Tuesday, April 01, 2008


My Beloved and I were having a conversation about my lingering guilt the other day on our way home from our annual Thomas birthday mission (which was delayed a few weeks by a couple of circumstances beyond our control).

He doesn't understand, but I don't really expect him too. He thinks I blame myself, but I don't.

For 9 months I did everything I could to make a healthy baby and I trusted professionals who I had faith in. I did everything I possibly could.

I didn't know the pain I was feeling during labor might have been the start of the abruption. How could I? How could I possibly know the difference between two degrees of agony? I didn't know that taking Thomas off the monitors while they took me into OR for the C-section would be when the abruption would complete itself. If all the nurses and the OB missed the signs of the abruption, how could I have caught them?

I did all I could. I don't blame myself. I'm not at fault.

My body is.

And that's the guilt I can't let go of. That's the guilt I don't have any idea how to expunge from my heart and mind. From my soul.

It wasn't my fault, but it was still my fault. Me as an entity, as a thing physically designed to fulfill a biological role in procreation.

There was much grimacing, hair pulling and sighing as I tried to explain this to My Beloved.

He said he doesn't feel any guilt and just couldn't understand why I do.

I finally told him that, as much as I hate it when people say this kind of shit, if you haven't carried a child inside your body and then been unable to keep it safe and sound when it mattered most, you can't possibly understand the guilt of living in that body in the aftermath of the death and destruction it caused - the catastrophic failure.

You just can't.

To be quite frank, I'm a little frightened of this particular guilt because I don't know how to control it and I can't see it ever, every going away. I've talked myself out of the other guilt I used to feel. I comforted it all away long ago.

But this miserable specter of physical responsibility remains.

I can't make peace with my body for the way it failed us and as long as I can't make peace with it I will feel this agonizing guilt.

I want to walk away from it so badly it hurts. I can imagine what it must be like and how much farther along the path of healing I would be if I wasn't dragging this anvil of burden behind me every step of the way.

I envy My Beloved the peace he has knowing with such verifiable certainty that no part of him is to blame. Or ever was.


BethGo said...

I hope it's ok to post this.
My youngest was born missing his left hand and part of his forearm. He also was missing a large piece of skin on his left cheek and on his left thigh from hip bone to his knee. It was a complete surprise to us. We didn't know what happened. No one can explain it.
After four scary days in the hospital we brought him home. I had to keep him in the sun in just his diaper due to jaundice. I noticed he was covered in tiny little scars. On his torso, on his feet, on his right hand. Healed scars on a newborn.
To this day, no one can tell us what happened.
The scar he had at birth are mostly faded but he still has a huge, very sensitive scar on his leg and a less prominent one on his cheek and of course there is his hand.
And even though it's been almost three years, I still catch myself thinking that it happened because of me.
Even though I did everything I could during my pregnancy, it happened because my body failed somehow.
I feel like I failed my son too. It's the worst feeling.
And I don't know how I'm going to tell him someday that he was born this way because of me.
I know our stories are different but I wanted you to know that your post has touched me.

Catherine said...

I've tried to think of something to say that is even the slightest bit helpful and I can't come up with anything. I thought I would feel better about my body with Myles' arrival. I don't.

Lori said...

I get this. 100%. The difference between guilt and blame. I get it. I don't blame myself, but I feel guilty and almost embarrassed that I couldn't keep my babies safe when every 20 pound celebrity seems to have no trouble pulling off what I couldn't. It was my body and it failed them. I don't know how to separate myself from that.

kate said...

I think this is one area that men can't really understand fully. I am sorry you feel this burden so heavily. I don't know that there is any solution to that, but i hope that there is, and that you find it.

Katie said...

I hate myself for losing my babies. Even though I know that I didn't do anything to purposely lose those pregnancies, the end result is the same: MY BODY FAILED MY CHILDREN. It tears me up, though it is illogical, it is how I feel.

I wish that there was some advice that I could give you, but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.

JMB said...

I agree with some of the other posters-men really can't even begin to understand what it is like to feel that life, or even the promoise of it. It's not that they aren't trying, but it is so far away from what their experience is, they don't have a reference point. I know that I can't find the right words to lift the heavy burden that you carry, but hopefully knowing that there are others out there to help support you helps, if only a little.

Sherry said...

I really, really relate to what you're saying. Like the others have said, our circumstances may be different, but we still feel that we failed our babies in some manner. And, even though so much of what happened wasn't even within our control, we feel guilt over the final, disastrous result.

I know I'll always cart around a certain amount of guilt regarding Ryan's malformed heart. And, people many times over have told me it's not my fault that it happened, but I still feel guilty that as his mother, I couldn't protect him enough to prevent that from happening and to ultimately spare his life. It was my body that somehow messed up so terribly. Or at least that's how I view it - my cross to bear, I suppose.

niobe said...

I wish there was some way I could magically transmit my feelings about this to you.

I mean, here's the way I think about it: It wasn't me, it wasn't my body that killed the twins. It was the preeclampsia -- which I view as an alien, outside force. Now, theoretically, I could see the preeclampsia as "me." But I just don't.

I know. This probably isn't helping you at all.

Bronwyn said...

It is frustrating when your partner can't understand your feelings. I also find it hard to not blame myself in some way, and my husband has never been able to 'get' that. I don't know if that feeling ever goes away, but as is evident from the comments, at least you know that you're not alone.

ess said...

It's just as frustrating on the other side of the fence to watch your partner carry around a giant sack of invisible guilt that you can't help them carry.

Julia said...

Like Niobe, I am spared the guilt, and grateful for that. I don't know how or what to say to share that feeling with you, but I too wish I could.

Trish said...

I tend to feel guilty about everything. Such a huge thing.. absolutely.
I had 2 miscarriages.. then they found a giant polyp in my uterus and told me it was very likely that it at least contributed to the miscarriages.

I had random bleeding when I was 20 and was scheduled for a hysteroscopy that through a long, convoluted way, it didn't happen.
All I can wonder is if I had pushed for more testing, if I had pushed for the hysteroscopy then.. if I had insisted on a SIS before we started our IF path.. maybe my first baby would have made it.
Maybe my 2nd baby would have made it.

And of course, having been betrayed by my body.. I'm wracked with anxiety wondering if it's going to fail me again with this pregnancy.

Guilt is hell.