September 6, 2012

The Novelty Of It All

Sometimes I miss being the girl who just lost her baby. That sounds crazy and wrong, and hopefully I will be able to explain myself. I don't miss the suffocating feeling or the endless, heavy sobbing. I don't miss the anxiety and fear of facing the outside world and I don't miss the torture I put myself through with all the "what if's." But I miss that the gravity of the situation was so very real. So heartbreaking. So unfathomable. Unfathomable. Even the word brings me right back to when we lost him. We had received a care package from a good friend's parents (Ashley - it was from your folks). In the card she wrote "the depth of your grief is unfathomable" and I appreciated it. I appreciated that she understood that it was something so heartbreaking it couldn't be understood. I guess I miss the outpouring of support and love right after you lose a baby. Ironically you can't appreciate it at the time, at least not fully. And I don't mean to say that I don't have support now, over two years later - because I do and I know that I always will. And I don't want this to come off as a pity party where I fish for words of love and well wishes. It's just that in the summer of 2010 Cale Harrison Hidalgo was born. And he was talked about. And he was prayed for. And he was loved. So very loved.

He always will be - I know this. But it's just different now. Cale was news then. And now. . .well now, there's no new news to share. He's still dead. He still is a heartbreaking story, only most hearts (my own included) have grown bigger and "healed" in some way.

I enjoy getting to share pictures and updates of Finley. I enjoy that there is always something "new" to share. I pray there always will be. Last night Miles was commenting on how crazy it is that Finley just walks everywhere. That it's almost old news. It was big news at the time, but now - well now that's just what he does. He eats lots of the food we eat and he climbs on our furniture and gets haircuts and cuts teeth and does all these things that at one point were new. It was exciting - the novelty of the new things he was doing. But it wears off in a way. Like, I'm not super excited that he's crawling because well, he isn't anymore. Or I'm not crazy impressed that he's sitting up because that's something he's done for a long time now. But . . .he is alive! And the novelty of that will never wear off. Here he is approaching 15 months and I'm still shocked that he is here. That he is doing all these old "news things." But he is. He's here and he's ours and we are just so.very.lucky.

And maybe that's why I miss having just lost Cale. Because the shock of his death hasn't worn off to me. I can run errands and see little boys around his should be age and not have a panic attack. I can laugh and have fun and do normal things. But I am still forever shocked that he didn't make it. That his story is what it is. I guess just as the novelty of Finn's 'aliveness' hasn't worn off, neither has the 'deadness' of Cale.

Sometimes I replay all that happened with Cale. I relive my pregnancy with him and his delivery. I search the past for stories or memories that I've forgotten or haven't yet shared. Because I want there to be something new for him - even two years after his passing. I guess this his how I parent him. This is how I try for him to have a future even though that's impossible.

Before I started typing all this I got a little chilly. (long ago Miles and I made a deal that he can control the temperature settings and I would control the decor of the house. Good deal I think - I just bundle up a lot.) Anyway, I went to go get a sweatshirt and this is the one I grabbed. And it made me smile because of the memories and because it's a part of Cale's story that I haven't shared. At least not with many . . . .

Miles' Uncle is a NYC Cop, hence NYPD

After we learned that Cale's heart had stopped beating, Miles never left the hospital. His brother Daren was still stationed at Fort Benning at the time and he came to the hospital a few times that day/night. I'll never forget the first time he walked in the room. Miles had met him out in the waiting room first. He opened the door for Daren and in he walked. Shaking his head and crying. It was if he was trying to say "I'm so sorry" but he was too shaken up to get any words out. He just walked over and I held out my arms for a hug. And we hugged and cried and I told him it was ok. I didn't mean that what had happened was ok, I meant that it's ok that he was reacting the way he did. I meant that I would somehow come out of this and that somehow we would be ok.

When Daren was killed Miles gave his eulogy. In it he mentioned how heartfelt Daren's reaction to our loss was:

"When my wife Caroline and I lost our son, Daren was the first person to show up at the hospital.  He was still covered in sweat and absolutely nasty from playing racquetball, but he held me and we cried together until we couldn't cry anymore.  I remember talking to my wife about it - it was like Daren had lost a son, the depths of his empathy and heartfelt emotions were so real and so tangible.  If you knew Daren, he always wore his emotions on his sleeve and poured his heart into everything he did." (full eulogy here)
. . . . . . .
I tried to get some sleep while we waited for Cale to be born, but would wake up either crying or because of a painful contraction. I remember waking up once and hearing Miles and Daren talking. I don't know how long he had been there - it was at least his second time back at the hospital and he had brought Miles some clothes. Miles asked for a jacket or something because it was cold in the room. Daren had brought him the navy sweatshirt.

And on the night of June 28, 2010 and the wee hours of the morning the next day, Miles held his first born son wearing that navy NYPD sweatshirt. He walked around the room with Cale coddled in his arms, his tiny little head full of dark brown hair, resting on his Daddy's arm.

At some point Miles' returned the clothes he borrowed to Daren. And we didn't think much about it. But then Daren was killed and all his belongings were sent back to his parents, I wondered about that sweatshirt. I wondered if Daren still had it and if it had made it back with the rest of his things. Miles told his Mom to be on the lookout for it, and sure enough she found it. She mailed it to us and it showed up almost two years to the day after Miles' last wore it, holding his son.
. . . . . . .
As I was getting ready to wrap this post up (because I think it's plenty long enough - congrats if you've read this far!) Finn woke up. He doesn't usually wake up after he's gone to sleep, but woke up crying and stood up in his crib. So I walked in and picked him up. We sat in the chair and rocked. I was wearing the navy sweatshirt - that his brother once touched. And I just started crying. Tears of sadness and tears of joy - all one in the same. Loving a sweet moment with my second son, and still desperately missing my first. The novelty of their lives still unfathomable.


