I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the details and decoration of our girls’ first birthday party. I really liked how things turned out, but honestly I could have just set up some folding chairs and thrown a handful of confetti in the air and been just as happy because the real highlight of their party were all of the people who came out to celebrate Lilly and Audrey!
With the girls born five weeks apart with one birthday at the start of May and one at the start of June, I selected Memorial Day weekend for the party. I wasn’t sure how this was going to impact our guest list – would local folks traveling out of town for the long weekend outweigh the family and friends who used the party as an excuse to travel to Chicago for the holiday? In the end, I was delighted that nearly everyone we invited came out to celebrate and we had approximately 50 people join us (including about a dozen children and babies).
There were many special visitors at the party. The girls’ grandparents, aunts and uncles traveled in from all over the country. I struggle often with the fact that we don’t have family in Chicago with us, but I was enormously touched that everyone went out of their way to travel here and celebrate the girls. The best part of having the party over a holiday weekend was that we had plenty of opportunity to extend the fun and we did group dinners each night and brunch the morning after the party. Even my extended family who couldn’t make the trip took time out of their weekend to get together and film a video of themselves singing “Happy Birthday” to the girls.
Apart from family, it was also special that many of my friends that I met through infertility joined us for the party. I was among the last to find pregnancy success among my infertility friends and it was really amazing to see all of our children at the party, running around, being crazy kids and playing together. We had spent hours together hoping and praying for these children and it always invokes a totally surreal feeling in me when we get together with our kiddos. I have one friend in this group who continues on her infertility journey and has not yet welcomed a baby and she came with her husband to join us for our celebration; her ability and willingness to do that demonstrates an incredible level of strength and support that left me in awe.
The girls’ nanny also attended the party. We give her so much credit for helping us get through the past year. She taught us and the girls so much, from nap and feeding schedules, to socialization and play dates, to how to stay calm in the face of a double-baby meltdown. She is the kindest, most amazing nanny that we could have ever asked for, and the girls love her tremendously.
Probably our biggest guest of honor was our surrogate! She traveled all the way from Utah with her husband and it had been nearly a year since we had seen them in person. When they walked in to the space, I was frantically putting up last-minute party decorations and standing on a chair hanging a string of photos. I almost fell off the chair in my excitement to get over to our surrogate and give her a huge hug! And in typical helpful fashion, both she and her husband immediately sprang into action to help me finalize the decorations and preparations. They are just about the most helpful couple, so easy to be around, and it always just feels natural to chat with them.
I was expecting to cry a lot at the party (I had been emotional leading up to both Lilly and Audrey’s 1-year birthdays) but there was so much to do and so many people to visit with that I didn’t cry except for one time. That time was when we gave a small speech and addressed our surrogate and how special she is to us in our family. I choked back some tears at that moment – I happened to be standing right behind the girls’ highchairs as they had done their cake smash right before our speech, and the positioning happened such that Audrey (who our surrogate carried and delivered) was right in my line of vision as I looked at our surrogate. I felt overcome with gratitude and like so many things in our journey, it felt very surreal in that moment.
Our surrogate held Audrey and played with her at the party and later at our house the next day. I often get asked if I feel jealousy or any other ugly feelings when I see the two of them together, and that question always strikes me as ridiculous because I feel only the complete opposite. In those moments, all I feel is happiness and gratitude. Audrey is amazing to me and she wouldn’t be here without the help of our surrogate. Seeing the two of them together did make me think of the traits that Audrey has that are so similar to our surrogate – Audrey is so laid-back and so sweet – and both of those characteristics are much more like our surrogate than like me!
Getting to one year with multiples was a major milestone, especially after years and years of struggling to become pregnant. We are so grateful to all of our family and friends for helping us get here; we could not have done it without them, and we were so happy to celebrate with everyone!
All photos but the last one are credited to Julie Dietz Photography: www.julie-dietz.com