About Me

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My second child and our first daughter, Camille, died and was born on June, 30 2011 when I was full term at 38 weeks pregnant. I gave birth to my rainbow baby, a second daughter, on August 31, 2012. This is me trying to figure out how to be a mother to my living son and daughter and function in society after our tragic loss.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas

It's Christmas...Our 3rd with Kai, our second without Camille and our first with Harlow. We have done a lot of things this month to try and make the holiday special. I think part of it is actually that I am thankful for the distraction, something to take my mind off the sadness on the inside of my bubble along with all the happy and joy and merriment.
It all swirls around like a snow globe: each flake a different emotion... drifting, settling, shooken and than falling again together.

I was not sure what to do about the stockings. Camille doesn't have one, I didn't buy one for Harlow...I guess I felt like it would be incomplete regardless of what was hanging. I got all panicky about it close to Christmas but still 3 stockings hang there looking very incomplete. I think it is the physical representation glaringly obvious at the center of the room that makes the stocking conundrum so precarious....because who really cares about a stocking right? I didn't hang them last year and I didn't hang them this year...Daryl did. So I figure ~like a cat behind a curtain with my tail and feet sticking out, if I can't see you, you can't see me...haha. If I just do nothing about the stockings they will just go away. My action was in-action. Way to avoid huh?

I wish I was buying presents for two little girls, but I am not.
I wish I was hugging three children, but I am not.
I walk past Camille's photograph
I stop and walk back.
The little votive candle is flickering
          but seems kind of dim in the day time.
The two little plastic poinsettias sit at the base of her ashes.
The sand tree from Australia is printed smaller than I wanted unframed near the back of the shelf. I got the photo too late to print and frame it the way I had hoped
...I guess there is next year.
She will still be dead
Same photo, same ashes, same ache and longing.
I am holding Harlow, she is trying to fall asleep, I rock back and forth and look at my other daughter who I can not hold.
Tears and that throaty feeling well up.
I say to her "I love you, I have not forgotten you. I wish you were here, I am so sorry"
The apology always seems to be necessary
I don't know if it is a statement of missing or a request for forgiveness
...probably both.
It seems odd for us to be all alive and her to be dead.
It still surprises me that I have a dead child.
It is so unfair...especially to her. She is missing out on her whole life.

There is a lot of joy in the house today. Kai said it was "present land". He is thrilled with all the gifts and I am pretty sure he is hooked on the holiday and the elves and Santa. I smile at him. I love that he can believe in fantasy. Just as he can believe that a mouse may ride a motorcycle. It is magical and fleeting. I enjoy watching his fascination and pure aliveness. We did this last year too, but it was less enjoyable because it was so close to Camille's death.

This year is better because of Harlow, because of time, because grief changes.

BUT...

I miss her no less, I long for her no less.
I don't want to bring sadness to a happy day so I go upstairs and nurse the baby and think of my other baby who I never got to nurse. I cry a little for her and read some other blogs...try to connect to others who have lost and are missing like I am today.
Today is a good day. I am thankful for a lot, especially my husband and two living children.
Sending love, especially if you are missing too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Dog Movie

My husband is the vice pricipal of an elementary school. He sometimes brings home movies the librarian has set aside and thinks Kai may like. The other day I saw the movie he brought home. I start laughing and totally making fun of it. There is a Big O cheesey grinning mug of Richard Gere and a fluffy dog on the front. I was thinking...Oh brother a dog movie that I am sure is just filled with horrid cliches of joy about as fluffy as the dog. The movie is called Hachi a dogs tale. It is based on a true story of Hachiko a dog who lived in Japan.

What I didn't know is that this movie is about grief. I should also tell you that I totally cried watching this movie. R.G. finds the dog at the train station as a puppy and they fall mad passionately in dog love and are BFFs. You kind of watch them grow together in fast motion. The dog walks R.G. to the train station each morning and than at the end of the day goes and waits for him to get off the train. It really is very sweet what an amazing connection the two share. I am not ruining the movie by telling you that Richard Gere dies. He is a professor and has a heart attack while at school. Hachi goes to the train station to wait for his dad who never gets off the train. It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch as the dog just doesn't understand. All the locals tell Hachi that he can go home. The wife moves and R.G's daughter tries to take Hachi to her home but he runs away. The dog goes to the station EVERY DAY to wait for his dad. He goes to the station everyday for 10 YEARS waiting for him to come home. The dog can not get over the loss of his father.

I was sitting there on the couch crying because in some ways I feel like Hachi, I will mourn everyday for the rest of my days. I stand vigil for my daughter, the one who will never come home. I wait paitiently in my heart for Camille, but she isn't getting off the train. Everyone says to go home, she's not coming, but people don't understand that we keen over the grave of our children. We stand vigil for them in our hearts, we remember when everyone else has moved on. The world keeps going. Although I eat and sleep and have a life, somehow everyday I end up back at that trainstation.

That is how a dog movie mucked up a perfectly good evening. I see the world through a lens of grief...When I hear quotes, poems, philosophies, stories...I hear them with ears and process them with thoughts that have been changed forever by grief.

How about you?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sweet and Salty

I remember last year, around this time, I was in the darkest of despair. I still felt like I couldn't breathe. I was in a very very sad place after Camille died and I felt as though my life would never get better. I wasn't sleeping, I cried constantly. I read blogs CONSTANTLY. I felt so alone. I remember finding a post on Kate Inglis' blog Sweet Salty. I follow her on blogger but honestly I don't read her posts all the time...but...there was this one post Abide With Me: A Walk To Remember that was so profound and I would read it over and over. Last month I went looking for it, searching through her archives so I could read it over and over again. At almost a year and a half since Camille's death I still find it profound and deeply moving. In light of yesterday's tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut I hope this will be a read that will help someone's heart the way it has mine.

She recently did a TED talk and it is also amazing and so I am giving the links here so that you can read and listen as well.

