The Theatrical Threes

If you’re after a post that about how in love with my children I am, this is not the one. There are plenty of those to come, but not today. This post is about the hard truths about motherhood, about how sometimes I find it challenging to like my daughter. Don’t doubt my love, I love her so much it hurts, but sometimes, there are days, where I don’t much like her.

The Sunshine Princess turns four next month, and I can hardly wait. I’m hoping that four brings with it some peace, some relief from the year that has been The Theatrical Threes.

I have found it difficult to write about the Sunshine Princess at three, because I’ve found it difficult to enjoy her at three. The Sunshine Princess was difficult as a baby, her first 6 months were harder than I ever expected. She cried all day-every day, rarely slept, fed continuously for hours, and was always unsettled and miserable. But three, well three makes those days enviable. It’s been hard to admit that I find this age and stage challenging, as I thought our hard times were behind us, especially after a wonderfully blissful toddlerhood. But at three, full of attitude, drama, and emotions that are too big for her, The Sunshine Princess has often been more of a storm cloud.

It’s ironic that the words I would most use to describe The Sunshine Princess are also words I would use to describe myself. Stubborn. Opinionated. Fiercely Independent. Bossy. And while I don’t doubt that these traits are what will help her grow into a strong, determined, hard working world changer, on a three year old, these traits are difficult to manage with kindness, patience and empathy. While I want her to be able to give a resounding “No”, when she’s a teenager learning to respond to peer pressure, I would also love to hear it used a lot less in my current household.

Parenting The Sunshine through the Threes has felt very thankless. It feels as though no matter what I say or do, she will do what she wants anyway. Parenting through the Threes has at times been exhausting and disheartening.

Three is what makes me sit with the Rainbow Princess a little longer when she’s asleep in my arms, partly so I don’t have to go and face The Sunshine, but mostly because I know I can’t stop her from growing, and what if at three, she’s exactly the same?

Three makes me understand why people use parenting techniques I’ve never had much belief in, like leaving the child in shameful isolation, or manipulating the child into obedience by counting to an arbitrary number. Three makes me understand threats and bribes and star charts and the desire to run away.

Three has been very humbling. Three makes me understand giving young kids foods you know you shouldn’t, and letting them watch more TV then you thought you ever would.

I often joke that we didn’t get the Terrible Twos, but the Theatrical Threes have more than paid my debt in terms of having a rough time with my oldest daughter.

Two was so very delightful. After her difficult babyhood, The Sunshine was the most adorable little toddler. Easy to please and eager to please, reasonable and receptive to compromise. The Sunshine at three is demanding, defensive, explosive and dramatic. The independence she fought so hard to achieve at two, her wanting to be allowed to do simple tasks like dressing herself, putting her own shoes on, picking her own clothes, setting the table, putting toys away and helping me with household tasks vanished not long after she turned three, when The Rainbow arrived, and The Sunshine relapsed into needing me to do everything for her. I expected it, with a new baby in the house, and the competition for attention, but I didn’t expect it to not return. Almost a year later and she still won’t dress herself, and yet fights me when I need to do it for her. She won’t pick her own clothes, but I inevitably pick the wrong ones. If I offer a choice between items she will then decide she wants to choose herself, picking something completely different, and often weather inappropriate, resulting in a tantrum that should have been preventable.

I feel like my parenting relationship with her is so much more complicated than it was when she was two. She is so much more complex as a person, and I am often so blown away by how intelligent and imaginative she is. She is wonderfully intuitive, and very capable; what makes three challenging is she is identifying now not just with what she needs, but also what she WANTS, and furthermore, what she wants as opposed to what I am asking. At two if I asked her to come and get dressed, she did. Simple. We made games out of getting dressed together, racing to see who could finish first, both of us proud of her newfound self dressing ability. At three when I ask her to get dressed, even after letting her know 5, then 3 minutes in advanced that it will be time to get dressed, I am sometimes met instead with protests, “I’m just playing!!” she’ll say, or, “I’m doing craft/colouring/shops/barbies” or any other hundreds of things except getting dressed. Whilst this seems typical of three, and I’m sure it is, it can make the days long and exhausting if I’m given this kind of response for every request, getting dressed, putting shoes on, brushing teeth, brushing hair, eating, etc etc etc. It’s not outright disobedience, and I don’t want to be the kind of parent who threatens their child into being submissive, I realise it’s just a frustrating part of this age, where she isn’t quite capable of seeing past what she wants, over what needs to be done, but my patience is certainly getting a workout. Most days, and most occasions we find a happy medium, and things run smoothly, the “when/then” strategy works quite well for us, but other days, I feel as though I am talking in circles, and talking non stop. And feeling my blood pressure rise.

