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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, July 17, 2012

Camille's 1st Birthday

I have been trying to process what it is to be 1 year out from the death of my daughter. I keep thinking, I can't believe I have continued to breathe for an entire year without Camille here.

The month of June was full of anxiety and sadness. The week of her birthday I was a complete sobbing mess. This year was a leap year and so instead of her birthday being on Friday this year it was on a Saturday, 2 days after her death day (Thursday). I kept thinking Thursday would be the worst day. Saturday came, I woke thinking "okay, today is going to be okay", I went for a walk in the morning and I just cried. I cried 3 different times that day, big fat sobbing tears.

We decided we would try and make it a day like any other Saturday. We went and got bagels and then we went and walked around REI. Kai loves going in the tents and looking at camping equipment. I asked Kai what we should do for Camille's birthday and he said "we should bake chocolate chip cookies because they are my favorite", so we made cookies. My dear friend who is also our doula and has been present at both of my births was in town with her 9 year old for Camille's birthday.

We received lovely cards, flowers, bread with jam and honey, a book on religious/inspirational quotes, as well as some gorgeous sounding wind chimes and generally it was a positive feeling for me to know that many people had not forgotten our daughter. I did not care whether the remembrance was because they remembered or if it was inspired by the card we sent out. It was mostly just important that people not forget.

I wondered how I would feel after sending off the card for her birthday. The card had Camille's picture on it and sending that out made me feel very vulnerable. It was important that I send a photo because people can dismiss an idea or a thought much easier than a person (or so I thought) Seeing an actual photo of our daughter, I thought would help people visualize that Camille was not just an idea, she was a person, someone we love and will miss for our entire lives. I wondered about the response I would receive. In the end I felt very good about the card and the response was interesting. What I found was that the response to the card was similar to the response after Camille's death, either people acknowledged it or they did not. I realized at one point that the cards in the middle of our table pretty much represented the same individuals who had been present throughout the year. The absence of response was also a representation of those who consistently have chosen not to be present. I know some people were a little shocked when they opened the card but some of my favorite responses besides people telling me she was beautiful, was that they felt honored that they got to see a picture of her. That made me feel really good. The fact that Daryl was on board and happy with the card that we sent out was also very validating because he is not a very open person.

In the evening of her birthday I had decided to order some wish lanterns. We decided to go to Daryl's baseball field because it was very open and I didn't think we could burn anything down in the immediate vicinity. We sent up 3 lanterns....Errr rather we attempted to send up 3. We got to the field and the sprinklers were on...the field was completely sopping wet. The day had been extremely hot but wouldn't you know it the wind picked up at 9pm....Go figure. we couldn't get the lanterns to light and ended up in the dugout 3 of us trying to get the dang thing to catch on fire. We finally got one to catch but it ended up burning a hole in the side of the paper and we had to stomp on it to get it to go out. We would tell Kai, okay think of a wish but than the lantern would be burning as it skipped across the field with all of us chasing after it and he is yelling "I hope this baby comes home to live with us" at the top of his lungs and I am saying "no... wait don't wish on that one" We got the second one to go up into the sky and fly away. It was very pretty and it felt successful. The third one died a firey heap on the field as well and we ended up laughing about what a joke it turned out to be. I didn't feel sad that it wasn't perfect...It was what it was and we tried...at least we got one to go up and some laughs out of the event.

Papa sending up wish lantern for Camille: Notice the almost full moon in the sky.
The photo that makes the wish lanterns look impressively successful
So how do I feel after getting through the 1 year mark of the loss of my baby??? I was talking about this with my therapist and she asked what I hoped it would bring. I said I hoped that some of the grief would lift, that I may than be able to focus on the baby that I am growing more (like I don't completely perseverate on this baby constantly)... the truth is, it isn't easier, I don't miss her less. It does not feel as if something has lifted. The anxiety and stress and heaviness leading up to her birthday has passed which in itself is a relief. Do I think of Camille less? NO! I think of, love, care for and nurture my son everyday, I think I do the same for Camille, she just isn't here. In the weeks following her birthday I have cried a couple of times. I feel really glad that we did something to honor and remember our daughter that WE remember everyday. I was very worried I wouldn't get the cards done. I feel glad that I did. The truth is 1 year doesn't feel like 1 year. It feels like yesterday that she was here and an eternity without her. I just miss her so much. I don't think that will ever change.  


