I feel incredibly lucky that I have a living child. The only thing worse than experiencing the death of your child is experiencing the death of your ONLY child.
I remember the day after Sybella was born, and Jack came to visit us in hospital. My eyes welled with tears at the very sight of him. He was so happy to see us, and had no idea what had happened. His innocence was uplifting because for that short period that he visited, I could focus on my little boy bouncing on the bed and his cherubic smile. Telling us about the Wiggles concert he went to, and how he shook hands with Murray! True story, that. In the days and weeks that followed, Jack was my reason for getting out of bed. He was my guiding light. Granted, sometimes I wanted to curl up in a ball and ignore the world. But for the most part, he gave me a focus and he kept me going. For this I am grateful. I am grateful to Jack. He was my strength.
I found myself fearless about most things after Sybella's death. I thought "the worst has happened to me. What else can happen that is worse than this?" The answer to that, of course, was something happening to Jack. For a time after Sybella died, I found myself checking Jack in his sleep, to make sure he was breathing. One night, he was in between breaths and I panicked, sat up and took his pulse. I kept him in our bed because I needed him in there...to make sure he was okay through the night. I amped up the swimming lessons so that he had increased swimming skills...my mind had gone back to Boxing Day 2009, while on holidays, he fell in the hotel pool. What if I'd lost him then? And then Sybella?
I dont think I could survive that.
My rationale was the opposite of many others. Most people I know live by "it wont happen to me." I live by "if it will happen to anyone, it will happen to me." I am the one who broke her back in a car accident. Luckily it was a minor fracture and it healed perfectly with no problems. I am the one who had a baby that was breech (and only 2% of babies are). I am the one who had a stillbirth.
I have pre-existing anxiety, so I am aware that many of my fears are perceived threats, not actual ones. But I still went out of my way to make sure Jack was safe at all times. I made sure he had someone to play with before I left him at Kindy. I went outside too if he went outside to play.
I began to appreciate him so much more. Of course, I always had appreciated him. I guess it became that much more an intense appreciation and gratitude. I started to relish in his physical beauty. I marvelled at his toes and fingers...they are my favourite part of him. I ached for him when he wasnt with me.
One of the most profound moments of love I had for him was the realisation that he was the main reason for wanting to have another baby. I want him to have a buddy. I want him to have a partner in crime. I cant wait to see those kids in action.
Mothering after loss is quite amazing. The "mama bear" comes out quite potently, because you know just how important your child's little life is and how responsible you are for their happiness and wellbeing. You are grateful for their life and presence. You feel they are extra special because they are yours. They help you keep seeing the wonderful things in life, when your days are otherwise crashing down around you. Their laugh will break through your pain, and their hugs will soften the grief.
I like to call these children "tinkerbells" because they bring light out of the darkness.