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Question of the Month
If my baby had lived, then we certainly wouldn't have been trying to conceive so soon and I wouldn't have my new baby. It's hard to cope with knowing that having one of these babies means I wouldn't have the other. I want both. It's a confusing feeling and few people understand. Am I nuts?

Ann DouglasFrom Ann Douglas . . .

I totally understand your feelings. My youngest child, Ian, was born 11 months after our previous baby, Laura, was stillborn, and we wouldn't have had the opportunity to welcome Ian into our lives if Laura had lived. So I've often given thought to those issues. (Okay, obsessed about them!)

The way I've come to terms with the situation is to accept the fact that the entire situation was beyond my control: that I didn't choose one baby over the other. What happened was out of my hands.

I've explained the situation to my kids, including our youngest, and we've talked about the fact that it's okay to love both Ian and Laura (our youngest and the baby who died). You don't have to pick one over the other.

And as for feeling confused -- who wouldn't feel that way, given what we've been through? It's a very complex situation.

I'm sending you huge hugs.

Ann Douglas

Marilyn HeavilinFrom Marilyn Heavilin . . .

No, you are not nuts. At least, if you are, you have lots of company. I believe every mother who has lost a child and then had a subsequent child has had similar feelings to yours. Trying to "reason" out the situation we are in just boggles the mind and supplies very few answers. When those thoughts came to me, I tried to squelch them by reasoning that this subsequent child more than likely received the love and attention for two, so he was a blessed child. It would have been wonderful to be able to raise all five of my children, but I didn't get that opportunity. Do I wish I had? Of course, I do. I often imagine what it would have been like to raise four boys. I would have been good at it, and I wish I had them all. But I don't.

Eventually the "I wishes" will move into the "I am so gratefuls" and then you will know you have moved up one more step in the healing process.

Much love,
Marilyn Heavilin

Sherokee IlseFrom Sherokee Ilse

If you are nuts then you have lots of company! While I do not think about this often, there are times when I look at my living children and wonder how my life would have gone if Brennan, Marama and/or Bryna had been born alive instead. It is impossible to comprehend, an exercise in futility really. So maybe the best advice is to admit we all have those feelings at times and to realize that it is counterproductive to dwell too long on it. What is--is.

We are lucky to have the living children we do and maybe in the end, looking back that is the way it was supposed to be. Of course we still wish we had our other children; it is perfectly fine to wish for that and that does not mean we wish these living children away. We want it all and why not? Could we have had it all? Probably not. Thinking too long and hard about this one does get confusing so if you can, let it go and enjoy each moment you can with your living child(ren.) They are a true gift.

Love and hugs,
Sherokee Ilse

From Laura Randolph . . .

It can be difficult and confusing to come to terms with how you can be so happy with the child you now have yet knowing that if your other child had lived this child would not be here. My mind has spent many an hour trying to find an answer that would allow both my children to be here with me.

You have mentioned an issue that has raised many discussions among parents I know that have lost children. Some bereaved parents make peace with the issue by saying the child they lost made way for the child they had afterward. Others are not only dissatisfied with this answer but are enraged by the thought that one child had to die for another one to be born. Almost always the issue brings to the forefront our feelings of spirituality and God. Some parents are comforted to believe that God or the universe has a plan and losing a child was part of it and necessary to have the living child they now have. To others it proves there is no divine plan. There is also a myriad of beliefs in between.

The issue you raise is one that even now I wrestle with from time to time. I allow myself to ponder God and the spiritual realm. Sometimes I find an answer that at that moment is good enough. At other times when the question brings no acceptable conclusion to my mind I put it aside to come back to later. I tell myself that for whatever the reason (if indeed there is a reason), my precious son is gone but at the same time I am blessed beyond measure to have my daughter. I try to return my thoughts to the present and live fully in each moment with the child who graces my life now while knowing that my son will always be on my mind and in my heart.

Far from being nuts, you are simply continuing to work through your grief, which is much healthier than not acknowledging it. Depending on your beliefs, prayer and/or meditation may be of comfort. I hope that in time you find an answer or at least find peace in allowing yourself to continue to ask the question.

Laura Randolph

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