I brought a meal to a friend who just had a baby. Her first living child after two miscarriages. She was struggling. Crying. Her vision of caring for a newborn wasn’t going as planned. It was turning out to be harder than expected. She texted later to apologize for having an “emotional breakdown.”
Another friend had a miscarriage after giving birth to two children. Soon after, she lost the ability to bear any more children. She and her husband added to their family through adoption and she’s quietly admitted wishing the early years of her child’s life away because it’s been such a difficult season.
Another friend feels guilty for getting frustrated with her kids because she knows so many long for a child. After all, she had a miscarriage too, and knows that grief and longing well.
After two losses, I vowed to never yell at my kids. I promised myself I’d be patient and enjoy every moment. I knew how blessed I was to have one child and to later bring another one into the world. But I’ve lost my temper. I’ve found myself eating chocolate while hiding in my closet. I’ve seriously considered running away. I love my kids, but almost nothing about parenting is easy.
We talk a lot about the grief that’s involved in parenting after loss. Grief from the absence of the child who didn’t get to come home. And of course that’s real and valid.
But I wonder if we forget to talk about parenting after loss being hard because parenting is hard in general. We think that once we bring a rainbow baby home, everything will automatically be perfect. We expect that of ourselves. Perfection. Overwhelming joy always. But that’s not realistic.
Motherhood is beautiful. A gift. But some of the greatest gifts are some of the hardest.
Let’s be gentle on ourselves.
It’s okay to say that parenting after loss is hard.