Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

Please cry if you need to.
Please connect with others who are in your same space.
Please email me if you feel led to
Please comment so we know what you need
Please tell your story

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Took The Time...

and it felt great!

"You cannot love another until you truly love yourself."

How many times have you heard that valid, but wildly overused wisdom phrase? Me? Countless - and with multiple variations on the "love" part. You know, sub in "provide, insipire, comfort" or any other well meaning verb and it still works.

I just forgot. That's all. It's pretty simple.

But this morning during the 90 minutes of Turbo Jam**, Yoga and Meditation (um..30 min each, just in case you thought I was truly nuts)...I remembered.

I am no good to: my family, my writing, to you, to local bereaved parents, to the board of directors, or any other life I try and touch - unless I remain good, loving, kind, attentative, inspirational, myself.

Today I feel good, calm, ready to tackle my to-do list with a, I have more than enough time mindset - instead of my recent, I'll never get all this done attitude. (And - shocker...I never did)

There is one more part to my Meltdown series - "The Resolution". I will post it on Sunday, a fitting day it seems. But mostly, because missing Show and Tell two weeks in a row not only shames the straight-A student in me, but could drop my grade...and we just can't have that!

I am more than enough. I am strong. I am deterimined. Watch out world - I have a lot to give, say, write, share, inspire, love, create......

** - On a sad note, my DVD died today, mid-squat and kick! I've already tried to revive it once at the local video store with their fancy machine. I'ts done. I'm sad. Please - if you would, a tiny moment of silence for the only disk that ever inspired a desire to work out. Ok, I'm off to try and find another deal of the century! I'm guessing it won't be five bucks!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Meltdown - Part 5 - "The Call"

In the climax of a movie, where the protaganist is teetering on the edge of decision, getting ready to act -and - in most flicks...succeed; faith filled spirits, uplifting with a sense of serene hope prevail. They tie up the ending in a happily ever after aura, or at least a happily as far as you can imagine once the credits roll.

In real life - the teeter totters much more often.

I arrived home, filled with the recent faith filled epiphany, ready to embrace my husband; to say those words. I love you for respecting me. Thank you for your constant love. Thank you.

And then, I heard the message. I had to play it back four times to be sure I heard it correctly.

"Hello. This is ____ from the hospital finally returning your call. I showed your proposal to my superiors and we have decided not to be part of this."

My emotions began to spin, re-drilling the recently unearthed soil and burying themselves, once again, in frustration and a lack of comprehension. But - no - I forced myself to hear the rest, certain words and phrases burning my ears with bitterness.

"We are under financial constraints. We have to be careful about taking on new monetary projects...."

WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? AAAARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Literally screaming out loud I tried to make sense of where the communication breakdown happened.

I asked for THREE things - NONE of which required the hospital to make a "financial committment"! NONE!

1. Include our brochure, contact information and conset to contact in the "Loss Packet" they ALREADY give to parents!

2. Send out a letter to past loss families making them aware that there now exists a support system in our town. (I wrote the letter and SSV offered to pay the postage!)

3. Instead of giving a cheap W.lm.rt memory box that someone threw a little stain on...give these families a HOMEMADE HARDWOOK PERSONALIZED MEMORY BOX** that had been DONATED (read: free to the hospital) by Share Southern Vermont.

Of course, I was professional and calm as I called back and left the general gist of this, admittedly, angry and sarcastic post on the head nurse's answering machine.

And, after a little time had gone by - I realized - this mission is not that dissimilar than that to write a book and help others. Both goals require dedication, passion, and the ability to weather these roadblocks while knowing that, in the end, we will succeed.

I don't know what our happily as far as you can imagine looks like, but I know its coming. How do I know? Minutes after reeling at this irksome pothole of a phone message, the phone rang again. It was a bereaved father, holding our pamphlet in his hand, calling to find out more about our meetings.

We WILL make a difference. We won't stop until we do! Thank you - a thousand times over - to all of YOU, in blogland, who believe in us so much that you have done what this local hospital seems unable to do. You have prayed, donated, made buntings, blankets, and - by far the most helpful thing - told me through comments and emails that you are with me on this!

Can't wait to share the Happily Ever After with you.

**Jer has finished the first batch of memory boxes! 20 of them - wow - check it out! (I WILL UPDATE WITH A PICTURE LATER TODAY) Now, the shop class at the local high school gets to take over...but pray that this batch takes us a very, very long way into the future!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meltdown Part 4 - "The Book"

Hello ILCWers! You stopping by "mid-series" so to speak.

Here is the backstory so you know what you are reading. My name is Cara. Our first daughter, Emma Grace, was born still 8 years ago. My husband and I have gone through hell - and now have two more daughters who are 4 and 6. My breakdowns in grief happen a few times a year - but when they do it is ugly.I am bearing all so others may know that raw, everyday grief morphs over time, but the emotions are ours for always. Invisible triggers still get me a few times a year.To get the most of of this post you may want to read...

Part 1 - click here , Part 2, and Part 3

"I truly am at a loss with this one. To write this book I have to go back".

I stared at the memory stick peeking out of my carry bag. Ah ...the book - That is what this is really all about, isn't it?

Because when I’m there, I’m all there. When I live in that place, my current reality seems not to exist. When I write, it is almost like a black out – time fades – hours unravel – I nearly miss pick-up time at school. Hell, last Fall I did miss meeting the carpool and she sat in my drive way waiting for 20 minutes.

