Just Out Of Arm’s Reach

Just Out of Arm's Reach

It’s difficult to reconcile being so happy for one baby, while nursing a broken heart over another. I keep waiting for it to get easier, but all I can picture these days is Clara at 15 months old. Would she be walking yet? Talking? Unpacking our laundry basket all over the floor? I wish so much that we could know her now.

I dreamed of Clara the other night. I dream of her fairly often, though I usually don’t remember the details. This last dream was vivid enough that when I woke up, I could still see the scene in my head. She was sitting on the floor in our living room, rolling a ball with Addah. David came in from work and she said “dada!” while scrambling to her chubby feet. She had dark curls all over the back of her head, just like Lakin used to have. She was beautiful. I woke up before David got to her. Neither of us ever gets to hug her or hold her in my dreams. She’s always just out of arm’s reach.

The next morning, I told David about the dream. We smiled sadly, happy to have these little pictures of what could have been, but still so fragile and hurt because we have to cobble together moments that will never be.

This pregnancy is much more difficult, emotionally, then I had imagined it would be.

I could swear that I felt a little flutter of movement the other night, just for a moment. I know 11 weeks is really too early for that, but it made me smile and feel such hope. We weren’t sure if we’d ever have another baby after Clara — if we’d be able to, if we even wanted to — but I could not be more grateful for this little life within me.

I’m a ball of anxiety though. I feel like I’m afraid to get too attached to this baby, because I know now that nothing is certain, at the same time that I am already so attached to this baby. I’m terrified all the time that something will go wrong and I won’t know it. I used to say, “I’m the mother, I would know if something was wrong; it’s mother’s instinct” — but now I know differently. Every cramp, every twinge, everything sends me into a spiral of fear and worry.

I’m working through so many emotions, not the least of which is feeling like, when I meet this baby, I will finally get to meet Clara, in a way. My older girls are half sisters to this baby and Clara, but this baby is Clara’s full-blooded sibling. I just don’t want to catch myself thinking of this baby as Clara, and sometimes I almost do think that way.

Maybe that sounds a little crazy. Maybe I’m just not putting it into words well.

I didn’t feel any anxiety during my pregnancy with Clara. Even after having multiple early miscarriages, I just knew that everything was okay. I am hoping the anxiety I feel this time will prove to be a good thing, that it will keep me more vigilant and careful in the decisions that we make.

There is a part of me that thinks it would be so much easier if I could skip the next 6 months of pregnancy and get to the part where I can hold this baby in my arms. Unfortunately, “easy” is also just out of arm’s reach.

It is Misery To Want What You Can Never Have

It is misery to want what you can never have. #grief | The Destiny Manifest

My weekend didn’t go exactly like I’d planned. I have a recipe post in progress {delicious, can’t wait to share it with you, maybe tomorrow}, as well as this past week’s edition of 10 things to be thankful for. My plan was to post my 10 things yesterday… but it turns out that I wasn’t feeling thankful at all yesterday.

Yesterday’s emotion was depression. Sadness. Grief in overwhelming amounts.

Yesterday was misery.

I think I’m doing fine, managing so well, “better since her birthday passed, thank you for asking”. And then a day like yesterday hits me in the face, and I realize that I’m not over it, not even a little bit, and in fact, I don’t want to be over it, ever.

I want my baby, who should be a toddler now, learning to walk and say “mama” and “dada”.

It is misery to want what you can never have.

I’ve noticed that newborns and little babies don’t make me as sad and anxious as they used to. David and I attended a barbecue with our loss support group last week and there were two little babies there – 2 months and 4 months – chubby and sweet and chewing on their fingers. I didn’t have a meltdown.

It’s the one year old babies babbling sing-song noises in the stores that make me want to collapse into the ground and never get up. I wonder if it will always be this way… if Clara will continue to age in my mind, so that in 10 years, sixth graders will make me feel like crying.

On days like these, I wonder how I could have felt so fine last week. How could there have been several days when I thought of her only in passing? Am I starting to care less? Why do I keep picking at this healing scab? Why can’t I just accept that this is how things are?

