If you’ve ever experienced a traumatic event, which I sincerely hope you haven’t, it really sticks with you. At least, it has really stayed with me. Many of my blog posts come from that event, which was my twin pregnancy and everything that followed.
Because it’s always right there in the back of my mind, things I see, things I hear, and even things I smell, bring me right back to that time. Not all of the memories are bad, but some make me sad, some make me angry, and some just surprise me.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a real problem for many moms that went through high-risk pregnancies and NICU stays with their children. I do not pretend to be an expert at all, but I do know that I did experience it. For me, I tried to deal with it on my own, but needed help. I got therapy and medication, which helped. Time also is helping. I think I will always remember, but it gets a little easier to deal with as time goes on.
Some people may see my now healthy boys and think, “Why can’t you just get over it and move on?” but it’s not that easy. It was truly a life-changing experience for me, so I will never really “get over it.” I see things differently now, appreciate things in a way I couldn’t before, and have more knowledge on medicine than I ever would have hoped.
So, what prompted this post? I experienced a pretty big trigger the other day. I’ve been having some health issues, and I had to have a scope done. It was not at a hospital, but a surgery center. However, any medical setting makes me a little uneasy these days. I also saw a doctor that I saw when I was pregnant with the twins.
Getting into my hospital gown, walking down the hallway with the nurse, I just started having flashbacks of my other hospital stay. The one that included my emergency c-section. When I got to the surgical room, they had me get on the table. The cold room, the sanitizer smell, and the sterile environment brought me right back to when I was lifted onto that operating table. Luckily, this time, no anesthesia, and just a short, almost painless procedure.
They had me stand up afterwards, and were typing in their notes, when I could feel some tears coming. I hadn’t been able to stand after my emergency c-section, and I didn’t even know if my babies were both alive. It really just hit me.
The nurse asked me a question, which snapped me out of it, and we walked back to my room so I could change and talk with the doctor.
Some things, like that hospital visit are really big triggers, while other things like a certain song or TV show can also bring back emotions that you wouldn’t realize.
Every time I hear the song We are Young, I remember being in my hospital bed and my two-year-old singing the part about the bar closing down. Whenever Modern Family is on, I remember me and my husband trying to act happy and normal for our two-year-old as we all watched it, while the twins were in the NICU. The smell of certain soaps and candles that I remember from being on bed rest.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
Not all people who experience trauma are as open about it as I have become with my writing. It’s sometimes hard to share, especially with your loved ones. So, if someone you know has been through a difficult or traumatic experience, please be patient with them, and know that they might really be struggling, even if they don’t say anything about it. There is no shame in needing or asking for help, but it can be really hard to ask.
If you think you might be suffering from PTSD, please talk to your doctor or a professional.
Thanks for sharing your experience, we all need to be more gentle with ourselves and others who are going through things like this! You never know when you can be triggered!
Exactly. Thanks for the support.
I am sorry you experienced this trauma. I hope everything is well!
I am not at all diminishing your experience, but want to also say, that people also internalize and cope with trauma in a different way. What you experienced may not count as traumatic for some people, but was traumatic for you – this does not mean your experience was not a trauma – it was – to you. And you got through it.
“Get over it?” What a hurtful thing to say. You can never “Get Over” something you found traumatic. But you can learn to MOVE PAST or away from it.
I wish you tons of healing as your boys grow up. Love and thoughts, from this mom, whose twins were also NICU.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
Quirky Grandma says
Thank you for sharing your story. PTSD is a severe issue that many people deal with. Some of us don’t even realize it. For me, my trauma was being held up at work. I could not figure out why I would have such panic attacks every day for years when I went to work. However, I could not imagine what you have went through. I applaud you for being so open with your emotions.
Thank you. I’m sorry you had such a traumatic experience as well. I hope things are getting better.
I’m sure it is amazing how little things will continue to remind you and evoke all kinds of emotions. Hang in there!
