Picking out flowers for Lillian's "month-iversary" - the 16th of each month. It's a beautiful and tangible way to hold our girl close in day-to-day life. I love seeing the bouquets her brothers choose for her now that they're getting older too. Our favorite will always be yellow, which is her color!
I don't think we envisioned having 4 kids when we began our family.
Jack (5) was born in 2014, and after a traumatic delivery I looked at Mark and said, "I never want to do this again." Never say never, because we both had a change of heart. I was pregnant with his little sister just after he turned 1.
Lillian (3) was born in July 2016, and was stillborn. She changed our lives forever, and we now live each day in varying states of grief and joy. We love her and honor her in any way we can, and started a stillbirth research fund in her name.
Lawrence (2) came into our lives next. He has a spitfire personality, and I have no doubt that some of it comes from his sister.
Then came Gilbert (1). He was born at just 25 weeks gestation due to severe brain bleeds that occurred in-utero. His short life has been a roller coaster, with a long NICU stay, multiple surgeries and readmissions, and complex medical needs. We celebrate each day we have with him.
Love connects us
Gilbert will have lifelong effects of his brain injury. He has cerebral palsy, seizures, hydrocephalus, is visually impaired, and is missing a lot of brain tissue. He is 100% tube-fed and needs 24/7 oxygen. We call him our "wayfinder," because he leads us down his own path, and does it in his own time.
Take pictures and videos! Having images of how life was and the memories we shared is so important. And in some cases, like Lillian's life and death, photos are all we have.
How much my expectations have changed. Before Jack was born, I told people he wouldn't watch TV until he was 5, we wouldn't have electronic toys, and would only eat healthy food. Those priorities have changed completely. I'm not sure if it stems from Lillian's death or Gilbert's special needs, but there's been a great shift in what I desire for my kids.
Jack and Lawrence watch TV while I do Gilbert's therapy or any of the 100 other things he needs in a day. They play with whatever toys they want. And we try to keep their diets as balanced as we can. All I want is for the kids to be happy, feel secure, and know how incredibly loved they are.
Without a doubt, Jack's first [unplanned] communion. Christmas 2018 we went up to the alter, and he was mistakenly given some bread. I tried my best to give him a 5 second rundown of what to do before the wine came over, but it didn't have time to sink in.
The next thing I knew he was knuckles-deep into the cup, and when I pulled his arm back the soggy piece of bread fell on the floor. So I did what any mom would do: scooped it up, shoved it in his mouth, and walked us back to our seats as fast I could.
You can find the Stanfield Family on Instagram at @lillianplusthree.