Advice Column, Parenting

Learning To Love After Loss

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I’m the mother of two boys, both dark haired, big eyed and extremely precious to me. The only thing is; only one is with me, the other is with the angels.

I’m by no means naïve, I knew babies didn’t always make it through the 9 month gestation period. I’ve read up on the subject and have met people who lost their kids, it just never occurred to me, that it could happen to me. I didn’t know that over 6 months into my pregnancy when the room was all done, the car seat ready, and I’d seen a 3D scan, that my baby could die, not mine.
I had good medical aid, and he was in a state of the art Neonatal Unit, but still my son died.

In 2011 my husband, Robin,  and I were excited beyond belief at the prospect of being parents, although he was away at police college he kept in contact almost constantly as we planned our lives as a family. But one evening, March 5, the day Robin returned from college, the unthinkable happened; I suffered a placental abruption.

The placental lining had separated from my uterus. This extremely rare occurrence (1% of pregnancies world wide)  often ends in death for both mother and child and that was very nearly the case for my son, Logan, and I. I had gone into hospital complaining of stomach cramps, but things quickly deteriorated.  In the end I had lost so much blood they had feared for my life as much as they did Logan’s.

My husband was even told to prepare himself for the worst as it didn’t look like either of us would make it. Well in the end, I did, thanks to the fast reaction of the medical team, a blood transfusion and lots of prayer.

I’m told a prayer circle was formed in the waiting room of the hospital, through social networks and even my co-workers came together after hearing the news. Unfortunately Logan passed away a day later from bleeding on the brain. March 7 2012, the day my life changed forever.

His life, albeit a short one, made quite the impact. Suddenly I was not the mother I had planned to be. My friends who had been pregnant at the same time I was, found themselves in a precarious, “let’s not look too excited” situation. No one really knew how to react to me, some saying the most hurtful things in the name of love.

“You can always try again”, “You are still young”, “I’m sure you will get over this” were phrases I dreaded, but heard all too often.
All I really wanted was someone to be okay with me talking about my son, for his life to be validated in some way, and for people to make it “okay to grieve” but that was not always the case.
When I got pregnant again, many people thought it was too soon and weren’t afraid to let me know.
Others thought they were “home free” and could now say anything they wanted seeing as I was pregnant again, and would now be over “what had happened”.
But being pregnant didn’t make things easier in fact now that the rose tinted glasses were shattered, I lived in fear.
Every cough or cold or “just not feeling okay” freaked me out beyond belief.
To make it worse I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was somehow cheating on Logan.I was in and out of the doctor’s office making sure everything was okay.

At the same time one of the people closest to me in the world, my Godmother, was diagnosed with cancer. The nine months I was pregnant were the same nine months that would be her last.
She passed away and was buried the day after my baby, Aidan, was born.
The birth was supposed to be pretty straight forward, but nothing ever is.

Despite being booked for a caesarean I went into labor, which was not ideal as my womb was so scarred, they worried that it might tear.
So my second son’s birth didn’t bring with it the sigh of relief I was expecting, instead I was told that he was born unable to breath, he had fluid on his lungs and was rushed to NICU (an incubator away from where Logan died).
I can still remember how my blood ran ice cold at the news and I found myself unable to breath.
I couldn’t believe that history was repeating itself in this callous fashion.
I ended up having to stay in hospital for almost two weeks while Aidan learnt to breathe on his own.
It was the longest time of my life, the little arrow on his breathing apparatus would sink just a little and I’d expect the worst.
My baby was subjected to pipes and drips and a multitude of tests which included a lumbar puncture.
All these fears of the unknown made it difficult for me to bond with him, I was afraid to love and have that love ripped away again.
Even the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed made me feel like a failure, it was like my body was failing me again, maybe I wasn’t cut out for this “mother thing”.
I kept on trying to breastfeed – I guess it’s the only thing I could do while his life was in the hands of doctors and God.

Home remedies were followed by medication and endless cold nights in the hospital pumping room to get the milk flowing.
Even when we finally brought him home I felt a little out of my depth, and with Aidan being colicky my emotions were even harder to control.
He would just scream and cry and fuss and nobody could tell me why. My cruel mind told me it was because I was an awful mother, no wonder his brother was taken away.
Turns out he suffered from reflux and because of the issues with his chest he needed to use a nebulizer when sick-a tough situation to say the least.
I couldn’t sleep, I’d watch him like a hawk, what if he left me too, I couldn’t handle the thought.
But something happened between doctors visits and pulling out my hair, between the frustration and the fear.
I fell in love! head over heels, can anything be this amazing, LOVE.

He is by no means a replacement for Logan, there will always be a Logan shaped hole in my heart, but Aidan fills me with so much joy.

He is a two year old now, and is such a little terror taking a clean room from neat to “where is the floor” in 5 seconds flat. He loves music and dancing and really loves crafting and playing make-believe.

And the best part is that after all the pain and doctors visits I have someone who calls me mummy – all I ever wanted- and you know what, I think I’m getting the hang of the mommy thing, well sort of.

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