A year ago was one of the greatest days of my life.
We held Madeline’s first birthday party nine days early, on November 2nd, taking advantage of the proximity to Halloween to throw a costume bash.
It was a large party at my parents’ house. They have the room for that sort of thing. I wanted to invite the whole world, but I figured there were plenty of birthdays in the future for that.
Instead of gifts, we asked the guests to donate to the March of Dimes in Maddie’s name, and $540 was raised.
Maddie went from loved one to loved one, and every time I saw her she looked so happy and content.
She was surrounded by love.
When we brought out her cake and everyone sang happy birthday, it was amazing. It was the culmination of eighteen months of worry, eighteen months of fear and stress. And it was a day where we were so proud of everything our Madeline had accomplished in her year on earth – all with a smile on her face.
It was the only time she had candles.
It was her only taste of birthday cake.
But it wasn’t the only time she heard happy birthday. Every day in the NICU at 4:22 pm we’d sing it to her. After she came home we sang it on the eleventh of every month.
We wanted her to have a hundred more birthday parties. But the one she had? Was great.
if you can’t see the video above, click here.
I am so sorry for all the birthdays missed. If I could do anything to give you that future with Maddie I would…
Beautiful memories of your amazing little girl. I wish you a lifetime of beautiful memories with Binky
love and hugs
my thoughts exactly. thank you for sharing, Heather.
I love the family theme costumes! And I love Maddie’s smile while she wears it; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby look so excited.
This post was surprisingly uplifting. What a great memory; thank you for sharing it.
Such a happy little birthday girl!
I though about you guys on Halloween. I know how much you loved to dress Maddie up. You guys look great in your costumes…perfect little family. Hugs today and always!
.-= Candice´s last blog ..Happy Halloween! =-.
Thinking of beautiful Miss Maddie all month long.
As a parent I am guilty of taking so many moments for granted. Whenever I read your words Heather I realise that you and Mike didn’t. Your little Maddie was actively loved every minute of her all too short, and very precious existence.
And I think that’s pretty amazing.
.-= Seraphim´s last blog ..Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day- A special tribute. =-.
I could not agree with this more. You are really inspirational as parents – I hope you know that.
xo from CT,
.-= amanda´s last blog ..Halloween! =-.
I, also, could not agree more. You have greatly influienced how I view my role as a mother. Thank you for that.
I have to agree here too. I just love the way y’all embrace every birthday/holiday/occasion. Too often I am lazy about these things and they go undocumented. I am learning from you too.
I couldn’t agree more… I tear up almost every time I visit your site, yet I keep coming back because I can’t get enough of Maddie’s infectious smile and your stories of all the wonderful adventures and celebrations you managed to fit into the small amount of time you had with you. You are a true inspiration, Heather.
.-= Jaden´s last blog ..Apple Picking at Wellwood Orchards, 10/11/09 =-.
With her, I meant. With her. Whoops.
.-= Jaden´s last blog ..Apple Picking at Wellwood Orchards, 10/11/09 =-.
Heather. Oh, man. What a sweet little ball of fire.
It makes my heart catch to think of a year ago. I can only imagine what it does to yours. I admire the way you’re able to look back and see the beauty in what was, although you all deserved so many more opportunities for it.
Thank you for sharing your girl.xoxo, L
Dear sweet Heather,
What wonderful first birthday celebrations for your precious Maddie. I love the photo of Mama and Papa Spohr with their World Famous Maddie. Thank you so much for sharing the precious, precious birthday video with us. You certainly can feel the love surrounding your precious girl. How wonderful that you were able to celebrate this milestone with your family and friends. It look like such an amazing and happy time was had by all. Seeing your precious Maddie with her sticky fingers brought a smile to my face through my tears. What a special memory of such a special day, but it breaks my heart that this amazing little lady is no longer where she belongs. I’m thinking of you, Heather and Mike, today, as every day.
catherine lucas says:
Hmmm, I will wait to watch this video as I am totally chocked up right now already. I need a bit of courage first. She was surely rich in love, it is tragic that her little life ended the way it ended… How do you get through the days after a loss like this?
.-= catherine lucas´s last blog ..The Cotswolds Chronicles Part 2 =-.
(((Heartfelt hugs))) and thinking of you guys “extra” lately. Now even more so.
It sounds like you did give her as many birthdays as you could. The song all those long days when you weren’t sure she would come home and each month thereafter filled her with enough birthdays to make the one party the greatest. My heart goes out to you for all these memories. You are amazingly strong.
.-= Angie´s last blog ..Oh the Saturday of a supermom =-.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
Wishing Maddie had so many more birthdays…Sending an electronic hug your way.
