While the move was a local one and only a few miles away, I've noticed a social shift since last fall. The people I saw frequently when pregnant with Naomi I now only see occasionally, and the people I saw occasionally I now only see rarely (if at all). I also now have new people entering my life who haven't heard our story. While I'm more practiced in talking about Naomi, she doesn't come up as frequently in conversations.
I think people, whether new or old friends, are still unsure what's safe or appropriate or whatever to say. So I thought I'd make it clear that it's totally fine to mention Naomi. I will not fall apart or get upset, I think about her all the time anyway. The last 4.5 years has taught me very clearly that I am an internal processor when it comes to my emotions, so just don't be surprised at my apparent non-reactions. I do still appreciate the love and concern directed my way, especially as time wears on. The only time I have shut down conversations about her is when I'm leading breastfeeding support meetings, because I was concerned about not fulfilling my role in supporting the mothers attending. However, I have probably been too scrupulous about that and should relax. :)
As I believe I have mentioned before, there is a local group of moms who have had a baby with acrania or anencephaly. I was the third member of this group and we are now sadly welcoming a sixth. Please pray for Carrie and her family as Winnie's birth approaches. In preparation for this, our group has been seeing each other more frequently. We have noticed that we each focus our warnings or guidance on the things that impacted us most, but these things vary widely between us. What is a central comforting thought for one is a passing thought for another. Yet we still understand each other like no one else can, and most importantly, we don't make assumptions or force "silver linings" on each other. There is a viral story now about a couple with an anencephaly baby, and the public is loving it. While there are times I felt perhaps I should seek a wider audience for thoughts I wanted to share, I have to say that I'm so glad we never gained that level of spotlight.
Anyway, on to today's events. The big kids have school vacation this week and we decided to travel to Maryland for it. I didn't want to miss Naomi's birthday at home though, so daddy could be with us (he couldn't come to MD). I waffled between flights for today or tomorrow, nervous that flights today would "ruin" Naomi's birthday, but it all worked out smoothly. I got all the packing done yesterday and we adequately planned out today so there wasn't any rushing. One thing we did not really plan for though is how much snow would still be at the cemetery. While we went from nothing to several feet of snow in the last couple weeks, rain had brought the accumulation down quite a bit. I didn't even think to put a shovel in the van. But our beloved snow shoveler (who I know would not want to be named) got there early and had already cleared a long path for us. The "snow" that was there was pretty much solid ice, and had to be chopped away a square at a time. We got there just in time to help direct him to the exact spot. The cemetery had removed all our personal decorations last spring so there was nothing sticking above the snow to follow. This year, we HAVE to get a headstone. I distinctly remember saying in 2013 that if we didn't do it right away, we wouldn't do it for another 3 years. Well it's been 3 years, so it has to happen now!
We picked up some flowers at Hobby Lobby and made snow imprints while the guys shoveled.
I was glad we decided to the cemetery before lunch and not after, as we might not have had enough time to fully find and clear the area otherwise.
Note the short detour left, before we pulled out old pictures to navigate more precisely.
The nameplate had been pushed down to ground level, making it harder to find.
When we got to the airport, I thought about how the kids wouldn't consider it a birthday unless there was cake. Texted my mother to request birthday cake for tonight, instantly knowing she would completely take care of it. The kids were thrilled and many Beanie Boos attended. (It's also Roxie's birthday on the 29th. Yes, Roxie the Beanie Boo.)
Assuming we get the headstone this year, I'm thinking it would be nice to have some sort of gathering or service once it's done. So many of my local friends don't even know where her grave is. Feel free to send suggestions or ideas my way for what to do for this. My first thought was to all be there at the same time, but maybe something else where people can stop by and leave their mark somehow? A sign in book wouldn't last long in the weather...