Five Years After I Lost A Baby, I Still Feel Like I'm Failing My Other Boys

Mom guilt and the feeling that she failed her family has never left Chloe D'Souza

You've had a rough day, the kids are finally in bed, you put your feet up and reflect on the day. You managed to yell at your kids, feed them a not-so-healthy meal, and ignored their pleas to play a game with them. Does this sound like you? Trust me, fellow mamas, you are not alone. 

I hear stories about mommy guilt all the time. At school pickup one day, a mom broke down in tears and said she felt like the worst mom ever because the previous day she had yelled at her son, nonstop. Another mom got an amazing job which involves a lot of travelling and was very different from her work-from-home days. A friend said she felt guilty for getting home late every day, after long hours, having to commute, and not being able to spend quality time with her kids. Another friend felt like her postpartum depression may have contributed to her son's emotional issues. One mom felt guilty every time she went out with friends or went to the spa as if Me-Time is not allowed. There are so many reasons for moms to feel guilty.

We lost our second son at full term to a fatal condition. The doctors assured me there was nothing I did to cause it, that it was spontaneous and that it happens in 1 out of every 500,000 pregnancies. But of course, almost five years later the guilt is present and will be forever. My body failed me, and I failed our son.

Our oldest son had just turned two when this happened. I was crying every day for months and was mostly home alone with him. He always wanted me to play with him. I clearly recall leaning on the fridge, crying, and telling him I couldn't play. I felt horrible. He was barely two years old, probably didn't understand why I was crying so much, and I kept shooing him away. I kept thinking, 'At least I had one child'. Other bereaved mothers I met had lost their only child. They would do anything to have a child, and there I was telling our son to go away and play by himself. I felt so guilty, as though I was taking our sweet, perfect, innocent little boy for granted.

We had two more boys after losing Caleb and it's still there, the guilt and the feeling that I'm sometimes neglecting our eldest son. We expect so much from him. He is a very independent 'Big Brother' and loves doing things for himself. Sometimes I look back and feel like it was unfair to him, though we're so happy with the independence and responsibility he's shown us over the years. He loves our one-on-one time and our mommy and son dates. But unfortunately, with our busy schedules, it's extremely difficult to find the time. He doesn't demand much from me, yet I still can't meet his needs. 

Our youngest is now 16 months old, very clingy, and seems to have separation issues. He is certainly the neediest of the three boys. Since he came along, I feel like our middle son sometimes gets less attention. Since our littlest son has anxiety when he's left alone and poor sleeping patterns, I feel like I can't anything done. I can't clean or organize anything. I can't go for massages or mani-pedis, and all the other things I used to do regularly. Instead, I just sit in one spot with him for a large portion of my day. I know I will miss this stage when he gets older and I will look back and wish I didn't complain about him. But for now I do, and of course, there's a lot of guilt that comes with that.

As mothers, many of us feel the need to do it all. We need to learn how to be kind to ourselves, not set unrealistic expectations, and ask for help. The majority of the time, our children see right past what we perceive to be our faults. If at the end of the day, if our children know they're loved, we've done a great thing.

A friend (who is a wonderful mother) recently reminded me that being a mom is the hardest job we will ever have, but it is also the most rewarding. And sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we're doing a great job at it. 

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