I, like many loss parents, rewound all the moments in my pregnancy the moment I learned my son had passed away. Zooming in on each tiny indiscretion, wondering if that was the moment that the scales tipped and not in my favor.
In the days that followed his quiet delivery, while I was fairly medicated and lost in grief, I had moments where I thought I could somehow have prevented his passing had I only done this instead of that.
The list of, “Why did I eat that smoked salmon?” or “Could I have taken too hot of a shower?” began to mount as time passed.
Logic eluded me, and I thought that perhaps I could fix things, I had to remind myself, often, that he was gone because I couldn’t believe that his death could be my reality.
When I came to realize the truth, that my sweet boy was truly gone, I was left feeling as if I had failed my son in the worst possible way; I had failed as his mom.
There was so much blame I placed on myself, so much guilt in my grief.
Years later I still struggle, I still wonder if I had made different choices if I would be holding him in my arms instead of just staring at the same precious few photographs that were taken of his sweet face.
I will tailspin from time to time, asking my husband if perhaps we had left for the hospital when I woke up in the middle of the night, could we have saved him?
Maybe, if I had demanded to stay a patient at maternal-fetal medicine, they would have caught whatever it was that happened and taken him before my body betrayed us both?
I realize, though, that I am not alone in these feelings. Mom guilt is a real thing for parents of living kids, so why would it not be that feeling magnified for those of us who are forced to live without our little ones?
Every loss mom has a moment or two that they look back and wonder, what if I had done that differently?
Each Moma has those moments where she wonders if something could have been done to change the outcome, and she lives with these feelings of guilt as she walks in her grief.
Blame is an easy thing to quietly place on your shoulders, allowing it to chip away at you as you mourn.
I’d like to pose these questions though; did you do all you could for your little one?
Did you follow your instincts?
Did you, with all the love in your heart, carry your child, protect your baby, cherish their every wriggle?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions then, shouldn’t you be able to grieve your baby without that guilt?
The knowledge that you did your very best at the moment; that you loved and cared for your child so fully that whatever small misstep or moment of inaction should pale in comparison.
Knowing that I did all I could for my baby does not magically rid myself of guilt, but it does help. It helps to note that in the moments that mattered, I did the best I could, I fought for him.
He may have passed away, and honestly, the cause of his death is unknown, so I very well could have done something that was the catalyst for his passing.
Yet, even with that knowledge, I am acutely aware of the fact that during every moment of his life, I wanted only the best for him, I cared for him and never relented.
So, I strive to live in my grief without guilt.
So, it’s okay, Moma, to feel guilty about the things you did or failed to do during pregnancy.
Just try and remember that you did all you could for your little one, you loved him or her every second of their life.
You did the best you could for your child.
Maybe, in knowing that truth, it IS possible to live in your grief without guilt.
Morgan McLaverty, a world traveler that has taken roots in southern New Jersey where her husband Sean was born and raised. Now, a stay at home mother, she cares for her three living boys; Gavin Cole(5), Rowan Grey(3) and Holden Nash (1). She also is a mother to Lennon Rhys. Lennon was born still at thirty one weeks and five days. His loss spurred on a need in Morgan to write her feelings, share her grief and help others in the process. She hopes her words will help shed the silence and taboo nature of discussing pregnancy and child loss.