A few nights ago Caroline was in bed. She called us into her room. My husband took a turn this time. I listened on the monitor to see how it was going. My tears were instant as Caroline asked Daddy some questions…
“Will we get another Chelsea?” (Chelsea is our dog that died when Caroline was about 1.5 years old). My husband explained that we may get another dog one day, but it will never be another Chelsea.
“Will we get another April?” (April is her little sister that died at birth a few months ago. 3 months and 8 days ago to be exact).
Then she asked for the “baby book”.
I ran to her room with tears streaming down my face.
Caroline has said April’s name only twice. I missed both of those moments. She usually refers to April as “the baby”.
My husband has had the honor of hearing her say April Rey, but I had not. When I heard her say April’s name, my heart just filled with so much joy.
When I got to her room she was holding the “baby book” (Title: We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead).
We bought Caroline 2 books to help explain the situation to her.
This book arrived prior to April being born. When I told her that the book was about what was happening with April, Caroline told me she didn’t want to read it.
I’d inquire every once in awhile, and she’d say that she was “too scared”. We respected her wish and had not read it to her.
The second book that arrived (Title: Something Happened), I just decided to read to her without warning.
I took a chance and luckily it paid off. She identified with the book, asked questions, and we’ve read it several times.
The first book, however… just sat there on the shelf. She’d hold it and look at it, but never did she want me to read it.
We always respected her wish and just told her that it was ok, and when she was ready, we’d read it. Any time she was looking at it, I’d just ask if she was ready. I was always met with “No, not yet.”
Tonight I looked at my daughter and asked one more time. “Caroline, do you want Mama to read the book to you?”
Caroline said yes. 3 months and 8 days after April’s birth, our daughter was ready to read the book.
I read it through tears. My husband held his girls as we all cried and had our family moment that evening. Caroline comforted me as I cried. “Oh Mama, it’s ok. Everything is ok. We will have another baby.”
3 months and 8 days.
Caroline is such a strong girl. She turns 3 at the end of this month just for reference. She is aware of her feelings, and she expresses herself very well. She has taken care of us more than she’ll ever know.
I am so impressed that she asks questions, talks to us, and knows when she’s ready to take a step forward.
Tonight she took that step. She’s grieving in her own little toddler way, and I am so thankful that she includes us and allows us to help her in her journey.
These 3 months and 8 days have been slow and so hard. My family is stronger than we’ve ever been. You don’t know the strength that you have until you just have to have it. Caroline already knows that strength.
While emotions have been high and more arguments and short tempers have been present, there has also been more love and more strength that I could have ever dreamed.
April showed us true, raw love and courage. She showed us strength in a form that we’ve never seen. April’s energy keeps us going every day.
Caroline may not have her little sister home with her, but she has certainly blossomed into a truly special and amazing big sister and daughter.
These two books are a must have if you have an older child and have lost a baby or are soon to. Caroline was 2.5 when April died.
These books helped us explain things to her so much. She’s really identified with them, and we still read them now that she’s 4.5 years old.
There is another book I plan to get called Someone Came Before You. It is be the same author as We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead .
This one, however, is for our rainbow baby. We already talk to him about his big sister April. We’ll get him his own special book as well.
These books are neutral. They are just about baby loss, not specific to terminations, miscarriages, etc. They do not impose religious views. They are as neutral as it gets. It’s perfect, because you can build upon it however you’d like.
They are both blunt books. This is needed for children. It is not helpful to say that the baby got sick and is gone. It is helpful to say that the baby died.
Children need black and white, not grey.
And, we learned the hard way to tell Caroline that April was not built right, instead of that April was sick. Caroline quickly translated sick into she might die from a simple cold.
These books help us as adults, to just say things like it is. And children really identify with the books.
We had a child life specialist at Hopkins recommend both, after we’d already been reading them. We were pleased that she agreed with the tone of the books!