Light and love to you all.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trying Too Hard

My therapist gave me a book to read. She tells me at almost every visit how well I articulate my feelings which she thinks helps me cope with my grief. I joke that my verbal ability doesn't seem to be helping. She said I get a gold star and we laugh. She said "you remind me of a woman who's blog I follow and she wrote a book I think you might like to read." The authors name is Joanne Cacciatore...I said" that name sounds familiar". My therapist said "she started the MISS foundation". Okay so I borrowed the book. The book title: Dear Cheyenne. I had it in the car and kind of forgot about it. We went out today and Daryl was driving my car and so I picked the book up because it had been in my passenger seat. I think I got about 3 pages into it before I started crying. I mean CRYING. I sometimes feel like I am doing well "can't you tell by the smile on my face...I am doing really well, REALLY WELL" I can tell myself "I am doing REALLY WELL" but that really well is also very relative. How quickly the facade deteriorates with a few pages read that reach into my heart and remind me just how full of pain I am.

Remember this crushing feeling? the one where you can not breathe? remember your daughter, the one who can not be forgotten with a few good days or weeks? Remember the name you mistakenly said instead of Harlow because Camille is forever present on your mind?

 I couldn't even keep reading, I knew my mood was immediately shot. Exchanging Daryl's sweater for a bigger size seems so ridiculous right now. I am going to write out the passage I was reading. I don't think everyone is going to run out and buy the book but I want to write it down.

Page 3
Passages...

A pink stripe-positive, innocent unknowing
Destiny prevails
Screaming, "This shall be!"
ten lunar months
With or without her participation

She engages in the battle of denim
The expanding belly-The Victor!
tearful quest
For acceptance of herself
And elastic waistbands, instead

Danger: Nicotine. She smells it.
Looking for the source, nearby
Quickly changing seats
She drowns in primitive awareness
The role of sentinel

Tup-tup, tup-tup, tup-tup
their eyes dance to the beat
Of their unborn sister's heart
Smiles
Anticipation
Hope
Patience
Lessons esoteric
And then off to the sandbox

What is happening?
Could it be? A gesture of life
Maybe just her stomach? Must be indigestion
No! Again...the flutter of her baby.
No words. Just silence and a moment. A sacred moment. tear-beads accessorize the day.

Dancing bears and mint green lambs
Adorn the walls
The bassinet awaits to become the warm, safe place
Second only to the nest of her arms
Three weeks remain
She travels down roads of visual imagery
The sterile room
Pain, the joy...the incredible moment of birth
Her heart beats, races without ease
Deleting calender days in her mind
But serenity steps in the door, and brings a morsel of patience along

Barely re-transitioned
To the repose of slumber
Her only escape from the suffering
2:00 a.m. six pillows and bathroom run three
Tiredness creeps in
Stolen reserves
Her ankle bones hiding beneath the swollen tissue
Sacrifice of self. trapped in this foreign body. Vulnerable. Frightened.
Naked and aching
The journey has taken its toll

Two more days
An eternity, at least
She gently strokes her abdomen unaware
As their hands meet with holy intimacy-
She knows her mother. Better than anyone. they are one.
Love, only love, wakes her slumber

Morning saunter is slow
But this day will be different
She falls to her knees as if to pray
A pain, indescribable
Her body convulses
"Oh my God!"
Too fast....it is all too fast.
Rushing, rushing...get the doctor
"she is term, contractions every minute....she'll be going soon!"
Excited, yes, but scared too! It is happening so fast.
Culmination of timeless time will soon end. Her laborious months
Finally yielding the reward

"It was all worth it," she thinks silently

She smiles through the pain, with renewed assurance that it will all be over soon
A hodgepodge of clinicians, in and out
Unrecognizable faces sharing in the moment
Schooled by choice to be surrounded with new life
With brazen confidence the man who will guide
the passage from the womb's safety meets her glance
Strapping charcoal bands, cold, tight
Around the infants swollen domicile

Sudden change. Faces transform. Silence-
Their smiles break like glass
Searing through the faces of the white costumed staff
Glances unfamiliar to her
Once again, her body not her own

"What is happening?"

Silence-

they team up. Together. Screaming repetitions of nothingness
"What is happening!?"

Their secret code fractures her spirit.
Fear begins to ravage every cell in her body

His heart is callused like a laborer's hands
the synopsis, detached
"Your baby is dead."
                                                 "Your baby is dead."
                                                 "Your baby is dead."
                                                 "Your baby is dead."
"Your baby is dead." (Please, please turn the volume down.)

Contractions every thirty seconds
No time to think. No La Maze. Too much pain.
Unimaginable pain
Physical. Spiritual. Mental. Emotional.
"What? No. No. No. No. NO!"
She tries to get up from the bed

They hold her down, like a prisoner
What crime has she committed?

"No. I cannot do this. I want her to stay within me. Safe and warm...
No. I don not want to have my baby now! Let me go home. Lies, all lies!"

She fights in hateful protest
But the contractions bound her, and kick her,
And punish her.

Corrosive sweat
Rains like fire from her temples

"Push, push, push."
She can feel her child being born.

Head, elbows, chest. Finally her feet emerge
From her Judas body
Someone puts the camera on slow motion.
Frame by frame, outside herself she watches

Eyes clenched tight

Awaiting, baited breath.

"Cry, baby. Cry for mommy," she pleads helplessly

Negotiations. What can I give? What sacrifice? My life? Money? Time?
She is gone.

"What is happening? I don not understand. PLEASE take me! Take me!" she implores
No one throws her the life jacket. She drowns in agony, and
Dresses her lifeless baby in bear pajamas that match her room
The pajamas say, "I love mommy" all over
But mommy has failed. Mommy couldn't save you.

Pink, white, and blue are the choices
Not for lacy dresses but for caskets- they ask her to choose. "Choose? A casket?"
Looking around, planning her escape
For there are too many tiny caskets in the room closing in
She cannot see, as the tears asphyxiate her
Falling to the cold tile
"This cannot be, this cannot be."

