Could Haves, Should Haves

The founder of the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation (and my mama friend) Keira Sorrells wrote a guest post for Preemie Babies 101 called “If Only I Had….”

As I read, I found myself nodding and sighing. I think every parent, both moms & dads, face this at some point after the loss of a child, or even during their illness. You rewind and think about every little detail, and what you missed.  As parents, we’re programmed to protect our child, and we [seemingly] failed at that when they are lost.  In the preemie world, most times there is nothing we really could have done to prevent the outcome.

It’s harder to grasp that concept, because we are human, we feel so passionately about being responsible for our own lives and actions….we take control, we are driven to work for anything we want out of life, and we honor, and fight with great ferocity for, our ability to CHOOSE [anything!].  When things end in tragedy, and it’s impossible to clarify WHY, we can’t just throw our hands up in the air and go “oh well”.  We feel responsible. I found myself doing the same things with Delilah.

Why didn’t I mention that she had been lethargic earlier?

She got sick a two days after I had left the hospital to spend a few days (2) at home with my other two children & husband.  I’d been there, camped out at the NICU, for 21 days…since our home was an hour and a half away from the hospital, I was fighting leaving every step of the way because if anything happened I’d likely be too far away to get there in time.  Of course, when she got sick those fears materialized into guilt. “I left her and now she’s dying. I should have been there.”  It didn’t matter that I had already been back when she got sick, it didn’t matter that her brother and sister and dad needed me too. It didn’t matter that I probably needed the break from that environment.  All that mattered was the fault I found in myself for leaving, and I was paying for it dearly.

Was it rational? Of course not, but what the mind knows and what the heart feels are very different.

Why didn’t I know that I was sick? / Why didn’t I recognize the signs of pre-eclampsia? Then I could’ve noticed it earlier and we could have done something to minimize it and then she would maybe have been able to be in utero longer and would have had better chances of surviving….

IF………THEN….. only continually proves true in mathematical equations.  Life is just not ever going to work out as clear cut as that, because of all the factors involved, expected and not, explained and not, and circumstance.  You’ve heard of “the perfect storm”? Well, each case of a lost preemie baby is just that, the perfect storm of factors that effect the circumstances of that specific child.

Its normal to feel the guilt, and sometimes it gets the better of you, and Keira’s words here still ring true. I can’t tell you to not feel guilt, but I can agree with the fact that eventually you can choose to set it aside.  In any course of grieving you have to let yourself feel however you are feeling, rational or not.  So ride through the emotions, and point #2 she made is so true. Sometimes, even for a moment, focusing on the love that you had for your baby will bring solace.  It is and always will be there, and no one can take that from you, not even the could haves and should haves.

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