Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Education & Remembrance

Guilt and Self-Forgiveness

February 12, 2019 | By Lucy Belian | General

On April 30, 2005, my tiny little boy, Lucas, was born.  I suffered a mid-term loss, one day shy of 20 weeks into my pregnancy.  I had chosen to bypass the dreaded AFP testing and go forward with an amniocentesis.  I knew that because I was over the ripe ole’ age of 35 (gasp), that every test under the sun would be given to me, and like most women, we never question our doctors about whether or not we really need the tests at all.  I just willingly went along with everything because I wanted to do the best for the life growing inside me.  It has taken a long time to come to terms with my loss, and to forgive myself for making the decision to have the test.  Yes, women do it every day, but when you are the “1” in the “1 in 200” that is estimated to lose a pregnancy from invasive testing…the GUILT is almost unbearable.

The GUILT.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  It isn’t enough that we have to deal with the death of our babies…but then we layer the grief with lots of other things too.  For nothing that could be done to stop it, I started examining every little bit of my pregnancy with a fine-tooth comb.  Was it the water I didn’t drink enough of that day, or the signs I ignored and just passed off as being tired because not only was I pregnant, but I was working full time and had my 4-year-old to take care of too.  Maybe if I had gone to the hospital the night before when I wasn’t feeling well instead of thinking I was just tired and needed some rest.  Maybe they could have stopped my labor before it was too late to do anything.  My tiny little boy made his entrance into the world that day and lived for about 10 minutes.  Too small to survive on the outside.  It was my fault.  That’s what I told myself over and over.  It was my fault that my son, Stevie, was no longer going to be a big brother, something that we had so excitedly talked to him about becoming.  We had just found out on the day of the amnio that we were expecting another boy.  We gave him his name, Lucas Miles, and that little life growing inside me wasn’t just a fetus or the little alien creature growing in my belly…he became my little boy, my son.  I had felt him moving inside of me and watched him on the ultrasounds that I was given…and I held him on my chest after his birth and watched the last shiver of life leave his body.  He was tiny, but he was perfect.  He looked like his big brother, just a skinny, tiny version of him.  He was beautiful.  Was…and there I lay in the hospital with my overwhelming sadness and feelings of guilt.

What a difference nearly two years has made in my life.  In the beginning, I felt so alone, so isolated.  I felt like somehow, I failed my baby, my husband, my family.  I could not imagine that anyone else suffered the way I was at the time.  That’s where fate stepped in.  It’s when acquaintances and strangers became rocks and pillars for me.  That is how I ended up here at Empty Cradle.  Empty Cradle is my safe haven.  I can come to my group and allow myself to talk freely about my Angel baby without fear of offending or “creeping” anyone out.  Death is a hard subject for people to talk about as it is, but to talk about the death of a baby is too much for most people to handle or completely understand.  Only people who have walked in your shoes can understand.

 In the beginning, I walked through the door of Empty Cradle because it was a safe haven for me to grieve Lucas.  Now I can walk in the door and spend an hour each month honoring my Angel baby and to be there to lend an ear or a shoulder for those who walk through our doors and enter our world.  Time does heal you, but healing came easier when I forgave myself and stopped feeling guilty.  I finally came to terms with my decisions and to go backwards won’t help me or my family.  I have since gone on to have a successful subsequent pregnancy and added another son to my brood.  Aram is now almost 6 months old, and he is so much more to me than I could have ever imagined.  Stevie loves his little brother so much, but also at the tender age of 5 absolutely knows what we lost when Lucas died because of what we gained in Aram’s birth.  If there is one thing that I can share with all of you reading this today, it is that guilt is a normal feeling to experience after your loss, and forgiving yourself, although very hard to do will help your healing process tremendously.

 Originally published in Empty Cradle’s Newsletter March/April 2007

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