Today I’m looking back at 2012 for our family!
We started out 2012 in sorry shape, to be honest. I wasn’t blogging much then, because there was nothing (or very little) good to say, really. We were living with family at the beginning of 2012, freshly back home in South Carolina after our decision to leave Texas. David had just found temporary work with his brother-in-law. Our car was in terrible condition – bad alternator, bad thermostat, failing starter – and no money to repair or replace it.
There were a few good things… we enrolled the girls in a good school that our friends’ kids attended. I was 16 weeks pregnant at the beginning of January, and we had our first glimpse at our sweet baby girl.
|21 week ultrasound – 1/31/12|
The second month of the year saw our situation get a little bit worse. With no recent rental history (remember, we had lived with friends in Texas), a job history peppered with short-term temporary positions, and a shoddy credit history, our options were severely limited for a place to live. We had the money saved to move, but as application after application was declined, we made the best choice that we could at the time.
We moved from living with family to living in a motel room. We had one room, two double beds, a mini-fridge and a microwave. It was a tight squeeze, but we made it work. We were close to the girls’ school, and we had games on the laptop and cable TV to keep ourselves entertained. David applied for work with the school district, and also started a job working at a gas station nearby while we waited to hear whether he would be offered the school position. He took the girls to a father/daughter dance, and they wore beautiful dresses and danced with their friends. We repaired the car’s alternator and kept it squeaking along, just barely. I was very sick with bronchitis and went through two rounds of antibiotics before I could breathe easily again.
We had a second ultrasound at 21 weeks by a high-risk obstetrician and saw our baby girl kicking and dancing happily in my belly. We named her this month, though we didn’t announce her name publicly until after she was born.
We continued to live in our motel room during the third month of the year. I taught the girls to knit and we watched lots of Animal Planet and Discovery Channel while I worked on a crocheted ripple blanket and the girls knit scarves in purple and pink. David was hired for our county’s school district, working at the middle school closest to us. The money we had saved up was dwindling fast, and though we had the new job’s paycheck coming soon, it wouldn’t be soon enough to pay for another month in our motel, nor was it enough to get us into a rental apartment/home, even if our applications were to be accepted.
Our dear friends asked us to stay with them so that we could save up money and wait for the first paycheck from David’s new job. I was 28 weeks pregnant when we moved in with our friends, and we could see our baby girl’s kicks and punches on my belly. David and I spent hours every night talking and singing to her, imagining what she would look like when she was finally in our arms.
Things definitely got better in the fourth month of the year. David got rave reviews on his first inspection at the new job, and the girls really enjoyed living with their friends. The weather got warmer, and we dyed Easter eggs in the sunshine. We celebrated Easter with baskets of candy and hid eggs in the yard for the kids to find. The girls went to their school’s Spring Carnival with their friends and Lakin won a cake for us all to share.
At the end of this month, I was nearly 34 weeks pregnant, a wonderful milestone for me, as Addah had been born prematurely at 33.5 weeks. I was very close to full term, and our baby girl had flipped into a head-down position and spent most of her waking time stretching her feet up into my lungs.
The flowers and trees were in bloom in the fifth month of the year. We tie-dyed t-shirts and baby clothes. The girls had Field Day at school and we visited with lots of family this month. Lakin graduated from 5th grade with much ceremony and Addah finished the 3rd grade with reading and art awards. I was 37 weeks at the end of this month, more pregnant than I had ever been before. Family and friends joined us for a lovely baby shower at my mother’s house. I sewed four pairs of soft leather shoes for her, the first time I had sewn my once-popular shoes since 2006. I felt strong and powerful, proud of myself for making it so far in pregnancy, and more determined than ever to deliver our baby girl naturally, rather than by repeat cesarean section. We were so excited to meet her, so ready to hold her, and we felt sure that I would go into labor any day now.
The sixth month of the year brought summer vacation. David went to his summer schedule, working only 4 days a week, with long weekends. My favorite band, Counting Crows, came to town. We played on the playground next door to the amphitheater and listened to the beautiful music until long after the sun went down.
My sister and her family visited from Louisiana and we hoped that she would be in town when our baby was born. My due date came and went, and we celebrated this huge milestone, one that I never believed my body could accomplish. I had intermittent labor pains and we timed them whenever they came, hoping that true labor would kick in and bring our baby girl out into the world.
