Friday, December 9, 2011

Mothering Without Your Child

I think the thing most people do not really get is that when your child dies, the parent-child bond is not severed, it is just missing a person. I read somewhere than parents of a minor child who die are 2X as likely as parents not missing a child to die in the next 15 years, and that parents of infants (stillbirth to one year) were 4X as likely as their peers. Now I am not wanting to off myself, I love my Daughter and Husband and if life has taught me anything, it is that suicide is absolutely incredibly cruel to the people you would like to hurt the least: the ones who actually love you. I bring this up just to make the point that it is an incredibly strong bond, when your child is not with you it tries to eat at your soul and your body. That infants are no easier to lose. My hair is still falling out, I am turning greyer day by day, and my body physically aches. It is a very spirtual/physical bond. My milk has just about dried up, but around 8pm it still reacts to a child who is no longer here, just as it did when I was seperated at the firehall. I could almost get a watch and tell my husband when he was hungry, even though I was 60 miles away.

When a child dies you have failed. All the decisions you have made carefully about cloth diapering, breast feeding, circumsion or not, delayed cord cutting, baby wearing, pediatrician.... all these were in vain. I chose to birth him without medication because I heard babies were more alert and complications were less. After an incredibly intense birth, he lifted his head on my chest to look at me. He had a great color and his clear eyes met mine. I agonized over the smallest details like detergent choices. What did these matter? He might have had a slightly runny nose one day in his life, he never battled diaper rash, and he grew incredibly strong.... and yet he is dead. An infant is the least capable of taking care of himself, and I failed him.

The problem with an infant bond from my perspective is that it is still there as strong as ever. It isn't severed... I never expected anything back from him; While I can't receive anything back from him I still give. The smiles and the love I felt from him, the excited squak, those were all bonuses. I do not cease to feel for him because I do not receive feedback. The giving is lighting a candle on his grave, spending hours making albums online of all of his pictures, and that feeling that is always just beneath your sternum and radiates to your stomache in waves when the reality of the loss hits you.

I want to hold him, I want to teach him, I want to give things to him. There was a knitted monkey hat and an owl sleep sack that I really wanted to buy for him. One was in my cart several times on amazon, the other was one that I wanted custom made... and it has recently appeared on Zulily, down to the colors I wanted. Around when Perry died, there were two babies that entered into the lives of our friends or our family. I wanted to buy them sleep slacks. Here the owl reared his head again, and I stared at it a long time. I just couldn't order it for another baby. I couldn't push the confirm button. I later had my husband take the helm on the project, and we found two sleep sacks that I still liked. That in all honesty, were probably better picks for those children. One was a princess sleep sack for my SIL Laura (LAWRA) who recently found out that after years of heartbreak they were finally going to get a foster baby that they have a good chance of adopting. They found out right before going to Disneyland, and they are total Disney nuts... we picked out a pink princess sack. It is strange in that I can't give away Perry's things, I do not want another baby in them.... but if I had another baby that would be ok, they would have worn them anyway. I find myself seriously considering buying them although my son will never wear them. In my mind, they are his already. If I had another child, they are simply wearing his things, family clothing is passed down all the time. Is it strange that I want to order these things? Is it a leap of faith or a sheer act of lunacy? Or maybe just the act of a grieving Mother that loves her little boy.

I am sad to admit that I finally unsubsribed from Perry's birth club and his email updates. I cried for about an hour after doing this. The decision was made not because I didn't want them, it was because the pain of reading them is too raw. He will never have a tooth or eat solid foods, the closest he came was the time I slipped him a tiny spoon of icecream against the advice of every parenting book out there. He will not need a highchair... toys appropriate for his age group at Christmas just make that burning wave lap at my belly as I cry. I want to slap parents who talk about crying it out and cosleeping or any number of topics that hit a nerve.

How do I learn to parent a child who is no longer here? That is not a topic on his birthclub that anyone wants to talk about.

Someone once said:

A person that loses a partner is called a widow. A child who loses a parent is called an orphan. But there is no word to describe a parent that loses a child because the loss is like no other.

In a way this quote hits it on the head, but it is also terribly wrong.

The reason there is no word for a mother who has lost her child is because you do not need one. A Mother or Father who has lost their child keeps loving, they are still a Mother and a Father. It is just the rest of the world that refuses to see that.

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