When You Don’t Know If You Can Be a Mother

September 2013, I gave birth to my second child, my son.  When I was 5 months pregnant with him, I was told he had a massive cerebellum brain bleed.  The first 5 months of my pregnancy had been rough…I was hospitalized in my first trimester for hyperemesis (vomiting too much), hospitalized in my second trimester with suspected viral meningitis, I had a VERY minor car incident but still managed to mess up my pelvis, and I slipped in my kitchen and fell hard on our floor.  Even with all of these crazy things going on, I loved being pregnant. I felt so beautiful.  So when I was hit with the terrifying news at 5 months that Lincoln had a stroke in utero, I was scared and anxious.  No one could tell us what we should expect, or if he would have minor or major problems.

To be honest, when I found out about the bleed, I struggled as to what to do about the entire pregnancy. The doctors were wanting to perform major tests before I passed the ‘age of viability.’ As a nurse, I knew what that meant…they wanted us to know how bad things were or weren’t, so I could decide if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy.

Every day, I lived with so much guilt. I thought about every single bad thing I had done while I was pregnant. There was that time I sunbathed while we were on vacation.  I totally did not drink enough water.  I frequently forgot to take my prenatal vitamins. I thought about every single piece of food I put in my mouth.  I even thought about things I watched on t.v….could loud noises have somehow caused this?  I wanted so bad to find an answer to why this had happened to him, why this had happened to us.

My husband and I talked about what we should “do.”  Was it fair to our daughter to bring a baby home that might have massive disabilities, someone who might take the majority of our time, energy, and money?  I struggled every single second of every single day from the moment they told me that something had happened to his brain.  I began to hate myself for thinking horrible things.  I didn’t believe I was capable of caring for, or even loving, a baby with major issues.  How would we find someone to care for a disabled child while I was at work? How would we even afford that?  How could we ask our parents to help us with that kind of responsibility?  Did we even want to?

This kind of guilt was a horribly heavy weight to carry. And to top it all off, my husband had never wanted a second child. I had begged him every single day for seven years…threatened him, pleaded with him, cried to him, and I had finally given up when he shocked me after seven years and said we could “try” one time and “leave it to fate.”  So on top of every single emotion that bubbled up inside of me every day, I was worried he would resent me for asking for this second child.

I cried all the time. I became a shell of who I use to be. Friends would stop by unannounced and I couldn’t even look them in the eye. When they tried to hug me, I would retract, or just stand there stiff in their arms.  My husband said he would support any decision I made in regards to whether or not to continue the pregnancy, and even this support weighed heavy on me. How was I supposed to make this kind of decision? What if I made the wrong one? 

I’ll never forget the night I finally gave in and let go and accepted whatever fate would be dealt to me. Like every other night since finding out there was a problem, I was crying silently in the bath.  Only this night, as the water flowed over my tummy, I told my baby how sorry I was. Even though I didn’t have to say I didn’t know what to do, he was there inside of me, and he knew. As I laid there, crying in a bath of warm water, I told him how much I loved him and how sorry I was that this had happened to him.  I was sorry for the thoughts running through my head, and I was sorry for even questioning if I should continue the pregnancy.  And as I sat there, sobbing and apologizing, he kicked inside of me, as if he was listening to every single word I spoke. And then I just knew….I knew I couldn’t do anything to him, to my pregnancy. And I knew I did love him, and I loved him as he was, whatever that meant.

From that night on, for the rest of my pregnancy, I had good days and bad days.  But as I look at my son now, and I think of how I questioned so many things…I’m so thankful for our conversation in that bathtub.

JME Portraits-I

The second day of his life, he had a fetal MRI that confirmed the bleed was confined to his cerebellum.  Although 75% of his cerebellum was damaged, I think we are so lucky that it was localized to his cerebellum, which is mainly responsible for movement and coordination. He is a little wobbly, and we don’t know if he will show any symptoms when he tries to sit up or walk, but I know that it could have been so much worse.  I am so so grateful that he smiles at me, and I find peace knowing that he has the ability to find happiness.

I guess when something happens to your child, during or after your pregnancy, you mourn the loss of what is “normal.’  You mourn the loss of what you thought everything would be like. You learn to accept the hand that is dealt, because, well, what else can you do?

We are blessed with the children we have. For anyone out there with children that live with any kind of difficulties, know that there are other people out there that feel the way you do, have had the same thoughts, and your efforts to care for your family do not go unnoticed.


Until my next delivery ❤

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