This post is inspired by a recent blog from another preemie mom at premmeditations.wordpress.com. She is smart and honest; she tells it like it is. I connect with her posts. Earlier this week, she posted something that went right to the depths of my heart. She wrote a letter to herself giving permission to let go of the guilt she carried since her son was born prematurely. And then she challenged the rest of us to do the same.
It’s pretty heavy. Maybe it’s not the best weekend post, but I felt like I wanted to get this out there and let the universe absorb it. (And maybe later, I’ll post a fun and cute picture of Jax to lighten the load?) And I didn’t edit. I figured if I edited I would maybe get wrapped up in wordsmithing and lose the real message. So, here goes…
I’m just going to come right out and say it: It was not your fault.
Your pregnancy was healthy and normal – the doctors saw no cause of concern. At your last doctor’s appointment you asked for information about the signs of pre-term labor. Your doctor said “It’s too early for that. We’ll talk about it next month.” You trusted him.
So when you started feeling some cramps on vacation, you thought it was just what happened to pregnant women about to enter their third trimester. I know you feel guilty because you did not recognize the signs. (Wait – were there even signs to recognize?) Your doctor said all was well. None of the other women you were with thought there were red flags, either. And they had all had children before! Your books said that some cramping was common and was no cause for alarm.
You didn’t know.
You didn’t even feel the contraction that was registering on the monitor in the ER.
I know you feel guilty because you didn’t rush to the ER faster so you could have gotten both steroid shots for the baby’s lungs. I know you feel guilty for letting the helicopter EMTs stop the magnesium drip because it made you feel like you were burning up from the inside out and you couldn’t catch your breath. I know you tried with all of your might to keep that baby inside by twisting around the bed rail – if you kept your body curled in a ball, then there was no way the baby could come out, right? I know you feel guilty for thinking “I don’t want to meet this baby yet because I don’t want to watch him die.”
There was absolutely nothing that you did to cause Jaxson’s early birth. I repeat: you did not do anything wrong. You ate well, you exercised, you had regular prenatal check-ups. You rested when you were tired. You took your vitamins and folic acid every day. You were healthy, you made good choices. You did nothing wrong!
You didn’t know.
You need to let go of the what-ifs. It’s not logical thinking about what would have happened if you would have been able to keep Jax in longer. It does no good thinking about what would have happened if you would have been able to recognize that you were in labor or that something was wrong.
Jax was born 4 months early. And it was not your fault!
It happened the way it happened and no amount of worrying or thinking or stressing will change that.
I know how grateful you are that Jax is a happy little boy who is growing and learning like it’s going out of style. But, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed with managing Jax’s care. It’s ok to be overwhelmed by 6 doctors appointments in one week. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed with the mountains of paperwork that goes with having 12 doctors that regularly see Jax. It’s ok to be scared when your baby can’t catch his breath. It’s ok to feel sad when you have to give his daily nebulizer treatments. It’s ok to be aware that there may be long term effects from his prematurity.
Waiting for answers is hard. His doctors are on the ball – they are smart and capable.
You do a good job of not worrying about things until a doctor tells you it’s time to worry. I’m proud that you don’t go overboard by Googling every possible outcome. I’m glad that you can roll with the punches and stay strong for Jax. I’m happy that you have time to spend with Jax each day.
I’m glad that you and your little boy have such a great time singing, laughing, playing, and learning together. But, you have my permission to let go of the guilt that comes with having a child who was born 17 weeks early. It’s not your fault.
15 thoughts on “You Have My Permission… (A Letter to Myself)”
Oh goodness. What a terrific post. I nodding in recognition of every sentence. I hope deep down, somewhere you know it’s not your fault and that you can take credit for all of Jax’s totally amazing achievements, achievements forged of love and determination on your part. I’m proud you linked this up and the image is just wonderful. I met set up a Pinterest account just to pin this. Thank you!
Thank you for inspiring me to write this! I can’t believe how freeing it was. I feel better just having put it all out there!
Thanks for sharing your amazing and sincere letter to yourself. All I can saw is WOW! I truly can relate to everything you said. When Joe was born 201/2 years ago, you can bet that I asked myself if I had done something wrong as you did and of course blamed myself. This was my 4th pregnancy and for the most part was a normal pregnancy. I decided not to have an amniocentesis. I remember reading that that having a baby with Down syndrome is random, but that your chances increase after the age of 35. I was 36 when Joe was born. Joey’s best friend’s Mom was 26 when he was born. Joey has been a blessing to our family and to all of his cousins, aunts and uncles. We can’t imagine our lives without Joey! God bless Jaxson, his awesome parents, and the mom who inspired this blog to write a “letter to myself!”
Thanks for sharing, Jean. Joey’s Down Syndrome was not your fault! He is definitely a blessing to our family! I can’t wait for Joe and Jax to meet again on Father’s Day at the Hanzel’s – I think they will get along great. I hope you’re having a great time on your trip!
Wow! I feel guilt in a totally different way, but your letter to yourself giving permission to yourself really is such a amazing way to lighten the load. So profound. Thank you for continuing to share your truimphs and struggles. Awesome post 🙂
I can’t believe how much better I felt after I wrote this. It felt good to get it out there and let it go. I had no idea…
Good job on working to let go of the guilt. I’m glad you recognize that it wasn’t anything YOU did or didn’t do wrong. You now have an amazing little guy who has helped you to grow stronger in ways we never could have imagined before. Keep up the great work at the greatest job of all; Parenting.
Thanks, Jody! Parenting is fun and hard and challenging and awesome all at the same time!
Beautiful Andrea. Sending you love.
It’s Jenny by the way. 🙂 XOXO
Thank you my friend! (PS I love seeing the pictures of your cakes! You do such great work!)