Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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Another Anniversary

As of today my husband and I have been married for 3 years.  

It is amazing what we have been through together in 3 years.  One year ago we went shopping for clothes to wear to our daughter’s funeral.  Two years ago we made plans to have a baby.  Three years ago we said, “I do.”  Little did we know how soon the challenges would come.

It’s difficult for me to celebrate today because of the proximity between Caroline’s heaven day and our anniversary.  It makes me sad to think that I will always struggle to smile on our anniversary.

I want to take a moment to thank my husband for always being there to support me, even when things got hard.  Really, really hard.  He is my partner in life and my best friend.  I love you, husband!

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Grieving Together

They say that men and women grieve differently.  I think a more accurate way to put it would be that people grieve differently.  I am thankful that my husband and I have been able to support each other through our grief, regardless of that fact.  As couples become more similar to each other as they get to know each other, we have taken a similar journey with our grief.  We started so differently but now we cope in very similar ways.

Before Caroline was born, we dealt very differently with her diagnosis.  I needed to be prepared in every way.  I scoured the internet for family stories and research articles about survival and quality of life.  I made her a purple and green tulle tutu with purple flowers for pictures if she was very premature.  I ordered a pink ruffled romper with a pink flowered headband for pictures if she was born closer to term.  When I made and bought these outfits, I thought that they would likely be the only outfits that she would ever wear.  Even so, I bought a few extra outfits in preemie and newborn sizes, just in case.  I made and gathered books to read to her.  I made sure we had blankets, booties, and mittens.  I got special paper for ink footprints and handprints.  I made a chalkboard for pictures that might not ever be used.  I called the funeral home to make an appointment.  This is the way that I grieved – I did my best to prepare myself for every possible outcome.  I wanted so badly to have some time to love on her and get to know her, but I had to prepare myself for the worst.

My husband grieved very differently.  He couldn’t shop for Caroline.  I couldn’t leave my journal out, because if I did he would try to read it and about a sentence in, would burst into tears.  “How do you write this without crying?” he would say.  I honestly didn’t know, but my journal was my outlet.  As I wrote about Caroline’s appointments and documented my pregnancy, it put my mind at ease that I would never forget my time with her.  To my husband, the writing seemed an exercise in masochism.  His approach was to just not talk about the fact that he may never meet his daughter, and although I didn’t understand it, it was okay.  It was his way of processing the unprocessible.

I remember when Caroline was born, and we were able to TAKE HER HOME, seeing how happy my husband was.  It was startling.  I don’t think I realized how miserable he was before until I saw how happy he was to spend time with Caroline.  When he went back to work, he would come home almost every day with a new outfit for her to wear.  He knew that we would have to say goodbye someday soon, but he was the happiest I had ever seen him.  I was happy too.  Looking back at pictures, we both glow in every single one.

When our daughter went to heaven, our grief became more similar.  We both cried often for the first week or so, but then it lessened.  We both talk about Caroline all the time.  My husband has told me that he’s so glad that I kept a journal.  He had me put excerpts from it in a baby book that I made for her.  I have bad days and he has bad days.  Most of the time, they fall on different days so that we can take turns being the comforter and comforted.  Other times, we have bad days together and cry together, holding each other close.  I don’t know how I would get through this without him and am so glad that he hasn’t reacted by wanting to pretend that she didn’t exist.  He acknowledges her every day and is as proud as I am to have her pictures hanging throughout our home.

The grief of losing a child is certainly life-changing enough to have the capability of putting immense strain on a marriage.  I am happy to say that my spouse and I are closer than we have ever been.  We lean on each other and support each other, loving our daughter Caroline every second of every day.


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Great People

I’ve had so many disappointing interactions with people at work that it is staggering.  Most have decided that the best thing to do is to fail to acknowledge that I gave birth to a daughter and spent two months with her.  It has been so hurtful, and I think that hearing any hurtful cliche would be preferable to the silence.

This post is about someone who instead, got it right.

This coworker reached out to me by saying that she had recently grieved a loss and wanted me to know that she was there for me if I ever wanted to talk.  I told her that I had pictures I’d love to show her, and she was excited to see them.  She asked questions about Caroline and cried with me.  It was so nice.

The next week, I found a note thanking me for showing her my pictures, as well as a loaf of bread and jar of flowers to “brighten my day.”  It was so sweet of her and so unexpected!  Almost 3 months after my loss, the cards and care packages have stopped and the reminders that people are there to support me have mostly disappeared.  This was a welcome expression that I am not going through this alone.

When you experience the loss of a child, it becomes clear who your real friends are.  Sometimes the people who support you best are those you least expect.  The coworker who took an interest in Caroline was one who I barely interacted with before she learned of Caroline’s story.

What she did right was to give me permission to talk openly about my daughter, to listen, and to be comfortable with tears.  Hearing, “I’m sorry for your loss and I am here for you,”  was exactly what I needed.  She acknowledged that my daughter’s life was amazing and moved her, and that is music to a grieving mother’s ear.