“Blame is where we try to park our grief.” ~ Leland R. Beaumont
Blame. It is almost second nature. As instinctive as breathing. When things go wrong, the first impluse we seem to have, is to place blame. It might be on ourselves, or it might be on someone else. It may even be placed on an animal, or an inanimate object. It is just an automatic response for most people. I do it all the time, especially when I am having a bad day. If something does not go the way I think it should, or if there is a problem, or things are messed up. I look for someone to blame. No one is immune to it when I get on a role. I have to actually stop myself before the blaming process begins.
When Maclain was born, I blamed myself very heavily for a long time. It was my fault that one of my twins had died. I should have known sooner that something was wrong. I should have gotten to the hospital sooner. If I had done things differently both of my babies would have survived, and Maclain wouldn’t have been born so early. I could have prevented his brain damage if I had done something more. I carried this with me everywhere I went, with every move I made. It ate away at me, and kept me awake at night. I knew in my practical mind that none of it was my fault, but I had to blame someone.
A year and a half after his birth, we received confirmation that Maclain’s brain damage was caused by a condition known as Kernicterus. He was not treated for jaundice, and this was what caused his CP and his hearing loss. We had suspected it for a few months, and after a visit to our neurologist, we got a letter that ruled out his brain damage having been as a result of any intrauterine insults, or because of the Twin to Twin Transfusion. I held in my hand, a document that was resolving me of any blame. I remember crying hysterically in my car, at the mailbox, with Maclain in the backseat. I called my husband, and my parents, and wailed to them that it wasn’t my fault. I was so angry that I had been made to feel by all the medical professionals, that my son had disabilites because of something I had done wrong. I think I cried for a week at least.
So why then didn’t I feel better? It wasn’t because of me, the blame was clearly on someone else. My friends commented that I must be so happy to know that it was nothing that I had done. But I wasn’t happy. I realized it was because regardless of who held the blame for what had happened, it did not change the fact that my beautiful baby boy had significant cerebral palsy, and was profoundly deaf. It didn’t mean that we were going to shoot back in time, and everything would be fixed. Even if we were to one day get an admission of guilt from the medical community involved, it would not take away Maclain’s disabilities.
In my quest to come to terms with how things have played out in my life, I have changed many things. I pick my battles wisely. I pool my resources. I only take on what I think I can handle, and I put to the side things that I can deal with another day. I no longer trust someone just because they wear a white coat, and their name tag says Doctor. I don’t take no for an answer. I try to take the negatives and turn them into something positive that will help other families. I do not blame myself for things I could have done differently, and I do not blame myself because I could have done more. I also try not to blame anyone for the big problems we face in our life. I have enough on my to-do list, I am not going to add finding people to blame to my list.