I have been treading water/drowned for the past 6 months, and feel like I can just now, maybe, come up for air and begin to do some much needed self-care. I have been functioning out of trauma for too long, and am so thankful to finally have some of the mental/emotional/physical space to begin to face it. It was an UGLY summer, I mean you're lucky I never left the house ;). I have been angry, QUITE angry about it all; hypervigiliant, hyper controlling, hyper anxious, crazy, mean, hopeless, helpless, lonely, terrified, confused, and never so stripped of coping skills- depressed & traumatized. I have never seen myself pushed so far, so hard- it scared me. The sadness is coming...it is always under the anger. It is much easier to function with anger than sadness though, and man have I had to be high-functioning, no time to collapse in tears! It is time now to grieve, engage, reflect, and accept my pregnancy story. It will impact me the rest of my life, most tangibly in my and Ryan's decision about a future pregnancy.
As a trained counselor, I believe that grief/feeling is my road to freedom, primarily feeling the loss and sadness in order to move toward acceptance. Aside from counseling, and journaling, I think returning to the hospital is an important piece of my healing. It puts a knot in my stomach to think about entering those sliding doors. I spent every day for 3 months at Baylor All Saints (ante-partum and nicu), so it is the most tangible symbol of my pain/trauma. When I think about the room, the window I stared out of, the chair I sat in, the smells, the sweet nurses, the halls I paced, the popcorn machine downstairs, the garden I walked in, my daily tv shows, going to bed alone, the sounds of the monitors, I tremble in fear and feel literally sick. If I can go back "in the light of day", I think it will become less scary for me.
Looking at pictures is another point of avoidance for me. There are pictures of Evangeline especially that I cannot look at for more than 2 seconds. I think spending some time with the pictures and allowing myself to feel what comes up when I see them will be an important piece of moving toward acceptance as well.
|This is right after my c section, I hate that I had such minimal contact. Their skin was underdeveloped and so it is actually painful for them to be touched.|
|Growth restricted babies have that freaky alien look because all the blood goes to grow the brain before the rest of the body, it really scared me.|
I remember thinking her head was the size of a small apple, I was worried I would break her if i sneezed.
|I think she had 5 needles in her when she was sick with NEC, I wasn't sure she would survive.|
I thought she looked dead sometimes and had nightmares about it often
I would love to be able to use my experience "give back" and care for other nicu moms in some capacity- maybe lead a support group.
I hope this post encourages other nicu/ttts mom to engage in their stories and move toward healing. It does take take time & energy, but it is worth the freedom from depression & trauma. I also hope it helps other mom to feel less alone in their struggles.
Thank you for letting me share with you!