Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Guilt, Blame & Jealousy

When my little one was first born 11 weeks early, I questioned everything about my pregnancy.  What could I have done differently that would have kept my little one from being stuck in the NICU fighting for her life?  Did the doctors overlook something at my previous appointment?  Why was this happening to us?  It took me months to realize that things happen and there isn’t really anything you can do.

I came down hard on myself for having a sweet tea as a treat every now and then and for doing more than I should have – pushing myself too much as my pregnancy progressed.  Everything I could think of to blame myself for my little one’s situation, I did.

I also began to blame my doctors.  Not the high-risk specialist I was sent to see when the pre-eclampsia set in, but the doctors I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy.  I battled nausea up until one month before my daughter was born.  I was on Phenergran for a while and then switched to Zofran.  Although they helped, I was still sick at least once a day and had no appetite to eat.  Throughout the first six months of pregnancy I consistently lost weight.  I weighed three pounds less when my daughter was born than I did when I found out I was pregnant.  I questioned the doctors very hard on this because my little one had intrauterine growth retardation and weighed one pound less than expected.  Was there something they could have done to prevent her being small?  If they had paid attention to my previous bout of high blood pressure, would that have put me in a category at risk for pre-eclampsia?

It took me a long time to really figure out that it just happened.  My husband, my daughter and I are all stronger for it, but it just happened.  Its not my fault, the doctors acted very proactively once the preeclampsia was discovered.  And most importantly, my micropreemie is a fighter and fought every step of the way so that she could still be here with us today.

One thing that irks me now more than ever is how jealous I am of expecting mothers I see that are close to term.  On one hand, I am happy and thankful that they are going to have a healthy, full-term baby.  But on the other hand, I feel cheated for not getting to experience the entire pregnancy and what it is like to give birth to a full-term baby.

Roxy

About a month ago, a friend who was 7+ months pregnant told me that I was lucky that I didn’t have to endure that part of pregnancy because it was horrible.  I had to bite my tongue.  I really wanted to tell her that she was lucky that her baby wasn’t born at 29 weeks and living inside an incubator with tubes everywhere, on oxygen, etc.  I just smiled and went on with my day.  A few days later, she realized how what she said sounded and apologized, but it still hurt.  I missed my chance at being that pregnant.  Of enjoying the whole pregnancy, complete with all the not-so-pleasant stuff.  With our chances being around 50% of having the same thing happen in a second pregnancy, our preemie is likely going to be our only child and I’ll never get to experience that.  For that I am jealous.  I am very thankful for my beautiful, healthy, 9 month old daughter, but I feel like a full pregnancy is something I have missed out on.

Does anyone else ever feel cheated or think about what could have been?

Samantha Pridgen About Samantha Pridgen

Samantha (KY) is the mother of Roxy, a micropreemie turned preschool princess. Roxy was born at 29 weeks weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces. Now a healthy 4-year-old, Roxy has no long-standing complications from prematurity. Samantha writes about her family as well as Roxy's early arrival and prematurity at Mommy to a Princess. You can also find Samantha on Twitter, Facebook, or email her at samanthap@mommytoaprincess.com.

Comments

  1. Guilt and jealousy, yes. I really can’t think of anyone I blamed for Addie’s prematurity, other than myself!

    I would also add fear of having a second child and going through it all again…

  2. Yes, yes, yes! My twins were born at 28 weeks and for the longest time I couldn’t even look at people who were pregnant. I had also bought several new maternity outfits 4 days before I was put on hospitalized bed rest. They still have the tags on them and I haven’t been able to get rid of them. I still can’t look at anything that reminds me of being in the hospital either. I did talk to a therapist while my girls were in the NICU and she said I definitely had PTSD and that it was very common for parents of preemies.

  3. Definitely jealous. I keep saying that I was looking forward to being full-term big, and everyone keeps saying that it was horrible.

    I kept meaning to buy maternity clothes, and the weekend I was going to, I was hospitalized for five days and my son born at 26 weeks.

    Everything is fine and he is healthy now, but I still find myself wishing I had a full-term pregnancy.

  4. I fell GREAT jealously when seeing heavily pregnant women. my friend is pregnant and Im scared to see her incase I turn green!
    I always knew something was wrong and kept asking them to swab me. I should have pushed harder! GSB caused Alice to come at 30 weeks by section (after waters breaking and going into labour/fetal distress)

  5. Guilt, no. I listened to my body and by doing so saved my baby’s life! Jealousy, yes! I had this romantic notion of labor and delivery. I wanted to go drug free and didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl. I really wanted my husband to be the one to tell me the sex of our baby. Instead I had a crash C-section at 27 weeks ’cause my daughter’s heart rate was in the 50’s and it happened so fast they didn’t even let my husband in the OR ….

