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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

parenting after loss > Anxiety

I have just brought home my second rainbow. My eldest is 5, we lost Shelby 3 years ago, my first rainbow is 2 and our second is 2 weeks old.

I can deal with the sleepless nights and the endless washing and cleaning and feeding on demand. But what I am struggling with is the crippling anxiety that I feel about my kids getting sick or injured.

I was in a comfortable little bubble because after the Caesar I knew people would give me time to recover but as we approach 3 weeks later friends are wanting to visit and end of year commitments (especially for my eldest who is finishing her first year of school) are getting harder to avoid.

Every time I let someone visit I am petrified that they will bring some sort of sickness into my home. Every time I leave the house I am scared we will have a car accident or I will drop the baby, or I won't be able to take care of all three kids.

My husband is on leave from work for another 2.5 weeks but even now the thought of him going back to work terrifies me. Having the responsibility of keeping them safe is overwhelming.

I don't feel comfortable with going on any medications and getting to my counsellor is difficult right now so does anyone have any strategies for trying to manage this?
November 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
Shelby's mum that sounds incredibly stressful and hard, I'm sorry. I don't have strategies I'm afraid just some thoughts. When are you next seeing a doctor who could screen you for post-partum depression? I think a lot of loss parents have it even though we're so happy that our babies made it alive and healthy. I know you don't want to take meds but maybe a doc would have advice on other things you can do to cope. I also want to say that if it turns out that meds are the most effective way to manage your anxiety, it doesn't mean that you've failed, are a bad mum or anything like that. It just means you need help for a little while in an incredibly stressful time and it's OK to need help. If there is any way to do this, could you see your counselor before your husband goes back to work? Could you talk to them on the phone if that's not possible? The one last thing I want to say is you have a healthy 5 and 2 year old, you can do it again. Of course it will be hard but you can do your best to keep your newborn safe too.

I'm sorry this isn't very helpful but I hope you get some better advice. Sending you peace and love.
November 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnon
Hello. I posted a very similar question a while ago and got some very helpful replies:
Much, most of my anxiety revolves around my living kids, too. Keeping them safe seems an overwhelming task, at times. I hope these replies can bring you some comfort, like they did for me.
November 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCee
Hi Shelby's Mum, nice to "see" you here again and congratulations on the births of your rainbows! We are on a similar track - my first baby after we lost Y 3 /12 years ago is also 2 and his younger brother is 2 months old. To address your question, I take a cognitive approach myself, and remind myself of how safe my children likely are. And at the same time recognizing the inherent risks in being alive and allowing myself to feel afraid of losing them too. I don't think there's any way to escape worry once we are parents, but it's helpful for me to create a narrative of safety and imagine them living to ripe old ages. And then I make myself move on to other topics. But especially when our 2 y/o was born, I kept half expecting a replay of our last experience, watching the clock, waiting for him to live longer than our daughter did, whispering to him, "Stick around...". And he did. And then he came home. And then I had to trim his nails. And his hair got longer. And he stayed alive. And I thought, "of course he did, my fear was not rational", but that's what anxiety is. I hope you find an approach that works for you, and I second the previous commenters' recommendation to talk it through with your counselor who knows you better than we do. Hugs -- H
November 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
Hi Shelby's mum, I too feel the same anxiety around the precious lives of my two older girls, and 4 month old rainbow. At first I didn't even realise I was doing it, but I was just waiting for my rainbow to die. At the four week checkup I generally felt a rush of relief when we were discharged from the paediatricians care. It seemed too good to be true that he had signed her off as healthy. She has slept on my chest all night for the last four months, and only in the last two weeks have I been brave enough to let her sleep in her cot all night. I still send my hubby in to check on her multiple times as I am truly petrified that she will die from SIDS. The only thing that is helping is time. As the weeks tick past and she is still alive I think I start to relax a little bit. We have been though so much, endured the unthinkable and will never be the same. I can't imagine any of us baby loss parents having no anxiety at bringing our rainbows home. The only advice I have is to try and not dwell on it, do whatever you need to get through the day for you have a beautiful newborn. I'm walking beside you, you are not alone.
November 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Shelby's Mum - how are you doing now? I too have had a lot of anxiety with my rainbow. I lot of mine had been revisiting the guilt of losing Mira. I realized that pre-rainbow pregnancy my grief coping mechanisms were yoga, (infrequent) massage, self case basically that is so infrequent now. It's hard when we have no time to take care of ourselves. Let us know how you are doing!
February 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKO