I really feel like I thrive as a mother. I’ve never felt better at anything than this. I’m at my happiest when I have my baby in my arms, and he’s smiling at me like I’m the most amazing person in the world to him.

Janet holding her baby Brooks - Parenting After Loss: Thriving and Feelings of Failure

Author’s Personal Collection/Janet Espey

He is my comfort, my happiness. And I am his. Most days, I feel like I was really meant for this life. Some days, the hard days I feel like I fail terribly at it. The days where he’s in a sleep regression and cranky, the days where he’s just crying because something is bothering him and I can’t figure it out bring me down to feeling defeated. But that’s just motherhood, isn’t it? Loving doing this so much everyday, making sure you’re doing everything right but feeling like you fail miserably at it some days. But then, your baby smiles at you, cuddles up next to you, and laughs at you. It’s those moments where I know, with him in my arms, even on the hard days, it will be okay.

The first few months are the most stressful for parents, and on those bad days, I am very stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes, I do catch myself needing a break from it, but then the guilt washes over me. I feel as if I am taking my healthy living baby for granted by needing a break. I would do anything to have Emmett and Wyatt here with me in my arms, so I feel like a bad mother. Most moms, yes, we need a break sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with it. Being less stressed and refreshed is a good thing, not a bad thing, but when you lose a baby, you don’t want to take any moment for granted. And as loss moms, we feel guilty for even saying we need a break, thinking others are going to judge us as we judge ourselves. Mom guilt is such a very real and hard thing for all moms. As loss moms, I do believe we feel this so much harder.

Baby Brooks - Parenting After Loss: Thriving and Feelings of Failure

Author’s Personal Collection/Janet Espey

You take 100 pictures a day, soak up every moment and memory of them “just in case.” It’s a sad statement, but this is how most of us loss moms live.

When I lost Emmett and Wyatt, I became the broken version of myself. I like to think of myself as a very strong person who’s able to handle anything that life throws at me. But losing both of my babies, that I could not handle, that I still can’t handle. When Brooks was born, my light turned back on.

I’m not going to pretend that my grief went away just because I had another baby. Babies don’t replace babies. Ever. If anything, truthfully, some days now, it truly is harder. Their younger brother is older than them; he’s hitting milestones, he’s meeting family, he’s spending days with Mom and Dad, and he’s alive. They are not, and the realization of that every day is hard. People don’t see that version of you. They just see the happy thriving mother who finally has a baby home with her. They don’t see the breakdowns in the shower or at night, and they don’t see the tears behind the smile when your rainbow baby does something for the first time. They don’t see the overthinking of every little thing, and they don’t see the guilt you feel when you are having a bad day and need a break. They don’t see the guilt and anxiety of getting a break and thinking something is going to happen because you’re taking a break.

Baby Brooks at 6 months old - Parenting After Loss: Thriving and Feelings of Failure

Author’s Personal Collection/Janet Espey

Brooks is now six months old, and it’s been 16 months since I lost Emmett and Wyatt. So, on the outside, other people think I am doing a lot better now because so much time has passed, and maybe some believe I should be doing better with it, but it’s not something you ever heal from. It’s just something I am living with now.

The main thing that comforts me most days is that Emmett and Wyatt are watching me, their dad, and their little brother, and they’re happy. I will say to new parents of a rainbow baby that your angels are with you every moment of every day, helping you through the ups and downs of parenting after loss. Another thing that comforts me is that I am a great mother to my rainbow and my angels no matter what.

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