Do you count your child’s breath before you go to sleep?I do.
Do you hold your breath when they jump off the couch? I do.
Do you imagine your child’s death when they hurt themselves in any way? I do.
Do you panic when you see someone else’s child has died and then promptly wonder if yours will be next? I do.
Anxiety is no joke; it’s even worse when you’ve lost a child. Many of us who’ve felt the chasm where our child should be, suffers from crippling anxiety. How could we not? Fear for our children is a fundamental trait with parents, mothers especially. Then add the component where we’ve had our greatest fears realized and we become these panic-filled people. I can say with the utmost certainty that loss-mommas count their children’s breath, or have at some point. That they’ve imagined their living children’s deaths or held their breath for some freak accident to happen to that child. We can’t help it, we’re not ignorant to death. We aren’t able to push aside those fears because for us, they’re not just fears; they’re reality.
Our reality includes the death of a child. Our reality has been broken, shattered and strewn across the universe. Our reality has singled out one moment in time, the moment we held our child for the last time. Our reality isn’t waking up everyday thinking that day is promised to us. No… our reality is death happens to the most innocent and there is nothing we can do to change or prevent it. If death wants our children, death will take them.
I have seen countless accounts of people saying we’re morbid for carrying our children or still talking about them. Death is taboo and we “shouldn’t” keep bringing it up. They try to silence our grief and our child’s memory. As if they have that right! My local group of loss moms turn heads when people realize we’re not just a bunch of women together for girls night. No, we are a group of women that have come together because all of us have suffered their worst fears. But we’re morbid? Morbidity is gawking at loss parents and making remarks that in turn make us feel like even more of an outcast in society. We are outcasts. We don’t fit the typical niche of a parent. We straddled the line of living with death and living with life.
Everyday we see our child who’s passed in their fathers, brothers, sisters or in the mirror. We see them in flowers, butterflies, the bible, the time, cartoons! We see them everywhere. Then we also see life. We see those living children’s smiles. We see them running around, eating their favorite foods, talking and learning about the world.
We are judged for our parenting everyday, not just loss moms but every parent. You’re not feeding your kid that are you? You let them watch how much T.V? I could never be that way with my kid! Spanking is bad. Spanking is good. Cry it out method is terrible. Cry it out is the best thing. There’s a whole slew of things people say to parents, especially when your child is acting like a fool in public. Tack on a loss and you get some weirdos saying things you’d never dream of saying to a widow or your own mother.
All these things just increase the anxiety and make us feel like we’re the worst parents in the world. We’re our own worst critic and enemy. A women, we strive to be perfect. Perfect body. Perfect life. Perfect hair. Perfect house. Perfect everything! Even when we know, logically, that’s not possible. Yet we still strive for it. Our children are a reflection of us and to doubt our abilities as mothers is panic inducing anxiety. If someone judges our children, we often feel that judgment on ourselves. Never mind that children are their own entity and you can only mold them so much. Never mind that there is extenuating circumstances that are causing that child’s meltdown. All we feel and see is the anxiety bubbling up and getting ready to erupt.
Even though we count our child’s breaths and have imagined their deaths, we are judged. Judged when no others have a right to. So what if I’m having a bad day? Everyone does. Mine just seem to come more often since I loss my child. That balance of life and death is a delicate emaciated line that holds up far more than it should; ready to snap at any point.
That judgement causes our anxiety to soar to new heights and it’s often hard to come down without a gigantic crash. Anxiety can be debilitating and sudden. In order to reassure ourselves that that anxiety is fear based and not reality, we count those chest rise and falls from our kids. We hold our breath when our child is hurt or sick. We do what’s best for us to counteract our anxiety. As a loss mom, I’ve learned my anxiety induces panic and makes me feel like I’m trying to crawl out of my skin. I breathe heavy and fast, I feel clammy and as if I’ve had a twenty-thousand volts of electricity shot through my muscles; making me twitchy. I can’t sleep when I’m anxious and I can’t be calm. For me, anxiety is terrible. I’d never had a bought of it this horrendous before Aerilyn. Now, I’m lucky to go one day without it.
So each night, before bed those breaths get counted. A finger is stuck under Kanin’s nose to make sure he’s still breathing. One day, I hope, I’ll stop being so anxious. Until then, I’ll keep a vigilant watch and hope I never have my greatest fear realized again.