Parenting After Loss: Degrees of Missing

By | 2017-04-14T12:10:22+00:00 April 14th, 2017|Parenting After Loss|1 Comment

This week I was away from my rainbow for two and half days for a business trip. It’s not very long, but it was the longest I’ve been away from him since he was conceived.

People assumed I missed him when they found out I had a 15-month old back home. They were right, I did miss him. I also missed my husband. But I was not depressed, I was not brokenhearted. I was worried that I might be overwhelmed with anxiety, but I wasn’t. I had video chatting and texts from my husband so I knew everyone was OK (if a bit stressed for time).

After my first baby died, one of the big things that bothered me was over-the-top expression of missing children while away for short trips. Things like, “my heart is breaking” and “I’m so depressed” thrown about like parental badges of honor. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to respond to every one of these friends and acquaintances. Not to say something like, “at least you have a living child to go back to” or “you’ll see them again, I won’t” or even the more productive “it’s very hurtful to bereaved parents when you treat a trivial absence like grief.”

Yes, I missed my husband and my living child. But it was nothing, not even a footnote, compared to the missing of my lost child. I feel it, and I recognize it, but it doesn’t have weight or gravity for me.

I’ll never know what I would have felt like or said if I wasn’t a bereaved parent. I quite possibly would have said all the same hyperbolic things, trying to prove how much I loved my child. And it would have been insensitive of me.

That’s not to discount anxiety that parents (and especially loss parents) are susceptible to when they are away from loved ones. I went through many months unable to be apart from my husband, certain he would die. Those feelings ebb and flow, and right now I’m in a pretty good place most of the time.

The one thing that doesn’t get better is missing my baby. My baby that I’ll never hold again, never kiss again, never raise. It’s a completely different level, different dimension of missing. And to me, it makes the missing of a few days seem insignificant.

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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.

One Comment

  1. Sarah April 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your post. I can really relate to what you said. I lost my first daughter at 31 weeks, and then my boy/girl twins at 17 weeks to unrelated unlucky events. I am now 17 weeks pregnant again, and I was sitting at the dinner table recently with my in-laws and 28 year old sister-in-law. My sister-in-law went into a 15 minute story about how she lost one of two her childhood dolls in Hawaii (that she still sleeps with and calls her “pink babies.”) Her long dramatic story about how she was so devastated and cried for three days straight about losing her “pink baby” made me want to scream! How could someone be so insensitive in talking about devastation of losing a doll after I’ve held three of my lifeless babies in my arms and had to say goodbye to all of them. If people only stopped to think. That’s my only wish. Thanks again for sharing your story with these issues and painful circumstances that we have to endure as loss parents.

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