Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vigilance, thy name is "Mother"?

It took me a while to get my bearings this week - we came home on Saturday night. Early. It was my fault - I turned my back on BB and he fell off the bed in the RV and landed on his head. We took him to the ER (since it was after hours) and the doctor pronounced him "fine". Really, I knew that, but it seemed prudent to have an official verdict on his goose-egg.

I can't believe that I was so complacent to allow something like that to happen. It was like I was living in that "la la la bad stuff happens to other people" land. How many thousands of times has everyone said not to take your eyes off a baby when he is on an elevated surface? I saw him fall. It was horrifying. It still makes me feel sick when I think of it. Not because of the "what might have been" (which is terrifying, in and of itself), but because it was my fault that he fell. I wasn't being vigilant.

I have had to work through what my role was in C.'s death. Of course, this is hindsight, so what I see now is a different picture than what I saw that night. When I went into labour at midnight, I dug out my What To Expect book. Bloody show - check. Cramping - check. Stomach hard to the touch - check. OK, so I am in labour. What did I do? Sort of half-assed timed contractions and tried to sleep. Didn't wake my husband. I waited until his alarm went off and told him I thought that "today is the day". Sent him to work. Did laundry. Called my friend. Phoned in sick to work. Waited until 10:30 a.m. to call him home. Went into L&D. Was informed that my baby was dead.

I was complacent. I assumed that everything was okay. I didn't know to pay attention to his movements. I honestly don't know if I felt him move while I was in labour. I might have. I just don't know. Might things have turned out differently if I had gone to L&D the moment I suspected I was in labour? Maybe. I will never know.

But I thought that I had learned the hard way that complacency and motherhood could not exist safely together. That it was dangerous to allow arrogance to creep in. He's fine, nothing can hurt him.

My mother was from the school of hard knocks (don't cry, that didn't hurt, you're okay), so I know that my parenting style is borne of that model. I know that I am much more cautious by nature than my mother. But, I don't feel like I have been vigilant enough.

This may seem self-indulgent, and it is a little. After all, little boys will fall and bump their heads. They will skin their knees and break bones. They will get hurt and cry dirty tears. And, usually, they will get right back out there - back to the business of being little boys - as soon as their tears are dried.

But for now, while he is so small, and still such a baby, it is my responsibility to keep him safe. I didn't do that on Saturday. I'm sorry, Baby.

7 comments:

MB said...

Motherhood is hard and dirty work. No one is perfect and that's just how it is. You're doing great.

Glad BB is fine.

Aussie Kate said...

Sorry to hear of BB's accident. And Im even more sorry that you feel so badly that it happened. I understand the guilt and self-doubt when it comes to mothering our children.

(((((great big hugs)))))

Julie said...

I have had to work through what my role was in C.'s death. Of course, this is hindsight, so what I see now is a different picture than what I saw that night. When I went into labour at midnight, I dug out my What To Expect book. Bloody show - check. Cramping - check. Stomach hard to the touch - check. OK, so I am in labour. What did I do? Sort of half-assed timed contractions and tried to sleep. Didn't wake my husband. I waited until his alarm went off and told him I thought that "today is the day". Sent him to work. Did laundry. Called my friend. Phoned in sick to work. Waited until 10:30 a.m. to call him home. Went into L&D. Was informed that my baby was dead.

I was complacent. I assumed that everything was okay. I didn't know to pay attention to his movements. I honestly don't know if I felt him move while I was in labour. I might have. I just don't know. Might things have turned out differently if I had gone to L&D the moment I suspected I was in labour? Maybe. I will never know.



Delphi, I don't know that I had ever read your whole story, but I could have written that EXACTLY myself. That is the same thing that happened with Caleb. I didnt wake dh up, I stayed home as long as I could and tried to rest. I paid NO attention to movements, and honestly, it never occoured to me that I should. They tell you to time your contrax, and breathe, and focus, and all of that other crap, and they never once say "And don't forget to check for movement". I guess they assume it should be obvious, but to me, it just wasn't. It haunts me to this day. What if I had gone in when those contractions first started, instead of waiting until 6 hours later? Would I have a 4 year old running around now? I can't help but wonder.

As far as BB falling goes, DON'T beat yourself up about it. Evan fell off of my bed onto a hardwood floor. I can still hear the thump in my head. Luckily he landed on his butt, and when I went to check on him, I found a very confused and upset baby, but he was fine. And then there was the 2 times he fell off of the couch...... Well, you get the point. Sometimes it all just happens so fast, there is no way to stop it, vigilant or not. I'm glad to hear BB is fine. (((((hugs)))) to you both!

Julia said...

Please don't blame yourself for either of these things. First, often babies stop moving much or at all during labor-- they "hunker down." Some books even tell you not to worry about not feeling movement during labor. In addition, if you had gone right away, most likely they would've checked you and sent you back home for lack of progress. I have a friend who was having her third a month behind A's due date. She took A's death so hard that she lost weight and the baby wasn't growing for a while. He picked up later again, but because of that, they were watching her closely and decided to induce. With her older two, she labored at home for the early part, which was prolonged both times. With the induced labor she was obviously in the hospital. As it turned out, the baby was compressing his cord at contractions, and they only found it out because she was on the monitor at the hospital. If she was at home, as with the older two, who knows what would've happened. As is, they found one position in which he was not compressing his cord, and that's how she stayed, for hours, until he came. They even made the anesthesiologist give her an epidural in this most unconventional and inconvenient position. So she was lucky, but only because she was monitored during early labor. And if she wasn't induced, she wouldn't have been monitored. Even if she showed up, she would've been sent home. I am not sure whether this helps. I just keep thinking how much of this whole process is a freaking lottery. And I really hate to see anyone feel responsible for their children not making it-- we have so much pain already. This, the heaviest of it, just doesn't seem right.

As far as BB's fall... Well, if I told you how many times Monkey fell off elevated surfaces when she was a baby, you would probably call someone on my ass. Yes-- if you turn for a second, they find a way to take that fall. Luckily, all the surfaces she had access to were carpeted. And yes, little kids take lots of falls, and are no worse for wear. It is very upsetting, but please please please try not to dwell on it. Please?

kate said...

It's hard when it's your fault...but we all make mistakes. Says the woman whose laptop earlier slipped off the toy it was balanced upon, and hit Max square in the head.

By the way, it's not obvious to check for movement during labor, nor does it mean much -- none of my l/c moved during labor at ALL. It's like as soon as the uterus starts doing it's stuff, they stop moving -- or i can't feel it. Oh, i see julia already made a comment to that effect, oops...

Rosepetal said...

I'm so glad BB is okay.

I get your post. I had this conversation with my psychiatrist just yesterday. I feel that I became complacent during the last days of my pregnancy. I was more worried about me than my baby - the pain of labour. I absolutely did not think anything could go wrong with him at that late stage.

As you say, little boys will get hurt and that will be very hard for you.

delphi said...

Thanks, everyone. I don't feel quite as awful about his fall as I did earlier in the week. Though I do feel like it is important to acknowledge that it was my fault and to try to be more vigilant.

I want to assure everyone that I don't spend hours and days and weeks feeling guilty that C's death was my fault. Seconds is more like it. I imagine that I will always feel remorse over the decision to not go to L&D right away. I will never know if it would have made any difference. Maybe he was already dead by the time I went into labour. Impossible for me to know. Regrets will always be there, though.

I really, really appreciate your kind and supportive words. It is always a blessing to be reminded that the sense of responsibility I carry is probably magnified out of proportion.