PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it’s a very real (and scary) diagnosis. It’s usually given to men and women who’ve returned from war, survived a burglary or assault, or a child with domestic violence history. As a counselor, I’m trained to look for signs of PTSD in some of my clients who’ve experienced something traumatic and sadly, I’ve recently diagnosed myself. I have PTSD regarding my pregnancy.
Many of my mom friends told me they were anxious their entire pregnancy wondering about the health of their baby. This is normal. That’s mom’s protective instincts turning on. This mom will also worry about bullies, strangers, choking hazards, her child falling, scraped knees, etc, until this child is 45 years old. Again, this is normal.
I, on the other hand, am literally TERRIFIED about pretty much everything concerning my pregnancy and I’m being forthright about this because I need my friends and family to understand why I cringe when they say, “congratulations,” or why I may seem nonchalant every now and then regarding the babies. I go back and forth between excitement and sheer terror and it may seem odd, but consider what I’ve been through.
For nearly three years I got bad news regarding my body, my health, my fertility, and my chances of EVER having children, over and over again. Sometimes it was only once a month, but often it was every two weeks, and sometimes even every day. The moment I thought I saw silver lining, I’d get shot down with something bad again. Not only was there about 5 diagnosis plagueing me and my husband as we tried to bring a baby into our family, but when we finally jumped all the hurdles, fought all the odds, and finally got pregnant (0.05% chance of successful pregnancy mind you), we lost that pregnancy shortly after.
So, when we went to the doctor and found out I had no cysts, we were given the meds we needed, I had perfect estrogen levels, I had the right amount of follicles, we were able to make each appt at the scheduled time for IUIs, and then found out we were having two babies (and both were healthy?) we were still freaked out. “Yeah, but what’s wrong?”, we thought.
Of course I’m thrilled to be pregnant and having twins and I’m pleading and begging God every night to hold my babies in his hands until I can bring them into this world and love them until the bitter end, but I’m also terrified that this isn’t really it. I’m scared if I get too excited I’ll be blindsided.
What does a PTSD pregnancy look like?
- If I wake up and I’m not sick, I fear they’ve disappeared. I’d rather feel sick so I know they’re ok.
- I put my hand on my stomach to try to find their heartbeats every day (all day).
- Everytime I get in my car I fear I’ll get into an accident and my stomach will hit the steering wheel just right.
- I’ve never been scared of burglars, but now I fear someone will break into my house while my husbands gone and beat me and I’ll lose the babies.
- What if I get hit by a car walking in to the grocery store?
- Baby B has a strong heartbeat, but he’s smaller, does this mean something is wrong?
- What if they can’t get enough air during delivery and they have CP and I’ll never know their thoughts?
- What if one twin doesn’t make it?
- What if both twins don’t make it?
Ugh! The healthy, rational person inside of me with an advanced degree in psychosocial care says I’m being ridiculous and I should be jumping for joy, but the formal infertile inside me has the wall up and is scared to fully let go until they’re in my arms. Until I can see them, hear them, hold them, I’ll fear the worse. If you’re thinking, “She needs to get some help”, you’re probably right. I do need some help.
I need everyone to hear my fears and recognize how real and valid my feelings are. I need support and constant (constant) encouragement through this pregnancy. I need a baby shower filled with friends and family who know that I’m terrified to open their gifts because the babies aren’t here yet and I’m still freaking out they won’t ever bea and that my smile is likely half terror.
I need your help until I figure this out and until my sweet babies are safely, healthily in my arms.
Stay gold Ponyboy,