But –oh - how connected I felt back then. How I loved waking everyday and knowing more of Emma, her story, her features, that her life was finding a home on the page. I long for that connected peace again, sure in the knowledge that, in time, others would know her too – that they would read my words and sigh as they recalled their own loss.

I still KNOW that to be true. And yet, editors are consistent in their feedback. "Concerned about the readership on this one" And so, I find myself struggling very much with the format it will hold. Memoir, self-help, fiction with a self-help guide built in? Maybe that would frighten the editors less. Perhaps knowing that only parts and pieces of the horror story they are reading are true -that the reader can choose to recognize or ignore them would be kinder. But this true story is ugly. That is a fact, and no fictionalized words will have the ability to remove the raw emotion behind them. But can I even do that? I don’t know.

What I DO know is how well I have taken criticism during this journey. It wasn’t right, I fixed it. It needed more nuance, I added it. I was told, “You really need more dialogue.” I recalled, and wrote it. And now – I feel like I’ve reached my limit. I feel like the author who is being asked to do that, one more thing, they just don’t feel comfortable with. The affair with the next door neighbor that sets the stage for the revelation scene in the next chapter – that takes all measure of authenticity and eradicates it.

But, and this is the funny part, I haven’t been asked to do anything yet. It is just a feeling, a sense that the book – the way it is, real and raw and honest, isn’t going to make it past an editors screening. A sense that I will have to meet the system’s requirements to sell this book. I will have to fold, give in to their idea of a saleable stillbirth tale. For that is what this is all about, sales, money, numbers, and of course – the illusive possibility for more books if it sells well.

I am NOT about money. I have more than enough. I have everything I need. I want to tell the story with honesty, grace and yes – raw emotion. And so, the odd thought occurred to me that I may be going about this ass-backwards. Like countless other artists, I may have to write the piece that sells, before this one will ever see a bound cover. I may have to play the game. Create a curiorisity about Cara. People will say, Who is she? What really happened? How much of this book is true? And then – After Emma will have a home in the homes of millions of inquiring minds and the publisher will get their sales.

I have always hated the game. The politics in teaching, Deaf Eduaction especially were nearly enough to drive me from the profession. The boyfriend / girlfriend courting - who calls and when, games drove me mad. So mad, that it might have drove a few potential suitors away too! So, finding myself in this place - intrinisic motivation vs. affirmation by publisher does not feel good.

There must be a happy medium! There must - I tell myself. Moreover, I believe there is. I will find the format that meets everybodys needs. I will tell my story while helping others take a first step into their own grief road. I have faith.

I closed the computer and headed home. Feeling very much like this has been a therapeutic morning. And I think I will be able to honestly answer my sweet, flexible husband when I return home, that “Yes, it did help. It helped to find my intrinsic motivation again and let go of what the world placed in my ego driven brain as, necessary, as expected.”

And then, I will take him in my arms and show him just how much I love every part of his being, and always have for nine years. I always will for the rest of my earthly days for he has kept good his promise to respect my grief, even if he doesn’t understand it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The lighter side....Have YOU bought it?

Did you recently purchase this on Am.azon?

No? And I really thought you might have since, a short scroll down from Tertia's awesome book art reads this line... "Customers who bought this item also bought..."

Yeah- of course, buy a book about infertility and then, make sure you pick up a Black & Decker NST2018 18-Volt Cordless Electric 12-Inch Grass Hog String Trimmer/Edger!

Oh and don't forget the Baby Bjorn potty chair and a host of other child related stuff!

Just struck me amusing - and thought we could all use a laugh after my recent woeish posts!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Meltdown - Part Three

Hello ILCWers! You stopping by "mid-series" so to speak. Here is the backstory so you know what you are reading. My name is Cara. Our first daughter, Emma Grace, was born still 8 years ago. My husband and I have gone through hell - and now have two more daughters who are 4 and 6. My breakdowns in grief happen a few times a year - but when they do it is ugly.I am bearing all so others may know that raw, everyday grief morphs over time, but the emotions are ours for always. Invisible triggers still get me a few times a year.

To get the most of of this post you may want to read Part 1 - click here and Part 2 - here.

This is Part 3:

And Yet - I wasn't done. How could I be? I am never done trying to balance my two truths - life and death - as mine continues to tick away, day after day.

I expect nothing. I am open to everything.

This is how I strive to live. Not so long ago, it is how I lived.

“Last spring you were excited. You had purpose and motivation. You had energy and drive. I don’t see any of that from you lately" my husband said without judgement. He is right. "I mean, " he clarified, "you are doing more than ever - too much if you ask me - but your emotion seems to have evaporated."

The sad part is that I needed it pointed out to me.

Why is this happening? Is revisiting my past in the name of helping others bringing it back? Am I not capable of being in both places at the same time? Maybe not. I have more “free” time than ever, and yet I have written very little in the last three months. I have exercised less than I was when I was working full time. My daily meditations have fallen away so now I go inside myself - weekly, at best.

Throughout last Spring, summer and Fall I was so in touch with my soul! I was so “one” with my daily experience. I was just so damned happy, finally, dammit. I mean, I deserved that! I worked for it.