Something that is difficult is that I have high expectations of her, based on the toddler she was, and what seemed reasonable at two, is now heightened, and sensationally dramatic, and, I believe, unreasonable at three. A tantrum over dinner being on the wrong colour plate at two, when she had little autonomy and was capable of very few decisions, seemed fair, and was easily calmed and redirected. At three, the wrong colour plate (after being offered a choice anyway) is The End Of The World.

I find I don’t give The Sunshine Princess the one on one time with me that I know she deserves, partly because with The Husband working away, and The Rainbow Princess not having long sleeps during the day, there simply isn’t much time where it is just her and me. But also, if I am completely honest, it’s because I don’t want to. She is so demanding of conversation, and so hard to please, that on the very little sleep I get due to The Rainbow’s disrupted nights, it’s just too hard. At the moment it feels like every thing I do by her is wrong. I’ve never got the right answer, I never have the right game, I can’t fix the right snack, I am just doing EVERYTHING WRONG. Oh, and she does NOT want to be my best friend.

Her imagination is beyond me, and I find it difficult to connect with her in imaginative play, which is troublesome for me, as I was myself an incredibly creative child. I envy The Husband who engages her with extraordinary pretend games about pirates, fairies, dragons, unicorns, volcanos and remote islands, with not a single prop or toy.

It’s extremely difficult to not take the behaviour personally, even as so many mums of little girls around the same age commiserate with me and assure me they are going through the same thing, because she doesn’t act like it with anyone else. At preschool, dancing, swimming and kindergym she is the youngest in her classes because the teachers assure me she needs to be with older peers, as her maturity and cognitive abilities are above her age. She’s described as intelligent, empathetic, kind, popular, creative and helpful. At the very least, it’s reassuring to know that I must be doing something right, even though it certainly doesn’t feel like it much of the time. And it’s frustrating that I don’t get to see this side of her as often as I would like.

Being the gentle and conscious parent I’ve always wanted to be has been challenging through the Threes. Sometimes it even feels impossible, that no matter how much I try, she’s too independent and stubborn to respond to what I want her to be, or act the way that I think she should. Sometimes I even feel like giving up, I try so hard to be calm and kind and patient and connected, and sometimes I wonder why I bother, when yelling and screaming seems so much more effective, albeit only as a short term solution.

She got her temper from me, her recent speciality is slamming doors and throwing things when her emotions are too much for her. She is so much like me that we often clash, that when we are both ready to explode, we do, and it’s hard to remember that I am the adult. When she storms to her bedroom slams the door, it’s hard not to want to do the same. It’s hard to find the compassion to calm her down, when I am boiling over myself. But it’s when I see my worst moments in hers, that I feel disappointed with myself, and am reminded that no matter how tired, frustrated and cranky I am, I am still the mother. I have the responsibility of controlling my emotions so she can learn to manage hers.

Fortunately, amongst all the tantrums and dramas, there are also many moments when she is so empathetic and thoughtful, so selfless and patient herself, reflecting the qualities I am working so hard to instil, that I am reminded that what I DO, more than what I SAY, is so important for her. That instead of telling her about the kind of person I want her be, I just need to BE that person. She has learnt compassion and kindness for her sister from me, she’s been patient and understanding and involved in helping me parent The Rainbow gently. I see it reflected when she plays with her dolls, when she breastfeeds them, when she wears them around in her doll carrier and when she instructs me to be quiet, because she’s putting the baby to sleep, and then gently rocks them in her arms before laying them down in their beds. Those are some of my proudest moments, when I see in her role play, what she must see in me.

I know that The Sunshine and I are in a vicious circle where the lack of my attention makes her behaviour worse, and her behaviours makes me not want to give her my attention, and am making a conscious effort to break it. When The Husband is away, The Sunshine often comes into my bed of a night, having woken cold/hot/thirsty/scared/heard mysterious noise/saw mysterious shadow, or any other of the 9537 reasons she wakes, and as we snuggle together in the dark, in her sleepy haze we chat about her days, her world, her games, and I feel so grateful that she is mine, and that the sweet girl I know she is is still there. It reminds me why I need to work hard with and for her, to help her learn to control the big emotions she has, so that they don’t affect her relationships with not just me, but with others.

