Eleanora, our Rainbow Baby, Turns ONE

Our silly Eleanora turned ONE today, January 19th. And, oh, what a year it has been! It has gone so quickly that I almost can’t believe an entire year has passed. And, yet, I can barely remember life without her joyful exuberance.

It has been a big year for our family. In fact, I wrote these posts about it: Mothering Two and Six Months Gratitude. Expecting her required a lot of adjusting, letting go, and trusting of others. Bill and I were both so hands on in every aspect of Gwendolyn’s life — we rarely left her side; stayed at school or nearby just in case; were the only people who carried and transferred her; and literally had never left her alone for a night (which we needed to do as we birthed Eleanora). We felt scared but ready. Pregnancy is helpful in that way — giving a family 9+ months to prepare and we used that time to slowly start adjusting. 

And then Miss Eleanora arrived three weeks early — already practically waving with joy. I love birth stories (read Eleanora’s birth story here) — such a special rite of passage and the beginnings of massive transition for a family. And Eleanora’s birth really almost reflects her personality. It was relatively easy-going: I labored all day at home, we had a family outing to the beach and even took family photos during the labor. All the moving parts of having nursing available to make sure Gwendolyn was safe clicked smoothly into place — even with the three week early surprise. And the birth itself was healthy (and quick — 45 minutes after arriving to the hospital) and baby and mom were totally fine. The ease, when so much was completely out of our control, allowed for the experience to be almost peaceful and gave us a sense of readiness as we embarked on our new journey.

For three weeks we lived in blissful newness, navigating life as four, finding our way together. And then Gwendolyn was hospitalized and we nearly lost her and we feared life as four would only be for that brief time. That experience was beyond scary and left Bill and I — and Gwendolyn — raw. We hunkered down a bit, savored life within our home, but we were rocked, emotional, and juggling the needs of two felt challenging. But little Miss Eleanora, in all her tininess, gave the three of us a lightness and sense of purpose. The three of us cared for her — bathed her, fed her, and allowed her to bring levity to our heaviness. She became our Rainbow Baby of sorts. (As an aside, Gwendolyn helped decorate Eleanora’s nursery while I was pregnant and she was adamant that it include rainbows!)

A Rainbow Baby traditionally is a baby born after the loss of another child, providing a bridge between the world of intensely dark grief to one with more lightness and beauty. It does not mean “moving on” — it is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the devastation of the storm. It doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. Instead it 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.

While Gwendolyn is her own bright sparkling light and her brightness continually shows us there is beauty and goodness in the world, the unrelenting ravages of SMA and our helplessness to it has left us scarred and creates a heaviness that is hard to ignore. At a base level, just the ability to be able to meet Eleanora’s needs so fully, to be able to “make everything better” helps fill the deep crevices of grief we still carry for not being able to heal the many struggles Gwendolyn must endure. And, of course, babies are hilarious — a lot of work, but sheer joy. Eleanora’s silliness, her wonder at the world, her sweet babyhood provides enormous levity to our household. And seeing our two girls together, well, it is just everything. I didn’t know my heart could feel so full.

Eleanora is joyful and silly, curious and eager, and so very easy-going. As long as she has food (the girl loves to eat), she’s jolly and rarely gets upset. She is not a picky eater — though she may not want something one day, the next day she will eat it with glee. (Yogurt and fruit are her favorite.) She is extremely social and is ready to play as soon as she sees others. She is quick to smile, laughs easily, and waves at everyone. Music class is her favorite — especially the guitar. She gives open mouth kisses and big hugs with back pats and saves her special lick kisses just for big sissy. She adores her sister and always wants to be near her. Her hair is just starting to grow in (it’s blonde on top but darker in the back), though most would say she’s still bald. She will happily entertain herself by reading books (flipping the pages and chatting to herself), pulling her dolls into her crib from the toy basket next to her bed, working on puzzles, or playing instruments. She is currently obsessed with knowing the names of things and will pick everything up and ask, “That? That?”. The one thing she does not seem to like is animals getting too close to her. Oh, and bibs — she does not like bibs so she eats shirtless.

We celebrated Eleanora’s first birthday this weekend with our family — a rainbow music party. Gwendolyn loved the idea of getting to see Eleanora’s music class and I knew the grandparents would get a kick out of seeing what she does in class each week. We all drummed, strummed, shook, and sang our hearts out with the fabulous Alex of Yellow Bird Music. (Eleanora adores her teacher!) It was so fun to see everyone having fun and Eleanora was so excited to crawl over to each of us, give a cuddle, share an instrument, and show off. We then headed back to our house for some lunch and, of course, the big smash cake! Eleanora cracked us all up with her funny expressions and chatting during lunch, cheersing her sippy cup to our champagne, clapping, and giggles. Then when the cake came around, to our surprise, our always Hungry Horace chose to feed Daddy her cake. She had a bit of a taste but most ended up in Daddy’s mouth or on her fingers.

Oh, what a year it has been. A magical, wonderful, challenging, learning, growing year it has been as a new family of four! 

Prepare for photo overload!  

{ january }

{ february }

{ march }

{ april }

{ may }

{ june }

{ july }

{ august }

{ september }

{ october }

{ november }

{ december }

{ january }