The term PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition people associate with experiences in the military or surviving a catastrophic life-experience, like a natural disaster or an accident. It is not always associated with pregnancy, birth, and prematurity, but it is a very real condition for women who experience those life-changing events.
Worrying every day of your pregnancy, not being able to carry to full-term, and watching your baby struggle in the NICU is one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced. I’m not ashamed to say I experienced PTSD, and still do.
I went through every single emotion. I couldn’t believe our twins got diagnosed with a rare condition, and then I was devasted about it. I was angry that I couldn’t have a normal pregnancy, and that I couldn’t keep them safe in my body.
When they were born, I first experienced relief. They were alive, and now I would have doctors to help save them. I wasn’t soley responsible for making every life or death decision anymore. Even though I wasn’t really the only one responsible during my pregnancy, it felt that way. They were in my body.
Then came the guilt.
If I couldn’t be in the NICU every minute, I felt guilty. If I couldn’t be with my other son, I felt guilty.
I lashed out at friends and family, I cried all the time, and my anxiety was out of control.
Then I got some help.
I spoke to a counselor, and she validated my feelings. It felt so good to talk to someone who didn’t judge me, but was just their to listen. She encouraged me to start writing.I started writing.
PTSD from a traumatic pregnancy and birth is REAL.
No Matter What
It doesn’t matter how long you were able to carry your baby, or how long your NICU stay was. PTSD can effect anyone.
Today’s miracle was not a micro preemie, but that doesn’t make his birth or NICU stay any less traumatic.
I’m so proud to share this inspiring story, and happy that Anna opens up about her experience with PTSD.
Please meet sweet Tobias, as told by his mother, Anna.
1. Tell us about your baby.
This is Tobias Lee. Tobias was born on Feb 7th, 2017 at 33 weeks and 6 days. He was 4lbs 15oz and 18 1/2in long. There is no known reason why my water broke early but Tobias came a week before my birthday. I think he just wanted to meet his mommy and say happy birthday.
2. How long was your NICU stay? What was the hardest part?
Tobias was in the NICU for two weeks. I think the hardest part was to leave him at the hospital to go home and finish preparing for him to come home. Tobias was a fighter since day one. He was only on oxygen for a day or so and jumped right to the bottle after learning it gave you the yummy stuff.
3.Do you know what caused your premature birth?
There is no known reason why my water broke at 33 weeks. I had a perfect pregnancy with no puking, stretch marks or any sickness. Tobias was my first pregnancy, but God doesn’t give you a battle you can’t handle.
4.How are you and your baby/babies doing now?
Tobias turns a year old in a week and a half. He is now a big 19 lbs and has his daily struggles but nothing he can’t fight.
He sees a heart specialist because he has a murmur, a spine specialist because his muscles are very weak, and he attends physical therapy once a week. Tobias can finally sit up at 11 1/2 months. He also has regular weight checks.
I think having a baby premature is traumatizing and sticks with you forever. No matter what, I’ve always wondered why my body could not carry him and why he had to go through what we did together. I suffer from post traumatic disorder, but see a counselor who reminds me it is okay to feel all the ways I do.
5. What advice would you give to a new preemie family?
My advice to any mother, father or family member facing a baby being born premature, is remember the days are long but the years are short. Enjoy the moments you get with your child, but also capture the moment because looking back on pictures, videos, and things we made, it’s heart warming to see how far Tobias has come.
I reached out to a premature moms group on Facebook, and it helped me during this all.
Thank you so much to Anna for sharing sweet Tobias with us. Please leave any supportive comments or questions below.