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A different kind of milestone

198 days. That is how long we have held our precious baby boy in our arms. It is also the same number of days we were blessed with our Nora. It is so hard to rationalise this — for Finnian the weeks and months seem to have flown by so quickly; and yet for Nora, this is all we got. 198 days was her entire lifetime.

As parents, we are so eager to witness all the big and little milestones along the way - first smile, first words, first steps. We live in a blissful place somewhere between enjoying every moment of the present and looking always to the next milestone, imagining our babies at the next stage. For loss parents however, milestones with our rainbow babies are a bit different—perhaps because there are more layers involved. Yes while we too so treasure every moment of all the firsts (possibly with even more appreciation and awe than most), there is always fear and grief lurking ever so near; fear of the worst, fear of what may be around the corner — a fear that exists because we know all too well that bad things can and do happen; and grief... for what we've lost... for what we're missing out on.

Both of these emotions have sat heavy on my chest lately. Fear reared it's face once again when our sweet Finnian was recently diagnosed with a rare disease and we were forced to re-enter the world of hospital rooms, medical tests and appointments. And today, we face a big grief milestone. Different to the 'normal' baby milestones we see on Insta posts with cute little picture cards and cheeky smiles, this milestone is a ‘just keep breathing, just keep walking through the grief’ kind of milestone.

You see, for Tiarnán and Maeve, the 198th day was somewhat unremarkable. We probably spent the day at the park or out for a walk as we did almost everyday. But Clodagh’s and Nora’s 198th day is a day etched into the memory of my heart and mind forever.

It was the day that Nora’s life ended. The day our hopes and dreams for Nora's life heartbreakingly stopped.

It was the day Rich and I became bereaved parents, Clodagh lost her twin sister, and Tiarnán and Maeve said goodbye to a world where bad things only happened in bad dreams. It was the day our worst fear became our reality.

For all these reasons, Finnian’s 198th day is so incredibly triggering. But it is also incredibly reassuring...

Because, despite all he has been through in the past weeks, today we get to spend the day watching him smile and play alongside his big brother and sisters — and for that we are truly grateful and blessed beyond words.

When Finny was born we told the world he had been “handpicked for earth by his big sister in heaven”— we truly do believe this. There have been so many signs along the way that she is watching over him and all of us. And today has proved no different. Yes I sat a while with my sadness for Nora and all her 198th day meant. But I also got to celebrate, with joy and hope, our Finnian’s 198th day… today…on mummy’s birthday.

Yes, today is my birthday. Another sign perhaps? Well I think so.

I hear you baby girl. I know you're there.

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Sticky fingers & butterfly kisses is  a place to share my journey of motherhood after loss - my hope is that it will be a gentle place for others who are raising children after loss or supporting a loved one who is grieving the loss of a child - a safe place to share our stories and experiences.

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