The second hand is in a hurry today.
She begs it to stop, but the time has come.
Reluctantly she places her into the pastel casket.
Carefully, as she bends over to kiss this child of Heaven

Milk burns at her breast in disapproval
Her body doesn't understand
Her body must feed her, hold her, nurture her
A visceral need unfulfilled

Beautiful- eight pounds, dark curly hair, porcelain baby
She closes the casket cover
And falls down in fetal position
One being. She remembers when they were one-
A loss so physical, so permanent

Now death has transplanted her organs with despair
Today, she will bury her precious child.
Cathedral flowers tied with ribbons of sorrow
Black limousines stand at attention
Her anesthetized consciousness fades
In and out, as the sun dances
Between summer clouds

And from the earth that swallows her child
She begs acquittal

Stepping in to assume the role her body once played so well
Her mind becomes the stranger now
Evolution, bursting, dragging her through the muddy waters of grief
Swallowing the poison,
Blinding her, confusing her

Senseless propaganda in her ears
Stinging reminders around every corner
Disinterring the immortal hours...
Her body bleeds defiantly, still,
And her spirit lay mortally wounded
Amongst the shadows
Curled up
On the dark closet floor
Where her elastic-waisted garments hanged,
Anointed with French vanilla

And where no one witnessed
As she invited Death to come.
But He declined her offer
Another time, perhaps?
He leaves her in the carnage.

Like Gretel, looking for crumbs of hope
To guide her through the forest,
Through the passages of the deepest torment she will ever know
Not one in the millions
Of peoples, languages or philosophies
Can begin to speak the truth of
The torment of a mother

Whose child has been ripped, without mercy
From her burning arms

2,190 days
Six phantom years but love does not decompose as flesh
Memories try to sneak away when she is not looking,
The alarm sounds and quickly she brings them home
Edges of the photographs are time-faded and worn from too much handling

So she juxtaposes scenes from two worlds
And escapes to the voices of a thousand ghosts

Yet, in the underground passages of her mind
Through the only pardon from darkness
Shines the light of hope
And the gifts of angels, immortal

Now she walks the forest thick with grief
Leaving crumbs for the others
To discover the passage to peace and courage
To discover and to help change the world
Destiny prevails and whispers, "This shall be"

And so this is why I couldn't stop crying....I didn't need to read this. I lived it. EVERY SINGLE WORD. I lived it. The memories try to escape, but how quickly I regain them. A snippet here. A tidbit there. And Bam! I am back to June 30th 2011 and every grief enveloped day since. I haven't read any more of this book. The book could have been simply those several pages. the end. It would have been enough. My heart aches for Joanne, my dear friend whom I have never met...because I know too well the path she travels and the forever ache in her heart.

As the holidays are upon us, I realize that with all the merriment, and present buying, the decorations and preparations. I am trying too hard. Trying hard to make up for last year. But there is no make-up and the trying is exhausting. It isn't fake, it's just somewhat contrived. If I force it, it must be. If I am happy, it must be. If things are joyful, I must be. But it doesn't work like that. my heart can not be so easily tricked. But the tricky lies in the fact that happy, and joy form the padded walls that protect the sweet memory of Camille. I don't know how the joy lives so intimately with the sadness but they do seem to be the best of friends. And so I will kiss my children and breathe in their pure aliveness, and will wrap my arms around them and be filled to capacity with love. The love I have for Camille pushes out against the aliveness of the others and I feel as though I cannot possibly contain any more. Take a deep breath. In and out like the sun meditation. As the breath is taken in, the light from the sun in my chest expands. With each breath the light fills up more and more of the body until its radiance shines through us in all directions. That is the meditation I will do tonight. But right now oh how the pain hurts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Thank You Letter


I have a lot to be grateful for. I know many times I have thought that everything good in my life was not good enough without my daughter here and than I would chastise myself thinking that it should be good enough. It is difficult to feel thankful for anything surrounding the death of my daughter because of how completely tragic it is.

My neighbor's daughter was my postpartum nurse after Camille died. I knew her, I would see the mother and daughter walking and we would talk. My nurse went to elementary school with my husband's older brother. Small world. She was the one who finally took Camille from Daryl and I. The last time I got to kiss my daughter, she was there. I am thankful that I knew the woman who took my daughter away. I am glad my daughter was taken by someone who would love and respect her. She was not with a stranger. I never wrote her a thank you letter. I wrote about 1000 of them in my head but I would completely block when I would try and physically write one. How do I say "I am thankful" for anything surrounding my daughter's death? It makes me cry just to think of it.

Well this nurse was also my postpartum nurse with Harlow. How lucky! I felt like I wanted to thank her for being respectful of Camille's memory while helping me welcome Harlow into the world. Tricky, very tricky. I knew she liked marshmallows and so I made a bunch of fancy marshmallows dipped in chocolate and various sprinkles. I made rice crispy treats and wrapped up little cute baggies of marshmallows. I put them in a pretty box that had a beautiful design on it including butterflies and it said wish hope dream. I knew I had to write a letter but I just kept procrastinating...but the treats were going to get stale- ha. So I texted her and asked if she was going to be around and she was at work but said she would pick up what I had for her from her mom's house. I knew I was stuck now and had to write that dang letter. So I grabbed some stationary and a pen and sat down. I hand wrote a 2 page letter telling her how I felt about Camille's death and her compassion, about her wheeling me out of the hospital with empty arms, about my broken heart and journey of grief. I wrote of my gratefulness for her love and how she held my hand and my heart. I wrote of my appreciation of her caring for me with Harlow and how difficult it was for me. No rewrites, no spell checks. I read the letter once, I wish I had made a copy so I could reread it but I forgot because I was sobbing as I wrote the letter. I put it in the pretty box and walked it down to her mom's house. She texted me later that night saying how grateful she was to be a part of our lives, how she will remember Camille's beautiful face for the rest of her life and how grateful she was to be able to help me and our family through the darkest time in our life and how glad she was that she got to be there to help us with both Camille and Harlow's birth.

