Clara Edith Webb

Our beautiful baby girl, Clara Edith Webb, was born still on July 1, 2012 at 3:45pm, by repeat c-section at 42 weeks 3 days gestation. She was 7 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long, my biggest baby by nearly 2 pounds and 2 inches. The doctor estimates she had been gone for anywhere from 1-3 days. I have a horrible uterine infection that you could smell as soon as he opened my abdomen. They dont know if I got the infection from her passing or if my infection caused her death.

She is beautiful. It’s just not fair & we can’t process this at all yet. My blood pressure is very low, temperature is high, urine output is low, uterus is boggy. The doctor is talking about a hysterectomy if we don’t see marked improvement by Wednesday.

Thank you all for supporting us these many months. I wish I had anything but this news to share. Our Clara was so very loved and so badly wanted. Nothing will ever replace her.

I Am Strong

“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.”
~ Laura Stavoe Harm ~

Several days ago, a woman from my natural pregnancy group posed the question “what are you the most proud of, as far as how you have handled this pregnancy?” I realized, upon considering this question, how much I have really accomplished within myself over the last nine months… the last nine years, really.

After Addah was born in 2002, I was done, absolutely done, with having babies. I couldn’t imagine going through another hospital birth and I felt that my family was complete. I never even questioned that feeling, just felt contentedly “done” with having more children. It wasn’t until a few years post-divorce from Drew, when David & I finally started our new life together, that the feeling wavered. He wanted a child of his own and I wanted to give him that, more than anything. I felt a void in our little family that I had never felt before and I just knew that we were supposed to bring another child into the world.

A couple of years and several miscarriages later, we decided that it just wasn’t meant to be, that perhaps my body was too damaged from my two previous births and a child together was not in the cards. Turns out, we were wrong… and we were thrilled to discover that we were pregnant, yet again. A little faith, a little luck and somehow, my body has proudly defied the doctors who said I could not carry a baby to term.

I’m proud of how positive I have been throughout this pregnancy. With my other girls, I was so anxious to be done, to have my baby NOW, from about 20 weeks on… and this time, I feel calm, peaceful and ready to see this pregnancy through to 40 weeks and beyond, if that’s how it plays out. I won’t lie… I’m uncomfortable and hot, tired and sore, but I know the best thing for this baby is to stay inside for as long as she can, and I am going to see it through. I am proud of myself for having more confidence in my own body than I did with my other kids, and proud of my body for carrying me through to full term this time.

I am strong. I believe in my body’s ability to birth this baby naturally, without a medical induction or another unnecessary cesarean, and I have every confidence that we are making the right decision in allowing our daughter to choose her own birth date.

I am proud of my littlest daughter and how big and strong she has grown within my body. My skin is stretched to what seems like maximum capacity, and I have a new stretch mark pop up every day, but I am so proud of those marks, which prove what my body is capable of doing.

As of tonight, at 10:55pm EST, I will officially be more pregnant than I have ever been before. I am so incredible proud of this milestone, just as I was when I passed 33 weeks 2 days (the day when Addah was born in that pregnancy).

I am strong. My body was made to do this job. My body was made to carry and nurture these children. It has been a very long road, but I am proud of my body, finally.

I am strong - and ready to give birth!

Never Forget – September 11, 2001

It’s that time of year again, when we are bombarded with reminders to remember. I am always a little offended by these notices. I don’t need anyone to tell me to remember where I was or how I felt on the morning of September 11, 2001. I feel like, if you have to be reminded, maybe it wasn’t as significant to you as you’d like the world to think it was.

I was sleeping that morning, with my nearly 2-month old firstborn daughter in one arm, sandwiched between myself and her father. My phone rang, splitting the silent room with its piercing noise, and I fumbled for the button to answer before it woke the baby. My brother Colin, in a small quiet voice, said, “we’re at war, Heather. We’re being attacked.”

I remember feeling panic in my chest. What does that mean? Who is under attack? Is it safe to go outside?

