I know what you’re thinking and that you judge my actions and dismiss me as being overbearing. The truth is – you’re right, I am. You may never agree with my parenting, but perhaps I can make you understand better. My story is one of love, loss, and fear which has shaped the mother you see before you.

I believe everyone experiences at least one death in their life that completely alters who they will become. Mine happened at nineteen when my first child was stillborn at 30 weeks gestation. In my grief, I transformed. One day I was a young adult that was joyful, excited and nervous about the new life I would have with the baby that grew inside of me. Then suddenly I felt a decade older and having to make decisions like which songs I would have played to honor my baby at his memorial service. When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, my heart sank. Not because I didn’t want him, but what if there would once again be something I couldn’t save him from?

Bereaved parents can tell you, there’s a haunting sense of guilt after your loss. No matter the circumstances, no matter how many times doctors promise you that you did nothing wrong. Nothing silences the “what if’s?”

I kept giving myself timelines that I might be able to breathe easier, in hopes one would stick. Once I was in the second trimester, out of the danger zone, I would be able to relax. Once I passed the dreaded 30-week mark, the worry would subside. It constantly would change once I hit the mark I was waiting on. Birth, first birthday, the calm never came. It is just shy of his fourth birthday and I still check on him at night. The nagging thought that death may be just around the corner has not dwindled. This child of mine has a curious spirit and two left feet and although I would not change him for the world, I am presented with many opportunities to worry.

Over the weekend, I was granted another moment of fear. My son fell and hit his head on the road. Although he was completely fine, my mind would not let me rest. Riddled with anxiety that he could possibly have an unknown, unseen injury drove me to bring him into my bed that night. Hours had passed and his behavior had given me no reason to be concerned, but I needed to keep a close eye on him. I may have barely slept, but I had to do whatever I could to somewhat ease my worry.

You may have opinions on how I parent, but your criticism cannot match my own. I constantly struggle between the desire to cover him in bubble wrap so that I may protect him and the knowledge that he needs room to learn and grow. Death can happen to my children, of that I know for certain and I will never know what kind of mother I would have been if I hadn’t experienced that. Perhaps that woman wouldn’t have to try to force herself to lengthen the leash, maybe she wouldn’t be perpetually on edge. However, I don’t know that woman and she definitely does not know me.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

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About the Author: Kaitlyn is a mother of two boys, Judah who she spends her days with and Andrew who was stillborn at 30 weeks gestation in 2012. She is a childcare worker in the nursery of a center. She has been an admin of child loss pages in the past but is currently writing things for herself and occasionally submitting her favorites to Still Standing as a guest.