Forgiveness and Babies

It’s not Friday, but thanks to a very busy week I’m celebrating Forgiveness Friday anyway. If my explorations in forgiveness mean anything at all, I can cut myself some slack when I slip a little in my schedule, right? While it may be Sunday, once again I’m thinking about forgiveness. You can find my other posts on forgiveness by checking out the Forgiveness Friday tag.

This past Wednesday my husband had a vasectomy. The week before the big event, I found myself crying about his upcoming snip in my therapist’s office. (I love therapy, by the way. I go because of the insights it provides me, rather than because I’m experiencing a personal crisis.) While I freely concede that having another baby at this point wouldn’t be the best idea on a number of levels, I was having a difficult time letting go of that part of my life. I loved my babies a whole lot. I loved being a mother of babies and toddlers. While I’ve mostly moved on from that phase of parenting, my husband’s appointment represented the final nail in the coffin of my babylust.

One of the things that came out of the discussion with my therapist for me was the psychic wound I still carry over my daughter Hannah’s premature birth. I like to think I’ve made my peace, and in some ways I have. I no longer sob on each of Hannah’s birthdays, thinking she shouldn’t have been born on that day. I no longer worry that my daughter’s earlier-than-anticipated arrival has left lasting scars. I can see that she’s a normal, healthy, happy almost-nine-year-old. But. But. But. Sometimes I still find myself running over the events surrounding Hannah’s birth in my mind. Sometimes I still feel a strong need to grab hold of my daughter and never ever ever let her go again. And, truthfully, I’m still pretty angry about some of the decisions that my daughter’s doctors and nurses made surrounding her care.

forgiveness friday premature baby NICU isolette

I’m still angry that, in spite of her high Apgar scores, relatively large size and total lack of any signs of distress she was taken away from me within a couple of minutes of her birth.

I’m still angry that a nurse fed her that first bottle of formula without consulting me, and less than 30 minutes before I tried breastfeeding her for the first time.

I’m still angry that my labour nurse told me that it was my fault I hemorrhaged, because my daughter was born so quickly.

I’m still angry at the NICU staff who kept warning me about all of the dire things that could happen to my daughter (none of which did), increasing my anxiety at an already anxious time.

I’m still angry about a whole lot of other things, too. I’m holding on to a lot of pain. I can mostly ignore it, but occasionally it rears its head and I’m overwhelmed by all of it, even still.

Three and a half years after Hannah was born, my son Jacob’s birth went pretty much exactly to plan. I had wanted to give birth while my daughter was at daycare, and that happened. I had said that I wanted my son to be born about 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital, and that happened. I had said that I wanted to go home within a few hours of my baby’s birth, and that happened. I didn’t hemorrhage, he was born within a few days of his due date, and he was the picture of health. Really, it was textbook perfect in pretty much every respect.

I had thought that having a better birth experience the second time around would be healing for me. The truth is that it was exactly the opposite. As I experienced those first minutes, hours and days with my newborn son, I realized exactly what I had missed with my daughter. Rather than healing my wounds, my positive second experience actually rubbed salt in them.

Sitting in my therapist’s office a week and a half ago, I realized that one of the reasons I want another baby is because of these wounds I still carry around. I’m hoping that maybe the next birth would be the magic bullet. Or maybe if I have another daughter and it goes well, somehow that will make everything okay. I will get a chance to do things right. I will make better choices, my body will work the way it’s supposed to, and I’ll be able to forgive both myself, and the healthcare providers who were actually just trying to help.

That is not to be for me. Truthfully, I know that it wouldn’t make a difference. My anger over what happened to Hannah wouldn’t magically disappear with a third (or fourth, or tenth) child. All that I can do now is make the choice to forgive, and make the most of the time I have with my two amazing children.

I still feel a little bit at a loss as to how to forgive. I’m working on creating a forgiveness practice, and it seems to help a little, but it’s not a magic bullet. Maybe that’s why it’s called a forgiveness practice – because I need to constantly practice, each and every day. Forgiveness doesn’t happen instantaneously, especially when the wounds run deep. It takes time to let go of the baggage we carry around with us.

Right now, having more insight into why I feel the way I do is helpful. It’s helping me to chart a path forward. The way isn’t always smooth and clear, but it feels good to know that I’m making progress, even if it’s painstakingly slow. I’m keeping at it, and I’m trusting that slowly I’ll get better, and forgiving will become easier. Step by step by step.

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  1. I have been wanting to go to therapy for a few months now, but I don’t even know where to start. It seems like it has a stigma in my mind, so reading that it has helped you is nice for me. One step closer.
    Finding peace and letting go are two of my biggest and most challenging struggles.
    Lindsay Dianne’s last post … Barnet Marine Park – Sunday with AbbyMy Profile

  2. This is very interesting. It reminds me of an ongoing discussion about forgiveness that I keep having with a good friend whose husband cheated on her and then left to live with the other woman while their kids were both under three. People keep telling her she needs to find a way to forgive him; her contention is that you can’t forgive someone when they don’t acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong. Maybe it’s just semantics. Maybe it’s more a letting go of the anger than anything else. I have a tough time letting go of things all the way. And hugs on the vasectomy – I had a rough time with my husband’s too.
    allison’s last post … Four-and-Five-Star Books 2013 Part Three: Everything ElseMy Profile

    • I honestly still don’t really know how to define forgiveness, however, for me in this situation it is about letting go. I also think, though, that it does need to come from within you. Other people telling you to forgive when you’re just not ready probably isn’t helpful.

  3. Wow, Amber. Thank you for sharing your pain. While I don’t know what it’s like to have a baby, I sure do know what it feels like to hold onto anger and resentment and regret. It’s helpful to hear how you are working through it.
    Beth Terry’s last post … Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?My Profile

  4. Wow. This post resonates for me! I am still angry that my first birth was a c-section and that despite many preparations for how it would go, I still wasn’t prepared enough. Forgiveness or gracefully moving on is just so hard, such a long, slow process.

  5. My big realization last year was that I could feel sad about something AND accept that it is so ( — though I should admit that I haven’t fully accepted that there will be no third child for us). I don’t know that one could be angry and forgiving, but I’m guessing that your sadness about Hannah’s birth is not something you need to let go of.
    Rachael’s last post … {this moment}My Profile

  6. Wow. I think your feelings are very understandable, and I’m glad you’re working through them–and not bringing one baby after another into the world hoping that each one will “fix everything” for you!

    I’m six months pregnant with my second child. The first just turned nine, and I am still angry over some of the things that happened at his birth–but although I certainly hope for a better birth this time, I am trying not to expect that it will heal those old wounds. We had mostly planned on having just one child but hadn’t taken any permanent precautions–and I am glad this one is coming to us at this late date, after all. A new baby when my son was a high-needs toddler and our lives were very stressful would have been disastrous for us, but now I think (I hope!) it’s going to be a very positive thing for our family.
    ‘Becca’s last post … GAME SHOW!! with math practiceMy Profile

  7. Oh, it is so hard to let go. It is a CONSTANT practice. I admire you for being so honest..although I’ve never known you not to be honest.

    I’ve been thinking about motive lately, as in, how we can never know another person’s motive and yet I spend so much time and energy trying to do just that. Trying to re-focus all that energy and thought and consideration to things I can control. But it is hard.
    clara’s last post … House Pants, RevisitedMy Profile

    • It is SO hard not to imagine or infer motives. I see this constantly in my relationship with my husband. We have these conversations where we both think we’re saying one thing, but the other person is hearing something totally different, because we’re guessing at a motivation behind the words that just isn’t there. It’s so frustrating on every level.

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