I’ve written about The Middle Child and The Bonus. Tomorrow our firstborn turns four, and I could think of no better occasion to introduce you to her! I haven’t been saving the best for last – they’re all the best! But it has taken me longer to find the right words for this introduction……
As most parents can attest to, when that firstborn arrives it’s overwhelming! When our Princess came, we were flooded with love! This miraculous little creature had come into our world, she needed us, she loved us, she looked like us – it was indescribable and it was nothing short of amazing!
She was the eighth wonder of the world (at least to us!). She was mild and happy. She constantly babbled and chattered. Her first word was duck and she spoke in sentences by age one – though she wasn’t about to enter any competitions in the physical department, where sitting, crawling and walking came later than most of her little friends. She slept best when we cuddled, preferably completely intertwined with one another. From the day we started feeding her solid foods, she was a self-proclaimed vegetarian. She wanted nothing to do with meat, but loved carrots to a point where her skin was slightly orange! Other favorites were olive tapenade and Avocado maki-rolls. Just the other day, we asked her what she wanted for her upcoming birthday dinner, and the answer was clear as ever: sushi with the avocado!
As first time parents do, we invested all our thoughts and concerns in our child. It began during the pregnancy, where concerns would have to do with picking the best prenatal vitamins or making sure I didn’t have too much caffeine. When she was born the worries became about her gaining enough weight or having sufficient belly time. Worries and thoughts did not include words like “tumor”, “malignant”or “oncology-ward”. Never the less, these were the words that all of a sudden surrounded us.
Our beautiful little girl was just over a year when she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her left kidney. Specifically a type called WILMS-tumor.
Just as our lives had changed when we became parents, they changed all over again. Day to-day routines went from diapers and oatmeal, to chemo-therapy and surgery. The children’s oncology ward became our home, and inside the hospital walls, life stood still.
In the stillness all the old concerns withered away. Everything that had seemed important wasn’t. All that we had been able to control, had left our hands. We had been those slightly hipster-like parents, with all organic baby food, no sugar allowed, reading every shampoo label to the last ingredient, and now here we were, about to start chemotherapy!
Although we felt helpless, we did have one thing left to do, and that was to be a family! As the days passed, it became more and more clear, that this was all that truly mattered. Our Princess, our family, our love and the bond we shared. It was us taking on this fight, and we held strong in the belief that this fight would be won!
As we got used to life at the hospital, other routines got mixed in with the chemotherapy, surgery and medicine. We cuddled, we had tea parties in bed and we watched and knew every Wiggles song by heart! She would daily sit in the wagon of a tricycle, while her 6-year-old neighbor, who was suffering from leukemia, would bike as fast as he could, and I would chase after with the IV-stand in my hand (quite the sight!). We would share popsicles in bed and we would hold each-others hands and somehow make it through the worries.
As the knowledge of our family being what truly mattered grew, so did the notion of our future. One of the first days at the hospital, I looked at that little Princess, IV, hospital shirt, dark circles around her eyes and I knew! I looked at my husband and didn’t even have to say it. He knew too. As soon as our little Princess was better, we wanted to make her a brother or sister. A year after her last chemotherapy her first sister was born. And so, she showed us our future.
She also taught us about life and about persevering. Her strength was amazing. She had cancer, but she was laughing, smiling and running around. Even post anesthesia with a morphine pump at her side, she would insist on walking around like a drunk little sailor. Nothing was going to stop her. And till this day nothing has! She sings, she dances, she talks constantly, and she makes friends with adults and kids alike. She loves books, she loves princesses, and she loves anything purple! She still loves to cuddle and complains when it’s bedtime. She laughs at silly jokes about farts. Every day she kisses her sisters good-morning and goodnight with the most genuine of love. She is amazing. We are still flooded with love for her, just as we were the day she was born!
We named our princess Clara. The name snuck up on us and just seemed right. I remember looking up the meaning of her name when I was pregnant. It meant “clear”. I never gave it much more thought after that. I believe that she was meant to have this name. She is our looking-glass. She made everything clear to us. She is special to us because she is our firstborn. She is special to us because she has become the glasses through which we view life. With the knowledge of what she went through at such a young age, life with our three healthy, happy, cancer-free girls is looking absolutely beautiful!
Happy birthday Clara!