For so many women pregnancy and delivery proceed as planned. They never have a need to read the section of the pregnancy book about c-sections and other complications. They never know the fear associated with a child being placed in NICU (Newborn ICU) and they never have to worry about later consequences. For other women, nothing quite goes as planned. There are unforeseen complications during pregnancy like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. There are complications during delivery, like failure to progress and wrapped cords. And for some women there are complications after birth that result in days, weeks, and even months spent with a child in NICU. A difficult pregnancy and delivery, followed by feeding difficulties are the biggest predictors of Post-Partum Depression or “the baby blues.” Even when the pregnancy is normal, 80% of women will experience at least some depressive symptoms following birth. Having experienced a difficult delivery myself, my heart broke when I learned that the woman who played matchmaker for my husband and me in high school had given birth nearly two months early. A few weeks ago, she was brave enough to share a few words about her experience. She discusses the idea of “ambiguous loss” in regards to premature birth. I have a feeling many women who had a less than perfect pregnancy and delivery can relate to her words and I felt they needed to be shared. Thank you Becky, for your strength in allowing me to share your story so that others may find some healing as well.
“Hm, I just read an article on Prematurity.org regarding “ambiguous loss” in regards to premature birth, and it kind of made me ponder my feelings about Blake’s premature birth. Of course the birth of any baby is a celebration of life, but when the birth involves a premature baby, the mother suffers the loss of her full pregnancy. And how exactly do you grieve the loss of something that can’t be touched, can’t be quantified, only felt, only imagined? No pregnant woman in this world plans to have a premature baby (unless of course her doctor has advised that the probability is high). I certainly wasn’t and until it happens to you, you have no idea how you will feel afterwards. I have said to many different people that I felt I was robbed of a normal, healthy pregnancy and birth experience. I didn’t get to hear my baby cry until a week after his birth because I was under full anesthesia and he was intubated. I didn’t get to hold my baby right after he was born, and I was scared to even touch him for fear of disturbing him. Some mothers have been in similar situations, and others have it far worse. My heart goes out to all of them. Some of the small and simple things are the ones we all take for granted. Throughout our whole experience I have made the most of our birth experience, because it is ours and I have seen that no two are the same. It has been hard, I can’t deny it. But every day I remind myself that it could be a lot worse…I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy and I am grateful for all the love and support our family has received and for the exceptional care Blake and I received at Women’s Hospital. . It could have been better, for sure, but it could have been a whole lot worse…and I thank my lucky stars every day that it wasn’t.”