I’m not sure where the time goes, but days become weeks and weeks become months. I started this blog as a way to share my experiences and adventures with my children. It also became a way to share more personal thoughts and journeys, becoming therapeutic for me.
After 3 years I am finally at a place to share the biggest therapeutic benefit that writing has had for me. It has helped me deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a term I never thought applied to me. But through my blog and in turn other media outlets and bloggers I have seen more and more moms dealing with the same after-effects of having a premature child.
It has been almost 3 years since my son was born 8 weeks early. He is healthy and thriving, but I spent over 2 years dealing with flashbacks, anxiety and moments of extreme sadness when remembering various memories from my pregnancy leading up to his birth. Although the moments are fewer and further between, there are still triggers that can bring tears to my eyes.
To put it into words is difficult. Most people’s response focuses on how well my son is doing, but strangely that’s not where the PTSD comes from. The sadness comes from the memories of events, the times leading up to his birth and the subsequent hospital visits. I can only recently drive to the hospital without crying. Hearing the name of one hospital I stayed at I gave me flashbacks. Different things triggered brief moments.
The main focus is on the premature baby, understandably, but somewhere along the way the mother gets lost and forgotten. I can still remember early on in my hospital stay, when I was still pregnant, I had an “ugly cry” moment. Everything built up and I couldn’t stop crying. I was angry, sad, confused, alone, frustrated, scared; every reason to cry. The nurse responded by showing me the fetal monitor and told me that my crying wasn’t good for the baby. So when was I allowed to cry?
Maternity wards, NICUs and their hospitals need to find ways to work more with parents, especially after they go home. There needs to not be just aftercare for the baby, but also for those caring for them.
I talked to a friend recently about a support group she is going to that helps people deal with the after effects of major illnesses. She said it’s hard to explain to people because she’s healthy, she made it through the hardest part. How do you explain fear and sadness to someone when outside appearances show none of it?
Every day, week, month is better. My biggest advice to people who know someone going through it is give them validation for their feelings. Let them know it’s okay and completely understandable to feel how they do. They suffered a trauma and that doesn’t just go away.