Thursday, July 9, 2009

Failing my daughter

My daughter was so excited to become a big sis. She knows she is still a big sis even though her brother died. She takes so much pride in him, sharing him freely with anyone who lets her, she is her brothers keeper and i'm so thankful for that. She has always been my constant reminder of all of the wonderful times we had with her brother, how loved he was, how happy he made us, and how he will never be forgotten.

Still, she wants a living sibling so bad. Her father and I are separated and it is likely we will get divorced eventually, it just hasn't been urgent to file the paperwork at this point.

It seems like at least twice a week, she brings up having another baby or (because she's precocious and knows) she wants me to adopt.

How do I explain to her the complexities of the world? I don't know that I could ever handle a sub preg, i'm not ruling it out because i am 29 and you never know what the future will bring, but it is obvious that this will not happen anytime soon. I also can't explain to her that being a single mom, my options for adoption are limited. I don't have any money for adoption, and I don't know enough about the child welfare system to know if they would allow a single mom to be a foster parent, let alone an adoptive parent. Even if they did, could I handle a child in my current capacity? Could I afford it? Do I have the emotional resources to foster a child? And if we did take that route, that child may not be with us forever, so I would be creating an attachment that could inevitably end in another loss (not the same, but i see parallels).

My daughter is almost six, her brother and her would be four years apart. It feels like time is ticking away and i'm losing any chance i had at giving my daughter the experience of having a living sibling. I certainly can't tell her, well maybe when you're older or I get remarried (bah, never want to get remarried!) or whatever. That's too much for her to understand, and I would never ever want to ever promise her a sibling ever again. That's what happened the first time and here we are.

I usually just find myself, each time she asks, just disappointing her all over again. That's what it feels like anyway. All I can say is that I don't know. That it might just be me and her, and that I'm so happy I have her in my life. She is all I need, not all I ever wanted, but she makes up what remains of my heart.

I know that many only children (i hate saying that, she is not my only child!) would have liked to have a sibling, and they are fine being the only child. It just seems doubly unfair though that she SHOULDN'T be an only child. That she had and has a little brother, yet she has very few of the experiences most children have and she perhaps will never know the love (and all the other stuff) that is a part of having a living sibling.

This has been my biggest turmoil since the moment the nurse couldn't find the heartbeat. How could I tell my daughter? As my marriage eroded, i've still grasped at any conceivable chance that maybe, just maybe I could somehow be a mommy to a rainbow baby. I don't know that I'll ever be there. And that is okay for me I've accepted that, but I feel like I'm failing her everytime she asks for a sibling.

Anyway, I know there aren't any answers really. It just feels like I need to get this off of my chest. How could I fail both my children so fully? How can I keep failing her? How can I possibly just tell her, life isn't fair? 'I don't know' seems like such an inadequate answer to her pleas. She deserves so much more


Ya Chun said...

ugh. that's tough.

I don't know how different children process grief, but does she also need ot accept the her brother isn't here and that she may not have another full sibling? Since she talks about him so much, I wonder if imagination and acceptance are somewhat exclusive in a child, and she's just not to the 'totally' accepted and understanding of that part.

I've started volunteering with 2nd graders, and it helps, just having kids in my life. Maybe you and her could volunteer in some way with kids (or, at a nursing home- go to the other end of the spectrum). Just an idea, to give her something fulfilling and sometimes it helps to see the troubles others have.

In any event, I don't think you are failing her.

anarchist mom said...

Thank you for your advice. I've really been trying to foster lots of friendships, she is such an extrovert and does this anyway, not like me at all.

She has a pretty advanced concept of death, our beloved dog died months before Myles, and allowed us some discussion on the subject before our tragedy. I've always erred on the side of being clear. Without death, there is not life. Everybody dies. Death is not bad. Most people live a very long (and hopefully happy) life, at least in industrialized countries.

She's just so outgoing, and no doubt has romanticized the life of having living siblings. No matter she gets jealous of her cousins with me! The grass is always greener, having a living sibling would have filled her life with not just love, but frustration as well, and i'm sure lots of growth and learning.

caitsmom said...

