Saturday, August 29, 2009


Sometimes, life is full of irony. Just yesterday, my mom & I were talking about the NICU. One of my best friends at work has started working in there. She keeps asking me to come back & work up there with her. I keep telling her I just can't. She says sure you can, come on. My mom said "I think you have some Post Traumatic Stress from the whole situation with MM". I tell her maybe & we move on to another subject.

Today, Ellen posted a blog about an article on NICU & PTSD. It is a very interesting article. As I read it, some things really screamed out at me. (I am condensing parts, so it is not direct quotes from the article)

"Experts say parents of NICU infants experience multiple traumas, beginning with the early delivery, which is often unexpected. The second trauma is seeing their own infant having traumatic medical procedures and life-threatening events. And third, they often are given serial bad news. The bad news keeps coming. It’s different from a car accident or an assault or rape where you get a single trauma and it’s over and you have to deal with it. With a preemie, every time you see your baby the experience comes up again.”

Absofreakinlutely. Even six years later, I still feel traumatized. An emergent c-section & she was whisked away, not to be seen for over 12 hours by me. I still carry anger over that. I didn't change her first diaper, help with her first bath, offer her comfort when she cried. Some one else did those things. She spent her first night in this world with strangers. Some days, I can't look at her without thinking of her in that damn plastic box with doors. I couldn't hardly hold her, only touch her through those doors. I remember the IV in her head that made her cringe & it was blown. I told the nurse, she wouldn't listen. I stood there, watching the nurse attempt to flush it & saw my baby literally push up so hard from pain she hit the top of the incubator. I was told I couldn't rock her cause preemies don't like vestibular movement. It just kept on & on & on. I carry that scab with me. I wish it were just a scar, but I must say it is still a scab. Granted, it is getting to be a crusty old scab.

"The Stanford study found that although none of the fathers experienced acute stress symptoms while their child was in the NICU, they actually had higher rates of post-traumatic stress than the mothers when they were followed up later. It may be that cultural roles compel the men to keep a brave front during the trauma to support their partners, Dr. Shaw said, adding, “But three months later, when the mothers have recovered, that’s when the fathers are allowed to fall apart.”

This sounds familiar. DH didn't really come to terms with all of this until fairly recently. I often just think he is keeping his head in the sand. Maybe not. Thanks NYTimes for giving me a different perspective on this. I need to be more patient with him, for he is suffering through this just as much as me.

"Later, mothers might experience “vulnerable child syndrome,” in which they become so anxious that a minor medical event sends them into a panic. Normal, everyday risks can seem life-threatening; “From the moment of their birth, and still to this day, we feel like we’re triaging everything and just hanging on"

I KNOW I suffer from the vulnerable child thing. A fever can send me over the edge with anxiety, stomach acid burning my throat, waiting for something bad to happen. It is never an easy illness for her, either due to her sensory stuff from ASD or she is really, really sick from her auto immune issues. I am also turdified she is going to have a seizure. She has NEVER had one, but kids with ASD and/or CP have a higher risk to have them. The hits keep coming too. I have recently learned that they can add another diagnosis to your child, even this late in the game. I do have to triage everything in her life: appointments, therapy, school. Which is more important? What do I need to focus on and what can I blow off? Although, I feel like I can't blow anything off for fear of not doing enough for her. I beat myself up pretty bad when it comes to her. How many times have I said I feel like I am just hanging on by a thread.

Now, I know why. I have had therapy. I can't remember if the therapist said anything about PTSD. It just hasn't really dawned on me. Until now.

So, can I go back and work in the NICU?

I. Just. Can't.


Éimí (Amy in Gaelic) said...

*hugs* and so many prayers for you...I have PTSD as well...but with therapy, I'm getting through it...just remember, you are an amazing mother, and you are doing EVERYTHING in your power to help your beautiful and amazing daughter!

Colleen said...

I can totally see why many would feel this way...I didnt have issues with the NICU...but spending time in the PICU has left a lot of baggage.

(((hugs))) to you and other NICU parents and children!

MeghatronsMom said...


I don't think my PTSD comes from NICU alone- it was the start. Everything else (like PICU for you) has contributed to this. It just never ends, ya know?

pixiemama said...

I hear you. Not the NICU, but the PICU. I can't even go to that floor. I can't even think about it - nor can I STOP thinking about it.

My Baby Sweetness said...

Wow. Amazing post. Thank you for sharing.

Keri said...

Blech, stomach acid. Don't you just hate it? Surely something I could live the rest of my life without.