Just a few weeks ago, Rare Bird author and An Inch of Gray blogger Anna Whiston-Donaldson was remembering her first child, her son Jack, on what would have been his 17th birthday. Jack died at age 12 when he drowned in a flood during a rainstorm. In her writing, Whiston-Donaldson has chronicled her family’s journey through their grief in the aftermath of his death.
Sunday, Whiston-Donaldson celebrated a different birthday: that of her new baby boy, Andrew Luke.
“Welcome to this beautiful, crazy world,” Whiston-Donaldson wrote in the caption to her picture with her son.
Baby Andrew joins his mother, father Tim, and big sister, 14-year-old Margaret, in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. The pregnancy was a surprise to 46-year-old Whiston-Donaldson. “I do feel like Jack may have had something to do with the infinitesimal chance that we would have a surprise pregnancy at my age,” she told TODAY. “He always pushed me to have another child, the last time being two weeks before his accident, and I wonder if that could have been an indication that somehow he didn’t want Margaret to be alone.”
Though Whiston-Donaldson was initially “shocked,” her pregnancy proved to be “amazingly routine.” She says, “I run across so many painful stories from moms who have encountered difficult pregnancies and pregnancy loss, so I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
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“My feelings were further complicated by the fact that my own mother died when she was 46 and I was 18,” she said. “It is hard to age past a parent in any circumstance, but to have new life beginning for our family at the very same age when my mother’s life ended made me feel a bit vulnerable and tempted me to dwell on all that my mother missed out on. It all seems to come down to trust, trusting that this is the story I’m supposed to be living, and that Jack’s and my mom’s stories were different.”
The Whiston-Donaldsons are very happy about Baby Andrew’s birthdate, as it coincided with opening day of baseball season, and Jack and Tim were huge baseball fans. Though she has some anxiety about new motherhood again, Whiston-Donaldson says she is already in love with their latest family member.
“I am tired, foggy, grateful ,and nervous,” she said. “Will I be able to do this? Will Andrew be able to pick up on our family culture, or does everything start from scratch? Will Tim and I have the stamina to parent him well? A lot has changed since we became parents 17 years ago. The baby gear! The rules! The iPads!," she said.
"But the precious sighs of a newborn haven’t. Oh my gosh, and the yummy way their heads smell. This is one sweet baby, and I hope he’ll be glad I’m his mom.”