Parenting After a Loss

I lost my sons in May at 20 weeks after a long, hard pregnancy. When I came home to my little girl, 2 1/2 at the time, it was both a relief to be with her and a hardship to be around her.

I’d spent a week in the hospital longing to be with her, unsure of how long I’d have to stay. I would have remained for any amount of time to keep those babies in, but I didn’t know how long that would be. In the meantime, I missed my little girl. It was hard for her to interact with me on a hospital bed where I laid, and tough for her to not jump and be loud in the room where we all would visit.

I came home a mess, walking in the door to a flood of “should have’s” that would never happen now. And then my little girl, she was a constant reminder of what I would miss seeing from my sons. Fingers, toes, little faces, even the color of her eyes. It all haunted me and I’d end up sobbing while trying to pull it together for her.

My guilt of not being able to be the mom I wanted at that time and the sorrow of everything else caused me to really, really rearrange my priorities and accept emotions I couldn’t before. We began to discuss openly how it was ok to be sad, to be angry, to be happy. She would ask about the “two babies” and I could talk to her about it very simply.

We started to see a play therapist for her, who encouraged us to work on labeling our feelings around her. I started to see her as well for the fear of losing Bella. Something I think most parents who lose a baby worry about. We work on normal things like temper tantrums and her flair for the dramatic when it’s time to take a bath :), as well as the processing in her mind of just where the two babies went, what heaven is, why mommy was so sad and still can be some days.

We haven’t handled this all perfect, but we have tried to leave her with less scarring than maybe might have happened.


Beyond Babies: Attachment Parenting in the Later Years

As a mother who loved her baby wearing and co sleeping days with her daughter, it’s been tough at times to see my little girl grow up and still want to have the same closeness with her. In a different way.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with Bella, and in doing so the past 3 years have been there for every milestone she had. As she grew closer to the years of playdates and preschool, I found myself wondering how our attachment parenting with her would play out? Before I was a mom, I could never understand the thought of wanting to be home with your children all day. I taught school and was convinced that my children would go to school so that I was able to have a break and get things done.

I’ve realized I no longer have these feelings. Apparently having your own children does make a difference in things you were so adamant about – like no TV. lol

The past year has been a hard one for us. We lost our twin boys in May at 20 weeks into my (very rough) pregnancy. It affected my daughter a great deal, and after the shock and grief lessened for me, I began to try to find a way to bond with her again. Something I hadn’t been able to do much with being so sick, tired, and then sad for months on end.

We have Bella in play therapy, which helps us learn how to respond to her feelings when she’s just learning about them. I make that morning special, we head to Starbucks, then after stop for lunch before we go home. This is a weekly routine and I’m finding myself loving her companionship.

Instead of preschool, or public school later, my husband and I agreed to homeschool Bella. I couldn’t see myself dropping her off while I’m at home all day alone – even working I still have a lot of down time. I used to teach and I missed doing that, and it fits well with our military life in moving so often.

We no longer co-sleep (which she didn’t like much anyway) but she climbs into bed with us each morning. We spend a lot of time together as a family; weekend trips and time at home. We have no family near us so the majority of our time is spent finding our own routine and traditions, something we both enjoy.

So now I see how our parenting style carries into these next years. Of course everyone does things differently and parenting works around life and beliefs, but for us this seems to work well right now. How very special it is that the closeness I loved so much has turned into a wonderful part of her as a little person now.

The Benefits of Babywearing Your Toddler

My daughter, Bella, is almost 22 months. My husband Sam and I still babywear her many times.

To some, this might seem a little crazy. She is perfectly able to walk and we own a stroller she loves. She isn’t as easy to carry anymore, and it requires some maneuvering to get her in an arrangement we’re comfortable with for a while.

But Bella had severe reflux when she was born. Because of this, she threw up for the first 6 months of her life around the clock. We tried every babywearing device we could think of to help; Moby, slings, wraps, Bjorn, Ergo – but nothing helped. I remember clearly the time Sam wrapped her forward facing in the Moby to walk around and she projectile vomited all over it and the floor so much we had to take her out and wash it. I had to use layered burp cloths when I wore her facing me – and each time she’d throw up I’d pull one out, shove it in the diaper bag and keep going.

The reflux ruined our love of wearing her. It was hard for her to enjoy it either. I felt awful that it was so difficult for us to be close. I eventually tucked most of our carriers away because it was frustrating to clean them and only be able to have them on for a few minutes at a time.

When she turned a year old and was no longer throwing up, I decided to try again. I bought a ring sling, got out the Ergo. I don’t know how to explain it, I simply felt a need to be close to her in some way that we had missed before.

It wasn’t easy. She was used to be on her own and while she loved to be carried, she wasn’t keen at first on being snuggled against us. Sam tried different ways to wear her and she came to love the Ergo with him. He was gone for 4 months with the Army, and coming home he carried her around all over in it.

The ring sling was something we both ended up loving – I could wear it for hours without it hurting my back and shoulders, Bella was up high enough she could see and use her hands to point and hold onto things, but when she grew tired it was simple for her to rest against me. I can adjust it, take her in and out of it quickly, and it’s sturdy enough I never wonder if she’s safe.

I feel as if I’ve gained back some of the time we lost with her as a baby. I love having her next to me as we walk through zoos and museums, knowing that she’s seeing what I see and I can easily talk to her about everything. I also love that I probably burn twice as many calories carrying her around 🙂 but that’s just another benefit.

There are so many benefits of babywearing an older child. For us, it proved to be the bonding experience that most people get in the early months. I’m thankful we were able to do it successfully the second time around, and for the carriers that made it possible and easy.

The Practice of Attachment Parenting

There are days when I think to myself, “I shouldn’t call what I do attachment parenting – because quite honestly, today was anything but.”

I never thought of attachment parenting with any interest until about a year ago, right after Bella was born. Before that, I just knew I didn’t want to spank or hit, and wanted to treat my child with respect and dignity. I fell in love with babywearing along the way, and extended breastfeeding happened because it became a joy after the horrible months of reflux and colic in her infancy.

I began to find myself drawn into the attachment line of thinking once I knew I was going to be able to be a stay at home mom. I have always had a passion for working with children, from being a nanny to teaching – I would read constantly about how to be a better caregiver and educator. So it was only natural to start to think of motherhood in that way, and to decide what kind of a mother I wanted to be on a daily/hourly basis.
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