When I found out I was pregnant I was devastated. I never wanted kids and thought my whole life was going to be ruined. Ive never had anything to do with kids because I hated them. How was I supposed to be a mom? I was depressed the entire pregnancy. My doctor prescribed me very mild antidepressants. It took me a long time, the entire pregnancy, to open up to the idea of being a mom...then I got sick with pre eclampsia. I had ridiculously high blood pressure (it never went lower than 150/85; the highest it went to was 186/121). At seven months pregnant, I spent 3 weeks in the hospital before I got flown by ambulance plane 9 hours away from my home to a city where I had never been, I didnt know anyone, and was only given a half hour notice before getting sent off. I have only three changes of clothes and didnt even have my debit card or credit cards. I didnt need them in the hospital. Well 4 days after arriving, my son was born via c-section because my organs started shutting down. Great, i thought to myself, i didnt want a kid in the first place and the pregnancy is slowly killing me. My son was born at 29 weeks 4 days gestational age. Today he is 19 days old. His father, my fiance, is back in his town, 6 hours away and can only come see us every second weekend. I am in the middle of moving from my town to his town, which is 6 and a half hours apart, before this whole thing happened. I am also in the midst of planning our wedding. Just finished my second year of university, and working full time. I had so many things going on and I was collapsing under the stress of it all. Now, i feel like a failure of a mom already. My son is in the NICU here, has an infection, and has been on the CPAP since birth. I can't hold things together for much longer. Im in a strange city surrounded by strangers, dont know where anything is, and I cant open up about this face to face. My fiance is the only one who knows how I feel and he is trying to encourage me to stay strong and that things will get better. But every time i look at my son, i think of how i am at fault for seeing him hooked up to all those machines, getting poked and prodded every day by nurses with needles, and if i could have kept him inside of me, if my body didnt start failing, he would be okay, and i know he would make it through this but i dont know that. i cant look at him without hating myself for failing. I am struggling.
stressed out from it all
If someone else were to tell you this story, would you say it is their fault? No. We are sometimes so cruel to ourselves. It is not your fault that your body was not well. It certainly is not your fault that your son is in NICU. This reflects on nothing you did or did not do. Sometimes you get dealt a really crappy hand by life without reason or rhyme.
Forget about your wedding for now. Just move in together. If you feel up to it, maybe in a year, you could have a wedding to signify your union. But right now, thinking about it will only stress you out further. Just focus on your son and your sanity. Let the rest recede into the background.
Wishing you the best of luck.
If it helps at all, I think every one of us who delivered preterm has felt the same guilt. I know I did and it was wracking at first, especially in the days after birth when my hormones were all over the place and I wasn't getting any sleep. Try to be kind to yourself, and find support everywhere you can. Is there a nurse you connect with? The hospital usually has a social worker to help new parents talk things out, too. And try to remember that you didn't choose this, it's not actually your fault that he came early, and you'll get through it all okay. All the best to you, hon.
50% of pregnancies are unplanned. I think you might be surprised how many other women really didn't want to be pregnant, but no one knows that because no one feels comfortable talking about it. And even people who planned to get pregnant often have second (and third etc) thoughts about it. So, if you were to say to someone, I hadn't even planned or wanted to be pregnant in the first place- I bet you would find many women who would say, I know what you mean.
Guilt is one of the hallmarks of motherhood, for better or worse. Expect to feel guilty even if you shouldn't. But then realize that you feel that way not becuase of what you did or said, but because all mothers feel guilty (well mayabe not, but probably). Even if you wanted to be pregnant you would probably feel guilty. No matter what choices you did or didn't make you would feel guilty. For some reason, thinking about guilt this way made me feel better and able to move past it. Your baby doesn't need your guilt so give it away. Your baby needs you to be there for skin to skin time and hearing your voice. If you can do that, you have no reason to feel guilty going forward.
Your life has to be on hold for a while while he is in the NICU. I know that's not always totally achievable but on the other hand you sometimes don't have a choice. And when you both leave, you can go back to it all and be like all the other moms who string together crazy lives. But for now, you can't really reasonably expect much more of yourself than putting one foot in front of another. Don't think too much about your responsibilities in the real world around you- it's an unreasonable expectation to be planning for housing and school and stuff. You can and should pull your NICU card whenever you can- employes, movers, caterers, school administrators etc will likely not give you too much pushback if you say "I won't be able to do ___ on time becuase my baby was born 2-1/2 months early and is in the NICU" Use this excuse as much as possible. You have earned it.
"hold things together"- try to minimize what you have to hold together. Your health. Supporting your baby. Delegate anything else to someone else. Deal with it all later. Ignore and procrastinate for anything that won't have dire consequences. It will all be waiting for you when you get back. And if it falls apart while you were away maybe you will find you didn't need it anyways.
And I don't want to be too much of a downer- but the NICU sucks, and it doesn't really get better until you leave. Even in the best of circumstances, it is about just surviving. But you need to balance that with your mental health generally, and make sure you are safe and that in the battle against depression, you are at least holding steady, and if not, you need professional help, and the NICU social worker should be able to help you get hooked up with the right professionals. Consider doing some counseling- if you said to them what you posted, they would not bat an eye. They would appreciate you being honest about something that a lot of people lie about. Also, r.e. counseling, you might find that the bonding process does not go smoothly- i.e. you may feel differently towards your son than you expected or than how 'everyone else' seems to feel. Consider arranging counseling [or delegating someone else to do that for you] for when you get home.
Edited by Ratchet - 6/11/12 at 5:43pm
My 27-weeker, now 10 months. Despite being a birthing professional, and having what was in retrospect obvious symptoms, I didn't know [AKA was in denial] that I was in labor until I showed up fully dilated at our small local hospital, where they were not ideally prepared to handle such a premature infant. I was seeing a home birth midwife, so I had to go in through the ER instead of going right to the birthing center. She hadn't been moving as much as usual for a few days prior but I didn't think much of it. She needed a lot of respiratory support that maybe I could have prevented if I had done several things differently. She doesn't hold any of that against me though, so I won't either. Clearly she is very intelligent, so none worse for the experience, I hope?
Edited by Ratchet - 6/11/12 at 6:25pm