Happy 2nd birthday Zoe Bear!

2 years. I can’t believe it.

It wasn’t until day 11 or 12 of A’s life that it hit me she had outlived her sister. But everything about those first 8 days are so different from one another that it’s impossible to compare them. You never had a chance. You never left the hospital. Minus one day for 15 minutes, I never got to hold you. There weren’t any smiles, even sleepy ones caused by gas. No cute noises. No crying. No startle reflexes. No nursing. No snuggles. I don’t even know what color your eyes were—we didn’t get to see them. Nothing that even remotely resembled A’s first 8 days. And although I treasure every second of those 8 days with you, they don’t seem real now. And it’s even more difficult to think about them now because if Zoe was here, Alexandra wouldn’t be. How do you pick what’s right? What should’ve been? How can I hate that Zoe died but be grateful for Alexandra? Sometimes when I look at A I’m so completely in love and then immediately feel guilty—does that mean I didn’t love Zoe? That I’m grateful that she died because that means now I have A? The mixture of emotions is overwhelming at times.

I spent the first two weeks constantly calling Alexandra Zoe. I slipped up once while on the phone with Jeff and he said he had caught himself doing the same thing. I heard Patti do it too. Although calling her the wrong name almost never happens anymore, I’ve done it all day today (for obvious reasons). Alexandra will always be linked to Zoe in a way that Jordan and Carter never will be. Her replacement. I think that’s part of the reason why I would like to have another child. To try to make her death “okay”. If Zoe hadn’t died, we would have stopped at 3 kids. There wouldn’t be an Alexandra…there wouldn’t be any more children at all (at least not on purpose). Just as having A slightly helped to fill that void, I think part of me believes that having a fifth child would close it up even more. Not that she could ever be replaced or forgotten—not by a long shot. But to make her death have a purpose. A reason why.

Zoe’s death, combined with not knowing if Alexandra’s the last one, has made me cherish every moment with her. Instead of being frustrated by her only napping while being worn, I embrace it. The mornings when she wakes up early or evenings before going to sleep at night are some of my favorite—just the two of us in the rocking chair, staring at one another. I even catch myself appreciating the silent night feeds (okay, I’ll be honest, not very often. I still cherish sleep more than children. Some things will never change.) Moments that I never had with Zoe. I marvel at the miracle she is and am filled with thankfulness for her existence.

I close my eyes and think of you. Try to picture you. Two. Walking. Running. Talking. Although not my absolute favorite age, I do really enjoy 2. Gaining some independence, able to communicate, saying things in funny ways, still sleeping plenty (giving me my much needed daily peace). I like 2. I hate that we’ll never know what you would be like at this age. How you would act. What you would look like. Sound like.

I want to thank everyone for their wishes today. Most of the texts came in while I was at the grocery store and it took everything I had to keep it together as I read each one. Which I was grateful for—had I been at home I would’ve allowed myself to be overcome by grief. Instead I pushed it all aside. You know, the healthy thing to do. I don’t want to be sad. I want to celebrate, not grieve. Miss you Zoe Bear, today and every day. Happy birthday.

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