I’m working hard to make changes in my relationship with The Sunshine Princess, and as The Rainbow Princess is getting older and can play independently for longer amounts of time, I am using strategies to use that time to reconnect with The Sunshine. It amazes me how much a few simple changes in our day affect her behaviour so wonderfully. But I’m also holding out hope that four brings with it a magical leap in development that makes her easier to reason with. Come on four! I will not miss the Threes!


Let’s Talk About Sleep, Baby.

17th April.

Let’s talk about sleep, baby, let’s talk about you and me….

For The Rainbow Princess,

Well my sweet little Rainbow Princess of 9 months…. You are such a delight. You are crawling, and pulling yourself up on anything and everything you can, you can walk a dozen steps or so by pushing your walker, unless I try to film it, and then you promptly drop to your bum and smile coyly at me.

You don’t have many words yet, you were saying mum mum and dada regularly but they seem to have disappeared. Your favourite word is boof, I guess I’ve called you a boof head a few too many times, because now whenever you bump your head you announce yourself a “boooooofffffff”.

For the most part you are a pretty quiet bubba, and pretty chilled out. It seems that you are much younger than your 9 months, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying your extended babyhood. You have though decided you no longer like purées, or being fed from a spoon and that suits me just fine. You feed yourself by readily shoving food at your face and eat anything I place in front of you. You’re yet to turn your nose up at any food, although mummy has figured out a few that don’t agree with your little tummy.

You are obsessed with shoes and drink bottles. The dirtier the shoes I have accidentally left at the front door the better, you will suck on them with a cheeky smile on your face, until I take them and you shriek in protest. The Sunshine’s drink bottles give you a thrill, something about the metal barrel and hard spout gives you joy, and make them a prized possession.

The past few weeks have been delightful with you, easily entertained, lots of giggles and hundreds of heart melting moments now that you can crawl and follow me, that you can lay your head in my lap, or climb up on me and plant a big sloppy kiss on my cheek. You’ve even been happier with strangers, allowing other people to hold you and cuddle you, and spending lots of time with daddy, without me also being present. You impressed me by being comfortable crawling away at music class to sit in with the big kids, and crawling off at the playground to chase after your big sister who happily included you in a game of shopkeeper.

And in true babyhood form, just as I was marvelling at your new found social abilities, the last few days have brought another change. A combination of your first tooth taking a seeming eternity to appear, despite the broken hole in your gum ready for it to pop through, visitors in our normally quiet house and the 9 month separation anxiety development have made you a little more fragile, needing my understanding and patience more as you worry and loudly fret if I walk too far away from you, or goodness forbid, leave the room without you.

I am your favourite person in the entire world, except maybe your biggest sister. You light up when she looks your way, and squeal with excitement when we pick her up after her days at preschool. When she’s out of the house you look around sadly wondering where she is. You’re also very smitten with daddy, which melts my heart, because he is also so very smitten with you. You and daddy have your own language and games, all your own and different from what I do with you. Daddy is home from work at the moment and for the past 1.5 weeks it’s him you’ve been wanting to put you to bed, and even him you want in the nights. He gets up with you in the mornings so mummy can sleep in, and spends time with you in the afternoons so mummy can nap. See mummy needs to nap, because you, my gorgeous one, do not sleep in particularly long blocks at night.

Actually, my darling, your sleep is pretty disrupted at the moment. You fall asleep by nursing, or by bouncing on your ball, and wake frequently, especially in the first few hours of your night. It’s not often hard to get you back to sleep, a quick feed, or a quick bounce, and you drift back off, until the next wake. After the first few wakes you generally settle off for a few hours, and wake in the early hours of the morning for another feed, and then usually one more before it’s time to start the day. 4am is a funny time for you, a wake at 4am can mean we are up for an hour coaxing you back to sleep, after which you will happily sleep to 7 or 8am. The trouble is The Sunshine Princess is up between 6 and 7am, so often when daddy is away I start my day at 4am and don’t end it until 10 or 11pm when you settle down for the night. It makes the days long, and mummy is tired. There’s not much reprieve because you don’t regularly take long naps in the day, and even when you do, The Sunshine Princess is around to keep me busy. So for the past few months mummy has been operating on very, very little sleep.

