I know most couples struggle with their relationship after the death of their baby. It’s such a horrific loss – the death of one’s child. There’s no way around it. It is a huge strain on a relationship. As with any child – living or dead – one’s relationship is not the same after kids come into the picture. I know. I’ve been there. I am there. And those 2 ½ days that we spent with Acacia, our first born, will always be etched in my memories.
Here’s a quote from my journal, written about 10 months after our daughter died. I had taken the day off of work. It was summer. I went to our local Y to lay out by the pool, swim a little bit and read a book (things that I have always loved to do. Things that bring peace to my soul – the sun, the water, the warmth).
“Not looking forward to my husband coming home tonight. Wish I could be all relaxed and happy and shiny for him after a day off. But I’m not. I’m breathing. I’m alive. I hope that’s enough for him tonight. I’m tired. Where’s the pause button?”
The poignancy of this quote hit me as I re-read it today. People in a relationship often struggle with the idea of getting their “old self” back and returning to “normal” after their baby died, especially women. I am here to tell you that won’t happen. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You are forever changed by your baby, just as you would be if that child had lived. Unfortunately our culture generally treats a dead baby as not really a person. The thinking goes that because you didn’t lost a “real” person, you didn’t really lose anything, so nothing really changed, and you should still be yourself. Right? Wrong. Any of us who have a child who died knows this isn’t true, yet we long to fit into cultural norms; we long to feel normal ourselves; therefore, we might begin to believe this lie, to internalize it, and wonder what’s wrong with us, rather than question what is wrong with the messages we receive. And as women, we generally long to please others, our partners included. So we worry and wonder if and when we’ll ever be okay again. And along with the loss of our baby, we worry and wonder – will we also lose our partner? Because we’ve already lost our sense of self.
I experienced the depths of this despair myself. I felt the colossal impact on my relationship, and there are still ripple effects, and I suspect there always will be. As a couple, you CAN weather this life change. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. If you feel that your relationship is struggling after the death of your baby, please know that you are not alone. For extra support, you may follow me here on my blog to learn more about babyloss and sign up to receive an update anytime I post something. I’m also available to schedule a free 30 minute in person or phone consultation to talk about how I can help support you and your partner as you grieve the profound loss of your child. I can help you to find ways to turn towards each other, to support each other and to continue to grow together, rather than walking this path alone. Call me at 303.502.4867 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free consult.