April 2, 2012

Oh, hello grief.

Cale was heavy on my heart this weekend. Or maybe it's that my grief was. The two - Cale and grief - are so intertwined that it's hard to separate. On Saturday we got a last minute call from a realtor asking if she could show the house. Not wanting to turn down a showing we frantically ran around cleaning up and putting things away. This includes Cale's urn. An urn probably just isn't something you should have on display for potential buyers. And it's not that it makes me sad - it's just strange. Strange that my reality includes putting away the baby toys, clothes, paperwork, . . .and an urn.

Fast forward a few hours and we were getting ready to go to some friends' house for dinner. I put on a shirt that I wore at Cale's baby shower. I have several items of clothing that I associate with him. Obviously some maternity clothes, but also some non maternity things that I just remember wearing during my time with him. When we got to our friends they had also invited another couple who we had never met before. This couple was excitedly expecting their first child soon and recently found out they are having a boy. Over the course of the night they asked me questions about Finley and when he hit certain milestones, how I liked certain toys or baby items, etc. But nothing ever came up that was specific to pregnancy or delivery or anything that would cause me to bring up, either by want or necessity, that we had a baby before Finley . . .until one point during dinner when this expectant mom said that she did not purchase any of the pregnancy books because she heard they can cause you to worry too much and that "so far, she had no reason to be concerned." But I didn't say anything. I just looked down at my plate and thought of all the things I could say. I could say that I too had no reason to be concerned during my first pregnancy. That it was textbook up until the very end. I could say that just because you have no reason to be concerned doesn't mean things can't go wrong. Or that those books sometimes, but rarely, highlight things that you should be aware of during your pregnancy. But again, I didn't say any of that. I'm not really sure why, but I guess it's because I want Cale's life to positively impact people instead of just scare them. And when I do bring up Cale it conversation, I'd rather it be in a more uplifting context - if that's even possible.

When we got home that night, I looked at Cale's pictures. I still sometimes feel dumbfounded by it all. That a perfectly formed and developed and beautiful baby could not make it because of a freak cord accident. And for a little bit, I was consumed by the sadness of it all. I can't take comfort in the memories or time spent with him because we were robbed of all of it. In one of my books about stillbirth, one woman writes about some of these exact same sentiments and she writes about wanting to show people what it's like to live with this loss:

"I wish there were a way to explain what living with the loss of your child is like. I wish that, every once in a while, the world would stop. I wish that, in that moment, I could show you what it is that I, that we, have lived through. I wish that I could show you all that I lost, and I wish that I could show you, that I could introduce you to, the child that I am living without. I wish. I wish . . . "

And that's what I wish for Cale. That's what I wish I could have done the other night with that expectant mom. I didn't want to just interject that I lost a child. I wanted her to know so much more than that - to know Cale and the profound loss that he was. Not just a scary story, but a person - a baby who somehow, in nine months in utero, lived a life so full of meaning an purpose that he forever changed me as a result.

I wish there was a way, and maybe there is, to convey all this to someone I meet for the first time. To strangers we probably won't run into again. But it's a lot and it's heavy and takes time, at least for me, to really tell Cale's story and do it justice in the process. I just wish it were easier. I wish I didn't have to do it at all. . .


  1. grief sure does have a way of sneaking up on us if it has settled for a bit. the smell of bens clothing, a past photo, or just simply something that he does now reminds me of how all was and how much i just miss him.
    grieving cale is no easy task but to me it shows how much you love him and will never let that love go!
    praying for you today! xoxo

  2. oh wow Caroline...I really like the quote from the book...it is so true. I love what you said about Cale changing you and living such a purposeful life in just 9 months. Sigh...the meeting people and excluding Cale in the conversation...I have been thinking about this in my own life. We have new neighbors and their daughter is the same age as our son. We have spent some time togther. She is pregnant and due in June. I have never brought up Camille. how do you talk about a perfectly healthy pregnancy that ends with a dead baby with someone who is pregnant without scaring the shit out of them? The thing is, not talking about her makes me feel like I am not being authentic...maybe because she takes up such a large part of my heart and mind that not brining her up makes me feel superficial and fake...but I still don't.
    I am sorry the grief has got your heart right now. Sending you love.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I could have written these words, though not as eloquently.

    It's so hard to find the balance of sharing our children and not letting them become a scary story or cautionary tale. Like Renel said, not talking about them seems wrong, but talking about them in the wrong setting and context doesn't feel right either.

    Ugh...it's just tough. Saying a prayer for you!

  4. Although your comments may scare some people, they may also result in some pregnant ladies paying more attention to their pregnancies and saving their babies. I know of a few women who have "saved" a baby because they said something. I personally still avoid pregnant people but hopefully some day I will be one who is able to gently inform them about risks and things to watch out for. You probably will too at some point.

  5. Isn't it weird how the grief hits you suddenly sometimes? I think about Hayes always, but sometimes the grief rears it's head. They are separate, huh? I just avoid normal pregnant people altogether bc I haven't found a way to be comfortable and not share my story. That's been easy bc I've been in my house on bed rest for so long. Ha! I guess I will have to face "them" sooner or later. Dreading it though.

  6. Wow putting all of that away for each showing must be so tough. I know that I don't know what it's like to be on your side, but from the other side, your sharing Cale has never seemed like a horror story to me. A tragedy, yes--but when you share, it comes across as to me a celebration of his life and the blessing that he is, a beautiful son to be loved and always remembered. I think most mothers can understand that it's natural to need to share your children with others, whether they are here with us or in heaven. Maybe it's different for those who don't know you and are just meeting you, and it must be so very difficult for you to judge each new situation and have to make a decision. But I hope those who you can share him with can recognize that the depth of your loss comes from the absolute meaning and significance of his life here on earth, which continues to touch those who have never met him. Love and hugs to you.

  7. Sometimes I wonder if people would be less interested in being in our living room because my son is there. On the shelf. But then I realize that I will be infinitely more awkward than them in having to navigate the conversations of life.

    I also want Andrew to be a celebration, but it's hard. How does a grieving mother convey that to others? I wouldn't have said anything to that first time mother either. I wouldn't have wanted Andrew to make her sad or uncomfortable. Because to me, he was beautiful and perfect.

  8. That's so hard. You don't want to stress someone else but you also wish you could warn them to take as many precautions as possible. I get not wanting to bring Cale up at that time though. I always look for the right opportunity to bring Aiden up with someone new. Where it won't be awkward but instead will give them a chance to see how special he always will be.

    And I totally agree with you- I wish we didnt have to do this at all....

    Thinking of your sweet little Cale <3

  9. You said this all so well - it is so hard sometimes to convey that our babies were sweet little babies, not just tragedies.

  10. I honestly have the EXACT same desire to shake people and let them experience just a little bit of what we live with on a daily basis. I wish they could only just feel it for a minute, to give them the *tiniest*, briefest glimpse of what living without your baby might feel like.


    Ps. I hear you on hiding the urn. I tucked Jack's into my underwear drawer and figured it someone wanted to open the drawer to peek at my knickers, they deserve to have to see a tiny urn. YUP.

  11. So beautifully said, as always. I wish you would have had the opportunity to talk about Cale that night, actually I wish he could have been with you. <3