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Preemie Mom: Grief from pregnancy and delivery

I don’t have baby fever. Nope, not at all. Instead I’m the person tagging my husband on the story of the vasectomy celebration thrown by a wife for her husband. Complete with the snip snip hooray cake.

However, when I see a big pregnant belly or hear of a mom talking about packing her hospital bag, the twinges come. This is when the twinges of grief and dare I say envy come in every now and then.

I’m a preemie mom. As preemie mom I lost out on the last three months of pregnancy. I just got to the third trimester in time to have my pregnancy unexpectedly come to an end. Suddenly, gone was my time to spend with my oldest as I savored the last little bit of him as my only little boy, my baby. Gone was the time of planning and prepping the nursery. And yes, gone was the time of sleepless nights, crazy feeling hiccups, heart burn, and aches and pains. Basically the unpleasant but proud markers of pregnancy.

I lost out on so much. I didn’t get to post to social media asking for everyone’s hospital bag must haves as I contemplated what I should pack for the hospital as I didn’t even pack a hospital bag. My hospital bag came from my mother in law driving an hour to our house and trying to find everything we told her over the phone.

As crazy as it may sound I missed out on experiencing a vaginal birth as I had with my first. Bringing him into this world is a moment I will never forget and one I couldn’t wait to have again with our second. Instead it was an emergency c with me not knowing if my baby would make it.

Gone was the golden hour as my baby would be handed to me. I would get my first glances of him as he was laid upon my chest. Then longer glances and a longer meeting with my new little man as I would work to breastfeed him for the first time. This anticipated golden hour was replaced with knowing 1) we probably wouldn’t hear him cry and 2) I probably wouldn’t see him for hours later.

I will always be thankful that even at the time of his birth that Kaleb was doing his own thing as I did hear him cry and he was stable enough for them to bring him around for me to have a quick look. Even though it about made me sick being wheeled across the hospital, I convinced my nurse to take me to the NICU just a couple of hours later. I needed to see him, to see this baby that should have been inside me but I was unable to keep safe. To see him would perhaps make it seem real. I began to process this new reality as I laid a hand on my now empty womb.

I say that to say a few things. One, is to share the journey of a preemie mom. Another, is to caution people to think about what they say to preemie moms. Things such as, “You look great, at least you didn’t have to gain a lot of weight.” For the longest time big, beautiful baby bumps made me want to cry. I might not have gained as much weight from pregnancy but it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. “Be glad you didn’t have to go through the last months, they are the hardest.” I would have given anything to have gone through them. I would also laugh and say you obviously don’t know how hard the NICU journey is, trust me it’s harder.

Finally, I am glad that PTSD is being recognized and talked about more and more with our NICU parents. But I want to say that for many it’s not just the trauma of the NICU, with the monitors, health concerns, and sometimes difficulty with bonding. The experience and trauma with the NICU can go much deeper to their pregnancy and delivery. Just like with me, it can also come with grief over the loss of the rest of your pregnancy and over your inability to keep them safe.

So while I am not getting baby fever and instead I’m over here celebrating only one more year of daycare costs and (most nights) getting more sleep, I still sometimes struggle with the pregnancy, labor and delivery, and early baby days that I missed out on.

*Amanda created Mighty Miracles Foundation to support and empower NICU families especially moms as they work to process this new unexpected journey. They primarily do this through free care packages given to families. Visit www.mightymiraclesfoundation.org to learn how to help and give back to NICU families. 

Comments

  1. I absolutely relate, the NICU journey was terribly hard, as expected, but mentally it is harder for me to cope with missing out on the rest of my pregnancy and my body “failing” my son. Thank you for writing this.

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