by audrey s. (197 Posts), Wed Feb 03, 2010 03:48 am
Bless you for your candor, Alice! It took me some years to recover from the shock of just how abnormal my pregnancy -- after miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies -- had been, and I so miss the "beautiful" deliveries that some of my friends were able to experience.
HOWEVER...one of the reasons I hang around and visit here from time to time is that my daughter is now 14 1/2 years old, an honor student (though she has to work and claw for those grades!) and truly beautiful, in spite of some ongoing health issues. And we are, for the most part, living the lives of a normal family-with-teen. With help, and support, love and time, so much of the pain truly does ease up. My daughter's bat mitzvah was on her 13th birthday, an emotional time for us. For her 14th birthday, she wanted to take advantage of the free admission to Disneyland (a Sunday? in the middle of summer and tourist season? we didn't want to go, particularly). At 7:34 p.m., for the first time in 14 years, I was NOT teary-eyed, but more preoccupied with the logistics of getting her and 6 of her nearest and dearest friends home.
One other thing I have learned, both from my own child and from working in pediatrics: there often is a depth and maturity to children who have faced -- and overcome, or not -- challenges in their own lives. Although both my daughter and I wish that we'd had a normal experience, she has openly admitted that she would not be the strong and compassionate person she is growing up to be without having overcome her rough beginning. She still lives with some pain most days...but it does not stop her from living a normal teen life, complete with dozens of FB friends, mass quantities of homework, a beginning interest in "guys", and plans for college and grad school.
Our experience has also informed my practice as a caregiver to many children who have surgery early in life, often multiple surgeries. I can tell those parents that I truly do understand their fears and concerns...but I can also point them in the direction of my daughter and other children who have gone on to lead normal, healthy, average lives...a miracle I can never take for granted.
I knew when I had her that there were to be no more chances for us -- I was 40 when she came home from the NICU -- so some of those regrets at not getting to try for a normal pregnancy just didn't exist for us. My daughter is my miracle, the only one I will ever have. Mostly, our lives are very, very normal, though. I yell at her to stop texting her friends and get on with her homework, she grumbles when I ask her to do chores, she beats me at Wii tennis, and she lives for the day when she will pass me up height-wise (still an inch to go).
Alice, the only failure would be if you could not see your children for the (now) healthy and yes normal people that they are and are becoming. Yes, our bodies did not do what they allegedly were designed to do. And sure, I would have loved to have the "crunchy granola" pregnancy and early infancy bonding experiences of my dreams. But we don't control that, as I know intellectually you understand. Mending broken hearts...that takes longer (and definitely longer than a year!). I still am amazed at how R. beat the odds (we were told 50% of survival going into her first surgery at 2 days of age -- "Zero percent of living a normal life," according to her surgeon). I know so many of us did NOT beat those odds, and the one thing I struggle with at this point in our lives is that residual guilt that, for whatever reason, R. is with us and so many people's babies are not. But I think she and I both feel that instead, there's an obligation to make hers and my lives MEAN something and to contribute, as best she and I can.
BTW, I have been a knitter for years now. There are some amazing on-line knitting resources -- PM me if you want links ;). Oh, and forgive the novel. Your post obviously hit a nerve with me, as I so well remember struggling with those feelings!