I went to the kitchen to do the dishes and what did I see? A blue baseball sock floating in the sink amidst the dirty soaking dishes. I then turned to the cupboard to grab a glass and observed a pair of my daughter’s shorts hanging on the knob. How and when does this stuff happen? Not a clue. Later, I sat down later to do some writing, and little guy began to dump a full bottle of Gatorade all over my lap. (Thanks to his brothers for giving him his own bottle!) This happened a brief moment after I found him vacuuming potato chips off the floor with his mouth. Never a moment of rest in this house!
Well anyway, enough of the crazy stories, as they are endless. Today is a very special day. My baby boy turns 5! Looking back, what a journey it has been……
It had been only a few weeks since Lydia had died and the sounds of our empty house were deafening, haunting me night after night. It was like reliving a horror movie over and over again, unable to stop the film. I never realized how much joy she had brought and how much life filled the house with her in it. I remember the last night she was with us, she and her brother were chasing each other in their underwear, both with their pop guns in hand, shooting everything in sight. The loud screams and giggles flooded the house. Without a care in the world, they were having a blast.
Then suddenly the next day, our family of four, became a family of three. I had always wanted more children but thought we were done with two, as we had one boy and one girl, a conversation my husband and I often conflicted on. I knew deep inside that I needed and wanted to have another child. I prayed incessantly for God to give us one, not only for us as parents, but for our son, Lydia’s brother. He was suffering too. His world was shattered as he knew it and he longed for his best friend and role model.
I knew that having another baby was what I needed to live again, as holding a new love would give focus on a hopeful future. Down on my knees during my many conversations with God, I explained that this is was what would pull me through the storm, as I felt there were no other options.
Approximately six weeks later, I found out we were expecting our rainbow. I had never heard the word “rainbow baby” until I came across the term in a support group.
“”“Rainbow Babies” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
As I found out the news, I was overcome with a myriad of feelings. From joy, to sorrow, to guilt, to excitement, I was riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Hesitant to share the news because of the reactions I thought would be thrown our way, we waited until the three-month mark to tell of our wonderful blessing. I remember feeling nervous about what people would think of us, as it had only been a few weeks and here I was pregnant already.
And I was right. From, “That didn’t take long,“ to “You guys didn’t waste any time,” to “It’s kinda soon don’t you think” to “Are you sure you’re ready” and many others. Of course I felt under the microscope, spending too much time worrying what these people we called friends believed. Were they thinking we were trying to replace Lydia? Was it too soon? What would so and so think? We lived through the comments and welcomed those that were happy for us. Afterall, there were very few that had walked our path.
Many people believe you should allow yourself time to grieve and complete your grieving process before having another child, however, there is no completing the grieving process when it comes to losing your child. Ever. The loss and hurt will always be there, it just gets different.
For me, having another child, was not to replace Lydia but something I knew would help the healing process with our family. I don’t think I could have survived that first year without having this new life to look forward to. We spent those next nine lonely months in our little house, just the three of us.
The cold, dark winter felt like it would never end. My evenings would consist of me sitting silently on the couch, mentally in another world. I would glance intermittently at the staircase, knowing the sadness of the empty room that stood at the top of the stairs. My mind would replay her walking downstairs in her bold colorful outfits, headbands and make up with her mischievous smiles, not knowing what would come out of her mouth next.
Hand on my growing belly, I would fight to hold back the tears, reminiscing of the life that was just a short time ago. The three of us rarely left the house, keeping occupied with crying and hugging, as we mastered every game on the Wii.
Then, five years ago today, I went into labor at midnight, and in the early morning hours, gave birth to a new life. We didn’t find out what we were having, as we were just thankful to be having a healthy child. God had given me just what He knew I needed. A handsome red-headed baby boy. Not only was this what I needed, but what the rest of the family needed as well. My mother and grandmother, both red heads, delighted in the news of our new son. My rainbow had finally arrived.
Tears of joy and sadness overcame me immediately the moment he was born. Hope had arrived. He was the light in the storm, a beautiful rainbow, overflowing with life and promise. I held him in my arms, savoring his newborn smell, hugging him ever so tightly, never wanting the moment to end.
Lydia now had two brothers, what a blessing! As time went by, he would learn about her, dress in her flip-flops, play with her toys and have a special connection with his big sister. As he got older, we would say prayers, and he would get curious, wanting to know where Lydia was. It became so commonplace, he would play around the house singing to himself, “Lydia’s in Heaven with God.”
This little boy has grown into an adventurous, baseball loving, wolf fearing cutie. He loves cantaloupe, riding his bike, friends and family, and has a heart of gold. His inquisitive nature is eager to learn about the outdoors from his dad, taking a liking to nature and animals. I can’t wait to watch him grow.
In hindsight, I should have been more focused on what God was doing in my life, than what others thought. He had given us this beautiful gift, a new life and I was blessed.
For those of you going down a similar path, don’t give up. Don’t give two minutes to what other people think about you. We all grieve differently and there are no rules. It’s your life. It’s between you and God. Every life is a blessing, embrace what you are given, and always be thankful.
So, happy birthday my boy, my sweet Andrew. Where have the last five years gone? I’m not sure, but waking up to you everyday has been such a gift. Seeing your beautiful smile day in and day out melts my heart. I’m so proud to be your mom. Your family loves you more than you could ever imagine!