I know there’s plenty of mums out there wondering why on earth I let you “get away” with this. But here’s the thing my little girl, mummy doesn’t mind. See I know you can sleep, for the first 4 months of your life it was all you did. You slept so much I worried about whether or not you would develop properly. You slept for long periods over night, so long that I would wake panicking, praying to not find you still and cold. Your sleep was a shock to me after a The Sunshine Princess, I often joked that you were sleeping better at 3 weeks than she was at a year. Even still now, you sometimes go to bed, happily stay there and sleep 6,7,8hrs. Sometimes even longer. Sometimes you wake several times, but then sleep from 10pm til morning. There’s no apparent reason for the sleepy nights, and no pattern to the restless nights. So little bubba, I have complete faith in you to tell me what you need, and if you wake at night for a cuddle, then I am happy to give it to you. I also have complete trust in you that when you are ready to sleep through the night consistently then you will. I know you could do with some more sleep, especially during the days, but part of being the little sister, and having a big sister that has dancing, and swimming, and music and play dates and who wants to go to the park, and has preschool drop offs, and all the other things that make up our busy scheduled, means that your naps are sometimes disrupted. And you cope very well bubba, you really do.

As a newborn you would fall asleep wherever you were, without me. Now unless in the car you need to be in my, or daddy’s arms to fall asleep. You don’t fall asleep in your pram, or on the floor, or if there is too much noise and stimulation around. As much as I know that the idea is that self settling promotes better sleep habits, I am in no rush for you to be able to fall asleep independently, I don’t feel like I am spoiling you or being manipulated by you if you cry when I put you down awake.

I don’t gage my success as a mumma based on your sleeping. Your sleep(lessness) doesn’t cause me anxiety, it doesn’t make me feel like a failure, or that I am doing the wrong thing by you. I don’t feel pressure to have you sleeping through the night, not like I did with your biggest sister. You see my little wakeful baby, I’ve been that mumma. I was that mumma with The Sunshine Princess. My worry about her sleep, or lack thereof, consumed a great deal of my mummy energy, and left me feeling inadequate and nervous. Everything that I read in regards to baby sleep just told me how wrong my baby was doing it, and the ways of suggesting to fix it didn’t work. I was referred to the family care cottage 3 times, and on all occasions her and I both failed, they couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get her to sleep. Through it all, the silent reflux that was making her scream was dismissed as over tiredness, and the only advice anyone had for me was that if she slept better she’d be a happier baby. Basically, it was my fault she was miserable, because I had neglected to teach her how to sleep. I told myself it was normal to feel worried about her sleep, because she was always so miserable. How could I not worry, when all she did was cry? Finally at 6 months, I went to Tresillian, for a 4 day stay. It was there, surrounded by lovely, caring nurses that we started to work out a way to help her better sleep. It turned out that self settling DID work for The Sunshine, but she (and I) needed a gentler approach to achieve it. Leaving her to cry alone left us both hysterical, so instead I sat in the room and patted her to sleep in her cot, gradually patting less and less, and leaving her earlier to fall asleep alone. We worked out a routine to give predictability to our days, which greatly eased my anxiety, and I learnt that my efforts of rocking and ssshing and feeding and pacing to help The Sunshine fall asleep, were not helping her at all. An alert and excitable baby, minimal interaction with mumma was best for sleep time. In the same week a doctor finally gave me a prescription for reflux medication, and it was like I had a new baby. The change in her was so dramatic, and our lives so much happier, that I decided right then, that all my babies would be self settlers from as early as possible, that that same routine I learnt for The Sunshine would apply to all my children, and that obviously, all babies would respond in the same way as she did. I would never again worry about baby sleep, because I would know EXACTLY how to MAKE babies sleep. At the same time, I had a friend with a baby the same age as The Sunshine Princess, who didn’t self settle, and didn’t sleep well, and I could just not understand how his mother had the patience to rock him to sleep every nap time. I told her all the wonderful things I had learnt, and was baffled at why she wasn’t jumping at the chance to implement the same changes with her baby. I mean, who doesn’t want more sleep right? It’s a strange feeling to admit that I get it now, with you here asleep in my arms little rainbow, I understand that patience. I understand enjoying the cuddles.

In between the births of The Sunshine Princess and The Angel Princess, in my search to find more information about natural births, I also came across a lot of information about normal baby sleep patterns. For the first time I learnt it was normal for babies to wake frequently through the night for extended periods of time, and for longer than the expected babyhood. I learnt the reasons, I learnt about building trust, security and responsiveness in babies, and how providing to their needs actually made them more comfortable in their independence and more confident as they grew. And I started to think that when my next baby came, maybe it would be ok if I rocked them to sleep, or co slept. Or just simply enjoyed them and didn’t worry about how or when they slept, or for how long. I realised that there’s no such things as “good babies” and “bad babies”, there are only babies and they are all different. Some babies need the space and quiet that self settling offers, and others need the comfort of their mothers, and can’t be trained out of it. I hoped I would get a cuddly baby, but in the back of my mind I knew that if I was struggling at 6 months then I could fall back on the Tresillian routine.

