Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

A Rainbow Baby or Two...Now What Do I Do?

Thank you to all of you who responded to my last post with some compliment to my parenting skills, my ability to impart the truth about death to two littles. Truly I appreciate your words and want so much for them to be true - but doubt myself, still.

I have read book after book after book.

I have searched blog after blog, reading similar laments that made me feel slightly better about the "if - then" consequence I had doled out earlier that morning.

I have asked therapist after therapist for 'sound advice' on parenting children in the wake of loss.

I emply empathy and compassion, trading them for the 'tried and not so true' strategies of the past.

I am continually told that I am doing the best I can and my kids will be better for it.

But nothing really solidifies it for me. In the wake of loss... that is the permeating factor here for to live in the shadow of a sister you never knew, regardless how light and pretty and non-reflective the visage is - is a shadow none-the-less.

For as I often say, parenting Emma is easy. She doesn't wake me in the dark hours of the night or fight vehamently about her dislike of green vegetables. She doesn't beg for 'just one more movie' or strike me down with a vilified look when the timer goes off on her computer time. No, she fills me with joy and light, with purpose and desire, and - of course - with sadness and longing that I wish her perfect self was here to do all those same things.

And there is the problem. On some fantastical level I truly believe that she would be this easy to parent. That if miracles could reverse the tragedy that was her death she would be filled with the resulting gratitude and embrace her life as a gift; eating all her vegetables, offering help to all in need, sailing through pre-teen years with grace, and infusing me will all the afore mentioned emotions.

Rest assured, I do live in the real world. I live with two subsequent children who are, as siblings go, as different as night and day. They see the world through different eyes. They each possess their own intrisic set of rules for living. They feel the world filtered by opposing anxiety thresholds. One is flexible to a fault, the other rigid only able to bend at the ankles. The fir tree and the oak tree if you will.

And, as any parent of siblings will tell you, it takes a different skill set to parent one than the other. But what if that toolbox was orginally filled with hope and wonder and blissfill ingnorance that the worst thing babies can endure is diaper rash has been stripped and repacked with grief, and disapointment, and reality, and an image of perfection that is unattainable at best?

Funny. My biggest fear in having rainbow babies was that I would be unable to differentiate my visualized experience of Emma from their reality. That I would compare and question and wonder until I had blended my tangible child with her angelic sister. I fought hard against this. I have not done this.
But I think, without realizing it, I have failed at a more organic level. Although I put no obvious pressure on them to achieve, I clearly enjoy them differently. I prefer to venture into the world with them individually, embracing whatever they have to offer on that day; leaving the other one to do the same with daddy, or nana, or Grandma.

Perhaps it is a natural response of an only child raising siblings. Or perhaps it is a natural consequence of living intense joy after life-altering loss. I don't have answers, only questions - as ususal. But now, these queries are laced with doses of guilt that I might prefer one reality to another, one self-made fantasy to the facts that are placed before me.

This is hard. Really hard. I am doing my best, and - without saying too much about what our family is currently going through - I hope that the best I am doing is what they need, what will allow them to flourish.

So thanks for your words - and if you are having, or have a tiny rainbow baby and want to remember who they are in connection to their angel sibling check out this awesome link. I wish I'd had one or two!


Martha said...

Thank you for this beautiful post, Cara. I send you comfort and peace for parenting your oldest daughter and abide w/your journey.
Thank you also for reminding me of when my brother died and my parents thought I would be able to help them when I too was falling apart. Along w/my other two surviving siblings, we share the task of keeping the candle lit and yes, the guilt for having lived while Jim died. I think that is the only thing I can share of any import is that your girls carry Emma too, just like my DNA and bond w/my brother will always be a part of me, same w/Bear and Comedian. I give my parents a safe place to celebrate their son because that is their right, their due, my honor and privilege. Same for you all and your beautiful family, even at this young age.

Sara said...

Cara, before Kathleen was born, I was concerned about how to keep Henry "alive" as part of our family. I thought less, if at all, about how another child or other children might feel and what they might need. For now, she sees pictures of him and she stands on the grass on his grave when we visit, but I suppose the mix will change as she grows. I suppose like anything else I'll muddle through doing the best I can as you are doing. Strength to your family as you face what you are facing.

Kristin said...

Cara, I am continually in awe of you and everything you do (and the strong beautiful words you use to tell us about it).

Once A Mother said...

Such a beautiful post, so much of it resonated with me, and yet, what meant the most to me was a window into hope that I gleaned from these few words "Or perhaps it is a natural consequence of living intense joy after life-altering loss" To know that intense joy after loss is possible meant so much for me to read. Thank you.

Once A Mother said...

sending you good thoughts and prayers as you navigate your way through the issues you are facing.

CLC said...

I am sorry to hear about your Great Grandma. I often wonder how Denis will grow up and how weird it will be for him to live in the aftermath of his dead sister. It scares me to no end that I will completely screw this up and scar him. So far he is happy though, so I try not to travel too far into the future. Thanks for posting this. I definitely look to you as an example!

MrsSpock said...

Ditto to everything Martha said- and many hugs to you. We all muddle along as best we can.

Bluebird said...

You know, I just realized - you might be the only blogger I read with non-infant children after a loss of a first born. I read plenty of parents of non-infant children who lost their second (or third or fourth) child, and all the interesting parenting situations that present as a result. . .

But I think you're the only one I read struggling to keep a child's memory alive when that child died before her siblings were ever born. With means - you're the only one in the position I hope and pray to find myself in one day.

It certainly carries its own peculiar set of parenting quandries. What an awful, awful lot to think about and mull over. Thank you for your honesty, and for allowing us to walk this road with you.

Thinking of you and your family.

Salma said...

Cara, with love and admiration, as you truly put into words what I do not think I could.

I wish you all the best.

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