Gangsta Mittens
Words combined to express thoughts. Pictures displayed to convey emotion. Opening my brain to the world.

Working Thru It

Although I can’t confirm, I am almost certain that as a child I was one of those annoying kids that asked “why” incessantly.  No answer ever being good enough, I always wanted to know more… to better understand.  I was always reading something to get more information.  At breakfast I read cereal boxes to figure out the ingredients, and I had questions about those ingredients.  I read the newspaper, i read the dictionary… i just wanted to know more.  I’m still like that in many ways.  I don’t like not knowing things.  I don’t like conversations about things that I don’t know or understand.  When I find myself in those situations I tend to listen obsessively, making mental note of words and phrases that I can later google or research so that I can understand.

When the Dictator was in the hospital I did a ton of research… too much in fact.  The internet is FULL of people telling their story of what their preemie went thru, but usually it’s not accurate… things us parents hear don’t always match up with what the doctor says, and by the time we’re on a message board on the internet it’s twisted and convoluted.  And those who want to offer their support are equally guilty of adding to the problem.  Any message posted under the guise of “my baby is doing X, is that normal?”  is met with exactly 3 types of responses: 1.  That’s TOTALLY normal, my kid did it and s/he’s fine now.  2.  That’s ABSOLUTELY NOT NORMAL, your kid should not be doing that.  3.  Every child is an individual, you should ask your doctor. After a few trips to those sites I decided it was best to use the reference book provided by the NICU and leave it at that.

There was one topic, however, that I was completely unable to research… The biggest “why”… Why did this happen?  8 months later and I still have absolutely positively no idea why the Dictator arrived 16 weeks early… and it eats away at me every. single. day.

In many ways my health improved after I found out i was pregnant.  Of course I made a conscious effort to eat better.  I wasn’t big on exercising, but I walked more.  I stopped drinking.  Never smoked… My blood pressure was the best it’s ever been.  My weight was going down, but the ultrasounds showed that the baby was growing and he was the right size.  Cervix and uterus were fine… No infections.  No diabetes.  No real feelings of stress.  No excessive morning sickness.  No excessive fatigue.  The most “interesting” part of the pregnancy was food aversion.  I hated chicken (which is just ridiculous) and often realized that I hated whatever food I was eating by the time I got halfway thru the meal.  I didn’t scoop kitty litter.  Avoided deli meat.  Passed on sushi.  Drank plenty of water.  Juiced.  Vitamixed.  Took prenatal vitamins.  Slept on my side.  Went to all my appointments… and 16 weeks early… all of that seemed to be for naught.

Sometimes babies are premature because there is an issue with their development… but besides being wayyyy too early, there wasn’t anything really “wrong” with the Dictator.  That doesn’t mean he didn’t have challenges while he was in the NICU or that he won’t have health issues in life.  I just mean that as far as anyone could tell he was developing normally.  At 20 weeks we did that major ultrasound where they count arms, legs, look at vital organ development, etc.  Everything was on track.  Even when he was born he was the right size and weight for his stage of development.  While these things are somewhat reassuring, they all lead me further away from the answer to my question… why?

I admit that I get preoccupied with it.  On “good” days I delve deep into the internet, reading medical studies from Ireland and trying to make sense of medical terminology that would require at least 3 more years of school for me to truly understand.  On “bad” days I find reasons to blame myself.  I developed a “habit” of sipping LITERALLY a drop – a single drop – of beer if the husband was drinking, i’d blame it on that.  I craved and indulged in spicy foods.  Clearly that was a factor.  There was that two week stretch where I just had to drink kool-aid… that can’t be good for a baby.  Maybe i walked too much…  Maybe the ferry ride was too intense… Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to eat chicken?  more veggies? less tea? inhaling the neighbors weed smoke? too close to the cat… carried too many grocery bags… jinxed it when i mailed out the baby shower invites… fell asleep on the sofa on my back that one time… not enough sleep… I can ashamedly admit that I have seriously considered each of these things as reasons why *I* caused this child to be born early… And it’s likely none of these things.  Hell… it’s definitely not at least 98% of these things… and yet… a part of me knows that i will always, in some way, blame myself for this.

Any delay in development… setback… anything “different” about the Dictator is, in my mind, my fault.  The other day we went for a checkup for his high blood pressure…it was finally down… before I could even breathe that sigh of relief, grandma spoke up and explained to the doctor that it was because she was in town… that devastated me… Rational me knows that that is the dumbest shit ever.  That’s what grandparents do.. Take credit for the good, blame parents for the bad… and really, that’s NOT what makes one’s BP go down… but it confirmed what my mind was telling me… *I* was the source of the problem… incapable of “fixing” what was wrong with my child… another thing that I had done wrong… another time I had failed him.

It’s not easy to live with that pressure.  It’s even harder when half your brain is telling the other half how ridiculous it’s being. I try to see those moments for what they are and not let it become problematic, but it’s a terrible feeling to think that I could be the cause of someone’s pain or hardship… especially someone that I brought into existence… it’s a dark place to be sometimes.  I fight to see the light though.  I focus on the light as much as I can.

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