now we have to figure out how to send that video to us to actually watch it, should we choose to. The actual words don't matter, the feelings of love were felt thru all the words, the tears of joy, sadness and honor said what a million words could not. I shared some stories about Ruthie Lou, her ladybug story, read a couple of poems and blessings that I have been given or came across since Ruthie Lou's stay in the NICU. A couple of them were even special poems or blessings from you, since they were sent for Ruthie Lou, they have such special meaning to us. Stories were shared from our family, the joy and miracles Ruthie Lou has brought and we talked about those lost before us, those waiting so patiently to meet our sweet angel, or to see her again if that's what you believe. I also talked about God, who means different things to different people yet i don't think can be made right or wrong. That night God was in the wind for me, the rustling of the trees, the squirrel that ran near us, the smell of nature in the air, all in celebration of Ruthie Lou. We closed with a circle hug and repeated a prayer that has become a mantra to sweet Ruthie Lou: "The Light of God surrounds you The Love of God enfolds you The power of God protects you The presence of God is in you Where ever you are, God is You are a happy, healthy child of God" It was a beautiful moment, and as the gentle wind came in and all the pictures were being taken, Ruthie Lou woke up! This isnt uncommon for our trips outside but usually it only lasts about 10-15 minutes until she gets overstimulated and her seizures start. I began to feel the anxiety to get her inside because even though we love to have these experiences with her, if they end up causing her pain, it is not worth it for us. I am constantly asking myself, is this for her or is this for us? And if the picture I want, the handrprint I desire or the outfit so cute is for my benefit, it gets thrown out the window. Her comfort, her happiness is our number one proirity and even though I had dreams of experiences with this little girl, she runs the world and her needs are number one. Another lesson from little miss Ruthie Lou, the small things are not always as important as they seem in the long run. But that day, Ruthie Lou WAS running the world! I had told her all morning about her party and this girl was not missing it! She woke up during pictures and stayed awake for the next two hours that everyone was here. She was awake thru several of her pictures, thru dinner, even sat with her grandpas on the couch and caught some of the Giants game! There was a party and she wasn't sleeping thru it! What a blessing, for her and for us. After pictures, we went to "Ruth's Cafe" (coincidently-or not coincidentally-the name of the dining room here) to have our gourmet Round Table pizza. Sometimes it's the good ol' food that makes me feel at home, feel normal. We sat in the large dining room across two oversized tables, chatted, laughed and I held Ruthie Lou. I had shared her so much that afternoon, I couldn't handle a moment more and had to keep her to myself. The day was such a gift, such a blessing, as each day has been since the day she was born. I hope we did her justice, paid her due honor, blessed her as she has blessed us and welcomed her into this family, this world who loves her so much.
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.