.-= Lynn from For Love or Funny´s last blog ..Getting away with it =-.
She’s just so beautiful … and Illuminating. I love her little sugar-shudder, and how she is holding up her teensy icing covered finger in that photo. As if to say, “I is one!”
Love and light to you and Mike, always.
What a beautiful birthday girl. SHe looked full of joy and surely enjoyed that party!
.-= charlane´s last blog ..Kids are Spooky =-.
I think you guys did great by her and her birthday looked so fun and filled with love.
Alexandra :) says:
You, Mike, Maddie, and Rigby were PERFECT as the Flintstones. Especially Mike. I have to agree that Madeie had the best first birthday party EVER. I just wish you could be throwing her another one.
So sweet. So sorry you didn’t get more of those days. My heartbreaks for you both (and your families too). THinking of you guys always
Thinking of you. Not too many words to say.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..The Amazing Spider Girl!!! =-.
Shannon Kieta says:
Happy Birthday in Heaven sweet Maddie Moo!
We all miss you sweetie pie! I know if you sing to her…she will hear you and dance to the tune her daddy plays.
Which is why God works in mysterious ways. He gave you Binky to help you cope with this loss, and help you get through times like these. So when you put candles on Binky’s birthday cake, you will hear Maddie singing too! Luv Ya! Shannon
Love you all and always thinking of you.
What a beautiful birthday Maddie had.
Every week day, yours is the first blog I look to read. I think of you and your family all the time. I will continue to send my love to your family every day. Thinking of you…..
.-= Angi´s last blog ..Save the Drama for Your Mama???? =-.
How awesome was that, you guys rocked it! What a wonderful celebration for Maddie. Love to you all!
Thank you for sharing a special moment with us!
.-= Heather´s last blog ..Halloween =-.
Some people go through life only feeing special one day a year. Maddie was extraordinarily loved every minute she was on this earth. I wish with all my heart she was still here for you to celebrate. Hugs.
.-= Noelle´s last blog ..Halloween & Daylight Savings Time =-.
I wish on every star that Maddie hadn’t been robbed of all of the Birthdays she was. I can say, though, that for the (too little!) time she had here in this life, you two really did make every day special for her and I think she embraced life to the fullest! That beautiful girl never was (and never will be!) without love! Much love from AZ, Patty
.-= Patty´s last blog ..I Am =-.
Oh, that face. forever in my heart. forever. She is one in a million and you have showed her that since day 1. Love and hugs to you, Mike and your entire family.
Thanks for the great start to my day! Just when I think I’ve seen all the videos of Maddie, I get to see and hear all the love and happiness that surrounded her. And an extra long video at that! I know the days ahead that lead to her birthday will be extra hard. I am glad for you that you are still supported by all of that love.
By the way, I love that picture of Maddie and Jackie. I hope she is doing well.
I’ll be thinking of you all extra-specially hard today as you make it through another landmine of memories. But what happy memories! The party probably totally rocked. No pun intended, Flintstones!!
As many people have said, I, too, wish that Maddie could celebrate birthday number 2 and on and on with you, Mike, Rigby, and Binky. My daughter has just learned how to sing Happy Birthday in daycare; when we sing it tonight at home, we’ll sing it to Maddie 9 days early.
Wishing you continued strength.
I thought of you on Halloween also . I wondered what you all would of been dressed up as. You always had the cutest pictures of you both and maddie.
My heart goes out to you both as you struggle to get threw these hard months..
You never cease to amaze me with your grace in honoring your daughter. This was one of my favorite tributes yet. I’ve been reading you for awhile, but just had to say hello this once and thank you for continuing to share your story. You’re a true inspiration – all of you.
My thoughts exactly! When the camera pans out and gets the crowd, you can see just how proud everyone is of that little angel. I especially noticed Bampa beaming with pride and joy as Maddie tentatively digs in to her cake!
Your family is an amazing one, and I am so, so grateful that Maddie picked you as her parents. As everyone has said, her life was cut way, way too short- but the time that you did have with her was so full of love and laughter and wonderful memories. What a lucky little girl to have so many people who are so in love with her, and who made her life so full of glee. I’ve never seen a baby happier than Miss Maddie Moo.
Love and hugs to you. I know the next few weeks and months are going to be hard. If anyone is strong enough to endure for Binky, it is you, Heather!
Momma Uncensored says:
that has to be the best first birthday cake face i’ve ever seen. pure delight.
.-= Momma Uncensored´s last blog ..SMAG : !!! =-.
She should have had more birthdays…she looks like she loved a good celebration!! Wishing you love and peace.