The Sunshine Princess has no qualms about going to bed, she’s not afraid, after cuddles and kisses she falls asleep alone, quickly and easily with no protests or tears. I know that the sleep training I did with her has had no negative effects, she still goes through periods of waking through the night and needing comfort, which is still age appropriate, and bad dreams are not uncommon in these years, but yet it’s hard for me to shake feelings of guilt about needing to sleep train her as a baby. It’s hard not to compare her to you little Rainbow girl, and how easily you fall asleep with me, when she never could. 6 months come and went with you, and no desire to sleep train came. So I told myself 7 months, we did cot settling for a week, and then stopped. I am happy to rock, and you are happy to be rocked. So I remind myself that even though how I meet your sleep needs is so different to how I responded with The Sunshine Princess, ultimately I am parenting you both in the same way in the sense of figuring out what you each needed for sleep and providing it. For her, help in identifying a safe sleep space to be alone in, and for you, the comfort of my arms.

Grief has made my parenting different as well. After The Angel died, with the ache she left behind, and the deepest of longing for a baby to hold, I knew that I would be so grateful for that baby, that I would have the capacity to be more patient and the courage to be more intuitive, instead of needing to prove to everyone how good I was at parenting, based on how my baby slept. And then you came along, my delicious little bundle, who loves to be cuddled. Thank you. Thank you for being everything I need.

I completely understand the worry and anxiety and concern that comes from having a baby who doesn’t sleep well, and how I know how awful it is to always be asked about how your baby is sleeping, and feel like a terrible mother because they’re not. I know what it’s like to have every conversation about your baby inevitably come back to sleep, and whether or not they self settle, or if they’ve been sleep trained. I feel complete empathy for mothers who can’t seem to figure out what to do for their bub, when the books are not working and the professionals have a one sized fits all approach that your baby doesn’t match. But I am so glad it’s not me this time.

Even though sometimes the tiredness gets the better of me, and makes me grumpy, and sometimes when you wake in the night I wish briefly I could have a few more hours sleep, once I am with you and your head is on mine, snoring so sweetly, I know this is right. So Rainbow Princess, the thing is, while other mummas are judging me for not sleep training my wakeful little bubba, or bitching about how I’m harming your development by not ensuring you get enough sleep, I’m feeling a little sad for them that they are missing the magic of having their baby fall asleep on their chest. I am just so very very glad that you and I are with each other. That those days of stress and pressure are over for me, and you and I can sit here, content, as I rock you off to sleep. I am choosing to love you how you like best and I am not just comfortable, but proud of that decision.

Seven Words.

When The Angel Princess first died I spent a lot of energy being angry at the people who said, or did, the wrong things. All the people who told me it was for the best, in an attempt to comfort me, all the people who gave me “at least…”s, all the people who ignored me, or her completely, the people who announced their pregnancies within weeks of her death, with no regards to the stab in the heart that was for us, the people who kept waiting for me to be ok, the people who wouldn’t say her name. It was a long list, and the reasons were varied. But it felt good to be angry at something, or someone, concrete. I was so angry that she died, but she wasn’t here to be angry at, so I raged at the people around me. And although I am still angry at a lot of things, most of that anger at others has worn away, and slowly I am learning to accept that it is, unfortunately, a part of the process that is becoming a baby loss mother. People just don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to act, and though they try, they often get it wrong. Things that seem right to them, can be so incredibly hurtful, and yet, when they play it safe and ignore it all together, it’s even worse.

Many times I have tried to think about what I would say if someone close to me lost a baby. What I would do is easy, I know what practical help I could give, buying groceries, minding older children, cleaning the house, organising paper work and dealing with authorities, that stuff is easy. But when I really think about it, what words I would use to respond to that shocking, and devastating news, I struggle. I’ve decided that amongst all the other things I can say, the simplest, and most sincere, is “I am so sorry your baby died”. Seven words. If someone you know has a baby who died, and you don’t know what to say, that is it. Seven words. Seven heartfelt words, is all she needs to hear.

Dear New Babyloss Mumma,

I am so sorry your baby died.

