One Year Ago Today

I’ve been avoiding writing what’s really on my heart this week… but it’s about time to sit down and pour those emotions out. In one week, it will be our baby Clara’s first birthday. One year since she was born. One year since she died. Can it really have been that long?

One year ago today, I was as happy as I’d ever been. I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and I was so proud of myself for being that pregnant. David and I drove out to Campbell’s Covered Bridge, a tourist landmark near my grandparents’ property. We were alone, sans the older girls, just the two of us and our active baby girl, still in utero. We waded in the stream and splashed water at each other. David took pictures of my pregnant belly. It was blissful. After a while, we sat and talked, trying to come to a decision about whether we wanted to go on into the hospital for an induction or c-section, or if we wanted to continue to wait it out.

It was a long conversation, because we both had good reasons to go either way. Finally, we decided that we would wait until the weekend, and if I wasn’t in labor by Friday when David got home from work, we’d go to the hospital. It felt like the right decision. As we walked back up the long hill to the parking lot holding hands, I felt a sharp kick to my rib cage, followed by the low tightening of a contraction. I told David that we ought to get back home, in case this was the beginning of labor.

We were happy. We were excited. We couldn’t wait to meet our baby girl. I couldn’t wait to see my husband holding his own biological child, to see my daughters holding their tiny baby sister.

One Year Ago Today... Us

I haven’t felt that happy in the year since. Neither has David. I feel numb now, as the anniversary dates come spinning toward us, faster and faster. Then the numbness ebbs a little, just enough to let the pain and sadness and loss and absolute grief filter in, and I am stopped in my tracks. I breathe deep and collect myself so that I can continue on with my day. It happens again, and again, and again… more frequently as July 1st comes closer.

One year. 

I wouldn’t have thought that June 14, my due date, would be a trigger date, since she was born 17 days later… but it was. I wouldn’t have thought that June 24, one week before her birthday, would be a trigger date, but it is.

One year ago today, she was alive and I could have made decisions that would have saved her life, if only I’d known that her life needed to be saved.

I was more pregnant than I ever had been, more pregnant than I ever dared to imagine. I wish that had been enough for me, that I would have decided to go into the hospital. The irony of it all… I was reluctant to go in because I was so sure they wouldn’t let me attempt a vaginal birth after two previous cesareans, but when I did finally get to the hospital, when it was already too late, the doctor on call said it would have been fine for me to attempt VBA2C.

If I had known that, it could have {would have} changed everything.

I keep thinking, why didn’t I go in on my due date, why was I so certain that I should wait, that she would come on her own, why was I so arrogant to think that I could give birth naturally after two c-sections just because other people do? Shouldn’t I have known that something was wrong?

I torment myself. I’ve been doing it for one year. I move past the guilt and regret for a while, and then it hits me again.

I miss my baby girl so much that I can barely breathe tonight. I long to nuzzle her hair with my chin. I can’t stop imagining her learning to walk, smearing bananas on my pants leg, nursing to sleep with her chubby fingers around my fingers. I will never know those things.

I will never see her become a toddler. Clara will remain our baby forever, never to grow up, and it breaks my heart into a thousand pieces, every single day.

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell." - Edna St. Vincent Millay
Source: Pinterest

29 Replies to “One Year Ago Today”

  1. Holding you in my thoughts and prayers. That’s an awful thing to have to face. I wish there was a way I could convince you to stop tormenting yourself by trying to take responsibility – if you’d done anything or everything differently, there are still no guarantees, sadly. This is a beautifully written post, despite being breathtakingly sad.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.. My husband tells me much the same thing that you have. I just haven’t yet figured how to shut down the voice in my head that tells me that things *would* have been different if I’d made better choices. There was nothing wrong with her a week before she was born… nothing. It’s maddening, the what-ifs and not knowing.

      1. Men can be very straightforward (incomprehensibly so at times) but in this instance I truly think he makes a good point. Sometimes it is easier to shoulder a blame that’s not ours and nurture a sense of failed responsibility rather than face the sheer enormity of a truth where These Things Just Happen. No rhyme. No reason. No clues left behind to tell us what went wrong.

        If we take the blame, we rationalise the thing; link it to (apparent) common sense and render it more manageable (I did this at first with my two early losses) but in the end, all we do is compound our loss and stifle our ability to grieve properly. And as long as we don’t let go of that false responsibilty, we also don’t have to ‘let go’ of the child, which can sometimes even be an attractive prospect – to be bound to them forever, even in a negative way, can be preferable to cutting them adrift and letting them be just ‘gone’.

        It’s terrifyingly hard, but I really hope that you come to a place soon where you can silence the voice in your head.

  2. Another Baby Loss Mama here.

    So sorry for your loss. I miss all the milestones too. And I think of her every day.


    St. Elsewhere

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I had words that would ease your pain, or make it better, but I don’t think there are any words with that kind of power.

    I will be praying for you and your family today.

  4. Oh Heather, my heart just breaks reading this and please know that now more then ever I am thinking of both you and David. If you need anything, please just say the word. I am here for you and totally thinking of you now.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you today. You are brave to share these beautiful words with us.

    {I apologize if you already know of this site or don’t want recommendations like this, but one of the bloggers from my blogging e-course writes about her loss at 40 weeks, and I think it is a powerful site, and beautifully written. The site is modeled after The Happiness Project, but it’s about working through a grief project after loss: }

    Hugs to you on a difficult day.

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I “met” Lindsey through a Mother’s Day name project we both participated in, and her website is wonderful. I appreciate you sharing it with me so I could “find it” all over again.

  6. Oh man. I have no adequate words. I only know the trauma of questioning yourself and wondering…I still think about my miscarriage a couple years ago. Everyone seemed to think I could just “try again,” but it takes a long time to heal. Time. It’s the only think that seems to work. The bad part is, you don’t know how long your heart will be raw. HUGS

  7. So sorry for your loss. Grief is a tricky and often unpredictable beast. I hope you are finding peace that will help you cope.

  8. I couldn’t finish this post without the tears starting. Even more when I read your post from last year. I have no words for you, but know that you have so many women here for you. Hugs to you…

  9. Like Risa, this post brought me to tears. I am so sorry for your loss. A little angel is missing from your family and that just shouldn’t be. I know that having you share your story will help somebody else somewhere…

  10. My due date passed and caught me by surprise of how it started my grieving process all over again. My baby boys 1st birthday will be this October 13th. Glad I found your blog. I feel exactly like you do. Helps to know I’m not alone. I hope your doing better. I plan to visit the grave on his birthday. This is going to be so hard. I have anxiety problems since my loss. My was traumatic with massive blood loss and several blood transfusions. Waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel… Praying for you and your family!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *