So last week I posted about Reuben’s first 6 months. That was all about him and rightly so. However I think it is also so important that I write about how I’ve found the first 6 months of Parenting After Loss. Despite all the happy and wonderful moments it has still been a difficult 6 months in other ways.
These are the 6 main things I’ve learnt about Parenting After Loss.
- You Find It Harder To Except Help
- You Over Worry You’ll Miss Magical Moments
- People Can Think It’s All Ok Now
- You Can Feel Like A Normal Parent & Feel Different All At Once
- The Fear & Worry Never Fade
I could list more but these are the big things I’ve felt over the past 6 months. It takes your grief in a completely different direction if you get to parent after loss. Now I’m in no way taking away the blessing and joy that Reuben is. Grief is always like a dormant volcano, it’s always bubbling away under the surface. The wild winds and waves are still just around any corner. Now different things can set the grief of missing Poppy off. That is just how it goes. You know to expect it to happen when you least expect it.
So here we go:
You Find It Harder To Except Help
Family and friends wanting to give you that helping hand when you have a baby is a truly wonderful thing. Just to have 5 minutes to chill or to allow you to do the pile of jobs lucking in the corner. The need for help because sometimes your little bundle of joy is a little over bearing.
In Reuben’s early weeks and months I really struggled to allow people to help me out. I just wanted to do it all, everything no matter how small. I’d hold him on my arms while cleaning his bottles or if I was making a sandwich. I’d take him for a walk or bounce if he was upset. Even if It took me 5 hours I wouldn’t stop. I just wanted to do everything with Reuben. Deep down I know I was running myself into the ground. I wanted to spend every second with Reuben because I could with him. I was getting the change too where I didn’t with Poppy.
I’d wish upon a million stars to get just one change to take 5 hours to chill Poppy out if needed. I felt that asking for help was in someway not being grateful for Reuben. I felt I’d be wasting a moment with him, a moment I longed for with Poppy. I’d get unhappy if somebody other than Emily or me did something for Reuben. I felt I was missing out and felt guilty I wasn’t doing it. The truth is you need help. There a times when you need a break. It’s all about the quality of time you spend with the kids. Reuben is not going to remember the one time I didn’t cuddle him during dinner so I could eat with 2 hands. A helping hand makes life easier for all involved and stops you being a crazy run down parent.
You Over Worry You’ll Miss Magical Moments
This is normal even if you aren’t parenting after loss. Going back to work has to happen but that doesn’t stop you worrying that you are going to miss out on a magically moment in your baby’s development. I really found myself over worrying about this. Like a wave battering the shoreline I couldn’t shake the worry I’d miss out on something with Reuben.
I’m never going to see any of Poppy’s magically moments. I’ll never see her first smile, her first laugh, see her walk, talk. It’s heartbreaking and I hate it. It’s made me so much more aware of all the little moments Reuben gives and how meaningful they are. I feel like if I miss out on them that I’m in a strange way I’m not cherishing Reuben. That sounds odd I know. Having not got to see Poppy’s magical moments it makes Reuben’s even more special. The thought of missing out on them as well gets me down.
But sat worrying about missing out means I’m taking my focus away from just enjoying being with Reuben. Allowing him to show off what he wants, when he wants. I’ve started to except that I’m going to miss certain moments with him. It sucks and stings more than I think it would if we hadn’t had lost Poppy. It’s like a million bee stings over just one. It’s double the pain. But I’ll still see these moments for the first time myself and you have to cherish those moments. He is a rainbow after all, here brightening up our little corner of the globe.
People Can Think It’s Ok Now
After losing a baby the support you get can differ. Emily and I were so lucky to have fantastic support. Now when you have a rainbow baby it is very easy for people to think that all is ok in the world for you now. You have a baby and it’s all good. Well actually it’s not. I should have 2 children at home but I only have 1. Poppy touched our lives and we will always be a Poppy sized hole in our lives. Nothing will ever repair that hole. Having Reuben eases the pain but all is still not ok.