Oh that picture of little Maddie looking at her cake is PRICELESS!! She is so beautiful! I cant even begin to imagine now difficult life is without her,but you can tell in all her pictures and videos that she was the happiest little girl!! Her smile and memory live on through you and Matt!! Thanks for sharing Maddie with us all
What a candid perfect picture of her with frosting all over her mouth and fingers! She certainly loved that cake, didn’t she!? She looks so entirely happy!!
Adventures In Babywearing says:
If only we all would think of birthdays this way. Thinking of you today.
.-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..The First Of November =-.
The pictures speak volumes to the love people had for Maddie. I wish she and you had gotten those hundred more birthdays. I’m thinking of you and hoping you both are hanging in there.
Love and hugs.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Calming Your New Baby =-.
I come to your blog every day, with bated breath and a hopeful, sorrowful heart for you and your family. Your life, your words, your Maddie have touched me in a way that I find difficult to describe. I hope that someday you and Mike and all those others affected by Maddie’s loss are able to find peace. I can see that the terrible hole she has left in this world has instilled a sense of purpose. I know that you work hard for this, with your speaking and with Friends of Maddie and March of Dimes and simply by laying your heart and grief out for the world in this blog. You are succeeding in this mission. Maddie is succeeding.
And know also, that she knew love. To the tips of her fingers. By everyone who saw her. But especially by you and Mike. I have never seen anyone love a child with the passion and strength and focus that you love Madeline both when she was with us in this world and now. The brilliance of her smile is a reflection of the brilliance of love you have for her. She was a blessed child, and one who never for a single moment of her life didn’t know that she was special. This is the gift that you give to her, and the gift that Binky will be blessed with also. Lucky baby girls!
.-= Lissa´s last blog ..I got it!! =-.
So well said!!!!
Maddie is just the sweetest, brightest little girl I’ve ever seen. That first bite of cake looks like it sent off little wondering sparks in her head . . . hmm. . . so THIS is what food is supposed to taste like.
Thinking of you through the next minefield of days.
So. Adorable. She got the sugar shakes! Loved every second of it. What a beautiful little girl.
Thinking of you today, as always.
Maddie never really did anything halfway, did she? Her little frosting “mittens” are absolutely adorable.
Thinking of all of you this month.
.-= J´s last blog ..(Anti)social media =-.
Tracy I says:
She’s so sweet – I watched the video 3 times… you can’t help but want to give her a big kiss. I’m so sorry, Heather.
I am so glad that Maddie’s time was spent with parents who truly treasured her each and every day. She may have only blown out the candles and tasted cake on one birthday but she felt enormous love every day of her life.
.-= JAR´s last blog ..Princess Alexa Foundation Dress Up Drive =-.
J in eire says:
Heather, thank you for your generosity in sharing your thoughts, photos and this very special video ! ! oh my goodness, such a little darlin’ the child of your heart, you can just see how completly surrounded by love she is on her birthday. . that remains the same – even though everything else has changed. The famous Madeline is now held in peoples hearts all over the world . .
I love the still shot of her holding up a frosting-covered finger. She was truly #1.
.-= Ruth´s last blog ..Where nicknames lead =-.
Heather and Mike: what amazes me is how you both knew to treasure her while she was here.
No one does that, no one.
You two are amazing, and gave Maddie more love in her little life than some children ever ever experience with all their days on earth. Lucky, lucky Maddie to feel such love from her mom and dad.
Aunt Becky says:
I remember the pictures from last year and Maddie, wow. She’s such an inspiration. You guys are too. I can’t imagine how your heart is hurting now, but we’re all loving Maddie now, too.
.-= Aunt Becky´s last blog ..Go Ask Aunt Becky =-.
I remember these pictures.
I know a lot of this month is going to be awful for you. We’re here, with you, listening. And loving your daughter.
.-= Maria´s last blog ..weekly winners – oct 24 – 31 =-.
Through your blog, I have made more of an effort not to take things for granted. All that is promised is this moment and you never know what the next moment will bring. Thank you for being an inspiration for many things, but most especially that. I know you’ve been that for many others and I hope that, in some small way, you will know Maddie’s death was not in vain because of it.
What a fun day you shared. It’s just not fair that she isn’t here for her 2nd birthday. I’m so sorry.
.-= Tara.´s last blog ..#1. =-.
Domestic Extraordinaire says:
I know instead of inspiring others to cherish every moment you would rather have your Maddie back in your arms-but because of you, because of her….I have been cherishing more moments, enjoying my girls more and have been more relaxed. Because I know that in a flash it can all be gone. Thinking of you all today and always.
