Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dear Theodore {11 months}

5/23/2015 - Eleven months in heaven

Dear Theodore,

Here we are, just a month before your first birthday in heaven. There were many times during the early days after you were born when reaching a year of grief seemed like an impossibility - how could we get through that much sadness, all those milestones and months without you. But here we are, and it's crept up on me in these final weeks of your little sister's pregnancy. I feel unprepared and unsure of how to celebrate you and desperately miss you at the same time. Your first birthday falls right in the middle of the week that baby sister will be arriving. We didn't necessarily plan it or want it that way, but that is how it has worked out. Navigating the joy of meeting her, and the pain of missing you and wishing you were blowing out your first candle... all in the same week.

Our days are pretty normal, almost a year after you were born. The fact that you lived and died far too soon is integrated into our lives, it's part of our story... not so shocking and jarring and all-consuming as it was in the beginning. But there will always be moments of shock and disbelief. One afternoon not long ago I feel asleep on the couch during Judah's nap, and my mind was in that sort of twilight between sleeping and waking. I thought of you and your birth and death and was in a state of total shock once again - did that really happen? Did I really give birth to you, my perfect but not breathing son? How? Why?

One of the hard things, which happens often, are the questions that all mothers are asked. Is this your first baby? How many children do you have? How old are they?... I get the "Is this your first baby?" question whenever I go anywhere without Judah. I say "No, actually it's my third" and kind of hope the questions stop there. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Recently I was picking up our take-out order at a little Chinese restaurant, and a sweet older Chinese lady continued the questions... How old are your children? Boys or girls? And what is the baby? ... I smiled and said "My oldest boy is three, my second boy would be almost one, and the baby is a girl, due very soon". She didn't pick up on the "would be" and it was way for me to include all my children without raising more questions. And it made me feel like a normal mom, including you in the list. It's a hard thing to navigate though, how much to say so that I feel like I'm being true to myself and honoring you... and how much to not say to avoid the inevitible pain and unwanted comments.

Perhaps harder, though, is when people just innocently assume that baby girl is my second baby, and there is no easy or appropriate way to correct them. Or when someone confuses Judah by asking "Are you having a baby brother or a baby sister?" because in his mind, he has both. And he does. He often answers baby brother, even though he knows we're having a little girl... I think to protect your memory. He understands that baby sister is a different baby. It's just hard for him to grasp that you are not here with us.  He asks frequently if baby sister is going to live in heaven when she is born, to which we tell him "We hope that baby sister is going to come home and grow up with us!". He also often says things like "I miss baby Theodore. I wish I could play with him. He would like my firetrucks! He plays firetrucks in heaven with Jesus. Can we go see him there? Why did he have to go to heaven?" ... Oh, how I wish I could watch the two of you play firetrucks. I'm just so sad that you two will never get to be brothers on this earth.

We recently got a little red wagon and took Judah for a walk in it. Everytime I looked back to check on him, I wished you were strapped into the other little seat. I bet you would just have loved it, sitting like a big boy with your big brother. I know you are having so much more fun than we could ever imagine in heaven, but I still long for you to be here on earth having fun with us. I want to watch you figure out how to blow out a candle, and make a complete mess of your first cupcake, just like Judah did.

I miss you, little Theodore. This month I will work on your special wall in our room... full of your pictures and poems, your teddy bears, things that remind us of you. I want to have it all set up by your birthday. With baby sister coming and all the busyness of the next couple of weeks and months, I want you to have your own little spot. I'm not sure yet what we will do on your birthday, I know it will be in the middle of a crazy week... but I want to make space for celebrating all that you are in our family. Judah said recently "We should have a cake for baby Theodore's birthday!" - so we will definitely be having cake. Not an hour goes by that I don't think of you, not a second that you aren't carried close to my heart.

We love you, our little almost-one-year-old Theodore. One year in heaven for you, one year on earth for us - as opposite as it could possibly be. I'm glad you're the one in heaven with Jesus, wanting for nothing. A parent always wants the best for their child, and you have the very best.

Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dear Judah {3 years old}

Dear Judah,

I can't believe it's been three whole years (plus a couple months...) since you were born! I can hardly remember what life was like without you. It seems like lifetimes ago that you were born, and just yesterday at the same time. It does feel like it's been much longer than three years ago that you were a tiny baby - you are so big and grown up now, it's hard to imagine you as a baby. I love the Timehop app on my phone because I get to see pictures of you three years ago, two years ago, and one year ago often. It's crazy how much a little person grows in the first few years of life.

We had a little party for your third birthday with our small group, and I made you a construction site cake. You were so excited and joyful about it all, it was a delight to watch.

You never stop talking these days... whether you're creating an imaginary play world for yourself, or telling me about something that happened (in real life or in your imaginary worlds), or asking me if you can go somewhere or do something. You hold entire elaborate conversations with the characters in your imaginary worlds. Your vocabulary and sentence structure is impressive (I'm obviously biased, but you are an excellent little talker and many people comment on it). You recognize your numbers and letters, and you love to show off by "spelling" your name to anyone who will listen :) "J-U-D-A-H! That spells ME! It's my name!". You recognize many common signs/words that we see a lot... you can spot a Chick-Fil-A from a mile away, ha. Target, Costco, Hyvee, IKEA, Whole Foods, Aldi, McDonalds (the big yellow M!), Freddy's, and lots more... you always point them out as we drive by. You recognize the words "Judah, Mama, Papa, Nana, Thomas, Sarah, Baby" because we often spell them with magnets on the fridge, or write them on your easel. You like to make letter shapes out of things like beads and sticks - your favorite letter to make is "T"

You love to ride your balance bike around the front and back yards like a crazy child... up and down hills, lifting your feet up to coast along, zooming around like it's second nature. You will be ready for a pedal bike soon, I think! We are SO VERY GLAD that winter is over. Being outside makes our days much easier.

You are grasping deeper concepts and asking lots of questions now, and we are finding it difficult to explain things to you in ways that you can comprehend. We recently had Easter and that was a hard one to explain! You can rattle off the whole story of how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and then rose again to conquer death so that we can go to heaven. But you are still confused... "But WHY did Jesus have to die, mama? His friends are going to miss him!". You were also confused that not everyone can become alive again after they die! (Many of your imaginary games involved characters dying and then coming back to life for a few days, haha). These are all hard things to understand even as an adult, so it's difficult to know how to discuss them with a curious and very imaginative three-year-old!

You want to know how everything works, and where everything comes from. You certainly keep me on my toes with all your questions. And of course, the ever-present "Why?"... "But WHY mama?"

You are the best big brother, to Theodore and baby sister. You remember Theodore and talk about him often. You adore baby sister and are constantly rubbing my belly, talking to her, telling her you love her and how cute she is, giving her hugs and kisses, and trying to get her to kick you. You can hardly wait for her to come out!

Your train table and your play kitchen are two of your favorites right now. You make up stories about your trains as they travel around the tracks, and you love to cook us "dinner" and bake us all kinds ot cakes and cookies and pies in your kitchen. Being outside is another favorite thing... with your bike, lawnmower, and your new-to-us little climber, wagon, and cozy coupe. You also love to "pretend drive" my car or Papa's car. You could spend hours just sitting in the driver's seat, buckling and unbuckling your seatbelt, pushing all the buttons that we let you push, pretending to fill up with gas, go shopping, get ice cream....

We recently moved you from your toddler bed (converted from your crib) to a big boy bed. You love it and transitioned just fine, but it was hard for momma! You slept in that crib/toddler bed for over three years. I have a picture of the very first time you slept in it, and one of the very last night you slept in it. I can't believe how big you are getting.

We love you, big three year old!!! Eventually I'll get around to sorting through all the pictures and posting some.....


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