Saturday, December 11, 2010


The first snow fluttered down last night, gently coating the yard with a dusting of white. I could see it in the darkness, the rooftop below my window glowing, as I pattered down the hall to Fiona sometime in the 4's. This, in addition to the incredible, bitter cold that has set itself upon us, brings real winter, the bitterness, the closing in. Darkness settles.
I remember waking up sometime in December of 2003, and coming down the stairs to the sight of my husband's back facing the kitchen windows. Our house was tiny then, and the stairs fed right into the kitchen. I was on my way to the bathroom, having just woken up, when I saw the flakes drifting downwards, and noticed the all-too familiar quake of his shoulders.
It's her first snow, he managed, and then his face was in his hands, his head on the counter.

This morning I awoke to the sounds of Liam and Aoife gleefully hurling small handfuls of snow at each other, pulling a small plastic sled around the yard through the three-quarters of an inch of snow. They were fully dressed in snow gear, their cheeks apple-red, noses dripping in the bitter cold. Their shrieks and giggles were loud and glorious. I lay in my bed and gazed up, twelve images of my forever-lost daughter looking down at me. I looked into my own face, and that of my husband, our eyes filled with the most intense and haunting longing I could ever conjure up, and I looked into the face of that beautiful baby, and wondered who she would have become. The shouts of joy from outside continued. This is where we are, now.

A few minutes later, Greg brought Fiona in to me. She was rosy and warm, double-pajamaed against the chilly morning, her cheeks shiny and red from the eruption of molars. As she has many mornings of late, she also turned to the photos over the bed, pointing.
Daddy, she said. Dolly.
Remember, my sweets? I say to her, She's not a dolly, she's a baby. Daddy is holding Charlotte. She's your sister.
S-har-uh. Ba-by. she offers, long pauses between syllables as she struggles to make the sounds. Ba-by.

I struggle a little, now, with how tiny Charlotte is in the photos, and how long ago in the dust her older siblings have left her. I look at her tiny countenance, her slight limbs and long, elegant hands, and I think about how long it's been since Liam or Aoife, even approached that tininess. Even Fiona Clementine seems bulky and robust at 17 pounds 4 ounces, her immense and ever-growing vocabulary pulling her farther and farther away from her infancy. More often now I find myself pondering not how big Charlotte would be now, as a seven and a half year old, but how tiny she was then, how intimate and new a baby is, and how very much we've lost. Unlike when she would have been two, or four months old, now I find I can hardly fathom who she would be, or what she would look like. I almost can't try to picture her, because I have no idea where to begin.

I have a goal, for the next little while, and it's to be true to the now.
Often, when I write here, I am myself looking backward: I am a mother who didn't have the support of other babylost moms when I was one, or two, or four years out. I am reliving those moments in some retroactive attempt at support and companionship. I want others to hear my voice and say, yes, me, too. But I realize that I am not there, and that no matter how vividly I speak of what it was like then, I will always be further down the road. While I reach desperately for some kind of peer support, those I am viewing as peers see me as someone in a different place. Someone not a peer, but somewhere else. Despite this difference, which until now I hadn't pondered very deeply, quite often I can hesitate to speak of the now, of the joy that exists, of the happiness that could still come, because I fear causing pain for some, or creating a rift between myself and the readers I wish to have. When I was pregnant with Fiona I almost stopped writing because I couldn't write about the anguish of Charlotte's passing in the advent of another birth. It never occurred to me that I could just write this, just write about other things, that I could write deeply about the terror of the pregnancy and the secret hopes that I harbored. I felt this wasn't the place.
But if not here, then where? This is a blog, an anonymous, ill-advertised, kept-secret from the real friends in my life blog. I think it's time to be me, to just accept and love who I am, where I am, to invite into the now myself, and you, and anyone who cares to peer into what it's like here.

So, today it snowed. My older children frolicked, joy spelled clearly across their chilly, sun-lit faces. Fiona crawled around on the rug in the sunroom, pulling books off the shelves and making animal sounds, while I ate blueberry pancakes by the Charlotte tree. I worried in the shower that I'm not really showing yet, and wondered if I should ask for an early ultrasound to measure growth so I can get an early read on whether this baby is developing properly. I went back to the photo on this blog, from May of 2009, of me 16 weeks pregnant with Fiona and gasped, and suddenly felt awfully self-conscious and silly for not being in maternity pants yet and still telling people that I am pregnant. I'm getting ready for a holiday party at our house tonight, making hot hors d'oeuvres with things like bacon and mayonnaise and other untouchable items.

Liam is reading choose-your-own adventure books, now. And I think to myself, I didn't choose this adventure, but I don't get the chance to know what would have happened if I'd gotten to pick page 23 instead of 98. I was assigned this adventure, and I'm riding the wave. I also don't get to choose anyone else's adventure; but if they choose to read about mine, I'm the better for it.

Here I am. It snowed last night.


Hope's Mama said...

Oh there is so much in here. Where to start?
But I want you to know I am here. I am not going anywhere. One, five or 10 years down the track, I'll still be here if you're still writing.
I think we have more in common than we don't, though there are years between our lost, precious firstborn daughters.
Much love to you, Carol. I'm so glad I found you.

Kimberly said...

I like reading about you just where you are.



PS. My word verification is blesess- like obsess but with bless - any meaning for you? :)

lesliedispensaperlman said...

I am here as well.. it is always good to have a glimpse of what is down the road....

Christy said...

Just to let you know....your posts have helped me with a perspective different from my own, but on a very similar journey. When you say your sweet Charlotte would be 7 1/2 now, I look at my 8-yr-old and think of her, then try to place Chase at that age, then try to think if I would be feeling the same as you while imagining him that old. What I am saying is that your words may not be telling a story as new as many of your readers, but they still help. Your pregnancy fears are the same as ours. But your story is just ahead of ours. I find it helps me to think of Chase growing up just as my these guys right here in front of me are growing up....but since I struggle in imagining this, you are gently holding my hand, giving me comfort for what might one day come out of this imagination of mine.

Just read you're pregnant again and I congratulate you! Praying all goes well as I know it will. Happy holidays!