My mom is a person that other people confide in. She is sort of a 'soft' person that way. She is someone others just feel comfortable around. So it was of no surprise to me that a woman she works with shared with my mom the fact that she recently lost twins at 14 weeks. My mom doesn't know this woman all that well, and I'm not sure how it came up (I'm not sure if Aidan was brought up first or this woman's loss), but anyway they got to discussing lost babies at the water cooler.
These twins were not this woman's first children. She has a young daughter as well. She told my mom that since the loss of the twins she has been spending much more 'quality' time with her daughter. No need to rush home from work, make dinner, do chores, put the kid to bed...etc. She says now she tries to take her daughter to the park and play with her more. She was so sad for me she said because Aidan was my first child. She said she would be lost without her daughter these days.
Which brings up an interesting point. Is my loss greater because Aidan was my first child? Do other babylost parents agree with this? I hate to categorize one loss as greater than another but maybe losing your first (and therefore only) child is worse?
Ways in which it is worse include:
1. Your 'parenthood' is suddenly ripped away. As I've explained in a previous post, I certainly believe I'm a mother, but I don't really believe I'm a parent. Parenting is an active term and cannot be done with a dead child. So it's this land of parenthood that I was suddenly and firmly excluded from. If Aidan was not my first child, I would still have another child to parent. I would still belong and have something to contribute in conversations where strollers, daycare, play dates and baby food were being discussed. It would not be in relation to my 'newest' (dead) baby, but I would still feel like I belonged. Right now, I feel like I want so badly to walk through that 'parenting' door. I so badly want to have a little person to take care of...and I would if Aidan were not my first.
2. You will never experience pregnancy the same way. I think after you have birthed a dead, or close to being dead, child you will never implicitly trust your body the same way. Now, I personally never had this experience. Due to my heart and my job, I never had a complete faith that my body would just 'do it right'. But, I'll admit...I had hope. Now, however, my entire experience of pregnancy and birth will be clouded by my disastrous first pregnancy. Just like how as a criminal you can never 'erase' your record, mine will be with me for always. If I had even just one 'successful' pregnancy and birth under my belt, one time where I got to take the baby home in a car seat instead of in a box, it would be proof that my body was not a total screw up. That, I can have a healthy baby...it was really and truly 'just a fluke' this time. But I don't. I have no idea if my body can do it...or if it just kills my offspring on principle alone.
3. It brings up fears of NEVER having a living child. This is kind of a combo of 1 & 2, but it's horrible enough that it deserves it's own special mention. Because the life of a parent is very, very, different than the life of a non-parent. And if you wanted option A) then it's very hard to imagine having to cope with being option B). It brings up fears of infertility, loss of identity, a life style that you never wanted, but that might be thrust upon you. Parents with at least one living child may lose out on the big(ger) family they dreamed of, but they do not lose out on the 'parent' lifestyle entirely.
But then I can imagine some of the difficulties when living children are already in the picture and you suddenly find yourself in dead baby land.
Ways in which having a living child would be harder:
1. If your child is old enough you have to watch them suffer and feel confused, and miss the dead baby too. I can only imagine how hard this would be. In my son's short life I did not want him to suffer or hurt at all. I would have thrown myself in front of a bullet for him. I can only imagine how hard it is to have to cope with sadness not only for your own loss, but for your child's loss too. It was hard watching my husband feel so helpless and lost and sad and empty after Aidan died, and it would have been much much worse to watch any living child of mine feel sad that way.
2. You have to 'carry on' a lot quicker if you have living children already. Especially if your child is young, and still requires your immediate presence for everything, you cannot just sit and mope and feel sad after the death of your baby...you have to hold it together. From things I have read, this can include everything from having to continue driving your kids to soccer practice to having to cry only in the shower so your kids don't see you and get upset. I was lucky? grateful? that I could (can) wail in front of the computer, at dinner, in the car, on the living room floor, if I feel like it. I was glad? appreciative? that my husband and I could (can) just sit and watch TV for hours to get our minds off the horror we have experienced.
Now, I feel the need to end this post with the requisite 'of course one child can never replace another' speech. But you all get what I'm saying. This post wasn't really even about the 'child' so much, neither the living or the dead one, it was about the experience of being babylost. The woman that my mom works with, her experience of being babylost is different than mine because she already has a living child. Her experience is probably easier in some ways, harder in others...but certainly different than mine.
But I think I know which of our shoes I would rather be in.
What do you think?