Here in New York, next weekend, Developmental Delay Resources is sponsoring a three-day course on “Having Healthy Babies: Outsmarting Developmental Delays”—i.e., autism prevention. According to the event’s publicity page, the course will be devoted to pre-conception health, carrying and birthing healthy babies, and post-partum health.

It sounds provocative, and I think that some members of Team Martin (therapists, nutritionist, &c.) are planning to attend.

I can’t go, though. No way. From an emotional perspective, learning at this point about autism prevention would overwhelm me.

Martin’s cranio-sacral therapist is some sort of intuitive healer. She knows things. On Martin’s first visit to her, she was laying her hands on him, concentrating, murmuring about what seemed to be going on inside his gut. Suddenly she called to me to join them. I knelt beside where they were working on the carpet. The therapist had one hand resting on Martin’s head. She pressed the other hand against my breastbone.

“There’s a void here, something missing,” she said. “You’re not connecting completely with Martin.”

Excuse me?

She continued, “You’ve got to get rid of the guilt you’re carrying about his birth. You’ve just got to let that go and tune into the here and now.”

I was stunned. I had described to her how Martin was born, but I hadn’t used the word guilt. Not about his birth, or anything else. Yet she knew, and knew that it was getting in the way.

Martin’s birth was a series of decisions I did not want. Martin came late to the party; in the 42nd week of pregnancy, against my better instinct, I gave in and let the doctors induce labor. From there, it spiraled. On pitocin, my confused body produced increasingly long, unproductive contractions, until finally it barely unclenched between them. The doctor decided we needed to relax me artificially and ordered an epidural analgesia, which I also did not want. After nearly 16 hours of artificially induced labor, Martin got stuck, sideways, and his heart rate fell. By the time they wheeled me into the operating room and cut him out, I was (unsurprisingly) running a fever, meaning that Martin, who was healthy and alert with an APGAR of 9, was whisked away to the NICU.

So those were Martin’s first days in this world. Instead of coming to us naturally and snuggling into the loving arms of his parents, he met a surgeon’s scalpel and then slept with strangers under the offensive, blazing halogen of a noisy NICU.

I know that environmental factors play a role in autism. I wear the guilt of Martin’s traumatic birth, of my decision to allow pitocin. I wear it like a heavy jacket, pounds and pounds weighing me down.

Was birth trauma related to autism? What is related to autism?

I never should have got caught up in the H1N1 hype and given Martin that unnecessary vaccine. Or most of the other vaccines, either.

We had our kitchen rebuilt while I was pregnant. I breathed that dust daily. Mistake.

I used my Blackberry. All the time.

If there is such a thing as autism prevention, then there’s something I should have done differently. It will be a long time before I’m recovered enough to discuss that topic.


12 thoughts on “Guilt

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  3. I’m with you on this one. I had a csection at 36 weeks for twins and gave them the H1N1 shots too. Wish I knew then what I know now.

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