Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Does Time Ever Really March On?

The down side to keeping a journal or a blog is that you prevent yourself from forgetting since you have carefully cataloged life's events and they are there for your easy reference. As March 15 approaches I thought this would be the year that I finally could stop reliving the anxiety and abject terror that consumed me for the 25 days preceding Eliza's birth. But no such luck. I thought this year, the fifth year, would be the first year that I could stop remembering the fear that struck every 6 hours like clock work for 25 days when the doctor would come in and tell me how I and my baby were doing (never good) and whether this was the day I would be forced to give birth so I could survive. Pre-eclampsia is not just an inconvenient illness for pregnant women. It kills them. So when someone you know is hospitalized with pre-e and its later incarnation HELLP Syndrome, it is not simply so they can get some rest and keep their feet up. They are at risk of dying. Not just losing their baby, but dying. And as we know, dying sucks.

For five years I have tried to ignore the comments from pregnant women who think 36 or 37 weeks is "good enough" since they are uncomfortable, or the equally ill-informed comments that bedrest is such a great thing since who wouldn't want a license to lounge around and presumably eat bonbons (note: I am not really sure what a bonbon is). The list goes on (and often has gone on at length on this blog).

Time may march on for many things, and maybe the pace of the march has quickened in the past five years, but not quick enough for me to be able to relinquish my grip on the bottle of xanax or the therapist's phone number this time of year.

16 comments:

Sarah said...

For some reason this time of year always brings back the bad memories for me, too. Emery came off the vent on March 27 and the weeks preceding it were really bad and I get flashbacks. Try as I might, even reading the blog, I cannot recall the first few months of his life, including holding him for the first time. Pain really has no memory, especially when it is conveniently stuffed down and blocked out.

"And, as we all know, dying sucks." LOL.

Hugs to you my friend. We haven't talked in a while but I think about you all the time.

Barb said...

I had been thinking of you recently and wondering how you were doing. I knew Eliza's birthday was approaching, and it amazes me that it's been five years. She's an amazing child and you're an amazing mother, and I feel so blessed to have found you both.

Tiffany said...

I wondered what year the memory and the anxiety left. My son will be three soon. The each February since then, I get panicky and weepy because the memories of those days of hospital bedrest and early days come back. I wish I had words of wisdom to help "us" through.

Anne said...

Thank you for your willingness to say these things. My girls were born at 24 weeks after I developed HELLP. It was so scary for all of us and I too struggle whenever their birthday rolls around.

Robin Elizabeth said...

I thought it would have "marched" on too. But it hasn't and I don't know if it ever really will. I saw two very pregnant women at the hospital today and even groggy, I thought, if only. But we have two awesome little March micro-preemies.

Anonymous said...

Bon-bons are chocolate covered candies. I think "truffles" is a more modern name. Pretty yummy. But I am sure you weren't eating them while watching the soaps, while in the hospital!

Anonymous said...

I completely understand your irritation at women who don't seem to understand that a baby born at 36 or 37 weeks is at risk for a whole bevy of complications.

However, I think it's just as frustrating for women who are 8 or 9 months pregnant to be told that they don't have license to complain about how uncomfortable they are, since they should feel lucky that their baby is still gestating. Having had two miscarriages myself (one early term, one mid), and having spent a lot of time in the infertility/child loss community, that's one of the things that always strikes me: how many people feel strongly that a woman who's pregnant or has a child has no right to complain about anything pregnancy or child related, ever again. IMO there's no difference between telling a pregnant woman she can't complain about physical symptoms of pregnancy, and telling an infertile woman that she can't complain about the heartache of pregnancy loss/childlessness.

I believe that more public education about the dangers of even near-term birth is absolutely necessary, not just for mothers but also more importantly for medical practitioners. A lot of the most dangerous comments I've heard come not from women complaining about the misery of being 40 weeks pregnant, but from doctors who are perfectly happy to induce at 37, 38 weeks. Let's not get into the game of blaming women, because frankly being 40 weeks pregnant sucks for many women.

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments.

I have looked high and low through my post and cannot find anywhere in the entire post where I said pregnant women do not have the right to complain about their pregnancies.

What I did say was:

"For five years I have tried to ignore the comments from pregnant women who think 36 or 37 weeks is "good enough" since they are uncomfortable..."

I am well aware that being in the final weeks of pregnancy can be uncomfortable. I am also well aware of what it feels like to have multiple miscarriages and spend years dealing with infertility.

I have never suggested anywhere in this blog that it is OK to tell a woman dealing with infertility that she cannot complain about pregnancy loss or being childless.

Your comment: "Let's not get into the game of blaming women, because frankly being 40 weeks pregnant sucks for many women" also makes no sense. What in my post could remotely be construed as "blaming" women? Blaming them for what? Are you suggesting that it is OK for a woman to be completely ignorant of the fact that babies need 40 weeks to develop?

While you argue that being 40 weeks pregnant "sucks" for many women, I would argue that being 40 weeks pregnant is GREAT for the baby and isn't the pregnancy about getting a healthy baby?

If we want to have a "what sucks more contest" I think 99% of the population would agree that being born at 26 weeks sucks a whole lot more than being pregnant at 40 weeks.

