Ruthie Lou, My sweet, sweet girl... Your life has changed mine so. For the better. In sorrow. In the beauty that remains.
My dear Sweet Girl,
We waited for you. I waited my whole life for you. Your dad and I, we waited before we decided it was time to start our family. I was always ready for you and after ten years together, enough time for just the two of us, your dad was ready, too.
On my 30th birthday we found out we were expecting a baby, it was the best moment of my life thus far but I was scared, so scared and I couldn't shake the feeling. Friends told me this was being a mama, that the feeling would never go away and it didn't, until the moment was made true, I miscarried. Devastation rose from within me that I never knew existed, my heart broken, my world questioned. I couldn't imagine not having a baby, I couldn't imagine not having a family. I was in a fog for some time following that loss, it felt beyond my control.
Then you came along. I knew you were in my belly and before any test could prove it, I felt you growing inside me. I was in disbelief and already in love. I was terrified and brave, hesitant yet ready, my love grew larger than I could imagine. I loved your pregnancy, my growing belly, my growing mama heart, nothing else in the world mattered to me. I had tunnel vision for you, loving you, caring for you, being present for you. I took care of my body, I took care of my mind and I took care of my heart. I wanted to be the best mama I could be for you. I had aches and pains, pregnancy woes, but the lessons of my first pregnancy never left my mind; I cannot control this pregnancy, I cannot control you, I can only be present in today and today, I was pregnant. Most of your pregnancy went that way, talking to myself, reassuring myself, being brave in the days I felt scared. I loved you so much already.
And then it was time. It was early but only three weeks and it was most definitely time. Your labor was the most beautiful experience of my life. Dad and I danced from side to side, Grammie massaged my hands and feet and I felt every contraction with determination and anticipated joy. The midwife said you had a ton of hair and I couldn't wait to see it! That moment came but the room was silent, they whisked you away from me. I didn't know why but I had seen the movies, I heard the stories, sometimes this happens and everything always works out, everything is always ok in the end. As dad rushed after you with auntie by his side, I was left feeling alone in the delivery room with my fear.
We were immediately discharged from the hospital and we followed you to the city, where we sat by your side every single day. You were gorgeous. Your head of hair was breathtaking. You could've been my baby twin. Your thick lips and rosy cheeks, you looked too big to be in the NICU. Every test came back ok, every part of you was perfect. But something wasn't right, you were not recovering. It took nearly two weeks for them to discover the most devastating news of our life and as the sun beat into that tiny room of doctors, they told us words I never imagined to hear, you would not survive.
Our only wish as parents was to give our children a life filled with joy but now we had a time limit. Your dad was so strong, standing beside your bed at all times, holding my hand and heart. The hospital was so wonderful, loving us, crying when they heard the news. They stood by, helping to make your life comfortable and full of love. Family and many friends met you, held you, kissed you. Those who couldn't meet you, sent messages, cards, pictures, love, support. We were dying inside but filled with so much. Our goal was to surround you with everything we could in the time we had, we wasted nothing, we were distracted by nothing. We were living in a time out of time.
A wish was granted that I didn't even know existed, we were able to move in with you to a children's house, a free standing palliative care facility that would care for you and take care of us. We could hold you all day and night, free from tubes and wires, without the sound of the machines beeping non-stop, no more stats and tests, freedom from the constricting walls of the hospital.
Walking into the doors of our new home with you, the bright walls, the children's paintings, the light air of love and laughter, it was confusing to us as we knew that we were there to say goodbye to you. We didn't know how long we would have and it forced us to be present every second of every day. That house was such a beautiful blessing to us. We took walks, went swimming in the warm tub, sat outside and listened to the wind blow, watched birds and critters flying and rocked you until the sun set, bundled together under the night sky. Those twelve days were the best of my life, those twelve days we were a family.
We woke up the morning of my 31st birthday and knowing that would be the day, I sat in bed sobbing. How could, one year earlier, be the best day of my life and the very next year, two pregnancies later, I was saying goodbye to my greatest love? We held you as your breathing slowed, we took turns so that it was fair, your dad and I loving you as much as we possibly could. We spoke to you, sang to you, said blessings over you. We knew the moment was coming and I offered you to your dad. I was so honored that I was able to birth you, I held and carried you for nine months in my belly with your dad supporting us. I thought it only right for him to hold you as you left your sweet body. Handing you to him, the last time I ever held you alive, was the hardest thing I have ever done, I never wanted to let you go. We were three people sitting on that couch but our hearts were one, we melded together in a moment that is beyond words. As your beautiful blue eyes opened for us to see you, you left us.
You lived a lifetime in your 33 days. After you left your Earthly body, I swear I could feel you with us, you stayed near us for quite some time, months really. I looked for you every where and still do, hoping that I can see signs of you near me.
It has been two years since I held you in my arms and while the days reluctantly moved forward, I could easily be thrust back in those moments with you. Your life filled my heart with a joy that I never knew existed, the love you gave; unfathomable. You left us with a million gifts, and just as many lessons. We have become better human beings, better friends, a better family because of you. I live my life for you now, I have learned so much about life because of you and in moments that I forget, I just tell myself to REMEMBER RUTHIE. That mantra given to me reminds me of the value in today, of what is important in this life, of the lessons and gifts you left behind.
I now feel that because of you, my God is everywhere; in the soft wind, the humming of the critters, chirps of the birds, in the beauty that you left behind. I understand that I have been blessed to be your mama and now know that while we prayed for the miracle of your survival, you in fact were already a miracle, our miracle. The gift of your life was a miracle; holding you, knowing you, smelling you and loving you on Earth, even if temporarily, was an absolute miracle. I now understand that you choosing my birthday as your "special day" was a gift, a gift that you will always be celebrated on that day because someday we would have a family on Earth and your siblings would make it a day filled with joy.
Through your life we witnessed a miracle, one whose feet barely hit the ground. We are heartbroken over living an entire lifetime without you in our arms but are so grateful that you chose us, you made us better people, you enriched our life, your life had such great meaning. We are so grateful that you, Ruthie Lou, are and forever will be, our sweet, sweet girl.
I love you more than the stars in the sky, all the way to the moon and back, more than anything in the world, more than anyone in the world. I love, love, love you my sweetest girl.
The Ruthie Lou Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation EIN 46-5312498