.-= Domestic Extraordinaire´s last blog ..Weekly Winners-The Parade Edition =-.
Her beauty just takes my breath away. I am in love with that picture of her covered in frosting. That little extended finger. That JOY.
My thoughts, prayers, and everything else are with you.
.-= Shauna´s last blog ..Halloween ’09 =-.
I love how you’ve managed to capture what seems like every moment and every breath on “film” or video, with your Maddie. And because of that your Binky is one lucky girl! She’s going to know her big sister so well! If you’ve managed to make us blogger readers feel like we know your sweet little girl, imagine how much more your other sweet little girl is going to know her.
Like the comments above your blog reminds me on a daily basis to kiss my girls more and appreciate each second, because I can’t imagine feeling what you must feel. I wish I had the appropriate words, but all I can think of is, I’m sorry and thank you. You and Mike are an inspiration in the center of a hurricane!
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..A list about Halloween, read from my Soap Box =-.
You have so many fabulous pictures of Madeline, but her birthday ones are some of my most favorite!!
What a great party. If there was only one party to have that was it. She was and always will be soooooooo loved!!!!!
Kristen McD says:
What a love. And what a great party!
She is seriously one of the most beautiful babies I’ve ever seen. I am so glad you have videos of her to share, she has the cutest little features. Thank you for letting us see these intimate moments of your life.
.-= kay´s last blog ..Happy Halloween =-.
I wish we could have been there.
You have the most fabulous memories of that sweet little girl.
What a great day. And what a perfect memory to have.
.-= pgoodness´s last blog ..Tomorrow =-.
I adore the picture of her looking at the cake, like ohhh now what is this.
Tons of love to you and Mike today Heather.
.-= Issa´s last blog ..The 24 hour rule =-.
I’ve read your blog for a while but I rarely comment because I don’t know what to say. But after reading this post and watching the video I felt such a bittersweet feeling I just had to say something. Maddie lived such a short life, but it’s obvious that she lived a very full life. The rest of us can only hope to love and be loved by as many people as she was and still is.
.-= Shannon´s last blog ..Devious Journal Entry =-.
I’ve looked at many of your pictures of Maddie on Flickr. I’ve never seen a baby look so consistently happy. Her smile is a testament to the amazing job you and Mike do as parents. Wishing you both peace today and everyday.
She had a perfect Birthday party! Kyboo watched this with me and started singing “Happy Birthday to you!”
You are in my thoughts and prayers especially at this time..
Big hug lots of love, Jodee
.-= Jodee´s last blog ..Trick or Treat =-.
Awesome pictures as always. She seriously takes the best pictures ever. I love her infectious smile. Beautiful.
.-= Danielle´s last blog ..Bend Over and Spread them =-.
Amy in Oregon says:
She just makes me smile….every time. Keep celebrating her birthday Mike and Heather….not only was it the day she born, it was also a day that forever changed your lives. She made you a mommy and a daddy, and that is reason to celebrate!
What a wonderful video. Thanks for sharing, Heather.
Jenny @ http://motherlawyercrazywoman.blogspot.com/ says:
Wonderful memory. Beautiful photos. Hugs to you.
.-= Jenny @ http://motherlawyercrazywoman.blogspot.com/´s last blog ..Secure In His Masculinity =-.
audrey @ the lewis 4 says:
This is such a beautiful tribute to Maddie. The entire post made me smile. What an angel!
Madeline had an absolutely beautiful birthday party. So. Much. Love.
.-= Alison´s last blog ..Numbers =-.
Marti from Michigan says:
I think it’s so funny to put a 1 year old child in front of a birthday cake! They just don’t know what to do with it, usually. It’s so funny when they dig into it and taste it. When my now 16-year-old nephew turned 1, we had a tiny cake made for him and he just went nuts! First he picked at it and tasted it, but everyone was cheering him on, and he pummeled that thing to nothing but crumbs. It was so cute. Yet another time when my now 42 year old twin niece and nephew turned 1, the little girl nearly destroyed her little cake and then went after her brother’s cake, who was in a high chair right next to hers.
So adorable! I love the Flintstone costumes too. Good thing you guys live in California, it’s like 41 degrees and windy here in my part of Michigan, and all the leaves have fallen off the trees. Very depressing time of year!
Thank you for sharing this very beautiful and special memory with all of us.
What a beautiful day….thank you so much for sharing. Her smile, makes me smile
.-= Erin´s last blog ..Thinking Back =-.
Such a creative family with dressing up so nicely for the birthday bash! She looks so happy in every photo.
This is beautiful Heather. I love hearing about Maddie’s birthday. We sang to Emma on the 15th of every month too.
