Please welcome Pete to Somewhere After The Rainbow. Pete is a wonderful dad to Poppy and Reuben and he bloga over at Daddy To A Rainbow And A Star
Joy and sadness forever mixed together.
When you become a parent you never think you’ll have to parent a child after the loss of another child. Sadly though this cruel world throws that ball to 1 in 4 families. My wife Emily and I welcomed our daughter Poppy into the world in October 2016. She was with us for 3 days but sadly she died in our arms due to a devastating brain injury. She sustained this because during labour decelerations of her heartbeat were missed. Our world shattered.
After Poppy died I felt we’d never have to joy of bring a baby home. I miss Poppy each and every day and wish she was here. I’ll never see my first born grow up. You grow fearful that you might never get to parent a child on earth. I’m still Poppy’s Dad but I just have to parent her in a very different way.
A year later we were able to bring our rainbow baby Reuben home. Poppy’s little brother was our light in the darkness. Now we are 6 months into our journey of parenting after loss. It’s a very different experience then how you expected to be as a parent. I’m now parenting 2 children but only one is with us.
The early weeks and months of Parenting After Loss were filled with fear, worry and bundles of nerves. I had the usual parenting worries of nappy changing, feeding, holding etc etc. On top of that though I had the worry of losing Reuben like I had lost Poppy. Fearful the same thing would happen again. Just getting Reuben home was a massive milestone. After losing a child you never think you’ll be able to bring another baby home.
Even when home with Reuben the worrying is magnified compared to normal. Every sound, every noise was followed by me thinking “Is everything ok?”I’d worry at night that he wasn’t breathing. However I’ve found that I’ve been less of a worrier over these things. I still worry about Reuben and that something bad might happen. It just lingers more in the back corners of my mind.
Parenting After Loss is like grief. Feelings do come in waves. There is more complicity in this though. Along with the worry you have the thoughts of what could and should have been. I miss Poppy and I think about how she’d be with her little brother. With each milestone Reuben hits I’m overjoyed but get sad I’ve not been able to see Poppy hit the same milestone. It’s so bittersweet. Joy and sadness forever mixed together.
One thing I have found though is that I try to enjoy everything with Reuben more. Even if thats getting up at 5am with him. Yeah it’s early but it’s an extra hour with him before work. I want to make the most of every second I get with him. Part of me is slightly scared it could be the last second. After you experience the worst thing in life you can’t help but worry it’ll happen again.
Looking ahead with hopes and dreams for Reuben is hard too. Part of me is so scared to look to his future for fear that he might not get to have it. That sounds odd I know but you just never stop the worrying. It’s never-ending. That is not to say that I don’t have days where I might not worry about losing Reuben. You are just so aware of how wrong life can go. How cruel the universe can be.
What I’ve found is that while I do have the parenting after loss anxieties, I’m not as anxious as I thought I would be. At times I’ve been more chilled that I expected. I think I feel so lucky to have Reuben that I want to cherish all my time with him rather than spend it working. That is easier said than done though.
I have guilt that I’m neglecting Poppy and her memory though. We used to visit her grave every day but now we can’t. I know she understands why and she is happy we have her little brother. It doesn’t make it any easier though. I try hard to include them together as best I can. I also talk about Poppy so reuben knows who she is. The biggest fear alongside the fear of losing your rainbow is Poppy being forgotten.
I’ll end with a small quote.
When it rains look for rainbows, and when it’s dark look for stars.
When the sadness and tears of missing Poppy are there I can look at my rainbow Reuben. He brings utter joy and makes the darkness lighter. When the dark is there look for my Poppy Star. Shining down on me, guiding me along my parenting after loss journey.