  6. Samantha says:

    Melissa – I am petrified of having another baby and having the same thing happen all over again. Everyone keeps saying that next time it might be better, but then whose to say that next time won’t be worse? I’d love to have another little one, but am so scared!

    Kim – I can totally relate to the PTSD. I didn’t see a counselor after my little one was born, but I probably should have. The first four weeks she was in the NICU I could just sit and burst into tears. Its not as bad now, but I still can’t look at pictures of her from those early days and not get upset at how much she had to go through to stay with us and how strong our little girl truly is!

  7. Yes, yes and yes. Guilt, second-guessing myself though I had a trouble free pregnancy up until labour set in just under 25 weeks (born 25 & 1). So much anger, my girl is just over 6 months (12 weeks corrected) and I still am jealous when I see fully pregnant women. Anger that I missed out on the experience of a full term pregnancy, angry that my baby girl has oxygen and feeding tubes and I can only see her face as it should be when I change them over. Angry that nothing is normal and people ask me if she is sick, or what is wrong with her eyes or tell me that she looks like a newborn even though she is growing well and isn’t that small anymore. Angry that she may not be able to see (we still don’t know though we are hopeful for some vision). And I want to try again, though I am terrified to and we will be waiting at least a year I suspect. Also sad for what could have been, though my girl is amazing and I love her more than I thought was possible I am sad for whatever difficulties she may face in her future.

  8. My micro-preemie son (1.4 pounds) is now 5 and I so related to your thoughts of guilt and jealously…

  9. My daughter was born at 28 weeks. I went into active labor at 24 weeks. My husband and I would love to have another baby but I am so scarred. No one has ever said why I went into early labor. I’m angry when women say I just wish this baby would come now I’m tired of being pregnant. If they only knew what we had to go through they wouldn’t be saying that. I get upset when I see pregnant women who get to enjoy a full term pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to get BIG and have 2 waddle to get around. My daughter is 1 today and she is perfect and I hope I’m praying that one day I am blessed to have a full term pregnancy.

  10. As far as guilt yes!! I was so upset I felt as tho I should have done more resting!! I was so eager to make sure all was ready for baby girl that I would forget that I was suppose to be on total bed rest!! But I have to tell myself that It was not my fault.. that pre eclampsia and HELLP syndrome was not something I couldve helped having!! no matter what she was gonna come early!!

    I had Pre eclampsia with my first not with my second but got it again with my baby girl!! So there is a chance of having a normal full term pregnancy!! Which I had the joy of having once!! I dont think I coud do it again with the fact that I am now scared to death to see another child of mine stay in the NICU for weeks!!

  11. Totally can relate to this one. I had the same thing said to me about not having to suffer that last few months, my response was to say very politely well I would have rather suffered that then go to the NICU every day….they realized their mistake quick. I have had a lot of jealousy to deal with, I was also an in-vitro pregnancy and I was jealous of all the easy pregnancies and whoops babies. I also attempted vaginal delivery and ended up with emergency C so I envy those who get to see their babies and/or hold them right away. Lots of biting the tongue and pushing feelings away…but they are there.

  12. I completely relate to this. Plus, I resent comments that people make about their opinions about why my first son was premature. He was only 5 weeks premature, but some of my “close” friends basically blamed me for my water breaking early because they thought I hadn’t gained enough weight–and I had gained 17 lbs (on an average frame).

    This time, by twins were born at 32 weeks, and no one has said anything yet…although rarely do they even call to check on me, either. I get jealous of people who get happy visitors the hospital, because no one wanted to come see me. I guess because my babies weren’t in my room and couldn’t be seen, maybe they didn’t feel it was worth the drive. I’ve been let down by my co-workers, too, who give every pregnant mom a baby shower, but they waited too late and didn’t organize anything for either of my pregnancies, and don’t check on me, either.

    Just depressing.

  13. I’m reading this page while in the waiting room of the doctors office. .I’m fighting back tears because I have felt exactly EXACTLY like all of you for the past 4 months since my daughter was born. I just 4 days ago realized HOW angry I am about everything deep down inside. I realized it and I’m trying to let go because my angel is fine and healthy now but I have sooo many pregnant friends that make it near impossible to not be angry / jealous of them. They drink colas 24/7 and eat unhealthily and I tried so very hard to do everything right during my pregnancy but I get so angry they get to experience a healthy outcome without even trying.

