In a recent conversation with another preemie mom, I got to thinking about how I felt when I missed out on the “normal” delivery experience surrounding my first two children’s births. I grew up terrified of giving birth, but I still had fantasies about how perfectly everything would go – resulting in a short and painless delivery, of course.
Well, after the traumatic experiences surrounding my 21-weeker’s birth (including a near-delivery alone in my home, bulging membranes, hours of fear and uncertainty and waiting, being life-flighted alone out of state, and then making difficult decisions on the spot), I spent the next 2 1/2 years frustrated that there were no women whom I could relate to regarding my birth story. Giving birth is a significant right of passage for women and we love to talk about our experiences. I felt so cheated because I had been through so much, but my experience was so singular that it was not easy to talk to other women about it. And I knew nothing of the third trimester, feeling my baby move around inside me, being uncomfortably pregnant, feeling contractions and excitedly being driven to the hospital, pushing, or holding my perfect baby in my arms.
When I delivered my 27-weeker I STILL new nothing of these experiences, and my feelings of loss were compounded. I felt almost like less of a woman because of what I was missing out on. The number of women I knew who understood me was zero to none and I felt so alone! I was alone, I was jealous, and I was sometimes bitter. All around me women were having perfect babies and perfect deliveries. I wondered, would my body ever be able to fulfill its womanly purpose?
Time and new friendships helped me to accept my limitations and find peace in what I could do. I gained a new appreciation for life, for children, and for people who experience such difficult things. I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for an easier road. I’m grateful for what I have been given.
What have you learned or how have you changed because of your exposure to prematurity? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!