January 13, 2013

My Tribe

For a while now I have been contemplating posting about my thoughts and emotions when it comes to the subject of "trying." Trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, trying to have a healthy baby, etc. Lots of trying. Well, some trying - lots of hoping, praying, holding your breath and crossing all your fingers and toes.

But each time I begin to write about it, I word vomit all over the blog. Mean words. Angry words. Whiny and complain-y words. I think I start off on a bad note when I go to write about that particular topic because the truth is the word "trying" just rubs me the wrong way, or at least did for a long time. After losing Cale, I hated being asked when we'd try again. Because to me it implied that we failed the first time around. But with some clarity I can try (ha, no pun intended) to look at it in a harmless, and even kind, way. "You had a beautiful baby, when are you going to try for another beautiful baby?" That sounds so much better. But regardless of my resentment towards the word itself, the whole topic rubs me the wrong way and puts me in a salty mood. And don't get me wrong, I fully believe I am entitled to feel that way and have those sentiments and it's not wrong or unhealthy, but even when I know I have a right to be upset, it doesn't mean I want to be.

Because I want to complain about the cruel realty of the world and the fact that people are still losing many wanted and loved babies. I want to complain about all the people who had babies after me and are now having successful pregnancies before me. I want to complain about all the people who seem to breeze through their pregnancies more worried about weight gain and stretch marks than giving birth to a living baby.  But no matter how much complaining I do, the fact is I just want people to stop losing babies. I want to stop feeling behind and have another successful pregnancy. I want to be confident that a child I carry will arrive safely in this world. I want a lot of things that I cannot guarantee nor control. My emotions included.

My sister Kate once told me about column she read where a woman, "Sugar" (Cheryl Strayed), responded to submission from a reader who had lost a baby. Kate didn't remember all the details, but a few stood out and stuck with me and a few weeks after my sister told me about it, my friend Brooke shared that same column.

The big take away for me was something that I've already gained. My tribe. Strayed advises the woman to seek out other people who have been in her shoes, who have lost a baby and understand her pain - "The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you're talking about because she experience the same thing too cannot be overestimated."

I read some more wise words from Cheryl Strayed this morning when I stumbled on her facebook page.

"This morning I received an email from a WILD reader of the sort I get every so often--in which the writer expresses the belief that I loved my mother too much and that I grieved her too hard. Several times I've been told that my years-long feelings of loss were "not normal." These statements (usually made without intending offense) stand in contrast to the thousands upon thousands of people who have written to me or approached me at my events (often with tears in their eyes) to thank me for putting words to a love and a sorrow that he/she also has for someone who is now dead--mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, friends. Young women. Old men. Teenaged boys. Middle aged moms. I wish I had a camera strapped to my head so you could see all the beauty and sorrow out there. So many people have told me the stories of the essential person they lost and they have all shared with me a deep sense of gratitude that I wrote honestly about losing a person who was essential to me. It gave them solace. It gave them the opportunity to see their own emotions brought to life on the page. It gave them a sense that they are not alone.

I've often been asked if I could go back in time and give myself what I most needed in the time following my mother's death what would it be and my answer is always company. I felt so utterly alone. Like I was the only one who'd lost the person I loved most in the world. I wish I'd joined a grief group or somehow found others who knew what I meant when I said and did the things I did. All these years later I understand that I created through my writing what I needed most. I found the people who look me deep in the eyes and say, "I know what you mean." I found one of my most necessary tribes by writing what was in my heart.

If my truth and their truth feels "not normal" to you, I think you probably just got lucky and I'm sincerely glad you did, but I hope you will believe that those emotions are normal to a whole lot of us, even if we don't express them often.

This morning's email about my "not normal" grief came at a time when I am thinking constantly about my friend Emily Rapp, whose son Ronan is dying. My heart is broken for her, for them. To Emily and to all of you who are suffering or have suffered I want to say I understand and I know you understand and the power of that mutual understanding is everything. It is love. It is light. It is the only way forward."

I found my tribe* in a similar fashion - through writing. This blog has brought me to my tribe. And when I want to complain about "trying," or not being over halfway through my third pregnancy like I should, when I want to complain about the fact that my first child is still dead and I'm still so sad, I turn to my tribe. I turn to this group of loyal and devoted friends who can simply say "I understand" and it makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being my way forward.


*I'd like to add that I know a lot of wonderful, wonderful people who have never lost a child and yet are amazing and kind and very much a part of my way forward. I hope you know who you are and how important you are. 


  1. I hate to wish that more people could be in "my tribe" but of course would never want anyone to go through the hell we have. Like you it's hard for me to complain but I want to so bad!
    We want a baby! Sure we could try for a baby but so many questions come from it and we just cannot do it right now...not the right time but them I'm scared if it will ever be the right time in our situation!
    I need to find my tribe...my way of venting, my way of complaining...thank you for your insite and words of wisdom!

  2. Such wisdom. I often think of our tribe as warrior women. Women whom have stood on the edge of Hell itself, our skin tough and burnt from the heat. I say to Matt all the time "You can't scare me." Because I have seen the worst. I have walked the worst path, held my dead child and risen from the ashes of destruction.

    I am glad to be part of your tribe. I am glad we can be here to support each other. I could not agree more with resenting the notion of "trying." My rainbow girl is only 12 weeks old and we have been asked when we will "try again." Grumbles.

