Sunday, 29 April 2018

5 Things; Parenting After Loss.

I think the topic of parenting after loss is something that doesn't really get the attention it needs. I guess we were lucky(?!) in a way that Violet isn't old enough to know exactly what has happened. However I'm under no illusion that she doesn't know anything. V is very aware that something has changed, not only in my physical appearance but also the way we behave as a family unit. Violet had to live without her parents here 24/7 for the whole week I was in hospital. That has certainly had some impact on her and even now, three months down the line, she can be incredibly clingy to both of us. I can't imagine the difficulty of parenting a child that is also grieving for their sibling, as well as coping with your own grief as a parent. But I wanted to touch on the difficulties of parenting after loss the we've experienced, because it is by no means plain sailing.

1. You HAVE to get up in the morning - This is a godsend in someways but one of the hardest things to do, particularly in those first few weeks. Having Violet, meant we had to get up and get dressed, even if we didn't want to. And believe me those days have been many. Some mornings I wake and just wish I could hide under the covers until it's night time again. Some days all I want to do is sleep and simply getting washed and dressed feels like an achievement. I hate that she has seen me cry more in the last three months, than in her whole life. Don't get me wrong, not every day is like that, but they do happen. V is so perfectly innocent, she is the motivation to get me up. She is priority and her days have remained as 'normal' as they can be and that's so important for both her and us.  

2. There are babies everywhere - Okay, pretty obvious, but just think of the places Violet and I hang out. Parent and toddler groups, soft play, museums etc. there are babies, quite literally, everywhere. Even at swimming last week, there was a newborn experiencing their first time in the pool. I realise that there probably aren't any more babies or pregnant ladies, than before we lost Jonah, but I'm so much more aware now. 

3. Every milestone is a reminder - Every first Violet experiences, every birthday, every celebration; is a reminder of what Jonah will never have. So far we've survived Jonathan's birthday, Mother's Day and Easter without our little boy. We can have the most wonderful day exploring and learning new things,  and then suddenly it hits like a tonne of bricks, Jonah will never get to do this. And we have to celebrate for Violet, but it can be so so difficult at times.

4. Socialising with other mothers - If you know me, you'll know I'm not a shy and reserved person. However, finding new parent and toddler groups after Jonah died, I suddenly became far quieter. I imagine for fear of someone inevitably asking 'do you have any other children?' or 'do you think you'll have any more?' - this is the type of chat at most toddler groups. In fact, it's the chat in the line at the Post Office or the queue in the supermarket. Some days I think I'm strong enough to answer any questions that may come my way, but it's the ones that catch you off guard that really shake you up. I was recently at a group and two ladies were discussing baby names, I couldn't think of anyway around the conversation so told them about Jonah. It was good to talk, I felt brave and empowered but haven't felt up to going back. 

5. Watching your child with other children - Violet is one of the most loving, caring, generous little girls I know. I realise I may be a little biased, but she truly is. She adores other children and loves to play with her friends. Every time I watch her interact with other children, I think how much of an amazing big sister she would be. 

The hardest thing of all for me, is accepting our new 'normal' and realising that Violet will only ever remember the Mama after Jonah. She will never remember the person I was before, because I'm not the same and never ever will be. I just hope that she will always know how incredibly loved she is and that although Jonah isn't here in person, he will forever be a part of our lives and will forever be her little brother. 

Katie xx

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