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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a mommy's story : Megan Otash on guilt and the NICU

Another brave, super star strong mother, Megan Otash, has shared with us her experience of surviving the NICU and what guilt it brought to her... and ultimately how she tries to this day to move past the guilt to live happily with her growing family. This is part of our Confessions of Mama Guilt series. 

Mama guilt: my now 4 year old came at only 28 weeks gestation, her big brother at the time was only 20 months old...Zoey lived in the NICU at Maine Med for 8 weeks, 4 weeks (thankfully) shorter than expected, because she was/is such a fighter! 

Riley, her big brother, was still very needy at this age, I traveled to Maine Med every single day that Zoey was at Maine Med, and stayed at the Ronald McDonald house every weekend in Portland. During this time Riley was miserable. Daddy was back to work full time, I was with Zoey every day. I know he felt shorted of mommy time and I felt like I wasn't giving him all the attention he was craving, so I started giving him everything and anything he wanted so he would feel special and not unforgotten. 

If I wasn't at the NICU I was running my child care center or pumping. I was physically and emotionally drained. 

Now, Riley is 6...he's so used to just getting whatever he wants from being given everything to make him happy that now I'm trying to correct my mistake of giving him everything. I'm teaching him that he can't always get what he wants, but that we love him very much, that he can't yell and scream, unless he's in his bedroom with the door closed, because he isn't getting what he wants. That we love him unconditionally, even when he's upset. That it's not ok to kick and hit when he's upset. I feel like if I had just taught him these fundamentals when he was almost 2, that we wouldn't be struggling with it 4 years later, but I try to remember I was doing the best I could do at that season of our life.

I cannot beat myself up over something that has already happened, but instead I can embrace change, patience, love, and know that we can get through this stage as well, exhausting as it may be!

It was a very draining, traumatic, emotional roller coaster ride, to say the least. It's actually amazing how many people I run into that have had babies that have had to live in the NICU for a period of time.

Now I give my son ample amount of love, attention, and affection, what he was sooo in need of at 20 mos, which sadly I was missing the mark on. I loved him with all my heart, but was not showing or displaying that love for him in a way that he could feel, because I was wrapped up in Zoey's premature birth, the emotions of leaving a hospital 4 days after giving birth and not being able to take your baby home, ppd, I wasn't diagnosed with it, but man I cried A LOT! My little man was sooo confused and I was so devastated, I couldn't control my emotions, never mind ease his.
No, I have not let the guilt go, especially when he throws a fit over something he can't have it reminds me again, I created this. I did this. Have patience with him, this is not his fault, he doesn't know better until I teach him wrong from right. 

I remind myself what a crazy ride we we're on and the toll it put on my mind and body and deep down know I shouldn't feel guilt, that I provided for my son as best I could at that time, and considering what we went through, we all made it out of that nightmare surprisingly well! 

If giving my son everything he wanted was the worst thing I did, well, I guess it could have been a lot worse! I focus on the now and the move forward. I don't dwell on the past or what happened. I constantly tell myself he's almost 6, this is also typical behavior for a boy his age. He is well loved and taken care for. 

I have to remember to pat myself on the back every now and then and say you've done a great job Megan, this mommy thing is not easy, and you've done a great job! 

A mommy of 4 kiddos, managing all of their different personalities, behaviors, likes, dislikes, keeping it all sorted and organized and providing a warm, loving home for all of them, drop the guilt! Us moms are amazing!

the little peanut Zoey not so little anymore - 4 years old! 
I thought Zoey's premature birth was MY fault! When I was 5 months pregnant we purchased a new house and I spent a month painting every single room in the house as well.

As packing up my old house, loading the boxes into my SUV and unloading them at the new house I had a 2" tear in my placenta, I assumed I had torn it during lifting. So naturally I blamed myself when I went into labor. Apologizing to my husband that this was happening...a terrible feeling for sure. 

Well I lived with that guilt for 2 years, then I got pregnant with my 4th. During a prenatal visit they had determined it would be best if I received progesterone shots to decrease my chances of going into premature labor again, and they told me there was an autopsy report in my file on my placenta from Zoey's birth. 

I was thinking seriously?? An autopsy report? What if I never got pregnant again?! I would have never known why I really went into preterm labor. I was so upset that I was never notified of this information after Zoey's birth. Come to find out, it WAS NOT my fault! 

Zoey's umbilical cord had attached itself on the very edge of my placenta, this happens in 1 in a million pregnancies, or something crazy like that, so of course it happened in mine! So as my placenta grew, the umbilical cord was coming detached, tearing from the placenta. As amazing as our bodies are, I went into labor because somehow my body knew my baby was not being fully nourished by the umbilical cord. Had I not gone into labor, Zoey may not have made it, I can't fathom. The meaning of Zoey is little fighter.

Being in a season of my life, a time period that I can reflect on... my advice to all moms, cherish every season you endure with your children. A season may feel like it's never ending, frustrating, exhausting, but it goes by so fast. 

Sit back and just enjoy it because before you know it, it's over and you're moving on. Like infancy, it goes by so fast, embrace those sleepless nights, those snuggles with your 7, 8, 9lb baby boy or girl, because you're going to blink and he/she is going to be running around yelling NO at you! 

Every season of life has its challenges and its rewards, enjoy it all, life's too short to constantly complain or dread. 

Be happy! Your mood reflects your child's mood! We don't want to deal with a cranky baby all day, do you think a toddler wants to deal with a cranky mommy all day?! Nope!


What an incredibly strong mother... Thank you, Megan, for sharing. I know many moms will shed tears and smile imagining what a fighter your little Zoey is. She must have a fighter for a mother! :) 

1 comment:

  1. "Embrace those sleepless nights and snuggles because you're going to blink and they'll be running around yelling NO! at you!" ...yup!! This is something that has been a work in progress for in the moment, trying to find the good in all things & being thankful every day. It's hard when, at times, their behavior is very trying! Ava does the same thing at almost 6- she is emotional, drama queen, and just really cares about everything that she wants! (I think Aaron is even worse now that he's 3.5!!!) Everything in their little world is to them! I sometimes forget just how important, and then I wish/expect that they would just behave like adults or something? I can forget that they are still learning each and every day how to communicate and have self control and all of those behaviors, while still having all of their emotions! It's hard enough for me as an adult! And they are decades younger than me! It sounds a lot easier with the right perspective, but putting that into practice is hard, and there is SO much guilt that I have to constantly let go of...that's a process too, for me! It leaves, then comes back! When I go in to check on them at night and see them in their beds, they look like angels, and if I've had a rough day, I can feel like such a bad mom for not having the right attitude or loving them enough that day! Omg what we can do to ourselves! I think my mom still has guilt over losing her temper with us when we were little! I remember this when I feel guilty, because I really don't remember very many bad times, I mostly remember that she loved me, and she tried her best, and had her hands full. So I know and can trust that when my kids are grown, they'll mostly remember how much I loved them, and was there for them. I have to choose to let go of the rest. Thank you for sharing, Meg! You are an amazing mother who I know loves her kids with all that she has to give. When my shrink last told me "you are a good mother and you try so hard and do such a great job", I broke down in sobs! I guess I didn't realize how much it meant for someone to say that out loud...cuz I know I really do try my best, even tho I fail at times, it's nice for someone else to say it! God sees, and He knows your heart and that you love your children. His opinion matters most. But it's nice for other people to say it too :) xoxo Beka