  3. I have never understood why people are so nosy (and downright mean sometimes) when it comes to the incredibly personal matter of having children. Like talking about the weather...they just barge in on the most intimate details of your life and think they are privy to all sorts of information. I have so many unfinished drafts on that very subject that I just haven't been able to bring myself to finish. People have no idea where we've been or what we've struggled with when it comes to having children, yet I've gotten so many insensitive and cruel comments that just hurt and make me so angry. And it makes me even more angry for you who have been through so much more.

    I am so glad you have such a wonderful, beautiful tribe. None of you should have to go through such pain, but what a blessing that you've been able to hold each other up in the midst of it.

  4. I will never stop hating why I am part of this tribe, but I am always grateful for great friends and wonderful women I know because of it.

    I want us all to stop losing babies too.

  5. I had the same resentment about the idea of "trying"... what, was Andrew not a good enough baby to be considered mine? Like a failure? Angry fist to that. But, like most things, we BLMs do take things to heart, but that's all part of protecting their memory and these babies we cherish. It's our only job... protecting their image/memory/lives. And I'll die doing my damnedest at it. Even if it means I'm too sensitive about what others might allow to quickly escape their mouths.

    So thankful for you in my tribe as well. I really don't know how I would've grieved if it were 30 years ago and the internet wasn't around for us all to use... thank the heavens we have one another.

  6. You are a beautiful soul Caroline and I am so glad to have you part of my tribe. I was contactedtoday by someone I knew 20 years ago who found my blog via searching about infertility loss and grief. I don't know the story there but she thanked me for my honesty and vulnerability and said it helped to read other people's experiences and feel like someone understood. I was telling Daryl about our email exchange and I said that this was why I keep my blog public... Because it is the single most important thing that has helped me grieve. I have felt so alone after Camille died. Like I was the only person in the world this ever happened to. I needed to know I was not alone.

    I get the anger and frustration. You shouldn't have to be trying for anything. I hated having to start all over again and hope beyond hope that my baby would live again. Trying to have an alive baby after you've had a dead baby is a fucking crazy place to be. So complain all you want, whine, scream, and stomp your feet... Because lady, we get it! I'm here holding your heart. Walking this trecherous path along with you.

  7. I know Ive gone so darn quiet lately...but I read every word. Still. As I let the days go by, with so much noise in my head and all around me...I still read every word you write.

    Yes, you ladies are my tribe. The ones who understand the noise...the none sense of all this...the anger...the constant frustration...the abnormality of this new life...the insensitive nature of the most "harmless" words. My tribe understands.

    Thank you Caroline for your willingness and courage to put your story out there...and in turn, I found you. Thank you

  8. I love this post. I love your willingness to be transparent and honest.

    I'm so thankful that you are in my tribe. You'll never know what your friendship and support have meant to me.

    I wish Cale was here with you. I wish you were halfway through your third pregnancy. It all is so hard and just plain sucks.

    Sending hugs.

  9. My best friend from college and I have definitely had a shift in our relationship since I lost Eliza. Her first son was born just three months before Eliza, and her second son was born three weeks before Caro. She has always been caring and well-meaning, but she also doesn't really think before she talks and she has absolutely blurted out exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. I finally had to tell her that I needed space--that I couldn't coach her through my grief and if she couldn't figure out how to handle it then I just needed a break (our very close mutual friend had a daughter a year older than Eliza and--while she's never had a loss--she managed to navigate things sensitively).

    Anyway, fast forward to now and things with my friend are ok. But they aren't like they were. We don't talk on the phone almost daily (now it's maybe every couple of weeks). We don't know every detail of each other's life--how could we, when she can't possibly understand what I've been through? But I realize now that part of her issue--what felt like her impatience with me or her underestimating the depth of my grief and how profoundly it would affect me--was that she was mourning the changes in our friendship. I felt that loss, too, but every loss felt secondary compared with Eliza. And now I feel kind of bad for her (I mean, not THAT bad, because her baby isn't dead) but bad because I filled that void of our friendship with the amazing women who are part of my tribe, and she's still living the same old life but without me in it the way I was.

    This comment is going on forever but what I'm trying to say is that I would be lost without you and the other BLMs. Finding this tribe was the best thing that could have happened to me in the wake of the worst thing that could have happened to me. I'm so grateful.

  10. Love it. Love the idea of a tribe. I know I never expected to find such wonderful ladies through my blog when it turned into my free therapy session after Olivia passed away. I could have never imagined that it would turn into what it did -- creating life-long friendships with moms like me. I'm very thankful to have such a tribe to be able to walk alongside in this journey.

    PS. If you're ever up late and need to vent, you know I'm up. Don't hesitate to text. :)

  11. I don't know how I missed this post, but that tribe? Absolutely. I'm so thankful for my tribe and for having you in it.

  12. This brought tears to my eyes Caroline... now that we are expecting our first child there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you... or of Cale.

    As happy and ecstatic as we are we know because of Cale's story, because of your story, that we can't control anything... we can "try" sure... but as you said... it really is just a lot of hope, prayers, and crossing all your fingers and toes.

    You have always been such a great inspiration to me and I cherish our friendship. xoxo

  13. Oh how this tribe has helped me in ways I could never describe. And you all continue to help me every day as I read about the grief, joys, sorrows and life experiences of others who I relate to in ways that people I actually "know" in real life will never understand.

  14. This is a tribe that none of us would have chosen to be a part of...and yet I, too, celebrate all the good that it has to offer: courage, kindness, wisdom and generosity. I'm so glad to "know" you through our blogs!

  15. I missed this somehow but this post brought me to tears. It is so true. I was thinking of this just this morning - how thankful I am for the love and support from so many wonderful women who have walked in my shoes. I truly don't know where I would be without you. Thank you for holding my hand and being such a wonderful, loving friend.