trau·ma [trou-muh, traw-]
noun, plural trau·mas, trau·ma·ta [-muh-tuh]
a. a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.
b. the condition produced by this; traumatism.
a. an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
b. the psychological injury so caused.
The first time my doctor mentioned it to me, I scoffed. "PTSD?" I asked, "isn't that what happens to soldiers? To people who have been through shootings or bombings or plane crashes? Surely, a little time in the NICU doesn't qualify me for that."
"Jessica," she leveled with me, "your babies almost died. If that's not traumatic, I don't know what is."
I've always been emotional, passionate, maybe even a little high-strung. I've struggled with anxiety in my past. But the feelings I had about the babies birth and the months that followed - the worry, the worst-case scenario thoughts, the sleeplessness and anger and weight gain - I thought it was normal. Anyone in my position would feel the same, right?
For almost a year, I assumed that insert next step would make it better. Once they were off the ventilators, not so sick, out of the isolettes, on their way home. After we ditched the oxygen, stopped their meds, gained some weight, got through the scary winter, came off quarantine. Certianly, once this or that happened, I would feel better. Right? Except not. Because there we were, inching towards the babies' first birthday, and if anything I was feeling worse than the day they were born. I was constantly holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And with those four words - "your babies almost died" - my doctor validated all my feelings. Because she was right, so very very right. I had watched their heartbeats space out on monitors, seen their lips turn gray and felt their bodies go limp. Infections and setbacks and alarms dinging, things that haunt most mother's nightmares - that was my reality. And like it or not, it changed me.
So I started seeing a therapist, and I started taking Prozac. Are drugs right for everyone? No. But they were right for me. I'm not afraid any more. The nightmares have stopped, I can fall asleep easily, I can leave the house without melting down first. I don't feel guilty taking an hour for myself to go workout or have dinner with friends. I am living, really living, and enjoying my babies. Getting help through the medicine and the therapy does not make me less of a person, or less of a mother. In fact, it's just the opposite - I am a better overall for it. It has been over 6 months now, and while I hope I don't have to do this forever I know if I do, that's ok too.
So there you have it, friends. That's what has kept me from my little corner of the internet. I have been wanting to "come clean", but I was nervous. It was hard to put it into words. And don't get me wrong, our little life has been amazing, but I felt almost like a phony typing up these happy, chipper posts without telling you the truth behind them.
And now you know. This little flower needs sunshine AND rain to flourish :)