I read somewhere, (probably in some hand-lettered Pinterest quote, let's be honest) that mamas fight fiercely to protect their babies, and that when their babies become angels they fight fiercely to protect their memory.
I'm finding that to be absolutely true, but with one caveat – daddies fight fiercely too.
Lane and I are navigating what it means to parent with empty arms, and so far, it's been messy, heartbreaking, and in its own way, wonderful.
Most parents, during their baby's first year of life, celebrate monthly milestones. For those with empty arms, those milestones are painful reminders of the time that has passed, that life continues on when it feels like it should've stopped. They're reminders of smiles that will never be seen, laughter that won't be heard, and steps that will never be taken. We're left longing for things commonly bemoaned; late-night newborn exhaustion, teething, blowouts, and inconvenienced schedules are all experiences we would give anything to have.
Life has handed us a different type of parenthood – a parenthood that stands out by being unseen. We could sit quietly in our grief and fade into the background, but that doesn't sound like Norah; that doesn't sound like us.
So, instead, we are choosing to celebrate Norah's unique milestones.
On the first of each month, at 10:58am, we will post a letter to Norah celebrating all that she has done in our lives. These are her accomplishments and you guys, we are SO proud.
Below you'll find our first letter. It's long, yes, but she's been especially busy this month!
Before we get to that, though, let's start the same way so many proud parents do – with pictures of our baby girl! These are some of the photos we had at Norah's celebration of life service. Enjoy!
You're one month old today, baby girl!
We can't believe it's been a month since you came into this world with your chunky rolls and fighting spirit. It still feels as if you're just right around the corner, waiting for us in the NICU.
So much has happened this month, sweetheart. You've had, and continue to have, an amazing impact on this world.
We met you. You caused our hearts to explode into a million little pieces and then formed them into something new and beautiful – you made us parents.
The world met you. We hope you know how loved you are, darling, and by so many people. Over 780 people are following your story on Facebook alone, with hundreds more on Instagram and via email. You are impacting the lives of so many, love.
We said, "See you later." As soon as you were here, you were gone – off to grow up in the arms of angels. Nothing will ever compare to that moment, a moment that was filled with the most incredible pain yet somehow incredibly peaceful. You and God were able to show us beauty amidst the deepest sorrow – thank you, sweetheart.
We celebrated your life. There was no denying that you and God planned your party. You hand picked your favorite singer at church, the one you kicked for the most during services while you were still in my belly. You serenaded us through her, helped her pick the most beautiful songs (with no help from us), and include a beautiful rendition of my favorite song, Amazing Grace (I think great-grandpa Tom helped you pick that one ;) ) You even picked the day – we didn't know until after we had everything set that the day of your service (3/13) is National Trisomy 13 Awareness Day (because there are 3 copies of the 13th chromosome). You touched the hearts of so many that day, love. A day that you'd think should be filled with sorrow was one of the most beautiful experiences of our lives.
You saved your uncle's life. The night after your service, you put your guardian angel wings to work. You helped your uncle to walk away from an accident that, by every medical professional's opinion, he shouldn't have. Thank you for keeping his phone where he could reach it, thank you for keeping him alive.
You joined your family. We laid you to rest next to your uncles, grandma, many other relatives and family friends. You, for some reason, caused the funeral director to have us all walk through the snow to your gravesite – rather than on the plowed path. Goofball. You awed everyone with the most picturesque balloon release we have ever seen – your balloon proudly out in front, your daddy and I following behind, and everyone else following after.
You helped people through the organizations that helped us. In your honor, over $250 has been donated to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, the organization that took our beautiful family pictures. Over $300 has been donated to the Minneapolis Ronald McDonald House, where we stayed once I was discharged from the hospital so your daddy and I could stay close to you. (Your daddy is even planning to collect can tabs for RMH during race season!) $500 was donated to KTIS, the radio station that we have listened to for months that has encouraged us, even in our darkest moments.
We've seen you everywhere. From the rain pouring down to the sun kissing our cheeks to the green grass just beginning to emerge, we see you everywhere, Norah. You gave your daddy a Wild Hockey win as a birthday present, surprised your Auntie B in class, visited your auntie Mel in a dream, and gave your grandma a 'glacier blue' prayer shawl (her favorite place on earth is Glacier Park)! However you show up, big or small, we see it, love, and it brings us so much joy.
You've given us life. Because of you, your daddy and I have made a commitment to take this year to focus on enjoying life in ways that you taught us. Your daddy will continue to do the things you loved – race, make loud noises, and watch hockey (even when they're losing). I will continue to write with this voice you've given me. We don't just consider these hobbies – we consider these gifts from you.
Norah Mae – we choose you, today and every single day.
We will always choose to remember you.
You will always be our daughter and we will always be your parents.
We love you, forever.