My little heart,
Last week it was your birthday. A whole one year since I laid my eyes on your precious little face and kissed your delicate skin. It seems impossible that a year has passed with you in the stars and me here. I don't know how we have managed it but somehow we have. I don't think its called strength, I think it's just an endurance as being separated from you is still the hardest and most unnatural thing I will ever have to do.
I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to your birthday. I didn't want you to be a year older and I didn't want my missing you to hit the one year milestone. I didn't want others to have an expectation that now I should miss you less and I didn't want to feel like I would have to talk about you less. It took some real strength to pull myself out of that mindset and decide to just celebrate you on that day and forget any perceived expectations.
For quite awhile, we weren't sure how we would celebrate your day. Eventually, Daddy and I decided we would donate memory bags to the hospital you were born at, to try and provide other grieving parents some comfort during their loss. We spent ages deciding what to put in them as we felt it was so important that they needed to reflect you, your life and your legacy.
We donated some money to the wonderful mama, Emma Brewer at Kitty's Dreams. After Emma's daughter Kitty died, she decided to create beautiful blankets for babies gone too soon and donate them to many hospitals around the country. As you sit with a Kitty's Dream blanket, cuddling you in mummy and daddy's bedroom, we felt it would be really special to have these blankets donated in your memory. Emma created 7 beautiful blankets and socks for us to put in to the memory bags. Seven for you were born on the 7th and it will always remain my special number.
I really wanted to include a postcard or print of your crematorium plaque quote in the memory bags. I hadn't realised at the time but the quote on your plaque, 'You are my angel, my darling, my star and my love will find you wherever you are' actually comes from the book, 'Wherever you are, my love will find you' by Helena Karchere. I decided to read the book online and my darling, it was just so perfect that I couldn't not include it in the memory bags...
In the green of the grass…in the smell of the sea…
in the clouds floating by…at the top of a tree…
in the sound crickets make at the end of the day…
“You are loved. You are loved. You are loved,” they all say.
...and so we bought 8 of these books too. Seven to go into the memory bags and one to keep for us to read to you. I will always remember being in hospital and reading 'Guess How Much I Love You' on the morning we said goodbye. It felt like such a special 'us' moment. It was something normal that I could do for you and although I sobbed through every single page, it is a memory full of love and a memory I will forever cherish. I hope these books can provide parents with making some memories too, with a very special little quote inside which I will always relate to you.
We realised soon after leaving you in hospital that creating memories with the sense of smell was just so powerful. We were given the candle, Soft Blanket by Yankee Candle and now every time I smell it, I am immediately taken back to you. To being in that hospital, cuddling your tiny body and feeling so much love pour into you. Whenever I need to feel close to you, I light your special candle and the smell gives me so much comfort. Seven of these candles were bought, placed in little heart candle holders (because you are forever my little heart) and placed in the memory bags too.
Finally, we had special cards made to explain that these donations came from you and were all inspired by your delicate but beautiful existence. Abi at www.whenyouwish-uponastar.co.uk lost her own little boy Lucas and since created a wonderful online shop making personalised prints. We have one in our living room of your perfect little hands and feet and so we couldn't think of anyone better to make some dedication cards for us.
On the morning of your birthday we took these into the hospital. There was something quite surreal about heading back there, a year to the day that you were born. Knowing that just through the double doors on our left was the room in which you entered the world. It was difficult and emotionally tiring to be back there but it also brought so much comfort, to be back where you once were too. We went headed down to the hospital chapel and handed in your written dedication to go into the baby's memorial book. We had actually written it on the day you were born but couldn't find the strength back then to finish arranging it. We hope that on future birthdays we can always go and see your dedication and spend some time feeling close to you, at a place where where you were so very real.
After the hospital visit we went and picked three cream balloons to be released at your spot in the crematorium. They were identical to the ones that you had at your funeral, innocent cream balloons which were so simple and yet so beautiful. We got a special number 1 balloon to leave at your spot, picked up some chocolates cupcakes and your posy of flowers which were almost identical to the flowers you had at your funeral. I liked the feeling of these balloons and these flowers now being your balloons and flowers, as you'd had them before. The start of a tradition to how we chose to celebrate you and a recognition of something belonging to you.
Then we simply just spent time with you. We said we loved you, we released your balloons, we sang 'Happy Birthday' and your sister blew out your candle. We celebrated your birthday in the way we only knew how, with all the love we could give.
My darling, I can't tell you how hard it was. SO much harder than I had ever anticipated but then I seem to have a habit of underestimating how much these days will affect me. I tried so very hard to celebrate your day but it was inevitable that there would be some sadness too. Sadness because I miss you with every fiber of my being and that Holly shaped hole in my heart will always long to be filled by you.
Despite the tears of sadness, I have to tell you Holly, that there were tears of love too. You are so loved. We were inundated with birthday messages, cards and gifts. You are loved by so many people, your legacy has impacted on so many people and that is so very special. I never imagined that so many people would wish you a Happy Birthday and I am just so proud that the taboo surrounding baby loss was well and truly squished on your special day. I could never thank people enough for acknowledging how much your life matters and understanding that we needed to have you celebrated. You matter, your life matters and your legacy matters.
My little heart, a year may have passed but you are just as loved as the very first time I laid eyes on you. Your legacy has grown so much in such a short time and you inspire me each and every day to keep sharing your story. I was dreading reaching the one year milestone but baby girl, its okay. I can't stop time so instead I will use all the time I can to tell the world how proud you make me.
You are an inspiration, you are so loved and my darling, I hope that wherever you are you felt the love on your birthday.
Happy Birthday, my little heart
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born sleeping after a battle with complete heart block.