Derek: Two Children in our Hearts, One in our Arms

I have wanted to sit down and type so many times since having Derek but I have been unable to because I am full thoughts, memories, and conflicting emotions. My mind and heart are on overload leaving me confused, broken, and unable to focus much less communicate. However, with the Lord as my strength I am going to attempt to share some of our experiences over the past month, forgive me if it is incoherent. I pray that you can see there is joy and hope among our grief. Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

At the moment my son was born I asked my husband, “What does he look like?” and Jordan responded “Just like Claire.” I was immediately reduced to tears at hearing this. The Lord’s goodness did not stop with the gift of another child, but I am blessed to see Claire when each time I look at him. With the birth of Derek I get to be a mother again, and I regained a piece of the child I have lost.

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Bringing a newborn into an empty house for the second time is surreal. My husband had always imagined this time in our life with Claire at his side enjoying special Daddy-Daughter time while mommy had another baby. Together we looked forward to learning to balance two children, introducing Claire to her baby brother, even experiencing sleep deprivation at a new level. I wanted my husband and I to sit down and relax in the evenings, each of us with a child on our lap. However when we sit down we have two children in our hearts and only one in our arms.

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Derek is a sweet gift to our family for much more than his resemblance to his sister. In fact beyond their looks, they are completely different children. From the beginning, Claire had fiery red hair and a spirited personality to match. My son however is much calmer. He is generally a very happy and content baby who loves to sleep, cuddle, and be held. With Derek, I have not endured the ear-piercing infant cry or colic induced screams. His easy going and precious personality is a gift allowing my son to bring comfort in this chaotic time instead of possible adding to the emotional strain. Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Derek and everything about him is a testament to God’s goodness upon our family. His life has given us a new purpose and a new reason to love. Derek has brought a joy back into this house that only a child can, and we can’t wait to continue seeing him grow. Our house is a home again, and our hearts are filled with a new love for this child.

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Clearly, our plans, our goals, and our desires do not always become reality. Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” This became a painful and inescapable truth during Derek’s second week of life. The pain from surgery was less intense, the adrenaline had worn off, and truth settled in. Every time I look at Derek, I feel as if I am also looking at Claire. She has been on our minds more now than ever before. Sometimes I’ll say she instead of he or describe him as pretty instead of handsome. One evening Jordan went to the store to buy Derek new pacifiers, and accidentally bought girls ones. We know Derek is not Claire, but there is something about have your “first” newborn twice that triggers strong memories of Claire. Her presence in our home, in our minds, in our hearts is stronger than ever through her baby brother Derek. It is a difficult feeling to describe, but quite powerful creating moments of intense grief and joy. I’ve spent many moments holding him, caring for him, and loving him while I quietly wept for my daughter whom I experienced all the joys of motherhood with first. Then on top of it all, we received the call that Claire’s headstone was finally ready to be set. We have been waiting for this day for a long time due to weather delays and manufacturing setbacks. I rode in the back seat beside Derek, and cried the whole way. I was mourning the family of four we would never be, sad for the sister Derek would never meet, and broken by the fact I missed her so intensely. However, I do believe it was the Lord’s will that Derek was with us on this day. Maybe it was to ease my heartache or help me see that we are entering a new season of life as we gained closure to this one. Either way it gave our family a unique chance to all be together in the only way possible on this side of Heaven.

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Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Today Derek was four weeks old, and when I went to pick him up out of his crib this morning he greeted me with a smile as I said, “Good Morning, Derek.” He has helped me to awake with joy in my heart, and an eagerness to see what God has in store for me that day. I am thankful for the blessings the Lord has given me, despite our loss in this world for I know we will all be together again shortly. Until then we will do our best to move forward with hope and faith, so that Derek can come to know the joy of the Lord as he grows up learning about his big sister.

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