I am thankful that I had the courage to write that letter, that I got to finally say what I had been wanting to say for a very long time, that her kindness and compassion did not go unacknowledged.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Magical

It was one of those moments
the kind of moments so filled with magic and joy that you can feel yourself experiencing it.
You know while it is happening that it is special
that your hippocampus is on overload with the instantaneous ignition,
of a bright and fiery memory that will be fixed in your mind for the rest of you life.

Through the process of pregnancy, the death of Camille, pregnancy with Harlow and than the first couple months of Harlow's life...there are recurrent thoughts...One of them is how much I wanted to grow my family, how much I know I will love all of my children completely. Another thought which I know is common among second or third time mothers (even mothers who's first child died) is the worry about the love that will be taken away from the first child , the one who taught you what true love really is, when another child is brought into the family. I was worried I would not be able to love another child as much as I love Kai, but I do. I was worried, while deeply grieving, about the way it would affect him. I worried that I was damaging him by being so damaged. I worried that I was not able to shelter his heart, now I worry that I won't be able to shelter two hearts...because mothers want to do this. I have shed tears in the past couple months about guilt over not being able to give him the attention that an only child is accustom to receiving. He requests to cuddle and I have to say "please wait, I have to finish nursing Harlow, burping Harlow, changing Harlow". I know it is not a bad thing for a child to develop more independence and what time I have to split up between care for my children will hopefully be made up in companionship of a sibling. 

I have been thinking of ways I could retain, sustain, build my relationship with my son. Ever since Kai was a tiny baby we have read to him, he has his own shelf completely packed with books. In our library downstairs he has his own shelves. We read to him throughout the day, after bath every night and before bed. We started with board books, and then short stories, we have moved on to more involved short stories. Kai is 3.5,  he says things like "well actually" and "I suppose", his vocabulary is extensive and that may be because he is exceptional or because we talk to him like a person and not a baby, or because we read a lot of books...maybe it is a combination of all of these things.

One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on the couch with my older brother and my mother while she read novels to us . She read us Black Beauty, Sea Star, Misty of Chincoteague. She read The Boxcar children and Peter Hale.  I remember my mothers voice and her inflections, feeling warm and safe, loved and taken to another place. I loved the evenings on the couch.... and so the other day I decided to start reading him chapter books. I wasn't sure if he was old enough or his attention span long enough, but I thought that maybe this would be the way I could spend some special time with Kai, help ease my guilt as well as be something we could both look forward to. So while I was shopping at the money suck store (Target- go in to purchase welcome mat, leave spending $100) I decided that our first chapter book would be Charlotte's Webb. I told Kai that we were going to start reading chapter books, there weren't a lot of pictures but he would like to listen to the story. He was excited and asked to start reading it when we got home.

I sat down on the couch and had him sit right next to me. Harlow was laying in my lap. I read the back of the book to him, and told him what the book was about. I read the title and then began reading the book. I started choking up and had tears in my eyes. I knew it was one of those moments that I would always remember. I knew that this was going to be an ongoing experience that he will look back upon with joy, just as I do. I read two very short chapters and said "should we read some more later" Kai said "No, keep reading" I kept reading, I kept checking in with him asking if he wanted to be done. We ended up reading 60 pages! I told him it was time to take a bath so we could make dinner but he didn't want to, he wanted to keep reading. While he was in the bath he said "mama I like reading chapter books, I was using my imagination to think of what the pictures would look like" I told him how thrilled I was that he was enjoying the book and how much I enjoyed reading to him. When he got out of the bath he was in his robe and asking for me to read again. We read more while dinner was cooking. At bedtime we read one of his usual short books. He said he was looking forward to reading some more of Charlotte's Webb tomorrow.

 I will never get to have any more magical moments with Camille. I did have a few, before we ever officially met. One I specifically remember was during an ultrasound. Daryl and I were both there and she was beautiful, yawning, and then she stuck her tongue out at us. We laughed and my heart filled with joy. These moments, these magical moments...I grasp on to them with both hands and squeeze them tight. I breathe them in as deeply as I can while I close my eyes. I want to remember the details.

And so it has begun. I hope we successfully instill a love for books, imagination and knowledge in our son. I hope that this will bring us closer in a new way. I already have a list in my head of novels we will start in the next couple of weeks. I am so excited.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween

Kai was a pirate for Halloween this year. Harlow, a parrot. I was hoping our whole family would dress up like we have in previous years but we just didn't get it together. I have never been a big fan of this holiday. I find it kinda creepy. The little kids are cute with their costumes and innocence and of course their love of candy, but the dark death side freaks me out. So last weekend when I was wondering if maybe we could get D and I into our own pirate paraphernalia we went into a Halloween store. What a HORRIBLE idea. It was a BIG store and decked out! They had HUGE displays and one of them was a giant tree with about 5 or six swings rotating around it with dead babies on the swings. There were huge signs that said baby zombie and all kinds of dead baby everything. I HAD TO GET OUT OF THERE! I cried and cried. Who would think this was a good idea? Don't people know how tragic it is to actually HAVE a dead baby?

It is not a joke, it is not a costume, it is not something funny and not something that should be put on display.

I cried off and on all day. I was so completely shocked and unexpectedly blindsided by the display. I was seriously traumatized. I ended up telling my therapist about it and she said she wanted to go and have a talk with the store.
I hate seeing fake gravestones and skeletons, I hate that people decorate their homes with ghoulish things that represent death when I have to live it everyday. I hate seeing skeletons and references to things dead. It freaks me out. What are people playing at? It just has a whole different meaning for me now.

You know because we had Kai already, and since Camille was our second child, we continued to "celebrate" holidays even in the wake of her death. Even if our smiles were fake and we dragged one foot in front of another, we did this for our living child.