This is my life now. Days of better, then days of worse, because my baby died, and she’s never coming back.

And it is misery.

It is misery to want what you can never have. #grief | The Destiny Manifest

Clara’s First Birthday Celebration {and a Thank You}

Clara’s first birthday celebration was quiet and beautiful. We gathered at her gravestone – the four of us and my mama, papa, step-mom and sister – and we were so grateful to have their love and support on such a difficult day.

During a trip to Party City to pick up supplies for Lakin’s upcoming 12th birthday party, the girls spotted a 1st birthday party hat with fluffy pink trim and insisted that we buy it for Clara, so of course we did. Addah placed it carefully atop Clara’s gravestone. The girls each carried one of our special stuffed animals — Cubby, a leopard that David brought home for her in the weeks before she was born, and our Molly Bear, gifted with love by the ladies in one of my due date groups.

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

I carried the pink bunny that left the hospital in my arms. I also carried Clara’s urn. We’re not at a point yet where we’re ready to spread her ashes, and to be honest, I’m not sure if we ever will be. I can’t explain our reasons in a way that makes much logical sense, but I guess it doesn’t have to make sense. It is what it is. That said, we carried her ashes with us, because she needed to be there for her first birthday celebration.

We brought along two photo boards as well. I printed out all of the beautiful name photographs and drawings that we have been given by family, friends, blog readers and fellow loss parents and affixed them to thick backboards so that we could all enjoy them. I realized later that evening that I missed a couple of them — they were hiding in a different download folder — so if you don’t see yours, please know that it was not intentionally left out.

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

We wrote letters to Clara on the balloons and then read them out loud. My balloon said, “I love you forever, I’ll love you ’til always. Always, forever, my baby you’ll be. Love, Mama.” David’s balloon said, “Daddy loves you!”

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

Addah and Lakin decorated their balloons with bright flowers and smiley sunshine faces, and my parents and sister each wrote their own sweet note to baby Clara.

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

We released them all into the tree canopy and clear sky overhead, and watched as the wind caught them and rushed them off into the clouds. A couple of balloons got caught in the tree canopy at first – my mama said, “she wasn’t ready for those ones to go yet” – but once the wind picked up, it swept those off into the sky as well.

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

As we began to gather our mementos and get ready to leave, a fine cold mist of rain began. It rained on July 1st last year too, starting right after Clara was born, so it was perfect and poignant. She is not with us… yet she is.

When we got home, I baked a birthday cake. After dinner, we sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed pink cake and vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t the most beautiful of cakes — our decorating icing ran a little too much — but it was very special to us.

Clara's First Birthday Celebration

It has been a trying and emotional week for our family. David was able to take vacation time, so he has been home with us. It’s been wonderful, having him here all day, to help with the emotional breakdowns (ours) and outbursts (the girls). We are all healing, but the healing takes time, and one year isn’t much time at all.

Thank you for sharing our grief and giving us your support and love over the past year. This past couple of weeks has been particularly difficult, and I appreciate every comment and private email that I have received.

From the bottom of my wounded heart, I thank you.

Love from Friends on Clara’s First Birthday #loveforclara

Love from Friends on Clara's First Birthday #loveforclara

This past Monday, July 1, would have been our youngest daughter Clara’s first birthday. She was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days gestation, and we found out she had died when we went to the hospital to give birth to her.

It has been a difficult year for my husband and I, and we have been dreading this day. A day that should have been filled with happy birthday songs for my smiling baby girl was instead destined to be a terrible string of memories and wishes of what can never be.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

The day started out very hard, with David and I reliving every second of what was happening at this exact time last year. Things began to get better after I got online to find dozens of Facebook notifications and email messages. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of supportive friends who remembered us and organized “Clara Day”, in memory of our sweet girl.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Balloons were released, candles lit, trees and flowers planted, memories made… all in honor of Clara Edith Webb. It makes my heart sing to feel so much love from friends I’ve never met face to face. I read so many caring messages and saved so many pictures, and every one of them lifted my spirits and made me feel so much better. I called David over to share them with him, and we cried together — sad tears for the loss of our baby, but happy tears for the love and light that we could feel from our friends.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Thank you to each one of you who read Clara’s story and remembered her by sending in her name or celebrating with us on Monday. I wish (so much) that she were here to celebrate her first birthday with us, but that cannot be, and I am honored that she is being remembered so wonderfully.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Dear Clara…

Dear Clara... A letter to my daughter, on the occasion of her first birthday and one year anniversary of her death.

