Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Happy Half Birthday Ree. We made you funfetti cookies

Believe me when I say that if you had lived we would still be celebrating your Half Birthday. I have always loved birthdays. Everybody around me knows that I love celebrating birthdays, I love celebrating birth weeks (most specifically mine). I think every human should be celebrated. Although celebrating birthdays are little weird because you didn't do much work on that day and your mom really did all the work but I digress.

We would've been celebrating your half birthday today even if you lived. I didn't make special cookies today just because I'm looking for ways to honor your life. I happen to like sugar in any form on any day. We would have been making some kind of dessert for you today no matter what. So we just decided to do it even though you aren't here. 

So I haven't talked much online about the alternate life that sometimes lives in my head. I know it's just one more thing on the list of things that people don't understand until they've lost a child. So I just don't talk about it much online. Many of us have two different story lines that run our head. The one where you also lived. 
Funfetti cookies

I don't know if anyone remembers those books we all read when we were younger in elementary school, the ones that have lots of different endings and you could choose the final outcome based on what page number you decided to flip to. It's kind of like that. I have two different stories, two different lives, two different outcomes. Two different kids. 

In my head this is how the alternate version goes down. Today you're six-months-old. Since you were just six months I would be at the beginning stages of starting to feel like I sort of had everything figured out but I know that you would be quickly throwing me a curveball very soon, reminding me that I'll never really get this down. But I might at least know what your cries mean and maybe, just maybe I'll have figured out the right diapers. Or what diapers are best when you have a blowout. That's probably the curveball that would be thrown my way soon. 
Sprinkles. Always sprinkles. 
I would have switched back-and-forth probably between cloth diapers and disposable diapers because we would've hit a phase where you leak through all your cloth diapers at night and I was too tired to try to wash them so we switched to disposables for a while. I would be going through your clothes today, sobbing as I had to finally let go of some of your clothes that haven't fit for 5 1/2 months, and also getting rid of the sleepers and onesies you've been in for the last four months. I would be moving to the new box of clothes, the one labeled 6 to 9 months and I will be panicking that you're now closer to 9 months which means you're growing up. I separated all your clothes in your nursery into 3 month increments and moving to that third box, the one 6-9 months, would feel really hard. 

Vanilla Ice Cream with M&M's... because of course
I really have no idea how we would've sorted out breast-feeding or formula feeding and I really don't care about that one to be honest. At this point, after you have died, I really could give two flips about how children are fed in the long term. So I can't tell you if I would've stuck it out with breast-feeding or if we would've switched to formula a few weeks later. But I do at least know by now, at six months, we would've had a routine down sometimes.
Squishing the ice cream onto the cookies

And maybe I would have discovered things right now that would have stopped you from crying. I would know the songs, the toys, the things to do to distract you when you got really fussy and upset. I would no longer feel the need to take you back from any of our family members when you started crying and I would let them try to sort it out for a while because I probably trust them a little bit more by now but I'm also just tired of doing it myself and decided to let people help me. And surprise surprise, they do pretty good at calming you down too.

You still wouldn't be sleeping at a grandparent's house for an entire weekend, but maybe I'd let up for one night. Maybe. I would at least let someone watch you for a few hours so we could go to a movie. I think.
Rolling in the deep. I mean sprinkles. Rolling in the sprinkles.
I would be elbows deep in Pinterest obsessing over your first birthday party. Did you know I started planning it before you were born? I didn't get very far, just a few pins, but it was a rainbow Hungry Caterpillar themed birthday and it was going to be awesome. And funfetti was going to be involved.

I had a box of Funfetti in the pantry ready to be baked when I went into labor so we could have a real proper first birthday, your actual first birthday, the day you were born. Clearly it didn't get baked. I refuse to touch that box. When I bought cake mix to make your cookies today, I had to buy a new box. I can't bear yet to touch the old one.

I was supposed to spend the next 6 months searching for THE PERFECT Rainbow Tutu for your 1st birthday. It was going to be awesome. See, you were my rainbow baby. The one that came after all the losses we've already had. So you already had rainbows as your symbol long before it became the symbol of "you" in death, the sign that you were looking over us.

I think at this point, we would be getting up at 3am and browsing the internet for birthday party ideas, random symptoms that I would freak out about and you would be a nightowl just like I am.

Your dad would have a song he made up that drives me NUTS but you love it.

I still remember in the early days after we came home, it was very vivid. This separate alternate life was very clear. I could almost feel it. Back then I envisioned you lying on my chest, all curled up and tiny. I could feel you in my arms. Sometimes I would sit cross legged on the couch and my arms would curl as if holding a newborn and I swear to all that is holy I wouldn't even notice it was happening.

I could see you almost. I could feel you lying there. But you weren't there.


I still struggle when I walk in the store not to buy little girl outfits. I tell myself I could still buy them, but then I tell myself I have to get out of "we're having a girl" mode. I have no idea what my next child will be. I know it won't be you. I do know that. I have so many outfits I want to buy you and hang in your closet.

All I could do for you today was bake cookies. That's it. It REALLY sucks. I can plan your first birthday but googling "planning birthday party for dead child" doesn't get you far. Imagine baking a cake and sitting by a grave instead of having a 1 year old who cries during the party because she needed a nap and barely eats the smashcake you spent months planning. I promise you, if your child cries during a birthday party, remind yourself of my situation and where you could be sitting. It will be quiet and silent in my house on her birthday. That will suck worse.

Ideas about birthdays for babies who were stillborn all include pretty sad things like memorials or dedicating money to a cause. I just wanted a crying baby and a house full of people and a mess to clean up when it was all done. The only candles I want to light on your birthday are the ones on your cake. Not the one we lit at your funeral. The balloons I wanted weren't meant to be released into the sky.

Today I should have had no time to make cookies. But I did. I had tons of time. So this is the best I could do for you today.

There were many variations of this picture, including when we propped the camera higher on the stand before we took the timed picture. There were plenty where we weren't leaning and Clint doesn't look like he's trying to display a cookie on the food network. But why would I post those?!


  1. Thank you once again for allowing us into your own personal world of Ree. That was such a beautiful read, thank you Lauren. Happy half birthday to sweet little Ree!

  2. Oh Lauren tears are running down my face. I so wish this hadn't happened and that I could fix it for you. I so wish Ree was with us. Happy half birthday Ree.

  3. Happy Half Birthday Ree- thank you for sharing.


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