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My Anchor to Reality

Karen Schumacher
Menasha WI USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 3, May-June 2003, p. 94

About four years ago I started to attend La Leche League meetings again. I had been a regular at my local Group for years but after my youngest weaned at age three, I gradually quit going. I had nursed all my children, then ages 15, 14, 12, eight, and six years, so when I found out I was pregnant again, the first thing I did was start going to LLL meetings again.

My children have always come first, but I struggled with the thought of putting off plans I had made for myself when I had anticipated having all the children in school. However, I knew I wanted to be the same kind of mother for this baby that I had been for the others. During the pregnancy I spent a lot of time reflecting and reaffirming that the decisions my husband and I made were the only ones our hearts would allow. Nursing, being home full-time, and attachment parenting were the only ways that I knew how to parent.

Emma Grace was born in 1999 and the whole family fell in love with her. The older children were drawn even closer as they marveled that someone so small could be an individual with her own opinions. Then, when another baby, Noelle Helene, joined us in December 2001 we truly rejoiced at the gift she is to us.

However, in January 2002, everything we believed as a family was tested when our third child, Maria Elizabeth, was hit by a car and killed at age 14. Our family and many friends spent a very long night around Maria's bed in the critical care unit of the local hospital. Even as I stood for hours holding the lifeless hand of my beautiful daughter, I knew there were no regrets. We will always grieve that her life was cut short, but I have no regrets because I know the decisions my husband and I made were right for our family. I had spent all the time I could with this wonderful girl. I knew her and she knew I loved her. I was there to listen when she wanted to talk, to drive her to endless rehearsals and practices, to watch as she grew more and more into a confident young woman.

Noelle was almost seven weeks old when Maria was killed, but she was never separated from me. Friends walked the halls with her when she slept and brought her to me to nurse when she woke up. She was an anchor to reality for me in a surreal situation. She and Emma have given me motivation to keep going in the last year and remind me daily that they, and the older children, still need their mother. There is no grief like losing a child, but knowing that the decisions we had made were right for our family has made it easier for my husband and me.

My LLL Leaders attended Maria's wake and they were some of the faces I most wanted to see at that time. Their sympathy touched me deeply because our hearts are in the same place, at home with our children.

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