Babywearing after loss
Babywearing After Loss – a Mother’s story
Everyone has their own story of loss. This is my story. I share it in the hope that it may help others who have experienced a loss to find something to hang onto and take comfort that others have felt the intense pain of a loss as well.
As a Certified Babywearing Consultant, the moment the technician confirmed that there were two heartbeats during our ultrasound my head was reeling with visions of tandem-wearing our two beautiful babies whilst holding onto our oldest daughter’s hand and walking serenely off into the sunset. This pregnancy had been difficult from the start but the moment those two heartbeats appeared all of our fears vanished.
I was once again looking at newborn babywearing articles and fine-tuning my techniques for supporting breastfeeding and babywearing. My husband was excited to use a ring sling again and we were both so incredibly nervous and terrified at how we were going to manage two newborn babies at once. I had already picked the first woven wrap I was going to carry our newborn babies in and had practiced ‘belly wrapping’ to provide some extra support to my ever expanding belly in the later weeks. I ordered a brand new wrap that was gender neutral, as we were not going to find out the gender of our surprise babies.
We waited until the magical twelve-week mark before announcing our pregnancy to the world and continued to have our fortnightly ultrasounds to monitor progress due to the nature of our pregnancy. At our fourteen-week scan they were both looking ‘just perfect’ according to our technician.
However, one humid Saturday at almost fifteen weeks, I woke and discovered that I had been bleeding. As I had some spotting on and off up until this point, I thought nothing of it but decided to take it a bit easier and lay down for most of the day. By lunchtime, I was in pain and could not sit up. At around 4pm, I told my husband to take me to emergency, as the pain was not dissipating. It was sometime during that car ride that I realised I was in premature labour.
When we arrived at the hospital, I stepped out of the car only to have my waters break. I knew at that moment that I had lost our babies. I had spent the afternoon googling ‘miscarriage at fifteen weeks’ and I knew the chances for survival at this time were slim. The doctor confirmed what I already knew and I watched as our four-year-old daughter comforted my husband as I was in too much pain to move. I was wheeled into surgery and awoke to find out that we had lost our two beautiful twin boys.
Over the next few days, I was spoken to by some of the most sensitive and insensitive medical professionals I have every met. There were only two other people in the whole world that felt my loss as I felt it, my husband and our daughter. As my body recovered, I attempted to find some semblance of normality for the sake of our daughter. She was enjoying all of the extra attention from visiting relatives and special trips and treats that she wouldn’t normally receive. However, she couldn’t understand exactly what had happened or why the twins weren’t coming home with us.
When I was discharged, I was still very weak physically. I had, until this point, been comfortable ‘wearing’ our daughter whenever she had requested. She is a ‘worn’ baby from birth and loves chatting to me at eye level whenever she is in her wrap, sling or carrier. At this point, the wrap I had set aside for the twins was still sitting on the couch from my last ‘belly wrapping’ practice. I couldn’t bear to look at it and set it aside out of view.
On my second day at home, we took an excursion out of the house to the art gallery, as she was sick of being cooped up in hospital rooms. Normally, I would have worn her in the wrap, sling or carrier for some of our time at the art gallery (whenever her legs were tired or I was tired of chasing her away from some of the more delicate artworks). However, I was having to sit down quite frequently to recover and was very grateful for my mother’s presence that day. It was upsetting for both my daughter and myself when I had to have to explain to her that I couldn’t carry her to the car that afternoon. I remember thinking that I usually would have a ring sling packed in my bag to use but I had taken it out to avoid the temptation, as I knew I physically would be unable to keep her safe whilst carrying her in my condition.
Over the next few days I busied our routine with a mix of visitors and short excursions that were not too taxing on my physical health. My daughter knew that I was devastated by the loss of our babies and would often say, ‘We’ll forget about the twins soon’ as she did not want me to become upset by the reminder of the loss. It was hard to hear but we knew that this was the logic of a four year old and I tried not to take it to heart. We arrived home one afternoon to find a package sitting at the door. It was my gender-neutral wrap. It had arrived just as planned. I burst into tears.
Normally when a new wrap arrives, the first thing I do is to wash it, as I can’t wait to test it out with my daughter. She recognised the box as soon as we arrived home and couldn’t understand why I just left the box sitting inside the front door for a week. One afternoon, I made up my mind to open it and put it in the wash. I was going to fold the wrap and place it in the memory box for the twins. However, once it was on the washing line drying, my daughter started playing amongst the hanging wrap, pretending it was a stage curtain and putting on a show for me as I was lying in the backyard recuperating. After the show finished she came and sat down next to me and asked me what the wrap was called. She knew that woven wraps had special names and sometimes came with stories. She wanted to know the story of this wrap.
It took me a moment, but I started to tell her the story of her brothers’ wrap. I told her when I first saw it, how I imagined they would look in it, how I would wear them and how I thought I could even get her daddy to wear them in the wrap. She then turned to me and said, ‘What are we going to do with the wrap now the twins are gone?’
It took me a moment to read the concern on her face. She knew that the mere mention of the twins caused me to become upset but she also knew that every time she saw me use a wrap with her that we always ended up giggling and laughing.
‘I’m going to wear you on my front if you would like’, I replied. She smiled the brightest smile I have ever seen her smile and happily nodded her head. I called both my husband and my mother outside to assist and spot, as I was still unsure of my physical abilities. However, I did know that my mental abilities and both her needs and my needs meant that we were going to achieve this carry.
As soon as she was up, it felt like it had always felt. She was back in her safe place chatting to her mother, just like she always had. She smiled and pulled faces and studied my freckles. It felt like a lifetime since I had carried her last and the emotions I was feeling were overwhelming. I thought I would feel guilty to be using something intended for our boys to carry their sister. However, to me (and possibly to her) it felt like the wrap was supporting, embracing and comforting us. It felt like her brothers were with us.
She did not stay up long in the wrap as I knew I could not physically handle to carry her for very long and, as four year olds do, she did not want to stay in the one place for too long.
From that afternoon on, my husband and I have worn our daughter more frequently. We’ve found that she has become more attached to us of late and, whenever she is concerned or upset she will always ask to go in a wrap. She often talks to us about her thoughts about the twins. She still refers to that particular wrap as ‘The Twins’ Wrap’ and I’ve found it provides her comfort whenever she is upset. She also likes using it as a blanket whenever she looks at books or does not want to be wrapped. We like to think that her brothers are comforting her when we cannot.
For those parents who have experienced a loss and are looking to babywear after this loss, here are a few important points:
- Ensure you have received the all-clear from your medical professional.
- Listen to your body.
- Ask for help. Most people will be looking for ways to support you. There are no prizes for being a superhuman and doing everything yourself. Take them up on their offers.