Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Guilt has a funny way of sneaking up on you. I didn't realize exactly why I'd been feeling guilty until last night when having a late Instant Message conversation with a dear friend.

There are so many things to feel guilty for. At first I thought it was just that I hadn't noticed Alex moving. In all my wisdom and arrogance, I didn't pay attention. This is still true. I feel like I should have paid more attention and I should have been more vigilent. But there is more to it than just that. (of course there is...this wouldn't be a very good post if it were as simple as that)

You see, I didn't do everything you're supposed to do when you're pregnant. I stopped taking my prenatals because they made me sick. I drank a cup of coffee every morning for breakfast. I took Sudafed. I ate cookies and candy at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter.

But the thing that makes me feel most guilty is that I didn't do all the tests. I talked with my doctor about the AFP test and decided against it. After all, there was no way I would terminate the pregnancy if there was something "wrong" with Alex. She said the ultrasound would show any problems anyway...the AFP was really just more specific. She left the option open that we could do the AFP after the ultrasound if it was warranted. The ultrasound showed no problems, so we skipped the AFP. I keep thinking maybe that test would have shown us something. Maybe it would have given us a heads up that something was wrong...and allowed us to do something...anything...to prevent Alex from dying. It may not have been successful and we may have lost him anyway, but at least we would have had the opportunity to try. How could I have been that stupid?

This is all speculation and maybe the autopsy will answer all my questions. But until then, the guilt plays on.

And what do I do if I'm right and I could have prevented this from happening to my sweet boy?


Julie said...

Catherine, it is NOT your fault, hun. I promise. Please don't beat yourself up about it and let go of the guilt. I say this whilst I still ponder what I could have done differently, but it is just out of our hands. My doc was so shaken by Nick's death, that the nurse told me sometimes God needs to remind him just who is in charge. (But why use my baby as the example??!) I had the AFP test, it was elevated, the u/s showed nothing wrong. We did a detailed echo to make sure he didn't have the heart defect my eldest son had (he didn't). I drank coffee. I fought with my husband. I slept on my right side occasionally. I paid attention to movement. I started twice-weekly NSTs at 31 weeks (what a waste of money that turned out to be). Far too many u/s to count. We did see a nuchal cord in week 34, spurring talk of induction; I got my betamethasone shots. In the end, he had multiple knots in his cord, and nobody knew. Had he been born alive, he likely would have had cerbral palsy or some sort of anoxic brain injury. But we just don't know. At one point, I quietly blamed my doctor. I also blamed myself (and my husband) for being so stressed out that Nick was a nervous fetus and tied himself all up in there. But instead, I know it was just a cruel trick of fate, enhanced by a serious design flaw by the Top Engineer.
It is not your fault.
Love, Me.

Julie said...

Catherine, the guilt is horrible. Even 2 and a half years later, I still feel like if I had just gone to the hospital SOONER, then Caleb would have been saved. That's not the case, I know that in my RATIONAL mind, but sometimes, the irrational takes over. The thing is NO ONE does everything they are "supposed" to do while pregnant. It just doesn't happen. No one is perfect. I never got the AFP test either. Not for either pregnancy. I KNEW there was NO WAY I would terminate the pregnancy if something was wrong, so there really was no point. That AFP test could not have predicted this happening to Alex. You did NOT cause this to happen. I hope you get answers from the autopsy, but that doesn't always make the guilt any better. Just please please please know that Alex's death was NOT your fault. (((((((Catherine)))))))

P.S. Glad to see you able to post your story on Stillborn and Still loved. I know that was hard.

Catherine said...

Have I mentioned I love you Julies? Thank you.

MB said...


I have the same guilt, I think we all do. I think about the fact that it was really two days before I noticed that Audrey hadn't moved and I think about the vitamins I missed and I think about how life was so busy that I didn't really spend as much time being grateful to have her as I should have. It sucks. There are no two ways about it. Just know that you didn't do anything that even moms of living babies have done and that you aren't being punished.

Love and hugs.

Anonymous said...

ahem. I believe I also told you last night that you shouldn't blame yourself.

Much love to you my friend.

lauralu said...

no one's child has ever died because of a single daily cup of coffee or a missed vitamin. i hope you'll find the place where you can rest without guilt, sooner rather than later.

please be prepared that the autopsy may not answer all your questions, but at the very least it will give you a place to start moving on from (sorry about the grammar).

pengo said...

We did the AFP with Calvin. It was abnormal. Then the u/s said nothing was wrong. We had another AFP. It was abornal. Another u/s. Normal.

And so ... what? All this information, and no knowledge. We decided against the tests for Zelda, figuring it would only make us worry, and we were committed to the pregnancy.

It's not your fault. No one is to blame. Sometimes that is impossible to believe. But it is true.

Thinking about you today (Wednesday.)