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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.

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.

17 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures--I especially like the last ones of Harlow in the basket with Kai. Happy birthday to you. Wishing you lots of smiles and peace in the upcoming year. I look forward to reading all that you have to say.

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  2. I'm so sorry Camille is not here to celebrate with you. Sending love. xo

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  3. I also am sad...don't think that will ever truly go away. Harlow is beautiful and I am glad she has brought much happiness to your life !!

    I find when I fall into one of those moods I just grab Layton and hold on tight. He has the ability to help get me out of it for that moments, but like you said my heart is still broken.

    So wish all your babies could be there with you. Hugs to you momma!!!

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  4. Happy birthday Renel. As happy as it can be with the state of your broken heart.

    Harlow really is something else. I've never seen your Camille...but is it odd for me to *see* her when I look at Harlow...? She's growing into her own unique story with every breath she takes, but I believe with every beat of her heart, she's connecting with Camille in her own unspoken way. Maybe just a pipe dream I feed myself to soften the realness of the sad sad loss, but often times my emotions live in the land of fairy dust and miracles to help myself through.

    Hold her, rock her, cry to her, and love her. She'll one day be one of the wisest women we know thanks to your unbridled emotions.

    Love to all your babes on this birthday

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  5. Beautiful pictures.

    Happy birthday to you. You deserve a few moments of happiness--it's hard, but I hope you're able to have them.

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  6. Happy. Birthday. The punctuation is hard. It's weird when your broken heart can still overflow. Grief gnawed on my face, too. And whitened my hair. And I'm so vain about covering my gray hair. Anyway, may this year be better than last. And may I someday be as kind and generous as my husband's coworkers and parent volunteers. Serially. Elementary schools rock.

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  7. Lol. I meant seriously, but serially works too.

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    1. Or as I say: I totally dead cereal. :)

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  8. So glad your little girl is being showered with much love. Happy birthday sweet momma. We've missed you :)

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  9. Happy belated birthday. Such a bittersweet time after you give birth. I felt Lucia's absence so strongly in the first few months. Suddenly, I remembered all I was missing, how the day-to-day tragedy burned in me. "I never really knew her," I kept thinking and that was the heartbreak I hadn't yet put words to at that point. Sending you love and as many cathartic cries as you need. Lord knows, I need them much more than I get them. xo

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  10. "Grief grabbed my face and gnawed on it." I loved the way you described this. Yes.

    I'm so glad that the community at your dh's school stepped up to hold you all in love and support. Amazing.

    I can't wait to see Harlow's infant pics <3

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  11. k, so, so sweet and beautiful and perfect. And the pics with Kai are soooo cute. <3

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  12. Beautiful pictures Renel - she's really lovely.

    And I totally get the complicated oscillations between joy an grief after the birth... It's really hard. I found this line: "Sometimes intentions are high jacked by feelings." to be just so true. I try my hardest to be bright and happy and positive in front of Hugo, to fill his life with joy, but sometimes I don't quite manage it. But that's ok I suppose - he will learn all about his big brother and I'm determined to be honest about it.

    Thinking of Camille.

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  13. I havent had alot of time to read posts or post myself even though I have so much to say about Jack and Severus, I am typing with one hand right now. Your family is always in my thoughts. I hope your birthday went ok. thinking of Camille xoxoxo

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  14. Been thinking about you lots lately. It is all so overwhelming and lovely and awful and confusing and happy and sad and, well, exhausting. May 36 be kind to you, friend. Lots and lots of love.
    xo

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  15. I have been completely off the blogging radar for a long while, but for some reason stopped by yours tonight. I'm so glad I did. I'm excited to hear that Harlow has arrived safe and sound, and I'm glad I got to view her photo album while it was up. She is absolutely the sweetest thing ever. Kai is the proudest big brother ever and they are lucky to have each other. I don't know if you said it here or in an earlier post, but I nodded in total agreement when you talked about a mom's heart growing in capacity for each additional child. It totally sucks that the empty part doesn't get filled in by the rainbow baby. I suppose that would be too easy, wouldn't it. There are so many complex emotions that come along after the next one is born, and that really spoke to me because I totally relate. Happy belated birthday, and I hope the years get better and better as they go on.

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  16. Happy very belated birthday. I'm so sorry about the sicknesses - I agree that baby snot is terrifying.

    The pictures are WONDERFUL. I especially love the ones with Kai.

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