Confessions of a Guilty Mother

“He always smiles like he’s got a secret,” Search’s teacher informed me.

Nobody knows it but you’ve got a secret smile
And you use it only for me

And with his wry little half-smirk, I have no doubt that he does. You see, Search and Destroy know the secret of life.

I have a confession; my own secret behind the smile. My idea for the name of this blog was originally A Stream Triple Threat. You see, there were initially three.

It took us years with many needles and doctor’s visits, interspersed with early loss heartbreak, to get pregnant. I thought that was the hard part. I was so nervous. I so desperately wanted everything to go well. And at six weeks along, we got to hear the heartbeat(s).

There were three.

As I got dressed to leave, clutching the sonogram showing Baby A, Baby B, and Baby C, the nurse looked up at me sadly. I stared at her, still in shock. “I’ve seen too many multiples born at 20 weeks,” she said sadly.

At 14 weeks, I lay on a gurney. “There is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.” I stared at the staticy screen. Was it a boy? Was it a girl?

At 26 weeks, the doctor stood by my hospital bed. “I know you were heartbroken. But you realize we wouldn’t have been able to get you this far with three.”

Baby C was the twins’ guardian angel.

At 27 weeks Jon and I became preemie parents. Of two. The roller coaster had reached that first apex. Let the ride begin.

Well *this* is not how I thought this game was going to go when that nurse called me at 9 a.m. five months ago.

No one goes into the game of pregnancy thinking they’ll become a preemie parent. This is a silent sorority no one pledges.

Society depicts us all as glowing pregnant women – waddling through our ninth month, complaining that we are done baking – the inside joke of all mothers-to-be. But sometimes reality shakes us out of that ignorant blissful dream of chubby cherubic babies. Sometimes babies are born too soon.

Today is the first ever Parents of Preemies Day. It is a day to recognize the courage and commitment needed when the world turns topsy-turvy and prematurity sends a new family down the rabbit hole of a new normal.

It is the support a newly minted mom needs as she stands by a tiny isolette, wracked with guilt that she couldn’t do more to protect her little ones. But they fought. And we discovered a new normal.

Maybe someday he’ll share what’s behind that secret smile.


Filed under Hospital, Prematurity

10 Responses to Confessions of a Guilty Mother

  1. I am the aunt(sort of) of premies. It i not a good place to be, at all. Worth it. Every status update, every growth is worth it.
    Only out of the twins, only one survived in their case. It was heart rending. Knowing in this day and age babies still pass. I remember wanting to scream “it’s not fair” not now not ever is it fair.

    however, now that it is a few years down the road, we know that it is just such a wonderful blessing to just have Lillybean,

  2. Steph

    You could definitely be a spokeswoman! Happy Parents of Preemies Day!!


    My daughter gave birth to twin boys 10 1/2 weeks early weighing 2lb 40z and 3lb 1oz. (She too was originally pregnant with 3 boys; one died in utero early on.) The boys have been little fighters and are now 19 months old. It was so scary when they were born. Thank God for the NICU and good health insurance! They are truly “million dollar babies.”

  4. michelej

    No one goes into the game…thinking they’ll become a preemie parent…

    We have 3 kids, all preemies – ages 7, and twins who are 5. With my 7-year-old, I was so sick with preeclampsia and terrified for both of us (he was born at 34 weeks), had it not been for this one amazing nurse, I probably would have tried to escape from the hospital. I can’t express the loss I felt – the wonderful experience of birth never happened (emergency C-section instead); I didn’t get to hold my sweet little boy when he was born; he was a hospital patient, not my baby; I cried the day I finally went home without him, and every time I walked by his empty room. The years have diminished the feelings some, but they were so sudden and unexpected. Easier the second time around, sure – but nothing I’d ever wish on any new Mommy.

    What I can say is that I’m grateful – I’m grateful for the strength I never knew I had, I’m grateful for our small (though numerous) medical complications, especially compared to other tinies in the NICU, and I’m grateful for the amazing boy who’s the light of our lives, and his sweet brother and sister, who are also miracles.

    Maybe there’s no way to normalize what happened. I think it does help, though, to hear stories of other moms and families who have been through it all – it helps me (us) feel less alone… So, thanks for writing. 🙂

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  6. Sarah

    WOW – so much truth to this post and comments! I also felt so guilty because I couldn’t keep my 32 weeker cooking any longer. And I still feel so robbed that I didn’t get to do any of the things a “normal” first-time mom gets to do….wear maternity clothes (in the hospital from 23 weeks to 32 weeks), go to the store with the cool looking gun to create my registry, hold my baby after he was delivered – or even really see him until the following day. I didn’t know his height/weight, status – I wasn’t told anything for HOURS while they were trying to get my blood pressure under control. For whatever reason, that I will never question, the nurses brought Sullivan in his isolette into my room for about 30 minutes so I could see him that evening. They said they never do that – but for some reason I was lucky enough to get to see him. There were so many things that I didn’t get to do and experience. Don’t even get me started about having to leave the hospital without my baby! I still can’t think about it without having tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

    Sullivan just turned 13 months yesterday and is amazing. I know and I am so lucky to have lasted until 32 weeks. I feel like my fear, stress, anxiety etc would have been as much as if I would have delivered at 23 weeks when my water broke – or at 34 weeks when I was scheduled to deliever.

    I always joke that he used up all of my heartbreak and tears – and it will be smooth sailing from here on out.

    Sorry, I know this is your blog and not mine – so sorry I am writing a book! It’s just that most people just don’t understand what a preemie parent goes through. Before delivery, after delivery, and for a LONG time to come.

    Love love love the line about the secret smile. These babies will have an incredible story to tell one day.

    • I absolutely LOVE hearing the stories of other preemie moms. I remember the pounding silence in the NICU – broken just by beeps and alarms and the whooshing of ventilators. Parents standing by their babies. My goal is to bring a voice to this silent sorority.

      Congrats on having healthy Sullivan home 🙂 These kids truly are our million dollar miracles!

  7. Tricia, thank you for sharing the story of your three babies. I know Baby C will never be forgotten. I need to go find a kleenex. Not very manly, eh?

    You write beautifully, btw. *hugs* Michael

    “It is the support a newly minted mom needs as she stands by a tiny isolette, wracked with guilt that she couldn’t do more to protect her little ones. But they fought. And we discovered a new normal.”

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  9. So beautiful! I’m weeping as I go tuck in my one little girl for the night. I was lucky to get her. Big hugs.

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