Today, our sweet angel in heaven turned one years old.
From the very beginning of this journey I dreaded reaching this milestone. A whole year of fear I'd forget the details, if others would forget her. When the 22nd of each month passed, I took a deep breath in disbelief that we somehow made it through another month. When her half birthday passed in January, I found myself upset at how unforgiving time was being. However, I learned to come to terms with myself that her first birthday was inevitable. Paul and I slowly began to brainstorm how we'd celebrate Haven's first birthday. As first time parents and also ones having experienced loss, we didn't know what was "right" or if we were even planning this type of celebration properly. After all, no parents plan for their first child's birthday without having him or her be present.
After going back and forth on what to do, we decided we'd keep things simple. About a month before Haven's big day we invited our immediate family members and a few close friends to visit her grave site with us on her birthday and decorate it together. Paul and I were set on hues of pink for florals and decorations. The cemetery is quite particular with certain things so we planned to do our best to keep her space beautiful enough as to not break the rules. Lastly, we knew we had to get a cake. I had been seeing a unicorn cake trend on Instagram for about a year now and knew even while I was still pregnant (with her), that if our little one was a girl, we'd throw her a unicorn themed first birthday party. I am so glad I remembered this.
Her birthday had finally come. I woke up at six o'clock sharp recalling this day one year ago. I had gone into active labor with Haven last year at seven o'clock exactly and she was born at 7:24 am. I walked over to her room, connected to Paul and I's bedroom, spoke to her, sang her happy birthday, and had a good, long, hard cry. My sister greeted me with a beautiful floral arrangement from her and the rest of my siblings as a token of their love. Around 9:30 am, we left the house to purchase last minute decorations and met with the rest of our family at Haven's site around 10. We dressed up her space with some balloons and flowers we knew could withstand the summer heat - gladiolus, carnations, and various types of eucalyptus along with some spray and garden roses. Some of her other aunties arrived and gifted her with more flowers.
Our visit was followed by an intimate family lunch in Santa Monica and the remainder of her day was spent resting and enjoying each other's company. We sang Haven 'Happy Birthday' as a group and excitedly cut into her cake - though hesitant at first because of how pretty it was. It was funfetti - flavored and absolutely delicious. (Janna, if you're reading this - you'll never know how much this cake meant to Paul and I, thank you again so much!)
For being a birthday and now (lifelong) celebration we didn't ever imagine for our story, Paul and I stand firmly in trusting that God gave us this important assignment for a reason. That reason being our life's mission as Haven's parents. We believe He perfectly saw to it that this significant task be for us. Though most days we have reason to think we aren't capable or can even make it to tomorrow, God makes it evident that we can, that we are more than sufficient. Haven's first birthday was one for the books and as usual, better than what we could have ever dreamt it up to be - intimate, beautiful, and full of her and God's presence + love.
Today, I cling to the wonderful truth that God and his plans are still good - even when we do not understand. I'll be seeing you again my darling. I love, miss and think of you everyday. Happy, happy 1st birthday in heaven, Haven.
// * If you're reading this and planning a first birthday or any celebration for your baby or child that is no longer here, I am sorry. You are not alone, friend. Amidst your planning, please know that doing what is best and fitting for you and your family is best. Trust in yourself (ves) and find comfort in knowing that your little one - however he/ she is celebrated - loves and appreciates you so much. Just being theirs is more than enough. Love + light to you.