Did you know a lot of women who have went through pregnancy loss also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Before Jensen was born, I only thought veterans or people who went through a really violent experience only had PTSD. The weeks following his birth, I knew I would be going through postpartum healing, grief, and probably depression. I didn’t really think it would be much more than being really sad. Honestly, I felt so strange and different when I was feeling so much more than that. It wasn’t until after I talked to my therapist that I realized that a lot of what I was going through was the same symptoms.
Before I go on, I just want to say I’m in no way comparing my situation to a veteran or person who’s been through a war. That doesn’t mean I’m downplaying the tragedy and trauma I faced though. They’re different types of PTSD, but they’re both very real and affect a person’s everyday life.
There are four general symptoms of PTSD that can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs:
- Reliving the event.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.
- Feeling ‘keyed’ up or being on the lookout for danger.
At thirty-one weeks post loss, I’m constantly facing each on of these. Sometimes all of happen them in one second and other times it really just is one that I can’t shake off. It’s very unpredictable lately.
For the next few weeks, I’m going to refer back to this list in certain posts. I want to be able to focus on each on when it happens or when it’s feeling most raw to me. Even though I’m experiencing all these feelings, sometimes one hits more than others? Maybe that’s not the best way to explain, but I’m not sure how else to do it.
Anyways, I want to talk about the first symptom on the list: reliving the event.
This past weekend, my brain has been focused on a single moment. I’m not really sure what brought it on, but it’s demanding to be present. This moment is being freeze-framed in my mind over and over again. It’s different then any of my flashbacks that I’ve had before, since it’s not triggered by sight or sound. The moment is a feeling that consumes me and is hard to pull away from. My latest flashback is the moment Jensen was born.
My mind has completely blacked out the time I walked back to the delivery room to getting wheeled out of that room. The only break in the blackness is only ten minutes at the most that I have little pieces of. Before this weekend, it was the last few pushes, the guy beside me yelling out 4:25, and me asking if he had ten fingers and toes. That’s it. It’s all I had remembered until I held Jensen bear. Logically I know the moment he was born only lasted a few seconds. Not to get too detailed in hopes I don’t trigger anyone else, my brain knows I pushed, he came, and was delivered. My mind is now sending me the feelings I had, but shock blocked them out.
Holding on to hope.
Hopes being crushed.
Final confirmation he was gone.
Loss of him and myself.
When I look at these feelings wrote out, they just look like words. I can understand someone who hasn’t gone through stillbirth not really understand them or someone who isn’t me. I mean feelings are personal and each of these words bring tears to my eyes. These emotions and ‘words’ happened within seconds, it’s a lot to process. Obviously, since it’s taken thirty-one weeks for my brain to catch up with itself.
Wholeness and emptiness are really sticking out to me. At one moment, his weight was right there. There was still hope, that I knew couldn’t be true. It’s like Jensen’s body held hope, wholeness, and everything that I ever wanted. When he was born, it all went away with him. I first felt the emptiness of where his body had inhabited for months, then the deafening silence. It was all so final and happened too quickly for me to even process.
As the flashbacks keep happening, I can feel the emptiness again and I can’t catch my breath. I literally start hyperventilating, even now when I’m trying to recall it.
Feels like I’m living a nightmare, which I really guess I am. I lived through my worst nightmare and it doesn’t seem real that I haven’t woke up yet. The moment he was born was the best and worst of my life. Jensen was perfect and his body was beautiful. My body let me deliver him, complication free. That moment brought his birth and it could have easily been just the best day of my life. I see the beauty in his silent birth, but the darkness of the nightmare overshadows that moment. I also relive that silence and release of the physical connection we had. Death is ugly. The loss of my son hurts, so does the loss of my identity as a person and the hope I had in the world.
Reliving his birth is hard. I’m triggered by silence, even now and probably for the rest of my life. There will be moments of hope, wholeness, and release that I will encounter again that will most definitely bring me back to this. But somehow I continue to survive. Somehow that release didn’t take me too. You can look at that good or bad because I’ll always have to live knowing that my heart didn’t stop when his did; that somehow the silence didn’t kill me…
If you’re around me or anyone that’s working through trauma, just know these little triggers bring them back to the worst moments of their lives. Don’t encourage me to just move on from them, let me talk them through with you. There will be tears and moments that I can’t say anything, this is when I need you the most.