I hate that I have to use the past tense verb. It just sucks, but it is the truth. “It is all or nothing with you” he said, once again, stating the obvious. And once again- he is spot on. In my head the middle of the road seems not to exist. And so, when someone makes a surface suggestion it immediately morphs in my brain into a city sized idea.

Tell her story = Write a book and pour whole heart and soul into it, buy every literary publishing book possible, write a 100 page book proposal, find an agent, etc...

Start a Blog = Design the most complicated goal-orientated blog you can possibly create, and then - when that is done, design three more, each with it's own specific purpose. Oh - and maintain them all, obsessively.

Memorialize Emma = Start a government approved non-profit corporation that requires obsessive amounts of unpaid time, board of director meetings, and paperwork you never dreamed of.

“Yes! I know!” I yelled, self-depreciating my actions, “I put on my blinders and jump”. Calmly, with an impassive face as if he was stating a simplistic fact, he said, “So put them on and jump back in.”

And so that is exactly what I did. Positioning my blinders so I could see and feel nothing but my emotion, I poured it all into that computer. At the end of the purge I raised my head, shook it and took in my current state. It seems an impossible task to recapture my seasonal perspective by the end of the day.

And yet – that is exactly what I am trying to do. For at the end of this day I must go to work. I must put on crisp clean clothes and carry trays. I must smile genuinely and treat others with kindness. I must find a way to get there.

I have this sudden urge to go home and be with my husband. To show him just how much I appreciate his attempts to help me, to soothe me, and yet – be clear in that there is very little he can do beyond, just love me. And although love for me can be represented through a clean dishwasher and an unexpected load of washed laundry, love – for him, is clearly physical. And maybe – just maybe – that is what I need. Maybe I need to dive into our primal connection and recall just how much love Emma was conceived with.

Or, Maybe I need to fictionalize this whole bad dream of a life experience, remove myself from the equation just a bit, create the scenes I wish I had lived, can never live, will never live.

Or, Maybe I need to sit my kids down and allow them to ask as many questions about Emma as they want, and - more importantly – about my feelings of mingled sadness/celebration, and then – answer them honestly. Maybe that will clear my ego filled brain of all its rants and raving about what “should be”.

And -Maybe I need to let go of the fact that the book is for others and just accept that her story is for me. That it began as a work of love in Emma’s honor. That I could feel her sit with me as I wrote it and lately, I just feel alone.

And -Maybe, I need to banish that damned ego and make the time to go back and find myself. Yes – that is exactly what I have to do. And yet, when I think that thought, even as I write the words, I feel the tug – the itch to flip my blinders and dive.

Oh the thought of each and everyday filled with yoga, meditation, exercise, and healthy recipe experiments. It feels so good that it nearly brings a smile to my drooping face. It sounds so right to the exclusion of everything else. But I am not a 22 year old grad student who can choose to clear her schedule with a declaration of mono to her advisor and a click of the deadbolt on her apartment door. I am a mother with two kids who need transport, food and love. I am a wife who cannot continue to let her husband feel the burden and pick up the slack because I am going further into the past and neglecting my present.

To write this book I have to go back.
To be true to the blog I have to go back.
Dammit – to go forward I have to go back.

And yet – I don’t know how to do both. I truly am at a loss with this one.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The girls were on vacation last week. Today is a STORM! Potentially, a snow day tomorrow - you know- because vacations can always last just a little longer!

We are having such fun! But, there are lots of things that are NOT getting done - most obviously- my daily blog reading and commentating time. Oh - and I skipped out on Show and Tell for the week. Oh the shame when the teacher looks at me like that!

Please - accept my sincere apology if I haven't popped over for the last week. I'm coming back - soon!

It is my intention to rock the Iron Commentator of ILCW and catch up on my blogroll. Simultaneously, I will organize my house, prepare for taxes, a trip to St. Louis, run the carpool - independently, easily write a few astounding chapters on the book, chug out a few more Exhale columns, and - oh why not - solve world peace while I'm at it!

So, not much to do - really. Ok - I'm off to cook dinner (ha! Asparagus...just for me cause no one else will eat it!!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Breakdown - Part 2

- Hello ILCWers! You stopping by "mid-series" so to speak. Here is the backstory so you know what you are reading. My name is Cara. Our first daughter, Emma Grace, was born still 8 years ago. My husband and I have gone through hell - and now have two more daughters who are 4 and 6. My breakdowns in grief happen a few times a year - but when they do it is ugly.

I am bearing all so others may know that raw, everyday grief morphs over time, but the emotions are ours for always. Invisible triggers still get me a few times a year.

To read Part 1 - click here

This is Part 2:

The basement of the library was perfect - quiet and just the right kind of dark to match my spinning mood. I opened the computer, struggling to see the screen through my tears. What do I write? Oh God - what could I possibly write. I can't even think!

And so I didn't think - I just felt. I allowed every emotion to come through my fingers, sense or nonsense, for I had to purge the emotional blender within before it shred me back to a place I refused to go.

I wrote, This is how I feel:

Angry – the kind of pure anger that I haven’t known in eight years. I am working hard to keep myself from picking up any random object and hurling it – in any direction, just to hear the crash, to receive that miniscule fuck-you when object meets wall, shattering and leaving a mark where it struck. It is a short lived affirmation, yet a sense of accomplishment just the same.

