I have been pretty hard on myself, but then it is absolutely understandable. How do you not dissect it? I read in a book that parents feel guilty because on some strange level they think if they could figure out what went wrong, that they can somehow rewind the tape and bring their child back.
This is incredibly tough. So I am trying to avoid guilt that is there without a cause.
Here are my few rules to make life easier on me:
1) If you would do something if Perry was here, you are not dishonoring him by still doing it.
Eating, Drinking, Work, Church, Living.
2) By laughing or smiling, you are doing what Perry would want you to do. When I was crying, Perry smiled at me the day before he died. He seemed a bit confused and befuddled and broke out in a smile. I had to smile back, it was forced but how could any mother not? I think this is what he would do now.
3) If you have to do something that doesn't make sense to others/ or makes them uncomfortable to survive it is ok. This includes having Emily hold a picture of her brother on special occassions for a family picture, sending out Christmas cards with him in it, including Perry in the answer for "How many kids do you have?".
4) It is ok to avoid occasions that will make you sad beyond normal, but it is not ok to check out on relationships. So for example, if you can't make a baby shower, that is ok. Not sending a note with an explaination and a present is not.
These rules are somewhat essential to me. About a month has passed since Perry died and it seems like a day. The world is going on. Christmas is not waiting because we do not want it to come.
In contrast, I guess there are some things that I do not regret as a parent. These include:
1) Letting Perry taste ice cream. You aren't supposed to give whole milk for a year. I can remember that it was a hot day late in the summer/ early fall. I was sitting on our front porch with Perry in my lap and we were looking out across our property. He seemed to be staring intently at the spoon and was trying to figure the concept out. I put a small bit on the spoon and touched it to his tongue. His tongue pushed it out, his reflex still based on nursing, but he seemed to attack the spoon, so I gave him another small taste. If I could only choose one food out of everything on earth to taste (if it were the only chance I had), ice cream just might be it.
2) Not following the cry it out concept. It only took about 15 minutes to rock him to sleep every night. Even after he was asleep, I continued to rock him for a while. He felt good in my arms. There were a few times I put him down and his little eyes would open, and even though he wasn't making a fuss, I'd rock him again. I am glad I held him as much as I did.
3) Nursing. I agree that formula is not poison. But I loved how he nestled against me even after he was through. He obviously found it comforting.
4) Baby wearing. Besides freeing my hands from a stroller, it allowed him next to my heart. He would often fall asleep, and I think it made our bond that much stronger. It allowed him to see more things than he would have in a stroller or pumkin seat. It also allowed me to still do things with my daughter and hold her hand, so she wasn't really jealous of Perry. I think the lack of jealousy allowed her to develope a strong bond with her brother.
5) Taking him places even if it would have been easier to call in Grandparent support (or the nursery) and go without him. He went to a Vandy football game, the pool, retirement parties, the zoo, Sunday School class, and a trip in Uncle David's plane to St Louis. These are memories I wouldn't have had, and they allow you to discover things about your child. Some of my best memories with Emily were a result of this policy, taking her on cruises has been fun (when many suggested it was a waste) and to see different broadway style shows (the kid loves performances and claps enthusiatically). I just wish Perry had been old enough to go with us at least once. I wonder if he would have taken after Emily in this regard. I think in a few years the two would have been little fish in the pool or on beaches and I can imagine Emily trying to explain how you are supposed to be quiet during a performance and clap afterwards. She would have been a great teacher and friend to him.
6) Buying him the gnon and giving it to him early (also know as not saving everything special for 'special' occasions). I bought the gnon because I realized he was starting to teethe and I was paranoid about buying a Sophie the Giraffe (had read in some reviews about babies choking on her legs). It squeaked shrilly, looked a bit odd, but the little guy loved it. It was the only toy I bought specially for him, and while I was thinking about saving it for Christmas, I did not. This toy would wake Dad up in the morning and was starting to go many places with him.
7) Going all natural without medication. I seem to generally take more numbing stuff to get the job done/ or it kicks in later than the average woman. This led to a big dose in the epidural with Emily, resulting in a longer recovery time. His birth was totally different than Emily's and unlike Emily where they took her away almost immediately for four hours and didn't give her back, Perry got to bond with me almost immediately. Granted I did bond with Emily, just seemed a bit more delayed as when they returned her she didn't even look like the same baby and it threw me for a bit of a loop. Knowing the short time I had with him, 4 extra hours and 2 days quicker bonding was worth it.
I just wished I had more time. I wished we could have at least gone through the holiday season with him, instead of just a couple 'second tier days'. His sister was sick on the fourth of July (even though I dressed him up in a fourth of July shirt with a blue star diaper), so in reality all he had was Halloween. I rescued his little pumpkin from the compost heap and it will sit on our porch until it goes bad.
It is my birthday and to be blunt it was not what I would have wanted, not how I had pictured it. When I had Perry, I had set up to take the shift off before Christmas. My birthday is always what I think of as sort of the start of the Christmas Holiday for us. So facing the Christmas Holiday without him is hard, it was supposed to be his first Christmas. We should have been at Brentwood getting his first picture on Santa's lap right now and letting his big sister open his first present from Santa for him. We should have been looking forward to that shift off and watching him stare at the Christmas tree lights as he played on the floor. He should have been sitting up in his highchair while Christmas music played and I fed him his first spoon of solid food. The house should be filled with the sounds of the Charlie Brown Christmas sound track, and he should be on my chest covered in flour as Emily and I make Christmas Cookies as an excuse to eat most of the dough.
But he is not. The house is quiet except for my typing.
And now I can't convince myself to do much of anything.