Monday, July 30, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

When Caroline was born, one of David's wonderful and thoughtful co-workers sent home a sweet, personalized Cardinals nightgown for Caroline, and included another gift for David and me:

excuse the blurriness - camera issue!
Those of you who are on Pinterest may have seen similar projects.  My jaw dropped when David showed it to me because THAT VERY DAY I had pinned that on my "She's Crafty" board (Do you think anyone recognizes that as a Beastie Boys reference?  Man, I was so almost cool once upon a time. Okay, not really.)  I had wanted to try to make one myself, and then all of sudden, there it was!  Perfect, and requiring zero effort on my part.  It's prominently displayed in our living room, and almost everyone who has come over to visit Caroline has commented on it.

Anyway, it should go without saying that I love this print.  I love seeing those dates as a permanent record of what's really important in our lives, and of course I love seeing both my girls' names in a lovely script.

Eliza Taylor & Caroline Audrey
I know it won't be often that I will get to see their names listed side by side, as sisters.  Having Caroline here has been as good as I imagined, and even better.  But it has also made me grieve for Eliza's impermanence.  I cherish Caroline's solidness, her warm weight in my arms, and I still ache for the dream-baby Eliza is now.  I have Eliza's portrait hanging in our little photo gallery in the hall, near the framed picture of her name in the sand at sunset.  I have another print with her name and birthdate on it in our dining room.  But it will never feel like quite, enough, you know?  Not when you compare those little memorials to the thousand pictures (seriously!) of Caro that are already on my harddrive, and the hundreds of thousands more that we're sure to take over the course of her life.

I like that Caroline can use Eliza's things.  I'm truly glad--relieved, in a way--that the clothes that I so carefully chose for Eliza can be shared by her little sister.  I'm using many of the same nursery decorations and I'm happy to let Caroline have the crib mobiles and piggy bank and teensy little baseball glove.  But there's something especially heartbreaking to me about seeing "This book belongs to Eliza" in a few of our little books (those that we bought for Eliza or received at baby showers), knowing that Eliza never got to have them read to her, except when she was still in my belly.  I'll never buy another book that just belongs to Eliza.  In fact, as time goes on, the opportunities to write down her name (or hear it spoken, I'm afraid) are few and far between (except on this blog, of course).

On the other hand, Caroline's name (like her adorable little face) is everywhere.  On the cards attached to all the lovely gifts we've received.  On nightgowns or bibs embroidered with her name or monogram.  On her social security card.  On the paperwork to add her to our investment accounts.  On her birth announcements.  Her presence is so solid and definite, and it makes Eliza feel all the more ephemeral and absent.

I know I'll never get Eliza back.  I know I'm lucky to get to have her sister.  But the unfairness continues to shock me.  The jealousy and anger has not subsided entirely, and sometimes seeing Caroline sleeping peacefully makes me cry for Eliza and wonder why our first baby didn't get the chance to come home with us.  Why couldn't things have worked out like this for Eliza, too?  Why am I someone whose baby DIED?  How on earth did that happen to ME?

The pity party could go on forever, except that it can't.  It comes in waves, but I can't sustain it forever, and it feels now like it would be a disservice to both of my daughters if I tried.

What I'm trying to say is that it's a gift whenever anyone remembers or mentions Eliza.  And it gives me a tiny bit of comfort to see Eliza included in our family, her birthday listed in black and white, right alongside everyone else's, with qualification or explanation.

In some ways, she was a baby who never lived, but in every way that matters, her life was incredibly significant to David and me, and it just doesn't feel like there are enough ways to make that known.  She is our daughter.  December 6th is her birthday.  We love her.  We miss her.  That's all that matters.

December 6, 2010 was the day everything changed.  Our first baby girl was born, and our happy, perfectly-planned life came crashing down around us.  We lost our baby girl and we lost our innocence along with her.

But even in the shock and terror and grief of that day, I think we knew that the reason we were so shattered was because we loved her so much.  You can't just ignore or wish away love like that, no matter how much it breaks your heart.  We discovered how much we could love by way of finding out how much we could hurt.

Eliza's birthday was nothing like we had hoped, but it was still her birthday, and it is a day that we will always recognize and honor with all the bittersweet truth that it represents.  We love both our girls so much, and--as this simple little print states--each of their birthdays made all the difference in our lives.


  1. Gorgeous post. I relate to so much you've said here. xoxo ~Lindsay

  2. Oh I love that print and this post is so true. The older Lucas gets, the more his little personality emerges, the more of a "dream baby" Olivia feels like. And that sucks.

  3. What a thoughtful and lovely gift. :)
    And this is so true: But even in the shock and terror and grief of that day, I think we knew that the reason we were so shattered was because we loved her so much. You can't just ignore or wish away love like that, no matter how much it breaks your heart. We discovered how much we could love by way of finding out how much we could hurt.

    You hurt because you love.

  4. As always, perfectly and beautifully written.

    What amazing coworkers he has, how wonderful.

  5. Such a thoughtful, heartfelt gift
    Yes, the love is huge... Uncontainable. And with the loss, along comes a hurt that's matches that intensity.

    Remembering your Eliza. I read back through some of your blog over the weekend, and saw Eliza's picture - she is one beautiful babe.

  6. I think I needed to read this post today, so thank you for writing it. Miller's first birthday is approaching and I'm stuck with all the same feelings. The pity party can go on forever, except it can't.

    I love, love this gift. What an amazing acknowledgement of your WHOLE family. :)

  7. These excerpts ring so true for me, "Why couldn't things have worked out like this for Eliza, too? Why am I someone whose baby DIED? How on earth did that happen to ME?"
    "We discovered how much we could love by way of finding out how much we could hurt."
    I regularly wonder who enrolled me in this grieving parent club and forgot to tell me. I wonder why my baby and not hers or theirs? I realize it's futile, but the question repeats over and over again in my mind regardless. And I do have to say I had no idea that I could love someone this much, so much so that losing them would leave me a shell of a person with what feels like only half a soul.

  8. "It's a gift whenever anyone remembers or mentions Eliza." So, so true, and so glad someone did.

    I have my differences with stepMIL... but several times over the years, she has given Christmas ornaments to our nephews... and then one as well to me, "for" our daughter. You can imagine how much this has meant to us.

  9. So poignant and incredibly beautiful, loved this post! Could relate to so much of what you wrote in this one.

    Love the gift they gave you, so thoughtful!

  10. You are a wonderful writer. I look forward to reading about Eliza for a long while yet.Thank you for a lovely post, I love how you continue to put love at the forefront. It gives me optimism.

  11. What a beautiful and thoughtful gift!

  12. That made me cry. To see someone made such a thoughtful and meaningful gift for your family. It is really heartwarming.

  13. I have this pinned too and just made one for my sister-in-law and was going to make one for us too :) I love that someone was so thoughtful and did this for you.

    And, as always, I love everything else you've said.

  14. I remember when you pinned that! What a thoughtful gift! I think I will have to make one now.

    My heart still aches when I see things with Andrew's name so permanent that his little brother is now gifted with (remember the carseat sticker?).

  15. Oh I love that print. And I love that your friend included Eliza. It's beautiful. But I know what you mean. It's unfair that Eliza was taken from you and nothing will ever change that. Even if only incredible things happen to you for the rest of your life, nothing will take away the fact that you lost your baby.