    I want to thank you women sooo much for making sense of these feelings so I don’t feel alone anymore!

    And congratulations to all of you for being so strong!

    • Jocelyn, I’m so glad this post helped you not feel so alone. It took me a long time to not feel angry at friends who had everything go so perfectly, especially when they took it so much for granted.

      I hope you can find peace and that your daughter is doing well.

  14. Yes! I was pregnant with twins at age 16! I was put on hospital bedrest from week 20 to 30 when all of a sudden my water broke at 2 in the morning! my twins came hours later and were in the NICU for a month.

  15. angelaphora says:

    Jealous definally. Just had my little guy and will be having a baby shower soon. I should be excited in the celebration but am sad by the fact that i have had him already and no longer preggers. just not feeling excited about it but havn’t told any of my friends how i have been feeling. I was thinking of getting a 3d profile done and some pregnancy pics but never made it to that point. I know it was meant for him to be early. i wonder if maybe my work stress contributed to his early arrival. still waiting on the results of the placenta to see if they can determine why he was an early baby.

  16. I don’t have much to add…you have all said everything that I have felt for the last 8 months.
    I was put on bedrest at 20 wks(shortened cervix), admitted to the hospital at 23wks, pPROM at 24wks, emergency c section at 31wks. I am thankful that my babygirl held on that long and she is now a healthy 5 month old, but…
    Thank you to all my understanding preemie moms.

  17. jealousy all the time. im still hard on myself because my stubborn self wanted to go to chicago even though my doctor told me she didn’t recommend it and i still went and then a week later i had my daughter. i hate myself because i put my daughter in pain with all the needles and wires and tubes on her all because i wanted to go to chicago for some fun.

  18. I never felt like it was my fault, I was diagnosed with HELLP and preclampsia and my son was born at 27 2/7ths but I did feel cheated of my pregnancy, it still makes me sad to this day that I couldnt experience it. I have four friends that are pregnant and always complain and I just get disappointed

  19. I completely understand! My son was born at 33 w 6 days and weighed 3 lbs 6 oz. I went in for a routine ultrasound on Monday, Feb. 7 and ended up heading to a more equipped hospital by ambulance. My pregnancy had been great up to this point, I felt fine, I worked only a few days a week and tried to eat as healthy as possible. It just came on so sudden, I haven’t had a day go by where I haven’t thought about how it would be to still be pregnant and getting ready to give birth next week. I too fantasized about a natural, drug free birth, but was not allowed to get out of bed to relieve any of the pain of contractions and ended up getting an epidural. I also feel guilty because my baby won’t breastfeed, he refuses to latch on and I feel like a bad mother for not being able to do “the most natural thing” for my baby. I pump 8 times a day, and cry while I do it most of the time. I feel angry at myself, and guilty, and jealous of friends who are going full term.

    • Mary Owen says:

      Don’t feel bad about delivering early or not being able to breastfeed. You are a good mom! You are doing everything you can for your little boy! I was born 2 months early, weighed 3,15, and stayed in neo for a month. I’m now 30, and considering conceiving with my dh in the next year. That happy prospect scares the heck out of me, but after reading about you and the other mothers, I wanted to mention how much I admire my own mother (and dad:) for all they must have gone through. She did everything “right” but had a heart-shaped uterus. You just can’t control some things. And you know, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love my mom even more because I know to what extremes she had to go to ensure that I had the proper care. And I don’t know if it’s true of all preemies, but I am all at once stubborn, sensitive and such a fighter, and I feel I have to attribute it all to my unusual birth and my exceptional mom. It wouldn’t be surprising if in 30 more years, that your little boy looks at you with renewed admiration and wonder because you didn’t do just what you wanted to do for your little one–you did what you had to do! You are a good mom! You are ALL good moms!

  20. I truly feel that way at this moment….i just given birth to my beautiful baby boy….i was 26 wks n finally bought summer maternity clothing…that i never got to wear…i constantly think of all the things that may have caused my early pregnancy….i walked to much… did I eat healthy…and it went on. Ive seen so many full term baby boys born recently and I ask y couldn’t that b me…I do really thank the lord for my family and especially my mom and dad for there support for everything ….and my beautiful baby Jayden….he is truly a trooper and is growing day by day….I know i shouldnt think that way…But I really did