We didn’t have a television, so we bundled up our child and rushed to my mother’s house. We arrived just after the first plane struck the World Trade Center, and we watched in horror as the second plane struck the second tower. Another plane struck the Pentagon… and then another plane crashed, its heroic passengers responsible for preventing further attacks, upon the Capitol building or the White House.

All day, I held my tiny daughter and watched the instant replays, video coverage of injured victims and response teams. I distinctly remember thinking, “what kind of world have I brought my child into?” I remember feeling scared, not knowing whether the attacks were over. I remember that the skies were silent, with all air traffic suspended, and that the world felt different when we set out for home that night.

I remember that Drew and I took a weekend trip to Charleston, SC on September 15th, and that my mother didn’t want us to go, because it is a port city and therefore, a potential attack site. I remember the hysteria and the fear and the paranoia of the days and months that followed.

I remember the vengeful way our country went to war, flashing clips of the World Trade Center attacks to distract us from the pointless “shock and awe” campaign we waged against a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

I remember it now, when I think about my little brother Zeb, stationed in Afghanistan, trying to save lives amidst the din of gunfire and rocket blasts. I remember it every time I think about how desperately I want to see my brother come home, and how many brothers, husbands and sons never came home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

We all remember the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, just as we should remember the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. The effects and the trauma from both events lives on, in us and in those we’ve lost and those who carry on. It shapes who we have become, as a country and as individuals… soldiers and politicians and parents alike.

Personally, I watched those horrific images enough on September 11, 2001 to last a lifetime, and I don’t have any desire to watch the tragedy unfold again.

I don’t need the media to remind me. I never forget.

September 11, 2001

For my Papa, on his 58th birthday

Dear Papa,

Today is your 58th birthday and I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate everything you have done for me. I was thinking of you this weekend, and I wanted to share with you one of my most treasured memories from my childhood.

It’s been more than 20 years, but I remember the details like they happened yesterday. The years that I was 9 and 10 years old, I was allowed to miss one day of school in May and one in October. I would help you pack up your full-size work van and we would hit the open road for the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. It might only be 2 hours from Greenville to Charlotte, but it seemed like a very long drive to me.

Back then, I didn’t know a thing about Nascar racing, except that you loved to watch the races on Sunday afternoons and Colin and I had to be very quiet or we wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the living room. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I was invited to go with you to the big race, the Coca Cola 600. We were going to be camping in the infield, right in the center of the race track. How exciting!

I remember that you had built a wooden platform on top of your van. It was painted the same color burgundy as the van. Once at the races, you would climb up the handmade wooden ladder to the top, where your friend would hand up the railings you had made to fit down into the platform, creating a deck where we could all sit and see the racing action.

We would set up the tent, and your friends Richard and Cindy would set up their tent by ours. We cooked out on a camp stove at night and would hike up to the porta-johns to use the bathroom. All day long, the adults would sit up on the platform in camp chairs, smoking cigarettes and watching the races. I remember that I’d stay up there until I couldn’t anymore, until I was too hot and bored to stand it anymore. The qualifying races weren’t that interesting to me. I’d climb down the ladder and curl up in the tent to read a book or write in my journal. I might have complained (I’m sure I did, honestly) but I was grateful to be there, to be included.

On Friday, there would be a qualifying race, and again all day Saturday. In between qualifiers, we could walk across the race track to the mass of trailers set up to hock Nascar merchandise. It was fun, walking through that crowd, holding your hand. In hindsight, I’m sure it was chock full of rednecks and trashy women, but I didn’t see that as a child. I was just loving the time alone with you.

I remember the excitement of the big Sunday race. We’d wake up early and I’d eat cereal in a blue and white speckled camp bowl while you would boil water for coffee on the camp stove. We’d all climb up the ladder to the platform and wait for the race to start. My favorite part was always the start of the race, or just after the cars had been under the caution flag, when the pace car would come out and then speed into the pits, like a mouse being chased by frantic cats.

I’d watch the numbers on the center scoreboard, cheering when your favorite (and thus, mine), Bill Elliott, would pull ahead, grumbling with the adults when the least liked drivers would take the lead. There was so much positive energy at the end of the 600 laps, when the winner would finally cross the finish line and declare his victory.

