March for Babies

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"I'll think about it tomorrow."

I do not think that I am over the trauma of Azure’s preterm birth. Not just the birth itself, that was traumatic of course, but I mean the big picture. I lost a whole trimester, the bonding with the baby in utero, the labor and birth experience (I don’t think my 20 minutes count) and the normal taking the baby home from the hospital (not on a monitor and not scheduling appointments with specialists every other week.). I lost the normal. I thought once we conceived I would get some normal, but I didn’t. That has been bothering me for the past couple of days.
The wife of a co-worker just had her gestational diabetes screen yesterday. She stopped into the office to pick him up so that he could go with her. I delivered the day before my GD screening was scheduled. I suspect I may have had it but I will never know for sure.
At the time of Azure’s birth, I went into Fight or Flight mode. I was all about handling the situation. What needs to happen next? What do we do? What do I do? What does she need? It was a time for problem solving, not for grieving. Besides, she lived. What was there to grieve, right?
Ah. There is the question. What is there to grieve? How can I even contemplate grief when I know my daughter is healthy, safe, feisty, and happy?
Let me tell you. There is grieving to be done, grieving for the loss of the pregnancy. The baby came out relatively unscathed, but the pregnancy was lost. I really enjoyed being pregnant. I was just getting to the point where I was settling into my body and the changes it was going through. I was just starting to feel her movement on a regular basis. I had gotten my energy back and I looked pregnant. I could wear maternity clothes, and I looked and felt normal in them.
The birth went so fast and was so completely surreal I did not have time to think about what was happening. I shut down; I was numb to the emotional aspects of it. T was amazed at how well I handled everything but the truth is, I didn’t handle it. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I did not want to think about it right then; I set it aside to think about it tomorrow. However, tomorrow hasn’t come yet.
I tossed and turned last night thinking over and over about all the things that could have gone wrong, the things that did go wrong and the many many ways in which we lucked out so that T and I were together in the right place at the right time. What could I have done differently, what should I have done? Would it have made a difference?
After the birth, it was the physical feelings that bothered me. Whenever I felt my stomach a bit upset or passed a large blood clot I thought, “Oh no! The last time this happened I had a baby!” I have gotten over those horrors now, thank goodness. Now, how do I get over the sense of loss?
It would be easy enough to say I want a do over. Let’s try for number two and see if we can change things. I want to try this again and hope for a different outcome. The problem with that theory is, we do not know why Azure came so early. We cannot guarantee it will not happen again. We lucked out with Azure. Most babies born in their 24th week do not pull through the way she has. She was large for her gestational age; she did not have any major infections or bleeding. She struggled with the breathing, she had to have surgery to close her patent ductus (basically heart surgery), she suffered a blockage in the bowel and a collapsed lung, but she lived. She got through all of those things. She has scars and we do not yet know whether she will suffer delays in development in the future. But, she is alive and amazingly healthy considering her start in life.
If we risk all that again, it might not turn out so well. She could be an entire life’s worth of Karma for both T and I wrapped up into one big package. Here is the daughter you wanted, don’t ever ask for anything again. If we do ask again, whatever happens will be on our shoulders. Moreover, we will deserve what we get.
Thinking back about Azure’s beginning is all wrapped up in my head with thinking ahead to number two. Every time I think I might be willing to risk another pregnancy I go over what we went through to conceive her and to keep her alive when things went wrong. I do not wish to do that again. I think, “Fine, we will adopt. It will take the physical risks out of it for us and will be easier on us emotionally”. Then I think about the infertile couples who do not have any children yet and how I would be taking a child away from a deserving couple in order to add to my family. How can I do that to them? Is that really fair of me?
I have a beautiful healthy little girl. I would not change that for the world. It is my own part that I look back on with regret. I could not hold onto the pregnancy. Labor and delivery were a 20-minute blur of chaos. I keep thinking of when it was all done, Azure was getting set up in the NICU and T went downstairs to make some phone calls and I was left alone in my hospital room (room 911 eerily enough). I should have cried then. I should have let it all out and just wept and hugged my pillow and cursed and punched the air and the bed with my clenched fists. I did not do that though. I made phone calls of my own and I “sounded in good spirits”. I was completely detached emotionally. The thing that bothered me that day still bothers me. Everyone we told about the birth congratulated us. I am sure they didn’t know what to say. They asked how Azure was, but what could they really say at that point? “Good luck! I hope she pulls through!” No one acknowledged the gravity of the situation. No one said they were sorry she came early. I wanted someone to recognize the bad part, the sad part of the day. The day your child is born is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. T and I cannot say that. There was nothing happy about it other than the fact that they were able to resuscitate her (that is obviously a good thing, but not quite the same as overflowing joy at meeting your offspring).
It all boils down to envy. (This is why I would make such a bad Buddhist.) I want what others have, what I should have had but didn’t, what I still want but am now too afraid to go after. I want to turn back time to a year ago this week. I was in the 2WW and convinced the IUI had failed. I want to relive finding that second pink line, I want to relive that first trimester knowing what I know now, letting go of some of that anxiety. I want to relive those doctors appointments, push for more tests, and question the Braxton-Hicks, the edema, and the polyhydramnios. I want to seek help the moment I started feeling like crap instead of waiting it out for 18 hours before calling the doctor. I want to be able to get that shot to mature the baby’s lungs and give it time to actually get to the baby. I want to save my daughter from having to live life outside of the womb 3-1/2 months sooner than she should have. I want her to never have felt those needles, to never have been silenced by the ventilator tube, to never shudder at the loving touch of another person. I want people to think that she is special because of who she is, not because of how she entered this world.
Crap. Can you tell it is a gloomy rainy day and I didn’t get enough sleep last night?


