years of emotion
occurring in only months
make processing hard
I was sitting here tonight, scrolling through some pictures, and I accidentally ventured into the DMZ of my iPhoto – the area after the NICU, but before the trach. It makes me well up just writing about it. It was such a wonderful, hopeful, exciting time for our family. We were finally past the hard part, or so we thought. We were building new routines, relishing in finally being a family, all together under one roof for the first time. We had made it through some pretty trying times, and daily tedium was a welcome, coveted experience.
When I have a moment to quietly sit and think about things, I'm starting to have kind of a hard time with it all. Even when I don't have a moment, sometimes the hard times sneak up on me. We're coming up on a year of all of this. The wee-er one's birthday, to be exact. July 1st, 4:30am last year, I was at the hospital with ruptured membranes at 20 weeks pregnant. Though, at the time, the tests for amniotic fluid came back negative. I knew better, though, and a few days later my worst fears were confirmed.
Or I thought they were my worst fears.
A year later I have new worst fears. I do well for a while, tucking them away in my brain, but then something triggers a memory, or gives me a flash of a possible future and the waves of panic and fear and sadness and helplessness just wash over me until I have to just grab my head and put on some loud music and wait for it all to go away.
It's hard for me to decide which is more terrifying, being pregnant and not knowing if you and your baby can stay healthy long enough for a non-tragic ending, or making it through all of that, thinking things are fine and then suddenly not knowing if your baby will be OK.
The first part of this terrifying, miraculous, life-altering journey started just over a year ago. And I think I am having some kind of perfect storm of PTSD. The heat, the way the trees look out of my bedroom window, the tan color of the kids' arms and legs, the smell of the farmers market, the taste of the fruit, my bedspread… everything is bringing me back to last year just before and just after my water broke.
So there's that.
And then on top of all of that I have this newer PTSD. The sight of an ambulance racing down the street makes me have to pull the car over to catch my breath. The smell of the brand of deodorant I wore when I was living at the hospital just after Ike got his trach. The music that was on my ipod. These are all things that prove I am still not over February and March. I think that I'm over it, but it sneaks up on me.
As the summer continues, I am starting to feel crushed by both ends; the past that was so scary, and the future that is so scary. I am not just forgetting how to live only in the present, I am afraid I am losing the stamina to do it. I want to look ahead. I want to seek out answers and information and hope. But I am starting to realize that these are not finite things. I will not wake up one morning and have The Answer. I will not have The Information. Things are ongoing, ever present. Our lives have been altered forever. Some days I accept that. I'm totally cool with it. I'm rolling with the punches. I'm enjoying the fact that there aren't punches everyday. I think things will be fine. I embrace the new normal.
Then, on other days, I am trapped in the past. The future is murky. It's frightening. The past is painful and ethereal. I don't know which way to look.
I am afraid of what is to come. I am afraid of Cinci in August. I am afraid to be hopeful. I am afraid of having the panic attack of all panic attacks on Ike-a-saurus' birthday. I am sometimes afraid this is all my fault.
I say all of this not as a cry for help. I'm OK. I really am. I'm just still processing everything. And for the most part, I'm really happy. I know how incredibly, truly, amazingly fortunate we are. So I feel like an asshole when I wallow, but sometimes I need a moment to freak out.
Those moments may be coming more frequently as various "anniversaries" pop up this summer. I swear, sometimes just the way the air feels can set me off.
Right now, though, I'm OK. Just processing. Always processing. And now that I know better, always worrying that things could be worse.