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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted Oct 16 2009 10:03pm

Here is a great article from the New York Times about PTSD in NICU parents. I know first hand how true it is.

About 5 months after the boys were born I was really in a dark place. You would have thought the joy that both my kids survived and came home to us would have been enough to erase the trauma that we went through and I'm sure that most people can't understand how this could be either. But this was one of the most difficult times in my life and in our marriage as Kenny too was dealing with the trauma he experienced.

I held it together so well through the NICU stay and once we got home it just all came pouring down on me and I was so very exhausted but unable to sleep. Everywhere I looked it seemed that nothing but bad things were happening. We continued to get so much bad news about long term prognosis that I wasn't able to enjoy the babies as much as I should have because I was constantly on the look out for problems.

My kids were doing fine but I was so used to being in crisis mode that I kept waiting for the rug to be jerked out from under my feet. I couldn't relax or rest, I was expecting the heart monitors to go off or to find one of the babies had stopped breathing. I would lie in bed and have a panic attack wondering if I'd remembered to administer a medication or turn the oxygen and monitors back on after a bath. And everytime I knew someone who was pregnant I constantly worried that something bad was going to happen to their pregnancy.

While I was never "officially" diagnosed with PTSD I feel like it is a better descriptor for what I experienced than PPD. I was never sad or depressed really, I was just a complete nervous wreck, anxious all the time, my heart was constantly racing and I felt like I could never catch my breath.

Nothing can prepare a parent for an experience like this and I don't think the hospital or my doctors were really knowledgeable enough about the parent's ordeal to guide us through the process.

Although we are forever impacted by this experience, God is good and I've felt so much restoration in my life over the last two years. I hope that other parents will be able to get the help they need before it destroys lives and marriages.

Psalm 31: 21-22
Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.
In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
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