Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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Why I’m Celebrating Mother’s Day

Last year, by no less than a miracle, I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my daughter.  That makes this Mother’s Day my first one without her.

I have been bombarded by articles in these days leading up to Mother’s Day, seeing titles similar to “Surviving Mother’s Day as a Bereaved Mother” and “Ten Ways to Support a Loss Mom on Mother’s Day.”  It has made me wonder if I’m crazy.

Am I insane to be excited about Mother’s Day?

Perhaps it’s a lack of experience with this holiday after Caroline’s death, but I am excited for the day that celebrates my motherhood.  

I want to celebrate that my body kept her safe.  I want to celebrate the beauty of her birth.  I want to celebrate that I fed her.  I want to celebrate the diapers I changed for her.  I want to celebrate the cuddles and the love.

The love that didn’t end with her death.

Caroline has completely changed my life.  Everything I do is an attempt to make her proud of her mom down on earth.  I am her mother every day, nurturing her memory and loving her.

That is something that should be celebrated.

I am an amazing mom.

Is it beyond hard to face life without her in my arms every day? Absolutely, but I am proud of the mother that I have become.

I hope Caroline is proud of me too.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms with empty arms.  You have just as much of a right to celebrate your motherhood this weekend as the moms with their arms full.  Arguably, more of a right.  Stand proud and remember that you face the impossible every single day, and your motherhood always shines.  Your love for your children is an unstoppable positive force unleashed on the world.  You and your motherly love deserve to be celebrated.


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Telling Caroline’s Story

I know it’s Friday already (where does the time go?) but I  want to tell you about last weekend.

It was a nice long weekend and we took a road trip to visit friends.  It was great to get away from it all and reconnect with our friends who we had not seen in quite a while.  With that came the opportunity to share Caroline’s story several times.  We brought our photo books with us as well as the rosary that we had made, preserving Caroline’s funeral flowers.  I told stories about my pregnancy, labor, and time with my daughter.

These friends are fantastic in that they listened, asked questions, laughed with me, and cried with me.  That little bit of normal, to be able to talk about my daughter without making people uncomfortable, meant the world to me.  Caroline is all I think about and as such, all I want to talk about, but I don’t often get the opportunity.  Good listeners are hard to find.

Sharing Caroline’s story is a way that I mother her.  She is an inspiration, and I want to help her to continue inspiring people and showing people that family and health should not be taken for granted.  She is my beautiful daughter and I will never stop talking about her.  I love her and she is a part of me and who I have become.


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A New Normal

It has been almost 4 months since Caroline died, and I think I’m starting to see my “new normal” that everyone talks about.  I can say for the first time since Caroline’s ultrasound last November that I’m starting to be productive at work again.  I am much more capable of meeting deadlines and concentrating on my writing.  I get less looks of pity and more empty smiles as I walk the halls.  I am disappearing back into the shadows.

It feels good to start pulling my weight again, but part of me is sad to be finding my new normal.  There is a fear of forgetting everything I want to remember.  A fear of letting other people forget.  I wish I could hear her name from someone every day, but that’s not how this world works.  I will have to say it for my own ears to hear.

I am thankful for the ways that I have found to mother Caroline.  I have a friend who lost her daughter too, and we meet up from time to time to talk about our kids and be with someone who understands what we’re going through.  My husband and I attend a support group for bereaved parents.  I bought a dozen pink roses and placed them by Caroline’s urn; I love to bring flowers to my sunshine.  I am looking into ways to be a contact for other families facing a similar diagnosis.  No one could ever find a contact for us, and it was hard to be alone through all of the heartache and decision making.

I want to give back in memory of my Caroline.  I hope Caroline is proud of me.

I am certainly proud of her.


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Miracles

My daughter is such a miracle.  She had such an impact on the world in her short time here, but she also taught me and my husband so much about love and miracles.

When we found out about her diagnosis, it was crushing.  We cried for days, mourning the life we dreamed of living with her.  We named her Caroline and decided that we would make every memory with her that we could during the rest of my pregnancy, and we did.  I started a journal and made notes about doctor’s appointments as well as what was going on in our lives and how I was feeling, emotionally and physically.  We bought the essentials that we needed for the hospital, packed our bags, and waited as we approached full term.

Doctors prepared us for the worst.  First we didn’t know if she would make it to term.  Then we didn’t know if she would be stillborn.  Then we didn’t know if we’d have minutes, hours, or days with our daughter.  It seemed that the most likely scenario was to go home from the hospital without her.

We prayed to have some time with Caroline to show her that we love her, and that she would not suffer.  I never prayed for her to be healed.  I can’t say exactly why I never did.  Perhaps because of my faith in medicine and her doctors.  Even more so, perhaps because she was perfect the way she was.  I couldn’t ask any more of her than to be the beautiful person she was meant to be.

It was a miracle that Caroline was born alive.  Her OB cried along beside us, as she didn’t even need any resuscitation.  Having minutes with her was another miracle.  Having hours with her was yet another miracle.  Taking her home from the hospital was another miracle.  Having the time at home to care for her and love her and meet more of her family was another miracle.  Having both of her parents holding her tight while she passed from this world to the next was another miracle.

Caroline had a special message to send to the world.  She showed us that life is precious and delicate and should never be taken for granted.  She also showed us the beautiful strength she was given to survive well beyond the time predicted with her diagnosis.  She made us parents, and showed us the meaning of unconditional love.  When my husband first brought Caroline to me after she was born, I remember looking at those big, bright eyes and being amazed by the miracle in my arms.  What a miracle it was to be her mother.

Every baby is a miracle.  Every baby is here for a purpose, and every baby matters, even if the only life they knew was that in their mother’s womb.  Being Caroline’s mom has been the most difficult experience of my life, but more importantly, the greatest joy I have ever known.


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5 Months

Caroline, today you would have been 5 months old.

Your father and I miss you so much, sweetheart.  We can’t believe that you have been an angel for almost 3 months.  When I pray, I tell God that He better be taking very good care of you.  I’m still your mama and that means that I’m still suspicious of the best babysitter you could possibly have.  Missing you every day, sweetheart.

My husband and I had a moment this past weekend.  It was his weekend off from work, so we had the full two days to entertain ourselves.  We spent Saturday binge-watching Breaking Bad and we went out to dinner.  By the time Sunday evening came around, we were sick of staring at screens, but there is not a lot to do in this town.  We live far from family so visiting someone for the afternoon was not an option.  We fell into a well of boredom, trying desperately to think of something to do that would help us escape.

That was when my husband came and hugged me, and I responded, “Me too.”  I knew he was saying that he missed Caroline.  I cried for the first time in weeks.  If she was still here, we wouldn’t sit around watching TV all weekend – we would be busy taking care of our 5 month old daughter.  Life is so different now.

I suggested we go for a drive.  We got in the car and I drove us to a grocery store to pick out some flowers for Caroline.  The first two stores didn’t have what we were looking for, so we continued on to a third and got her a beautiful bouquet of purple and white daisies.  They look beautiful next to her urn and I hope she likes them.  Going to pick them out allowed us to do something for her and to actively be her parents for the first time in a while.  We took care of our little girl, and it was what we needed in that moment.