: -This, I know, is just my ego making me crazy. A goal not met. An expectation not realized. These things should not send me into a frenzy of tears and foundationless words. But they do, or – more to the point –feeling lack did. I haven’t written much lately. The book hasn’t sold yet. I still have so much to so for the set-up of Share Southern Vermont. And so forth, and a very un-reasonable I’m-beating-myself-up-for-no-reason, so on.

– I am crying without reason. Crying tears that sting as they fall, phantom tears without reason. I cannot tell you why I am crying. I should be used to my plight by now. I should have merged my two realities in such a way that nothing can send me down this dark, scary rabbit hole again. But I cannot stop myself from peeking over the edge and wishing the blackness would swallow me whole again.

– Should I eat a muffin or a bagel? Should I shower or just pull on the nearest pair of parts regardless of the date of their last wash. Should I just pull the covers back up over my head and pretend like the world doesn’t exist. I cannot make a choice, for there seems no reason to. Life has been permanently altered and no amount of normalcy or rote actions- coffee in filter, sandwich in lunch box, or deadline met – will bring her back.

– The guilt is nearly consuming me. I thought I had come so far, but there I go thinking again. The ugly and obvious truth is that I am the same woman who labored in a hospital bed eight years ago to bring a dead baby into the world, then bury her into the earth. I wear a very convincing mask by day, so convincing in fact – that I nearly bought the story myself. Headline: Woman goes through hell and returns to tell the tale. But then, I pick up the newspaper next to me dated December, 2009 and see the four words that send me back there, We Still Live It. I cannot say that he really does, but I do. I see my smiling face as I hold up the memory box. I look so together. I thought I was living it in such a way that I honored her memory - without tearing my heart into infinitesimal pieces daily. This year –eight years- there was something about this year. It felt right, bolstered by an almost miraculous measure of acceptance. This is my path. This was my assigned job. I am here to make sense of it. I am here to pass on compassion and support to others.

But I do I have other jobs you know. I have a husband who deserves a wife that greets him with a smile. I have two living kids who deserve a mother who can look at them, laugh with them, play with them, and cry with them – without infusing their pain, twisting it and allowing it to send her back to a dark place of which they know nothing.

My path to motherhood was linear, in that sense at least. The first round was a no-go, but rounds two and three quite productive. So why not just let go of the first time, accepting the mulligan as the entered score? Why not let each road be unique, parallel to each other and remove the burden from her siblings? Because, I simply cannot. Emma Grace is so much more than an invisible angel in the sky we visit at the cemetery a few times a year. She is with me in every part of my day, just as they are.

They are at school, I sit here clicking the keyboard, creating. - They are with me.
They are at Grandma’s house. I do laundry and prep dinner, and still - They are with me.
We dance around the living room, holding hands and laughing as we skip to the beat of the music.- Emma is with us.
We cuddle, all four of us on the couch, each connected, touching another’s limbs in some way and watch a movie. - She is with us.

She is always with us, and so, we must forever keep her alive in our hearts. We must always recognize her, the first born – our angel child.

So, why now? Why did this magical hole appear today after so many years of walking right over it to get to the laundry or check the oven? Is this a cruel joke to remind me of God’s awesome powers? To make it clear that no matter how much work I’ve done, I’ll never get there? "Sorry" the voice booms, "This is not a reachable goal. There is no finish line to this job. Parenting after and with loss is a job that forces you to go places you never knew existed." Yeah - I get it. Thanks.

Meloncholy – I am consumed with sadness. It sits in my gut like a lead weight. I try to ignore it, but it is the elephant in the room and each time I steal a glance - it pounces, not like an elephant, but suddenly - like a puma who has been ready and waiting to strike. In mere moments it comsumes me. I must radiate the sadness, maybe only picked up on a meter – like radioactive material, for it is all-encompassing. My eyes are tired, my body is weak. I have no motivation to attempt anything. I have no plan of action. Nothing will make this better it seems.

So I will just keep pouring the words into these keys. Loyal computer - you will hold my troubles. Store them for a time until I am ready to return and read them again. Thank you my consistent companion. I am weary. I am tired. I'm done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Breakdown - Part 1

The next series of posts will be the account my meltdown I spoke of here. I've decided to post in parts, for - even to me - the entrity of the event feels overwhelming. Thank you for reading, for understanding, and for meeting me in my grief from wherever you are in yours. Please know that today - as you read this - I am fine, as fine as I was the day before I wasn't. In fact, I'm corralling four children for the day ages 4, 5, 6, and 7 with art projects, frozen berry vanilla yogurt snacks and (hopefully - if the degree marker gets above it's current 6) an oustide excurtion.

It struck so very fast. Yesterday I was fine. Yesterday I made my three category to-do list with fervor. Yesterday I worked to cross off as many of those tasks as possible. And then, the crash, the plummet that deposited me into my bed at 9:30pm sobbing like she had just died. That unarmed me so quickly I was unable to look into my husband’s eyes and see that look, the sad and exasperated – I’ve tried everything, what else can I do? I just can’t help her – look.

