Parenting After Loss: Is Getting By Good Enough?

By |2018-08-09T19:47:58+00:00August 9th, 2018|Parenting After Loss|0 Comments

For a long time after Oberon died, we didn’t make any huge decisions. We still wanted a family with living children, so we focused on that. We’ve been so focused on having a living baby and caring for a living baby…that we haven’t thought about much else.

I feel so unprepared for what’s to come.

Preschool? Do we enter a lottery or take our assigned public school? Do we stay here or move closer to family?

A very big part of me wants to check out and make no decisions. One day at a time, try to make them happy days, and let everything work itself out. I’ll just be a passenger. Then comes the mom guilt. With an extra special layer of loss mom guilt.

Would I be more proactive in shaping my living child’s life if his brother didn’t die? Would I have the energy to research and plan, to coordinate and schedule? Is getting by good enough?

For so long, I couldn’t do anything beyond getting by.

That was baseline, from the moment we found out how serious Oberon’s health issues were to maybe a few months ago. For the past three and a half years, two pregnancies after loss, and new house, I haven’t been able to think more than a month or so into the future. All of a sudden, I’m panicking about the future.

Am I giving my living children enough enrichment? Am I doing them harm living far away from the ones who arguably love them the most (besides us)? Am I doing our family unit harm having no one nearby to help? Should I quit work? Should I get a different job?

There’s no way to know, but it seems like everything is heightened after experiencing infant loss.

The magnitude of grief and loss is still palpable, even if I’ve learned to cope with it day to day. I know, at a visceral level, what it’s like to lose someone. I know how much life can change in a moment, and odds are we won’t see it coming.

So I’m back to paralyzed. Unable to make a decision, but terrified that getting by isn’t good enough. And if it isn’t good enough now, was it ever good enough to just get by? Did I coast when I should have been more? It’s a question that may haunt me the rest of my life, scared that the fog of loss kept me from being the best parent I could be. That I let it.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Thoma
Elizabeth Thoma lives in the Bay Area, California, with her husband, Chris, and two cats, JJ and Pepper. She found out she was expecting their first child Mother’s Day weekend, 2014. With mild symptoms and no significant early warning signs, they adjusted to pregnancy and eagerly planned for their growing family. At the second trimester anatomy scan, they found out they were having a son and that he had an abdominal wall defect, an omphalocele. Ever the planners, Elizabeth and Chris prepared themselves and their families for what the omphalocele meant in a best-case scenario, and some of the possibilities that couldn’t be diagnosed in utero. Their son, Oberon, was born six weeks early and had his omphalocele surgery within his first twelve hours of life. The surgery went well, but Obie was having trouble breathing. At first, the doctors thought it was related to his large tongue, one of the many indicators that he had Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. When Obie was one week old, the doctors told Chris and Elizabeth that somewhere along the line, Obie’s brain stopped developing. While they could control his seizures somewhat with heavy medication, Obie’s brain would never develop and he would not be able to walk, talk, or even communicate. At this point, they decided to switch Obie to comfort care and try to take him home from the NICU. They successfully broke out of the NICU and Obie rode home in an ambulance. Bringing their son home brought much comfort to their family. Obie passed away at home in his daddy’s arms at 33 days old. Elizabeth found out she was pregnant with their second child a week after Mother’s Day, 2015. Her second son, Everett, was born January 7, 2016. Elizabeth and Chris blog at about their family at Our Little Beastie.

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