In two weeks we will be “celebrating” Zuri’s first birthday. I still can’t believe that a year has gone by. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions: anticipation, fear, sadness, and reliving trauma, all mixed in with everyday life and sometimes some joy.

We’ve been anticipating the hopeful arrival of our new baby; planning tour of the hospital, discussing childcare logistics for our son once my labor starts, reviewing our birth plan wishes. We’re also anticipating the challenges of a day filled with many emotions as Zuri’s first birthday approaches. It’s been hard to figure out how we want to honor her on that day. A few weeks ago we went back to the cemetery and went through the difficult process of selecting a grave marker for her. Neither my husband nor I have actually been back to visit Zuri’s graveside since her memorial service last year; partially because the thought of seeing a temporary grave marker made us feel like bad parents somehow. It also just felt downright hard to visit, knowing that Zuri isn’t really there, it’s just her body.

Choosing a headstone was a harder experience than I thought; at one point I started to cry, overwhelmed with how wrong it felt to be selecting a grave marker in preparation for my daughter’s first birthday. None of the design options felt right.

As my husband and I discuss different ways to honor the day I can’t help but feel uncomfortable because nothing seems right. Nothing seems good enough. Nothing seems good enough for my sweet little girl.

I know there is no “right way” to do things. But I have to keep reminding myself of that, I seem to forget very easily. I have to keep reminding myself that there is no “right way” to live with joy and heartache together; joy that my new baby is doing well and growing, and heartache that my first baby girl is gone and all I want in the world is to hold her again.

My arch nemesis Fear has been working hard to get the best of me; fear that I am going to somehow not do enough to honor Zuri. Fear that others will forget her, or think that it’s strange that we want to honor her birthday even though she is gone. Fear that something can still go wrong with my current pregnancy.

Fighting fear can sometimes feel like a full time job.

I’m sad that Zuri is not here. As I slowly (very slowly) find the courage to acquire more things for our new baby girl, I can’t help but feel sad that it’s not Zuri that I’m preparing for. I miss her terribly. I thought that with the passing of a whole year things would be… not better (I know that will never happen), but perhaps less intense. I suppose in some ways it is, but there’s no denying that the emotions sit just below the surface just waiting to bubble over. There’s been lot of tears lately.

With the upcoming one year mark, I can’t help but relive the days leading up to learning about the PROM diagnosis, and reliving the awful experience of birthing my baby prematurely and then letting her go. I know the PTSD is real and that I have it. Taking the time to breath and allow myself to feel what I feel when reliving those moments is helpful. Talking about it with those close to me is offers a little bit of wound-tending (I won’t say healing yet, I know I’m not there yet). Practicing good self-care is important, I finally got that. And leaving everything at the feet of God is humbling, another important part of this journey.

I know that the next couple of weeks are going to be hard, but what it all comes down to is making sure I don’t allow the emotions to take away from an opportunity to express just how much I love my child.

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