As I reflect on parenting after a loss, it seems obvious that I’ll never know what kind of parent I would be if Acacia had not died. Sometimes I wonder about this, but mostly I experience it as a part of my parenting story. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be less anxious, less fierce, less attached, and not intimately know my child could die. Mostly it simply “is” to me. What I do notice; however, is how I imagine I do things differently.
Starting from infancy on with my second daughter, I learned it was helpful to narrate my daughter’s experience to her, and tell her what we were up to. For example, I’d say, “now it’s time to change your diaper.” Or, “I hear you’re crying and upset. I know things are not okay right now.” Another thing I quickly started to do was every time I would strap her into her car seat to go somewhere, I’d tell her where we were going, give her a kiss, say I love and tell her I’d see her when we got there. I don’t know if I would have done this if Acacia hadn’t died. Because every time I buckle my second daughter into her car seat, there is the quick acknowledgement that something could happen to either one of us on the car ride there, and if, god forbid, either one of us were injured or killed, I’d want my last words to her to be I love you.
This is how I know I’m parenting after a loss. What about you? What ways, big or small, do you find yourself doing things differently than you imagined you would have if your first baby hadn’t died? Or if a subsequent child of yours died, how do you know your parenting has changed?