I saw a discussion on Facebook on another Preemie Mama's page about C-sections and some of the negative feelings women have about emergency deliveries. A woman posted a comment that I found striking. She was discussing full-term births, which is an entirely different realm from preterm births, so her perspective is clearly different from mine. But, I found what she said so dismissive of preemie mothers, of the heartaches and challenges. It's not her opinion that matters to me, and I don't need her permission for my feelings, either. It's just that I'm blown away by how callous she is.
She said that she is appreciative of her children, and she realizes they wouldn't be present without the intervention of a C-section.
Valid points but a bit misguided. You can love your children and dislike the way they entered the world. It's not mutually exclusive. Just because I adore my daughter and could eat her chubby cheeks up with smooches doesn't negate my right to detest the sickness, the suffering, the fear, and the overwhelming sadness that surrounded her birth.
But, the thing the woman said that really amazed me was that you can't feel cheated and blessed at the same time.
Why does that statement upset me so much? Trolls say awful things all over the Internet, and usually I just sweep that sort of negativity under the rug and carry on. People who understand this journey buoy me and give me strength. They are the ones I look toward when I need reassurance. Not some Troll Lady who has had both a natural birth and a C-section with her full-term babies, which apparently makes her an expert on all birthing. By all mothers. Everywhere.
I never knew women could be so unsupportive until I became a mother. And not just a mother, but a mother to tiny babies. It's like when I needed a big hug from mothers everywhere, I was thrust into a lion's den. I've lost a few friends over it, because I no longer have room in my life for such wasteful negativity. But, it never ceases to amaze me, this tendency for mothers to criticize and judge and dislike and interrogate and intimidate and chastise other mothers. Somehow, just when we should become our most humble--because we're wiping poopy bottoms and leaking breast milk all over ourselves--instead we become hardened to the experiences of others.
But, my reaction to Troll Lady is more than just a distaste for mommy judgment. When someone uses the word blessed, it has a spiritual connotation, which puts that person on really dicey ground. How dare someone question my ability to feel both cheated and blessed? I am entitled to my own feelings, and I have had many internal dialogues with my God over how all this stuff went down. And I'm quite sure He knows that every day that I wake up to my two miracles, I buckle under the weight of my gratitude. I know I am blessed. Because a few short decades ago, my husband would be living alone. Without his son, his daughter, or his wife.
The more I thought about the Troll Lady's comments, the more I actually appreciated them. I had never given much thought to the words cheated and blessed. As a matter of fact, those words and their relationship pretty much sum up the baggage I've been carrying around for the last 3.5 years. The push and pull between them is exactly the conundrum I feel.
So, I couldn't help myself. I had to respond to the troll, which is probably the worst thing you can do. You can't fix stupid or mean. But, just in case she's misguided and she ever comes across another preemie mama, for public service reasons entirely, I replied:
"You may be right. It might be a preemie mama thing. But, feeling both cheated and blessed at the same time is actually the best way to describe how a preemie mother feels. I've never heard it put so simply before."
And I meant it. Thank you, Troll Lady. Because I finally have the concrete definitions for the emotions I feel: terribly cheated but incredibly blessed.