  1. Oh Caroline. I had to grab for the Kleenex reading this post...particularly when reading the piece from Daren's eulogy. So very touching.

    I already think forward to all the moments where I'll be filled with joy for the next, but still utterly heartbroken and desperately missing my first. I try not to gear myself up for a future that is not yet determined, but it is hard not to when you want and need something so badly.

    Even though I do not have a living child (yet) your words in this post have touched me. They've made me ache and yearn for my future. You've described your journey so well.

    Sending my love. Cale is in my heart, my prayers, and in my loving thoughts for all the babies gone too soon.

  2. I'm in tears right now. Tears for you, tears for your broken and "healing" heart, tears for the girl that I miss, too. There are several things about your post that I can identify with. I was actually thinking yesterday, how I missed people seeming to miss Caroline with me, to talk about her. Now, it seems so much has moved on and healed over, but not me. Not completely. I'm glad that progress has been made, and I'm overjoyed to have Addalee here with me, being very much alive, but I still ache for Caroline.

    I relive pregnancy and those precious and impossible times during delivery with Caroline, sometimes just to make sure I can still remember it all. It's painful and comforting at the same time.

    I'm so happy that you have the sweatshirt, for your memories with Cale and Daren.

    Thinking of you, Miles, Finn, Cale, and Daren today.

  3. Sweet Caroline, thanks for sharing this memory. Losing a child is such an UNFATHOMABLE journey. So hard to ever put words to it or try to actually understand any of it. I am thrilled that we both have a sweet Finn to rock...and even though it doesn't take the pain away, it sure helps ease the burn.

  4. I swear, I cry every time I read a post of yours. Bc I can relate to do many things. And bc you just know how to put it. Unfathomable. It really is. All of it. So glad you have that shirt, altho i hate the reason that you have it is bc Daren is gone too. Sigh.

    Jason wore a striped shirt when Sloane was born, and of course, we had no clue that Hayes would be born when he was, nor the outcome, but when Jason showed up at the hospital for Kellan's birth, I noticed that he had that striped shirt on. He had not worn it since Sloane's birth. It was almost as if he was wearing it in hopes of the outcomes being similar--meaning LIVE births. I dont remember what he wore when Hayes was born tho. :/

  5. This is incredible, a beautiful story and a wonderful thought to share.

    xox momma.

    ps. I love your boys, too. :)

  6. What a beautiful story and meaningful memory of both Cale and Daren. I'm so glad you have Finn in your arms -- just wish so badly Cale was in your arms too. <3

  7. Oh, Caroline, this made me cry. I wish there were more experiences that Cale and Finn could share. There's no doubt that they are both still so very loved.

  8. Goodness so much of this is very true and real to me, but the loss as well of Daren is also just so unfathomable...

  9. This is beautiful - what a special memory. I am so glad that you have Finn in your arms, I just wish Cale was, too. You are an amazing mother to both of your sweet boys. <3 Miss you.

  10. This post couldn't have come at a better time. I was talking with LJ on G-Chat the other day and we discussed this idea of being sad that Jack & Andrew were our firstborns, but now that we have their brother and sister here, it's almost like we are new parents and no longer parents of our firstborns.

    It's hard. It's something I am not ready to let go. My husband and I had a long session last night-- one of those where we bust out his photo book and cry and cry and let it all out to one another about how although we're used to the idea of Andrew being dead, we're still not content with it. Not over it. Not done being angry. And in many ways, we don't want to be done... because it scares me to think of being "okay" with things. Somehow that translates in my head that Andrew will be forgotten or his legacy unknown.

    I'm just a pile of words. But on this somber day, I'm thinking of our babies gone and all of those, including Daren, who lost their lives.

  11. Firstly thanks for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment on my blog post. Nothing makes sense and it is so nice to have the support of this community of mothers who understand.

    I unfortunately do know what you mean about the novelty. In the early days it was okay to be upset, people wanted to comfort me, and nobody really expected anything of me. I was allowed to be in my grief and didn't have to justify it to people.

    Now it's as though everyone else has moved on and they assume that I am moving on with them. They forget that having a dead baby is unfathomable. They forget that my world was knocked completely off of its axis and that it stopped spinning all together.

    Unfathomable explains it so well. And even though we learn to live with the constant pain, when it comes down to it, the smallest of things can take us back to that moment where it is so fresh and nothing in our worlds makes sense. The moment we realise that the lives we planned with our babies who would grow into toddlers, then children and adults suddenly doesn't exist. That realisation never stops taking my breath away.

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us all.

    Lots of love,

  12. This is beautiful and honest and not crazy at all. The depth of the grief will always be unfathomable.

  13. Sweet sister, you have a special gift---you are able to share your grief, your joy and your recognition of life's most powerful moments in such a beautiful and raw way. Thank you for writing this, thank you for sharing all of your posts. I'm so glad that Daren's sweatshirt was found, who new an article of clothing could be so incredibly special. Love you.

  14. And I'm crying! There are very few things that both our babies were able to touch but yes it makes them so very special...more than special. And I agree with missing that beginning time when Addi's name was on everyone's lips and they all knew how shattered our lives were and yet they still are shattered, but most think that time has healed us and try can believe that's "things happen for a reason" ugh I think that's why a large part of my grief right now is just angry grief!