I felt guilty when my baby was born five weeks early. I couldn’t understand why I felt that way — I thoroughly believed that she came when she did for a reason — and yet I couldn’t shake the thought that I should have done something differently in order to prevent it. Maybe I shouldn’t have pigged out on cookie dough that day. Maybe I should have been more religious in taking my multivitamins, instead of missing days here and there. Maybe I had worked myself too hard.
The guilt hit me after we had been in the hospital for about a week. Both my Baby Girl and my Lover were asleep, the nurses had gone to torture some other infant, and I was alone with my thoughts, when suddenly wham! This is all my fault. And I cried.
I knew it wasn’t really my fault, I just didn’t feel that way.
The feeling stuck around for a couple of weeks, until I became certain beyond a doubt that Baby Girl was healthy and growing despite being premature — then I was able to let it go. No lasting harm had happened, and I stopped blaming myself for events that were out of my control. I even started joking that she had come early because she was precocious.
I couldn’t stop myself from feeling guilty, but I was able to recover by accepting the fact that everything turned out okay.