David and I struggled mightily with the decision to wait and go into labor naturally. We spent a long afternoon and evening driving through the mountains, soul searching, and decided that we would wait until the end of the week and then we would proceed to the hospital for the repeat cesarean that was beginning to feel inevitable. I went into labor on the 29th day of June and David held my hand as I breathed through contractions and prepared to finally meet our baby daughter.
Our baby girl, Clara Edith Webb, was born on the afternoon of the first day of the seventh month of the year. She was born still, beautiful and perfectly formed. Her death took us by surprise and ripped our hearts into pieces that we are still trying to put back together.
This month is a blur for me, a hazy web of nurses and doctors, having to tell Lakin and Addah that their long-awaited and much-loved baby sister had died, saying goodbye to our baby daughter for the last time at the crematorium, picking out a headstone and visiting the funeral home to pick up her ashes. It was hell, pure misery and loss and grief and sadness, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
I battled a severe infection all month, nearly losing my uterus to the same infection that took our daughter. We watched fireworks from our hospital room on the Fourth of July. We threw a party for Lakin’s 11th birthday, though it wasn’t nearly the festive event that it normally is. Lakin got new glasses, and Addah got her first pair of glasses. Our car finally stopped working completely, and we sold it for scrap metal.
We survived the month together, the four of us, but all of us were changed forever by our sweet baby daughter and sister, Clara.
We started out the eighth month of the year with the purchase of a new/used PT Cruiser. We opened checking and savings account for the first time in years. We found a great little apartment and were thrilled when our application was approved. After four months of living with our friends, we moved into our own place, finally! Lakin and Addah started 6th grade and 4th grade, respectively. My brother Zeb left Afghanistan after a year’s deployment and headed back to Hawaii, where he is based with the Army. My brother Colin and his wife Stephanie announced that they are pregnant with their second baby, due in March.
My youngest brother came home to South Carolina in the ninth month of the year. We hadn’t seen him in over a year, and he brought his fiancee, Charlotte, home to meet the family. We spent many hours talking and laughing and crying with my siblings and nieces and nephew. My sister decided to separate from her husband and stay in South Carolina. Addah began violin lessons.
Clara’s memorial service was held on September 16 at our family’s cemetery. I wrote the most important post I’ve ever written, about my experience with popular birth culture, all the things that I wish I could change when I look back at my pregnancy and Clara’s birth, and how much I hope that my hindsight can help other expecting parents to make different and better choices.
During the tenth month of the year, I participated in the “Capturing Your Grief” photography project online and lit candles on October 15 for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. David finished a gorgeous drawing of our sweet baby, and he received a promotion at work that involved transferring from working at Lakin’s school to working at Addah’s school. I began sewing baby shoes for sale again, but had trouble recapturing the spark and vibe of my former business. We babysat for my niece and nephew a lot this month, and we made a lot of cupcakes and cookies. My brother Zeb married his lovely Charlotte on Halloween.
Addah began spending the night with her best friend Hannah a couple times a month. We visited the pumpkin patch, made a list of ways to celebrate Fall, struggled with sadness and decorated for Halloween. Our Halloween was a bit of a bust, but we had fun anyway.
I joined NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo in the eleventh month of the year. I wrote all month of my pregnancy, Clara’s birth and death, and our family’s experience with the grief and loss of an unexpected stillborn baby. David and I voted on Election Day. We attended our first infant loss support group and wished we had gone sooner. The girls played video games with David and I taught my friend to knit. We watched TV shows on Netflix and David drew more beautiful pictures. I finished a mitered square knit blanket and a feather and fan lace knit blanket, made more cupcakes, wrote about blogging, my gall bladder, grief and our new painting.
We had a very nice Thanksgiving, feeling so very grateful for each other, our families and our friends. I successfully completed both of November’s challenges and vowed to continue to write on a daily basis.
Our family began the last month of the year by making a list of random acts of kindness we could perform in Clara’s memory. We celebrated Addah’s 10th birthday and hosted a giveaway to thank those who follow my blog. We had two Christmas trees this year, one for the family and one little one for Clara. I was a Featured Writer at Studio 30 Plus, blogged about one little girl’s need for a forever family, the best books for older kids, and my continuing struggle with anxiety and grief. David and the girls were home from work/school for two full weeks, and we had a lovely Christmas together. We watched Christmas movies, played board games and really enjoyed each other’s company.
Still, this month was hard for our family. We miss our baby girl very much and can’t help but think of her all the time. An old friend of mine committed suicide in the last days of the year, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on our lives and the choices we all make, and how we can make better choices, for better lives, in the days and months and years to come.
Happy New Year to you all!