Thursday, February 11, 2010

It should have been today

...or at least somewhere close to today. Not three and a half months early.

I still have so much guilt, anger, confusion, and shock that Jack was born so early. I don't clearly understand what happened, or why. And yet I have to see him every day, suffering from his extreme prematurity, trying to just get to the point that most babies are already developed before they are born.

Today is a hard day for me. It's a happy day, since we have been blessed with Jack's presence. But it's still very difficult to face that things didn't go as planned. That I never got the chance to carry my baby to term. That I didn't go home with him, didn't get to sleep next to him at night, didn't get to feed him, didn't get to show him off and do normal "mom things." Maybe it'll get easier as time goes on. Maybe not.

I will always be filled with the questions, "What if?" and "Why?"

I will always wonder what could have been.

I will always feel guilty, no matter how irrational it may seem to others. I think many, if not most, preemie moms know how I feel.

I will always live in fear of a sneeze or cough, or the wrong shade of color on his face, or a pause in his breathing, or a tremor in his limbs.

I will always wonder how his life will be different, what he'll miss out on, what he'll have to endure, what he will never know.

It should have been today.


MoDLin said...

Even if in our head we know it wasn't our fault, our aching heart carries around a sense of guilt that doesn't want to go away. It takes time, lots of time.
Have you shared your thoughts with other preemie parents in the March of Dimes community called Share Your Story? Lots of parents find it very helpful and supportive.

Claire said...

chris i ache for you and pete and jack as i read this.

i am here, sitting alongside you, supporting and loving you.

2KoP said...

Always is a very long time. As a preemie mom, I do know how you feel, but as Jack grows and gets stronger, other feelings will crowd out the guilt and the fears and the whys. It takes time, but it does happen.

We went to a follow up clinic for five years after my 24-weekers were born. They came home at five months, and at about 8 months I was feeling exactly like you're feeling now. One of the wise women on the team told me that one day, when they were healthy toddlers running around the house and wrecking havoc, I would think to myself "I could just kill them." I was shocked, but she told me that all mothers eventually feel that way — not that you would ever really do them harm, but that things have gotten crazy.

She told me that the day I thought that thought, I should stop what I was doing, open a bottle of champagne and have a little toast to normalcy.

I remember that day vividly. They were double-teaming me and I was having such a hard time keeping up with them. They still weren't talking, but boy could they cause trouble. I was about at the end of my rope, when I remembered the developmental specialist's advice. I actually laughed out loud. Cracked up. The babies were toddlers at this point and they danced around me and we all laughed our fool heads off. I didn't get my champagne until later that night, but I do remember swinging them around, singing: "We're normal, we're normal. You're driving me crazy and that's exactly what you should be doing."

That day will come for you and Jack. I tell you this story so that you can laugh your fool heads off when it happens.

Trust that the joy will come — sooner than you think — and that you will appreciate it so much more than most parents do, because you will understand how precious normal is. I know we haven't met, but if it's OK with you, give Jack a little kiss for me.

And dump the guilt. You'll have plenty more of that as a mom later on, and it does you absolutely no good.