Dear Superhero Moms Parenting After Loss,
You have to hear this. You are doing a great job. A phenomenal job. Parenting is hard work no matter what your journey to get there looks like. But this parenting after loss gig, I am willing to bet it’s even tougher. Because I don’t think I would have half of the fears lurking in my head if I hadn’t lost five babies before birthing a healthy breathing one. My most traumatic loss, which resulted in giving birth to my deceased yet perfect baby boy at 28 weeks, has taught me quite a few things about control. Mainly that we have very little of it.
But then here we are, parenting a living, laughing, squishy little baby. It’s the most amazing thing in the world. The most wondrous and beautiful of emotions possible. The extreme opposite of grief, which is pure joy. And then, we are forced to make decisions for these little babies. Ones we never had to before.
“Should we co-sleep? I can’t, I might hurt my baby. Do we breastfeed? I have to, it will keep my baby healthy and alive. Do I vaccinate? What about SIDS? Do I get a monitoring device for when she is sleeping? Will that make it worse? Do I treat this fever or let her immune system grow? Should I rock her all night or sleep train her? Solid food? What if she chokes? Stuffy nose? But what if she can’t breathe? Play groups? But it’s cold and flu season. Take a night out for myself? But what if something happens to her? Tune out for 20 minutes? I can’t, what if she passes away and I never get another 20 minutes again?”
I know. It’s insanely hard Mama. I can hear inside your head because I am you. I think it would be hard on any Mom but let’s be honest, we got the crummy end of the stick in ways. Our minds are not capable of going back to a time that felt safe and predictable. So let me tell you this.
You are not crazy. You are not a helicopter Mom. You are not neurotic or a germa-phob. You are not too overprotective. You don’t ask the pediatrician too many questions. You don’t analyze too much. You aren’t losing your mind.
You are parenting after loss.
You are walking through this uncharted territory that there are no baby books about. And if it’s anything like my journey, not many people understand the see-saw of emotions you bounce between several times per day. Only a select handful of people understand that you not only suffered loss(es) but you endured real trauma. The mind takes time to figure that stuff out. So be easy on yourself. Remember that it’s okay to think about your other child and feel sad. This does not mean you aren’t grateful for your living child. It’s okay to be scared, you’ve been through something really scary. It’s okay to ask for help or need time to yourself. You are human and need to pour into yourself in order to pour back into your children, no matter where they are. It’s okay if the first thing you did on Christmas morning was shed tears. Your holiday was missing something, something irreplaceable. And it’s just as okay that 20 minutes later you were laughing and smiling next the Christmas tree with your living baby.
I can assume that your mind has been consumed with the thoughts of a future baby as well. “Can I really do this pregnancy thing all over again? Am I strong enough, am I willing to risk it?” I know that this baby was more than worth the stressful pregnancy, but if you decide you don’t want to do it again, that doesn’t somehow negate that. Nor does it mean that the baby you lost wasn’t “worth it.” I promise. You don’t have to know what you want to do. And it’s okay to be confused about it. Try not to compare yourself to other PAL Moms. This is your journey. You don’t have to have more than one living child to be courageous. Just like you don’t have to have more than one loss to be heartbroken.
One more thing…
You are enough for your baby. You are more than enough. You were specifically chosen, hand-picked in fact to be your baby’s mother. You. Because you are more than capable, more than worthy and perfectly suited for that little squishy being. You mama, are incredible. Parenting children in two different universes takes superhero strength.
You, are a superhero mama. I see your invisible cape because I am wearing one too.