By JESSICA BENSTEN
I didn’t know how lucky I was to have a normal first pregnancy.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I just assumed it would go well. I made sure I ate my fruits and vegetables, eliminated caffeine and took my vitamins. But for some reason, something was always just “off” about my second pregnancy. I felt less energetic, overall unwell and more anxious.
When my blood pressure went up around 20 weeks, I didn’t really think a lot about it. The doctor put me on medicine and followed me more closely.
But something had already started in my body that no one could stop.
Once the protein showed up in my urine, things went downhill fast. The swelling began, my platelet count crashed and my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was hospitalized at 24 weeks with severe preeclampsia and six very traumatic, stressful days later, my second child was forced silently into the world. Way too soon.
My husband and I found ourselves back at the children’s hospital. We knew all about pediatric oncology, but we didn’t know a thing about preemies, especially micro preemies. We were shocked at how tiny everything was, especially the precious fingers and toes on our red, transparent… baby? That was our baby?
I speak often on the kid’s issues and rarely talk about mine. No one told me how I would feel. That having a child four months early would send me into mourning for the loss of the pregnancy itself.
In the hospital, every time I heard the music signal a new baby was born, it sounded more like the scary nursery music in a horror movie. I was recovering from a C-section with a baby fighting for her one-pound life in the NICU and hearing other moms give birth to healthy babies. Those stupid, lucky other mothers.
I felt like a failure. I’d had two children; the first got cancer and now the second one was probably going to die because I couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I’d brought our whole family back into the world of sickness and worry. The guilt was all-encompassing.