Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In what has now become a ritual period of sleeplessness in the middle of the night, it occurred to me last night that today is exactly two weeks before Hudson’s second birthday on December 1. Which means it is almost, not quite, but almost, exactly 2 years since Ed and I went had some professional pregnancy photos taken. I was 36.5 weeks pregnant, and Hudson was born 9 days early, so these photos were taken just two weeks before she was born. Three days later, we went to our 37-week OB appointment and learned that I was already 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. We freaked out, given that we had not yet even bought a car seat to bring this baby home in. We spent the next several days on wild shopping sprees, buying all the essentials we did not yet have, crossing things off our list left and right. We got the car seat installed that weekend. We were as prepared as prepared could be.

I’m not sure if we have ever shared these photos beyond a very few close family members and friends—as you can see, they are very intimate and personal. And yet, I felt the need to share them today, because as you can also see, we were already so in love with our child and so obviously in love with one another. Before we ever even bought the rest of the baby gear, we were prepared. Prepared to be parents, prepared for our lives to change forever, prepared to love that baby like we’d never loved anything before, not even each other.

At this same time last year, I was in high gear preparing for Hudson’s 1st birthday party. I’ve always believed that it is so important to really celebrate birthdays. My mom made me feel so very special on every birthday, and I wanted my children to feel that same way, to have one day that is all about them. I’ll write more about Hudson’s birthday party later, but the other day, I was cleaning up some clutter and I found a notepad with my shopping list and to-do list for the party. I had so many different things in the works—a monkey smash cake for Hudson, monkey cupcakes for everyone else, a homemade personalized party hat for Hudson, CDs with Hudson’s favorite songs for everyone to take home as party favors. Two weeks before Hudson’s birthday last year, I was busy. Busy preparing to celebrate the birth of my incredible child, who had changed my life in ways I could never have imagined before she was born, who had made me want to be not just a better mom, but a better person, who had finally made me understand the value of loving myself so that I could better love others.

And now. Now it is two weeks before Hudson’s birthday again and I have no idea what to do. I am not busy preparing anything, but I feel like I should be. How do I prepare to celebrate the birthday of my dear child who has died? I most certainly want to celebrate it, or maybe commemorate is the right word, because frankly, I am in no mood to celebrate—I know many parents do continue to have parties with cake and balloons and all those kinds of things, but that is just not for me. At least not this year. I have had many ideas and thoughts about what to do, but not one of those ideas does any justice to the extraordinary spirit that Hudson was or to the profound impact that she had and continues to have on my life every single day. How could anything? When I have a party to plan, preparing is easy—party planning I know. Party planning gives me lists that I can delight in crossing through. But preparing to honor my precious child’s birthday after she has died is just something I never dreamed I’d have to do. No list will help me here.

I’ve never been so unprepared for anything in my entire life.


  1. Mandy & Ed, the photos are truly exquisite. Thank you so much for sharing them.
    Before or on Hudson's birthday, I am certain that you'll know what you need to do to commemorate your wonderful girl.
    Both of you, Hudson and the Little Penguin are in my heart.


  2. I couldn't say it better-- those photos are exquisite. They radiate love. Thank you for sharing them with us all!
    Healing thoughts for you both....
    Kristine S

  3. You and Ed and Hudson-to-be all look so beautiful. Hudson seems to be somehow guiding you on this terrible journey-- her spirit is still here-- and maybe she will find a way to let you know how to commemorate her.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Mandy. Your photos are beautiful and ooze every ounce of love for Hudson. Thanks also for sharing your feelings about Hudson's upcoming birthday. We all feel the stark contrast between what you were doing a year ago and what you were doing today. Even though you aren't busily preparing to celebrate December 1, I know that on December 1 you will think of Hudson and smile - and still celebrate all her gifts to you and to your community.

    With Love,
    Alex K

  5. I saw a really neat idea that another blog-mom had to commemorate her recently deceased son's 18th bday...she asked that all her readers, family, friends, and everyone who knew or knew OF her son do something kind for someone else on that day...a random act of kindness. Then folks were invited to either share their deed on her blog, or not share if they just wanted to keep it to themselves. (I paid for the drive-thru lunch for the car behind me.) I just thought it was a nice idea that all these random strangers were out there making the world (momentarily) a better place in honor of her son. Kind-of in the spirit of One Good Thing, ya know? Just a thought...

    And I agree that somehow as the day draws nearer, you will KNOW. Somehow you will know. You always do!

    Loved the pics, too...very stunning and non-traditional.

    Much love to you, Mandy. I wish you so much love and happiness.

  6. It is something I dearly wish that nobody ever had to be prepared for. I know that you will find the right way to commemorate your wonderful Hudson.

    Those photographs are beautiful, so much love in them.

  7. December 1st is the day she came to you. I will be grateful for Hudson on the day the world was blessed with her joyful spirit. And I will pray that your hearts will be lightened with joyful memories of her.

  8. Opening this post to such raw, vulnerable, intense love in print was a delightful surprise. You and Ed have done such an amazing job capturing Hudson's life and bountiful spirit. I am confident that when December 1 arrives, bearing witness to her life will be much the same...she brought Joy and she always will. Here...if you need me...Renee P.

  9. These pictures are stunning. Your love for Hudson-to-be and each other permeates every image.

    I hope that you are able to find a way to remember Hudson's birthday that brings you some peace.

  10. Lovely, loving photos. Thank you for sharing.

    I write a letter every year to my dad on his birthday. Maybe writing a letter to Hudson, releasing all of the things you would have wished to celebrate with her on her 2nd, 3rd, 23rd, birthday would be somehow therapeutic for you, especially given that writing seems to be a healing outlet for you. You could keep all the letters together in a birthday journal to Hudson, a way of commemorating and remembering her life. Just an idea.

    I am so sorry that you even have to think about how to "prepare" for such a day for which no preparation is possible. Whatever you do, or don't do, will be perfect. You honor Hudson's spirit every day, in a million different ways.

    Much love to you, Ed and the Penguin.

  11. Beautiful photos, Mandy. Thank you for sharing them. Your children are lucky to have such loving parents who are clearly so in love with each other.

    I'll be thinking of you and Hudson on 12/1. For what it's worth, I actually found Veronica's birthday to be not so bad; mostly I focused on all the joy I felt upon her arrival into our family. Good luck in whatever you decide to do to commemorate sweet Hudson.


  12. Of course you are unprepared. And it's horrible that you even have to think about this subject at all. It continues to be wrong.
    Your photos are so lovely, so loving, so special. Hang in there, Mandy-"the only way through is through."
    Big hugs.

  13. Thank you for sharing these beautiful, tender images. I love the still quiet heart of them. You will know. Whatever you do will be whatever you need to do.

  14. Mandy, I am one of those readers who has never met you. A friend gave me your name one day when we were talking about inspirational people, and I have read your posts from time to time, and they always touch my heart. Thank you.

  15. Yes, Mandy, I can see it so clearly as well. Your love for each other and your love for that little girl waiting to meet you. I see it in every post you write. Not just the love you have for Hudson but also the love you have for your husband and the love you have for little Penguin. It is beautiful.