A sleeping pill and a stiff neck later I woke to the morning sun peeking through the sheer green drapes in our room. I took in my surroundings. Much to my surprise, nothing had changed. The fog of nothingness still lingered, surrounding my every move. He still had the look. We both knew today would not be good. But the kids, what about the kids? When I am like this I am not their mother. I am a stranger. I heard them bouncing around downstairs, The Comedian’s voice lifting at the end of every sentence. I could picture her hand gestures accompanying each lift. Even that couldn’t conjure a smile out of the deep pit that my despair had turned into. I heard Bear;s steady, serious voice inquiring about breakfast and suddenly I had a glimpse into her everyday world. No, I couldn’t do this to them. They are too little. They are still trying to make sense of Emma’s death, as much as they are trying to make sense of Tigger, our cat’s disappearance. Maybe they wrestle with Emma’s even more, as they never saw her – never knew her. I saw her but I never really knew her.

“I want to go. I need to escape. I want to go somewhere that is quiet, where no-one knows me.” I said, quietly, mutinous tears appearing on my cheeks again. He nodded and with a brief hug said, “Go”. Gasping I asked, “Do you have any ideas?” He shook his head, simply saying, “I hope it helps”. My tearful nod was meant to say, “me too”, but words refused to form. I left. I drove as my chest heaved under my wracking sobs. I ended up at a place I never expected.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Issue Three of Exhale is OUT!

Check out the latest edition of Exhale, hot off the virtual press! In this issue we have some new and exciting things going on!

-News & Features*1st Artistic Exhalation Award Winner*The Kitchen Sinkby Tiffany Lee

-Our First Cover Artist*Check out more work by Jennifer Cowie King, this issue's cover artist.

And - as always - funny and inspirational pieces by featured writers and columnists.

Murgdan Exhales*My Infertility, Month-By-Month: The Second Month

Cara Exhales*Meditations on Life After Loss: Today I Cried

Pamela Exhales*Coming to Terms: Thought Bubbles of a (Barren) Woman

Arielle Exhales*Life After Death: The Grass is Always Browner

Monica Exhales*Knocked Around: An Expired Carte Blanch

Chicklet Exhales*Infertility Bites: How Infertility Changes Foreplayby Natalie

Christina Exhales*Creation from A to Z: Christina's Books, Blogs, & Bits

Mauve Exhales*Mauveby Monica LeMoineDetective Mom investigates.

And - please...if you have yet to meet Mauve she is worth the time for a brief hello!

Admittedly, of all the writers on this ezine I am the deepest, sappiest, and most touchy feely of them all. And so - I would like to dedicate this issue to our editor, Monica, who got knocked up and knocked down for the third time just last week. Somehow, she still pulled together an amazing issue, proof of what an astounding woman, writer - wife and mother she is.

And - if you are moved by a piece - comment, so the author knows their words are making a difference. I mean, it's not like we're paid to do this...yet (wink, wink) so consider your words our payment!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Show and Tell - Valentine

We saw Fireproof last night. At the showing a couple turned and asked the obvious question, "How long have you been married?" "Nine years in May" we answered, surprised at how that can be. The movie was touching, inspiring and found us looking at each other with new eyes over and over again.

"This movie isn't just for couples in crisis" the speaker concluded when the last credit had rolled. "Some said to me just the other day, 'We are taking the love dare to take our great marriage and make it greater.'"

We never had a bad marriage, just one that was tested early with a hellish life-altering scenario. And, we - as individuals and a couple, were left to make sense of Emma's death for the rest of our lives. What remained of us were two very different people who needed to re-discover who they wanted to be in this world and how that looked as a united front.

Our shift started about a year and a half ago. We began meditating, separately. We both started yoga - it works for me, not for him - and that's ok. We worked hard to turn negative thoughts and words into positive ones. We have both had a drastic shift in perspective away from commerical objects and toward embracing time with family. Away from thinking future or past and focusing on living the moment. And - the most profound - but not always the easiest shift of them all - has been our committment to listen without judgement to each other.

This doesn't happen every day, or even most days some weeks. But, on the whole over the last 18 months, our shift has created a happy, content, and MUCH calmer home.
Today - I have to say, was the best Valentine's Day of all our years together.

His gift to me?
A 90 minute yoga class first thing in the morning. (Um - we live in the snowy mountains so the beach shot appealed to me, but I was in a warmed solarium with a nice view of a hot tub!)

When I arrived home - I found he and the kids had been busy...

Their gift to me? I mean - is really isn't V-day without Bar.bie on your card, is it?

And - when they woke up from sweet-dreamy naps, we made the best Valentine-pink-frosting-as-many-sprinkles-as-you-can-fit cookies ever!

I don't know if we'll do the Love Dare -maybe - but I do know that today our house is very much filled with love through actions and not filled with flowers and candy.

Click back over to see what everyone else is showing and telling.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gratitude and New Digs

First and foremost - THANK YOU to all who commented on my last post. I know I emailed each of you - but a collective I love you all is more than warrented. I will share that day, for it is necessary - yet another part of my cathartic process, but not today.

Today - I want to share what came out of that dark day. The short- short - version...

My DH kicked me out the door with my laptop in hand - saying, "I hope this helps". (don't worry - backstory to follow in the other post)

I drove and drove - having no idea where I would end up. My criteria, well - as much as I could know within my uncontrollable hysteria - were: quiet, dark, and no-one knew me.

Ironically - I ended up in a place that met two out of the three points. However, seeing as it was in my childhood hometown - everyone knew me. But I just felt led there - unable to stop the car until it was in the parking lot and I was out the door.

