Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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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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Memory Monday

Caroline’s aunts and uncles on her daddy’s side drove out to visit us for a few days.  They were so excited to meet the niece that they didn’t know they would get the chance to meet.

Caroline is the first girl cousin in the family, and her two cousins were excited to meet her as well.  One asked his mom, “Can’t they just fix her heart?” after being told how Caroline would not be with us for long.  When I heard of this, my heart ached for him and for my family.  I wish it were that simple.

When everyone arrived, they were so thrilled to hold Miss Caroline.  Although they were nervous about her breathing, they all did well with keeping her in a good position on her side.  Her younger boy cousin was shy around her because of her cleft lip and palate, but her older boy cousin held Caroline and said, “I’m so glad we came.”  Caroline’s aunt works in children’s clothing and brought all of the New England sports gear for Caroline that we could not get here.  We dressed her in a Patriots onesie that was of course, pink.  The Patriots were the one team that I really called my own growing up, so it was special for both me and my husband to dress Caroline in her home team’s outfit.  She still kept her girly look with a matching headband.  Caroline was always in style.

This weekend we celebrated a Superbowl win, and I think Caroline was cheering with us, from heaven.  For some reason the Superbowl without her was so hard.  I cried myself to sleep every night this weekend missing her.  We were supposed to see our team win as a family, and I couldn’t shake the thought that she should be wearing another Patriots outfit, one that is much bigger.

I love and miss you, baby.  So much.


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The Should-Be Thoughts

I’ve been having a really tough week.  I think about how Caroline should be 8 months old.  She should be crawling.  She should be cooing and babbling.  She should still be in my arms.  Last week, she should have been sticking her fingers in mashed potatoes and getting them all over the floor.

Should-be, should-be, should-be.

I think it is so normal to have these thoughts.  Every second of every day I am thinking about and missing Caroline.  I will always wonder who she would have been had she stayed here on earth.

However, the reality is that my should-be thoughts are a fantasy.  As much as I wish that she were still here, I think God had a plan.  As much as I don’t understand it, I think that Caroline was destined to return to heaven early.  Maybe she even knew.  She was so, so brave.  I think to myself, Caroline should be here with me.  What if that is so painfully untrue?  Am I unable to see the big picture, that Caroline is happy and pain-free in heaven and we will be together again soon for eternity?

At her funeral, I said that she accomplished more in 58 days than some people do in 58 years, and I still believe that to be true.  She showed me the biggest love that I have ever known.  Because of her, I am such a different and better person.  I’ve always shied away from feelings and all things touchy-feely, but now they don’t make me uncomfortable.  In fact, I’m now a feeling seeker and hope to help other families through this devastating diagnosis.  My husband and I have organized a toy drive in Caroline’s name, which we never would have done on our own.  We’ve noticed that members of our family no longer sweat the small stuff because Caroline reminded them of what was important.  Who knows how many more lives Caroline has touched or will touch in the future.

I am heartbroken, but Caroline is worth the heartbreak.  I am here to make sure that the work she started is finished.

Although I will always keep track of how old Caroline would have been and wonder as I see children her “age” what could have been, I will try to turn my thoughts away from the should-be’s.  I wish things could have been different and I could still be taking care of her.  The thing is, when you’re the mom of an angel, you are still taking care of your baby.  It’s in a way that you never expected or wanted, but holding your child in your heart and helping people through your child’s memory is a labor of love.  This is how I mother Caroline Grace.

 


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Memory Monday

Caroline played with her hands.  When we came home from the hospital, we’d first wrap her up like a little burrito, which she loved.  Soon enough, she began exploring her limbs and wanted to be more free.

My husband would lie on the couch with Caroline on his chest, and she would use her hands to prop up her head in a sweet, sleepy in class kind of way.  She discovered them and explored them.  Although her hands were clenched shut most of the time, when she was very relaxed her palms would open.  It always made me smile to see her hands so relaxed, because I knew how happy and relaxed she was for them to be that way.

Once, Caroline found a finger and sucked on it.  We took a video of her doing it – she was always amazing us.  It was so adorable – the fact that she had 6 fingers made it look like she was sucking on air, but she got that index finger in her mouth and did something that so many babies do.  It made her so happy.

At about six weeks old, we had to start putting mittens on Caroline’s hands to keep them warm.  Her hands were cold because of her poor circulation.  I was sad to take her beautiful, six-fingered hands away from her but knew that she needed her mittens.

Caroline received the sacrament of Annointing of the Sick.  Part of the sacrament involves blessed oil on the palm of the hand.  I smile when I remember our priest trying to open Caroline’s hand, and having to tell him that they don’t open on command – he would have to improvise.

I held those beautiful hands the night that Caroline went to heaven.

For hours I held her hand.

Emotionally I will never let go.


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Thoughts on Heaven

I often find myself wondering about heaven.  I wonder what Caroline is doing and if she knows how our family is doing.   I think her great grandma Joan was there to greet her.  I imagine that in heaven, there is no concept of time and Caroline won’t have to miss us because all of a sudden we will be there with her.  I also think that she is wrapped in the greatest love.  I think children have a special place in heaven.

I wonder if we get a glimpse of heaven through dreams.  I often have dreams where I am simply an observer of events, or my perspective jumps around from person to person and somehow that is all normal.  I wonder if Caroline can sometimes take my perspective to spend time with me.

I wonder how old she’ll be when I see her again.  I wonder if we’ll be able to talk or if I’ll be able to rock her in my arms.  Or maybe the connection of our souls will be all I need to recognize my little girl.

I pray that Caroline is happy.  I miss her every second of every day.  Mom will be with you soon, sweetheart.


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Rediscovering Me

I searched around the house until I found them.  My bag of colored pens was deep in our storage closet, anxiously waiting to be used.

I used to consider myself an artist.  If you asked me when I was 10 years old what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I was going to illustrate children’s books.  My grandfather was an artist too, and used to take me to local art meetings.  I remember at one the topic was framing and we were supposed to bring a piece of art for the speaker to discuss appropriate framing and have examples.  I brought a picture of a girl and a dog sitting outside that I had drawn in art class.  My picture was discussed during the framing presentation, and the framer commented on how much he liked my picture, not knowing that it was the work of a child.

Somewhere along the line, life got busy and my artistic side faded into the background.  I became occupied by school, science, and life.  Having a career that involved saving the world became more important and I stopped drawing.

When we got Caroline’s diagnosis, one thing I decided was to go buy some pens and to make her a book.  I wrote the book and included everything I wanted to tell her.  That she was loved, and that she’d be happy in heaven, and that her mom and dad would be okay.  I drew pictures to accompany the words.  I became that children’s book illustrator after all.

 

I read that book to Caroline as she entered heaven.

 

Now that Caroline is in heaven, I have decided to pick up art again.  Being so close to death puts everything into perspective.  I love to draw.  Why don’t I do it more often?  Life is short and we have to do what makes us happy.  I took the pens out of the closet and I’m determined to make my world a little more beautiful.  Perhaps I can save the world in more than one way.