Not Knowing

Sometimes I blame myself for Seraphim’s death.

And by sometimes, I mean at least every other day.

As far as we know, and as far as the doctors ever told us, they don’t know why sometimes the kidneys don’t develop.  The kidney doctor at the Children’s Hospital told us not to blame ourselves since it’s not anything we did.

How can I not?  It was my responsibility to grow him well and take care of him.  I failed at the most sacred job a woman can ever be given.  I avoided everything I was supposed to avoid, followed all the “rules” I could.  Every day I think about the week around when his kidneys failed to develop.  Very early on.  I try to remember what I was doing–what terrible thing I must’ve accidentally done to make him sick.  So that next time–if I get a next time–I won’t do that terrible thing again.

I was so careful with him, like the priceless treasure he was, that I can’t remember anything I might have done, aside from the stress I was under at the time.  We were in a bad living situation and it was hard on me.

I see women around me doing all the things I was told were big “no-no’s”.  Their babies don’t die.  Some of them have problems, but mine did, too, so who am I to judge any more?  I know for a fact that some women look down their noses at me: “Oooh, I wonder what she did wrong!”

I’ve asked my husband what he thinks it would be like if every one of the babies we have throughout our marriage dies.  He says it is more important to make the life and spend that treasured time with them and say goodbye early than to not ever get to experience the brief joy a baby brings.  For the most part, I agree with him.  If it were my lot to lose every baby, I would keep going, and I would keep being thankful for those babies.  But I also know that more people would look at me like I am diseased.  I know that at some point I would never tell anyone I was pregnant.  As it is, I dread the next time because I know every person will ask me, “Oh, so is this one going to live?”

I don’t want to hear that question because I don’t want to answer it.  “I don’t know” is the true statement.  Babies die every single day.  So do children.  So do adults.  We don’t know when we’ll die, we don’t know when our loved ones will die.  It’s the delicate balance of life.

Maybe I made my baby sick because I am a pessimist.  I like to call it “realist.”  I know that life has dangers and I recognise those dangers.

My mother always told me growing up that it was really most proper for a woman to wait about three months to announce to the world that she was pregnant.  I quickly came to agree with her.  Is it OK to tell a couple of close friends or family members the day you find out?  Sure.  I told two friends.  One was an RN who wrote me a prescription for Zofran so that I could go to work (I was sick, sick, sick), and she was my matron of honour (and sponsor).  The other was another of my bridesmaids, who I spend a considerable amount of time with.  I needed a confidante.  I didn’t tell my parents till the first trimester had passed.  I was unsure week to week if my baby was going to make it any further because of the haemorrhage.  I didn’t want to be faced with the need to tell EVERYONE if he didn’t make it.  I wanted to be in control of who I wanted to know.

Every day, I see women putting out on Facebook the second they take that pregnancy test at home.  Tonight I came across a baby registry of a girl who has been married since April.  This seemed odd to me, since I doubted she was pregnant when they were married (knowing her!), and sure enough, she is at the end of her first trimester.

I wish I could even imagine such innocence.  Such hope.  I will never again feel even the glimmer of hope for a good outcome like we did in October when the haemorrhage was finally gone.  We were planning then for the things we’d need.

I think my hands will always shake with the uncertainty and frailty of the whole thing.  How are people so naive to think that bad things only happen to other people?  How was I ever naive enough to think the same thing–even briefly?

So it will haunt me.  The not-knowing.  Not knowing if I hurt my son, if that is why he died.  Not knowing if my next child will have the same fate.  And all the while knowing that I will spend the rest of my life dealing with everyone else’s naivete and envying them for not knowing the not-knowing.

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One thought on “Not Knowing

  1. You put in words so many of my thoughts (and something I’ve been thinking about writing about). I feel so badly that I likely gave my daughter a bad egg. I tried to get pregnant THAT month- what if I waited. I gave her an egg that created faulty kidneys. I couldn’t help her grow into the healthy child she deserved to be. I know these feelings. But I also tell myself that my body was her happiest place. All her needs were met. I feel so grateful that she was born alive because in all the other ways I feel like I failed her I am happy that carrying her didnt seem like one of them (not that having a stillbirth is a failure of the body- it’s just I sometimes struggle to find things to be grateful for). But yes, I know. If we had any control over our children’s kidneys, we would have done whatever we could to fix them…

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