Yesterday marked the 12 month anniversary of the day my baby Jiya simultaneously entered and left this world. It would have been her 1st birthday, and boy what a magnificent 1st birthday it would have been had she survived.

I woke up thinking I’d get through the day in the same way I did when it was Jiya’s due date – eating the food I craved when I was pregnant, baking her a cake, reflecting on the fun she’d be having in her new home. And while I did all of those things, I couldn’t help but shed tears of pain, tears of longing, tears of what could have been, tears of pleading with the universe for her to be having a brilliant day wherever she may be and I hadn’t expected to shed tears of love for all the people who remembered her birthday and sent me messages, cards and gifts. I was touched, truly touched that my baby’s big day was remembered by so many people, that her existence was being acknowledged. I read out each message, hoping she could hear.

I can’t quite believe that a whole year has passed, 12 months, 365 days since our world changed forever. We didn’t see it then, for it was just too traumatic to see through the grief, but losing Jiya has brought a new lens through which we experience life. She taught us gratitude in ways that no other lesson ever could, she brought me and my husband closer than we’d ever been, she brought us both closer to God and she gave us the opportunity to feel unconditional parental love. And now, even though she isn’t physically with us, the wisdom of her existence remains…this was the saying on my calendar yesterday…

19th April

This quote describes me, my outlook and my intention since losing Jiya…I think I needed reminding of this yesterday. Don’t you just think the universe is amazing at sending you signs, just when you need them! Reading this reminded me to write again, so here I am…

This wasn’t the only sign I received yesterday. Since Jiya passed away, we’ve been visited daily by a blackbird and a baby robin. I see these as signs from my loved ones above – my dad and Jiya, telling me they are ok and that they are always around. The birds chase each other around the garden, hide in the trees and when I least expect it they jump out on me. And yesterday, for the first time in a year, they both sat still long enough for me to take a photo. Something so small, and to most it would probably go unnoticed, but to me it meant the world and certainly made me smile!

Birds in my garden

After weeks of waiting, yesterday was also the day my husband found out he’d been promoted! Of all the days, it was on Jiya’s birthday. Another sign of Jiya sprinkling her magic dust? I think so.

For me, Jiya’s birthday was about focusing on her and making sure she didn’t miss out on celebrating her big day – I don’t want her looking down from her new home thinking that we’ve forgotten about her. She is, and always will be my baby, never forgotten, forever cherished and especially celebrated at every milestone…I want her to see that and I want it to make her happy wherever she is.

Jiya’s birthday was also about giving myself time to reflect on things. Doing normal things that a mother would do is how I cope, it is how I get through these difficult occasions. But, just because this is my coping mechanism, doesn’t mean it is my husbands too. We discussed him taking the day off work and spending the day doing something special, but it didn’t feel right for him. I think spending the day doing something for someone who isn’t here to experience it feels a bit alien to him and I suspect having too much time to think can open the door to feelings he doesn’t want or need to feel right now. So, he chose to go in to work yesterday…although called to check on me quite a few times!! And that was fine by me, he is experiencing this for the first time too and he must process it in the way that suits him. I get that. I respect that. And I support his journey.

My advice to anyone who is approaching the first anniversary of their baby’s death/ their baby’s first birthday, whichever way you choose to look at it, is:

  • do whatever feels right to you to mark the occasion, or not. Don’t feel pressured to conform, I mean, who wrote the rule book for life after losing your baby? If you want to go out and celebrate, throw a party, release a balloon, be on your own, be with family and friends, go in to work, bake a cake, get a tattoo, visit their grave, plant a tree, etc, etc…just do it. Confidently make the day what you want it to be.
  • start thinking about what you want to do in advance of the anniversary. If you’d like to do something momentous or involve friends and family, it’s important to make plans in advance and involve the people you want to be present. You don’t want to regret not being able to do what you desired because you left it too late to organise.
  • do what feels right to you and allow your partner to do what feels right to them. We all process these key milestone anniversaries in a different way and forcing your partner to do what is right for you, but isn’t right for them, will do more harm than good. Respect each other’s wishes and support each other’s journey.
  • let yourself feel whatever emotion you need to feel – cry, laugh, shout, scream. It’s all just your body and mind’s way of processing what’s going on deep within you. So allow it to be, be compassionate to yourself and allow yourself to just feel.
  • talk about how you are feeling, before, during and after the anniversary. Each anniversary will bring up thoughts and feelings that may even come as a surprise to you. Be sure to process them by talking to your partner, trusted friend, a family member, or a counsellor if you are seeing one.

Finally, as hard as the day may be, know that you will get through it. In your own way, you will get through it. Keep your focus on your baby, they will be watching…that thought was enough for me to wipe my tears, keep my chin up, look to the sky and smile…in the hope that my baby was smiling right back at me.

Happy birthday my precious daughter xxx