Week 4 ~ Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy
One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.
I don’t remember being flooded with guilt after learning of Carleigh’s fatal diagnosis. I do remember questioning why this was happening and wondering if it was something I had done. I became pregnant when our daughter Kyndra was 6 months old. I have thought more than once that maybe if I had waited longer this wouldn’t have happened. I would have those twinges of guilt thinking that my body did this to my baby, but then I would remember that there is nothing that I could have done. I was taking my prenatals and I was getting the recommended amount of folic acid. What more could I do? I knew bad things like this happened but I never imagined that would happen to me. It was always somebody else until that day. Then the sad story that you read about or hear became my own.
For most of Carleigh’s pregnancy I was happy and I enjoyed it. Believe me, I had my sad moments but I wanted to make the most of the time I had with my daughter. While there are some things that I wish I would have done, I don’t look back on my time with her while I was pregnant with guilt. When I remember those moments while carrying her I can picture myself happy and not sad and for that I am thankful. The beauty of my time with her isn’t tarnished.
I think where most of my guilt lies is my birth choice. I chose to have a vaginal birth over a c-section for several reasons. I wanted the easier recovery. I wanted to be able to have a vaginal birth for future children. I wanted to have her on my chest right away after birth. I also knew that with having a vaginal birth that her chances of surviving it were less than a c-section. I had hope though that she would be ok and the few times I prayed during that time I prayed for her to be born alive.
I was induced at 37 weeks and I chose to have my water broken during the induction, which both decrease the risk of a baby with anencephaly being born alive. I must state here that while my birth choices did not have the outcome I desired that I in no way regret them. The choices I made allowed our family to be present for support, for a photographer friend to take beautiful pictures throughout labor and delivery, and more. My guilt lies in the fact that I know because of these choices that my daughter was born still. I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say that I have guilt over my choices yet I don’t regret them but it’s true. I’ll always wonder what I missed out on by not choosing a c-section. I could’ve missed seeing more of my daughter and spending whatever moments with her alive that she would have had.
After Carleigh’s birth I was ok with laughing and smiling even though my daughter was gone. I just knew that she would want me to be happy and that those moments were ok. Sometimes it did feel weird to be happy in such tragedy but it was like a gift from her. I didn’t want to reject it.
Guilt has never consumed me with Carleigh. It certainly had the capability if I allowed it to but I didn’t. Guilt comes from Satan, not God. I know he is the source of all the “what ifs”, “if onlys”, and “not good enoughs”. God wants better for me. Of course, I don’t think you can completely rid guilt from your life but it doesn’t have to have a grip on you. It may take time and help from God but you can overcome it.
I will note that I had enormous guilt over Jordan that was consuming so I know what that type of guilt is like. It can be smothering. God healed me from this type of guilt. Counseling helped too but I give God the credit on this one because He actually did a physical/emotional healing with me and took the guilt away. Since finding forgiveness and healing for this loss I have not felt guilty since. Not saying it’s not still there wanting to eat at me but I don’t allow it to. When Satan tries to attack me with it I confront him by saying that I am forgiven and I am loved.
I know that guilt can also come from having rainbows, but I haven’t felt that. I am completely happy that I have my rainbows and I don’t feel guilty for loving them completely and having joy over them. It’s just the same love and joy I have for all my children, which they deserve. I’m happy that Carleigh has little sisters and I like to think she is happy too.