"Oh, Hi Cara!" met me at the desk. "Hi" I said, hoping against hope my tear stains were minimal and my smile relatively convincing. "Um - I'm looking for a quiet place to ...uh" I stammered. "Sure thing" the librarian said, just go on downstairs to the Community Room." And - as I was walking away she added, "We never care if people go down there - we just like to know."

A couple hours later and a huge emotional purge into my laptop complete- I raised my head. Even through my exhaustion the room came into view. I really saw the space for the first time. It looked nothing like it had when I was a child. The walls were muted, but there were enough windows to let in just enough light. There were drapes on those windows, a couch, and a couple of cozy chairs. A long meeting table, a small kitchen off the room and a clean bathroom just down the hall.

Well - you have probably guessed where this is heading. And - if you haven't, then THIS brief post at the Share Southern Vermont site should clear that up.

So - see what amazing things my Emma can do? She can even use her mother's deepest sadness and most painful moments to bring good things to light.

Thank you Emma for leading me to that place - for revealing exactly what I had been looking for, and not laughing too hard that it was right under my nose the whole time. I love you for being so present in my life, even when I can't see it. - Mommy

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Words on the Horizon

Often this is how I feel, like my words are on a nearby horizon - mine - but not formed just yet in a way that makes sense.

I have been working on a post for nearly a week, but held back from pressing the publish button - instead re-reading the text again and again.

It makes sense to me, but I fear it won't to you. I'm afraid you see me as the strong angel mother who somehow has it all together after eight-plus years. Sometimes I am, and her memory fills me with joy and bittersweet celebration - similar to a mother's teary smile as she watches her daughter walk down the isle and marry the man of her dreams.

But - sometimes I'm not. And, although my unexpected breakdowns are - admittedly - few and far between, they do happen. And when they do, they are ugly, time-shifting episodes. I am certain the calendar lies and this is Sept, 2000. My heart breaks all over again into infentessimal pieces as I scramble to pick them up. And, I completly embody the broken woman who cried over a still body all those years ago.

This happened last Friday night and lingered, morphing my personality, crippling my ability to take care of my family until Saturday afternoon. If not for my husband, who has grown so much in his own soul and grief instantly understanding what I needed - even when I couldn't make the tiniest of decisions (sugar or honey in your coffee? I....dddooon't.....knooowwwww - I wailed); I would have been lost to that world for, who knows how long.

I trust you. I love you all. In five months you have become my extended family who resides all over this great country (and beyond ;) I want to share this with you, but I need to know that you want to hear it. Maybe you don't. Maybe you prefer the Cara in her pinstriped pants and crisp ironed shirt who can weather any emotional shitstorm.

I said I would go back, re-live and write about it. I never expected to be admitting it in the present - not like this.

I think I'll go read that post - just one more time.

In grief and love - and trust -


Monday, February 9, 2009

A Moment Not Worth Missing

I recently wrote this post questioning what we do to our kids by saddling them with our grief for their missing siblings.

Bear gave me my answer tonight. You can read it, here.

The last two lines are, "My heart is bursting tonight with sadness, love and wonder. My gut is satisfied that we made every right decision when sharing Emma with her sisters."

Honest Scrap and Honest Facts

Thanks to CLC for tagging me with this award. I love nothing more than an overflow of honesty. Before I get there though - I have to address a question she brought up in her last post, titled - First or Second? This is a question we - those who have lost babies - tackle every day both in our hearts and in the waiting rooms of various offices, the checkout line at food stores, and in every other populated location where people make small talk.

This is the comment I left for CLC's post: "I do exactly what you did at the office and - no - we are NOT lying. Mostly, I smile and answer honesty for the first round of questioning. IF the person persists with more than three questions, I tell the full truth. I figure they deserve* it if they have pushed that far. I think I'll write a post about demonstrating my "typical conversation" - thanks for reminding me that we all do this. It does feel better, more right - over time. Just this week I said, "My middle child turned 6". My MIDDLE! Wow - what a concept."

(deserve - in a good, earned, they-can-probably-handle-it way ~ not in a flash-it-in-their-face-for-asking way)

And so - I offer my typical conversation, most recently occurring at an alarming rate at the fancy resturant I wait tables at.

Them: What do you do for a day job?

M: I write and I'm home with my kids. (see - they make it look like I opened the door - but really they did, the backdoor at any rate)

Them: Oh! How many kids do you have? (question #1)

ME: Three

Them: Wow! How old are they? (question #2)

Me: 4, 6, and 8

Them: Oh - you really ARE busy! (whew - a comment which I employ to give them an "out" from where this conversation is going - most don't take it)

ME: "Yes, but that's why I come here! I can be a grown-up for the evening."

Them: "What are their names?" (question #3)

ME: The Comedian, Bear, and Emma

(so here we have reached my three question limit. Any question they follow up with at this point is bound to lead us to the "full" truth - as I say - and, as the edges of photos are clearly visable each and every time I open my billfold, often the next query is...)

Them: Are those their pictures? (checkmate)

ME: Yes (opening the billfold all the way so they can oooh and awww at my beauties)

Them: (dropping the question of all questions) Where is your third?

