No matter what anyone says, I will always blame myself for M's death. I know I have not told much of his story here, and I do want to. I would actually like to tell it in a coherent way from the start to the end, but I never seem to sit down and do it. My urge to write things always comes in pieces. Today, the story takes place in the very beginning and the very end.
In the months before I became pregnant with M, I started feeling some joint pain. It was very mild at first, and mostly in my hands. It started to get slightly worse, and I ended up feeling pain in my feet as well. It took me a long, long time to finally go to the doctor because not only am I not a go to the doctor kind of person, but the discomfort was so sporadic. Here one day bad, next day mild, next day the pain wasn't there at all.
When I finally went to the doctor, he asked me a bunch of questions, including if I had ever been pregnant. He really didn't tell me anything, and sent me away with a pamphlet on arthritis and instructions to come back in a few months. I never went. Mostly because the pain started to feel better. But, honestly, also because time just got away from me and it wasn't like he seemed that helpful or informative anyway.
I found out I was pregnant. My world became consumed with that. I honestly don't remember if I mentioned to the ob/gyn that I saw someone for joint pain. I don't think I did. I think I assumed it was in my records.
Fast forward to the days before M died. He was too quiet. Much, much too quiet. I have a very vivid memory that I have never shared with anyone before. I was sitting on the couch, watching TV. It dawned on me that he wasn't moving. I poked my belly, and mr. g teased me, saying, leave him alone, he is sleeping. And I convinced myself that he probably was.
Another memory, we are eating dinner with mr. g's coworkers. I had my hand on my belly and one of them asked if he was moving around. I smiled, but then realized, no, he wasn't. I did nothing.
Let us tear apart my guilt here. I found out after M died, that I do indeed have some autoimmune condition and that was what was causing my joint pain. It isn't lupus, it isn't arthritis. They don't know what it is, I just have some weird antibodies. Of course, some autoimmune conditions are associated with pregnancy loss. Mostly miscarriage, but still. I have also had more than one doctor reassure me that they really don't think M's death was related because I don't have the conditions that are associated specifically with loss. Of course, I have read hundreds of things about autoimmune conditions now, and one thing I know for sure, it that the medical community doesn't know a lot about it. It is still very much a mystery to them.
Now I don't really believe it was my disease. But I don't know for sure. And I really dropped the ball on that one. The part that really eats me up inside, is that that isn't like me at all. I normally would go research stuff if I was having discomfort like that. Why didn't I? Why did I just go along willy nilly like? Why didn't I at least mention to the ob/gyn that I had visited a rheumatologist and that I was supposed to go back? Like I said, I am not sure it was actually my disease that killed him, but if I had gone back, if I had told someone, I probably would have been watched closer. Because having some weird antibodies gets you watched closer in pregnancy. I didn't know I had weird antibodies, because I didn't go back to the doctor. And maybe if they did decide to watch me closer, something would have been seen. Something maybe would have been caught, that made them go, "hey, this baby was doing so well, and now his heartbeat is slower". Or then again, maybe not.
Lets move on. Why didn't I go to the doctor when M was quiet? Why? Why? Why? How stupid could I have been? I feel the need to share that I am NOT an ignorant person. I try to keep up on things, read a lot, all that stuff. So how could I have not known that his stillness WAS NOT NORMAL? But I didn't. Every time I noted it, I convinced myself he was just quiet at that moment. Why didn't I check again later? WHY? I don't know. I don't know. I feel so dumb. Especially now that I have had baby girl A. Yes, babies move, ALL THE TIME, mostly. They don't just stop.
It just doesn't seem like me. The time I drop the ball is the ONE time it mattered so much. I don't know if I am being totally honest though. I say it doesn't seem like me to not go to the doctor, to not realize his stillness was wrong, but truthfully, that isn't me NOW. I was so naive back then. Maybe that was exactly me. I feel like I was so dumb and ignorant. Ignorant as a woman who smokes or drinks while pg., because she *doesn't know any better*.
I realize that even if I had done all things differently, it doesn't mean the outcome would have been different. The cord was around his neck, and according to his autopsy, he showed signs of asphyxiation. I tell myself that could have been it, and if so, then it took seconds, and no one would have caught it or been able to do anything about it. But sometimes I think I only tell myself that so I can continue to live with myself.
The guilt is crushing at times. And one of the worst outcomes of it, is that I have felt scared with baby girl A. What if she gets sick and I don't take her to the doctor soon enough? What if she has a cut, that I chalk up as nothing and it isn't nothing? And on, and on, and on.
I have told myself all of the comforting things. It wasn't your fault, if you had known, you would have done anything to save M, etc . etc. But in the end, I have to live with the guilt. It won't ever completely go away.
I have to add, as I was re-reading this, I almost decided not to publish it. That is how ashamed I am of myself. I feel like I let my son down in huge ways. I did decide to go ahead though, because I know guilt is a shared thing in our community. And also because I need to get some of this stuff off my chest. I need to keep grieving and dealing with this. Two years later, I am just starting to realize I have barely scratched the surface. I'm pretty sure most of my grieving will be done here and in my head, because as we all know, most of the people around me think I am *better*. I hate myself right now.