What Stays With You

After two tough pregnancies and only one live birth, you are not a good friend to pregnant ladies.  A good friend, four weeks more pregnant than you’ve ever been, tells you that she’s worried because her baby isn’t kicking as much as usual.  Your whole body gets tense, and you see your own delivery and your own NICU experience played out with different faces and a bigger baby. 

You are certain that something is wrong with her pregnancy, and you are sure that the baby will come out today.  This is not what a pregnant woman needs to hear, so you say something only slightly less alarming. 

“How soon can you see your midwife?” you ask.  She is worked up, but not nearly as anxious as you are, and she calms you down, insisting that she and her baby will be alright. 

Later, once you can think of your friend without imagining rushing out to buy preemie clothes (over which, embarrassingly, you run your fingers in stores, imagining how big they seemed so recently), you are overcome with a strong emotion:  guilt.  There is a piece of you, you realize, who wanted her child to be born today.  Though you would not wish upon her the complications of an early birth, you wanted company.

Here is the loneliest time when you are the mother of a former preemie:

It is the middle of the night, or anytime, and your son has been sleeping.  He has been quiet, just like every other nap he’s taken since he got released from the Newborn Intensive Care Prison two or four or six months ago.  You listen, and what you hear has you panic-stricken:  silence.

You rush into your son’s room, and you check the color of his face.  It is blue, from his nightlight, but you see the same blue that it was when that nurse left him off the oxygen too long.  You can’t yell out to a doctor, who will rush over, like she did.  You put your hand on him fast, not gently, and when he fusses at your touch, you smile.  You do not think, I woke the baby. You think, My baby is still alive.  And you stand over him, watching and feeling his breaths, to make sure. 

Maybe all moms do this.  Maybe your friend will do it, too, when she gives birth to a healthy, giant baby girl many weeks from now.  But you don’t know, and you let the guilt and the terror and the relief wash over you.



1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    CM said,

    I love you Kellan!

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