Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mourning the loss .. of my pregnancy/birth experience

Posted by Leslie at 11:23 AM
I know what you are thinking. Why is she in mourning when her baby came home (finally!) this time? Yes, my son is home from the NICU after 46 long days away from us. The experience was a journey, let me tell you. But just because he's home & I am finally in the throws of being a mommy without having a nurse hovering & watching my every move .. doesn't mean I am OVER this experience. Or over the fact I lost his big brother.

I AM NOT CURED!

I had my son at 29 weeks & 1 day. That itself was a huge trauma. It was a NIGHTMARE. Especially after having Dexter at 29 weeks & him not even surviving 24 hours. The birth of my son Milo was a traumatic experience. From the moment I started realizing it could be labor, to the way I was treated by the staff at L&D.. that's just the icing on the cake of my birth experience trauma. I am feeling a loss. The loss of a dream. Yes, he is home with me (mostly healthy, except for having several specialists) ..but I still feel sad that I should be pregnant right this very moment.. enjoying swollen ankles, back pain, peeing constantly & not being able to sleep because I am so big. I WANTED to be huge. All of that discomfort would have been worth it to have my son come when he was supposed to. To be full term.

Let me try to explain this grief.

1. I am grieving the loss of my pregnancy experience. I've only had one pregnancy go full term. My daughter was born at 38 weeks. My oldest tried to come at 29 weeks by dilating me to 4cm & having contractions. My labor was stopped & I spend weeks 29-34 on bed rest IN the hospital. I spent it alone with no family or friends in a relatively new city. My boyfriend at the time nearly abandoned me in there.. instead playing video games, spending baby money my mother sent us on video games & fun while I got to sit on my ass & hope to not go into labor again. Luckily he was born at 36 weeks & is a healthy 12 year old today. I can't say that for the relationship with his sperm donor. My angel was born at 29 weeks after my water broke at 27 weeks. & Milo was born at 29 weeks as well. Needless to say.. 29 isn't my favorite number & I hate it.

I am missing out on still being pregnant. I wanted to experience it. I wanted my significant other to experience it too. Now he has two children & only knows babies born at 29 weeks. I often wonder why he trusts me to be a mother to his children.. I obviously failed them in the "staying pregnant" department. Not to mention that earlier in our relationship we had a chemical pregnancy as well ... to be honest, that's why my uterus is closed for business after this. I don't trust my body anymore.

So it may not seem like a big deal, but I get sad & jealous to a point when I see people still pregnant. (Even other rainbow mamas.. of course I feel no ill feelings towards them but it doesn't mean the jealousy doesn't creep up a little. Though other pregnant women who don't appreciate it make me really pissed off!) When we are supposed to be going through these things together but I didn't get to. I am happy to have my son, but I would have preferred to have him on his due date & not 11 weeks beforehand. So fine, tell me I am whining. I don't care. All I wanted was a normal pregnancy. I knew that wasn't possible because it was a pregnancy after a loss. But damn .. life.. couldn't you have cut me a break & let me become as huge as a house & experience it all when I was supposed to?

2. I am grieving the loss of my desired birth experience. My birth experience with Milo was traumatic. So was the one with Dexter. The fact that my last two births were filled with trauma makes me not want to do this ever again. (Good thing my honey agrees with this notion.) As many women who want to have babies know.. we have a certain idea of how we want our birth experience to go. I wanted to do a hypnobirthing. I had planned on doing that with Dexter but it obviously never happened. I re-studied it again for this pregnancy. Everything was going great. I knew I was going to make it & have the birth experience I wanted. I wanted to show his father that not all births turn out bad. (Thus my feelings of guilt about that.. I failed.) I was going to labor at home as much as possible, have low lights, low music, medi. ation.. I had such a vision for my birth. Instead I had fear, screaming in pain in the backseat of my honey's car, unable to meditate as all I could focus on was the fact that it was too soon .. that I was having another baby at 29 weeks & because of that my pain was excruciating... so of course I was too late for any help with pain. Everything was spiraling out of control. I wasn't treated very well by the birthing staff at all... I guess I was made to feel I had done something wrong because my baby was coming at 29 weeks. I even had a nurse question my legs (I did a very bad shaving job & cut myself a few times a few days earlier ...YES, I am a bad shaver when I can't see past my belly!) asking if I had a rash, WTF? I was told they couldn't register my contractions on the monitor. It was all a nightmare-ish blur. Yet a blur that I remember every detail of. I gave birth in a stark white operating room despite having a "natural" vaginal delivery. So cold & impersonal.. a far cry from my soft lights, soft music & birthing into love. My honey didn't even get to watch him come out as they shooed him away. NOTHING went the way I had hoped.

I know what you are thinking .. "Stop complaining.. your baby is home with you now!" Yeah, he's home now... it only took 46 days. Which brings me to the next point.

3. I am grieving the loss of having a "normal" baby & taking my baby home like I'm supposed to. Yes, I said NORMAL. When you go into a hospital to give birth, most people fully expect to leave with a baby. So imagine my heartbreak where I had to leave a hospital not once, not twice but THREE times without my baby. My oldest stayed in the NICU for 5 days (& to think.. I thought THAT was bad!) & then I left Dexter behind to never get to take him home but instead bury him. So leaving the hospital without Milo was another nightmare. I started crying as we drove away. I knew that he was okay for that moment, but not getting to be wheeled out with him in my arms surrounded by flowers & balloons was a death of a dream. Having to go back & forth from the NICU (especially after he was transferred 90 minutes away) & REPEATED LEAVE MY BABY was a trigger over & over again. I watched people leave the hospital every day.. living my dream. I would tell my honey that I desperately wanted to have that. A big blue balloon in the shape of a foot that says "It's A Boy!" (He eventually gave me that dream.. the day we left the NICU with Milo..he got me that balloon. It now adorns the wall near Milo's changing table.) People take this experience for granted. I noticed that most of those women didn't even seem like they were smiling. When Milo was finally released, I was practically SKIPPING out the door. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I do feel a loss from having the normal experience. I didn't get to hold my baby for almost a week. I didn't get to start breastfeeding & instead had to struggle pumping which is very hard when you have a NICU baby. I had to feel the failure of not having a good milk supply. I had to feel bad when I couldn't make the 90 minute drive up & the 90 minute drive down every single day. I had to struggle feeling bonded to my baby when I didn't get to be his primary caregiver. You never realize how important those things are until you experience NOT having them.

So what is the point of this? I am trying to make people understand that when a woman has a preemie.. all her dreams go out the window & you have to make new dreams. I had new hopes. I hope he stopped having apnea spells. I hoped to one day bottle feed him instead of being tube fed. I hoped to be able to pick him up without asking if I could. I hoped for the day when there would be no wires or no monitors. These new hopes replaced the old ones. I just still feel a loss from letting go of them.

Let me be sad for it. Let me wish it could have been different. It's the only way I will be able to come to terms with it & truly enjoy the new hopes for the future I am starting to build.

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