My pediatrician doesn’t know that I lost two babies. It was timing, really. Quentin and Theo have birthdays in March and September. I had only lost Nelle a few weeks before Theo’s well-child visit in the Fall and there was no reason to bring it up at his appointment. Then lost Iris before Quentin’s visit in the Spring. I was a few months pregnant with Autumn at the March appointment this year but, as I ended up doing throughout the pregnancy, said nothing out of fear that something would go wrong. I think it was a big surprise for the pediatrician when we showed up for an appointment with a five-day-old newborn.
So many times I have thought to myself “I just want to be the same parent I was before.” Same breastfeeding. Same routine. Same toys. But in so many ways, I’m not the same parent that I was before.
At her two-month appointment this week, the pediatrician told Ger that she wants Autumn to start sleeping through the night. Looking back at my own writing, she told me the exact same thing at Quentin’s two-month visit. Autumn usually sleeps from about 8pm until 4am, but the pediatrician thinks she can do 10-12 hours of sleep. With my two boys, I would have gladly heeded that advice, and worked to start removing the last feeding during the night.
So that evening, I fed her around 6:30, with the intent to feed her again at 8:00, in hopes of “tanking up” before bed. It meant I had some time with a fussy baby, hoping to balance that precarious position between hungry-fussy and overtired-fussy. I put my face close to hers, big smile, trying to cheer her up. As she focused on my eyes and gave me occasional smiles in return, I thought “You should have been Nelle. You should have been Iris.” It was a most uncomfortable set of words, and I immediately thought “What did I mean by that?” Likely, I meant “This should have been a moment that I had with Nelle or Iris.” Immediately then, my mind warped into “But if I had Nelle or Iris, I wouldn’t have Autumn.” I started crying, because presence and absence are such a contradiction in this case.
She woke up that night at 4am, same as every night. And I willingly went into her room to feed her. I have no desire to take away that last feeding during the night. With my oldest children, I was desperate for sleep. But I find with her that I wake in the middle of the night and often can’t fall asleep again until I feed her. Sometimes I sneak into her room to check to see if she is still breathing. The idea of not going into her room at all during the night is not something I’m prepared for yet.
If I had been at that two-month checkup, I probably would have said “Yes, before I would have been willing to work with her, to get her sleeping through the night. But I lost two babies before her and I need to take it slowly.” Or maybe I would have said nothing out loud, but only thought that in my head. And if she still isn’t sleeping through the night by her four-month checkup, who knows what I will say.