On the drive home, it was always dark. I’d watch the headlights of the oncoming traffic, listening to Dire Straits and Van Halen on the radio, talking with you about school or my siblings or the weekend we’d just shared.  I remember these moments so fondly… the only times I ever remember being alone with you for any length of time. They meant the world to me.

I went three times in two years to the races in Charlotte with you, and then your friend’s wife Cindy was killed in a car accident. I went with you to the funeral, the first time I’d ever been so close to death. We went once more to the races, but the friend brought his new girlfriend and you didn’t like her much. It wasn’t the same, and we never went back.

I’m not sure if I ever told you, but I loved those race weekends with you. It wasn’t about the races, or the camping. It was about the time spent with you, the conversations and the wonderful feeling of being your only child, just for that weekend.

Thank you for those weekends, Papa. I love you incredibly and I apologize for every time I’ve had a chance to say so, and didn’t. You are an excellent father, and I hope you have a wonderful 58th birthday.

Love from your oldest daughter,

15 Ideas for Summer Fun with Kids

It’s almost time for summer fun! My kids have Memorial Day off, 3 more full days of school, then 3 half days (if you can call them half, they get out at 10:45am). On June 7th, summer commences!

I’ve been thinking of things I can do with the girls over the summer. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Arts & Crafts: There’s so much you can do to create and exercise little imaginations, and a lot of these don’t require a super-crafty Mama at all!
  • Build a Fairy House! ~ We did this last year and it’s high on our list of things to do this summer.
  • Tie-Dyed T-shirts ~ I’m planning to be ambitious with this project and have the girls help me dye the muslin for their new bedroom curtains. They’re very excited.
  • Sculpey clay figures & beads ~ my kids love making & baking the beads for their own necklaces. These make great gifts as well!
  • Create collages ~ Got a stack of old magazines or cards that you can’t bear to recycle, but you’re not sure if you’ll ever find a use for them? Give them to your kids and let them make collages. My girls love cutting out pictures to glue on colored paper and poster board. No extra magazines? Let the kids cut out shapes and animals from colored paper and glue those into a jungle or ocean scene.
  • Marble magnets ~ These are a lot of fun… print out small clip art or have the kids draw little pictures, use jewel glue to sandwich the image between a clear cabochon marble and a magnet and voila! Beautiful and original magnets for hanging your kids’ artwork on the fridge! For a fun twist, print your chosen images onto Shrinky Dink paper, bake to shrink them down and then glue those to the magnets. I have a bunch of these and every one is my favorite.

Play Outside: Kids have so much energy and nothing says summer like playing in the sunshine!

  • Turn on the sprinklers and let the kids play to their hearts’ content… you can even water your garden at the same time!
  • Sidewalk chalk is a guaranteed kid-pleaser. My front porch is an ever-changing work of art all summer long and I love that they’re not using up mass quantities of paper with their drawings.
  • Plant a garden! I have been surprised at how much my kids enjoy helping with our garden. They have taken over the weeding and watering, by choice… can’t argue with that!
  • Paint rocks ~ Smooth small to medium rocks are the best. My husband and I did this last summer and placed them near our fairy house as a surprise. The kids are absolutely convinced that our garden fairies created this little works of art. We use ours as garden decorations, hidden amongst the petunias and tomato plants. Use clear acrylic sealer to waterproof yours if you plan to display them outside.
  • Have a picnic ~ Pack a lunch and enjoy your front yard, local park or one of your area’s state parks. Make sure to point out the birds, trees and flowers around you… show your kids the beauty of  nature all around us.
  • Go throw a ball ~ baseball, basketball, wiffle ball. It’s great exercise and kids love playing games with their parents. You can even play a good old-fashioned game of Freeze Tag, Mother-May-I or Hide-and-Seek.
  • Walk or ride bikes! Explore your neighborhood and surrounding community… find a local ice cream parlor or park and make it your destination. Carry a basket with you to collect interesting rocks, acorns, flowers and leaves.

What are you planning for summer fun with your kids?