I’m a little reluctant to publish this. I fear you will think I am depressed. I’m not. Truly. Pinkie promise. I am many things, not all of them are good, but that sounds reminiscent of the situation itself.
I think I would be doing this blog, my future self, and any other potential preemie parents (alliteration!) a major disservice if I didn’t talk at least a little bit about some of the fallout of having a baby eight weeks early. It’s a complicated topic, mostly because people immediately want to comfort me, or fix things. And it isn’t something that can be fixed. I know from the much MUCH smaller disappointments surrounding Lorelei’s birth that it is something that will become less acute and more blurred over time.
Even in the last three months the grief has morphed. What I feel now is different than what I felt two months ago.
Right now it hits me out of nowhere, and it hits hard. A picture of someone’s new full term baby. Happy birth stories. Stories about midwives and best birth practices. Discussions about immediate skin-to-skin and early bonding – the golden hour, breast crawls. Catching a glimpse of my c-section scar. Looking through pictures of Rowan’s first days. The number of ways it can hit me seem endless. Facebook is a landmine. Dreams can pack a punch.
It feels like physical pain. The reminders of the things I have missed out on. It actually, literally, hurts – somewhere in my stomach, chest, behind my eyes. I have to remind myself to breathe.
But it’s not that simple. It’s a sore tooth. You don’t enjoy it, you wish it would go away, but at the same time you keep pressing on it. I feel around, trying to figure out exactly what it is that hurts.
I missed out on two months of pregnancy. I was stuck in a hospital room away from my daughter. I missed Spring. I was late to my own baby shower because I was pumping. I saw my newborn for one minute in the first 24 hours. I had a c-section. Every. single. thing. that I envisioned for this pregnancy and birth was turned on its head. And the reminders are constant. I will never have the birth I want. I will never ever get a redo. Even if we had more kids (which we are absolutely not doing… at this point I have a very real fear that would kill me), I can never rewind on this experience.
I know someday these feelings will dull. But honestly, I want to remind my future self. This was HARD. This sucked. The feelings surrounding it are so big that they hurt to hold. I can’t contain it all; the fear, the sorrow, the anger, the physical ache of potential memories reshaped. I felt like I had already compromised, and the universe went back on a promise. The potential good experience was blown wide open.
Nobody goes into pregnancy expecting to end up with a life-threatening condition, urgent abdominal surgery, and a baby who may or may not breathe on his own. We go in with visions of rushing to grab the hospital bag, the “is this it?” moments, the moment where your newborn baby is placed on your stomach. We go in expecting to be the person who changes those first diapers, gives the first baths, feeds the first meals.
Those are firsts we never get back. I am trying to remember that there are a lifetime of firsts still to be had.