Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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Dreams

I had a dream that I had them both.

Caroline was alive in my arms and baby girl was thriving in my belly.  Caroline was still herself, the feisty personality I remember, but she had grown.  She had her physical challenges, but had made some progress.  She could more clearly indicate what she needed and had learned to breastfeed.  She was bigger but could still fit comfortably in a wrap carrier.  She was my daughter and she was so perfect.

We went together to my OB appointment.  My OB was shocked to see Caroline but was amazed.

I woke up before I could lose her again.  I reveled in the feeling of having Caroline with me being normal and real before the tears came.

Oh Caroline, how I miss you.  Thank you for visiting your mother in her dreams.  I know you are always with us.


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Difficult Parenting

There are some aspects of parenting that are difficult and unique to teenage daughters.  

My husband and I have been binge-watching Friday Night Lights and these parenting situations come up often on the show.  In one scene, the father walks in on his 17-year-old daughter in bed with her boyfriend.  The parents then have to talk to her about her feelings for this boy, that she is under no obligation to continue to have sex if she no longer wants to, and the use of protection.  It is a difficult conversation for both parties but one they had to have.  On the show they do a good job of showing the struggles of parenting a daughter at that age.

After we watched the episode, my husband said that he’s sad that he won’t have these conversations with Caroline, but also glad because they are so difficult.

I feel so sad that he may never parent a teenage girl.

Men in his family generally have boys.  He is one of 3 boys, and his brothers have 3 boys between their two families.  Caroline was the first girl in the family in a long time.  What if we don’t have any more girls?  

Infant loss is so much more than that.  We may have lost our opportunity to shape a young woman, and that is a loss too.


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Year 2

I have entered year 2 post-loss.  I thought it would get easier but it hasn’t.  In fact, lately grief has taken a firm hold.

I haven’t been sleeping well and the past few days I’ve been very low.  Struggle-to-get-out-of-bed, achy-heart, nothing-is-very-funny kind of low.  It’s scary to have come this far and still have days where the pain is so fresh.  Last evening I felt like I couldn’t breathe and needed to get out of the house.  I went shopping and bought myself a pair of jeans.  I was down another size, which normally would have been very exciting for me, but it still wasn’t enough to make me smile.

My husband and I have been so bored in the evenings lately.  I know that if Caroline were still with us, our evenings would be anything but boring.  That hurts, the way our plans were ripped away from us.  We were so ready to start filling our house with children.  When Caroline was with us, our home was so busy and noisy and perfect.  I miss that.

I miss Caroline so deeply.  She is still, and possibly always will be, at the forefront of every thought.  I feel her presence in the sunshine that she loved.  I ache to hold her in my arms. I yearn to see her play and grow up. I love her with every ounce of my being.

I have heard that year 2 can be harder than year 1, since the permanence of it all starts to really sink in.  It is still too early to judge but I can see how that could be true.  For those of you further along this journey, has this been the case for you?


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Heaven Anniversary Recap

The past few weeks have been incredibly hard.  I found that the days leading up to and following the anniversary of Caroline’s death have been harder than the day itself.  I think that was because my husband and I stayed busy together that day.

We started the day by going out to breakfast together.  We then came home and made a plan for the rest of the day.  I finished putting together the pinwheels that we planned to bring to the infant section of a local cemetery.

  
My husband then had the spontaneous idea to donate blood in Caroline’s memory, so we went down to the blood bank to do so.

After donating, we drove around until we found an infant section of a cemetery to decorate with our pinwheels.  It brought up a lot of emotions.  Caroline’s ashes are currently at home since we don’t plan on settling in this area, so a cemetery trip was something we weren’t used to.  My heart hurt for each of those parents and the children gone too soon.

  
After placing our 13 pinwheels, we went to an art fair in town that we had stumbled upon last year.  It brought back the memory of my husband purchasing a piece of art that said, “Don’t cry because it is over… Smile because it happened.”

We then went to dinner at our favorite brick oven pizzeria, and finished the day by watching Caroline’s favorite movie, Frozen.  I used to watch it with her while she cuddled with me in her rocking chair.  She loved the music.

We spent the day honoring Caroline and finished it with some tears and a prayer for Caroline.  We love her so, so much.

I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do this every year.  It’s still so surreal. The physical nature of the emotional pain leaves me reeling.  My heart and arms ache for my baby girl, and they always will.


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My Perfect Flower

Caroline has spent a year in heaven.  I imagine that time does not exist in the same way there and we will be with Caroline before she realizes that we are apart.

One year ago, I read Caroline the book I wrote her as she passed away in her mommy and daddy’s arms. 

This anniversary has been so hard because losing my perfect baby girl is the hardest thing I have ever done.  All of the difficult memories have flooded back to me.

I try to remember that she is now in a place where there is no pain and no suffering, but my arms and heart still ache.  I wish more than anything that we could still be together.

Miss Caroline, your mommy loves and misses you every second of every day.  You will always have an incredibly special place in my heart.  I love you!


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An Unexpected Anniversary

Today is an annual symposium.  It probably didn’t fall on this same date last year, but it is a reminder all the same.  Last year, I had planned to go to the symposium for a few hours and leave Caroline with her grandma, but I never made it.

The date of this event last year was the first day since Caroline’s hospital stay that she was unstable.  It was the first time I noticed that her hands and feet were cool and slightly swollen.  Those were the first physical signs of her heart condition.  Caroline’s body was starting to fail her and there was nothing I could do to help her.  It was the day that I broke down in front of Caroline’s nurse, upset that there was nothing I could do.  

I had no idea how much time we’d have, and was afraid that she would continue to decline quickly.  Instead, she stayed stable for almost another month.  In fact, her swelling went down.  Caroline continued to be the happy, sweet baby she had always been, and I began to smile again.  

Every second with my strong daughter was cherished, and today I absent-mindedly find myself wishing I could heal her, remembering this day one year ago.  My head knows that she is completely healed in the arms of Jesus, but my heart still aches.


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A Grief Test

Today I received an invitation to a good friend’s baby shower.

I am so happy for this friend, but my mind immediately began to race.  “Could I handle a baby shower?  It has almost been a year since Caroline passed… I’ll have to go to a baby shower eventually.”  Then I looked at the date of the shower.  May 17th.  The weekend after Mother’s Day and the weekend before Caroline’s heaven day.  

Of course.  Right in the midst of the time that I am most likely to be an emotional wreck.

I then asked my husband if I could handle a baby shower.  “Probably not.”  There was my answer.  As much as I want to go, I’m sure it would bring me to tears.  Every second of a baby shower would be a reminder of what I’ve lost.  I want this friend’s baby shower to be a ball of happy and don’t want to detract from that.

I called her to talk to her about it, and she understood.  She even offered to take time out of her short visit to meet up with me outside of the shower setting.  I had been afraid that she wouldn’t understand, and was so thankful that she did.

I could have put my grief to the test of a baby shower, but thanks to an understanding friend, I won’t have to.