Dear Courageous Mama Parenting Her Baby Born After a Loss,
I want you to know that I am right here with you. Right now I am 10 months into parenting my baby girl born after my other one who died.
You know what?
I have a hard time telling you this…
But it hasn’t always been easy…
And guess what?
I’m here to tell you that this is okay!
You see, I am going to share a secret with you, you brave mama who wakes up every morning and chooses to see the joy in this world of life after loss. So come closer, lean into your screen as if you can hear the keys clicking on my keyboard as I type this to you.
The secret is that “It’s okay.”
Yup, that is the secret and the mantra I carry with me as I parent during this turbulent time of waltzing between the joy and grief of this life after loss.
It’s okay if when your subsequent child is born and placed in your arms that for a moment you searched in her face for your child that died. I know I did.
It’s okay that if in those first few days of mothering this new life, this life that got to live, if you felt indifferent and almost detached from your baby after he arrived, worried about getting to attached because this baby might be taken from you too. I know I did.
It’s okay that when you bring your newborn home for the first time you spend the evening crying over their tiny body, rocking back and forth and grieving, missing, and wanting your baby that died as you sing this baby to sleep. I know I did.
It’s okay if you feel different from other moms who haven’t experienced a loss. Even though you have a baby in your arms now doesn’t mean you have forgotten the one that died. I know I haven’t.
It’s okay if there are days when you get so busy that for a moment or an hour or maybe two that you forget her, your child that came before this one and did not live. I know I sometimes do.
It’s okay if you have a hard time moving up in size of baby clothes remembering that these clothes were originally for her, your child that died, and putting them away seems to remind you that she is not coming back and with this thought you weep uncontrollable tears of sorrow. I know I did.
It’s okay if grief comes back and stays for a while. This new life is a reminder of the life that did not get to live. Grief is just your way of still loving your baby that died. I know I do.
It’s okay if joy overwhelms you. Welcome the old friend back into your life. You have waited so long for her to arrive. Enjoy the moments you get to spend together. I know I do.
It’s okay if anxiety and depression sneak in. This is to be expected after what you have been through. Don’t judge yourself that these unwanted guest have arrived. Just breathe and reach out to a mental health therapist, doctor or midwife, and ask them where you can find support. I know I did and I still do.
It’s okay if checking on your baby’s breathing each night before you can fall asleep has become part of your bedtime routine. I know it is part of mine.
It’s okay when your little one gets sick for the first time and you panic! Calling the doctor at odd hours of the night and praying to God that he doesn’t take this one too. It is your right to do everything in your power to protect this baby from illness and God forbid death. I know I do.
It’s okay to not be okay all the time. Parts of this life after loss and raising your baby born after the one that died are still going to be hard and sad. Just remember, it’s okay to not be okay all the time. I know I’m not.
It’s okay if you sleep on your child’s floor each night for the first week after you move baby out of your bedroom and into the nursery. I know I did.
It’s okay to open those 12 month, 18 month, and 24 month clothes in hopes that this baby will make it to that age unlike your other child. I know I do.
It’s okay to still be scared. The fear of losing this child too doesn’t go away in the first week, month or maybe not even the first year. You have suffered the greatest loss there is, and it makes sense if you still fear it happening again. I know I do.
It’s okay to be happy when your baby rolls, walks, and talks for the first time. Embracing the good times doesn’t mean you are not honoring your child that died. Actually living life to the fullest after the loss of your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. So when this baby coos and smiles at you, remember to welcome the joy. I know I do.
It’s also okay to embrace every bit of life after loss: the love, the pain, the grief, the joy. It’s okay to live in all of it. Because that is what this life is.
Just remember…It’s okay.
Fellow PAL Mom, Courageous PAL Warrior, & Brave Parenting After Loss Mama