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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 > panic over leaving my baby, working, and just life

Hello everyone, its been so long since my last visit, but I always find myself back here when I am feeling very weak.. please tell me this is normal.

My son is almost 7 moths old, but because of pregnancy complications my unemployment is almost up (Canada). Money is tight for sure but I have been learning photography during my sons naps (so I don't just watch him breathe on the monitor), and I am getting better, I am hoping I can make it a job and not have to return to my full time job. The problem is that I am barely keeping my head up emotionally and now I am trying to take something so huge as starting a business on. Its stressful and sometimes I want to give up, but then when I am shooting and capturing these beautiful family moments I feel SOOO good and almost nothing but my son gives me that kind of joy anymore.

I dream of things now that seemed insignificant to me before, all I want now is a small home in the woods where no one will bother me and I can just home school my son. Before, I dreamed of curing cancer in a high tech biochem lab during my undergrad, determined to have a high paying job and not depend on a man, Now I thank my husband everyday for working so hard so I can be with my son.

I just feel so unlike myself, and trapped in a sea of people in the city. I don't go out unless I am meeting someone or doing photos. My dog gets let out on the front lawn while I hide behind the front door with messy hair and my husbands sweater. This is not me! Has anyone found a way to get them self back or do I just need to accept this? :(
November 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterM
Hi M, I think its completely normal for your priorities to change after everything we have been through. I also care less about materialistic things, and shake my head many times on insignificant topics my friends complain about. I have extended my maternity leave as well, I just don't feel ready to go back to my job since my rainbow was born. My family is my everything, and I just seem to want life to be as simple and stress free as possible.

I think we can't expect ourselves to be our 'normal' self. I am 2 years and 3 months out from my loss, and see glimpses of the old me more often these days. However I'm not sure I can ever be that person fully again. My emotions are still all over the place. I think we still need to treat ourselves gently and kindly, and just have days where nothing much gets done. Thats the way I cope anyway. Wishing you peace.

November 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
this is a multi-layered problem-
some of it is the grief from your loss, continuing on its own, lingering and affecting other aspects of your life,
which is always going to be happening.
some of it is the regular typical self-evaluation and awareness we have when we notice these unexpected changes in our life. there can be a lot of negative judgement because of this, which leads to disappointment and depressiveness.
some of it is the natural and typical anxiety that comes with parenting a living child after you've lost a baby- the watching the breathing, the need to have things be safe and uneventful.

i lost my first two babies and had infertility and miscarriages and then went on to have two living children and i have seen these things in my own life. each baby, whether they lived or died, changed the trajectory of my assumed path in life in multiple and unexpected ways. plus, i just got older and things change on their own, unrelated to babies or plans...

before i had my first baby, i had a general plan for my life. i mean, i can laugh about it now, that years have passed, at how different my life actually turned out. i refuse to set any of the disappointment or blame/responsibilty on the feet of my babies that died... this has allowed me to practice coping and accepting this new uncomfortable reality, and each time it changed, i got more adept at coping and accepting.

but that doesn't mean i have forgotten these various versions of my life that could have been. i see then behind me, like phantom trails- things that were supposed to have happened, but then seeing all the twists and turns and u-turns that happened instead. when i get reflective, of course, i grieve these versions of myself. the one who's baby died not die. the one whose second baby did not die... the one who did not get beaten down by infertility. the one who didn't have to have complicated pregnancies. the one who could've carried my daughter and did not need a surrogate... these things, what happened, i mean, i mourn what it was that i had wanted to happen, what i had wished for, what i had done my best to make happen and yet could not make happen even so... it is valid and worthy to spend time grieving and contemplating the sadness involved... this is how i cope and accept... i allow a ton of self-reflection, because something significant happened, and to ignore it or to sweep it under the carpet, or to pretend the versions and sadness are not really there... no good. that kind of behavior stagnates progression.

i see you going thru a lot of what i went thru. i want to tell you that i gave (& give) myself a lot of forgiveness for standing behind doors, messy and unsure. it is OK to feel insular. it is certainly ok to worry for your living child... its ok to change careers or to let dreams go. its ok. you thought you would do something great- at some point, you wanted to cure cancer, and that is great, no doubt. but you are also currently doing something great, which is connecting to and being your children's mother- the one that lived and the one that died. it is ok to be that, right now. because you know from what happened to you- nothing stays the same, things change. plans fall apart. plans happen... we don't *really* have a ton of control over it.

it sounds like what you are doing is actually healthy-
for one, you are aware of what's going on in your thoughts. its not like you are too far down a spiral to even have a clue as to why you are feeling the way that you do.
for another, you have found the wisdom and gumption to teach yourself a new skill that serves as a healthy distraction from the anxiety. this is a giant big deal... so hard to do, and you should not undervalue your ability to do this!

have you had any kind of counseling or therapy? it does sound a little like you are having anxiety and depression that could be very much helped and guided by some talk therapy. if so, or if not, no matter what, try not to be too hard on yourself... this version of yourself saving the world and then the one where you are in sweatpants wanting to hide from the world... that sounds very dismissive of some major facts that have gone on in your life. you lost a baby (i mean, i don't know your story so i am just making that general assumption...) and you've had a subsequent baby and many things have changed and those things are big deals.

i am also a SAHM currently. i am thankful that my husband is in a place where he is making enough for us to get by. it surprises me that i am not part of the workforce right now. not what i ever thought or expected. i feel nervous about finding a job again. but i also realize that i *do* have some lingering depression that makes me fall to my knees in thankfulness that i can spend time at home with my living kids now, without the added layer of having to deal with "real" work.. it won't always be like that, so i try to live in the moment- its tough though! it bothers me. i also give myself permission to feel confused. to sigh a lot. to be disappointed. to feel mad about how the dice landed. those are not the prettiest feelings, but, to deny them is futile. why wouldn't we feel a sense of regret that our good intentions and best-made plans did not come to fruition? time passing does help with that, though. you just get more adept at accepting and coping.

i should also mention that i went to work after my living son was born... i worked a lot, and had to watch a nanny care for him, which was a *real bummer*. it seemed like it was worth it though, to finally feel somewhat "normal"- work, baby, etc. but then our second subsequent baby came and the thought of going thru all of these hoops to be a mom and never get time with my kids did not feel right, at the moment, for me. so we decided to change the plan, again. and again, not what i would have ever imagined doing, but.

i see "regular" moms all day. ones that are SAHM's, ones that work, some have fantastic jobs where they are leaning in and running the fucking show and balancing the whole damn circus with ease and a winning smile, some that have crappy jobs that they complain to me about... i have difficulty relating to any of them. i have a lot of internal dialog with myself about what they would have been like had *their* living child died, like mine did. would they be running the parent-teacher association? travelling to Italy on business? going all-in for travel soccer leagues for their kids? whining about bad shifts? i don't know. for me, each day that i get through is the biggest accomplishment for me right now. that sounds so lame and depressing, but each day that my living kids are still alive, and i don't have some unexpected malady or diagnosis, or my husband... i am thankful for. bit by bit, the future will reveal itself. if i can manage to push my will along a tiny bit on it, well, all the better. and yeah, there are still days, 11 years later, that i cry all day long about my daughter that died. and 8 years on, i continue to struggle with the fact that my son died too. there is no denying that it changed me in a not-so-nice way, but i am going to try and make the best of it, because what else can you do, really?

i rambled on a bit, but i will try to sum it up. its going to be different, but not all bad. feel your feelings, all of them. keep doing the best you can, and if you have to have the bar set low for a while, no big deal. ask for help, and keep posting here or other places where you feel like you can be as honest as you can be.
November 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterss