One year ago today our baby Claire blessed us with her sweet spirit before she returned to heaven again. It’s been a pretty good year, all things considered. I think of Claire daily, and we still make sure to include Sister Bear when we do bedtime with Duckie. Early this year I got pregnant again, and I felt pretty confident that this baby would be our rainbow, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. When we had the first ultrasound and I saw our baby’s beautiful little head, I couldn’t help but cry a little with relief.
I was mostly ok during this last pregnancy, but I definitely had a few more difficult times. I’d worry a lot about giving birth (it may sound dumb, but knowing I’d be giving birth in the same place where Claire was born and then died really caused me anxiety). I was also really concerned about if I’d be alright after our new baby was born. Would I only be able to think of Claire when I held our rainbow baby? Would the trauma of “losing” a child make me more likely to have postpartum depression after giving birth again? Would I even be able to take care of my sweet new baby without just crying all the time because I never got those experiences with Claire?
Weeks 34 and 35 were especially hard for me; Claire was born at the end of my 35th week being pregnant with her. Almost every morning for those two weeks, I’d wake up and read stories about other babies with anencephaly, and I’d just miss Claire and cry in bed until I had to get up to take care of Duckie. I also had this fear that something would go wrong in my current pregnancy and our third daughter would be taken from us, too, but if we made it past the point in pregnancy when Claire was born, it would be ok. Even though I knew that was irrational, I still felt relief when I made it to week 36.
When the time came for our baby girl to arrive, I was very happy to find that none of my fears were founded. Giving birth at the same hospital was just fine (it helped that my room this time around was quite a bit different than my room with Claire). I felt only love while taking care of my little Koala Bear (we’ve nicknamed her Koala Bear because she slept so much those first few days, and according to Google, koalas are the sleepiest animals). I still miss Claire, of course, but that didn’t/doesn’t taint my affection for Koala.
Every now and then during Koala’s first couple of weeks, she’d make the same shape with her mouth that Claire had, and I’d have mini flashbacks and feel like I was looking at Claire while simultaneously feeling slightly panicked that it could mean Koala was about to die, too. Again, I was completely aware of the irrationality in feeling that way, but that was just my initial reaction for a while. That hasn’t happened any more since those first couple of weeks, though.
I feel like I’ve really been quite blessed this year. Even though it wasn’t exactly a picnic, this last pregnancy was still so much better than my other two. The same goes for this time giving birth (even with being induced, there was almost no pain most of the time), and my physical recovery has been pretty great, too. But best of all, Koala is a mostly calm and happy little girl and actually sleeps pretty well (she’s already slept in her crib for 5 hours straight twice– something Duckie didn’t do for months)!
It makes me sad that we’ll never have a complete family picture and to think that Duckie and Koala won’t grow up with their middle sister, but when I think of our family and imagine my three children all together, it feels complete, and I know that Claire will always be an important part of our family, too.
I wanted to do something little in remembrance of Claire each year, and since her birthday is near Christmas, I’ve decided to make an angel ornament for her every year. This year her ornament is made from the extra fabric from Duckie’s and Koala’s Christmas dresses (I make my girls a new dress for the holiday each year). That wasn’t the original plan; I just came across the silvery wings in the craft store (while looking for something else entirely which I never found, of course, haha), and it happened that the fabric for this year’s Christmas dresses matched perfectly. I likely won’t do that every year, but I do really like that Claire’s angel ornament matches her sisters’ dresses this year.
Duckie and I made cupcakes (birthdays just need cupcakes or some special treat), and we’re all going to go watch the sunset tonight and just take some time to remember our angel Claire. 💜
Claire’s angel ornament, Koala’s Christmas dress, and Duckie’s Christmas dress
All of my babies’ footprints from their first Christmas season 🙂