Dear Clara,

On this day last year, I was in labor with you. I had packed a bag weeks before, in case you were early like your big sister had been, but you held on for 42 long weeks. Your daddy and I were so excited that I was finally having regular contractions, and as painful as they were, I welcomed them, because they meant we would see you soon.

I labored with you for 48 hours… from the afternoon of June 29 through July 1. By midday of that third day, I couldn’t handle the pains any longer, and we drove to the hospital. Your daddy helped me into a wheelchair and pushed me upstairs to the Labor and Delivery floor, and long minutes passed while we waited to get into a triage room. The pain was enormous, and I could barely contain myself when I had to lie flat on the examining table so the nurses could check my progress, but lie still I did. Every minute brought us closer to you, and I couldn’t wait for that moment.

Of course, it was in those pregnant moments afterward that we found out your heartbeat was gone, that you had died and we would never see your blue eyes looking back at us… that the world was forever changed for our family.

You were born on July 1, 2012 at 3:45 in the afternoon. You were my biggest baby at a plump 7 pounds 9 ounces, more than 3 pounds bigger than your older sister Addah. You had chubby cheeks and blue eyes, dark hair like your sister Lakin, and long artist’s fingers like your daddy.

The sun was shining when we arrived at the hospital that morning, but right after you were born silently into our arms, a hard rain started. It continued for the next three days; the sky crying along with us. 

My love, you were so wanted and so loved, from the moment we realized you were inside of me. There was never a second when we felt a single thing except gratitude and hope and wonder that you would be joining our family. We adored you before we met you, before your tiny heart started beating and long after it has stopped.

Not a day passes when we do not mention your name and think about how things would be… should be… with you in our lives. I see you everywhere – in babies that pass in their mother’s arms, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the tiny butterflies resting on the honeysuckle vines in our backyard. I see you in your sister’s smiles and laughter, in the wrinkles around your daddy’s eyes, and in the faces of your grandparents.

Your first birthday is tomorrow, Clara Edith, and I wish you were here so we could sing Happy Birthday to you and watch you play with the crinkly wrapping paper. I wish you were here to smash cake in your hair and in between your little fingers. I wish you were here to snuggle in the space between your daddy and I in bed. I wish you were here to… so many things.

You are missed, sweet bunny baby.  We love you more than words can say.

Always,

Mama

Dear Clara... A letter to my daughter, on the occasion of her first birthday and one year anniversary of her death.

The Aftermath of the Storm – A Poem by Heather

The Aftermath of the Storm - A Poem by Heather

Yesterday, I shared a poem that David wrote after we witnessed the most beautiful sunset at a nearby park. Today, I share the poem that I wrote at the same time. We didn’t read each other’s work or exchange ideas until after we had finished writing. I think it’s fascinating, seeing the similarities and the differences in our belief systems, as expressed in our written words.

The Aftermath of the Storm

I stared up at the sky tonight
at the gilded clouds drifting
in the aftermath of the storm.

I think I was hoping
to catch a glimpse of
the heaven that is promised
by those who believe
in such things.

I could almost see it,
hiding just behind the
ocean of deep blue waves
and the sun’s last brilliant rays.

Or maybe that was just
my wishful thinking.

The Aftermath of the Storm - A Poem by Heather

I think this poem goes well with this week’s Studio 30 Plus writing prompt, “Showers”. If you’re a writer and you haven’t visited S30P yet, you are definitely missing out!

Studio 30 Plus - Writer's Community