A parent never dreams that they’ll have to experience the loss of an infant or child before they even have a chance to truly live. A parent doesn’t really, truly prepare for how to explain that loss to a sibling. They don’t look ahead and see how it might affect a family dynamic, friendships…just the future in general.
I’m a mother of an angel. Today (11/25/16) marks my daughter Tessa’s 8 year “angelvesary” as many of my fellow angel moms call it. I won’t go into the details of her diagnosis in this post other than to say she had congenital heart defects that even surgery couldn’t repair (saying it so simply sounds callous, but I don’t want to focus on the wrongs, the injustices, the parts that just …suck).
That first year was difficult. My husband and I did what we had to. We had a 7 yr-old and Tessa’s twin sister to continue to put on a brave front for.
About a month after losing Tessa, we found out we were pregnant again. I’ve only just realized that I have very few baby pictures printed of my daughter that followed after Tessa until around the time she turned one (I recently found out that I was not alone in this. I attended a “Heart Mama Retreat”, and a fellow mom explained that she discovered she did something very similar with the child that followed after her son passed).
After a fifth little girl (also born with CHDs), I finally began to feel myself breaking. Before this point, I had kept myself together for everyone. I dealt with everyday and put on a happy face. I went to work, cooked dinner, did the grocery shopping…everything a mom should do.
What no one knew was that after everyone was out of the house, at school, or in bed, that I’d be having panic and anxiety attacks. They progressively got worse. I wasn’t sleeping. I started arguing with my husband over stupid stuff, yet was afraid to really talk for fear of sounding like a blubbering idiot and not being able to get my thoughts out the way I wanted to. I finally broke down and went to the doctor and got a prescription for some anti-anxiety meds to help me deal with all the shit in my head. It took about six months, but things calmed down.
My husband and I talk, well kinda, he is a man of few words. We do things for her, on our own, with each other and with the kids (number six came along in 2013). The three girls and I typically plant flowers at her grave on Mother’s Day.
Josh trims a large pine tree he planted a year after she passed. We decorate that tree every year with lights and large ornaments (I keep having to buy more because it’s grown so much).
Our oldest, 15 now, rides his bike up to the cemetery and visits his little sister on his own from time to time.
Eight years later it has become a bit easier. Days like today, her “angel day”, her birthday (that she shares with her twin sister Jordyn), and then special one-time dates like the first day of kindergarten…are the ones that really make us miss her. It’s my theory though that we were lucky to have her for the time that we did. I would rather have had her for that time than not at all. I am also glad that she is not here hurting, watching her twin do things that she would not have been able to do and hating that she couldn’t.
If you are reading this and have had to suffer through the loss of a child, be thankful you had them for the time that you did. Do not feel sorry for the time lost (you did not lose it all). If you find yourself sinking, talk to your doctor. I wish I had sooner, but had some stupid preconceived notion that I had to be strong without any help. Most of all, know you aren’t alone. There are many of us out there.
Lots of love,