The complications of loss

By admin
15 October 2013

Our parenting blogger reflects on the types of losses that people deal with when they become parents.

Today I met a wonderful couple in my therapy room. They were there to see me with their little one who is not sleeping well. In my investigations relating to sleep, I always ask if the mom has suffered any losses. Loss, such as death of a family member, cot death, miscarriage or even abortion sometimes result in separation anxiety for the mom.

The reason is the mom might fear she could lose this precious baby, and since sleep symbolises the first real separation from her baby, she experiences anxiety. Therefore, some babies are not inherently poor sleepers; their moms facilitate the bad patterns because they disturb their babies to allay their fears of loss. Whereas this might sound like a stretch of the imagination, I have found it is sometimes very helpful for a mom to recognise that separation through sleep is normal and healthy. Through this process, the mom is able to “allow” her baby to sleep and self-settle and become an independent sleeper.

So today, as I asked the mom if she had suffered a loss, I expected to hear, as I usually do, either a simple “no” or a more pained explanation of the loss of a loved one. Today, I heard what I hadn’t before, “Yes, I have suffered a loss – loss of sleep and, oh, also a loss of myself.” I heard her the first time – I am not sure a mom has ever been quite that astute and honest.

Mothering results in losses and loss should be accompanied by grief. Yet we seldom have the space to grieve the loss of time for ourselves, loss of a career, loss of freedom to move without an entourage of gear, loss of the young, carefree person our husband fell in love with and, of course, loss of sleep. We don’t grieve because:

  • we have gained so much (a cute little bundle)
  • we have chosen this route and wouldn’t have it any other way
  • and we feel a little self-indulgent when we grieve something that has so many upsides.

I think we should, as moms and dads, take a moment to reflect on the loss and recognise that it doesn’t feel rosy all the time and doesn’t have to, because not having a full night’s sleep and rarely going to the loo on your own is hard. Really hard!

So celebrate your baby, but recognise the loss and know that you will not get your life back, not the way it was, BUT I promise it’s worth it. It has been worth every second of the past 15 years for me.

– Meg Faure

Meg is an occupational therapist with a special interest in treating fussy babies and those with sleep problems. She brought the Baby Sense brand to life in 2005 and is the owner of the company Baby Sense, for which she develops innovative baby products.

Meg co-authored the bestsellers Baby Sense(published in 2002, new edition 2010) and Sleep Sense(published in 2007) with Sister Ann Richardson. She wrote Feeding Sense (published in 2010) with dietician Kath Megaw and Dr Simon Strachan, and her fourth book, Your Sensory Baby, was published in May 2011.

Meg has also developed a collection of innovative Baby Sense products based on her Sensible Sensory Parenting principles outlined in her books.

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