I know this is a hard topic for some people, but I think it’s important to talk about. It’s something that all of the babylost have to deal with: the overwhelming feeling that they’ve failed somehow.

I know this feeling. It’s something that’s plagued me often. I’ve come to understand that it’s a normal feeling. And why shouldn’t it be? As parents, we’re responsible for our child’s safety. If something happens to our child, doesn’t that mean we failed on some level? Of course that’s what a parent is going to think – what other logical explanation is there? Something went wrong, and as the parent – as the adult, as the person of responsibility – we feel that it’s our fault. Our failure.

It happens especially with mothers who lose their babies. When you think about it, of course the mother is going to feel that way, even when it’s 100% not true. Sometimes bodies fail, and we’re not prepared to accept that. All through pregnancy – no, go further – all through life, we’re told how awesome women’s bodies are that they can contain and nurture another living thing. When talking about pregnancy, it’s all about the miraculous ability of a woman to safely house and care for her child, how important it is to take care of herself because what happens to her affects the baby.

And it is miraculous. It’s a miracle that we sometimes take for granted. Because sometimes the miracle doesn’t happen. Sometimes, bodies fail.

And, yes, sometimes it’s the mother’s body that fails. The uterus may collapse halfway through the pregnancy. The placenta may pull away from the uterine wall. Pre-eclampsia could develop, which in worst case scenarios moves right on to eclampsia. The baby’s blood type may end up incompatible with the mother’s, causing antibodies to attack the fetus. It happens. Sometimes, the body just doesn’t work the way it should.

Here’s the thing: failure is not the same as fault. In none of the cases above is it anybody’s fault. And in many of these cases, prevention is not possible. A mother doesn’t will her uterus to collapse – it happens on its own, usually without warning. But how else is the mother going to feel? It was her body. It was supposed to stay strong. It was supposed to support her baby. Instead, she’s left with nothing, not even the assurance that she can try again. As far as she’s concerned, her body has failed, and by extension, so has she.

I don’t think it’s very surprising that mothers who have lost babies have body issues. And I don’t mean that in only a self-image way (though it can manifest that way, certainly). I mean that the babylost have trouble trusting their bodies after loss. I know I do. Before I got pregnant, I thought I understood my body, its rhythms and its flows. I knew it so well that I instinctively knew that I was pregnant a week before I ever took a test. I took the changes during pregnancy as a chance to learn more about my body (that is not to say that I enjoyed it – it was a difficult adjustment, to say the least). Even on the worst days, the days I couldn’t get out of bed because I was so tired, I marveled at the creation my body was capable of. I wondered at its ability to give me a daughter whom I was so anxious to meet.

When Lauren died, there was no indication of any sort that my body caused it. But what am I supposed to think? I relied on my body to keep her safe, and it didn’t. Everything I read during pregnancy told me that my body was the safest place for her. It turns out that’s not always true. If I’d had labor induced that Thursday at the doctor’s office, Lauren would be alive. There’s no getting around that fact.

So, yes, there’s guilt too. Logically, there would be. The body failed, and even though nothing could be done to prevent that, guilt sets in. Because it’s my body. Somehow, some way, it failed my daughter, which means that I failed her.

I think that this too is a normal part of grieving. I think it’s okay for me to feel guilty. What’s not okay is to dwell on it, to languish in it. I don’t. I have bad days when I think about all the things I could have done differently. But I know that I can’t let the past get in the way of the present. At the time, I did what I thought was best. It wasn’t, and that’s something I have to live with. End of story.

So for those of you who worry about me when I talk about my feelings of guilt, let me say this: there’s no other way for me to feel. But it’s okay. I know it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. In the end, it was Lauren’s body that failed her, and we’ll never know why. But my guilt is my own, and I have to take ownership of it. It’s the only way I’ll eventually be able to conquer it.

And for the babylost who know the guilt I’m talking about, who know how hard it is to learn to trust your body again, let me say this: it wasn’t your fault. Don’t hate yourself, and don’t hate your body. You did the best you could. That’s all you ever can do.

And now, we have to keep on living the best way we can.

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