We have been away on a last minute Daily Mail special (we googled the codes, don’t panic, I refuse to buy the DM!), at a Haven in Hastings in East Sussex for Eli’s birthday. And it’s been wonderful to be somewhere different, make memories and celebrate the little dude who has given us so much light this past year.
It also feels a little bit like redemption. Not for Leo, but for Eli. Thinking back to last year, whilst obviously Eli’s safe arrival was celebrated, it was somewhat, an unrelaxed celebration of his life. Coming out of an intense pregnancy after loss, induced early after a weeks hospital admission, a very quick labour, and a High Dependency Unit admission an hour after birth and a further week in hospital, coupled with all the usual labour recovery, jaundice and feeding hoo-ha, it was hard to just sit back and breathe it all in at the time. So this week has just felt wonderful to celebrate Eli without all the other crap surrounding it!
So that’s just what this week has been about. I think we are both probably trying to not overthink last year, or over-compare to the differences with Leo’s first (or second) birthdays – and just focusing on making memories, which is our constant motto with Eli. Living the simple life, but appreciating every moment.
This past year has been so surreal, never really quite believing this is now life – parenting a living child. It’s all we ever hoped for and worked towards. We were immensely swept off our feet with shock and grief when Leo died – any belief you have for the pottering life of a baby just leaves. Yet here we are, getting shouted at for more food, or trying to keep our glasses on our face, or rubbing away constant bruises from yet another banged head. It’s beyond surreal. But it’s wonderful.
It’s only recently that I actually believed we’d get to today all in tact. Waking up this morning, with three beating hearts, and one being a year old was just amazing. I’ve lived this past year with this tiny voice in the back of my head, waiting. Waiting for it all to disappear on us again. It’s a hard hangover from Loss – to believe in the future, and it’s one that I am slowly getting better at.
When I was pregnant, so many people told me “you won’t feel okay until he’s in your arms” and whilst that is true, and a huge portion of our anxiety has left – it doesn’t disappear. The fear is still there, and shapes a lot of our decisions. But it’s calming (I think) as he gets older, and I keep building my trust in him and in our ability to make the right choices.
Eli is beyond a delight and it’s incredible to have these reasons to smile and laugh in our day to day. Finding subtle ways now and then to include Leo in our memory making is something that continues to comfort us, and I’m sure we will continue to do and slowly allow Eli to get more and more involved in as he gets older. We like to buy Leo a postcard when we are away, and buy something small for his grave – and doing things like choosing what to buy, or posting a postcard for Leo is something that as Eli gets older, I can imagine us doing with him.
It’s been a wonderful week away (even if we decided to take a one year to a non baby proofed tiny, tiny caravan!) and I like nothing else than to add more photos to our personal collection to be able to show Eli when he’s older of what we did when he was little. A year later, and there are over 5,000 photos in my album for Eli!
This gentleness of celebration is a somewhat unique feeling compared to marking Leo’s birthday and other similar days – and I’ll breathe that peace and joy in for as long as I can.