Post by Still Standing Contributor Megan Harris
“I killed my babies.” That’s the thought that goes through my mind at the most random of times. Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, willing sleep to come, I think, “I was given one job. To protect my baby boys.”
And I failed.
You’ll either understand that. Or you won’t.
I went through hell to get pregnant. Shots, scan, hormones, pills, hope, disappointment. All leading to the news that, finally, I was pregnant.
With twin boys.
I had one job.
To protect them and make sure they had a healthy place to grow.
I had an eating disorder when I was younger. I guess I still do; it’s always part of you. I was bulimic; I tried to hide it, I certainly wasn’t proud of it, and I fought the demons that screamed at me to binge, to purge.
I finally got healthy and lost weight the “right” way. Someone mentioned to me in passing that I looked good. And then immediately said, “Good that you got better. God won’t bless someone with a baby who is still bulimic.”
All those years later, my babies died.
Was that why?
After hyperstimulating during IVF I gained 20 pounds overnight and I couldn’t breathe. I was literally suffocating. At a time I should have been eating healthy, I was prescribed a diet of high salt foods. Pizza, chips, Mexican. Laying in bed, on bed rest, I should have been eating fruits and vegetables for my babies’ nutrition.
Instead, I was following doctors’ orders to eat salt to take the fluid from my abdomen and lungs so I could breathe.
That hyperstimulation led to two separate draining procedures. I can’t let myself think of it too often because it takes me to a really dark place. They did it for my well-being, taking 12 bottles of fluid out of me, twice, a few days apart, but it was torture.
It was the most painful thing I’d ever been through, up until that point.
I didn’t know if I’d make it through if it was killing me. If it was causing me that much pain, what was it doing to my boys?
I was supposed to be protecting them.
I was failing.
All the additional fluid weighing on my stomach, and the fact that my ovaries were never smaller than the size of grapefruits during my entire pregnancy, made me constantly sick. Add to that, hyperemesis, I threw up 20 times a day. It didn’t matter what I was eating, it didn’t stay down.
How were my babies getting what they needed?
They put me on a drug for anti-nausea. I got an email yesterday that there is a class action lawsuit for that drug because it potentially causes deformities and worse.
Did that kill my boys?
So many years I spent planning my pregnancy. And I couldn’t wait to be pregnant. I didn’t expect it to be on immediate mostly bed rest. I wasn’t happy not being able to be active, I was sad that I couldn’t work and be living my life, pregnant, during the happiest time of my life.
My doctor thought I was depressed so they suggested an antidepressant. I didn’t want to take it. But they told me that Mama needs to be healthy for her babies to be healthy.
I researched all the possible side effects and weighed it against my emotions of feeling out of control and I took two pills. Only two. Then I stopped.
Did those two pills kill my babies?
No, they didn’t.
Of course, they didn’t.
After Tucker died and I was in the hospital waiting out the rest of my pregnancy, my aunt went to get lunch. I was craving a sub and I ate the whole thing. It was all my pregnancy cravings desired it to be. And then, at 3 am, I woke in a blind panic, in the hospital, wondering, what if the ham caused listeria?
Is that why Fletcher died a few days later?
Was it the morphine they gave me during labor with Tucker? Was it the pills they gave me to calm the hysteria after he died? Was it the pill that finally allowed me to sleep after the worst 48 hours of my life?
Was it because I was bulimic 10 years ago?
Was it because I wasn’t healthy enough to get pregnant in the first place?
Why had my babies both died? What did I do that killed them?
I took a bath. I took a lot of baths during my pregnancy. The water wasn’t hot but the warmness felt good to my aching body.
Did the selfishness of my needing some relief cause it? Did I get an infection from that?
My husband and I had sex. And the next day I lost what I thought was my mucus plug but the Dr assured me, 8 hours before my water broke, at the appt where I saw my babies kicking the crap out of each other in my womb, that it wasn’t anything to worry about.
But that wasn’t true.
I should have worried.
Both my boys died.
Did I kill my babies?
I know I didn’t. I know that. The deepest part of me, at least, knows that.
They were perfectly healthy. There was no infection. There was no reason. There was no reason that my babies died and no reason that I wasn’t able to protect them.
But I couldn’t.
I had one job.
And I failed.
And no one understands that unless you can understand that.
Two years later and I was eating a sub and I had an immediate knee jerk reaction that I couldn’t be eating lunch meat because it would kill my baby.
Then I remembered, both boys had already died.
It’s not rational. This feeling that I killed them. I would have done anything to protect them.
But I couldn’t do anything more than I did.
They still died. I would have done anything to save them, as their mother, and they died, still.
What I did wasn’t enough to save them.
These babies I wanted more than anything.
It’s not rational but little is when you lose your heart but for some reason are still chosen to live.
I had one job.
And I failed.
And you may not understand that and it doesn’t make sense but nothing about cremating 2 babies that you had planned futures for, dying, instead of living, makes much sense.
I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m trying to think what I would tell a friend going through this – I couldn’t possibly tell her she’s being irrational. I would never dare tell her that her fears aren’t valid.
I wouldn’t consider telling her even 1/10th of the stuff I tell myself.
I would love her.
Even in her crazy.
Even in the moments that don’t make sense to me, in her brokenness as a mother who feels like she failed at the only job she had, I would just love her.
Even when she says she’s ok.
Even when she puts on a brave face.
Even when she shuts down on you because, to her, living with the weight of feeling like you killed your babies that you wanted more than the breath you are breathing makes you think you can’t go on, I would still love her.
I wouldn’t forget her.
Or her boys.
I wouldn’t give her space. Space is the last thing someone who has lost everything needs.
She needs love.
She needs arms around her brokenness to help her come back together as her self, once again, in a body and life that no longer makes sense.
I didn’t kill my babies.
But I had just one job.
That was to protect them.
And I failed.
Your words won’t help, your arms around my brokenness might ease some of the pain. You don’t know unless you know. And if you do? Bless you, my friend. And if you don’t? Tread lightly. She’s already beating herself up and in a battle, you will never understand.
I love my boys.
Tucker and Fletcher, I love you.
And I failed you.
I’m sorry. If love could have saved you, you’d be beside me right now. If hope was enough I’d be watching you grow. If I knew what I could have done differently to change the outcome, I would in a second.
But that’s the thing about life. Sometimes things happen for no reason. Sometimes pain is your constant companion in a vicious cycle of what could I have done differently?
Until, that one day, you find yourself breathing again. You find yourself in a place of healing and living and loving yourself enough to forgive yourself.
I’m trying to get there.
I had one job.
To protect them
But I had another job as well.
To love them. My boys. My babies.
What did these 2 precious souls teach me in such a short time?
To love without fear, to hope without a doubt and to believe without ceasing.
And even death, even Tucker and Fletcher’s deaths can’t take that from me.
And even death can’t take that from me.
For that one job, I succeed.
Every single day.
I’m believing, I’m hoping, I’ve loving and Still Standing.
I’m a lot of things, of this I’m most proud.
I lost my heart, twice, but here I am, still standing.
Be kind, gracious and loving to yourself and realize that while we were forced to do the impossible, we are still here loving those babies we can no longer hold, making sure their lives meant more than their deaths, we are living after loss, we haven’t failed at anything at all.
Tucker and Fletcher’s Mama
Photo by Scott Johnson on Unsplash