Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Girls

I've been miserable these last few days, a feeling of sorrow that I just can't seem to shake. Last night while sharing an intimate moment (*ahem) with Shane, I couldn't hold back the tears any longer. We started to talk and he asked me what's been going on with me and I told him I think I'm anxious about Mother's Day. When he asked why, all the doubts and fears and hurts I've been lugging around lately came pouring out. I feel like I'm a failure as a mother, I feel an enormous sense of guilt for not spending enough time in the ICU with Calvin before he died. I feel like even though I'm here for the girls, I'm not really with them alot of the time because I'm off in my head somewhere thinking about my son. I tried to explain it to my therapist today. I have two of the most beautiful little girls here in front of me who I love more than anything, yet some days it's all I can muster to turn on the tv, put it on treehouse and remember to feed them and change their bums. I can't escape the images of Calvin on ECMO, how still and motionless he lay after his surgery, how I never held him again until he was dying. What kind of mother leaves her critically ill child in the ICU? I should have been pushier with family, should have insisted that they come up to my room and care for Georgia so that I could spend more time with my son. I should have told the doctors that I wanted to do things my way and had Georgia down in the ICU with Calvin before he was dying, so that she could snuggle him and touch him while he was still aware of what was going on around him. I should be more of a mother to my girls and learn to push my thoughts of him away so that I can focus on them, on loving them and making the most of their days while we're still all together at home. I don't want Mother's Day to come this year, I don't want to celebrate motherhood without one of my children here with me. I don't want to celebrate the poor excuse of a mother I've been lately to my girls. I wish I could make them understand that I'm hurting, that I don't mean to be off in my thoughts or so distracted by my memories that I'm not giving them the attention they deserve. I feel like I've been blessed with these two beautiful girls and I should be overcome with gratitude for having them instead of wallowing in self-pity over the loss of my son.


  1. Oh Margaret. I also feel terribly guilty that I slept (slept? how could I?) during the four days that Georgina was alive. I could have been with her in the ICU but I was asleep. I will always regret that. I also wish that I could simply be grateful for the daughter that I do have. And I am, sometimes I am overwhelmed with her and I can put aside the grief. And other times I just can't.

    I don't think you are a poor excuse for a mother AT ALL. I can tell how much you love your daughters and your son in your writing. You are an incredibly strong mama.

    And I'm sure that, in a strange way, your girls might understand that you are hurting. They may not be able to articulate their understanding (well certainly not Georgia!) or comprehend the depth of your pain but I am convinced that children understand a lot more than we think sometimes.

    Hope that there are less miserable days ahead for you xo

  2. A pep talk follows. If you're not in the mood, skip my comment.

    A few days ago, I was talking to my mother-in-law. I told her I wasn't sure if I'd go on an upcoming trip, because I wasn't sure if it was right for my family. She interrupted me and reminded me of what Oliver's anesthesiologist said to me one day: "There is no right way to do this."

    There is no right way to mourn for your son.

    There is no way to know the future. I frequently think about how many rotten things have happened to my family since we moved to the Midwest a year-and-a-half ago: unemployment, health crisis after health crisis, a difficult housing situation, another difficult housing situation, miscarriage, surgery, bed rest, a fractured family. It's tempting to say that moving to Wisconsin was the worst decision we ever made. And yet, there was no way we could have foreseen any of the things that happened. We made the best decision we could have at the time.

    I believe in you. I believe you are doing your best. And, if doing your best right now means big sis. and little sis. watch Treehouse over and over again, so be it. I know Evelyn became very good friends with Clifford, Sid the Science Kid, Joe and Steve of Blue's Clues, and Dora the Explorer while we were in the hospital and after we got home. That was the best I could do, and I didn't have your weight of grief to bear.

  3. Mother's guilt is the worst. We have guilt for our children that have passed, guilt for the children we have and what they have lost.
    It's a vicious cycle that can create seemingly unbearable anxiety.
    I slipped up and took some pain meds and still feel guilty.
    We need to give ourselves a break. No one that loses a child feels like they did enough/spend enough time with them. We were supposed to take care of them till WE died not them. That small amount we were given will never feel like enough to you, and that's just not your fault. If I had a magic rewinder, I would fix it all, since that's a ridiculous notion, I can only send you thoughts of love and pray, as un-worthy as I am...
    much love..lindsay

  4. A wise woman once told me that guilt about what we SHOULD have done is unproductive, that we have to be sure we are doing now what we SHOULD be doing. That woman was my son's speech teacher. My son who didn't talk until 4 will graduate with honors in a few weeks. I was feeling so guilty about all the things I should have done to teach him to talk before then, that I couldn't focus on doing the things I needed to do at that time. After she told me that, I let go of my guilt and started doing the things that I needed to do. He learned to talk and hasn't hushed since.

    Guilt is a heavy load to carry, and from what I have read, you have absolutely no reason to feel guilty. You did the best you could do, probably even more so. Forgive yourself and allow yourself to love and care for your girls. Calvin would want you to be a good mommy to them.