We all need to hear this. We were told the day of Noah’s diagnosis that it was nothing we did or didn’t do. I try very hard to believe that. But despite what the speacialist said, the opinions of family and friends has weighed on me. In this society we judge the actions of pregnant women a lot. When I was pregnant with Owen, I worked with another teacher I jokingly called “the pregnancy police.” Everything I did, or ate was scrutinized by him. He would constantly tell me to do, or not do things, or eat or not eat things. One of his favorite phrases was “does your doctor know…” Don’t get me started on the fact that I was seeing a midwife not an OB. I was able to laugh him off, and thankfully, despite being born premature, Owen was fine.
But that constant questioning and judging takes on a different light when your baby is not fine. A friend posted this article about ultrasounds and babies brains in between our diagnosis and Noah’s stillbirth. Now, she didn’t know about Noah’s diagnosis at the time, but it still upset me terribly. I had many ultrasounds in my pregnancy because of my history of premature birth and my HG. Now she and I don’t usually agree on most medical things. I tend to believe doctors recommendations for things like medicines and vaccines, and she doesn’t. And while I usually would have dismissed such a post from her, particularly after reading the research and follow-up research and not finding it credible. But it has stuck with me, and it hurts.
With my HG also came a LOT of antinausea drugs. I also had a home health nurse who came to change the dressing on the PICC line we used for my daily IV fluids. When she came in between Noah’s diagnosis and stillbirth, I didn’t tell her. It was too raw, and I just couldn’t. But it also meant she didn’t know. Didn’t know how hurtful it was, when reviewing my meds (the same ones the speacialist assured me had nothing to do with Noah’s diagnosis) she implied that they would hurt him. She said something along the lines of “wow, with this much medicine, I know they say it is fine, but it has to effect him. Don’t be surprised if he comes out..” And then she made a face. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be cognitively impaired, sleepy and drugged or dead. It didn’t matter. I avoided eye contact and waited for her to leave. When I called the nurse line the next week to say I didn’t need them anymore I avoided her. She still doesn’t even know he is dead.
I also had many people after finding out ask if it was because of my HG. Every time it felt like being kicked. We were told that the problem probably started early on, possibly before I even knew I was pregnant. That that is when those brain structures form, and his didn’t form correctly. But the questions, the judging, the blame (real or perceived) still hurts. I still feel like it’s my body that failed. So to tie this back to FadedLace’s post, yes, we need to stop blaming ourselves, but the pregnancy police play a role too.