Please welcome Rachael to the Somewhere After The Rainbow Guest Series 💜
Rachael writes over at Rachael’s Blog about life and parenting after loss.
The best gift to your baby is a happy and whole you.
I seemed to just sail through my first pregnancy. No real issues or cause for concern. Our house was all ready, the nursery was all ready, we were so ready. Only on his due date the baby wasn’t. I went over due by a further 10 days when they brought me in for induction. The induction to start with went smoothly. Regular checks followed by pains and lots of waiting. Over 48 hours after being in hospital on one of the routine checks during the early hours of the morning the midwife struggled to find a heartbeat. This will all be ok I thought. He’s just in a funny position. Only he wasn’t in a funny position he had gone. There was more monitoring, more scans to confirm our worst fears. Our baby had died. Hours after hearing his heartbeat he’d gone just like that. Labour was a very slow process and it was two days later when our boy was actually born. We named him Eli as planned. He was such a gorgeous little boy and it was so hard to comprehend that he had actually gone. We have since found out that there were a lot of mistakes made by Drs and midwives that contributed to Eli’s death. Alongside the finding of a small placenta which is something that can easily be monitored through scans and checks on blood flow.
We fell pregnant with Lucas around 4 months after Eli had died. The desire to bring home a baby was huge however, Lucas’ pregnancy was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Scans brought back traumatic flashbacks. Even just waking into the hospital brought back painful memories. Kick counting became obsessive and if he didn’t move every 15 minutes like he usually did I’d freak out. Thankfully all was well and Lucas was born on October 22nd 2017 vía emergency c-section (that’s another story in itself!).
My main feeling was sheer relief and I spent the first month in some sort of crazy sleep deprived state. I definitely didn’t rest as much as I should have and wanted to be out and about showing Lucas off to the world. I think after the initial excitement/shock of having a live baby subsided my doubts started to kick in. Was I doing things right? Was he happy? Was he healthy? Was he going to stay alive? The pressure I put on myself was immense. My mind spiralled fairly quickly and I went from feeling fairly confident in my ability to doubting everything and feeling like a terrible parent. Thankfully the therapist that I’d been seeing after Eli died and throughout pregnancy with Lucas helped to keep me on track again. To be totally honest parenting is not at all what I expected. There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for it. At times it’s completely overwhelming and despite your best intentions to love and appreciate everything sometimes it is really hard. Lucas is just over 6 months old now and a complete delight! He laughs and smiles his way through life and just makes my heart completely burst with joy but it really has taken such a lot to get to this point.
My advice for somebody parenting after loss is really to be kind to yourself. You’ve been through massive trauma and having a baby is wonderful but so challenging and will bring up further issues related to loss. Don’t forget to look after yourself too and most importantly talk. Get whatever you need to off your chest and let people help you if you need it. You’re not a terrible Mum for asking for help. The best gift to your baby is a happy and whole you.