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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.

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


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

My big baby~I love him so much!


  1. Oh you make beautiful children. She is just lovable!

    I did what you are doing with the age and gestational age. I remember when Finn was 9 days old...if he had still been in utero he would have been the same age as Cale was.... Day 10 was wonderful and heartbreaking.

    Lots of love as you navigate this new part of your life, as a family of five.

  2. She is just perfect and beautiful. Well done growing that amazing little one! I love her name, too. What a beautiful name, too. What a beautiful gift to give to a beautiful girl.

    I remember reading somewhere that the fetal cells of older siblings are often found in younger siblings. Maybe Harlow has pieces of Camille with her always. And pieces of Kai, too. I don't know if you think about those kinds of things or not, or if it's meaningful, but I think it's amazing.

    Sending love to you all during these first days home with Harlow, and sending you peace and maybe even some rest with your new baby <3

    1. Suzanne I just love this thought - thanks for that - I really needed to hear it today.

  3. My fave pic is the yawning one. Remembering Camille with you.

  4. She is just beautiful and sweet and perfect.

    I struggle with the idea of this hurting lasting forever, there always being one child missing from our family photos, from our visible lives. The forever without them seems almost unbearable... but I as you have said, I hope that the arrival of my new baby brings a happy that can co-exisit with that gapping hole that my first born as left.

    Sweet thoughts a wishes to you and your family :) Di

  5. She is a-mazing. Just so completely real, it blows my mind.
    She's a show stopper.

    I nodded along with Di, with the trying to wrap my head around this notion of "forever" without one. I hope somehow that reality becomes...softer? Wears less on you..? Is wrapped with new love to make it hurt less?

    I'm so happy she's so perfect. And I believe in what Suzanne said....Harlow was created, and grew because of all the perfection Camille left behind.

    Sending my love to you, and your beautiful family

  6. Yep, this is just how it is. Exactly.

  7. Renel, don't know how many times I have thought about you and your kids this week. *All* your kids.

    How relieved I feel that Harlow is here. How a trillion times more relieved *you* feel. How sad I feel that Camille is not. How a trillion times more *you* feel.

    Perhaps I always say this - but is this baby Harlow the most beautiful in the whole wide world? The peachy-est? The keen-est?

    The pictures say so...

    Is she lovely, or what?!

    Glad and sad and all, all, all,


  8. And that "big baby," too - is very much peachy keen...and reminds me so much of his Mama. He has so many features like yours...

    (Do you think so? In "real" life?)



  9. She is gorgeous. Hi Harlow!!!! Love to you and thinking of Camille xoxoxox

  10. She's just lovely. I so hate this is the life you have to live, without your Camille.

    I was the exact same, non-sleeping momma until I bought the Snuza. It was life-altering that Snuza.

  11. She is absolutely beautiful. I am so very happy for you that she is here, but totally understand the sadness. Congrats again!

  12. She is beautiful and I am so very happy that you are holding your baby girl in your arms. And I share your sadness for Camille, the one you cannot hold. Also, I can relate to your hatred of the 38th week.
    I love the photo of the blue moon!
    I am so happy for you and I hope your days ahead are filled with love, happiness and peaceful times.

  13. ohhhh shes gorgeous! Its so beautiful to see her!! I hate this pain that is still there, Camille would have been the best older sister to Harlow! Missing Camille, and love seeing baby Harlow!

  14. Love that yawn. The happy and sad and hormones -- a challenging combination. I'm with LJ -- I slept much better because of the Snuza.

  15. Yep, I get all of this. Those first few days and weeks and months are so complicated and full of the greatest happy/sad contrast I've ever known. Sleeping so little certainly doesn't help. I wish you little bits of peace amid the chaos.

    And this is totally off subject, but have you looked into the Snooza? It attaches to their diaper and an alarm goes off if there isn't any movement. I think it's the one thing that allows us to fall asleep at night without too much anxiety. Totally worth it for us. http://www.amazon.com/Snuza-Portable-Baby-Movement-Monitor/dp/B002WLGV08/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347161566&sr=8-2&keywords=snooza

  16. Congratulations sweet mamma!!! She is just precious!! I know how many conflicting thought hare running through your mind right now and i'm sending hugs and love your way... xo
    PS- try an Angelcare monitor- LOVE it! Each twin has one...

  17. She is totally gorgeous and precious <3

    And yes this is the life of a mama on full guard as you say. Even with the angelcare monitor (and snuza for naps out of the cosleeper) sometimes I am sleep deprived and awake just making sure Ginny is breathing...like now for example :). Our younger but older daughters will certainly never doubt that they are wanted and loved, will they?

  18. Oh what a sweetheart. She's beautiful Renel. Love to you, and remembering Camille always. xx

  19. Harlow is gorgeous - just like your other children!

    I am 21-weeks today and continue to bemoan the fact that this new child will not instantly heal my shattered heart. That I will carry the anguish and longing for my firstborn to my grave. Holding elation and grief in your heart simultaneously is an inhuman task, but we do it. Love to you and your family of 5.

  20. So, so beautiful, Renel. I'm happy for you--and sad, too. Relieved and joyful that Harlow is here and healthy, but wishing her big sister could be as well. Sending love and hugs. xo

  21. Such a beautiful story, name, girl. It's heartbreaking and wonderful and amazing and breathtaking all wrapped up in one sleep-deprived, hormonally-fueled bundle. Sending you lots of love and happy energy. Remembering the baby in the middle, beautiful Camille, with you.

  22. How did I miss this!? Your beautiful blue moon baby!? she looks SO snuggly.
    Your beautiful girls... (and Kai!) <3
    I am so happy that Harlow is home with you where she belongs. I wish so much that Camille could be there too.

  23. Such a little cutie!

    The first few weeks - who am I kidding - the first few months were very emotionally challenging for me. Plus we hadn't really hit our stride yet, so I wasn't getting any time to sit and write, which is often how I process things.

    I was a mess. Happy - sad - anxious - overjoyed - overwhelmed... It's so hard to parent after you've lost one child. Crazy hormones didn't help. But, it's so much nicer to feel like a emotional schizophrenic with your baby safely tucked up in your arms.

    I have to agree with what many others have suggested - an apnea alarm of some kind is the ONLY way we get sleep. We have a BabySense in his cot and a clip on one (RespiSense) for when we are in the car, or out and about anywhere he might nap. They are amazing inventions.

    I hope that your confidence in that beautiful little girl just keeps gently growing, and that you are able to get some much needed rest xx


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