Today out of nowhere thoughts about the moments leading up to Marcellus's birth hit me. And along with it - guilt. GUILT. Lots and lots of it.
How did I not know I was in labor? Actually I did know something wasn't quite right shortly after I got out of bed that morning. When writing his birth story and telling it I always say I didn't realize it until 5:30am. But that has been to protect myself. Deep down I knew something was wrong shortly after I got up.
I didn't want it to be. I knew I was only 28 weeks. Who goes into spontaneous labor at 28 weeks?! It was early in the morning. 5am or so. I didn't want to be "that person" that wakes my midwife for no reason. I didn't want to get Mike up and worried for no reason. So I waited. I waited until 6am. I thought that was at least not so early. I should have called right away. I should have just gotten Mike up and headed to the hospital. Those 2 hours (between 5am and when our midwife came and checked me a little before 7am and found me dilated to 10cm) could have made a huge difference. Maybe they could have stopped or slowed it down. Maybe I could have gotten steroid shots for his lungs. Maybe he would still be alive.
Instead I spent an hour trying to convince myself everything was okay. That it couldn't be labor at 28 weeks. Why didn't I know? Or at least acknowledge it? I knew deep down. I knew. I knew something wasn't right and I was scared. Why didn't I listen to my instincts? I labor quickly. 2 hours really could have made a difference. Right now I really believe it could have. And right now my grief is telling me that it could have been enough time to change the outcome entirely. He could still be alive if I had only done something differently.
And I don't think I've mentioned I had spotting about a week and a half before he was born. It freaked me out. But it wasn't much and it didn't last long. I had no pain, contractions, backache, fever or anything with it. So we wrote it off. My midwife told me spotting can just happen throughout pregnancy. The Maternal Fetal Specialist we have since consulted with said many OBs would say the same thing. But I should have known. I should have asked to be checked. To be monitored. I just should have asked. Maybe then we would have found out I was already slowly dilating and we could have caught the preterm labor. Again, it could have been delayed and I could have gotten steroids shots. And ultimately he could still be alive.
Even if there were no signs and I had no way of knowing, my body still betrayed me. My body still betrayed Marcellus. And that's hard to deal with. He was supposed to be safe in there, safe inside my womb. That was supposed to be his safe place. Instead my body kicked him out before he was ready. There was nothing wrong with him other than the fact that he was born prematurely. He wasn't born with a defect, he wasn't injured, he wasn't sick right away. He was strong, he was very healthy for his gestation. He was just premature. And because of that he did get sick. He got sick because he was no longer in his safe place. He got sick because he was betrayed.
Most of the time I can accept that everyone did everything they could to save him. Once he was alive his daddy and I did everything we could for him. The nurses took such good care of him. He had great doctors and a great respiratory team. Everyone worked hard to save him that day. There was nothing else they could do. No one could protect him any longer. I couldn't, his daddy couldn't, the nurses couldn't, and even the doctors couldn't.
But when he was still inside my womb I was the only one that could protect him. Only me, his mommy. That was my job. To keep him safe until his arrival. And I couldn't. I failed to keep him safe. I couldn't protect him.
This is how my grief is manifesting today. It is telling me, "if only you had done something differently, he would still be here. You're son would be alive. It's your fault he was born so early."
Not only do I feel guilty about the day he was born, but I feel like I failed him as his mother that day. I feel guilty that I didn't act sooner. That I didn't call or just go to the hospital. That I didn't ask to be checked the week before. But I also couldn't protect him. And that is how I failed him.
Marcellus, I so wish I would have known you were coming so fast that day. I'm so sorry I didn't know. I'm so sorry I didn't tell anyone sooner that I thought something was up. I'm so sorry baby boy. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you and keep you safe. I'm sorry I let you be born so early when you weren't ready. If I could have just kept you in a little longer you could be here. Actually I believe that if you were born even a day later you would still be here. If you would have gotten the steroid shots to help your lungs. Your lungs would have kept you strong. I'm just so sorry my little love. I want you here so bad and sometimes it feels like my fault that you're not. There's no reason you were born early, other than I couldn't protect you. My body betrayed us. Please forgive me.