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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.

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

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
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?"


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.


  1. Oh the tears. Wow. I haven't read that book. I've been having a lot of flashbacks and thoughts lately. About his birth, funeral, etc. so that def brings it all to the forefront. I am truly happy and doing better than I ever thought possible, but he is on my mind constantly. That never changes. Tears come often but usually for a short time. It still hurts and it still sucks and I'm still in disbelief.

  2. Well Molly...I haven't read the book either. Only about 7 pages.

  3. I hate this life where you find something written that matches your journey, your pain. It still takes my breath away and shatters my heart again and again when I realize how many of us walk this path. Love to you my friend and your broken heart. I miss our little babies, I miss my sweet Braedon every second of every day.

  4. The love for Camille pushes out against the aliveness of the others. . . it really does Renel. It does for all the others - your children, your family and friends, your tribe of women here with you, and those you have been leaving crumbs for.

    This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I'm hurting here, too, tonight. The holiday weekend is over and Eliza's birthday is all I can think about. I told David we could put up a tree this year. I want Caroline's first Christmas to be a happy one. But it hurts. I just can't believe this is my story. Or yours.

  6. Reading this and rocking Addison's little brother I found myself "breathing in his aliveness" holding him tighter and tighter as I got further through the paragraphs. I can't believe we lived through this. I can't believe things continue happen without them. I really can't believe it and yet here we are. The missing, the longing, the wanting will stay with us forever.

  7. Oh my goodness, Renel, I needed to read this tonight more than I can adequately express. Thank you for sharing your words with me. My god, I miss him so much. I just can't believe it. Two years plus and I still can't believe it. Two years plus and the flashbacks still rock my world.

    Much love to you, mama. xoxox

  8. Oh Renel, I read ths last night before taking myself to bed...and I was a mess. "one being. She remembers when they were one...". I lost it. I felt that early grief, that ache. I felt how much I miss him. God, I miss him.

    I went to sleep, stuffed up and puffy eyed. I longed to hold him, to kiss his face, to have him here in my life.
    Sometimes the reality is just too real. How is this so?

    I know this will be with me forever.

    Sending my love to you, as you meditate, and as you hurt. As we hurt.

  9. Sending love and commiserating with you - with all of you who are hurting. The beginning of Thanksgiving week had me really digging deep to feel thankful...when there is always going to be an empty chair at my Thanksgiving table. I find myself lately thinking about how things should be and trying to picture it all...in addition to reminding myself how far along I'd have been in my pregnancy if I had not miscarried in August. Life is so unfair sometimes. Big hugs to you and everyone else who is feeling the unfairness of it all

  10. Oh how "the joy lives so intimately with the sadness..." Peace and love to you. Your love for your babies is truly beautiful.

  11. That was amazing. I'm getting the book (from the library anyway). I have heard of Joanne Cacciatore before, in fact, I follow her blog. I didn't know about the book.
    And, Renel, I left you a fairly long response in the comments section of my blog under the post The Christmas Tea. I'm not sure if you ever go back to read the comments but thought I'd let you know.
    Thanks for sharing the book. Much love, Em

  12. Please be gentle with yourself. This is all SO HARD. Sometimes we push through, and it works. Other times, we get smacked down. It's inevitable. But you are not alone--we're here to acknowledge and share your pain.

    Love you. xo

  13. I think a lot about the phrase "fake it til you make it", and I think about all the times that I couldn't fake it, wouldn't fake it, wouldn't make the effort to fake it for me or for anyone else. And I think about the times when I do fake it, for me, for everyone else. The power of faking it. The lack of power when faking it. Trying to find the balance of right effort on those days of heavy grief. How do we go on?

    I wish this wasn't happening. I wish for an alternate universe - one where we have our babies. They lived.

  14. Yup, bawled while reading Joanne's passage.

    The image of togetherness - a streak of good weeks, feeling happy and laughing, immersed in life's projects again - is easily shattered. Just like you, I find that despite how well I am doing or how well I am feeling it can quickly deteriorate to debilitating grief and sobs within seconds. Are we doomed to be eggshell fragile the rest of our lives?

    Thank you for sharing. Regardless of how festive you make your home this season, it will surely be a memorable holiday. Love to you.

  15. I tried multiple times to comment via iPhone last night as I was a sobbing mess while lying in bed and I couldn't. Today I'm not a sobbing mess (but still emotional) and I wanted to comment.

    Thanks for writing that out. My God I couldn't read further in that book. It was long enough filled with the truth of our lives. I can't believe I lived that. LIVE that.

  16. Well I'm glad I wasn't the only one that was sobbing. It is so painful to read back what we have and continue to experience. I guess it's also the same thing with blogs. The reflection of our thought feelings and experiences written down in someone else's words and reflected back at us. It's validating and hard to know how much we share. Hugs.

  17. Well that's just it, isn't it? Right there, in those seven pages.
    And I had to laugh at the start, my therapist used to say the same about me. I loved the woman but just because I can string a sentence together and come across as articulate, it doesn't always mean I am coping. Right below the surface, I'm always on the verge of a complete break down.

  18. I was composing this long comment about faking it and trying to hard and how I had to learn how to fake it for E at a certain point because her anxiety was so apparent and how now I am sometimes faking it, grieving, but also enjoying myself with her at the same time and how weird that is, but instead of writing it all out in all its detail, I will just say that I hear you. I hear you.

  19. I can't believe you made it past the first page...pretty much just opened up a dam of tears/emotion that I have been holding back for months or put into my training...hate so many of us have experienced the EXACT same pain. I still shy away from words like those because they are so powerful. As much as I think about Logan I hate how the majority of my thoughts are always surrounded with tears, sadness, and longing. But, the love i have for him is what brings his beautiful face to the forefront of my mind...like you said "joy and sadness...".

    Your last paragraph is me...i am determined to stay positive in the hope that I can trick my mind and get me through the next 22 days until his 2nd anniversary and Christmas. Logan's stocking hangs with my other children, but it is a constant reminder of the child that can never physically be more than whatever my mind chooses to remember on any given day. I can only hope that when I wake it will be a "good" day.

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