If you would have told me a year ago that I would go a day without crying, I wouldn’t have believed you.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would laugh without guilt, I wouldn’t have believed you.
If you would have told me a year ago that one day, my heart would once again be filled with joy, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The funny thing is, you did tell me all of these things. You told me “everything will be ok,” but I just wasn’t ready to listen.
I started and re-started this letter many times, Ruby. Sometimes when there is so much to say, it’s easy to be at a loss for words. But while I struggle to weave the perfect sentences together, in truth, I can sum up the last three months like this…
I originally began writing to you with details about my final two months of pregnancy – the placenta previa, the threats of preterm labor, the bedrest, the anxiety. I talked about labor and delivery with your sister – my fever, two days in NICU, etc. I wrote about the struggles of those early weeks – the sleep deprivation, the worry, the crying. And after writing it all out, I deleted every single word.
I decided those were not the stories I wanted to tell. That part of the journey, while significant, only mimicked the ebbs and flows of life: there were ups and downs, it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy. But we got through it and now…
Nora is here and I believe you.
Your curious, feisty, beautiful little sister Nora Rose Landau was born at 6:43pm on April 17th. Weighing in at 6 lbs, 10 ounces, I remember so vividly holding her warm pink body in my arms, watching her chest rise and fall as the rhythm of her heart beat against mine. I stared at her in awe, disbelieving that something so perfect could be ours, and she stared back at me, assuring me that everything will be ok.
Leading up to Nora’s birthday, I had done a lot of worrying about how I would feel when I met her. Would I feel connected to her the way I did to you? Would I love her, but long for you? I wondered how your role in our family would change? Or would it?
As soon as I saw her face, I felt nothing but love and gratitude and overwhelming relief. I allowed myself to accept that love is not finite, nor is it linear. There are no conditions, no rules that state loving her negates my love for you. I can (and do) miss you every single day even though I have her, but now that she’s here, I can’t imagine life without her.
And today, because she is here, your presence is felt more than ever.
For the 7 weeks I was on bedrest, I’d work from home on our couch. Every single morning, a hummingbird would appear in our backyard. While many things make us think of you, Ruby, hummingbirds are at the top of the list. This tiny, spirited creature came at the same time to the same window every day – a morning “wink” from my baby girl. And every day I would whisper, “Good morning, Ruby.”
The morning of April 17th, I wasn’t feeling well. I had read that flu-like symptoms could be an early sign of labor and I was scared. Like clockwork, the hummingbird appeared and I whispered my usual morning greeting to you. Usually it would visit for only a moment or two and fly away just as quickly, but on this day, it hovered in our backyard until your Daddy and I left for the hospital. In the midst of my fear, I felt your calming presence.
Two days later, we brought your sister home. In the weeks that followed, I looked and waited for the hummingbird, for my morning wink, and it never came. I hadn’t seen it since the day your sister was born and somehow I knew, it meant you were at peace.
For over a year, you watched over us closely. Appearing as little signs and eerie coincidences where ever we went. You guided us through grief by offering us hope through your presence and constant reminders that you will not be forgotten even in your absence. And on the morning before your sister was born, you were there to offer that hope and sense of calm once more.
While I miss my morning wink from that sweet hummingbird, I still feel you close, mostly during moments with Nora. When she was first born, she would stare intently past me or even thru me, as if she could see something that I couldn’t. At almost three months old, she is smiling and cooing up a storm, but there are still moments where she laughs and has conversations with someone who isn’t there and I’d like to think it’s you. Just two sisters, likely making fun of their mom, as she clumsily figures out this parenting thing as she goes.
I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime in the past 14 months, experiencing the absolute best and worst life has to offer. While I was pregnant, whenever I got stressed or frustrated your Daddy would lean in, one hand on my belly and whisper to you and your sister, “You are held in love.”
These days we move forward joyfully, but taking one day at a time – holding you both in love – with Nora in our arms and you, my baby, forever in our hearts.
We love you, big sister,
Mom, Dad & Nora