This year Halloween was better than last year but it's still not my favorite and it has an extra edge of creep that I look at sideways and try to disregard.

Kai's first Halloween: Skeleton family. -Now I don't think this would be a very good costume.
Downtown Santa Cruz- We look so happy.




Kai's Second Halloween:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Butterfly


                                          
                                               

And than last year Halloween was 3 months after Camille died. Our whole world was upside down but we still had a 2.5 year old who wanted to dress up and get candy. We just wanted to hide and cry. So we did what many parents do. We swallow hard and look after the hearts of the small people. You know that comedian who says "you know you're a redneck if..." It is kind of a joke with us now, a year later: "you know you're grieving when a family of vegetarians dress their child as a hot dog for Halloween...Right?
So... Kai was a hot dog and we were...the very sad parents of a hot dog.
The hot dog Downtown Santa Cruz- This photo really says so much to me.
There doesn't look like very much happiness.

Posing with the hot dog.


This year Kai was a Pirate captain and Harlow was his parrot

Argh!


I made this costume out of a onesie, boas and felt

 
This was the first time Kai held Harlow


so much love
 So this year we have two babies to dress and a 3.5 year old who still thinks it is great fun. I look sideways and pretend it is fun but inside I hate Halloween.

but painting pumpkins is fun


Friday, October 26, 2012

The Photographs Lie

Tonight, after watching a couple vlogs from Still life with Circles I was very emotional.

Earlier today I was looking at Harlow's feet. I had this moment where I realized that her feet looked very much like I remembered Camille's looking. I knew I had to look at my pictures to see if I was right. After I watched the vlogs, with Camille very much on my mind, I decided to look at the photos.

It breaks my heart, my eyes become blurry with tears. My daughter is not as beautiful as I remember. Damn those photos for not being what I remember, but rather what was reality. Damn them for not making her look more alive, for not washing the dead away. No instagram filter to soften the death.

Ever since Harlow was born I tell everyone how much she looks like her brother and sister. They all have very similar characteristics...similar features. All my children have the same nose, chin, ears and feet. I call them cookie cutter kids because our genes seem to match up the same way each time. I could see them in Camille, but she was dead.
Death
no tone
no spirit
no life
It changes the way she would have looked. Some sleep deprived nights I can look down at Harlow and it is like I am nursing Kai. That is how similar they look. They look so much more alike especially because of their aliveness. In my moments of sadness in the middle of the night I sometimes secretly wish that maybe just maybe Harlow and Camille are the same, that my baby didn't really die. That never happened to me. I don't want to be the women who's daughter died. I wish it hadn't happened. I want it to go away. I am not confused and I do not pretend. It is a passing flicker of a thought. When I look at those photos, Camille looks a lot like Jean, Daryl's mother, to me; mostly in her mouth. I remember being fascinated with her tongue. I kept thinking about how it should move and cry, what it would feel like sucking on my breast. A newborns tongue is so different and unique from a child or adults tongue. And so there are a lot of photos where her mouth is open because I wanted pictures of her tongue. But this just made her look more dead, mouth gapping
no movement
tongue still
Everything...still.
Her hand that should be clasping my finger, lay open and limp; perfect tiny fingers. .

But the pictures lie...My daughter was beautiful. It took me a while to see past her death and recognize her beyond the lack of life. Now that is how I choose to remember. I am so thankful for those photos but I don't really like looking at them. Memories are softened and many times our mind chooses to remember the joy more than the sorrow, but when the memory is of the death and birth of your child there is very little except sorrow and pain, anguish and loss. And so I am trying to choose to remember the beauty I saw, the photo filter my mind has created around the fading memory of her beautiful face.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Time To Remember


For October 15th, Angel Babies puts on a "Time to Remember" with a candlelit walk and dove release. They read this:
With these doves,
We remember our infant loved ones who have died.
Death has forced us to let go of the children we would hold.
 As we let go of these doves we send forth a message.
To the community the message is:
Our babies were wanted, were real, are loved, and grieved, and remembered.
To one another as bereaved families the message is:
We are not alone. With support we survive and grow.
To our beloved children we have spoken of today the message is:
We remember you! We miss you! and most of all, we love you!

Last year I was angry I had to be there. I thought it was cheesy and lame. I was just really upset that my daughter was dead. I was only 3 months out from my loss. I still wish I didn't have to go to this. But....I am so glad they have something. I need something, and so I am grateful for the cheesy electric candles and the doves and the sad music sung by the man and women with guitars. I am thankful for the little name tags saying who we are remembering. I am grateful that they read each and every baby's name. I am grateful for something that allows us to publicly remember our children. I remember her everyday.

The balloon Papa, Kai and I wrote on for Camille

Papa and Kai Remembering (Harlow is on the blanket in front of them)

Our Wave of Light

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Unfortunate I'm An Asshole

I had a particularly angry day last week. Usually the waves of anger I feel last for a few hours. This day it just hung on and made my heart a black and twisty place. I also noticed that my feelings haven't really subsided over the past week. You see I am having a difficult time being happy for people. It could be a recent pregnancy announcement, finding out the sex of their baby in the direction of their preference, a new job or promotion etc...

 When I hear the "good news" my first thought is "FUCK" or "Of Course". I was examining these feelings. I wasn't jealous....For goodness sakes I just gave birth 6 weeks ago to my beautiful rainbow baby girl. Everything is good right? So what were these nasty feelings I was having?
I realized I WAS jealous, not of the object, the event or outcome...what I realized was, I was jealous of the "feeling" of having things working out, of the feeling that you deserved good luck, or that working hard toward something results in success. I am jealous of the naivety of bliss and joy without consequence. Jealous that things work out for other people just not me.

I can say "I'm happy for you" and mean it because in a parallel universe where my daughter didn't die and things work out for good people, I am happy for them. But my twisty black heart pulls me down sometimes. I don't always like who I've become since Camille died. At once more compassionate and then also a bitter bitch.

