Blog post

Surviving Postpartum with a Living Child after Loss

January 4, 2017

When Charlotte was about 4/5 days old I fell apart.

Everything kicked in. Hormones. My milk came in. It all hurt. She stopped sleeping at night. All of postpartum compounded and on top of it all – she looked so much like Kaden.

I only had him for exactly 3 weeks. So for that first month with her, everything flashed me back to his days over and over again. Things I hadn’t remembered in 2 years suddenly popped up, waking me at night in terror and stopping me dead in my tracks during the day.

During “normal” life, my anxiety is about a 6 all the time. When I get stressed it’s around a 7/8. After Char, I hovered around a 9.5. Honestly, I felt like my brain was going to explode. I cried a lot, flipped out on everyone around me. Sam came home with a Nerf gun for him and Bella one evening and I was so terrified we were going to go broke (we were fine) I ended up chucking it against the wall while sobbing. I wondered if I would ever be remotely ok again, I was scared of how out of control my anxiety seemed to be.

One night I sat up holding Char against my shoulder, rocking while burping her, shhhing in her little ear. And I realized with a jolt that I was holding her exactly how I held Kaden when he died. Her face was against mine, her body the same weight.

The thought consumed me. I started to bawl while rocking her and thinking, “I gave this up. I handed this size, these little hands, this same color of hair over to someone and they took him away from me.”

But I had her now. Wasn’t I supposed to be happy?

I mean I can barely write it now. Because it’s so painful to go back there – both the moment with Charlotte and the moment with Kaden. It’s been 3 years since I gave him to a nurse, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table with tears pouring down my face as Bella plays on her game, Char naps, and Sam is at an appt. And I think of two things:

How did I survive him dying?

I’m so very, very glad it still hurts this much.

As the days passed, and we went to therapy, I was able to talk about this and Sam told me he’d felt the same about her. That in some ways he was terrified to hold her or just spend time with her because the emotions were so raw and the memories so vivid. That’s the thing about grief and PTSD – it hits you in these totally unexpected times where you are knocked over by it – for minutes, days, weeks or longer. We had only held one baby since Kaden, and it was two months after, so nothing had desensitized us a bit to all the baby things.

We went from one life-altering experience with him to the same kind of baby (not trauma though) experience with Charlotte.

And that is very hard to do.

I know a lot of you reading are carrying a rainbow baby. Or you lost a baby. Or you lost your rainbow. Or maybe you had a baby after losing one and you are reading and nodding along.

Or maybe you’re one of the above but you’re doing great and thanking the heavens my postpartum story isn’t yours 😉 lol

Whatever it is, if you’re struggling in a moment that should feel happy/redeeming/complete – it’s ok not to feel like that. You will eventually feel that separate from the grief. It won’t take its place, but it will find it’s own little niche nicely beside it and fit into where you find yourself in a better spot for both. See someone, take something (obviously not on your own accord), talk to someone who knows you well.

As she became older, it did get easier to process and remember without thinking my heart would break in two. I still catch myself wondering what Kaden would have been like in these stages. How he would have looked and what kind of personality he would have had. I miss him desperately, so so desperately. He was my son. My little boy. Nothing can ever fix that, and I wouldn’t want it too. I had to hand my little, broken, tired 3-week old baby to a total stranger and walk away from him. I got to hold him again when he was in an urn.

That will stay with me forever.

And yet.

I made it. We made it. Barely. Some days it feels like all the things we had to go through before, during, and after that still cause such craters of a mess in our life – but we are still here.

5 Comments

  • Samantha Reid

    March 29, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    As i am sitting at the Doctors office now. Reading your blog. I can say this is amazing!
    Today I would have been 28 weeks pregnant with my second daughter. Her due date was June 8 2017
    Just a few months after my daughter turns 4 years old. Also my husband and I 2year wedding anniversary.
    I am here today to get on birth control and find out what i can do or some i can talk to to help me.
    At 19 weeks pregnant with my daughter Madyson Belle ❤ I went in for my ultra sound. Sitting there looking at her on the screen. Such a beautiful moment and was going to be the best feeling to see your baby and hear her heart beat.! As the set things up and we hear Madys heart beat! I got that feeling im sure every mother gets. The feeling to breath just knowing you hear the little sound!. Little did i know as they turn the screen on i would see my little girl on the right side of my belly. She was in a little ball you could say just curled up. Once I seen the look on the ultra sound tech. Face. I knew something wasn’t right. As they say when your a mother. You know when something isnt right. It usually isn’t. She looked at me and said right now i can’t get a photo of the baby due to her curled up. She asked for me to say laying down so the doctor could come and take a look. As he is looking and moving around. He stops and turns the screen off. He said as you see she has no moment. Good news she has kidneys and things seem to measure out ok. But reason she isn’t moving is she has no room to move. I had no clue I had lost about 70% of my amuitc fluid. Now she has no room to grow and due to how much I lost already there was nothing they could do. As they did more test. They found her lungs would not develop. And she would not make it. After going through giving birth to Madyson and only to walk out of the hospital with her foot prints was the hardest thing in life!.

    Thank you for reading
    Samantha Reid Bates.

    1. Donna baker

      March 31, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Thank you for sharing.

  • Kristin @ In Between the Piles

    January 4, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Oh, Diana…these words, “I had to hand my little, broken, tired 3 week old baby to a total stranger and walk away from him. I got to hold him again when he was in an urn.” Tears in my eyes. Thank you again for being vulnerable. Huge hugs. Maybe one day we’ll meet in person, and I’ll be able to give you a hug in person.

  • Erin (thismommywrites)

    January 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Day by Day…that’s sometimes the only way to move forward…you are doing amazing! Keep writing!

  • Tanya Redfield

    January 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    You did do it, and are doing it! What a blessing to your girls that you and Sam haven’t given up on hope or on each other….Keep going!!!!

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