Happy Birthday, Elora!


This year it is easy to be grateful, for how could we feel otherwise about a year spent watching this little one thrive?  It is so fitting that her birthday coincides with the Thanksgiving season in the United States.  Forever and always our souls will be marked with gratitude born out of the experience of crushing loss, followed by her precious new life.


I have so enjoyed these last 12 months sharing Elora's milestones and memories with you.  Babies change so quickly that first year that regular updates are fitting.  But now as we enter a new phase, I will continue my Elora posts, but with less frequency.  I am anticipating a quarterly schedule this year.  I hope you are not terribly disappointed!  Alas, I join you in the resistance.  As much as we eagerly welcome her healthy growing-up, at the same time we miss those baby days.  I consul myself with the reminder that those lucky enough to see their children grow, should gladly bear the sweet pain of it.

And it has been so sweet!  Just yesterday she laughed for the very first time.  She released just one tiny giggle when she discovered she could blow a wooden whistle.   She doesn't make it whistle, in fact, but creating a new blowing sound is apparently reward enough!

We are eagerly awaiting her first word and masses of giggles.  She is a bit slow in this area, as she was slow with her suckling skills.  The two are related.  But, we trust it will come as her suckling did too.  She is playing with sounds and understanding some words, so progress is happening for sure.

Oh, let us do another memory box!

Memory Box {1 year}

Milestones:  First giggle.  True crawling... all the time:  yesterday she crawled laps in my sewing room, enthusiastically slapping the floor with her palms.  I think she was relishing her newfound speed.  Independent book love:  she will entertain herself by paging through board books.  That's always a good sign!  Walking with a push toy.  Partial weaning:  we are down to three nursings a day.  She seems poised to drop another.


Biggest Challenge:  Language.  It would be so helpful if she had a few words to indicate her desires.  Up, eat, drink, more, all done:  these words would make a world of difference for us.  Meanwhile, I need to be more faithful about using baby sign.

Best Memory:  It's time to help Rora become attached to a tiny blanket that she can use at bedtime and naptime to help her self soothe.  Recently I started giving her a voile lovey I made for Eleni to hold while she is nursing.  Babies love to explore with their hands while nursing, often pulling mama's hair or slap, slapping mama's shoulder.  The blanket kept her hands busy, but peaceful.

Yesterday she was holding the blanket and pulled it up over her face.  She pulled it down, met my eyes and her eyes brightened.  Repeat and repeat, with ever more glee.  Soon she wasn't nursing because we were having so much fun playing peek-a-book.  She had discovered that she could make the game all by herself, instead of waiting for someone else to cover and uncover her.  Such a simple, charming moment!


Biggest Surprise:  Somehow in the midst of all this enjoyment and satisfaction, I have come to recognize that our family feels is complete.  It's an odd, though not unwelcome sensation. 

Before I always wanted more children, specifically two more children after Aria and Liam.  And I had them, even if I only got to keep one.  I didn't expect to feel so clear about being "done" or so peaceful.  I didn't expect to feel this way at all!  And at the same time to be enjoying Rora so much and already feeling wistful about her babyhood... how do all these emotions come together in one heart?  It's a mystery. 

It's hard to put into words that part of my decision is a feeling of including Eleni by stopping at this point.  Raising just Rora without a sibling of her age is not what I imagined.  It has benefits and drawbacks, that's not the point.  The point is, it is not what I imagined, and in that diversion from the "plan" it feels like Eleni's loss is more real, more remembered. 

This is not at all to offer advice to others who experience infant loss.  This is just my experience.  I see that my heart has changed.  I now look forward to the experience of raising somewhat of an "only" child.  In my soul I sense a comfort with the shape of our family as it has turned out.  So, this is a surprise and a gift.  I am thankful.

As you can see, Rora was a big fan of her birthday pie today!


Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, even across the world where you do not eat turkey and pumpkin pie today.  May you draw near to your family, and may you be blessed.