Thursday, June 7, 2012

We can only keep them so safe


No matter how many cloth diapers you use, no matter how long you breastfeed, no matter how little sunscreen you put on your kid, even if we never microwave our kid's food in plastic, our actions can only keep us so safe.

It's been repeating in my head over and over again for 2 months: Why didn't I know? How did I not hear? How did I not feel it in my body?
I remember reading something about how when you sleep close to your kids, your heart regulates to theirs and if your child stops breathing in the middle of the night: BAM- you'd wake up. You'd know, your his mother. You have a connection, of course you would "feel" it.
Not true. All bullshit.

Was it the beers I had hours before I nursed him? Was it the bugspray we used the morning before when the campsite was ridden with mosquitoes? Was it because I had strep b and didnt get enough antibiotics? Was it because I took antibiotics? Was it because of how much time he had spent in his carseat that day because we were traveling? Was it because of the tent, even though we had the moonroof off because I was paranoid about carbon monoxide poisoning? Was it something I ate? Was it all the diet cokes I drank? Was it because I had mentioned in passing to a friend that you can't live in fear that your child is going to die, you've got to give yourself a break every now and again? Was it because I was so cavalier about my parenting that I needed to be taught a lesson? Was it that one vaccine he had? Was it his little cold from last week?
No, no, no, no,no, no,no, and no the autopsy report and coroner assure me. No, it was nothing you did. You couldn't have done anything to assure he would live.
"Some babies just stop breathing," they say, as if that's a legitimate explanation of why my son's breath was stolen in the middle of the night.

I remember when a friend of my mother-in-law's lost her grandson to SIDS (but what was later found to be pneumonia, I believe) while napping. My heart broke for them, we had children almost exactly the same age. DH and I can recall exactly what we said when we found out, "I wonder if they breastfed." "I wonder if they were in the same room", I wonder if he was vaccinated", "I wonder if they smoked or drank.", I wonder, wonder, wonder....
You know, code for "Oh, we do things the right way so this will never happen to us"

And we've all thought it, especially as new parents. We've hought that the way we are choosing to parent somehow keeps our children safe, or makes us better parents, or lowers our risks for this or that. And to some extent, it does. To some extent.

But you can wake up in the morning to your worst nightmare coming true. Everything you've ever been anxious about crashing down all at once. The ultimate feeling of failure- that you have killed your baby because surely, surely, there was something you could have done differently that would have saved his life. I know there wasnt. I know it in my heart, but my brain races so fast trying to think of all the missteps of the days leading up to Charlie's death.

And the day goes by in my head over and over again. And none of the attachment parenting I did kept him alive. It's so hard to go back to thinking any of it matters anymore. So hard to care about any of the things I'm supposed to believe in, because no matter what I can't babywear him back to life. I can't assure that this next baby stays alive by breastmilk, cloth diapers, and avoiding dairy. I can't guarantee that something wont happen to Adaline because I practice gentle discipline or because she eats all organic food. It doesnt work that way. Sometimes, you are dealt the worst hand- regardless of how safe you tried to keep them, or how much you tried to do everything "right". So what is the point of all this work if you can't guarantee anything- can't even guarantee that things will be the same in the morning as they are when I go to bed at night?

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