The elephant (or whale) in the room
That elephant, or rather the whale, would be me. Because I feel like a beached whale right now.
Many of you know that I am pregnant with my second child. And many of you also know how traumatic the birth of my first was. If you haven’t heard the story, I have a blog post about it called “the valley of the shadow of death.” Which I have to say is a highly appropriate title. Consider that your warning.
Now just under two years ago, after my son was born, I told my husband we weren’t having any more kids. After I was diagnosed with PTSD and started getting the treatment I needed, I decided that sure, I’d have another baby someday, but not in the near future.
So what the heck am I doing now, pregnant with a baby due only TWO short years after my trauma?
I’m gonna be straight up and tell you I have no clue.
To be honest, this baby fought against some insane odds to be conceived. Including the fact that we weren’t trying…
Which makes me want to face palm especially when SO MANY women out there are trying desperately to have what stumbled upon us accidentally –and against honestly really incredible odds… I could go into details but only if you ask me personally, because otherwise TMI for public consumption!
When I found out I was pregnant, my first emotion was utter and complete shock. My second emotion was utter and complete despair. I cried for days. Because PTSD doesn’t ever go away… and just BEING pregnant was super triggering.
Our first ultrasound was just a week after we found out the news. I thought it might help to hear the heartbeat and see the little blur on the screen, but it didn’t. I just felt empty and clinical about it.
It’s taken me a lot of time and prayer and heart to hearts with my husband and mom to start accepting this reality. The reality that I am going to give birth again.
For a while I would write down in various places, “I am pregnant. There is a baby inside of me. I am going to have another baby. I am going to have another c section.” I hoped that by writing it out again and again it would sink in. I also hoped that by announcing it to family I would be able to steal some of their excitement for myself.
But I really just had to do a lot of pondering and self introspection, as well as re-address some of the PTSD induced obsessive thoughts that had resurfaced or not been addressed fully in the first place.
Things started looking up after meeting with the OB who would perform my surgery. I connected with her instantly, and after explaining my history she was very good about laying out the plans for me so I could be prepared for everything that’s ahead. She also assured me many of the complications that happened to me the first time were like winning the lottery, and for them all to happen again was almost statistically impossible. She said that my narrow pelvis issue was actually more common than I might realize, and many other women have to have c sections for that same reason as well. I felt less alone and less of a freak. And I had finally met the doctor who I would be trusting with my baby and my body, and I trusted her already.
Now, this pregnancy hasn’t been roses. I’ve been suffering from gall stone attacks since the beginning of the second trimester. My gall bladder will have to be removed after I have the baby. I’ve been on an intense and often boring diet and basically feel like I have the flu 2-3 times a week. Not to mention the inflammation of my gall bladder irritates my diaphragm which irritates the nerve that runs into my shoulder, causing almost constant pain which is exasperated by often already painful Braxton hicks contractions. My OB’s only solution: when you start feeling pain or having contractions, rest and hydrate until it subsides.
Rest?!?! What is rest when you have a toddler????
The diet changes make me fearful of an eating disorder relapse, which part of me wonders if maybe I already have relapsed. It’s hard to tell when I’m feeling too sick to eat all the time anyway.
But despite the difficulty of this pregnancy, I feel those first two trimesters have gone by too fast. Perhaps that is partly because I wasn’t even aware I was pregnant for the first half of the first trimester. But I think it has more to do with my fear of what comes at the end of the pregnancy… the birth.
While I know logically it will be better this time, because now we know, now the c section is planned and scheduled –I am frightened. Frightened I won’t be awake for the birth of my baby again. Frightened I will loose blood again. Frightened of a difficult recovery. Frightened of pain killers that made me feel foggy and lost. Frightened of the loneliness. Of the obsessive thoughts that I still feel ashamed for having. Of the compulsive behaviors that controlled me for months.
PTSD never goes away… no matter how many times my husband verbalizes our birth plan and assures me we’ve made arrangements for all possible scenarios, I’m still so afraid. And the trauma of two years ago haunts me.
This is truly a trial of faith for me. And I suppose an opportunity for further growth in coping with my PTSD.
And of course this will all end with a blessing far greater than any of the suffering required to make it happen: our daughter, Emily-Rose.