Anonymous said...

Aw, it sounds like you have post traumatic stress syndrome. My own delivery was traumatic and stressful and my son was born full term! (I had a fast labor and gave birth unexpectedly on my bathroom floor!) I think birth is a very traumatic experience. And yours has all the elements: infertility, a premature sick baby in the NICU for 105 days...I can't even imagine what an experience this has been for you. Yes, you have your daughter and she's healthy, but how many times did you wonder whether she would live or die? I think you are entitled to grieve for what you've lost.
Take care,

Miss W said...

I could have written this post, Blue. I've written some of these same things...I know I've thought them all. We're nearing 11 months old and I'm not over it. I still have a hard time with other people's pregnancies, their glowingly happy nursing relationships, their non-c-section deliveries, the announcements of "I'm 4 weeks pregnant! I'm having a baby! Let's register now!" (and yes, we got one of those recently from a college friend of Mr. W), and their full-term babies who meet milestones at a fairly predictable time.

I won't ever be over it. Actually, I'd like to discuss this with you more, but enough comment hijacking. I'll email you when I get the time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lisa ... you are most certainly entitled to grieve what has been lost. Oftentimes the grass just always seems greener. Sometimes hearing someone else's story lends a little perspective, too.

I grieve the deaths of my three babies. I don't say this so that you'll defend your feelings. I'm not judging you, either ... Friend, I truly believe you have much to grieve. Just offering another perspective.

Christopher died 10 days after his birth. He was 24 weeks. 9 months later, Kasimir died at 25 weeks on his second day of life. November 2005 their baby sis, Elyana, was born still at 24 weeks.

I've found that true healing is coming as I focus on reaching out to others in their misery. Perhaps the same will be true for you. Maybe there is a NICU ministry in you ... or a desire to raise awareness about prematurity ...

Just another perspective.


lala said...

Dear Blue: You deserve to have all those experiences go the way you wanted them to, you deserve to have another child. Given your situation I would be questioning everything, thinking those same thoughts. I remember when you posted that Azure had come so early. I was upset, I said "No, nononono". I was so afraid and sad that you had ended up on such a sharp precipice where things could go tragically wrong and I knew that you were going to have to balance there for quite a while before things got better. I'm so glad they did but it was as if I was watching you get robbed and there was nothing anybody could do. I can't imagine how it feels on the other side.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you and have never commented, but do read regularly. I am sorry your daughter came early and celebrate that she is well. You can believe both of those things -- that you are lucky and that you experienced a loss simultaneously. That is entirely legit.

Emma said...

My baby was born on time and healthy (which I am very thankful for). I had a traumatic birth which ended with an ambulance ride and forceps. I grieve over the natural water birth I wanted. I think it's normal and you have more right than most to be upset about these things.

take care

Lizzy said...

I think you're perfectly entitled to grieve your loss--the loss of the final trimester, the labor, the birth that you so wanted.
On a far different scale, I, too, feel the sadness for not having my son in my ideal delivery situation.
That grief is very real and you'll work through it when the time is right for you. Now, maybe? Just having written it out, you've been able to put your finger on the pain.
Everyone says "but look at the beautiful and healthy daughter you have..." and to a point, they're right. But that doesn't take away your sense of loss or envy.
And that's okay, too.