Monday, April 27, 2009

To spoil, or not to spoil?

I often wonder how much my experiences have shaped how I mother Tyler. I think every time I buy a toy that I'm spoiling him believing he might be my only child, or I worry I'm smothering him out of anxiety that if something happens to him I'll no longer be a mother of a living child. (Incidentally, I don't think it's a coincidence that the word "smothering" is "mothering" with just an extra letter.) I've read stories of mothers who had only one child after miscarriages who caused tremendous issues with their child out of fear and anxiety. Thinking about how I've been shaped by my journey crosses my mind regularly when it comes to my son.

Of course, my active grief and anxiety impact him. How could they not? Along with feeling overwhelmed by motherhood when he was first born, my grief over losing three babies prior to his birth revisited me in the months after he arrived. I had read that it is very common for parents to feel fresh grief upon the birth of a child, mourning the child(ren) they didn't have. I knew it could happen, but I thought I was immune. I wanted him so badly, that I figured I would feel nothing but bliss. It seems counterintuitive - you have a child, what's there to be sad about? I never talked about what I was feeling at the time. I didn't want people to think I didn't feel blessed. That wasn't it at all. I mourned the babies I never got to meet, to name, to breastfeed. I had wanted them so badly, and I had to grieve again losing them.

In the past nine months that we've grieved the deaths of three more babies, I know Tyler feels something isn't right. We didn't tell him we were pregnant - that was a conscious choice. I knew it was very likely we would have to explain that the baby died - how could I do that to a three year old? How could we do that to ourselves? I don't even understand how or why. To someone whose favorite question is "Why?," there would be no answer. But, I know he feels the changes in us. I'm not as patient as I want to be on the days when I just want to grieve quietly alone or with Matt. Sometimes it's fortunate that there are no breaks from motherhood - his demands come first. It's a distraction. Other times, it takes all the energy I have to meet his needs. I have to be patient first with myself and know that I won't always feel this way. And know that when I'm in the Thomas the Tank Engine section of Target, buying one little train (or two) won't ruin him for life.


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