It’s been awhile since I’ve written in my blog! It’s been on my mind, but life has been busy and the days are going by so fast… I swore Thanksgiving was yesterday and now it’s almost Christmas! Last time I wrote here was a few weeks before my due date. I told you all that I would let you know when our baby arrives and what we had. Well here we are 4 ½ months later and I’m just getting around to it! On August 1st we welcomed a baby GIRL into this world. Ava Grace arrived early afternoon on a Monday, a healthy baby weighing 8lbs. 12 oz.! As most of you know we did not know what we were having and it was totally worth the wait. It’s already such a magical moment watching a new life enter the world and when they announced it was a girl it made it even better. It was the best, happiest surprise ever!
Tending to our new baby and family is obviously the reason I haven’t had a chance to write in a while. Ava is a great baby. She brings us a lot of joy. She has a smile that will melt your heart, big blue eyes, and hair that will just make you laugh. She actually looks just like her sister did when she was a newborn. I love having a baby in the house- the cuddles, the smiles, the belly laughs, the cute clothes…I could go on and on, but as we all know life isn’t picture perfect. It’s been an adjustment and of course there are some challenges that come with a newborn….feeding schedule, sleeping schedule, fussiness, spit-up, lack of sleep, losing the baby weight, the fear that I’m going to mess up somehow or the constant concern that I’m just not doing it right at all. I’m pretty sure all moms go through those changes and challenges once having a child, but for our family it’s a little bit different.
There are more challenges that present themselves when you have a new baby after you lost a child. I am definitely more paranoid about EVERYTHING! Every little ache or pain Luke or Ava has I am afraid they have cancer, or every time Luke won’t eat his vegetables or eats too much microwave popcorn, I am afraid he will get some other disease. I worry that there will be something wrong with the baby, and I fear that I am not strong enough to go through such heartache again so soon. I fear that the baby will have something wrong with her, or as happened with Gracie, she’ll be perfect and normal and then one day that will all change. Even though we’ve been told Gracie’s cancer was not genetic I still find myself feeling Ava’s belly and wondering if any sign of distress is cancer. At first I thought I was nuts and called the counselor we visited for a year after Gracie passed to see if I was truly losing it. She reassured me that these feelings are normal and that Ava is probably going to visit the dr. more than most babies because of what we went through. I realized that I’m not alone and I’m not the only one feeling this way. Luke has also expressed his concern of the same feelings. I’ve been able to reassure him that everything will be ok and that we all hope that doesn’t happen to Ava or him or any child. We can’t live in fear all the time, but can expect it to pop up every now and again. It does remind us to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment with those we love.
I’ve also heard people use the term “the replacement child”. Ava is not my replacement child! It’s such a cruel term, that suggests a parent wipes out the agonizing grief of the death of one child with the birth of another. For our family that is not true. I can say that losing a child is like losing part of yourself. You learn to live with it but you never get over it. But Ava did not replace Gracie, she is a distinct member of our family. She is her own person. She is our 2nd daughter, another sister to Luke, the 3rd granddaughter and niece on one side and the 2nd granddaughter and niece on the other side. Yes I’ve called Ava, Gracie. She looks like her and acts like her, but they are sisters and that is going to happen. We wouldn’t think it was weird or not talk about the resemblance or confuse names if Gracie was still here so it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or weird to talk about it with Gracie not here. We need to remember that they are sisters, but they are not the same person. Gracie has her life story and Ava will have hers.
I also think a lot about the fact that Ava will never know Gracie. It hurts to think Gracie will be like a stranger to Ava and there won’t ever be any pictures of Luke, Ava and Gracie together. Luckily we talk and share pictures as a family about Gracie a lot. What I can do is try to make sure Ava knows all about Gracie and how she loved to laugh and have fun, and so much more.
The challenges we face also make me a better parent. Losing Gracie has changed my approach to parenting in a variety of ways. I am so much more willing to stop and do the little things like cuddle or read books or play games. I am much more patient and less rushed. I am trying to soak up every bit of Luke and Ava’s childhood and enjoying the milestones that both of my kids meet at their age.
Throughout all of these changes and challenges, I am noticing that time really does fly. It’s been almost 6 months since I wrote a blog, Thanksgiving came and went, one day I had a newborn and now she’s 4 ½ months old, Luke was just starting kindergarten and now he’s a 3rd grader, and it’s been 4 years since I’ve spent a Christmas with Gracie… Where did that time go? As we approach the holidays remember how fast they will go by and take time to be with your family, friends and loved ones, making memories that you will look back on. Remember time flies, but the memories you make during that time are amazing, beautiful gifts to be cherished.
This year I’m sure that our gift was handpicked from heaven by Gracie… Merry Christmas!