Everyone who has had a child die knows the fallout of losing friends. Something that has been hard for me lately is even losing friendships with people who were initially very supportive after Camille's death.Is it me? Am I just not good friend material? I've always been a really loyal friend, I was once witty and fun to be around. If people just hung around long enough they would see there are pieces of that person who struggles to surfaces like blades of grass in a cracked sidewalk. It feels almost extra painful when people who had proven themselves as the type to stick around end up abandoning you as well. Like my grief just isn't going away and they can't deal with it anymore. I don't have a choice I have to live it daily. It doesn't just go away after a year or after a rainbow baby because my dear daughter is still dead. I've been having a lot of flashbacks lately. Sleep deprivation and holding a gorgeous living child in my arms I think fuels the missing. The late nights with no sleep although for a good reason this year takes me back to my sleepless desperate nights last year.

Here is my angry song...I play it to and from therapy visits and anytime I'm pissed off.. Enjoy haha!

Brandi Carlile- My Song

Everything I do surrounds these pieces of my life
That often change or maybe I've changed
And sometimes seeming happy can be self destructive
Even when you're sane or only insane
But don't bother waking me today

I'm so young I know I've been bitter, I've been jaded, I'm alone
Every day I'll bite my tongue
If you only knew my mind was full of razors
That cuts you like a word if only sung
But this is my song, it is my song

Now, I live every day like there'll never be a last one
Till they're gone and they're gone
And I'm too proud to beg for your attention
And your friendship and your time
So you can come and get it from now on

Here I am, I'm so young I know I've been bitter, I've been jaded, I'm alone
Every day I'll bite my tongue If you only knew my mind was full of razors
That cuts you like a word if only sung
This is my song, it's my song
And it's you, it is you

Here I am, I'm so young I know I've been bitter, I've been jaded, I'm alone
Every day I'll bite my tongue If you only knew my mind was full of razors
I'm not sure I can take it, I'm nothing strong to hold to
I'll wait to only hate you, my mind is full of razors
That cuts you like a word if only sung
But this is my song 






Thursday, October 4, 2012

36

Happy birthday. Happy birthday? I'm not quite sure on the punctuation this year. Last year was the worst birthday of my life, 3 months out from Camille's death. This year I was so sure I would have a fantastic birthday, I wanted to celebrate, there is so much to celebrate. I have found that I am bound and determined to be happy. But... Sometimes intentions are high jacked by feelings. I woke this morning irritable and on edge. I dropped Kai off at school and almost cried as I drove down the street. Because regardless of intentions and reasons to celebrate and the beautiful family I have, it is supposed to be different. That is what I kept saying last year: it's just supposed to be different. It's hard for me to say that and write that while Harlow lays in my lap. I love her with my whole heart. But my heart is still broken.

Nobody asks me how I'm doing anymore. I guess everything is supposed to be better. Things are better. I've survived the first year of my daughter being dead. I've survived a subsequent pregnancy, I've grown a bigger heart. I am still sad. That just doesn't go away. It sits there like a wicked thorn in the side of my happiness.
 I am more happy than sad.
36 is better than 35.
My 35th year was a bitch and I'm happy to say goodbye to that year.
I look ancient. Grief grabbed my face and gnawed on it. I'm skeptical plastic surgery could do anything to help with that. The damage is the inside out version. Your face sometimes reveals the status of your soul.

I didn't just drop off the planet when Harlow was born. She got sick 2 weeks after she was born. Just a cold. But you can bet I've lived at the pediatricians office. Than Kai got sick and than me and than my mom. Snot does not = dead baby, but the crazy in my head from crashing hormones, worry and carry over anxiety makes for sleepless nights and constant bedside vigilance. I've read some blogs and intermittently commented. I posted on FB about Harlow's birth which was a big step for me. We got Harlow's newborn photos taken. If you would like to see them they will be up for another week or so: Derksen photography, go to proofs, find Harlow, type password ralston.

My intention after Harlow was born was to have a meet and greet/ sip and see. It hasn't happened...yet. D's school threw him a baby shower and signed us up for the PTC (Parent teacher club) sunshine committee meals. These people we don't know literally showered us with gifts. It was so incredibly kind. But I'm also not blind to the fact that there was this outpouring because Camille died. I guarantee you that Daryl didn't go around telling people about his dead daughter but the word spreads quickly amongst teachers especially at an elementary school. So we graciously accepted the kindness that was given and we went from having hardly anything for Harlow, save for a couple outfits I had purchased on a brave day, to swimming in a sea of pink. I've spent a lot of time writing thank you cards but the ones I need to get to the most are for the nurses who helped me in the hospital. I don't want their kindness to be left unacknowledged. I never finished Harlow's quilt. I had to go to the hospital unexpectedly. Not having it done before I went to give birth REALLY freaked me out. And so it sits with only a couple things left to do on it. These projects that I feel I must complete pile up as I sit and type or do laundry or sit and gently stroke my daughter's head and limbs.

Well vomit and baths for the baby and me interrupted the flow of this post...

I cried today, I am thankful today. I hear the wind chimes my friend gave me for Camille's birthday and it is soothing. I have so much to say. I will not stay away too long.

Friday, September 7, 2012

1 Week




It has been 1 week since Harlow was born. It doesn't feel like that long. I have wanted to post, but not having a computer except when my husband gets home from work makes it difficult.
 There is so much that goes on in my mind and in my heart over the last week. clipettes and snippets of thoughts tangential and repetitive. lack of sleep for both good and bad reasons and hormonal crashing lends itself to places of baby highs and grief lows. I am over the moon in love with Harlow, that she is here and in my arms is almost baffling. All those months of anguish and anxiety, and then bam it is like I can be walking up the stairs and all of a sudden I will think, Oh my gosh my baby is in my arms...how did I get here, when did this happen. It feels very surreal at times. I look at my second daughter and can see my first, she looks so much like both of my other children, this makes me smile and also makes my heart ache. How does this girl get to live when my other did not?

