Saturday, October 27, 2012

beginning the road to recovery

 Yes- I love my girls, yes- I'm thankful, yes- it has been the most dread-filled and dark year of my life. Recovery from the trauma of one's story is the most important/ significant part of the whole thing. It is important to me to post my complete and true story so that my other ttts/nicu mom readers can feel less alone/ crazy in their journeys to recovery.

 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 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

God comforts the broken-hearted. In order to survive, I have not been broken-hearted but angry and demanding toward Him. An angry and demanding person doesn't leave much room for dependence on God, and so we have been quite distant. In my humanity, it has been very difficult for me to believe that God is present and loving, and see his grace toward me. He always gives us a choice to chose Him or not, and I have chosen, not. Thankfully, His commitment to me is not based on anything I do or don't do (but is based on Jesus), and so He has not left me, and has still been merciful and patient. As I am thawing and moving closer to a place of broken-heartedness/ sadness, I hope to move closer to Him and desire Him more.

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!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

evangeline then and now


- Twin to Twin Transfusion  Syndrome
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Prematurity
- Extremely Low Birth Weight (SGA)
- Necrotizing Enerocolitis 
- Severe Anemia 
- Oral Aversion
Follow ups: 
- Sacral dimple ultrasound, Hip ultrasound, Opthamologist, Feeding Therapy


- Tiny & perfect!
Follow up results:
- Normal!

ugh. i literally have a physical response when I look at those pictures. i am just now beginning to have the hope, time & emotional/mental energy to begin to recover from the tidal wave that was my pregnancy and post partum experience. however, I am SO thankful to be here and not there! Evangeline whose name means good news/gospel has revealed nothing less as our friends all over the world watched and cheered for this little miracle. today i am so incredibly grateful for how far she has come! i truly cannot believe how well she is, and i am so proud. God has been so kind to our family and shown us so much about His grace and faithfulness (as i bucked & wrestled with Him, i might add) through Evangeline. He has blessed us through you, thank you for checking in and thank you for your prayers and love! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

God's faithfulness

Ryan baptized the girls today, which was so special. It was such a sweet reminder that they are in the hands of Jesus and they are His children first. We are so thankful to God for his revealed faithfulness to the girls in utero, in infancy, and his promised faithfulness to them in the future.  

Audrey's dress was made by Ryan's mother for her granddaughters.
Evangeline's dress was made by my grandmother, Audrey, 30 years ago for me and my siblings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Heading home with our heads held high

The Anderson family is returning home new and improved! We entered St Louis in a state of crisis, but are leaving with a renewed sense of hope and calm.

We spent our 6 weeks here getting feeding therapy for Evangeline at Children's Hospital, and counseling for mama! It has all been a huge success- I cannot really believe it. Evangeline has vastly improved. Her treatment consisted of giving her positive feeding experiences in order to help her unlearn her association between feeding and  pain/discomfort. It worked. It took about a month to really extinguish the old behavior and replace it with the new learned association/behavior. Now the kicking and screaming is a distant memory :).

The biggest things we did to give her more positive experiences were to reduce the nipple flow to the slowest flow out there, which is Dr. Brown's preemie nipple- this helped her to feel a bit more in control. We also limited her feeding time to 30minutes (I was spending at least an hour). Additionally, whenever she started resisting or fighting the feed, we did not engage in the power battle, but just stopped. This was terrifying at first because she was not eating nearly enough (in terms of what the nutritionist said she needed), but the feeding therapist was focused on quality, not quantity (so scary and hard to trust she knew what she was doing!!). After about a week, she started picking up her ounces, growing again, and learning that feeding was maybe ok after all. After a month, she was feeding smoothly sometimes in only 15minutes! She went from doing 13-15oz/day to 20-24oz/day. Im so thankful for our feeding therapists at Children's!! I hope this can help other moms out here!

Im doing better too! Really for the first time, I have hope that we are going to make it through this. I have been working through some PTSD and PPD with my counselor and it has helped so much. At 6 months, I finally believe that Evangeline is okay (just tiny)- man, it took a lot to get here!

I still have infant twins, and so it is still hard, but much more manageable. The clouds are finally parting! Thank you for checking in and praying for us! Thank you to my parents for hosting us and making it all possible to get the help we needed!