Parenting Paradox

It has been a while since I have written a post. This is in part due to being a new parent and having zero clue how to budget out my time. This is also in part to the emotional toll is takes to write a post. I usually write a post and its a huge emotional release. Writing about Cora was a way to process and acknowledge my feelings. A way to share my experience with those parents who are googling “pregnancy loss” “infant loss” “child loss” “stillbirth”, just like I did. We want to read about someone’s experience and we want to know we are going to survive this loss. We want to know we are not alone.

Parenting Rowan has been the most incredible privilege. But watching him grow has opened wounds again and again. I didn’t understand why this was happening and I didn’t want to complain about it in a blog post. In the months following the loss of Cora, I could not handle listening to people complain about their children. It was usually with people I did not really know – its way easier to displace my anger at someone who will never know I’m mad. I would literally be yelling in my head “at least you have a child to keep you up or complain about wanting a million snacks”. Obviously, I didn’t do that. It would not have achieved anything and I would have felt guilty saying that to anyone. But it has kept me from blogging these past few months because I’ve had some struggles.

Giving birth to a stillborn child and giving birth to a living child in the span of 11 months has taken a toll on me. I look back and think what a different person I have become. I process stress and anxiety much differently now. The emotional swings can be intense at times. The trauma left me jumpy and feeling like I had zero control of my life.  I realized that I was developing a need to control things. Seeing articles that said “Kick counts will save your baby’s life” or “If this mom hadn’t gone to the hospital, her baby wouldn’t be here” triggered a rage in me. And sometimes they still do. I will always wrestle with the notion of “What did I miss?”. What did I freaking miss that my child isn’t here?

I started to notice this happening in my actions with Rowan. Just tiny little thoughts but if I let them get bigger – it could consume my whole life. Can I see him breathing through the monitor? I swear I will hear him crying out but nope, he’s slumbering away. Paul & I have both woke up from a nightmare that Rowan has fallen asleep somewhere in our bed but he’s actually in his own crib, safe. And just this night Paul flipped Rowan from his stomach to his back while he was sleeping…just because it left a knot in our stomach that something could happen. Most parent’s have these fears, but these instances not only trigger an emotional response, they trigger a physical response. Anytime we have these moments – it triggers the emotional and physical response from the moments we found out Cora’s heart was no longer beating.  I don’t have to “imagine” that pain, I freaking know that pain. My heart races, my stomach drops and the tears come before I even fully realize I am crying. It all comes back too quickly to stop.

I mentioned to Paul the other day that I feel like I would be a different mom if Cora had lived. I feel like I would be more carefree. I know I wouldn’t have the anxiety that I have – it was not there before Cora. I feel like I could relate to mom’s who get emotional about their children’s milestones because they are growing up too quickly. I usually get this voice in my head that says “but the alternative to them not growing up is worse”. Its morbid, I know. And a totally debby downer….who wants to sit next to the sad mom making all the depressing comments :)?! I don’t actually say those things but sometimes I cannot help it when they pop up in my thoughts.

I think the paradox of parenting after loss is that we are experiencing extreme joys and extreme sadness at once. Rowan smiles at me when I pick him up from his crib – I can feel my heart exploding in my chest. And then I might happen to glance up at Cora’s footprints and my heart aches. Then a minute later Rowan will be giggling at me and my heart is exploding again. It is a whole lot of feelings at once. And I know they will just get more and more complicated over time.

Rowan and Cora have shown me that we do have the capacity to hold grief and happiness in our hearts simultaneously. I am not a bad mom because I still grieve for my daughter and I am not a bad mom because I find such joy in being with my son.

I want to be cautious with my words because I am so acutely aware of those around me who have lost a baby or struggling with infertility. I guess what I am trying to say in this blog is that I feel so grateful to be a mom but at times I am worn down from being a loss mom. I don’t ever want anyone to think I am not grateful for my children or the chance to be a mother so I am trying to be wise about the words I post in this blog. I always want this blog space to be a place of encouragement. But sometimes, its okay to admit when things are just hard. Or some days are a struggle. It makes all those moments on the bright side that much sweeter <3.

Snuggles & Drool :).
This is what “sibling” pictures look like in our house. Rowan + Cora Bear ❤
This was one of the first times he really started to notice Cora Bear during his monthly photos.
My heart skipped a beat when he reached for Cora Bear’s hand <3.
This is how I spend time with Cora, making sure her garden is still thriving.

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