The guilt

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to do this. I know that the what-ifs can consume you and that they are not productive. But it’s so hard, if not impossible not to think about them. If love alone could have saved my babies they’d be in my arms today for sure. I loved them. I love them. And I just can’t stop thinking about every little thing I did or didn’t do that might have made a difference. Maybe it wouldn’t have saved them, but maybe it would have changed something? Made them a little bit comfier or… “happier”? I don’t know. I’m not one of those people who can say “I have no regrets”. I have tons of regrets, large and small, from all along the way. Things I wish I hadn’t (or had) done or said. Maybe writing some of them down will help me exercise them. Stop the endless movie playing in my head.

Let’s step back a sec. My mom. One of the things I heard my mom say to someone in the few weeks before she died was how she made a promise to herself when my grandfather died (more than 40 years ago) that she would never let my grandma spend Christmas alone, and she never had. Gulp. My mom spent last Christmas alone. She had been planning to come to CT to spend it with us, but at the very last minute she backed out. The radiation had given her an esophogeal ulcer and she couldn’t eat. She had a feeding tube, and had to give herself nutrition through that. She had shipped a case of the nutrition to us because it was too heavy to carry. But she was concerned about weather and getting stuck in Detroit on her layover (has happened more than once to us on winter trips to Duluth) and what she’d do if she couldn’t eat. Plus she had just gotten over pneumonia and was was worried about all the germ exposure travelling would entail. Made sense. She cancelled. I looked into booking a flight for us, but by that time, all the tickets I could find were like $1000 each. I decided that we’d come out later when tickets were more reasonable. Which we did. But now I feel terrible knowing how important that was to her. She never said anything to me though. And I console myself with the fact that I spent 2 months with her before she died. She didn’t die alone. But still… I carry this with me.

maviboncuk.jpgThe pregnancy. I have wondered if we should have even tempted fate. Everyone knows how dearly we love Annika. We have marvelled at how smart, pretty, well-adjusted (we think) she is. We have always felt blessed with her. I think I’ve thought about that every day since she was born, and probably expressed as much to many of you. I’d be lying if I said I’d never wondered if we were just asking for trouble to try for that again.

And then of course…did I do something during this pregnancy to cause this? I’d had such an easy, perfect pregnancy with Annika. Even though this one was much more uncomfortable and difficult right from the start, I pretty much went about life never really believing something could really go wrong. I was careful, yes. And when the doctors told me to stop going to work and rest, I did. But did I rest enough? I didn’t lay flat on my back 24/7 (for the record, nobody told me to). Was the activity I did too much? Somebody (my perinatologist, I think) told me that with pre-eclampsia, and particularly with HELLP Syndrome, that I had, they don’t actually have conclusive evidence that bedrest even helps. It’s just that they don’t know what else they can do. But maybe they just say that because what’s done is done, and it doesn’t help matters to feel guilty about what already happened. Especially when you have babes in the NICU to focus on. I don’t know. But how can you not ask yourself what you could have done to prevent something like this?

With Cole. In the early days I spent most of my time next to Lina. Partly it was logistics. Lina was in a corner, and there were chairs that sat over by her isolette. Plus she was so very tiny, and just seemed like she needed more attention. Cole’s bed was sort of in the middle of their “pod”. I wasn’t that strong, and usually needed to sit after a little while. I could have taken chairs over to Cole of course, and I did sometimes, but I just spent more time with Lina. Until he got sick. Really sick. I know that sitting next to him more wouldn’t have changed his outcome, but would he have felt more “loved”?

I regret each and every day I didn’t go to the NICU. There weren’t that many, but there were times I didn’t go because… I had other errands to run or I didn’t feel well. Especially with Lina, she was getting better and thought we had forever. I know they were getting the best care, and my being there wouldn’t have changed that. But would an extra touch have made them feel better? Would I have made one extra memory to carry with me? Those are all I have now.

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5 Responses to “The guilt”


  1. 1 Elizabeth February 1, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I am so sorry.

  2. 2 Tracy February 1, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    You are the best mom and you do everything you can for your children. You love them with all your heart and they all know that. It may just take you a little while to realize what a great mom you truly are. Please be good to yourself.

  3. 3 Valerie February 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Dear Patrice,

    I think of you every day and wish there was a way to give you comfort and peace as you travel this road. It is so natural to wonder “what if”. From my perspective at a distance of miles and years since I’ve seen you, I want you to know that I see you as a loving, giving, open-minded and mature young woman who continues to survive,and to be a loving mother and wife and friend. You have suffered greatly during the past year, but you have been there with all that you are for those you love. That’s pretty amazing. Keep the love in your heart …

    Valerie

  4. 4 Redneck Mommy February 1, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    A friend of yours contacted me and let me know of the pain you suffer, and the grief you bear.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I understand it intimately.

    Life will get easier…somewhat. I promise.

    My computer screen is always open to you if you need to talk with a mom who knows what it is like to mourn her child…

    In the mean time, go easy on yourself and while you’re loving your family don’t forget to love yourself.

  5. 5 Kim February 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I read this awhile ago but wanted to respond. I hope you aren’t too hard on yourself. I just wanted to let you know that although you didn’t get to spend the last Christmas with your Mom, she wasn’t alone. She spent it with me and my parents and she had a great time. I know she would have rather spent it with you, Esref and Annika. But instead spoiled my kids with a cool Aquadoodle that they still fight over and a shape sorter that is still a favorite. With these things I think about your mom all the time and how fun it was to spend time with her. So I hope this helps you a little bit:)


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About Me

I'm a grieving mom. I have one beautiful daughter, Annika, who's 3 years old now (born 12/28/04). I also had twins, Lina and Cole, on 10/04/07, born at just 26 weeks. We lost Cole after just 23 days due to complications related to his prematurity. Fiesty little Lina overcame so much and just when she was getting ready to come home with us, suddenly had a complication unrelated to her prematurity and passed away on January 11, 2008. This blog is about getting through it. More...

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