And - well - you know how that conversation goes. Unfortunately - a nice, relaxing fine-dining Italian resturant with all-Frank-all-the-time playing in the background isn't exactly the right place to drop the, "she died" bomb. So, usually, this is where I make my evasive move and let the maternal guilt consume me as I say something like, "Oh - I must remind myself to put her photo back in here". I know - a copout of the grandest proportions - but who am I to ruin their dinner?

If, however, I find myself in those other places I mentioned at the beginning of this post: doctor's office, check out lines, dentist's, playgroup, pre-school pick-up, or even on line for the bathroom at the mall - you can hear me say, "Oh Emma Grace? She is our first born, born still, but forever a part of our family."

And - now for the Honest Scrap Award.

The rules:

A) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

B) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

C) List at least 10 honest things about yourself and - I must add - I think my long lost twin IS CLC - for so many of her truths are mine as well.

10 honest things about me:
1) I am type A - yet anal organiztion escapes me.
2) I see so much of my younger self in Bear that it scares me.
3) Like CLC - I don't enjoy hinting. Say what you mean every time!
4) Unlike CLC - I was an early bloomer - well at least with the menstrual thing.
5) "I do not buy anything unless it's on sale" PERIOD!
6) I introduce my purchases with their pricetag. Ie: "Oh what a lovely coat Cara!" "Thanks! I got it at the Winter clearance at X store for $4.99!"
7) I am an only child who always swore I would have a HUGE family. I have three. I'm done.
8 ) My bucket list is getting longer and longer.
9) I can't imagine life with sons. Our life is all girl and I love it.
10) I am addicted to blogging. Probably not a shocking truth, but I just had to say it out loud.

Oh - the picking...(sigh) it brings me back to dodgeball day in high-school gym class. (lets not go there) How about...Kristin, Tarah, Martha, Barbara, Eskimo Kisses, Momofonefornow, and Mary? Wanna play?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Show and Tell - Drumroll Please...

The transformation is complete. Did I tell you Calliope was waving a magic wand, or what?
This is a pretty obvious Show and Tell. I mean, I have three, yes THREE new headers. I have my own button! (grab it!) I have a navigation menu bar, for crying out crazy loud with links that acutally ...wait for it...WORK! (Go! Go now and try them...they work! Did you click The Bear and The Comedian? Do you just LOVE that header, or what?)

I could go on and on, obviously. But I have something much more important to do. So with "showing" complete (you did go see all my new diggs, right?) it is time to tell.

I must tell you about my friend Dora. She is an amazing lady. She is strong and determined. She is giving and embodies every definition of kind I've ever heard. She connected with angrycarn. Then she connected angrycarn with me. This connection resulted in a bunting-making-team who seems determined to knit, sew and potentially crochet every single one! Dora also did, this - a most amazing give-a-way to benefit Share Southern Vermont. And, the most astounding part is she did it all while trying to remain sane as her big day approached. I mean, does it get any more giving than that?

I must also tell you about my friend, Baby Smiling. She used her creative wiles to do this - the most effective use of delurking week if ever I heard of one! She dared her reader-but-not-commenters to come out and put a price on their heads, I mean- comments, for each who took her up. Non-first timers were worth half the value. That girl raised $97 for Share Southern Vermont.

The connection? Baby Smiling wanted to help with the bunting project, but seeing as she had given up kntting to her past life, she raised the money to purchase the yarn for the ladies who would be doing the knitting. However, with all the good spirits flying Ms. Angrycarn refused the yarn funds and just starting busting out buntings.

So...the long and the short of it is SSV will have all the burial buntings it needs for a good loooooong while (God willing) AND has $97 in it's start up fund to boot.

Thank you Dora. Thank you Angrycarn. Thank you Baby Smiling. Thank you Calliope for the blog makeover of the year. Thank you to all of you who make this community a magical place. I couldn't think of a better place to spend my evenings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Shaping Power of Grief

The fourth grader acts out. The teacher admonishes, but thinks – Oh, he has such a hard life. His parents…his peers…his siblings… I can hardy blame him for the way he behaves. And she doesn’t, for now. But where is the responsibility line: fifth grade, the day he steals for the first time, or worse? At what point will the world start to judge this young boy for his actions as opposed to pitying him because of the environment he was born in?


The child psychologist sat across from me. He was kind, clear and direct with his words. I liked him for this. Why waste time when there is a solution to be discussed? A small desk, littered with papers that compiled her file separated us.

“Mmm…” he muttered, “so, and I’m just guessing here, that you were nervous during your pregnancy with her.” I nodded, mentally confirming the vast understatement he had dropped on the table. Neurotic would be a more accurate term. Obsessed, terrified, and borderline personality disorder made strong showings as well, not just for the thirty-eight weeks she grew inside me, but as we talked of creating her. They lingered, tailing me even as we left the hospital with a live baby, even as we walked through our front door. Even as we pretended to know how to parent a child after burying one into the ground.

“And this?” He held up a photocopy of the recent newspaper article documenting Emma’s death and our subsequent community actions in her memory eight years later. “I read through it. You have been through a lot. So has she. It seems a lot for a child to make sense of too, doesn’t it?”

Eyebrows raised I did not answer immediately. Is he saying what I think he’s saying? Is he equating her worries and social anxieties with the fact that we talk about Emma? That we make her part of our family and don’t hold back the sisterly connection.