And you deserve so much more as well. I have no advice, just sending some ((((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

From personal experiance, i can say that having more children wont help.
it only brings back mo memories of what could have been & what isnt. I have a different kind of perspective because my brother drowned, he was one & i was 14 but in any instance it happened 5 yrs ago today & my mom had more kids & it just didnt seem right. i know your daughter is young & most kids, as i did...wanted nothing more than a little brother or sister to play with. but, as i grew up i realized the effects it would have had on my mom. and the effects it DID have...

Brandy said...

Hi there,

As you know, we just welcomed our second son into the world last week. I was paranoid the whole pregnancy that:
1. he was going to die and I was going to have to tell Mady. Pregnancy is very stressful for me.
2. That he would look like Carter when he came out (which he did) and it would send me to tears (which it did). You know how newborns change so much within the first few days because they were squished and such, so he doesn't look like him that much anymore, but it makes me wonder if he would look like Carter still if Carter had gotten to grow.

I'm terribly paranoid still that something will happen and I'll have to explain it to Mady. I was also terrified that something would happen to me during child birth and would leave her motherless.

I guess only those that are in our situation understand.

Rylan doesn't replace Carter. It just makes me wonder more of what would be if... But I love all my little ones the same.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. I feel I've failed my own daughter... but in a completely different way.

I lost my daughter to the unethical adoption system.

Often times, we want to escape grief by replacing, but instead we need to just allow these feelings, to process them, and remember the good times.

I was a poor woman, in the state of Florida, and I was planning on becoming a single mom. However, my plans were disrupted when people came into my hospital, coercing me to sign away my rights. I didn't know that I was being given a ton of medications, (such as oxytocin, which allow mothers and babies to bond and trust) however, the doctor was not letting me see my daughter. Instead I saw a lawyer and social worker who insisted that being a poor single woman wasn't good enough for any child. Didn't I want what was best for her? Of course, doesn't every parent?

11 years later, everything that they said to me was a lie, and I realize now the systemic oppression against women and their children, generations lost, identies lost.

While I have not experienced a stillbirth, I have experienced a miscarriage. It was a homebirth, I had a midwife, though she was not present when I had the miscarriage. Me and my partner's relationship was destroyed in the process.

I just wanted to share my sadness with you, in terms of knowing that you aren't alone. I also wanted you to know that there is a darker side to the adoption system.

Peace to you and your daughter. Maybe saying to her, that another family would not want to lose their child either, and by taking a child away from another home, that baby would lose their family, and that family would lose that baby, and it is another kind of sadness and loss.

Anonymous said...

you're not failing her. you're doing the best thing for her which is knowing your limits. i too begged my parents to adopt another child at age 12, and i didn't lose a sibling. luckily for me they refused because THEY didn't have the capacity for raising another. kids ask their parents for all kinds of unreasonable things. you don't feel like you are failing her when you won't let her stay up all night, for instance. don't be so hard on yourself. you are doing what's absolutely best for her and your family.

hugs to you and take care.

Julia said...

I can't believe it's taken me this long to comment. I've literally had the tab open for this for weeks now.

I know this feeling, and yet, I don't. My daughter was just shy of five when A died. She made it very clear that she knew another baby wouldn't be him, but that she still wanted to get to be a big sister to a living kid. And then we were hit by secondary IF. The conversations I had with her during that time were agonizing, just agonizing. Trying to have another baby was very much our decision, but I also felt like time ticking on was so very hard on her. I felt like we were failing her. And yet, I am sure my memories of that time don't touch where you are now-- I had a partner, and we were in it together. It wasn't a straight up impossibility for me. That has got to hurt. And I am so sorry for that.

But I want to say that no, you are not failing her. You are doing what you need to do to build a new life for the two of you. Not a life you wanted or imagined, for sure. But taking a crap sandwich that life served you and building out of it a good life for yourself and your daughter, that's not failure. That's responsible parenting and it's just plain doing the right thing.

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