Seven years ago today my beautiful and brave Chiara Elizabeth was born. Seven. Where did the time go? Seven years ago at this time I was waiting for my castor oil cocktail to kick in so I could bring on my extremely overdue delivery without being induced via IV. Called my midwife, told her what I did and to expect me later that day. Right around noon labor kicked in, right on schedule. At just about 7:30 p.m, Chiara entered the world, and what joy she has brought to our family ever since.
I’ve written a lot about the benefits of being an older mom — I was just about 43 when Chiara was born — because every day I am the one who continues to learn new lessons from this fearless little being. Just a few weeks ago Chiara’s absolute courage at the top of the Shotgun Falls at a Wildwood water park inspired me to go down on the chute next to her. Two days ago she insisted on going off the diving boards at the town pool, something I have yet to do. Although I am often hesitant to let her do things out of my own fear, she will have none of that.
Her enthusiasm and sensitivity, her courage and kindness teach me on a daily basis how to be a better person. Happy birthday, baby. I love you, and I’m so glad I decided to forget my old age and become a mom one more time.
Here’s a snapshot view of Chiara’s life:
For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 13 years ago today that I learned that the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.
With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong during that pregnancy from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.
When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.
With that same mother’s intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.
Three years ago, when I posted about this day
, I talked about how Grace had shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence. I am very much aware of the fact that life would be very different had she lived. She managed to leave her mark on us, even without taking a breath. She lingers here, not only in my heart but around the edges of our lives — especially the lives of our two girls who followed her. I know them because I did not know Grace. What a sorrowful and yet beautiful impact she had on us.
So thank you, baby, for all that you were and all that you have given us without ever setting foot on this earth. The power of one small life.