  21. i completely understand! and i felt (and feel) exactly the same way. i’ve experienced a full term pregnancy (my first child was born at 40 1/2 weeks, by induction), but i never naturally went into labor, and that’s something i become envious of. my daughter was born at 30 weeks and 2 days due to sever gestational hypertension. had i remained pregnant any longer, my dr is certain i would have developed preeclampsia. as it was, i was hospitalized at 28 weeks, and spent the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy in the hospital. i lost all but 5 lbs of my pregnancy weight while in there. i constantly had reasons of why it happened running through my head. but you’re right, sometimes, things just happen. and the maternal fetal specialist i saw my third day in the hospital said that my case was completely random… that although my condition was more common in petite white females (which is what i am), the fact that it occured in my second pregnancy and not my first really seemed to throw her for a loop. my obgyn has informed us that it would be fine for us to get pregnant again. he said that now that we know, id automatically be a high risk patient, and we could start blood pressure meds early on if necessary. but the thought of having another child in the nicu is horrifying, to say the least. savannah spent 6 weeks and 2 days in the nicu. it was hard on everyone, not to mention what our daughter went throu. she still has scars from her picc line and her umbilical iv.

    ive never had anyone say that i was lucky not to have to go through the last 2 1/2 months of my pregnancy, but i do see all the time my friends posting on facebook about how they wish it would be over, etc etc, and i think to myself, you have NO idea how lucky you are to make it to the end

    good luck with your little miracle!

    i can’t tell you how to feel better and i cant say that once the feelings you’re having go away that they won’t come back, but it will get better. i still (one year later) get upset seeing very very pregnant women, or imagine what it would have been like to naturally go into labor. but the feelings of guilt and jealousy and resentment do flare up fewer and farther between. 🙂

  22. I have all the feelings that everyone else had had it is hard to do it. i had a 32 week preemie, she is now 4 months and doing well but it upsets me when my close friend just found out she is going to have another baby and all she says to me at least you didnt have to do it alone. Yes i had my mother but being 26 i didnt want my mom by my side i wanted her father which was overseas the whole preg and NICU stay. I feel like it was all my fault she came to early. then to hear all the time that i need to just be thankful that she is doing great. it also bothers me all the time when i have to go to the store and everyone looks at here and says awww a newborn, NO TrinityLynn is not a newborn she is a 4 month (corrected 2 month) preemie, u hear them as the walk away she must of done something to have here early, really i just keep saying on the strong are giving a chance to have such a little fighter. Preemies are such strong little fighters god love them.

  23. I agree with all the comments. My daughter was born at 29 weeks b/c I had hellp syndrome. I blame myself. I’m guilt ridden b/c I should have known that I was sick. I had emergency c section and my husband and were told that if I didn’t we would not have made it. I know that I should be grateful but all I feel is guilt.
    I’m also jealous of my 3 friends who just had very healthy babies, while mine is in the NICU and will be there for awhile. I’m just starting down this road if you have any advice I’d be grateful.

  24. oh mamas i feel your pain but want to tell you all that it does lessen. my twins were born at 31.5 weeks (Pre-e and HELLP, advanced maternal age, not to mention donor egg) and i am finally starting to realize that we were so lucky to make it through! I was severely in shock, was not at all prepared for premature delivery, let alone the NICU, the guilt, the sadness, the unbearable worrying about what would be. My daughters are 4 and change now and are in preschool. Life with twins is a whirlwind and I can’t say that I don’t still feel bad at times for their rough start in life … but mostly I’m busy trying to be a conscious, mindful mom, wife, person! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and oh what a bond I feel with all of you!
    Thank you

  25. My daughter was born at 26 weeks weighing 1 lb 9 oz due to severe pre-eclampsia. I was on bedrest for 3 1/2 days before my er c-section. I blamed myself because I got up to take a shower and my bp shot up dangerously high again which caused everything to spiral out of control. I had her 1:53 into the day we hit 26 weeks. I had and still have immense guilt for that. Blame…other than myself…i occassionally have feelings that my dr should have shown more concern in the beginning when i told him i have had high bp in the past….and when at my 21 week ultrasound, my baby was measuring 2 weeks behind. But I’m a small person so he said he just figured my baby would take after me. Jealousy…yes. Esp right after her birth and during her 11 week nicu stay. I hated seeing big pregnant women…it hurt me. When I would see a new mom with baby waiting to be picked up while going to the cafeteria…i wanted to just scream about how unfair it was. I still have jealousy as far as wanting another baby but being told I have a very high chance of a repeat.

