The doubting thoughts of a Mother are probably among the very first instincts she gets.
From the moment the little person enters her world, all she does from the point on focuses around their direct needs. She becomes a mother above all else; their mother.
From the moment Tyler's eyes welled-up and he told me that Max was finally here, my world changed. Nothing but Max mattered. I didn't care about myself or my needs, I didn't care what anyone else was doing or what they wanted. All I cared about was Max. I made people wheel me from my room to the NICU multiple times a day. I stood or sat by his bedside for too long, sometimes until I almost passed out from the pain. I obsessively pumped every 2-3 hours, even through the night. When I wasn't at the hospital, I called the hospital. When I wasn't in the NICU, I called the NICU- yes, sometimes, I even called from the pump room across the hall. I stepped outside the NICU occasionally to take bites of snacks, only sometimes leaving to actually go sit in the cafeteria to eat a meal. I was his mother. I could do nothing else.
So, as the time passed after he died I spent many sleepless nights staring at my ceiling wondering what I had done wrong. Deciding what I could change if I had known better. Thinking about what I would've done differently if I could've know we'd have him for 5 weeks.
I would go down my checklist of "I should haves,"
I should have stopped pumping.
I should have stayed later each night.
I should have gotten there early each morning.
I should have read to him more.
I should have taken more videos.
I should have taken more pictures of his nurses.
I should have let more people come to see him.
I should never have gone home once a week.
I should have gone, even in that blizzard.
I should have talked to other parents more.
I should have talked to him more.
I should have been braver.
I should have been more alert.
And the list would go on...
Eventually all my motherly guilt and doubts started to weigh on me. One afternoon in counseling, my therapist asked me about it. She shook her head as I lamented over all the things I wished I would've done or all the things I felt I should've done. She gave me a piece of paper and told me to write them down. After I had, she told me to cross out my list. Then, beside where I had marked it out, she told me to write, "I did the best I could."
With time, I learned that this is not just a problem a mother has if she loses her baby. Its a problem ALL mothers have. We beat ourselves up with time for not doing things we know now that we didn't know then. We take on all the blame and responsibility when things go wrong, and always defer the honor when things go right. The only solace I found in this was to learn that, even though my baby was gone, I was still just like every other mother.
So, here's the deal. We all do the best we can. The best we know how. Moms or not. It applies to all of us. And ya know, tough situations, like we were in, makes it SO hard to know what the right thing to do is! We all have to make tough calls in life, and you cannot blame your past self for things you feel now are a mistake. Hindsight is 20/20, but there is nothing we can do about the past. We can learn from it and we can move on. Living in the past and living in guilt and doubt only leads to pain and suffering. We have to let it go. Let go and let God.
Our Savior is the ONLY being who can understand our pains, our mistakes, our tribulations. He is the one who suffered them for us. He suffered for our sins and our grief. He took care of it! With faith in His holy name, we can let it go. We can give it to Him and be done with it.
Trust me, I know how hard it is. I know the pain of wishing you could erase parts of your past. Max is just part of my history, and while I certainly don't ever wish to erase him there are plenty of things that I had wished I had done different. I know that it hurts to keep reliving the things we wish we could change. Friends, it is time to let it go. Let go of the past that haunts you. Write it all down, cross it out and say, "I did the best I could!" Shred the paper up. Forgive yourself and move on. I promise the burden can be lifted and you can feel so free.
Let go and let God.