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?