blaming mothers for birth defects.
A mom of identical twins got in touch; one of her boys has cerebral palsy, the other doesn't. "Even though I didn't do anything to 'cause' the injury to my son's brain, I can't help but feel like I did," she wrote (she gave me permission to share her noe). "The entire pregnancy was normal, but I went into early labor at 31 weeks and delivered the boys at 33 weeks. I thought were were in the clear when they were 4.7 and 5.3 lbs at birth. They were healthy and perfect and it just sucks thinking back to those days knowing what I know now. I sometimes catch myself giving friends, who are expecting for the first time, advice on pregnancy and childbirth... am I really in the position to give advice on how to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy kids? Obviously CP isn't a sickness and my son is a healthy boy, but I just can't shake the feeling that I would do things differently if I became pregnant again."
I completely related to what this mom said; when Max was a baby I had regular pangs of "What did I do?" even after I knew there wasn't any way I could have prevented Max's stroke. Unfortunately, rationale isn't always an option. Was it the day I almost slipped down the basement stairs and sat down hard on my butt? Was it drying paint I inhaled in our new house? Was it that yelling fight I had with Dave about who knows what during my third trimester?
From the start, what's most helped me wrestle guilt to the ground is taking action. When I do stuff to help Max, I feel more positive and in control—the very opposite of how I feel with self-blame. I went into action overdrive when Max was a baby, constantly Googling treatments and taking him to as many therapies as I could humanly get to. Finding information (at reputable sites!) and talking with doctors about strokes and cerebral palsy helped, too. The more you know, the more reassured you can feel that you did not cause your child's birth defect or disability.
Have you felt guilty about your child's disabilities? What's helped you get past it? Let the group therapy begin.
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