One of the hardest parts of my grieving process has been the struggle that comes with not blaming myself for Ryan's death. To not feel some responsibility for what happened. When you don't have many real answers, you're left to wonder. Constantly wonder: Was I responsible for this? Could I have done something differently?
For a while that answer for me was yes.
I could have listened to my body. I could have taken his changing movements more seriously, instead of just chalking it up to: "He's running out of room." "He must be getting into position." "It's almost my due date, so he must be getting ready."
To even admit those were my thoughts brings up more feelings of: "You could have stopped this." It makes me embarrassed. Guilty. Because what if? What if I had said something to someone?
But the reality is, those things I was saying to myself, I didn't think of myself. They are things that we as a group believe to be true about pregnancy--that babies sometimes "run out of room." We say these things until we know better. And at the time, I didn't know better. I was never told to count kicks. To track if his normal big movements became slower, gentler movements. And for all I know I could have called the hospital with my fears and they may have easily said: "That's normal. He's just running out of room. Just getting ready. I'm sure we'll see you in a few days."
It's taken a lot of work to strip away this guilty feeling. These feelings of blame. But I did. And I found comfort in the fact that as easily as I could have made a difference, maybe I couldn't have either.
But now that I'm pregnant again, those guilty feelings are working their way back to the surface. I have never felt more responsible for anything in my life, than I do for keeping this baby safe. And I know (I know, I really, truly know) that what happened to Ryan wasn't my fault. And I can't imagine how I would have gotten through the last 8 months if it had somehow been my fault. So with this little one I'm doing everything I can to do it "right."
I'm so hyper-aware of every decision I make. Every food I eat. Every time I exert or over-exert myself. Every hour of sleep I get. Every minute spent with a student returning to school after a stint with the flu. When our school was recently renovated I contacted my OB in a bit of a panic because I had spent "too much time" in all of those construction fumes.
And still, everything is fine. Baby is fine.
The bottom line is: I am doing it right. With or without all the worry and anxiety. I'm here, taking care of myself, loving this little life with everything inside of me. Truly doing what I can to stay relaxed and minimize my stresses. (Though admittedly this post sounds like I'm doing nothing but worrying--though that's not true!) And the outcome, at this point, much like the outcome of Ryan's time with me, seems to be out of my hands.
I will do right by this baby like I tried so hard to do right by Ryan. And I won't be taking anything for granted. This month is about healing. I will take those feelings of responsibility I still have sometimes for Ryan, and turn them into something positive. It's my reminder to listen to my body and nobody else. And maybe this time things will be different.