Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fears with Parenting After Loss

I understand being a parent is full of fears, but when you've gone through the worse, your world is opened up to the awful realities of all that can and so often does go wrong. My pregnancy after loss, PAL as it's referred to in the loss community, was full of so much more anxiety than I would have thought possible. And having her here finally is an ever changing cycle of fear, anxiety and worry.  Just when I think I've got a handle on my fears with Harper, she changes and we enter into a new phase of her life and in turn more fears.

With my pregnancy, I was so afraid I would miscarry. Every twinge sent me into a panic. Every time I went to the bathroom I was afraid to look, afraid it would all end. I had no spotting with Avery so when it happened with Harper, I just knew I would lose her too. 40 weeks seemed way too much to bear and I knew something that so many don't...there is no magical "safe zone." But slowly, so incredibly slow, the weeks kept passing and thankfully, Harper kept growing. 

As the weeks passed, my miscarriage fears turned into fears that she wouldn't develop as she was supposed to. I was terrified we would be told there was something wrong, something that would take her from us; trisomy 13, anencephaly, triploidy, failure for organs to develop, this list goes on and on. I was anxious as we went in for our 20 week anatomy scan. The thought of the doctor using the god awful phrase "incompatible with life" scared the hell out of me. I actually think I was holding my breath unintentionally through the ultrasound, I got dizzy and lightheaded.  I almost passed out right there on the ultrasound table. But thank God, we were fortunate, her scans looked healthy. Phew... 

The sigh of relief from her scab was short loved however. And my fears then went to stillbirth. I know far too many beautiful mommas who were forced to go through hours of labor only for their sweet baby to enter this world as silently as they left it. Beautiful, perfect babies gone. No warnings, no time to prepare. Futures cut short, worlds turned upside down. 

As soon as she started moving, I did kick counts...constantly. If I didn't feel her moving for even the shortest period of time, I was panicking. I was gobbling down candy to try to wake her up and running for my Doppler to listen for her sweet heart beat. Every day, I lived in fear that she would leave us. And I lived in that fear for the last half of my pregnancy. 

Then the real test of my nerves came, she was here and healthy but I was absolutely, positively, scared to death that something would still happen. After all, we left the hospital once with a healthy baby only to have our world completely turned upside down within days of the doctor saying she was perfect. I was so afraid I would wake up to that same horror again. I would lay awake and watch her sleep, sleep with my hand on her chest, I refuse to sleep unless she has a breathing monitor on and on more than one occasion, as she was sleeping in my arms, I truly thought she stopped breathing. It was absolutely awful. 

As she gets older, her risk of SIDS decreases. Part of me feels I can breathe a little easier and the other part of me thinks statistics are crap. I've already won the unlucky lottery. Avery's risk was almost non existent. She was so young for this to happen, we took all recommended precautions and yet, she's not here. So eve though SIDS risks decrease greatly after 6 months, I still worry. A lot. And now, she's decided to start rolling over in her sleep. She's started wanting to sleep on her stomach. And again, I'm scared. 

I keep wanting to hit the one year mark so quickly. But I realize that I'm always going to have a new worry or fear. As she grows, she will always be at risk for something. There are so many awful things in this world. I'm always going to fear. And being a baby loss mom, my fears are amplified. I know what it's like to hear those awful words, to plan a funeral and to have to live every day missing a huge piece of your heart. 

There is no easy way through these fears. You must face them, live with them and try as much as possible to get passed them. Prayer, education and support from other loss parents and from friends and family is what's helping me get through. I'm realizing that I just have to enjoy and take each day we have with Harper as it comes. 

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