Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever experienced. In my case, before getting the opportunity to raise a child, I lost 3 precious babies due to miscarriages. I struggle trying to explain how that has altered my parenting. I read a blog the other day that was titled, "I love my children more than you." The parent was trying to explain how after a loss, one is more likely to not take things for granted when it come to the joys of parenting. I don't completely agree with this statement though. I often say something similar. I am a better parent than I would have been if I had never lost a child.
Our situation is so much more complicated though. Hunter is technically a middle child and an only child all at once. I lost 3 babies before him and 2 babies after him, and I am now carrying another brother or sister. One thing Hunter has gained from these experiences is the ebb and flow of real life. He has seen genuine emotion in our home. He has a strong bond with other people in his life especially grandparents and his Daddy.
The first few months of Hunter's life, I was plagued with extreme postpartum anxiety. I know hormones had a lot to do with it, but having previous loses played a major roll as well. I feel like I missed out on those few months, but I feel comforted knowing that he was always taken care of and loved by family as well as myself even on my most challenging days.
After getting a handle on my anxiety through medication, therapy and tremendous support, I began truly enjoying being a Mommy. I weaned myself off the medication and continued to love this new role. I took pictures constantly, (Still do.) I set up activities and joined mommy groups. We went on lots of amazing play dates and just soaked up life together.
Anytime I felt exhausted or frustrated I would sing that "You're Gonna Miss This" song to myself. Just as any parent, I have times of total melt down and freak outs, but I think these times happen less often because I know how precious every moment is.
A whole new wave began when we decided to try again for a child. I had just had blood-work and even an exploratory surgery. The doctors told us that this was a great time to try again because everything looked perfect. The stress of trying again changed the dynamic in our house. Once I was actually pregnant again, the symptoms interrupted Hunter and my normal routine. Very early in this pregnancy there were problems and I was put on bed rest. I was told I was carrying twins, but one was tubal, so I had to have surgery.
I was stuck in bed or on the couch for quite a while. Hunter didn't understand this and didn't transition well. He began acting out. I did my best to spend quality time with him, but it wasn't the same. This is when my amazing family and friends stepped in. Although my time with him had drastically changed, he was once again filled with love and attention by other amazing people in our lives. He bonded even more with Daddy too.
I feel Hunter and I grew further apart during the ups and downs of this pregnancy. After losing Wyatt, I went through a period of depression. We decided it would be best for everyone to have Hunter in a preschool a few days a week. He loved it and it gave me time to take care of myself. As time passed and I went through many stages of grief, Hunter was a great encouragement. I wanted to feel better for him, and then eventually for myself as well.
It's been just over a year now since we lost Wyatt. I am pregnant again and things are going well. I recently realized though that we are still not anywhere close to the place we were before. I still do activities with him and go on play dates, but something is just different. The piece that is missing is that I don't actually fully enjoy these times together the same way I did before. It's been especially challenging lately. I couldn't quite figure out "what was wrong with me" until my appointment with my therapist today.
She reminded me that we just spread Wyatt's ashes a few weeks ago and that dealing with that anniversary is probably more challenging for me that I realize. I am just on another dip of this roller coaster of grief. Knowing this is actually encouraging. Because I know I have been here before and I made my way back. Another encouraging thought is how resilient kiddos are. Throughout all of this, Hunter seems happy, confident and loved. My plan is to take care of myself, so I can get back to the Mommy I want be.
So long story short, every life experience truly effects anyone's parenting. Loosing a child can make parenting more challenging as well as more enjoyable. Life teaches us to not take anything or anyone for granted.