So this doesn't really have anything to do with prematurity, except by extension I guess. But this is my safe place to write about things I can't put on my public blog - a blog my older two kids actually read.
As I wrote yesterday, I got pregnant with my daughter the week after my oldest son came home from the NICU. I kid you not. We'd waited 93 days for him to come home. I essentially had a newborn on my hands - a medically fragile newborn. I was totally stressed out, underweight, still pumping. And I wasn't supposed to be able to get pregnant on my own. But I did. We did. In very early February, I thought I had the flu. Then I realized it was a very familiar feeling. I called my husband and asked him to bring home a pregnancy test. He just laughed. "No, for real" I told him. Never have I seen two pink lines show up so quickly. There I was - still home on delayed maternity leave, with a four month old who was developmentally a one-month old, and I was seven weeks pregnant. I freaked out. Seriously. I knew without a doubt we were going to end up back in the NICU, and how could we possibly be so lucky to have two babies survive as Ryley had?
I grew to a place of acceptance, but I was terrified, every single second of every hour of every day. I was with a specialist the entire pregnancy because of my history, and because the pregnancies were so close together. That did very little to ease my mind. I had to find out the gender as soon as possible because I knew girls do better in the NICU, and I needed to know what we were getting into. When we found out she was a girl, my first thought was that her lungs would be stronger sooner than her big brother's.
I couldn't connect with this baby. I wouldn't connect with this baby, to fearful of what might happen. I didn't rub my belly the way I had with Ryley. I didn't talk to her like I did with Ryley. I was emotionally detached from her, and I stayed that way.
She was born at 41 weeks and 1 day. She came out with a pout on her face. I nursed her for just four weeks - which didn't go fabulously well anyways - because I'd been pregnant or trying desperately to get pregnant for three years already. I was toast. Or at least that's what I tell myself. She had some digestive issues, and then colic. She didn't want to be held much, especially when she was tired. I told myself that was a good thing because Ryley, still an infant, did want to be held and needed a lot of my attention too.
It took me a long time to bond and connect with my baby girl. Don't for one second doubt I love her with my entire being, that I love her just as much as her siblings.I was SO happy to have a girl - someone to look forward to shopping with, putting her in dresses in bows, watching her dance in her tiny pink tutu, having another female in the house. I did eventually bond and connect with her. She never, ever lacked for love or attention. It just took my heart a good long while to accept we weren't going back to the NICU, and I would have another surviving baby.
This girl has been super independent from the moment of her birth. She is tough, strong, brave, fearless. She's also incredibly funny, beautiful, precious, smart, witty, entertaining, athletic. We've really had our challenges the last six months. She's nearly sixteen years old now, entering her sophomore year of high school. And boy howdy are we dealing with teenage girl drama.
Here's where the question of my title comes in...did I break her.....she keeps people at arm's length. She has incredibly high standards for herself, and everyone around her. She doesn't connect with many people. She's had a new best friend or group of friends every year since first grade. She's lost confidence in herself. She pushes people away. And I can't help but wonder if my inability to bond with her while I was pregnant with her and when she was a newborn didn't do something to her. Maybe i'm just looking for trouble. Maybe it's just normal mom guilt rearing its ugly head. Maybe I'm looking for something to blame our current disconnect on.
I do feel like I shorted her the attention she should have had from me as a newborn. In some ways, I understand things happened the way they were supposed to - if we hadn't gotten pregnant with her when we did, I might never have had another child, too fearful after what we'd been through with Ryley. At the same time, I'm terrified I broke something in her with my reaction to my pregnancy with her, and my inability to connect with her at that stage of her life.
Oh Donna...I so completely get this. I didn't deal with the roller coaster of the NICU, but after I lost Josie I had a severe inner conflict with desperately wanting a baby and vowing to never ever get pregnant again. I tried very hard not to be attached to Abbey in the womb and afterwards, while I did hold her when she needed it, I wasn't certain she would be here for very long. She was independent right away and as soon as she could move I pretty much never got snuggles again. She is friendly with a lot of kids but she doesn't have a set squad at school yet.
I worry about this a little but I try to look on the bright side in thinking that it means she will never have issues making friends in new situations and changes in life.
Love and Hugs
I have found myself trying not get too attached to this pregnancy. The only time I have really said anything to Landon was tell him not to die. So I kind of understand the detach part of pregnancy. I wish you luck with teen drama, social media makes high school lovely and girls can be hateful.
Love you! You didn't break that beautiful girl. She is finding her way in this world. And I truly believe these rough years will someday be why you're best friends.
Sending hugs...this mom thing can be hard especially when we mix in mom guilt. Nicki
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