There is something to be said for losing your first born child. I’m not saying it’s better or worse than losing your second or third, it’s just a very different experience. You spend your whole life dreaming of being a family. How many children you will have, what they will look like, what kind of parent you will be, even picking out names. I had the name Nash picked out since I was a teenager. I knew my first born son would be named Nash. Then it happens, you become pregnant and realize your dreams are about to come true. All of the nerves and excitement that come with your first baby, all of your fears. Then you meet this little person, and suddenly your life before seems so distant from your life now. Almost like a new beginning. You fall more in love than you ever have. I remember taking Nash home for the first time and thinking, “Now what?” Do I change his diaper, do I hold him, should I feed him? Hearing him cry and running to his nursery. Like if I wasn’t there within seconds, he may think I’m not coming. Then you start to settle into your new role as a mom. Life seems perfect. I felt like I had the family I had always wanted. Todd and I were parents to a beautiful baby boy who we adored.
As a parent, you always worry. Am I making the right decisions, am I a good mother? I remember Nash running a high temperature after his first shots. He was perfectly happy, but I was scared to death. Just giving him Tylenol for the first time was scary for me. I never really worried that he would die, even though I did check to see if he was breathing often while he was sleeping…it was just an instinct. I more worried that he would be sick or hurt and I wouldn’t know he was or how to help him. The day he died I felt cheated. I never even got the chance to help him. I never even saw him sick. No warning, healthy and then dead…in an instant. I think about it often and I am so beyond frustrated and sad that I got no warning. As a mother you want to make your child feel better and make them feel protected. I never got the chance to do that. My first reaction when I told the doctor to stop doing CPR was to hold and comfort Nash. Isn’t that ironic? My first time comforting my hurt child was after he had passed away. His first problem was unfortunately death, and I wasn’t there! I think about what he may have gone through. Being that he had never even been sick, did he know what he was feeling, was he scared? Was it quick? Did he suffer?
When we went home the first day without him it was so strange. That one little person turned our once organized home into a house of toys and dirty bottles. He filled it with so much life…now it’s so empty. Toys but no baby. A nursery but no Nash. Parents with no child. It’s like going right back to your previous life, a life without children. Almost like being an empty nester but your children died, you can’t even visit them. When you have your first child, the first thing you think is, “How did I live my life before this?” Now I’m right back to that life. Almost like it never happened. Being pregnant again feels like starting over, not adding to, and it’s almost exhausting, like let’s try this again…we have a taste of what it’s like to be parents but our only experience is of the first five months. Everything after this new baby is five months old will be new to us…that pisses me off. I see people who had children after us, people who asked me for advice when their child were born, and now I’ll be asking them. The order of things is all screwed up, and I feel mad about it. I’m going to look at these families and their children will be older than mine when it wasn’t supposed to be that way. I don’t know why that makes me angry but it does.
The hardest thing is going from the chaos that becomes normal when you have a baby back to the life of being just a couple. Everything feels different. You don’t feel like a mom or a dad anymore. I’m also scared that our only experience of having a child is losing one. We don’t have that comfort of knowing we had two other babies and they were just fine, this was a freak thing. With us, it’s all we know. That’s scary. I don’t think of this baby and his or her future like I did with Nash. I’m already wishing and hoping that he or she gets one more day, one more week, one more year. I know nothing is promised. That also makes me excited in a way for this new baby. I think of the times I sat Nash down because people told me it wasn’t good to hold him all the time. I think of the nights he spent in his nursery when he could have been in our room in a crib next to us. All because people told us he was getting to big to still be in our room. I think about the times I got frustrated when he wouldn’t stop crying. Now I’m excited for all those things. I will hold this baby always, he or she be in my room as long as he or she wants and who cares if anyone disagrees. I’m not sure now why I let other peoples’ opinions affect my decisions so much before…I will smile when he or she cries and enjoy every second because I never know if it could be the last one I have with him or her. This baby will never know what it is like to be alone and I’m just fine with that.
I think about all the advice and judgement you get as a parent. It literally starts during pregnancy. Are you going to breastfeed? Are you going to do a natural birth, or get an epidural? Are you going to have the baby in his or her own room or in yours? Then they are born and the judgement gets worse. Everyone has heard it. I did this with my baby and he was just fine! I laid my kids on their belly. I fed them whenever they were hungry. I had them on a schedule. Let them cry it out. Don’t let them cry it out. Don’t give them food or cereal until they are six months. Give them food or cereal as soon as you think they need it. Use a crib bumper, don’t use a crib bumper. My God!!!! Why do we listen to these people!?!? Do you know anyone who has a perfect child? No, you don’t, and I don’t either. Guess what, your child is not going to be perfect either. The only person they will be perfect to is you so why do we let other people tell us how to raise them? Is their child some sort of saint and so we should follow everything they say? The one thing I did with Nash that I fought everyone on was co-sleeping. It’s the one thing I stood my ground on and looking back on his life, it’s the one thing I don’t regret. All that time I spent with him that I would have missed out on had I listened to these OTHER people. Now I’m not saying it’s right, or even that it’s safe. What I’m saying is follow your own rule book and no one else’s. It’s the only way you will look back and have no regrets.
I’m not saying advice is bad. I reached out to many mothers when I had Nash, asking for their advice. It was funny because I usually did what I thought to begin with, but it was almost like I needed another mother to tell me it was okay. Us moms have to stick together and not tear each other down. Give advice but don’t pass judgement. We all mother in our own ways and none of us are doing it wrong if we are doing it with love. Remember, they are only our babies for a short time….enjoy it. You never know when you or your baby will be called home. I know from experience that our rainbow baby will know unconditional love. He or she will know that his or her parents will do what they feel is right. We will always fight to protect him or her. Most importantly, I will be grateful for every breathe they take, every laugh, every smile, every cry. There is only one baby of mine that will always be my baby and that’s Nash. He will never get older. He will never do the things I wanted to see him do, but he will forever remain my five-month-old angel. My first born.