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Gracie’s First Birthday

  • Posted on May 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Gracie’s first birthday was Wednesday.  I took the day off of work to spend with my family.  We celebrated her birthday by taking her to have her 1 year pictures done.  They were the best set of pictures she’s taken so far.  She’s a little ham, most definitely.

The day was very bittersweet.  It has been a very trying, interesting, wonderful, and scary year.  The loss of Benjamin has been difficult for us, but watching Gracie grow into a little person has tempered that loss to more of a dull ache.  Still, there were not many people who mentioned Benjamin on Wednesday.  I guess people just assume we’ve moved on and what’s the use in talking about a dead baby?  Not only that, but it’s an uncomfortable topic and most people don’t know what to say.

We had lunch after Gracie’s pictures and then drove to the cemetery.  I wanted to place sunflowers at his marker for him, especially since the last time we were there, I wasn’t able to (the florist in the parking lot of the memorial park was closed). I went into the florist and asked for a bouquet of 4 sunflowers and one bouquet of one sunflower. I bought two pinwheels, one for Benjamin and one to take home for Gracie’s birthday. I placed the 4 sunflowers, representing the four of us, at his side and Michael put the pinwheel in so it would stay and blow in the wind. I cried. I looked up at the deep blue shade of the sky and wished things were different. It’s not fair that I have to place flowers at the foot of my son’s grave instead of getting to know him and wondering how different or similar he would have been to Gracie.

I never realized it would hurt this much.  The week leading up to Gracie’s birthday has left me feeling “off.”  I know why.  It wasn’t until about a week before I went into labor that I finally started to feel Benjamin move around.   I also was able to hear his heart beat every day.  I listened attentively to it, looking for any indication that his heartbeat was deteriorating.  We were told by a pediatric cardiologist that Benjamin would not make it to full term, due to Ebstein’s anomaly (a tricuspid valve defect).  So, every time I heard his heart beating, I knew he was OK inside me.  Inside me, he was alive and thriving.  I also knew that when the time came, he would either perish inside me, or he would perish outside.  I refused to think about it.  I didn’t want to even consider a name for him.  It wasn’t until about three days before I went into labor that we chose a name.  Benjamin Kristian.  We didn’t even come up with a girl’s name.  I think we just knew he was a boy.

All the time I had been able to feel Gracie kick and move jab me with her foot, I never could feel Benjamin.  But, when I did, it was mostly bittersweet.  I knew his movement wouldn’t last forever and I knew I would never be able to watch him grow up.

It’s been a year now.  Gracie has started babbling and is now able to say “Da Da.”  She’s crawling, pulling herself up on everything, and giving us her opinion when she doesn’t like something.  For every milestone Gracie accomplishes, Benjamin’s memory is right beside her.

To help keep his memory alive, I’ve found happiness in painting memory boxes for the hospital, as well as making jewelery.  Maybe someday, Gracie can help me make things in honor of Benjamin’s memory, too.

We have her big birthday party coming up next weekend.  It’s a bit late this year because of her bout with pneumonia, but that’s OK.  Thankfully, the weather looks like it will cooperate. (not too hot, and not too cold).


  • Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Two weeks from today, Gracie will be one year old.  A year ago today, I was on strict bedrest in the hospital, hoping I’d make it all the way to at least 30 weeks or more.  I didn’t, and here we are.

I’ve been very hesitant to post pictures of Gracie on this site because I’ve never understood why some “mommy bloggers” expose their children for the world to see.  However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it and the way I see it now is I can’t keep our daughter in a bubble for the rest of her life.  I can share her experiences with the few people who do read this blog.  I will draw the line about posting things that are private and should be treated as such.

Every day is a new parenting adventure for me.  I’m not quite sure what I’m doing and I haven’t even read any books about what to expect her first year or any of that stuff.  In fact, the only parenting books we bought were books dedicated to the raising of a preemie, which have since been collecting dust in our office.  Even so, I’ve managed to detect two major illnesses in Gracie – both requiring hospital stays/interventions.  Not knowing what I’m doing, but instinctively, I know enough.

So, without further ado, here’s Gracie, feeling better in the hospital.

It’s hard to see, but her right hand is obscured by a ton of cotton, tape, and an evil IV line.  The first IV went into her left hand and she didn’t protest much, which is indicative to how bad she was feeling.  That second IV line?  The one in her right hand?  It took two nurses over 30 minutes to get it in place, with her screaming and crying and blubbering the entire time.  It was awful.  It was so awful, in fact, she began to associate the hospital crib with DANGER! DANGER! and it became quite an experience every time we needed to change her or try to get her to nap.

I got smart, though.  On Friday morning, I changed her where I had slept the night before.   She didn’t fuss at all and was content to smile and laugh at me while I sang to her.

I really wish I had spent more of this year writing about what it’s like to be her mama.  I never knew what it was like to be a mom until she was born.  She had such a precarious beginning and it’s made me scared, paranoid, and terrified every day.  But, I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the morning and I look forward to seeing her smiling face when I get home from work.

Last night was extra special to me.  Even though I was tired from swim practice and the general business of the last two days, I sat on the couch with my husband and we quietly played with Gracie on his lap.  She giggled and pulled my hair, pulled my glasses off, tried to put my necklace in her mouth, and laid her head on my chest.  It was a joy to have her so close to me.