Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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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.


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Tears in Paradise

I went to Arizona last week for a meeting.  The desert sun in March was so beautiful – it was lovely to leave the freezing cold behind for temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

The meeting was great and I met a lot of interesting people.  One afternoon I decided to spend some time sightseeing in town and then spent the late afternoon by the pool.

I found a reclining pool chair and took a seat, loving the feeling of the sun’s rays on my skin.  I thought of Caroline because sitting in the warmth of the sun always reminds me of her.

As I reclined and closed my eyes, I soon heard a group that caused me to open them.  There was a mom teaching her son how to swim.  The boy was wearing floating sleeves and soon took his first strokes.  I saw the pride on the mom’s face as this young boy made it across the pool.

That is when the tears started.

I will never teach Caroline how to swim.  A silly thing to get upset over perhaps, but right in front of me was an experience we both have lost.

I soon made my way back to the hotel room so that I could let out the rest of my tears privately. 

Grief follows you into paradise and sneaks up on you when you least expect it.


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Holiday Blues

We are getting to the point where we need to decide what we are doing for the holidays.  Going home to family is a plane ride away, and I want none of it.  We are getting to the point where we should book if we want to go before the prices rocket up, but my husband and I have decided that we don’t want to travel this year.  We wanted to go home for Christmas last year, but with Caroline’s condition we wanted to stay close to my OB.  So you would think that we’d be itching to go home this year… but we’re not.

The thought of watching nephews open presents without Caroline there to grab at the paper ties my stomach into knots.  The looks of pity, or worse, of “why aren’t they over it yet?” from family and friends would be too much to handle.  I’m not trying to say that my family is mean or that they would try to hurt me, but I know I would see it in their eyes.  I would feel like my grief was on display and know I’d be the gossip point of the month.  “How is Kristina doing?”  “She seems okay, I saw her laughing and smiling so it looks like she’s getting over it.”  “I don’t know, I saw her leave the room when the boys were opening presents and she didn’t come back for a while.”  “I heard her crying in the bathroom.”

Maybe it is the grief talking but a quiet Christmas at home with my husband and Caroline’s ashes is all that I feel I can handle this year.  Maybe if I went home I would find my family to be incredibly supportive and I’d have a great Christmas, but I don’t think I’m ready for that.  I need this season to miss my daughter and be permitted to feel what I need to feel.  If I want to cry all day, I want to be able to do that.

Hopefully I will feel up to going home for Christmas next year, but this first Christmas needs to be ours.  If anyone has suggestions for getting through that first holiday season, I’d love to hear them.

Missing you always, Miss Caroline.


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Grief Caught Up

I had big plans this weekend, starting Friday afternoon, so although I knew Friday was Caroline’s half birthday, it didn’t really hit me then.  Instead, Monday was so hard.

I felt it from the moment I woke up.  That pressure on your chest that goes along with the greatest grief a person can come to know.  I packed the stuffed bear that the funeral home gave me in my bag to take to work, because I knew it was going to be one of those tough days where I need to hold something in my arms.  I really don’t care if anyone thinks I’m crazy.  I’m not, I’m just grieving in my own way and if I feel like I need a bear in my arms, I will take it.

During my drive in to work, some song that was a little bit sappy but had nothing to do with Caroline brought me to tears.  I had a grief explosion of ugly crying in the car.  There is no controlling those explosions of grief; when it happens, you just have to feel it and try to get through it.

I left work early because I had reached my capacity of getting work done for the day.  I didn’t have any more in me left to give.

Thank goodness for my husband who was there for me when he got home.  His hugs and the way that he is happy to bring up Caroline in conversation help to keep me going.

Missing you, peanut.


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Happy 6-Month Birthday

Today you would have been 6 months old, Miss Caroline.

It leaves me wondering what you would look like now.  If you would have started any solids by now.  What we would be doing together every day.  What your laugh would have sounded like.

It hurts to be here without you.

All the same, you have changed your parents and everyone who knew you for the better.

I am proud of you always.

I can’t wait to hold you again soon.

I love you.

 

Happy 6-Month Birthday.

 

Love,

Mom