There's a line in a Tori Amos song, "I have enough guilt to start my own religion." I've heard the song, Crucify, many times but never heard that line until last week. I hate guilt. It's a useless emotion that only serves to make us feel bad about our choices. Why can't we be gentler with ourselves?
I feel guilt over what I did or didn't do that may have hurt my babies. Alex and Amelia never gave me signs that they weren't well. I was diligent about listening to my body, even calling the nurse when I felt nervous that I wasn't showing yet with Alex. Of course, I received the "all women are different and this is your first pregnancy so don't worry" line. I knew something was wrong, but didn't want to be perceived as "hysterical." A couple of weeks later, the ultrasound confirmed the worst. I know there was nothing I could have done.
Amelia died under very similar circumstances. We discovered at 10 weeks that she had died at 7. As with Alex, there was never any bleeding, and I felt helpless. I wondered why my body was killing my babies. I demanded testing and answers.
Even with blood thinning treatment, nothing could have saved David. He had a chromosome abnormality. I actually felt relieved that something happened to him that was completely out of my hands. Having a healthy son the following year confirmed my suspicion that the blood thinning treatment was the answer. I was angry at my doctor for not testing me for that after Alex died. I had to let that go.
I never suspected Elizabeth wouldn't make it. I was doing the same treatment. After we found out she had died, I thought back over everything I had done or didn't do. I tortured myself with wondering. Was it the peppermint tea I drank to alleviate the nausea? I had used sunscreen with deet once. Was it that? Did that kill my baby? How can so many babies die for no reason?
Gabe left me naturally at barely 6 weeks, and I know he was not well. I never got to see him on an ulrasound and will never know what happened to him. Even though he was with me for such a short time, the memory of the day we lost him haunts me.
I had bleeding with Madeline. Because I had lost Gabe after bleeding, I was convinced the same thing was happening. I was beyond terrified. I went to the bathroom constantly to check. I would pull over to the side of the road while I was driving so I could check. My doctor thought I had a hemorrhage, and a week later she suspected we had lost a twin. I chose not to believe that - it was too much. I asked if I should be on bed rest, and my doctor said there was no evidence that would help. I went with my doctor's orders and went back to my life, knowing that I would go insane with anxiety if I laid around all day. I also had a two year old who needed me. Should I have insisted on bed rest? Could I have saved her? She is who I feel the most guilt for.
I went to an expert before conceiving Rebecca so I could learn what else could be done. I took a different medication that made me impossibly tired and nauseous. I had the stomach flu for a couple of days with her and insisted my doctor give me an ultrasound so I could see if she was okay. Once we learned she had a chromosome problem, I assumed it was due to my eggs being too old. One more thing to feel guilty about.
I know rationally I had no control over what happened, that I did everything in my power to keep my babies alive, but that doesn't always offer solace. I think there will always be a small part of me that wonders what I could have, or should have, done differently.
3 weeks ago