Yes. It can be the tiniest things too. Thank you for reading!
It’s hard to write about the things that we perceive as making us weak. When the tears well up and there seems to be no good reason (to the people around us) we feel silly and sometimes beat ourselves up about it.
I’m so glad you took this step, and are bringing it out in the open. Those triggers mean you survived something horrible. You’re stronger for it, and while many people may not get it, that means you’ve come out on the other side of something that most people can’t even imagine. It’s a warrior’s scar – wear it with pride.
Thank you so much Trish. Thank you for your supportive words too. I really appreciate you.
Cynthia @craftoflaughter says
This is something I didn’t realize was a possibility! Thanks so much for, once again, enlightening and educating me!!
Thank you for reading!
I was also very tramautized when our twins came at 29.5 weeks and had to act happy and positive so that others around us would not freak out. To this day I cannot drive by that hospital without having a panic attack. Luckily that hospital is 35 miles away in another town. I don’t have problems with hospitals but become super over protective when either girl is sick or hurt. I wish I could say it gets better with time but it hasn’t after 9 years. These were our first and last children because I was too freaked out to have anymore and I am not sure I could make it through the nicu adventure again. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, the twins are our last babies because of that too. Once you experience something like that, I’m not sure any pregnancy would feel normal.
Heather Serra says
This is a very honest post (my favorite kind!) and I think it is so important for you to share this. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing this but good for you for getting it out there. Other people/mothers with PTSD need to know that they are not alone. <3
Thank you so much Heather!
Melanie S. Pickett says
I too have PTSD so I can relate. I have it from medical experiences including the premature birth of my son. I also have it from a sexual assault a few years ago. I’m glad you’re willing to speak out about it. It’s hard to be so vulnerable but I find when I’m boldly honest, it enables others to speak up and out about their experiences too. <3
Yes. Thank you so much, and thank you for sharing your experience.
I went through this with my twins and an accident my brother was in 5 years prior to our dramatic delivery. I actually broke down the day they put me on hospital bed rest because the beeping and urgency of the doctors and nurses put me right back into hum being in the hospital in a coma and on life support. 10 days later my girls came in such a whirlwind that it was equally traumatic. Followed by a nicu stay with babies that didn’t even feel like my own. Thanks for informing others
Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry you had to experience all that trauma so close together. I can totally relate to you saying the babies didn’t feel like your own. It is just a surreal, unexplainable experience when your babies go to the NICU instead of home with you. I hope all your family is OK now, and you are healing.
I appreciate your honesty. I too had a traumatic journey just to get pregnant, and then had a massive stroke before being able to do IVF. We ultimately used a surrogate And now are the parents of girl-boy twins who are 6. I feel emotionally closed off from them even though they are mine biologically. I didn’t birth them and that’s where I get stuck.
Oh my goodness. Thank you for your honestly and for sharing that with me. I’m so sorry you had those experiences, and are still experiencing issues. I felt really disconnected from the twins in the first few months of the NICU. I was put under, so did not go through the birth either. I also think I was protecting myself because they were born so sick and so small, I was afraid I would lose them. Do you have anyone to talk to? If you ever need someone to listen, please know I’m here for you.
What you wrote and your blog is invaluable to anyone who has had babies in the NICU. I can’t help but tear up thinking of the PTSD that would come after something like this. What you’re doing is incredible for other families! It really is <3
Thank you so much Alana!
Megan VW says
So sorry you had to go through that experience, but it has shaped you into a wonderful mom!
Thank you so much Megan!
I just read your post (from the link you posted on the NOMOTC group on FB). Thank you so much for sharing. My twin girls only spent 10 days in the NICU, but I can still relate to much of what you said. I think it’s so important for us to have these conversations. Our experiences are all unique, but there are threads that bind, for sure.
(P.S.I am a blogger, too. And I read your profile…also an MBA who stayed home until my girlies started kindergarten last fall. Nice to meet you!) 🙂
Nice to meet you too. I’d love to read your blog, as well, so I will check it out. Thank you for reading and the support!