Sara said...

re: The above comments about women wanting to deliver early...
I am an OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner, and care for pregnant women of various gestations every single day. If I had a dollar for every woman that BEGGED for induction at 35 or 36 weeks because she is "just so done", or ask to be out on disability as early as 28 weeks because "it's too hard to walk to my desk at work", I could quit my job.
I know that it is uncomfortable, if not downright painful, to be 40 weeks pregnant. No one is BLAMING these women for being pregnant- in fact we rejoice in it and I for one am a little jealous of it. I wish I had known what it was like to complain about swollen ankles and that even my roomiest of maternity clothes were too tight. I think the point is, as women that have suffered the long term effects of prematurity and have watched our children struggle... well, yes, it's awful to hear women complain about normal pregnancy things.
Pregnancy is NOT a sickness. Too many healthy women act like it is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,

I apologize if I misconstrued what you were saying. To me, this passage sounded as if it was expressing anger with women who talk about wishing they weren't pregnant anymore at 36/37 weeks:

"For five years I have tried to ignore the comments from pregnant women who think 36 or 37 weeks is "good enough" since they are uncomfortable . . . "

I do not work in the medical industry, and so unlike a previous commenter do not come into contact with a large number of pregnant women. However, I have many friends and acquaintances who have given birth over the years, and while I have heard a LOT of moaning about various physical complaints and talking about how they feel "done" with the pregnancy, I do not know anyone who has requested an induction before 40 weeks. Perhaps this varies by region or social group, but most women I have encountered seem to use complaining as a way of dealing with the physical symptoms and eliciting support.

Of course being born at 26 weeks sucks more than being pregnant at 40 weeks. I don't think that's a controversial point. But for almost any unpleasant circumstance, there's probably something else in the world that would be worse. If you lose a child, well, it would be worse to lose two, and so on. I don't think that means that we have invalidate the experiences of others just because it could be/have been worse. Yes, being born at 26 weeks is far more traumatic than being 40 weeks pregnant, but it's apples to oranges, and I just don't believe that means every pregnant woman has to cross her swollen ankles and smile.

As far as the question of blame, my point was simply that rather than being angry at women who aren't as informed as they ought to be, I think it would be more to the point to direct that anger towards doctors, who, after all, are the ultimate gatekeepers for inductions, and the first line of defense for educating women on their options for pregnancy and childbirth care. If women are requesting and receiving inductions at, say, 36 weeks without medical cause (!!!), then there's a doctor who bears responsibility.

I know this is your blog, and I don't mean to start a fight. I am just bothered by statements that appear to focus solely on the selfish, ignorant pregnant women, and not on the medical professionals whose job is to provide education and medical care.

-Rin

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...

Rin,

I couldn't agree more that the medical profession needs to stop treating near term births as if they were good enough. Doctors have to stop inducing labor because someone asks for it, they need to educate their patients about the downsides of preterm birth and simply refuse to assist in the process.

Oddly though, all of the women I know who have had labor induced early for convenience or even had elective c-sections were well educated women who you would think would be well informed. I know one woman who had a c-section at 37 weeks so that she wouldn't risk going into labor for the bar exam. Another woman I know is a social worker who should know better than to ask to be induced at 37 weeks because she was just "done."

No one here is "blaming" women, I am just personally tired of hearing women complain about the non-life threatening side effects of carrying a child to term when in fact carrying that child to term is the whole point of being pregnant.

And no worries about starting an argument on my blog. I think a healthy debate makes it a better blog.

Charlotte Jean said...

I am new to the world of blogging and reading blogs, and my entry into the world is because 12 days ago, my baby girl was delivered via emergency c-section at 28 weeks because of my escalating severe preeclampsia. I'm using blogs to learn more and I am writing one to keep my family informed. I was "happy" to see your post about the women who push for inductions. What I would give to have made it to 36 or 37 weeks. I was already anti-induction before this, and now, I am really struggling with comments by women pushing in the expecting web groups I am a part of talking about inductions. How I wish my daughter could still be inside me, developing where she should be, instead of in an isolette attached to wires and tubes. The women who take a healthy pregnancy for granted are infuriating, and I wish they could understand that they and their babies are lucky.

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...

Charlotte Jean,

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter Charlotte. I am so glad to read that she is improving each day.

I completely agree that a healthy pregnancy is not something to take for granted and it is so very sad (and frustrating) that so many do just that.

I hope your NICU journey is uneventful and that Charlotte is home with you soon.

Katy said...

I too find it difficult to hear comments about 'wishing I'd just go into labour now' at 37 weeks etc. I delivered my daughter Daisy on Jan 17th, this year at 24 weeks (not due to pre-e but as a result of a subchorionic hematoma). Unfortunately my Daisy only lived for a minute, and I wasn't able to hold her while she was alive. I would dearly love to have made it to 36 weeks to even have the discomfort these other mums complain about. Or even 30 weeks to have given her a better chance to survive. I feel terrible that my body failed my baby and she didn't get to develop enough to have a chance at life. Hearing women on facebook complaining about swollen ankles or their teething baby is very difficult.
Katy

Katy said...

I too find it difficult to hear comments about 'wishing I'd just go into labour now' at 37 weeks etc. I delivered my daughter Daisy on Jan 17th, this year at 24 weeks (not due to pre-e but as a result of a subchorionic hematoma). Unfortunately my Daisy only lived for a minute, and I wasn't able to hold her while she was alive. I would dearly love to have made it to 36 weeks to even have the discomfort these other mums complain about. Or even 30 weeks to have given her a better chance to survive. I feel terrible that my body failed my baby and she didn't get to develop enough to have a chance at life. Hearing women on facebook complaining about swollen ankles or their teething baby is very difficult - in fact I've unsubscribed from some who post a lot of photos and baby related complaining, and I rarely even go on there these days.

Katy

Katy said...

sorry for double post - my computer froze when I was on 'submit' so thought it hadn't gone through.
Katy