Recently I rambled for quite a bit about why celebrating Olivia on her birthday felt off this year. Navigating milestones and dates and holidays and anniversaries after losing a child is like walking through a field of landmines. You can build it up and prepare for the absolute worst and let the anticipation alone almost eat you alive, only to find that the day breezes by. Or, the opposite can happen. It can deplete you, exhaust every ounce of energy and emotion in your body, it can torture you with the weight of grief. You just never know.
This year as Olivia’s birthday approached and all sorts of icky emotions crept to the surface, I was reminded of the hurdles we faced before losing Olivia. Life after loss is hard, yes. And sometimes it’s all that we think about. But The Pink Zebra Club was created to support families of children with critical medical needs – both while in the NICU and after child loss.
One of the memories most top of mind for me this season is Mother’s Day. Olivia was born on a Sunday in late April and just two weeks later was my first Mother’s Day. Plans of casual brunching with babe at home went flying out the window, and instead I found myself beside a crib in the NICU.
That day was beyond hard for so many reasons (most of which I’ll keep to myself). My first Mother’s Day? In the NICU, where everything that day went wrong. My second Mother’s Day? At home, a bereaved mom, no baby in my arms. This year is different. Gemma is here. A mom of two. One here at home.
It’s my third Mother’s Day and I’m starting to get the hang of this all. Celebrating through hard times. Celebrating with sick babies and no babies and new babies.
As this spring approached and I recognized how far I’ve come, I found my mind on all of the new moms who this year will face a Mother’s Day in the NICU. So we decided to do something for the entire unit.
This week The Pink Zebra Club dropped off 75 gift bags to the Golisano Children’s Hospital. A bag for each mom who will spend her Mother’s Day weekend in the NICU. A bag filled with something sweet, something to eat, and a gift card to Starbucks. We also wrote a one page letter, and shared a blog post that helped me feel supported on this day two years ago.
Our hope this year is to use the strength and clarity we’ve gained in the past two years to lift up and support other new moms in the NICU on Mother’s Day. We hope our words and our gifts brighten an otherwise dim day, and we hope to remind them all they are not alone.
Until next time,