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

One Year Ago Today

"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

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

Mother’s Day 2013

I have been a mother for almost a dozen years, and this is the first Mother’s Day that doesn’t feel completely happy.

I am grateful, of course, so grateful for my daughters, Lakin and Addah. They make me smile. They make me cry. They make me angry, and they make me laugh like a crazy person. They are wonderful spitfires, and they make me a better person than I ever could have been, every day of my life.

I would be nothing without them, and I know this completely.

They are beautiful, and I love them so very much.

I have been showered with a breakfast in bed, handmade cards, and a sweet little potted flower. They are trying very hard to be good to each other, and I am grateful for their deliberate kindness.

I would change only one thing about this Sunday, that our baby girl could be here today. I have no idea what she would look like now, but I imagine she would be a lovely amalgam of her big sisters. She might have Addah’s elfin chin, Lakin’s big bright eyes, and David’s handsome nose. She could have slept late with me today, waking up to nurse while I enjoyed my breakfast of eggs, bacon, and buttered toast. Maybe I would have had to pry her sister’s handmade card from her pudgy fingers, so she wouldn’t teethe on it.

I will never know. She will never be here in my arms on a Mother’s Day, and this will never fail to make me sad. Her sisters are here though, always ready to hug me, kiss my face and tell me they love me, and this will never fail to make me happy.

I have been a mother for almost a dozen years, and it is the best thing I have ever done.

Mother's Day Collage

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers – those with their arms full of their children’s hugs, and those with their hearts full of children they cannot hug, and those, like myself, whose hearts and arms feel both full and empty. You are all in my heart today.