Since I think most readers follow me on social media, I have assumed that you all know that we welcomed our sweet Eleanor Jane (“Ella Jane”) on August 11, 2017 at 9:46pm, weighing 6lbs 11oz and measuring 19.5in long! She came out screaming and the amount of love and relief I felt when she was placed on my chest was immeasurable. I still plan to write posts about my PAL third trimester and delivery, but I have not found the time for any writing in the last 8.5 weeks as I have cuddled and cared for my sweet girl.

In honor of her 2 month birthday tomorrow, I wanted to “officially” announce her arrival and share some of my thoughts. I’ve struggled to know how to express my emotions around Ella Jane’s arrival and to know what to write here, but here is my best attempt at a snapshot of life with our little rainbow.

First and foremost, Ella Jane has brought so much healing and joy to our hearts. She cannot replace Jacob, and we will always miss him and wish he was here. Neither our grief nor our love for him will have an end date in this lifetime. But I feel strongly that he had a role in sending Ella Jane to us, and having her here has brought us a joy that we never knew would return to our lives. I am confident that makes Jacob smile in Heaven.

Sometimes Ella Jane looks just like Jacob and sometimes she looks just like her own little person. Although there is a twinge of sadness in the moments I see Jacob in her, I also treasure the glimpse of my sweet son. I’m so glad for her tinted red hair (though not as red as his), and her eyes and forehead that look just like his (except her long, long lashes that definitely distinguish her). When I catch her in a particularly Jacob-esque moment, I feel for a second like my son’s image is not permanently frozen in time for me, and it warms my heart.

That is the sweet. Of course there is also the bitter. I definitely have my moments, as Ella Jane hits a new milestone or we have a special bonding moment, in which I am reminded of exactly what I was robbed of when Jacob died. In a way it’s harder knowing exactly what I missed than it was when I didn’t know what it was like to have a living baby.

And of course, there’s joy and love and frustration and guilt and sadness that belong entirely to Ella Jane and don’t have anything to do with Jacob. She is a different child of mine, of course, and every parenting experience is different whether you’ve lost a child or not. I’ve found immeasurable joy watching her lashes grow and her sweet smile emerge! I love dressing her up in floral patterns and picking a matching headband. I melt whenever she coos back at me, and love hearing each new sound she learns to make. My heart almost bursts overtime she nurses herself to sleep and naps on my chest…and I indulge in letting her do that as long as she likes, because I’m not about to cut short the cuddles that I know I can never take for granted. There’s frustration when she’s fussy, usually in the evening. And the sleep deprivation has been WAY harder than I imagined, even though I think she is actually a pretty darn good sleeper for her age. I’ve felt guilt over having down days when I’m particularly exhausted because I would rather be exhausted for having her than grieving again. But as much as I want to feel nothing but positive emotions now that I have a living child, I try to be kind to myself and remember that I’m allowed to experience the normal ups and downs of parenting even though I’ll never truly be a “normal” parent. And I’m already sad about how fast time is moving. I’m glad she is growing up, because watching her grow is way better than not getting to watch your child grow (an alternative I know all too well), but could it slow down a little? I’ve cried over knowing she won’t always want to nap on my chest or be so dependent on me. The best antidote is to focus on each beautiful moment we get together as they come and to let any other priorities in my life go by the wayside as I soak in my time with her.

Overall, my life has never been filled with more love. Love for Jacob, love for Ella Jane, love for all those who have supported me as I’ve navigated these indescribably difficult last 15 months, and love for my loving God, who has drawn nearer to me than ever and helped me grow to meet the challenges of parenting one child in Heaven and one in my arms.