  26. I so get all that you have said & I know God has His reasons.It took me a while to see God’s hand in my life & my kids.My daughter was born 2 and months early-she is now 13 but has many medical issues But we have grown stronger.We had a very rough start But lean on God-He will see you through.I am & will keep prayin’ for you all

  27. I am 4 months post partum. I had a 30 weeker, this resonates with me. PPl told me how much easier my labour must have been, hello, y’all had an epidural and I had nothing, not knowing whether my baby was going to be dead or alive. I find that i have found out who my true friends and family were. No one understood my grief and couldn’t understand why i wasn’t enjoying my maternity leave.

  28. I am much happier now but it took time of grief, guilt and feeling abandoned by those i thought would be there for me. I am happy for my happy and healthy blessing and thankful he is alive and well 🙂

  29. Denise Hanley says:

    Jealousy, guilt, frustration, anger…….pangs for a normal pregnancy. Jealousy, frustration and anger that I cannot have another baby, yet a feeling of extreme gratitude that I am witness to a miracle not only once but twice delivering my preemies. Frustration in those who complain about aches and pains of their last trimester when I prayed continuously to have those kinds of pains vs. the heartache I was experiencing watching my children fight for every breath. Guilt in that its my fault they entered their world so early and fought so hard to be here and I couldn’t do anything to help them. Grief in that I wouldn’t ever have that normal pregnancy,warm welcoming home that most experience with a newborn, or your typical first year of life for that matter. But God does only give what we can handle. I realize that now. Faith got me through my experiences in the NICU and if I did learn anything, I know to keep my eyes lifted towards Always and he will provide. It’s evident in the eyes of my preemies.

  30. Yes i can totally relate with your feelings….my son was 32 weeks but only weighed 2lbs 11oz at birth. I was lucky that they found out he wasn’t growing when he did and was grateful that he survived…..but I felt like I was cheated out of the experience and happy feeling involving childbirth. I did not get to hold my son for two weeks and barely got to see him the first few days. Instead of everyone being excited, there was an underlying fear of the unknown. It was very hard experience and it has scared me enough that I don’t want anymore children…you are not alone! Preemie moms have to stick together, only we understand the joys and pains that we have experienced.

  31. Kimberly says:

    I had my son in 2010 after being hospitalized at 31+5 weeks with pre-eclampsia. After 3 days I was to be released the next morning but overnight developed pneumonia and went into respiratory distress and delivered by c-section at 32+1. He weighed 3lbs 15oz and did very well in the NICU, but still had a 29-day stay complete with a NEC and cardiac problem scare. Thankfully, both of those issues were not faced. I felt such guilt that it was somehow my fault. I should have been better about my prenatal vitamins, drank more water, etc. I too share the feelings of being disappointed by my co-workers, who never planned a shower (though 2 did send me gifts) and husband’s family, who did not visit me in the hospital (there 8 days) and only saw the baby twice. It took me about 2 years to really get past those feelings, with the help of a counselor.
    9 days ago, I gave birth to my second son at 36+5 weeks, weighing 7lbs 4 oz. He was a “surprise” pregnancy and I was TERRIFIED. I was very closely monitored, and the pregnancy sped along with only mild complications. When I delivered at 36+5 weeks, I was sure he’d be my “take-home” baby with maybe just an overnight NICU stay. No, he actually was transferred to another hospital for breathing difficulties and I didn’t get to hold him for 48+ hours. He only stayed 6 days, but it was still devastating to me. And I was disappointed because some friends who had planned to visit me, never did because the baby wasn’t with me. I felt like I wasn’t valued.
    In the end, my sons are healthy, and I couldn’t be more grateful, but my NICU experiences have forever changed my life.

  32. I still blame my doctors my body EVERYONE my wife say s I’m ungrateful ITE not the fact I’m ungrateful I just feel like someone should know why I had my boy girl twins at 25+6 … It makes me so angry this was my first pregnancy I was healthy the whole time….and than my water broke… I hated NICU I stayed irritated with the nurses my son had numerous surgeries my daughter never incubated… Everyone on my Facebook was pregnant going full term even a lady with tens that was smoking went full term taking maternity pics haubg a baby shower while their baby was still in them… Complaining about their pregnancy or trying to force their baby out it still makes me jealous every time I see a positive pregnancy test or baby bump photos because I know since my twins birth was spontaneous it can happen again because they don’t know what was the problem.. My wife will never let me carry again probably in years but I want to know …. Now she’s going to be pregnant I literally have to be here everyday every appointment to see I’m happy I just wish I can do it too… I just wish I can put them back in me and everything will be okay I know its impossible but its a wish or I wish I can go full term or I foul have… Its just not fair at all..

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