I remember walking into the neonatal intensive care unit for the first time. Actually they rolled me in on a bed. It was just a couple of hours after my C-section—4 a.m. I was flat on my back, still groggy from the anesthesia. When the nurse pushed my gurney into a room full of babies in their incubators, I distinctly remember thinking they looked like little caskets lined up, one after another.
How could anything so small actually survive? These must be dead babies in their little caskets, I thought. Our baby boy, William, was 2 pounds, 13 ounces. As I put my hand in the isolette, tears streamed down my face. Both my hands covered his body. You could barely see him for all the wires and cords and the oxygen mask on his face.
For me, the hardest part of this has been letting go of the expectations—the expectations that every mother has—of holding a brand-new little baby in your arms—a baby that is strong and healthy. My baby is NOT. And that dream of a strong healthy baby—the one you always have in your mind—is hard to let go. I can't hold my baby when I want to. Sometimes he is too sick to even come out of his incubator. When I do hold him, it’s for about an hour a day. Right now, he’s too sick to even open his eyes.
The most powerful emotion I feel every day is guilt. I carry so much guilt. What did I do to cause this? Why did this happen? I tried to do everything right in my pregnancy.
I did everything I should have done … and still my baby was born at 27 weeks.
I am so sorry, William.
I am so sorry.