Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Eden Olivia

by Megan Coker

So much can happen in a year.

It seems like such a short time ago that you were born into our arms and breathed so deeply, curled your hand around my finger, and left us while lying in your Daddy’s arms. I realize now that carrying you to birth meant switching the weight of making every memory possible with you to the weight of the grief that is making memories that are missing you. And while grief makes the day seem long, it feels like the whole last year has been a blur. How did we get here?

You inspired me. To take the pictures and to write the words. To be a better friend and to defend myself. To be content with a quiet life and to step outside my comfort zone when it’s needed. To be a better wife to your daddy and to let him be a better husband to me. You are my daughter and you taught me more than I ever dreamt about all the things I wanted to teach you myself.

 I miss you, baby bird. It has been three months longer without you in my life than I carried you. How does a person love someone so much after such a brief time? Parenthood is the most instant type of love and I don’t know who I was before you came along. All I know is I’ll never be that person again. I miss you because you made me.

There’s a hole in my life today where you should be- corners of the living room that should house your toys and play yard, a wall in the pink bedroom in the house we moved to where your crib would have fit perfectly, silence where there should be cries and giggles, the empty grocery cart seat I have as I breeze pass every other mother in the world shopping at the exact moment I am, the high chair we don’t ask for when we go out for dinner, the ache in my arms as I wonder how to celebrate this type of first birthday. Your absence is everywhere.

But then, so is your presence. I find you even in the rare moments I’m not looking. Your scent still washes over me unexpectedly in places your body never went, and your face is the centerpiece of my sweetest dreams. I have never had so many friendly birds visit in my yard and I have never heard the name “Eden” in the company of strangers so much. Your body died but your spirit is still alive and even when I don’t notice, you’re there. I wish you could physically hug me and I could see you with my eyes, but I am learning to lean less on the physical proof that you were here and focus on the spiritual proof that you are. I’m thankful for the promise that one day those different types of proof will be one and the same. I’ll hold you again and tell you all the times I just knew it was you, my love.

I always thought that getting to this point would automatically make me equipped to say, “my baby died” and not cry so hard or have panic attacks. I thought one year would give me the time I needed to really know deep grief and then I could move out of the deep end and only wade occasionally. I thought that since it’s expected by everyone else that I act right after only a few months, surely a little more time would be all I need. But here I am one year later and it feels so much like I’m in the movie Groundhog Day. I don’t feel new or “better”. I knew that there is no getting better because I’m not sick, but I didn’t know that every day would just feel the same as it did a year ago. My anxious heart leading up to today felt the same as it did when I was preparing to deliver you. Have I made no progress in healing?

That can’t be right, though. Where there was once a pretty bow wrapped around my writing, there is honesty and rawness. I feel more real about things I never wanted to know, let alone write about. And where family once meant blood, I know that family now means the people you choose. And man, this past year I’ve built up one hell of a family. I have been loved well by people who were once strangers and I have learned to love them well too. I learned what self-care is and I got some help for depression when it came to a point that I could not help myself. I know you’d be proud of me. I’m proud of me... But still, every morning I wake up wondering how in the world I’m going to breathe without you.

One year.

An identity theft.
Two more babies- Errol and Mason.
Three severed relationships.
Four trips to the hospital to photograph your friends.
Five different medications until I found something to work.
Six months old the day after Christmas.
Seven new friends like sisters.
Eight holidays we should have dressed you up for.
Nine times Daddy and I couldn’t be together on your monthly birthday.
Ten times I had to figure out how to answer the question “any kids?”
Eleven times, a full day of your candle being lit.
Twelve months, my little baby girl would have been a whole year old today.

I’m not in the same place I was when you left. But I don’t feel any different either. My love for you has not faded or shifted or calmed. It is still fierce and it still burns- like a seat belt clip on my skin when we come back to the south to visit your grave. It runs through me like fire and it takes me breath away to say your name. I am still in love with being your Mama and I always will be so very grateful that you’re mine. I wish today were different and so I am mourning. But because I love you the same as I would if you were here, I am celebrating too.

I would trade every good thing to have you in my arms. There’s no doubt. But since I cannot, I am so thankful for every mercy we have in this life of grief so far. You have made us so proud- your story is one that people stop and listen to when we tell it. Your story is an opportunity to raise CDH awareness and share the gospel and point them to Jesus. You’re happy, healthy, and in Heaven. What more could a parent ask for when it comes to the well being of her child?

I love you, my sweet. I miss you.

Xoxo, Mama
~ ~ ~

To celebrate Eden’s Birth and Glory Day today, we are asking friends to commit intentional acts of kindness for others in her name, leaving notes or cards telling others about her. She brought the best and most kind people into our lives and we’ll spend the rest of our time while we wait putting that love back into the world. We invite you to join us in this as well.

~ ~ ~

Megan Coker carried Eden Olivia to birth in June 2015 after receiving a diagnosis of a severe Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in the Bilateral form. Eden lived for 40 minutes. Megan is Ryan’s wife and together they follow his Army career. She has found a way to honor Eden’s short life in capturing the beautiful moments of others through starting her photography business, Eden’s Garden Images. Each day has its new challenges for both Megan and Ryan but they are learning to lean on each other through it and work steadily on strengthening their marriage. Megan finds healing through writing about Eden and remembering their beautiful time together.


Unknown said...

Today I went to visit my daughter in the NICU in Minot, ND. She has been in the NICU (two of them combined) for a total of 73 days and still has a while to go. She was born at 25 weeks and 2 days but had more will then anyone I have ever met. She fights to get stronger each day. I also received a white, fuzzy bear with a card honoring your daughter and encouraging acts of kindness. Thank you for sharing this beautiful gift with my daughter and I. We will spread goodwill in Eden's name through another act of kindness. Thank you, again. We will remember Eden's birthday each year and use that as inspiration for kindness in her honor.

Unknown said...

Your story is beautiful, bittersweet, and pure honesty lets us know up close how you felt and what you went through and continue to do so. Your baby is beautiful. I use present tense as I believe she is in safe hands Above and looks down upon you and your family. She will always be remembered and carried in your heart. Thank you for sharing such personal moments in your life. It helped my family feel like what they are going through, well...normal. this is our life now. We will never forget our little angels ♡♡♡

NaRong said...

We will spread goodwill in Eden's name through another act of kindness. Thank you, again.
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katharine said...

Hello. In two days we will be celebrating our sweet Grace's first birthday. She was diagnosed with Pallister Killian Syndrome at 20 weeks, and was born asleep 7 weeks later. I love your idea of asking friends and family to spread kindness in your precious daughter's name. You have inspired me to do the same and hope to keep her memory alive while touching other people's lives. Thank you for sharing your story.

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