I love her costume, your little Pebbles. She was, and still is, so sweet.
.-= Kim´s last blog ..Welcome November =-.
Her sweet little face never ceases to make me smile and cry.
Love to you today and always.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Happy Hallo-whine =-.
I love the way she’s looking at the cake in that first photo. Like she’s thinking “is this WHOLE thing for meeeeee?!?” Simply precious.
Lots of love to you and your family this month.
Her short time was met with such love and fun times. She was a lucky girl. She will watch over you both and her little sister. My heart breaks for you whenever I come here to your Blog.
She is such a doll!
.-= mythoughtsonthat´s last blog ..I Wish I Knew =-.
happy birthday sweet girl
Amazing photos. I remember the Flintstones photo from last year. Exquisite.
.-= Danny´s last blog ..First Halloween =-.
Beautiful post. I’ve read your blog off and on for almost a year now. I didn’t realize Maddie’s birthday was November 11th. Last year my son, Benjamin, was born still on November 11th. I hope November 11th of this year brings you happy memories and smiles.
.-= Rachel´s last blog ..Idea for Benjamin’s birthday =-.
You guys made an excellent Flintstone Family! I love that picture. She is a doll baby and simply one of the cutest babies. Happy Birthday Maddie.
Dear Heather & Mike,
As I walked down a darkened street on Halloween night with my children, the sounds of laughter and kids yelling of “Trick or Treat” faded into the background as thoughts of you, Mike and Maddie invaded my mind.
I thought how sad I felt you and Mike weren’t in LA doing the same thing with your child as I was doing with mine. I thought how unfair it was Maddie was taken from you far too soon and how she should be enjoying this night as much as every other child was. I thought back to the beautiful Halloween and Birthday pictures you took last year and I wondered what you would have done this year.
Suddenly,, my best friend came up to me, looked at me and with a hug, jolted me back into reality as she questioned why I had tears streaming down my face. I looked at her stuned as I didn’t realize I was even crying. I told her quickly about your family and how much despair I felt for you and your whole family. She agreed.
As I watched the video of Maddie today, the first thing that struck me was the amount of love I felt around her. I thought to myself….even though Maddie was not born with a “Silver Spoon” in her mouth, she certainly is very rich in LOVE!
I know Maddie only got to have one birthday…and it’s so unfair and so cruel but WHAT a BIRTHDAY it was!!!! Maddie is one lucky little girl to call you both her parents and Binky is as equally blessed.
Thinking of you this month especially and sending you all my love and support.
Happy Birthday Maddie.
.-= gorillabuns´s last blog ..one down and another one to go =-.
Alicia @ bethsix says:
Look at that beautiful, sweet baby girl. Thinking of you today, as usual.
.-= Alicia @ bethsix´s last blog ..Groundhog =-.
So many of us take these little moments for granted, or worry about stupid things like how clean the house is or if the party is perfect. Maddie remind me everyday to stop and be thankful for every mess, ever moment. I have commented this before, but thank you for sharing her with all of us.
.-= Jenni/mom2nji´s last blog ..So annoyed, I can’t even think of a title =-.
Michelle W says:
When I look at her,when I look at all of you with your 100 WATT smiles it still doesn’t seem possible yet I know it’s your reality. You gave her an amazing, love filled and joy filled, all too brief life.
I love that she’s holding a number one with her finger!
What a wonderful day, celebrating a wonderful girl
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..Capturing the moment =-.
Two Makes Four says:
Happy Birthday, Maddie. You are loved and missed by so many.
.-= Two Makes Four´s last blog ..Daaa-Deee =-.
I’m a fairly new reader of yours and haven’t commented here before. This may not mean much coming from a complete stranger, but your blog is so captivating because of all the love you show for Madeline. She seems like such a special little girl. She’s gorgeous, and her smile is stunning. I’m very sorry for your loss, but your family was so lucky to have known Madeline. She clearly lit up your lives in all the best ways. I wish you nothing but the best with Binky. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.
you gave her the best birthday party anyone could ever hope for.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Race Report: 2009 ING NYC Marathon =-.
Hey! I think I saw the Captain from Captain and Tennile!
We will be releasing purple balloons for Maddie on the 11th. Two. One for each of her years. You and Mike have been in my thoughts nearly constantly.
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..I meant to… =-.
Fantastic that Maddie’s official birthday party was such a wonderful one.
I’m so glad you have these memories to treasure.
Truly, Maddie could be a dictionary definition for “infectious smile”! So filled with Love.
Is that Jackie! saying “Own it! Work it!” Just wondering lol. Because it seems like something that Jackie! would say!