“Having a sister in heaven is surely not typical.” I said, my tone more even and calculated than minutes before; a non-answer to be sure. As abstract as the concept is, it is our family’s norm and our children will continue to develop their understanding of her existence with every additional year of their growth.

I sat clicking through my blogroll, trying to catch up. A title caught my eye, Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet. The author spoke of her instant attachment to his poetry and the revelation that he was the child after a neo-natal loss. But it was her description of what this implied that struck me speechless. She wrote, “Rainer was his mother's rainbow baby. It all makes sense, he is someone who has been shaped by grief, raised by a mother who was profoundly impacted by child loss.”

Is that the fate our living children are left to sort out? It must be for I am, without a doubt, as profoundly impacted by my daughter’s death as the word allows. And so, I am left to wonder if my children are not that different from the fourth grade boy. If every action and reaction of theirs holds some measure of my loss reflecting back at me. I’m raising them day by day, year by year, paralleled through every stage of my grief. So how can they emerge untouched by it, unshaped by my emotions? They see the melancholic joy in my face when they mention her. They feel my arms around them at her headstone every year. They feel the shift in my ways during late August and early September. They see the tears that slide down my cheeks. “Are you ok Mama?” they ask, but the answer is far too abstract and complex for explanation.

“There is so much guilt in parenting after loss” I recently said to a fellow mourner with a half smile. I am starting to make sense of its origin, yet in doing so I am beginning to fear it will never leave me. I am fearful it will implant itself in the hearts of my girls and hold tight there too, an irreconcilable and foundationless emotion they must carry for the rest of their days.

After the death of my child, I was forever changed. And for so long after that my grief was exclusive. It was mine to feel, mine to manage, mine to fight or give in to. Tangentially others were affected, yet the gaping hole existed in my heart.

The troubled young boy, the child psychologist, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Anarcharist Mom all point to the same conclusion. Even before their conception, my children were too. Just by existing in our home, they are being shaped by both grief and love.

How does grief shape your life?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blog Makeover

Oh - sorry...didn't mean to get your hopes up with that title, but it IS coming. In fact, Calliope - that bloggy genious, is ready to wave her magic mouse, but I have to back up my blogs firsts. (to all my tech-savy friends - um - any idea how to do that?)

But, did you notice MY BUTTON on the top of the sidebar? Cool huh? Feel free to grab it and place it on your own blog. Afterall the goal is to connect us all in this grief road.

Today's "catch up" agenda was bumped by a classroom observation. But, tomorrow ( I swear) I have the whole morning to write and catch up on my internet obligations. Even so, I am going to type out my to-do list, right here, so there can be no bumping of priorities - random emergency situations notwithstanding.

1. Draw January's SSV Scrapbooking raffle winner!
2. Update Wall of Angels
3. Back up ALL my blogs (remember - I need help with this one!)
4. Catch up on my blogroll

Till tomorrow! Oh - and if you want to weigh in on what I should be giving away every month - click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the SSV blog for the poll.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Show and Tell - Oh How I Missed You!

DISCLAIMER - This is the lamest show and tell I've put up...but it's all I've got this week. Keep reading and you'll see why!

Five days without more than a five minute check-in on the computer.

FIVE DAYS without reading other people's blogs, without updating mine (the previous bulletted post not-withstanding), without checking on two week waits, without checking my email even once a day, without laughing out loud at your witty posts and crying silent tears at the sad ones.

Um...did I mention - FIVE DAYS!!!!

It felt like a month! I knew how connected we all were, but I didn't realize just how much I based my day on your experiences - your ups, your downs - your annoucements and emotions.

I feel like a bad friend who missed much! And, as I look at my ever growing google reader, I just might be. Tomorrow is the beginning of a work week, and I will sit and TRY to catch up...but I have a favor to ask.

If I comment regularly on your blog and you know that I follow your story...please just shoot me an email with the highlights from the last week. The five minutes you take to type said email will accomplish three things.
  1. It will effectively catch me up on all the good and maybe not-so-good-stuff I missed
  2. It will lead me to right posts I need to read to get ALL the details
  3. And, most importantly, it will ease the abandonment guilt I am feeling for dissapearing!

So - consider the next paragraph my "Catching Up Email" to all of you!

Hi! Wow, can't believe I feel so disconnected after this last week. I have travelled out of state in a crazy, raging blizzard and lived to tell the tale! I attended a moving and inpsirational meeting of Share in Northhampton and can really see what our little group will grow to be, sadly. I shopped on the way home for my girls birthday party. They have birthdays so close together we combine the party. Well, this year it was more like two parties on the same day, at the same time, in the same house - but two different rooms. But, the miraculous part, was the atmosphere was so calm. The party was the most in control we've ever had! Today I try to get my head back on straight with presents still strewn all over the floor and half finished projects on tables - but I missed you, so I really needed to send this along! I look forward to catching up on your recent doings!

And - if you feel so inclined to see The Comedian's First Dance Video - click on over... Oh - and don't actively drink while watching. You might spit soda on your clean shirt. Ok - don't say I didn't warn you, the girl's got some groovin' moves!

Talk to you soon!! - Cara

Lost Found Connections Abound! It Works - So Let's Use It!

Submit My News Click here to submit my news to the LFCA



Time Is Both My Best Ally and My Worst Enemy: My Meltdown 8 Years Later