Monday, February 21, 2005

Parenting In Grief

I awakened this morning with the same feeling of joy, suddenly dashed by the realization that this has not all been a dream. I'm starting to realize now why my friend was so careful who she told what to during her own ordeal last year. A few people have insinuated that I don't love my daughter because she's not perfect. A few have felt the need to remind me that she's human and a person. And more than a few have questioned whether or not I'm pro-life. As if prolonging someone's death was the same as giving them life. As if I even have the power to give her life. I only wish I did.

Will they still think I'm a murderer if I miscarry? Am I evil for wishing that would happen and I would have no say in the matter? To be perfectly honest, the only choice that doesn't completely bite, is my baby being born and being able to live. And that, sadly, is not an option I've been given. If I carry my dying baby in my belly for another four months, and have a nervous breakdown, become unable to parent my children, and we go more broke than we are trying to care for me, will I be holier and more worthy of compassion than I am now? Hmm, maybe I should drive myself straight into the mental ward (haven't seen one of those for like 11 years now! Ah, to relive my misspent youth) just so that no one will think I'm a murdering she-devil. That would be totally fair to my living children. And of course, the ultimate question: What if I die? Carrying Sarah could kill me. That's not something I can ignore.

At first I felt fortunate to be going through this now. I have such an awesome husband, and three beautiful children to keep me occupied. I'm emotionally stable, and haven't had major struggles with depression for a while. Of course, there is a downside as well. I can't just curl up in a ball and wallow in my pain. I can feel the grief rising up to consume me at times. I am certain that it is only the hand of God that pulls me out. I knew, always, that my children's welfare was in the hands of God, but I've never had such a difficult object lesson before. I realize now that my parenting was always with the mistaken premise that I can prevent harm to my children.

Certainly there is an element of truth to the idea. I put my kids in car seats, I don't give them access to hot things, I teach fire safety, I make them hold my hand when crossing the street, etc. But now my daughter is going to die, no matter what choice I do or do not make. I could carry for a year, and she still would die. There is nothing I can do. I feel like part of my foundation as a parent has been shaken loose beneath me. I'm trying to find my footing on an unstable path. Can I protect them from anything? How much control do I have?

My friends who know me and know how I am with my kids have insisted that I have more patience than I think, and I hope to God they're right. I wonder if I haven't abandoned them to cable TV and tellietubby videos while I spend countless hours trying to find a name for what my daughter has. I've lost my temper a few times with them. Not violently or anything, just snapping or being a little harsher than I need to be. I know the girls feel something, and I don't know how to make it easier for them. I've definitely lost my temper with a few dissenters here and there. And to what end, really? I'm not going to change their minds, and to those who know me, defense isn't necessary.

I have to find a new path as a mother. One that acknowledges that control is in God's hands, but still gives me some as well. I have to find a way to parent them through grief. Be honest, and not hide my feelings, but not make them carry the burden for me. I'm not sure the first step in this process, but I believe I'll start with prayer. Right now I only trust God and my husband to lead me.


1'A visitor' posted on the Tue 22 Feb 2005, 11:45 am

Anne, I am so sorry for this difficult time and our prayers are with you. I am confident that God is with you in your choice as it stands and ashamed as a member of the greater Internet community that your generosity in sharing your pain and struggle has been met with opposition. Please remember to take of yourself and your family at this most difficult time. God bless.Teresa

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