Mothering Caroline Grace

learning how to be the mom of an angel


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Memory Monday

I didn’t know real exhaustion until after Caroline’s birth.  I went into labor overnight, so my husband and I got no sleep the night before Caroline was born.  Because of this, we started our marathon at a disadvantage, as many parents do.  In the hospital, nurses often came in to check on me as well as Caroline, and it felt like a time warp.  If the nurses didn’t write down the time of Caroline’s next feeding, there was no way I could remember.  Time is an enigma in the hospital.  My husband was so exhausted that I watched Caroline for the majority of the next night so that he could get some sleep.  I was still running on the adrenaline of Caroline’s birth and the wonder at how well she was doing.  The next day, grandparents helped me to get a little sleep, but there was so much planning to be done!  We were taking our little girl home!  We didn’t even have a car seat.  We couldn’t stand the thought of having a car seat installed in our car and driving it home empty, so we figured if we needed one, we would go out and get one.  Kindly, the hospital was able to give us one.  We continued making plans for hospice care, all the while taking care of our beautiful Caroline.

When we got home, time was less of a warp.  We started to get into a routine, but Caroline liked to be awake and fussy around 2-4 am.  My husband and I worked together to learn how to calm her.  I learned that he has infinite patience when he’s exhausted, and I do not.  At one point when I had gone several days on little sleep, I was looking for a pen to label my breastmilk.  I couldn’t find one, and I crumpled into a pile and broke down into tears.  At that point I knew I really needed some sleep – a simple problem felt like the world crashing down.  My husband, on the other hand, never got frustrated the way I did.  He always asked if I needed help, even when I was snapping at him.  I really don’t think I could have done it without him.

One night, I was so exhausted and Caroline would not stop crying.  This was a serious problem, because when she cried, she wasn’t breathing, and when your heart is in bad shape, not breathing is not good.  I was walking around with her and bouncing her, because looking around at different rooms and feeling the motion often soothed her.  As I walked around with her, I was telling her, “You are driving your mommy crazy, do you know that?  Yup, driving mommy crazy.  Calm down baby girl!”  Eventually she did, and I kissed her goodnight as we both tried to get some sleep.

I felt bad later for telling her that she was driving me crazy.  Who says that to their baby?  However, I think it was a moment that we needed to have.  I would never get to tell her as a teenager, so in my exhaustion it came out.  Strangely, it is one of our mother-daughter moments that I most treasure.


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Memory Monday

I am so grateful for every picture that we have of our dear daughter.  We had professional pictures taken immediately after Caroline was born and the day before she died.  I am ever grateful for those precious memories frozen in time and the photographers who stood by our side.

I placed something in Caroline’s hospital bag that I didn’t know if I would use.  A week or two before her due date, I had the idea to get a chalkboard and decorate it with her name and pink baby stickers.  The idea was to update the chalkboard with how old she was and to take pictures of her with it.  It would give us a way to look back and know how old she was each day.  We knew of the strong possibility of not getting a chance to take chalkboard pictures, but we hoped and prayed for some time with our little girl.

We were so thrilled to be given time together!  In the hospital, we started by taking pictures of us, Caroline, and her chalkboard every few hours.  Soon, she had survived her first day, and the chalkboard proudly read, “I made it through my first day!”  Every day from then on, we took a chalkboard picture.  “Caroline is 5 days old!”  “Caroline is 1 week old!” “Caroline is 22 days old!”  “Caroline is an 8 week old inspiration!” “Caroline is 58 days old!”  Each day, her chalkboard age declaration ended in an exclamation point, because we were thrilled to be witnessing the miracle before our eyes.  Every day, minute, and second was such a gift.

We always waited to do Caroline’s daily chalkboard picture until we had a visitor or when Caroline was most alert.  In the progression of pictures, she gets more alert the older she gets.  It was amazing to see her grow and interact with her world.  We made a collage of all of the chalkboard pictures, and it shows how loved she was and still is.  Every person who was able to visit was thrilled to be in the chalkboard picture, and the collage reminds me how loved Caroline is by so many people.

Love you forever and ever, Miss Caroline.

 


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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.