Eve's birthday has been on my mind.
It's coming up too fast. November 20 is nearly here . . . how can it already have been one year? It seems impossible. And yet it is.
I've been thinking a lot about what to do on her birthday. A few months ago, I intended to throw her a little birthday party and invite our close friends. But lately that feels overwhelming. So I think we will probably celebrate instead as a family, just the three of us remembering the fourth. Maybe we will blow out a candle for her.
I also would like to use her birthday to give back. We received amazing care from the nurses and doctor who supported us through Eve's induction and stillbirth, far beyond what I would have thought to expect. I feel so blessed, because I know that not all stillbirth mamas are so lucky.
However, I do have one regret. I am very sad that I never took photos of Eve myself. I brought my camera to the hospital, but didn't know if it was okay to take pictures. And honestly I was so exhausted by the end that it seemed like enough to leave the matter in the hands of the professional photographer who generously volunteered her time and heart to recording our daughter's image.
But now I wish I had known that it was okay. I wish I had taken some myself. And I wish I'd known in general that it was okay to do whatever I needed to do to enjoy her, mourn her, and make memories with and of her.
As a result, in honor of Eve's first birthday, I would like to donate copies of the book When Hello Means Goodbye to our local hospital for infant bereavement care. I discovered this book shortly after Eve's stillbirth, and wish that I had been able to read it the day before she was born in preparation for her arrival. The book is basically a how-to manual for navigating the early days of babyloss, helping bereaved parents make important decisions that they only have a very short time to make and that must last a lifetime, yet that they are often not equipped to make due to grief, exhaustion, or just plain old not-knowing.
I wish I had read this book in the eternally long day that spanned between the night we found out that Eve had died to the evening that we checked into the hospital for induction -- partly because I didn't know how to plan for this huge and horrible event, partly because I had no idea what to expect physically or emotionally, and partly because so I would have known that it is okay to make memories of your dead child. Even though our hospital staff took such loving and beautiful care of us, providing us with many keepsakes that I treasure, this book would still have been a huge help to my limping, terrified heart in the very early days of this new life as a stillbirth parent.
Would you like to celebrate Eve's birthday in this way with me? I'd love to collect copies of When Hello Means Goodbye if it's on your heart to participate. The books are fairly inexpensive -- less than $6.00 US per copy -- so even if you contributed a single book, collectively we could make a huge donation! If you would like to send a book, you can purchase one or some via my Amazon wishlist. If you have any questions or trouble with the wishlist, send me an email at epiphanyartstudio (at) zoho (dot) com. Maybe if we collect enough we can donate books to OB offices or even other hospitals, too!