Recently, my husband and I welcomed our “rainbow” twin daughters into the world. (I am hesitant to use the term rainbow baby because I used it with my son, who we lost.) Pregnancy after loss was one of the most challenging moments of my life. It was difficult to get through each day knowing all that could go wrong with the pregnancy. The fact that I was carrying twins, which made my pregnancy high risk, only added to the fear.
We miraculously made it through those terrifying 37 weeks and 2 days to welcome two healthy baby girls. We never had the opportunity to hear their older brother cry. Words cannot express the emotions that overcame me when we heard our daughters first wails after being born. Bittersweet comes to mind. That moment was both beautiful and heartbreaking. It was a reminder that 18 months prior to my daughters’ birth, I welcomed their older brother into the world only to hear silence.
Now that we’ve brought home our son’s little sisters, I find myself trying to navigate the road that is parenting after loss.
It’s challenging to find time to continue to “parent” the beautiful boy we lost and actively parent the newborns that are keeping us up at night. Guilt is the only word to describe it. My days have become consumed with feedings, diaper changes, and naps (for both my daughters and myself—you have to get that sleep in when you can). The guilt goes both ways: for my son and for my daughters. I’m torn between the child who died and the children who live.
Related: The Truth About Parenting After Loss
All of the things that I did for my son prior to his sisters’ birth have been pushed to the back burner.
I used to say good morning and good night to him every day. Now at night, I am so focused on getting the girls and myself in bed. It completely slips my mind most nights and mornings.
I used to write to Asher in a journal fairly regularly. It was my time to “talk” to him. I would fill him in on the goings on of our life and remind him of our love for him. Prior to the girls’ arrival, I finished my third journal. I didn’t purchase another one to replace it until almost a month after they were born. That means an entire month elapsed where I didn’t take time to “talk” to my son. Since purchasing the new journal, I have only written in it twice. I am struggling to find the time to sit down and write in it.
My fear is that the birth of his sisters will make him fade from the memories of others. I have so much guilt that he is being neglected and that his existence is being overshadowed by his siblings.
I also feel guilty about my daughters.
My entire pregnancy was overshadowed by fear and anxiety because of what we went through with their older brother. Each day was a battle. While I forced myself to enjoy the pregnancy, it was nothing like the joy I felt when I was pregnant with Asher. I knew too much to be able to be so carefree while pregnant this time.
Even their birth was affected by the loss of their brother. I was so happy that they arrived safely. But their safe arrival was also a reminder that their brother was not so lucky. Their birth day was a mixture of emotions, instead of one filled with just pure, unadulterated joy.
I feel guilty that my reaction to moments in their lives will be affected by the loss of the sibling they will never know. While I am so grateful to be able to raise living children, having lost a child prior to their existence has greatly impacted my experience with them and vice versa.
I know that this will be a challenging road for me to navigate for the rest of my life.
I don’t think the guilt will ever go away. It may lessen over time as we establish a routine and the girls grow older, but I think it will always be there. I can only hope that, eventually, we find our balance. That we can continue to parent the precious boy we lost and raise his beautiful sisters, while also going easy on ourselves for the concoction of emotions we will inevitably feel along the way.
Photo by Amy Lied