It is nearing the end of October, which is, in case anyone has forgotten, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I haven't written about it yet (although considering I've been up to my eyeballs living in newborn-sleep-deprivation-land, it's a minor achievement to post anything at all). That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it, and how my life has changed over the past year.
Last year at this time I was grieving pretty hard. Two losses in a year is certainly enough to put anyone off kilter. It was all I thought about, all I wrote about. And here I am, a year later, typing one-handed as I cradle my 5 week old nursling in my other arm.
Am I a better parent now because I have experienced loss? I sincerely doubt that. Am I a more appreciative parent? That is a possibility. I think back to what I took for granted with SchmoopyBoy, all the gratitude I did not indulge in. Granted, in the throws of my postpartum depression, I was more or less incapable of gratitude, but that feels like such a waste now. I look down at this dear, perfect child and the tenderness I feel for him is matched only by the gratitude I have for him. For Him - the child that lived, the child that I thought might never be.
He is worth the wait. But there is still some... regret? sadness? bitterness? that such a wait was imposed. Was he not yet ready to be born? Was I not yet ready to receive him? I may never understand the whys, and I may always wonder who might be here in his stead, had one of those other babies lived.
Does that make me a worse parent now because I have experienced loss? I doubt that. Am I a slightly more wistful parent? That is a possibility.
Such are the laws of physics and family building - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is appreciation, but also wistfulness. There is joy, but also sadness. There is looking forward to the future, but also remembering and honoring the past. There is marveling at what I have, but also wondering about what I don't have.
Most of the time I am absolutely more connected with the positives - appreciation for what I have and looking forward to the future with my family. To be honest, I am rarely connected with the opposites. It's pretty tough to focus on negatives when you have such a soft-haired, cuddly pile of baby to gush over. Nonetheless, I can't help but grow thoughtful about these things when I look back to where I was at this time just one short year ago.