Alyssa from The Sparkly Life says
I love your honesty in this post! It’s so brave of you to be so open and I bet this will help so many people.
Thank you so much Alyssa!
BIG hugs, mama. Thank you for sharing your honestly. My husband and I both suffer from PTSD due to my son being hospitalized last year-it took us a LONG time to realize that we weren’t able to get out of the “funk”. I think that no matter what your trauma, if it involves potentially losing your babies, it’s that much worse.
Thank you. Yes, I totally agree. Thank you for reading and for your support.
Dina Farmer says
Right there with you! A lot of people have told me to just get over my birth and look at the beautiful little boy I have in front of me. I haven’t and I won’t. I want a VBAC the next time around and with this currently surgery I’m so over getting cut open on my c section scar I could scream. I think others that have normal and natural births don’t understand how hard it can be to shuffle around suffering in pain for weeks because you’ve been cut open. How hard it is to do anything because of all the pain you are in.
I think we all need to be a little bit more sensitive when it comes to birth. Because we all experience different levels of trauma in our own births.
I know I will fight tooth and nail for a VBAC. I really do not want to be cut open a 4th time. I’m sick of it.
Good for you! You are your best and sometimes only advocate. I hope you recover from your recent surgery quickly.
Dina Farmer says
Wow, I never thought about it from this angle. For me, smells are what come to mind first. Anytime I smell the hospital soap (which is the same and a lot of medical facilities I’ve found), hand sanitizer, and a particular chapstick I used during that time in the hospital. My daughter had an infection in her first pic line and to this day the veins on her chest just below her left shoulder are very bright blue/green. Every time I see them, it takes me back there a little (less vividly with time). A couple of months ago my husband and I went away for the weekend. For some reason, in the middle of the night I woke up sweating buckets and in my half-asleep state I had a mini panic attack because it immediately reminded me of sweating on the weird plastic-covered hospital pillow the first couple of night after my daughter was born.
Thanks for sharing this post. Really enjoyed it, as usual.
Isn’t it crazy how things just come rushing back out of no where? Sometimes our body/senses remember before our mind. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Thank you also for reading and for your support. I appreciate it.
Thanks for Sharing! I recently had a girlfriend who had her baby at 24 weeks he lived for a month and passed away. My heart aches for her this helped me understand a little of what she may be experiencing. I know I could never truly understand but this helps. <3
I’m so sorry for your girlfriend’s loss. I’m glad you are trying to understand and help here. There are many loss support groups on Facebook, so if you ever need any other help, please let me know.
Ok thanks doll!!
I also had C-section and a NICU stay for 3 1/2 months. My trigger is my spine, if my husband rubs my back and hits the spot where they put the needle it takes my breath away. The epidural did not work for me…I felt everything when they cut me to take the baby out. YIKES! 2 more doses that didn’t work then finally knocked me out. I too did not know if my baby was even alive when I woke. Thank God she is now a healthy 3 1/2 yr old 🙂 The song Fly by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna makes me cry everytime I hear it. It came on the radio everyday on my drive to see my baby in the NICU – and the words just hit me still.
Oh my goodness…I am so sorry. I can’t believe you felt everything. How horrible. I had to be knocked out right away, and also didn’t know what I would wake up to. I remember just praying that both my babies would be alive when I woke up. My boys are 3 now too 🙂
Things that shake our inner being is hard to move on from is like our mind forever want to protect us from that experience
Yes! Exactly! Thank you!
I have suffered from PTSD from a completely different reason but I can definitely emphasize! I have had PTSD since I was a child but was never properly diagnosed nor ever got help. I was always told to get over it, but you are right triggers can be extremely difficult and they are different for everyone.
Hearing, “Get over it,” is the worst. I’m so sorry you suffer from PTSD too. I hope you have been able to get help as an adult.