This week has had its moments of anxiety, the other type of sleep deprivation that is not the happy kind, the up at night because I am nursing is the blissful happy kind. The other, the one where I am worried because tomorrow Harlow would be 38 weeks of gestation if she was still inside me, that after tomorrow she will be forever older than her sister. I know there is nothing cursed about the 38th week and yet I find myself worrying. Harlow was 3oz heavier than Camille at birth and a little more than a week earlier to be born. Now Harlow weighs 5#2oz and weighs less than Camille. that worries me. I know it won't be a forever kind of comparison. When I look at Harlow my heart is filled with joy and love and gratefulness. But this week is tricky with its numbers and continues to play on my mind. The lack of sleep doesn't help. People kindly point out the necessity of sleep. I recognize the importance but guess what? If you don't know what it is to lose a child than those words are lost on me. That I would sleep willingly in the hospital while hooked up to a fetal monitor is ridiculous.  I would stare at the strip until my eyes were blurry with fatigue and my body put my mind out of its misery as I dozed here and there. After Harlow was born, people would say that I should get rest, the baby can go to the nursery...I am sorry but that baby was not to be out of my sight. My friend slept over in the hospital room and watched the baby sleep so I could feel safe trying to rest, but every squeak the baby made my eyes would open. This is the life of a mama on full guard. I got home and sleep was difficult because I had to watch her, make sure she was real, that she didn't try and slip away as I slipped into sleep. Camille died while I was sleeping, I know what it is to wake and have the world be upside down. Sleep is a place where things can be taken away from you against your will. I know they are different babies, different pregnancies. But...

Today was a hard day. I cried a lot today. I know I am crashing off my hormone baby high. I miss Camille. I wish Harlow fixed that hole in my heart. But the weird part or the natural part of love is that your heart grows to accommodate, and the love I have for all my children fit neatly into this compact beating structure. The gaping hole left where my guts were torn out when Camille died does not get neatly mended with a little pink ribbon upon the arrival of my second daughter. Certainly more happy, more relieved and over joyed with Harlow here. A sigh of relief that I made it through the treacherous war zone of pregnancy after loss....but holy shit the pain is just still there. The missing is just still there. Not more or less. I wasn't focused on my grief at the end of my pregnancy. All my effort went into trying to focus on positivity for this baby girls safe arrival. Now she is here and I pass the shelf where Camille's picture is along with her ashes and some other items and I stop. I hold Harlow close to me, I look at Camille's picture and think of the crazy resemblance of my two daughters. Would they have been friends, would they have been similar people? The tears come and I just sit with that sadness, the sadness that will be in me forever....And than Harlow will take a giant squirty poop with a squished up face and I will laugh and focus on the alive, beautiful little girl in front of me.

So much joy and love, tangled up in the crazy and the sad.

Here are some magnificent photos of my precious beautiful little daughter Harlow Karrington Katoch (Kay-Tosh) in case you were wondering how to pronounce it :) I just love her name.
The Blue Moon on Harlow's Birthday

Birth Plan..I kept staring at this all day


Harlow is here

I grew this foot




Yawn


All Squished Up-Hey who took me out of the hot tub?



My big baby~I love him so much!





Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once In A Blue Moon Baby

I know many of you have been waiting for my update. Our daughter Harlow Karrington Katoch was born on August 31st at 1:04pm. She is 5# 8oz abd 18 inches. Born at 36 weeks 6 days of gestation. I can't figure out how to post pictures on blogger from my phone so that will have to wait until I am home with a computer. I feel so relieved and happy that she is here and alive. She is breathing well, nursing and trying to figure out how to be outside her hot tub. She looks just like Kai and Camille. I have had amazing nurses who laugh and cry with me and some of my nurses from my birth with Camille. A nurse I had the night before Harlow was born is a baby loss mama herself. She lost twin sons at 24 weeks 8 years ago. We got to talk about our children and have a good cry. I feel like Camille's memory is respected and loved while Harlow is welcomed into the world and that feels right. I also am pretty stoked she was born on a blue moon. That feels magical. I have so much to say and I can hardly see straight from no sleep so I hope what I wrote is coherent. Thank you for all the love and support. It means more than I could ever express. My rainbow baby is here and I am so happy about that. What a long hard fought journey to get here. I will write soon and post pictures. One more night here and than home tomorrow. I love my family of five that is missing one. Tears of love and loss intermingled.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Time

I'm here in the hospital. It isn't what I thought I was going to be doing today. I went to the perinatologist this morning and my fluid level is very low. My peri who I really love and trust told me that I should have the baby this by the Monday. Although my fluid levels have been low normal for a couple months, they dropped to a 4 and below 5 is not good. The peri and my OB spoke and my OB said to come in today... They aren't messing around. So I scrambled around as if I was in labor trying to pack stuff up in order to come in. They are putting me on cervadil because my body isn't one for preterm labor so they have to soften my cervix before they induce me. I've repeated positive thoughts and breathing all day, trying to keep the worry and anxiety at bay. Please keep my baby girl and I in your thoughts today, this evening and tomorrow. I can use all the positive vibes I can get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Would Post More....But

I am absolutely freaking the fuck out!

I was at labor and delivery at 5am yesterday morning, sobbing because I wasn't having movement after two large glasses of water and some yogurt. While registering the fire alarms were going off in the hospital. I was wondering if this was a very bad sign. That I was there at the same time in the morning as I was when I found out Camille had died. It wasn't about calming down or breathing in and out. When I woke up at 3:45 in the morning I wanted to feel movement. I know babies sleep but damn it, the baby needs to wake up when I am freaking out. Of course Daryl was going to be going to the gym so I told him I had to go to the hospital. Kai woke up because well of course he would.

