Today was my 11th 21st without Hope. In a lot of ways it made Easter difficult. I spent much of Easter remembering last Easter. As Sadie went on her egg hunt, I pictured the egg hunt she'd gone on the year before. Soon after she found all her eggs, I went to the hospital to pick up Hope for her day pass. We brought Hope to Shawn's parents house and as I sat there this year, I wished I had her with me once again. I also spent Easter dreading today. I knew that on the 20th I was celebrating Jesus rising from the dead, and the next morning I would be remembering Hope's death. I did find comfort in knowing that had Jesus not died and risen again, Hope would not be with him in Heaven today.
Once again I kept myself busy to make the 21st end quickly. I tried not to think about it and therefore avoided talking to anyone that might bring it up. It's not that I don't want to talk about it, I just felt so weak today and knew that I couldn't care for Sadie and Stella if I didn't try to think about something else. I still haven't figured out why some 21st are more difficult than others.
One of the hardest things about today, was knowing that in one month it will have been a full year without Hope. I dread that day the most. It just feels like such a long time, too long to go without holding her. I'm not sure how I'll walk through that day, I guess we'll battle through it when it arrives.
Life with Stella has been a good distraction in many ways. I love to see Sadie with a sister again. I often find her in Stella's room with one of her dolls mimicking the things I do for Stella. She feeds her dolls, puts them down for naps, talks to them like I would talk to Stella and carries them around in a carseat. There are more hugs for Stella than she needs, kisses galore and a lot of talking from her big sister. I dread the days when Stella won't be able to focus on eating because Sadie won't be able to leave her alone for 20 minutes!
Although I love having Stella and find great joy in both her and Sadie, life has been busy and also emotionally exhausting the last 7 weeks. A few people close to us have been through a lot and that weighs heavy on our hearts. I often feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I'm trying to take care of myself and find a balance of being able to love those around me, the way I enjoy, and not overload myself at the same time. I find such joy in serving others and it's hard for me to balance caring for my own family and caring for others. Many times it's more fulfilling to pour into others, but in the end my family needs me as well. I have to remind myself that I still have a newborn that isn't sleeping through the night.
I do not regret getting a lot of new things for Stella. It can be nice to pull out something of Hope's and relive all of the memories, but most days it's too difficult. Today I put Stella in a pair of Hope's socks. As I slid her tiny feet into them, I thought about how the same socks were on Hope's feet when she was 6 months old. I pictured her wearing them in ICE in Edmonton and longed to touch her precious feet again. Other things I pull out of Stella's drawer and realize that I had hardly used them for Hope as they were too difficult to put on with all of her tubes. I feel a sense of loss for all the normal things I missed out on with Hope.
Nursing Stella has been difficult. I had the same issues with Sadie and some with Hope as well. Today I finished my third round of medication to help with the issue and have not found it's been successful. With Sadie I only had to do two rounds before I found relief. I am not able to do any further rounds as my blood pressure would get much too low. I'm still plugging away and trying to give Stella the free food my body carries as long as possible. I think a lot of the desire is not from a cost savings perspective, but more from the fact that I wasn't able to nurse Hope. I pumped for Hope, but never got to actually breastfeed her. Having that privilege, although painful, with Stella is hard to walk away from.
On April 4th we celebrated Hope's life. It would have been her 2nd birthday and Shawn and I had decided to celebrate the day she was given life, instead of the day it was taken from her. We had some people over that had been vital in her life and together watched a video that had been made of all the cell phone clips we had of her. It was wonderful to see her "alive" again and to watch it with a room full of people that also loved her. It was also a distraction to have people in our home and that made the day easier. I had spent some of the morning sobbing in Stella's nursery and knew that without something to plan for that evening, it would have been an even more difficult day.
Thank you to everyone that continues to remember and to pray for our family. I have learned that time does not necessarily heal the wounds, it just gets easier to accept that they happened. I am thankful for the 412 days that I was able to spend with Hope and wouldn't give them back. I will always wish I'd had more though. Until we get to heaven and are able to spend eternity with Hope, pain free and whole hearted, I will hold her in my heart and remind her sisters of how God used her short life to touch ours.