God had different plans.
Olivia was born on Noah's birthday. It made for a bittersweet day as I talked about here & here . I am thankful I was able to get Noah's cake made and decorated before going into labor. I had planned for many months just what I wanted to do for his 1st birthday cake. (yes it was all edible. The animals & ark I made from homemade fondant).
I started working on his cake Tuesday, July 12th. It took a good part of the day. That night I went into labor. The kids were understandably bummed we weren't able to celebrate with his cake on his birthday. I came home from the hospital on Thursday 14th, so that evening, we put Noah's candle on the cake and sang Happy Birthday to him. I admit, I choked up and couldn't finish singing. I stood there holding Olivia in my arms with tears running down my face. It felt so unfair to be celebrating his birthday without him there. He should've been sitting in his high chair making a mess out of his cake by digging into it. Instead, we sang to him and had the older kids blow out his candle.
We were given 1 birthday card for Noah. We also received a beautiful flower arrangement for him on his birthday from a dear friend. I admit, I was saddened that we only received 1 birthday card for him. Had he been here, I know he would've gotten more cards. Just because he spent his birthday in Heaven, doesn't make his birthday any less significant to us. To those of you reading this that have a baby loss mama in your lives, please know that it would mean the world to receive birthday cards on that childs birthday. It may seem weird to you but trust me, to that precious mom, it would mean the world to have her child celebrated and remembered! Even in a Christmas card, write her childs name. I can't tell you how much it means to me when others include Noah both in conversation and written word. That is the best gift ever!!!
We weren't able to make it out to Noah's grave on the 14th, the day he died, due to only coming home from the hospital that evening (same day/time we left the hospital last year). So we were very thankful for our friends who made the trip out and took him flowers, taking the time to remember him!
Backing up.....we told the kids we would spread out Noah's birthday celebration that we had planned for him. We said we'd just take our time celebrating his miraculous life over several days rather than on the one day we had planned.
Back in May, Sarah had won a pinata. She said she wanted to save it for Noah's birthday party....awww!! So on Saturday July 16th, the kids asked if they could break the pinata for Noah. So outside they went to bust out the candy for their little brother!
On July 20th, we made the trip out to his grave. I can't begin to put into words how this trip felt. Thinking back to 1 year ago seemed unreal. It seemed both like it was just yesterday but yet at the same time it felt like a lifetime ago that everything happened. And we felt like we were reliving that day as well as his funeral all over again. I can still feel that gut wrenching feeling of seeing my son in his casket, something I don't think that will ever go away. But this is our new "normal", one that we are still trying to adjust to and figure out. Going to Noah's grave w/balloons and cake is "normal" in the life of a family whose child died.
The kids had made a seperate piece of cake they wrote his name on. We left it by his grave marker. We had also bought a butterfly and a small birthday balloon to leave on Noah's grave. We bought balloons and the kids wrote notes so we also released balloons like we did at his funeral. This time though, we had 1 extra balloon as we sent one to him from his little sister.
(yes there is an "E" on the end but the stick covered it here in the pic)
It was definitely a sacred time we spent together at Noah's grave. It was obviously Olivia's first time since being born that she visited her older brother. We all sobbed as we each reminisced about Noah and look forward to sharing with Olivia about her brother and the special bond they share.
My 6 precious kids!!
Our balloons and notes going to Noah
The kids had expressed how they wanted to physically have a tangible piece of Noah with them all the time like I do wearing his footprints, so we got Erik a dog tag with pics of Noah and the girls lockets with Noah's picture and gave them to the kids at his grave. The girls really liked the way Erik's dog tag came out so I was able to get them something similar in a heart shape. (I snagged an amazing deal on all these, total w/shipping was only $1.99 each, great quality!)
These aren't the greatest pics due to the glare but it gives you an idea of both sides. They look much better in person. Erik's says "brothers"
Erik's says "I love you Noah" & the girls say "Noah"
I realize it took me awhile to share some of what we did to celebrate Noah's birthday (I couldn't begin to cover it all. I also had a video I was putting together for his birthday I didn't get to finish but when I do, I will share it.) It was partly due to timing and just being so busy. But it was also in part due to emotions. Writing all this out brings to surface all the emotions and once again is a painful reminder of the finality of it all. I can't explain it, unless you've been there you'd understand. It's hard and I imagine in some ways, will always be. We are thankful to know that Noah IS alive and well today but just not here with us, which is SOOO hard!! I am blessed beyond words that he was given to me as my son! What an amazing gift from God my Noah Alexander is!!! I miss & love you my precious son!