When I was expecting our twins, I imagined their first birthday party, as I'm sure many pregnant moms do. As the day approached, I realized that I had barely thought about it, which is highly unlike me - I love planning and creating and details especially for my children. I thought maybe we should do something low key, Caroline was turning one after all and I didn't want to overwhelm her with a bunch of people. On the other hand, her life is a miracle and we should celebrate that! After some thought, discussion and encouragement, that's where I landed and planning a huge first birthday bash for our girl commenced. I designed the invitations, made the guest list, choose the cake and made the decorations. I distracted myself with every possible detail until I finally ran out of things to do. I had to face it. I had to face the one detail that I had been avoiding because it was too painful. I had to face how I would include Will in her party.
It was supposed to be some kind of twin theme with pink and blue decorations, something cute and fun. I wasn't supposed to be coming up with ways to remember her brother because he was supposed to be there, crawling around, smashing cake and looking confused as to why so many people were staring and smiling at him. Nothing seems right these days.
We included Will in some really special ways and the day ended up being less painful than I had imagined. I was prepared for the worst. We invited many of the doctors and nurses who took care of our babies and it was really special to see them. I could tell how excited they were to see Caroline, so big and healthy. We had so many friends and family join us, giving me little hugs and sweet glances, saying what didn't need to be said in words. I didn't cry or get emotional when we sang happy birthday. I just focused on my baby girl who had survived a terrifying brush with death in awe of her presence, determination and perseverance. I was reminded, as I am often, how blessed I am to be her mom and how much hope I have for her life. Instead of gifts, we asked all our guests to bring a note written to Caroline for her to open on her sixteenth birthday. I watched the notes pile up in a little wooden basket and imagined that day, when she is a bright-eyed teenager reading those letters for the first time. I have wondered many times when she will realize what a treasure she is, maybe that moment will be the one.
Our girl had a great day, she won't remember it but we have a lot of sweet photos, notes and memories to share with her when she is older. It seems like a huge milestone that we are now past, but at the same time it feels like just the beginning of a lifetime of celebrations, milestones and special days that will always be missing one very important person. Happy birthday, babies, you are loved and cherished.
A few ways we included Will - a photo collage displayed from the twin's birth and an actual height and weight bear made from Will's clothing and blankets. We got three of these handmade from The Pretty Piggy and gave one to each of our children for Will's birthday. I hope they will cherish them forever as much as I do!
The doctor who saved Caroline 's life and one of our favorite nurses who took care of Caroline and Will made the celebration extra special!
Some of the decorations - a yummy cake, monthly photos of Caroline and a special plate for her to have as a keepsake. Whenever I glanced at the plate I seemed to always fixated on the number of days - 365 days - just the beginning of her life. Will only got 96.
We got these sweet cookies made as favors from Bake or Eat Sweets. She had the idea to do a "twin cookie," which I loved! I choose the little hedgehog to represent Will because he had a hedgehog blanket that he used a lot in the hospital.
Our mission is to children from developing countries receiving heart treatment in Jacksonville, FL.
My name is Courtney Hughes and I am Will's mommy. I am happy that you are here to read Will's story and make a difference with us!