Once I was FINALLY hooked up to the monitors the found the baby's heart beat right away and she passed her NST in 20 min and started kicking around. I cried the whole time. SERIOUSLY...how am I supposed to get through the next couple weeks. I am so maxed out on stress. I am not always freaking out. I have moments of hope and I am doing so many homework assignments, like buying some baby clothes. Well I haven't taken the tags off of them and washed them but I browsed and purchased girl clothes:  BIG STEP.
I have finished the quilt side of the baby blanket as of this afternoon. I go to therapy. I do kick counts 3 times per day.

Some days I feel like a prisoner of war who is making tally marks on the wall, counting down the days to freedom. The day Camille died was the worst day of my life. The first several months of grieving were excruciating...THIS PREGNANCY with all its anxiety and stress is so hard. To be at this heightened sense of arousal all the time is so challenging.

I keep thinking of trying to put a post together of the happy and the joy to try and also focus on the positive, because it is there, present, in the midst of the crazy. I love this little girl so much. I am looking forward to meeting her soon. I try and imagine meeting her and having a successful beautiful experience. I just have to get there.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ETA approximately 3 weeks

See that is why I haven't been around. I am so close...3 weeks until I am supposed to be induced and the crazy around here both internally and externally have hit a fever pitch.

News: trying not to frame it as good or bad...just is...

My fluid levels have been low normal, but still normal..8.5, 9.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was just prescribed night time insulin because although I am controlling my diabetes with diet during the day, my night time levels are borderline. They say I could go another week and see, they were kind of on the fence. I haven't gotten the prescription yet. It was just called in yesterday. The morning blood sugar levels have been between 88 and 95 and it averages around 91, they would like it below 90...that is why they weren't sure if I should go on the night time insulin. These numbers are due to hormone levels not what I am eating.

This baby girl is doing well, last week she measured in at 4.5 lbs and was 4 days behind her due date but she seems to be growing well.

The non stress tests are out of control stressful! The nurses are really nice but I have already had my first trip to labor and delivery COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT! Wednesday of last week I woke up and had right sided abdominal pain that would not go away. I don't have my appendix so it wasn't that :) I didn't think it was ligamentous because that usually is sharp and then subsides...so of course I thought I may be having a placental abruption because well...I'M FREAKING OUT. I was in tears sobbing in the house because there was no coming down off the crazy tail spin of panic I had worked myself into. Kai kept telling me he loved me and that I just needed to OM and say "I love my home, I love my Kai and Papa" I felt bad because I couldn't keep it together so I called my OB and they said to go to the hospital and so I dropped Kai off at the neighbors house and went to the hospital. Daryl who had been working a whopping 3 days at his new job came and met me...

Then my NST on Tuesday was so BAD. The nurse couldn't find the baby's heart beat for like 5 minutes. I was sweating and crying....than finally there it was. It didn't matter that I had felt her move on the WAY to the hospital, when they strap that DAMNED monitor on my belly it is absolutely terrifying.
The perinatologists always calm me when I see them, but I don't see them for the NSTs.

Also as I mentioned, Daryl started back to school as an elementary VP so he has been really stressed out. He used to say "Just be positive".... he doesn't say that anymore. I think he is also worried because we are so close.

Today was my last day of work. It kind of freaked me out because last maternity leave I was scheduled to work on Thursday but they forgot and moved all of my patients so I didn't have to work that day after all, Camille died that morning. Today I was scheduled to work, it is Thursday and once again they moved all my patients and it freaked me out. I went to work anyway and finished up a bunch of paperwork. I know this is NOT last time but I don't like that kind of stuff.

The baby has been moving a lot the last couple days. She is still head down but she moved her body so that her hands and feet are both on my lefts side. I can feel and see the movement so much more now which is very reassuring.

Another hard thing I did last week, We went and took family photos. We didn't do this when I was pregnant with Camille and so it was difficult for me to set the whole thing up...but I did it because I needed to make sure to DO IT. CHALLENGE! The first time we had it scheduled the photographer had made a mistake and didn't show up. It was like 100 degrees and we were sitting around waiting on the same day that I had been in the hospital because I was worried about the baby. It was a bad day and I ended up bawling on the phone to the photographer about my dead baby and gestational diabetes and how pregnant and hot it was and how stressed out I was....I just couldn't help it. She rescheduled us and was apologetic but you know I am completely topped out right now. The bonus: I think she is going to comp us a bunch of pictures...

We finally got our bedroom furniture delivered but of course we need some replacement pieces...um we ordered this stuff in MAY and we paid a BUTT LOAD for it so it better be perfect.

We have taken apart the office portion of our library and are turning it into a playroom area, so our house is in slight disarray, I guess it is our way of nesting.

I have cut out all the squares for the baby's quilt and arranged it how it will be sewn. Now that I am off work I think I will be able to work on it more next week.

I received a gift from a patient last week for the baby. I was wondering how it would make me feel because I am not having a shower. She didn't know about Camille until that day. I took the gift home and opened it, a small pink elephant rattle and some receiving blankets. You know what ...it felt good, I was happy that I was happy about it. This little girl deserves to be celebrated, I know this. I am looking forward to having a shower of some sort after she is born. BUT it was a good step for me to be accepting of things for THIS little girl.

About my grief....of course you see the grief is tied up in my worry and concern, my panic and my anxiety...because I want this little girl so much to come home with us, because I love her so much. But with me being SO close to giving birth, my grief has been pushed away, my focus is so much on THIS one. I only have so much room in my life for things and so my focus unintentionally has shifted. I am okay with this. I know it does not decrease my love for Camille or Kai, but I am really perseverating on this little girl so that I can try and ensure her safe arrival.

We picked out a name. No we aren't telling what it is. We didn't tell with Kai either. Maybe just to have something for Daryl and I between us for the next couple weeks. I am happy we decided, we hadn't decided on Camille's name and it feels good to kind of know and be able to call this little girl by her name.

I will post about some of the really positive experiences of this summer that have helped bring joy between the freak out sessions. Boy is this HARD.
Thank you for all the lovely thoughts and good vibes sent out to me. I need them more than I ever thought I would.