My struggle with guilt, grief and love.
The struggle is real. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a phrase I say often when things aren’t going the way I had hoped. It can be either I ran out of coffee, or the dog threw up in the living room. My response is always “the struggle is real!”
I have to be honest with all of you- the struggle has been very real. I have been living in the world of post partum depression. If you would have asked me a year ago I would have told you I knew of post partum depression but I didn’t understand it. I would have told you post partum depression seemed ridiculous because how could a brand new mom with such a cute little buddle of joy be sad?
Little did I know that post partum depression is very real and very complicated.
I know some of you have been patiently waiting for the blogs that were promised about my pregnancy and about how I found God in the midst of my struggles. And those blogs are coming, eventually. But over the last few months I have found myself dealing with emotions that are very raw and very real. I also have been dealing with a little PTSD as I recover from what was the fight of my life. I didn’t realize that in trying to share my experience I would open myself up to the whole can of worms.
Before I go any further, please note that I am not going through this struggle alone. I have been and will continue to be surrounded and cared for by my family, friends, and my team of doctors. I have reached out for help and I am doing everything I can to overcome. Sharing this with all of you is hopefully a step towards my continued healing. These are my feelings. Some are true and some are lies from the enemy. And some days it’s hard to distinguish the two.
This one is the biggest. I have so much guilt about the way this has all ended up. My baby boy was born very early and that was solely based on me. I was sick. I couldn’t care for him. So he was born early and he had to fight. And he’s still fighting. He throws up regularly, has horrible allergies, is falling behind on the growth curve, and doesn’t poop. All of those things are related to the fact that I failed him. He’s miserable because I couldn’t do my one job of giving him a safe and nurturing place to grow for nine months. (Now, I know in my head that there probably is no correlation between him being early and the struggles he has now, and no doctor has even implied that, but my heart doesn’t listen to my head sometimes.)
I was so sick that I was unable to breastfeed him and he went on formula which we eventually learned he was allergic too. He only thrives on breast milk so I have to rely on other women to feed my son. It’s a blessing beyond words but I feel inadequate.
I carry so much guilt because I should have a better mom, a stronger mom, who can fully provide for his needs. And I can’t. I watch him struggle day in and day out and I can’t make it go away and I can’t help but think that I’m the one that caused it.
I also feel guilty because I’m now a stay at home mom. I tried to go back to work after he was born and I lasted ½ a day and I walked out on the spot. It was too much, and I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t breathe. So now I’m a stay at home mom and I do nothing to help provide for my family. Co pays, prescriptions, bills, everything falls on my husband. And he has done an amazing job getting it all done and caring for us. He works so hard and I’m so thankful for him. He has never complained, nor has he made me feel bad about it. But I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I can’t help financially. And I feel guilty that I get to stay home all day with my son while my husband works. I even feel guilty for feeling guilty. At this point I don’t think I could go back to work if I wanted to, both because of me and because of the needs of my son.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
When you look this verse up in the Greek it also includes forgiving yourself. If I forgive myself, will I have any room to feel guilty?
I have a baby boy to snuggle, and therefore I don’t grieve in the way that I should and I’m so incredibly blessed. It could have all ended much, much worse. But I still grieve and I’m working through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think I’m still a long way from acceptance.
I grieve the pregnancy I could have had. I grieve that I didn’t get to do it the way it’s normally done with crazy food cravings. I was lucky to eat. I grieve the fact that I didn’t get to have a natural delivery with my close family and friends in the room. I grieve that I didn’t get to hold my son right away. I grieve that I didn’t get to take him home, and that for the first few weeks of his life I wasn’t responsible for his care. And I grieve that I will never get to be pregnant again. I grieve that I will never get to feel another baby move inside my belly and I’ll never get to listen to that fetal heartbeat of a baby that our love created. I grieve the fact that I live in a broken body and that for my disease there is no cure. I grieve that my son will always have a mom who is sick.
I’m so blessed that I have my one – some people don’t even get that. My heart though has always wanted more and I grieve what could have been. I grieve that I won’t be able to give my son a sibling – I value that I grew up with two. I know in my head I can adopt but my heart isn’t there just yet… and I grieve that, too.
“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I have never felt so much love for another living being in my whole life. I love this little boy more than I could ever express and I love the family that his father and I have created. I don’t know how I existed my whole life up until this point because I can’t imagine my life without him. From the second he was conceived I loved him with every ounce of my being. I would truly give my life for his health and safety. I love him as unconditionally as I can. I love him so much it hurts. I love him so much – I want what is best for him and sometimes I truly don’t know if that’s me.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:7-8
Some days the love outweighs the grief and guilt, and some days the pain hurts so badly I can’t breathe. It’s amazing how the same thing that gives you reason to breathe is the same thing that takes your breath away.
Thank you all for being patient with me and, as I said, the pregnancy story will come when I can be in a really good place to share it. In the midst of all of this – I see God working and moving in my heart and in my family.
Copyright Kimberly Roberts