  1. I loved her birthday card and love that you did the lanterns. We will be doing that for Truman on his birthday too.
    I made a wish for you and Camille, i won't tell you what it is, but I just hope that it comes true. <3
    Hugs and lots of love to you Renel.

  2. Glad to hear from you. I have been wondering how you were doing. I love the wish lanterns. I didn't get a chance to request a card from you but I am sure they were beautiful. I also thought that 1 year would somehow change things but it feels just the same. The days keep going but the missing them never changes. Thinking of your sweet Camille. Love to you my friend.

  3. I don't think it's ever going to change either. I still long for Andrew like I did the day he died and was born. I will always wish and wonder and hope for the impossible in having him in my arms just once more.

    The lantern photo is beautiful. I'm happy there are so many that care for Camille and sent those lovely cards and gifts. And to those who have been absent anyway-- they're gone. At the very least, you sending them a photo of Camille reminded them she was still there and she is still your daughter no matter if they are willing to accept/support that or not.

    Wishing her first birthday was filled with a different kind of celebration.

  4. I am glad the day came with some peace and love for the whole family. Are you going to post the card on the blog? I am sure everyone would love to see it here too. Thinking of Camille.xo

  5. I don't think it will ever change. Ever. Because your love for her is strong and real and that will last forever.

    I too was honored to get her picture. My mom was in town visiting and I was happy that it was one more person who could see her beautiful face. One more person to know her story. We loved the wish paper and I hope that all of your wishes come true in the year to come.

  6. It feels like yesterday that she was here and an eternity without her.
    I am so glad you feel good about sending out cards with Camille's picture. I felt the same way, vulnerable and yet it is so important to me that people see Bear as my child and not be able to dismiss his life.
    Summer has been hard. Hell, everything has been hard. So many peaceful smiling wishes for the fall!

  7. Yesterday and am eternity all at once. Absolutely.

    That makes me think of lines from an e. e. cummings poem. I can't remember the whole thing, but one line is "suppose we could not love dear, imagine" and it ends with,

    how fortunate are you and i, whose home
    is timelessness: we who have wandered down
    from fragrant mountains of eternal now
    to frolic in such mysteries as birth
    and death a day(or maybe even less)

  8. I loved her card and the flying wish paper! It was absolutley perfect! Thank you for letting me be apart of this process with you and Camille! She is so gorgeous and she should be here with you, that will never change! Sending you love xoxoxo

  9. One whole year... It's unbelievable isn't it. We'll never stop missing, loving, wishing it were all so different.

    The lanterns look absolutely beautiful.

    Thinking of your lovely Camille. xx

  10. I love the lanterns but I think the wish I would have sent up is that Camille and Eva were still alive having a birthday party instead...I still wish those things...but I know it will never happen...wish wish wish.

    Eva's Heaven Day is coming up on August 15th. I'm trying to fisure out what to do. Wish lanterns? Wish paper? wish wish wish but the wishes we want can't come true.

    Missing Camille with you.

  11. Been thinking of you so much lately xo

  12. "The truth is 1 year doesn't feel like 1 year. It feels like yesterday that she was here and an eternity without her."

    Yes, exactly. It feels like yesterday and like forever.
    Camille's day sounded beautiful. xoxo

  13. I don't think it ever changes either... and I am sending love and light your way. Happy First Birthday baby girl. May the stars be your candles...

  14. No the missing never really changes, does it? Even as our lives change around it.

    Thank you for posting about Camille's day - I was thinking of you lots when it came and went.

  15. I love the idea of wind chimes as a gift, how neat!
    Also, I love your blog and look up to you in many many ways.
    Love and light from my heart to yours.

    1. Trav and Lizzie- thank you for coming by and reading and saying hello. I don't know if you blog yourself. I tried to see if you had an email address. I hope you are finding what you need in all of the words and thoughts and feelings.

  16. Loved her card, she's on my fridge with all the other babies. SOrry I've been out of bogland for a little bit. Sending you lots of love.

  17. I'm a little late here but wanted to write to say happy birthday to Camille -- although it's a bit odd to call it a "happy" birthday, I'm glad she was still celebrated on her day. We are coming up on the 1st birthday and trying to figure out what to do that day, so I like reading about what you did for Camille.

    Thinking of you and hope you're having an okay day today. xo


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