Failure. The word I branded myself with this time around. It was my third pregnancy and everything about it was the opposite of the previous two.
My most recent pregnancy was difficult to say the least. Obviously, things could have turned out much worse, and I am so relieved and thankful that they did not. But after opening up to a few people recently, I realized that I need to join the movement and open up about my struggles. To let others that have felt this way that you are not alone and more importantly – it is not your fault. You didn’t fail.
We had no reason ( I mean NO reason) to believe I was pregnant. Which was the start of the guilt. How could I, a mother who had gone full term with two other babies not have known that I was pregnant? It wasn’t until one night, lying in bed and reading to the boys that I felt movement. After a lunch time trip to walmart and a box full of positive tests, I called the doctor to get a dating ultrasound since I had NO idea when this could have happened. The answer – 21 weeks in, half way through and I never even knew.
They discovered I had several small hematomas which were causing my bleeding, the main factor behind why I never thought I was pregnant. This was not my fault, I kept telling myself. There was nothing I could have done to prevent this.
I was admitted to the hospital three times within a two month window. Always for a combination of the same two things; increased bleeding and contractions-which gave me the ‘high risk, preterm labor’ flag on my folder. I was put on strict bed rest several times, then modified – work and home, that was it.
Due to the preterm labor and bleeding, I wasn’t allowed to lift anything over five pounds. My kids, especially my youngest at the time (who was just over two) couldn’t understand why mommy couldn’t pick up when he was crying and it broke my heart.
At this point I felt like I was failing not only the baby I was carrying but also the children I wasn’t allowed to.
I was so scared. I had no control over anything that was happening. Why was my body trying to force her out so early? Why was it failing me when I needed it to work the most?
All I could do was listen to the doctors and hope for the best. I refrained from picking up my kids, I took it easy and let my husband pick up all the things that I usually took care of because it was what needed to happen to give this baby the best chance at survival.
May 25th – we didn’t post pictures to social media announcing her birth, which wasn’t due to a lack of excitement, it was out of fear mainly. We didn’t know what was happening next, what the next hours, days and weeks held for her. My husband simply posted that she was here, healthy and her stats. I didn’t get to hold her until seven at night (she was born at 11:22am). I posted a picture of her 24 hours later but made sure the machines, cords and wires were out of the picture. Family and close friends knew she was in the NICU and that was it. We braced ourselves to stay in the NICU until at least her due date (which was 6 weeks out).
I can still hear the beeping. It all made me so uncomfortable. Seeing her in the warmer, wires and cords everywhere. I was so scared to take her out. That I would unintentionally unplug something and hurt her. I had never been uneasy around a newborn, but yet here I was, scared I was going to fail my own. The cords and wires, the beeping, all of it made me want to cry and I did, many times. To see my baby hooked up to all of it. To hear the report from the nurses or my husband (who stayed in the room at night) about her night and that she had only stopped breathing once.
Then she stopped taking a bottle. Her underdeveloped reflex to suck had taken its toll on her and eating on her own became too much work. By best practice the doctors gave her a feeding tube. My heart broke.
Eventually she learned to nurse and started gaining and keeping on weight. Then after 13 days she was finally able to come home. She was finally able to meet her brothers who had been anxiously awaiting her arrival.
It took some time, lots of time, actually really until just recently for me to realize I had not failed.
I reached out to a friend from college who had posted about struggles with preterm labor. I wanted to make sure she knew she wasn’t alone and let her know that I could be there for her if she needed it.
I told her the abridged version of my story and her response changed me ‘I had no idea you spent time in the NICU. I had hidden our time in the NICU because I felt like a failure and I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I had not been able to keep my baby healthy on my own the way I had with her brothers. I had failed my baby. Her simple words made me question why I had hid it. It wasn’t anything to ashamed of. I had not failed. In fact, I did everything within my power to give my baby the best that I could.
- I stayed home and listened to the doctors when they said to stop.
- As much as it broke my heart I didn’t pick up my boys.
- I went to every appointment and told the doctors about every off feeling.
- I didn’t think about how much it was going to cost, I just did what was best.
Her time in the NICU is what she needed.
Now I post about it and talk about it regularly. I do it…
- Because I have realized it’s what was best for her
- To raise awareness about preterm birth and what families go through
Most importantly, to let others know they are not alone in this battle.
Here are a few of the sites and resources that helped us along our NICU journey that I want to share with anyone else out there struggling.
Graham’s Foundation – support and resources for parents in the NICU. They even have an app to help preemie families which is pretty awesome
Check out other awesome blogs at