The destruction caused by guilt

   

Month after month, the years fly by and it seems incredible to me that Joshua will be 15 on his next birthday in March. Always around his birthday I reflect, inevitably I guess , on his birth and those anxious 11 days in Special Care.

I belong to a parent support forum for children with hemiplegia, which Joshua suffers from as a result of his brain damage – it results in his weakness down his right hand side in Joshua’s case. There have been some posts recently discussing the guilt felt by some mothers about their child’s diagnosis. There are many emotions that I have experienced surrounding Joshua’s difficulties over the years – sadness, anger, regret, depression – but guilt is not one of them.

I know that I took good care of myself when I was preganant : I never drank alcohol, smoked or ate any of the prohibited foods. I rested as instructed when I suffered with high blood pressure in the final months and I finished work in good time before my due date. Yet despite these factors, something went wrong either after his due date, as Joshua was a fortnight overdue, or during the speedy labour after we were induced, that meant that he began fitting immediately on being born and was whisked away to SCBU before we had really had a chance to get acquainted.

When Joshua was a baby we pursued an investigation into why Joshua might have had a stroke, causing ‘devastating brain damage’, but none of the healthcare professionals could come up with a reason and it was simply put down to ‘one of those things’. So they did not point the finger at me either, which may also explain why I have not felt any guilt.

It must be agony to look at your child with special needs, knowing that he is not what he should have been because of something that you did wrong. I have met other mothers who know why their child is impaired – from meningitis, an inherited genetic condition and due to a virus contracted during pregnancy for example – but again, none of those were due to the mother’s neglect, so they do not have any reason to feel guilty.

Guilt is such a negative and damaging emotion as it does not change anything, it just consumes the sufferer and leaves them in the past, rather than focussing on how to make the best of an unfortunate situation. Of course I would rather that Joshua was not disabled and was able to be the able-bodied, bright boy that we were expecting, but regretting where we are is not helpful to either him or us , as his parents. It is much better, if possible, to focus on the future and how we can make the best life for Joshua, enabling him to fulfill his potential, whatever that may be.