My first reaction is to tell you, “it gets easier I promise”. The first few weeks, the initial shock, and that slam of grief is nothing short of horrific. It is numbing and painful all at once. The pain is actually physically painful. Your chest hurts, your heart hurts, you can’t breathe, your eyes hurt, everything HURTS. It just HURTS. And it hurts like you’ve never ever hurt before. It hurts like it might never stop hurting. It’s scary. Your nervous system is in chaos because you’re full of adrenaline as your brain tries to figure out which fight or flight response to use. But it can’t use either because there’s nothing to fight and nowhere to fly.

But I won’t tell you this. I won’t say “don’t worry, it gets easier”. Because it won’t help. And because you probably don’t want to hear it. There is no way that you can imagine any way that your grief will diminish, that you could possibly stop hurting so much, because you’ll never stop loving and missing your child.

It seemed condescending when people told me it would get easier. As if they had successfully made it through that first part of grief, and didn’t have much time for me until I was also past it. It made my grief less, almost a pat on the back, “there,there its ok, you’ll get over it”. It made me feel that I was overreacting, or that there was an expected time frame in which “easier” would occur. I didn’t want to, and couldn’t imagine my grief getting any less, or any easier to manage, didn’t they understand? MY. BABY. JUST. DIED.

And yet now, every story, every mumma who’s new in these shoes and my quickest response is that false comfort. I want to make it better for you. I want to let you know that while grief lasts forever, it won’t be the same as it is now. It won’t be so awfully hard to carry. You learn to live with it. You will carry on. Because that’s just what we do. Humans are resilient. We change and adapt and heal and repair. We learn, we change, we ache, and yearn, and we are never the same again, but we go on. You will go on.

I want to tell you that this grief, this new, heart wrenching feeling of despondently overwhelming grief is ok. I want you to feel it for as long as you need to. I don’t want you to think about it getting easier. I want you to accept this new hard, desperate, despairing grief. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s ok to be ugly and angry and hateful and broken. Its ok to be sad and sorrowful and heartsick. But please don’t expect that you won’t smile. Please don’t expect that you won’t feel any nice feelings at all. Because you will; maybe your friend will bring you cake and make you laugh, or maybe you will smile at something on TV, and that’s ok. It’s ok to slip into normalcy, even when the world is upside down.

Please, new baby loss mumma, don’t rush to be “ok”. Don’t rush to be healed or “get back to normal”. Because, being ok, feeling normal, and worst of all, feeling happy will bring with it a whole new grief. The grief that now when you feel those things, you will feel guilty for feeling them. You will catch yourself smiling and then wonder what kind of mother you could be to smiling after your baby died. You will wonder how you could have the right to ever be happy again. You will worry that if people see those happy moments they will start to expect you to be happy all the time, and don’t they know you are still grieving? Then you will feel defensive of your grief, you want to be entitled to sadness, no matter how long it has been, or how many happy moments, hours or days you’ve had. You will want people to know that you are still vulnerable and hurting, and they should still be careful and kind to you, you will want them to understand that grief never fully goes away. You will grieve for the old you, who didn’t feel guilty over being happy. You will grieve for how much of yourself you have lost, and wonder why grief has so many ripples. You will be angry for your loss of innocence, you will grieve because for the rest of your life, you will know grief. Because you won’t ever stop loving and missing your baby. You will grieve about grieving. You will despair at your own agony and feel helpless and changed and anguished. You will be perplexed by the complexity of grief, for its stages that are not like they say in the textbook, for its ability to reappear unexpectedly, and for your new triggers. You will grieve for the person you used to be before you knew true heartbreak. You will hate grieving and be angry with it, and frustrated that it won’t just GO AWAY. You will be sick of grieving. You will have had enough and still not be done. And I am so sorry. I am so sorry you have to go through all this. I am so sorry your baby died.

All I have for you right now is the reassurance that, I know. I know that right now you feel as though you are standing at the end of the earth, staring into nothing, sinking, drowning, suffocating. I know that where you are there is no light. I know that the emptiness is so vast, it’s more than you. I know that you are bargaining, everything and everyone you could, to get your baby back. I know that you are screaming without words. I know that you are pleading, with every god, fate, and karma, to give you your child. I know your despair. I know your hate, and your anger, I know your sadness and your desperation. I know that now everything is divided into “before” and “after”. I know that time is standing still and moving too fast all at once. I know that time is moving you further away from your baby but not healing at all. I know how much it hurts. I do. And I am so sorry your baby died.

And as hard as it is being on the other side of your grief, and wanting so desperately to help you, I know there’s nothing I can say to change how you feel, and nothing I can give to make it better. So this is all I have. Please know that I know. I really truly understand. And I am so sorry. I am so sorry your baby died.

Babyloss Mumma, 21.5 months.