Friday, July 6, 2012

What It Means To Miss Her

I want to dedicate a whole post to the kind of happiness I feel when I look at baby Caroline.  I want to try to articulate how I feel the kind of unadulterated, unblemished, pure joy that I honestly thought had been completely lost to me when Eliza died.  I want to try to explain how the grief in my heart somehow does not overshadow or diminish the delight of looking at this baby's face, of hearing the little noises she makes, of feeling her relax in my arms.

But that is not this post.

This post is about the baby girl we lost 17 months ago today, and how much I miss her, and what it means to miss a child you never got to know.

The hole that she left in our lives is one of unfulfilled expectations and dashed hopes.  She wasn't exactly ripped from our arms--she left too soon for that.  But she was promised to us, she was real and loved, and by all rights she should have come home with us.  The loss was a shock and a trauma and Caroline's birth put those feelings in sharp relief.  Having things work out perfectly this time was ideal, of course, and also a fierce reminder of how shockingly horrifying things were last time.  Having Caroline home and in my arms is the best thing ever.  And it's an unavoidable reminder of the worst thing ever.

When I say that I miss Eliza (and I find myself saying it to David almost every day), I can't name the specific qualities that I miss about her, and that in itself just kills me.  I can't ask anyone else if they remember the way she did this or that.  I can stare at her sister for hours and memorize every feature, every expression, every movement she makes.  But Eliza will always be a mystery, a dream baby, what might have been.

You know when someone wants you to experience something and they say, "You don't know what you're missing!"?

That's exactly the problem.  On top of the tangible, specific loss of a seventeen months of life as a mom of a living child, there's this other loss.  The child.  Not a what but a whom.  It's not just that we thought we'd bring home a baby and we didn't.  It's that we're still missing her, Eliza, specifically.

I miss the way our family should have been.

To be honest, the level of joy I've felt this past week has been both a surprise and a relief--I was really worried that in the postpartum hormone haze that my happiness could get lost to grief.  That hasn't happened. There's something healing, I guess, and wonderfully distracting about the way a newborn demands your time and attention, gives you a specific purpose, and rewards you by just being so. freaking. awesome.  I missed that with Eliza, and I grieved that loss.  I wanted to be actively parenting a baby and not having that opportunity left such a huge gap.  It made me jealous and bitter and sad that so many other people got to do it and I didn't.

Now that I have the opportunity, I'm so amazingly grateful.  I freaking love this baby, and I love having the chance to do these little things that come with the territory of a newborn.  But parenting Caroline isn't the same as taking care of Eliza.  It's not just the little things--the laundry, the nursing, the diaper changes, the photos, the sponge baths--that we missed out on, although I mourned those, too.  It's our first little girl, and the person she would have been.

I wish I'd been able to do for Eliza what we're doing for Caroline.

But I wish even more that I knew exactly whom I was missing.  


  1. I wish that for you, too. Very much.

  2. I so wish things were different. I'm glad you've found caring for Caroline to be a comfort. Newborns do demand your every ounce of attention.

  3. You articulate so well the thoughts I also think.

    I wish I had anything to miss specifically, but what I miss most was the opportunity to mother Andrew. I'll never know who he really is, as I never saw him alive. What his cry sounds like or how he twitches in his sleep.

    It feels like the worst kind of betrayal.

  4.'re a wonderful mommy to both of your girls. <3

  5. So well said. Wish you didn't know how to articulate it so well. Wish you didn't know how to at all. I think that is why I so often say that I miss Cale. Him. Just him. I miss the boy I never got to know on top of all the other things that come along with that. Which is everything.

  6. I get this in a reverse kind of way. I miss Camille all the time, every day like you miss Eliza, but who were they? We will never know and that hurts in a very tangible real way. You have Caroline to help you realize what you were missing but it does not give you who Eliza would be. I had Kai before hand and I knew exactly what I was missing only in girl form, but I still didn't know who Camille was or is. The strangest part of loving and missing a baby who is dead is that their deafness does not decrease the love and nit knowing them seems almost to add to the tragedy to feel so acutely the loss without the specifics if a personality. It is odd for ne and duficukt to navigate because we want something to grasp onto other that the expectation and the fantasy we created around a child who should have come home with us. Im so incredibly glad you have Eliza. That you get the opportunity to mother another child is so wonderful. But having a child either before or after does not diminish the love you have for your other child. There is room in your heart for all of your kids, something I was fearful would not be the case when pregnant with Camille. Your heart just grows to accommodate, it does not split or move one love to the side, it simply grows.

    1. Holy schnikies all those typos. That what I get for trying to respond via iPhone!!!
      Maybe in your sleep deprivation you won't notice:).

  7. I love what Renel said about your heart accommodating and allowing for more love to grow there. That's how I feel, but still shorted in the most sad and unfortunate way. Boo. Being a BLM sucks. Period.

  8. Yep, I get this. And what Renel said too, with having a kid before losing a kid.

    You're a blogging machine Brooke, and I think we're all better off for it.

  9. As so often in this community, your words reflect my heart too. I have felt so many of the same things.

  10. I want to drink your words in...and hold them until they feel real. Such hope, such honesty, such beauty in the love that can be found after loss. I hope one day to write, as you have, about loving my living rainbow baby.

    Thank you Brooke.

  11. Missing Eliza.. and all of our babies.. alongside you.

  12. I wish you knew your little Eliza too. We had twin boys last year and our little Carter died at birth. Having his twin is such a wonderful and painful reminder. Everytime Cohen experiences something it is so fun to watch, but there is always a nagging little thought about whether Carter would have experienced things the same or differently than his brother. I so get the "what should have beens". I wonder everyday who Carter would have been and it so hard to just not know. There is just so much I want to know that I can't until I get to hold him in my arms again. Hugs to you.

  13. Thank you. You articulated things I haven't been able to yet and you also gave me hope.