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6 am rolled around- Caroline was awake and calling for me. It was November 25, 2017…the day before her third birthday.
Babywise confession: Even though her official wake time is 7 am (when her my tot clock turns yellow), I usually let her come into my bed if it’s after 6 am. Prior to that, I’ll go in and see what she needs, and then leave until it’s official wake time, but we are a bit lax with that final hour if need be.
Anyways, today was no different. Most days she makes it to 7 am without any problems. Today, however, she called and seemed upset. I went in to see what she needed.
Chelsea is our dog that died when Caroline was 1.5 years old, and April is our baby that died at birth from trisomy 13, when Caroline was 2.5 years old.
Then she looked at me and stunned me. “Am I going to die on my birthday like the baby did?”
My heart just sunk. She proceeded to tell me that she was scared, and that she didn’t want to die. She told me she didn’t want anyone to die. Then asked about specific family members and if they were going to die. We had a long conversation.
This is one of those conversations that I wasn’t expecting. We talk about death a lot in this house, since losing April. Caroline has a lot of questions. This was not one of the questions that had even made my mama radar.
“Am I going to die on my birthday like the baby did?”
Wow. Just wow.
Sometimes as parents we don’t realize how much our tiny little toddlers absorb. I would have bet money that Caroline didn’t even know the connection of the term “birthday” meaning someone’s actual birth day.
A birthday in a child’s head is just a day to celebrate someone. It’s actually a big leap to realize that the day we are born is our true birthday. Simply put, I was astounded that she’d made this connection so readily.
To then also make the connection that April died on her birthday- and to be worried that people die on their birthdays. Wow. I never saw it coming.
I am so incredibly glad that our daughter is so expressive. I am amazed that she’s able to verbalize her feelings, her fears, and all of her thoughts to us at this young age.
Her ability to express this thought to me, opened up a huge conversation that calmed her and comforted her. We talked again about why April died. She wanted specifics…down to the discussion of the extra chromosome. We also talked about how Caroline’s body works correctly and that she has nothing to be afraid of.
To think that our daughter was terrified for her birthday to come- terrified that she, too, would die. I just can’t even express how broken I felt in that moment.
Caroline, I hope you read these thoughts that I write down some day. I hope you know how proud we are of you. We are so lucky that you are who you are. We are so thankful that you are verbal enough, expressive enough, and aware enough of your feelings to talk about them.
We are honored that you feel so safe to talk with us and that you trust us to answer your questions. We are forever saddened that you’ve had to experience such a loss at such a young age.
I am also so glad that I break the Babywise “rules” and that I went in your room when you woke up at 6 am. Some of our best conversations happen at night or in the early morning hours when it is just the two of us. Rules are meant to be broken, and I am so glad that we have these moments.
Don’t ever stop talking to us. Don’t ever stop feeling. You are so in tune with your emotions. It’s a true gift and I am so thankful that you have this ability. Your sister’s strength lives on in all of us, and coupled with the strength you already had- well, you are a special force in this family and in this world.
We love you so much.
Keep talking. Keep letting us in. Keep feeling and keep loving.
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