If people start to think all is ok now then I fear they’ll stop talking about Poppy and I hate that thought. I want other people to talk to Reuben about his big sister. I want people to understand that he has a big sister who sadly isn’t here. Just because you can’t see her and that I’m not crying doesn’t mean all is ok.
After the initial grief period people outside of the inner family circle don’t see the tears or pain. But you meet another parent how has suffered baby loss and you can see the pain in their eyes. You do connect instantly. They get it is not ok and meeting other parents that get it means so much. You can be really open with them. People just need to remember that baby loss never goes away, no rainbow baby can replace your lost child. You are still going to have moment when it is all too much still.
You Can Feel Like A Normal Parent & Feel Different All At Once
You get 2 sides of parenthood when you parent a rainbow baby after loss. You will feel like ever other parent. I feel the tiredness from a multi wake up night. I feel the same joy seeing Reuben smile for the first time. I get the Dad Sweats if I can’t stop Reuben crying in a public place. I have all the normal parenting worries. I feel everything a parent that hasn’t suffered baby loss feels.
No matter how special a rainbow baby is you still will pull your hair out. You’ll still feel shattered and overwhelmed. It’s ok to feel like this. I’ve realised that all these feelings are standard and it’s ok to feel normal at times. Let’s face it 90% of the time you will feel different. You feel different because you are a different kind parent.
I’m a parent to 2 children and heartbreakingly only 1 of them is here with us. I will never see my children grow up together. I’ll never see those big moments with all the sweet innocence normal parents will. Reuben’s first day at School will be amazing but part of me will wonder what Poppy’s first day would have been like.
It’s hard to find a balance of the 2 parenthoods you have. But it is ok to have 2 sides and be at times a little unbalanced. You will have days when you just feel like a completely normal, run of the mill parent. Then you’ll get the days where you feel isolated because no other parent in the baby group gets the feelings of having siblings that wont meet. You will have days where you can balance those 2 out and they are good days folks. It’s ok to have this still.
The Fear & Worry Never Fade
I think this was always going to be a given. After losing Poppy from the moment we found out Reuben was growing in Emily the worry kicked in. Like an annoying itch that just won’t go away it haunts you. Getting to every scan was a bigger deal. Getting to Reuben’s birth was a big deal. The fear of him not coming home hovered over me until that faithful morning at 5am.
Reuben getting home was a massive hurdle to get over but then the fear of something going wrong was still there, at the back of my mind. I’m better now but in the early few weeks and months I’d freak out at night if I woke up and didn’t hear him. Worrying something was wrong, fearful of what might have happened.
As The weeks have turned into months the worry and fear isn’t as strong as it once was but it is still there. Having been through the worst and had the worst outcome happen makes you always wonder. Will it happen again. I know those feelings will always be around but I’ve learned to life with them a little more.
It is so easy to over think and worry after losing a child. I’m really trying hard to be more positive and even if i have worry’s, just try to put the best foot forward. I don’t want to over worry and that have a negative effect on how i parent Reuben. I want him to have the best childhood he possibly can.
Every first of Reuben’s, every big moment in his life will be amazing. It will be a wonderful moment but it will have a cloud hovering in the distance. The bittersweetness that I should have had these moments with Poppy.
It will never take away from Reuben how amazing his moments are. I will treasure those memories and enjoy every second of the, However I will always, maybe not in the moment, think of how that moment may have been with Poppy. Wishing to be able to have that moment.
It sucks that I have to feel like this but that is the life of having 2 types of fatherhood. I will always be the same as every other parent but also so very different and that is an isolating and lonely feeling to have. That is why it has been so important for me to share my feelings, my musings and my thoughts. It has connected me with other Dad’s going through the same. It has connected me with Dad’s that haven’t suffered baby loss but who have been so supportive and caring.
Most of all it has shown me how amazing my wife Emily is. Seeing how she handles it all takes my breath away. I’m so proud of her and how she copes. She’s a LEGEND. If I can cope with it all half as good as she does then I know it all be ok in the end.