This is the time of year my “Mom Guilt” kicks into high gear. It’s almost Lily’s birthday, she’ll be 4 next week. I still can’t believe that, but it’s true! You can read all about her miracle birth story in my post My Preemie Miracle. Each year, I feel like I’m getting better at overcoming mom guilt that I feel this time of year.
4 days before Lily was born, I was in the ER with severe upper right abdominal pain. It was my third time in the ER in the 6 and a half months I was pregnant. I had gallstones and the way Lily was sitting in my tummy was causing them to be pushed out. Talk about pain! I was 13 weeks pregnant when it first happened and I was sure I was miscarrying. The pain was unimaginable. Thankfully it was just gallstones and not the baby!
Anyway, when I got to the ER that third time, they did the standard tests of temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. My blood pressure was through the roof… I remember seeing 184/something. When I was in at 19 weeks, the nurses had told me that after 20 weeks any woman who comes into the ER with stomach pain automatically gets sent up to the maternity ward. Even though I was almost 29 weeks, I was not. I was kept in the ER. That was my first mistake.
I knew they had said that to me on my last visit, but everyone just kept putting my high blood pressure off as being from the pain. I should have pushed to go up to the maternity ward. Both of my sisters also had early deliveries due to preeclampsia (Don’t know what Preeclampsia is? Read my post: What is Preeclampsia?) Not 11 weeks early, but still early. I should have known better knowing the symptoms of preeclampsia. I wasn’t having some of the more common symptoms, such as headache and vision problems, so I guess I just ignored it.
The “What ifs” of Overcoming Mom Guilt
There are so many “what ifs” that run through my head! What if my preeclampsia was caught earlier? Would they have been able to keep Lily in longer? What if I didn’t have a routine prenatal appointment 4 days later when it was finally caught? What if I had a seizure or a stroke? I was at home by myself for those 4 days. Anything could have happened in those hours Pete was at work. What if, what if, what if…
What if’s cause guilt. We second guess what we did. We think of all the ways we could have done things better. We strive to be perfectionists (at least I do!) and when something doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we heap on the guilt. I believe we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We need to learn to have some compassion for ourselves as well.
So, how do we overcome Mom Guilt? Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving overcomes Mom Guilt
I am thankful Lily is a lively, active, smart and challenging. She is a completely typical 4-year-old! Thankfully nothing happened in those 4 days between when I was in the ER and when Lily was born. Thankfully I had that doctors appointment set up already four days later. I am thankful for Lily’s safe delivery as well as for my safety that day.
I am thankful for our time in the NICU, I really am. It’s not how I would have planned things to go, but we were so blessed by our time there by seeing our family and friends come around and support us. We felt God right there with us. We were completely confident He would provide for us no matter what the outcome was.
Ours was the best possible outcome, but I know there are others who do not get that. But there is always something to be thankful for. There is always something other than guilt that we can focus on and be thankful for; even if it is just the fact that God is walking through this time in our life with us. He will never leave us or forsake us and for this reason, we can be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6).
So, if you are feeling Mom guilt today, think about all the things you are thankful for. Write them down! Start a gratitude journal! Tell them to someone! Tell them to God! The more we are thankful for, the less we feel guilty for. Overcoming Mom Guilt is possible!