parents

"Bad things happen to good people, that’s a fact of life."

Nina holding baby Zoe for the first time.

Earlier this year, Mamamia reader Nina Young lost her beautiful baby Zoe after an injury during her birth caused irreparable brain damage. Shorty after Zoe passed about,  Nina wrote about the loss here.

Today we’d like to welcome Nina back to tell us how she’s doing.

By NINA YOUNG

When you go through a trauma, when the unexpected happens or when you lose a loved one; there are two questions you will immediately ask, and unfortunately they are the questions that will help you the least.

The first is: ‘why me?’

You will think it, you will voice it and in your darkest hours you might scream it at the top of your lungs.

You’re a good person, you live a good life, you’re kind and generous, so why did this happen to you?

When I lost my daughter I would sit down and watch the news and see neglectful and abusive parents. When I walked to the shops I would see parents clearly under the influence of drugs, pushing strollers containing perfect babies.

This terrible event has happened – how are you going to deal with it?

I asked everyday, why did this happen to me? Why was our baby taken from us when other less deserving parents got to keep theirs?

The truth is though, that that question will never have an answer. Bad things happen to good people, that’s a fact of life.

Asking why won’t help you; you weren’t chosen to carry this burden because of some karmic debt. Nothing you could have done would have stopped this happening and no amount of questioning will change the fact that it has.

Instead of asking why, ask what next? That is a question worth asking.

This terrible event has happened, how are you going to deal with it?

Take the time to grieve and feel your pain, make sure you have a good support system in place. But equally important, is to start thinking about the future, because you’re going to have one. Don’t get lost in ‘why me?’ make plans, set goals, start small but don’t give up.

The next question you will ask will probably be: ‘what if?’

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I still ask this question and it’s probably the most painful element of losing someone.

For me there are a never-ending list of ‘what ifs” in my life. They range from the ridiculous like: ‘What if I didn’t take that Panadol in my third trimester, would that have made a difference?’ to the heart wrenching ‘What if I had a different doctor? Or a different nurse?’ Or ‘what if I had forced them to give me a C-section like I had wanted?’

Anyone who has been through a traumatic even will inevitably have a million ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’. What you’re really saying is I wish this didn’t happen, or I wish I could have stopped it happening.

‘What ifs’ will haunt your dreams if you let them. Here’s why you (and I) need to stop asking them.

‘What if?’ is based on a flawed premise, it works on the assumption that you can control the world around you, and you can’t. Even if you could go back in time and magically try one of you ‘what if’ scenarios, it wouldn’t be a guarantee that things would have turned out differently.

Nina’s daughter Zoe in the NICU

When we ask ourselves the big ‘what ifs’ we are, in a way blaming ourselves for a situation, that was in no way under our control. We need to let go of this question because it wasn’t your fault. Whatever happened, whatever the circumstance, you need to know that it wasn’t your fault.

When we hold onto these two questions, we torture ourselves. We bring ourselves more pain, and we are in enough pain to begin with.

We need to learn to be gentle with ourselves.  I’ve given myself my first goal and I’m starting small, my goal is to try and focus on the good times I had with my daughter and not focus on the painful times.

I’m also going to try to appreciate what I have in this present moment rather than always looking back or worrying about the future.

I have moved past ‘why me’ and I am going to begin phasing out my ‘what ifs’.

I deserve to be happy and I’m pushing myself to begin the long journey to get there.

What methods have you used to cope with a trauma?

Nina Young is an aspiring journalist who currently resides in Sydney with her partner David. She has written for the Sydney Morning Herald and has worked freelance for channel 7.