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Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Blame Game

What is the first question you ask when someone tells you they were in a car accident?

Fine, you probably ask if they're okay. That's the polite thing to do.

But the first thing you think, and probably the second thing you ask, is whose fault it was. It's okay. I do it, too. I mean, if you're texting me about your accident I assume you're fine. I need details, people.

Seriously, though, why is that? Why is it so important to know who's to blame? We always want to know whose fault it was and we want to know how the person at fault will pay for their crime. It doesn't just apply to car accidents.

Like farting. Or princess air, if you like. No one made it through elementary school without hearing "He who denied it supplied it" or "He who smelt it dealt it" at least once. Is smelt a word? I feel like it was just made up for a hilarious farting rhyme. At any rate, we as a society are determined to place blame - or in some cases, blame the dog - for any and every bad thing that happens.

I think I know why. I'm no psychologist. But I think we immediately find out who's to blame because it makes us feel better. If we can assign fault to someone or something, it helps us take control over the bad thing that has happened. We can take steps to make sure it never happens again. If someone gets hit by a drunk driver, the answer is easy - make drunk driving illegal. Done. If someone takes the life of his coworker, lock him in jail. Simple enough.

When I found out Joshua would be born 14 weeks early, I wanted something to blame. The doctors for not catching it earlier. Daniel for not helping me see it sooner. The nurse-midwife for not fixing it right away. Myself for not realizing something was wrong with my baby. God for letting it happen at all.

At first I thought it was because I was so angry about what happened. I thought I could take all my anger out on someone and it would make everything better. I tried it. I didn't feel better. Joshua was still in the NICU. Nothing had changed except I just felt worse. But I still looked for someone, something, anything to blame. It was irrational and illogical and I knew that but I kept searching.

And after a while I had an epiphany. Not the cool kind. I didn't suddenly figure out how to make millions of dollars from home or how to really win the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes. No, this epiphany was kind of depressing, actually.

I wanted it to be my fault.

I wanted to be responsible for Joshua coming so early. I wanted the doctor to open his chart, point at a number, and tell me I should have kept it lower or higher or anything. I wanted the nurse to say that I shouldn't have eaten peanut butter or go hiking that one time or stay up so late at night. I wanted them to tell me that the next time I have a child, I need to make sure I avoid certain chemicals and places and habits, because those things were responsible for his early arrival.

I wanted it to be my fault because I'm scared.

People have asked us how many kids we're going to have after this. On February 21st, I would have answered at least two, but who knows? Maybe more! Now, though, that question terrifies me. How can I do this again? How can we knowingly set ourselves up for this horrible, draining, ridiculous experience even one more time?

See, if I had something to blame, I could fix it. If they said caffeine caused this I would never drink a drop of caffeine again. If they said I could take a pill or eat special food or take a class, I would do it. I would do it all.

But nothing caused it. It was no one's fault. Pre-eclampsia just happens. Sometimes it causes the blood flow to the baby to reverse. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes women with pre-e are fine and don't even need bedrest. Sometimes they do.

It just happens.

I wish it wasn't true. But it is. There are laws against drunk driving but it still kills people. Murderers are put in jail but people still kill. I'm not saying there's no hope or that we're all doomed. But as much as we want to place blame and point fingers so that we can reassure ourselves we're safe from ever having to go through a terrible experience again, it won't help. Blame won't make us feel better. We think it will but at the end of the day it only fuels our anger and makes us sadder. Because as much as we think laying blame will fix the problem, it won't. It can't. Only God can.

And sometimes things just happen.


  1. Thank you Kristen. I really appreciate this post. I felt the same way a few weeks ago when we almost miscarried. I was mad and have fought with fear ever since. I keep having to remind myself I want to Live Love, and exist for Christ... and perfect Love casts out fear. That bad things are guaranteed to happen, and hiding from them or rolling in them is not the answer- true life can't be lived out in the shadows of fear. And its a daily walk with God... He takes our hand, and that hand is enough, no matter what tempts us to think otherwise. And He will deliver.

    "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." -Psalm 23:4

    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

  2. Last year a friend of a friend had your exact situation--she was fine one day, and had a micropreemie due to preeclampsia the next. My friend sent me regular updates because I'm the pregnancy/baby guru in our group. And she mentioned, at some point, what you said--her friend was terrified that it would happen again. So I told her this (and don't judge 'cuz I'm mildly obsessed with the Duggars):

    Michelle Duggar had an emergency cesarean with her second pregnancy (the twins) because of pre-eclampsia. I don't know at what gestational age, but they weren't preemies, I don't think. At any rate, she had FOURTEEN NORMAL PREGNANCIES (including another twin pregnancy) after that before having another problem (her 17th pregnancy resulted in an emergency cesarean at 25 weeks due to pre-eclampsia). Yes, it can happen again, but it's not a guarantee, and if you do have another one, the doctors will know what to watch for.

