Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss or Is It?

I've been thinking alot lately about information, medical advances, and new technology. I have wondered for awhile now what would have happened had we not known about Calvin's heart defect. I know for certain he probably would have died within his first year of life without surgical intervention but I wonder if it would have bought me more time with my son. Although I have a great deal of admiration for medical advances and knowledge, I wonder if there is such a thing as knowing too much. If we had wound the clock back eighty years and I was giving birth to the twins not knowing that our son's little heart wasn't formed properly, would that lack of knowledge have given me more unhurried time? Certainly children died more frequently than they do today, it was almost a given even eighty years ago that at least one child in the family wouldn't live past age five. Back then it was quietly accepted that sometimes mothers and children didn't survive even the birthing process, never mind being born with something as devastating as a malformed heart. I wonder if I lived in that day and age if I would have quietly accepted Calvin's death as one of those things that happens and been able to move on better with my life. I doubt if Calvin had been born fifty years ago that they would have even been able to diagnose his heart defect let alone operate on it when he was just three days old. I wonder what difference it would have made in my pregnancy, to have been blissfully unaware that my baby suffered from a life threatening condition. Maybe I would have been worried about whether or not I would have survived birthing the twins, or whether or not we would be able to feed and support two babies at once. I do know that I miss being unaware. I miss that blissful lack of knowledge that you have when you've never had problems with pregnancy or birth. I miss the innocence of believing that science can fix whatever problem is thrown it's way or that in this day and age, babies don't die anymore. I am all too aware of problems, complications, medical terminology, congenital conditions and statistics. I am all too aware of how it feels to hold your child in fear knowing that in a few hours, his chest will be cut open and that he might die. I am all too aware of the crushing pain that comes from holding your child as he turns blue, then black from cyanosis and from knowing that there is no prayer or hope or wish that can save him. I wish more than anything I lived in the state of blissful ignorance where I didn't always have in my mind the memory of my son on life support or in his tiny casket waiting to be buried.

If I could only have a little of that back, maybe I wouldn't have been so spent with trying, so crushed from all of our past losses that I would have been able to hold my chin up and say, "Let's try again". If I wasn't aware of all the problems being pregnant caused me and all the problems that could affect my unborn children than maybe I could have accepted burying one or two of them along the way to creating a family of epic proportion. Maybe, then again, maybe not. The fact is that I have been affected with too much knowledge, too many things that could happen, too much fear to try again and for that I am incredibly sad. Not only did I lose my son and the other babies I miscarried on the way to creating our family but I lost my hope. I lost the faith in my body to do it's job properly, I lost the naivety that comes with the belief that you get pregnant, you have a baby and you live happily ever after. It didn't happen that way for us and although I have learned in the last months of living without my son that we are far from being the only people that have lived through losing a child, it doesn't make it easier knowing that babies do die and that it does happen to other people too. It just shouldn't happen to anyone. The only real difference between now and eighty years ago is that it doesn't happen as often because they do have the tools and the knowledge to diagnose and cure. Maybe because of that sense of security, we've bubbled ourselves into believing that we are safe from something that was at one point common. Maybe it's the fear of talking about what really does happen sometimes that keeps us blissfully unawares until it happens to us. More than anything, I wish I was still wrapped in that bubble safe in the belief that it wouldn't happen to me.


  1. I think about this all the time, Margaret. I think about even just 30 years ago when my sister was still born at term. She had no idea anything was wrong-she never had an ultrasound. She went into labor and her daughter was born at only 3 lbs. She had like 50 pounds of just water. Looking back on it now, she thinks that she had stopped kicking weeks before but my mom was too afraid to admit it and just kept going on. My mom never saw her daughter, came home to a house where the nursery had already been taken away, and was supposed to just keep on.
    I think about that compared to what I went through. Then compared to years and years ago when you could mourn by wearing black and refusing visitors and all of that. I honestly don't know what's better-but I know I think about it often!

  2. I wish that we could have all back our blissful ignorance for whatever each of our unique stories hold. I also want to thank you so much for your wonderful comments and support during this difficult time. You will never know how much they mean to me.

  3. I think about this so much too Margaret. But for me, I am thankful for the medical intervention we have now. I got 2.5 days with my son because of what has changed over the years. 10 years ago, my son L would have never even been given a chance. I didn't get that chance with E because of the circumstances, but I did with L. I am forever grateful for those 2.5 days, and as much as tests, ultrasounds, procedures are beyond stressful I know they open the door up to so many...good or bad. Its a crappy road, the doubts, the fears, the "I wish I could turn back time and do x,y,z"...I hate it all. I wish we could all be blissfully happy, but we know all too well the reality of what can happen and does happen in life. I wish I was still naive, I wish I knew that the second I got pregnant I would carry to term a healthy, bouncing baby. I don't know that, and if I ever had another pregnancy I would live in fear every day of what could happen. Its happened to me twice now, it could very well happen again. I want that bubble. :(

  4. Hi Margaret - I'm new to your blog - don't have much time online or I'd read so many, many, many more babylost mumma blogs. I keep seeing your comments and thought I liked your perspective often - and now I see you're in BC, too. I'm sorry you lost your beautiful Calvin and I'm with you on wishing I had bubble wrap. Thinking of you as you near the one year mark. (((Hugs)))

  5. Just saw your comment on my blog - of course I'd love to talk. I've felt so isolated in many ways since George died - we moved shortly after - I'm only just getting to know mothers here - and reeling still from our baby's death. And grieving very differently than my husband. Feel free to email me at westcoast3m@yahoo.ca and we can exchange information. I'm off to bed now....