    Also, with my second baby, I read "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth", and at one point she talked about how The Farm has such a low pre-eclampsia rate. She attributed it to their (organic, vegetarian) diet. Whether this really makes a difference or not, I don't know (their rate isn't ZERO, after all), but she referenced this book if you're interested: Again, I have no idea if there's anything to it, but it's something to consider if you eventually decide to have another one :) (and given how much of a cutie patootie Joshua is, I think you should grace the world with more babies, but that's just my opinion!)

    1. I've been thinking about it, and I REALLY want to qualify that I don't think poor nutrition was a factor in Joshua's birth. I know nothing about your eating habits! It's just that that reference is the only thing I've ever come across about possibly staving off pre-eclampsia, so I thought I could at least share.

  3. I found you while looking for my friend. I do not know your story, but I will be back to read it. In the mean time, know I will be passing your link on to my friends. Sounds like you could use a lot of support right now. We'll see if we can't round some up. Royals are kind of good at that.

    1. Thank you so much. I appreciate it!!!

  4. The Queen brought your blog to my attention. Joshua is a beautiful boy! Big hugs to you and I'm praying for your family.

  5. The Queen sent me. I have a little encouragement for you. I know what you're going through and it totally sucks. We've done it, was born at 25.5 weeks and the other at 26.5 weeks. They've thrived, they've kicked butt. Life in the NICU is hard, you do it at the time because, well, you have to. You have to get through it, you have to almost be on auto pilot, you have to move forward. Take a look at my little one now. I hope her story encourages you, I hope you will be able to see light. Much love, Diva......oh, by the way, I have a Joshua as well! Read, about Anna-Grace, see her life, she how things will be.

  6. I'm going to send your link around. But I'm having a heck of a time being able to subscribe to your blog? I know, I'm blonde.....

    1. Diva you can always right click anywhere on the page then click view page info. the RSS feed symbol is there, just click it and the RSS feed comes up so you can subscribe. It's a way around the glitch when blogger has one. just fyi. I thought I'd give you a little royal blog wisdom. Thanks for following the Royal call to this blog, and thanks for bringing your friends. Smooches from Oz.

  7. Hi Kristen. I found your blog through a beautiful, young woman, The Bipolar Diva. I just wanted to let you know that you and your family will be in my prayers. What a gift that little guy is. Having a son is amazing! Mine is 30 years old and he never ceases to amaze me even now. Don't forget to take good care of yourself.

  8. When I was pregnant with my daughter, a friend of mine was due at the same time as me. We were super excited... and then, suddenly, she went into labor, around 27 weeks.
    Her son, Joshua, was born.
    Today, he's a happy and healthy normal 9 year old boy.
    He had some delays early on. He had some minor surgeries (he was lucky!)
    He had some areas where he needed to get some extra help. But gosh, now? You'd never know. I mean that honestly. You would NEVER know.

    I have kind of been off the "blog scene" for a while but TBD up there posted this on facebook and I skipped it about 15 times before I said "no, I've gotta read this". It's WAY past my bedtime and I need to go to the bathroom really bad but something told me I NEED to read this and I need to read it NOW.

    You know that blame thing?
    My son (my firstborn) is being evaluated for autism/asperger syndrome. We're pretty sure he has it. I say that like it's a disease or something. It's not... but I feel like it's my fault. What if I hadn't gotten an epidural? What if I'd been stronger throughout the pregnancy and I forced myself to be more active, to eat better... what if I hadn't taken that medication those two months when I didn't know I was pregnant? What if he hadn't been delivered with a vacuum extraction? What if they'd gotten him out immediately when they saw the meconium? What if I hadn't gotten him vaccinated?
    What if... I hadn't had such bad blood pressure, my doctor had been more vigilant, put me on medication, told me to do something other than just lay on my left side for 17 hours a day, tested my kidneys for pre-e more...
    I can go on all day. And most days, I blame myself. Somehow, my son's problems are my fault.
    As much as you need other people's support right now, I needed to read this today.
    You're right.
    Sometimes, it just happens.

    So thank you. And I will pray for your Joshua (and for you)

  9. Thank you all so much for your comments. I always forget to reply but I do read each of them and they mean so much to me. Y'all are awesome!!