Tag Archives: survivor

Reanimating my past

Reanimation

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Some time ago, I blogged about how brushing my hair triggered my PTSD from the birth of my second daughter. Not too long after her birth, I chopped all my hair off. It’s long again and I am finally okay with brushing my hair but still mindful of how long I brush. I make every effort to brush only as long as necessary, forcing myself to put the brush down and walk away.

Today, for the first time in over five years, I am listening to Linkin Park’s Reanimation.

Why is this significant?

This is the album I listened to the day my five year old daughter had surgery for her jaw at just 9 days old. I took the MP3 player into the sleep room at the Children’s Hospital right outside the NICU, curled up, cranked it up as loud as it would go, sinking blissfully down into the rhythm of the pulsating beats and the angst of their screaming voices. Thing is, I sank so far down I did not want to come back. I yearned to stay there, hidden, safe, with their angst. Lost in the darkness. Because there, there I did not have an imperfect newborn. There, I was just a soul moving to the rhythm. Nothing was wrong. I was not angry. I was not sad. I was NUMB. I wanted to be lost forever in the solitude of peace which existed amidst the digital beats, the persistent piano tones and haunting echoes behind the remixed rhythms. My womb, my saviour, my peace. I clung to the MP3 player until my knuckles were stiff, refusing to let go, closing my eyes to sink deep beneath the surface of reality.

But today, I sit here, each song echoing into my ears, my soul, my heart, and I am shaking as I type. Breathing deep through pursed lips and wiping away tears. This is music. This is just beats. Just rhythm. Just voices. This is NOT my daughter’s surgery. This is NOT the pain I felt five years ago. It’s not. Today I am letting all of this wash over me and turning it into the music it’s meant to be, not the hell it used to be for me. Today I am not numb. Today I am feeling. Today I am listening. Today, I’m singing with the words. I’m dancing to the beats. I’m reclaiming the music for joy instead of pain.

Today, I win.

Today, I refuse to let this music trigger me any longer.

It’s taken me five years but I’m finally strong enough to refuse to let this beast control me anymore.

Not easy, but necessary. A step toward the new me. Toward the healed me.

Why am I sharing this with you? To let you know that yes, healing takes time. It’s a process with each step presenting itself as you are ready. If you falter, don’t despair. The step will come. You’ll overpower the step with strength from an unknown place when the time is right. It won’t be easy. But it will be powerful. And once you’ve done it, you’ll look back and see just how far your journey has brought you… and how much strength it has added to your life.

Own it instead of letting it own you.

An Angry Sea

For so many the sea can be a source of calm, peace, relaxation, meditation. It is in the sea that many find their anchor. I am one of those people. I grew up at the beach as I noted in a post from the other day. The sights, smells, and feel of the beach trigger so many wonderful memories often locked within my heart. Memories which are the foundation of my life.

But even the sea, the tranquil sea, gets angry.

Today is one of those days.

A storm system is traveling through the area. Filled with lightning, thunder, threat of tornado, the clouds are moving swiftly over land and out to sea. As a result, the ocean is reacting to the forces placed upon it by nature.

Soft and gentle waves are replaced by short and choppy waves as far as the eye can see. They crash harshly onto shore, pulling more sand angrily back out to the depths of the seabed with each new crash. A red flag declaring no swimming is raised tall in front of the lifeguard stand. No one is meandering along the beach except for a few brave souls.

So here we sit, waiting for the storm to break, the rain to fall, and planning alternate activities for the family so as to maximize our last day here at the beach.

And that’s when it hit me.

That this, this storm, this angry weather, is just like a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

Sure, we can predict to whom it MAY happen.

We can identify the jet streams which may swoop it into the lives of certain people. Identify the environmental factors which ripen the possibility of occurrence. But until we get pregnant or give birth, we don’t know if it really will happen to us.

Then when it does, we seek shelter. We make alternate plans. Hopefully we have an emergency kit ready to go in our shelter which should include a list of resources to which we can turn if the waves of emotion get short, angry, and choppy. If the waves decide to reclaim us bit by bit. If they do, we hedge ourselves in until we can heal, seeking respite from the very storm which threatens to tear us apart.

Just as we sit to wait for a storm to pass, we also must wait for a Postpartum Mood Disorder to pass. Some storms pass through quickly, a mere blip, other storms linger and take days to pass. Of course, a Postpartum Mood Disorder takes longer than days to pass – for some it may be months. For others, it may take a year or more. Again, this is in direct relation to your risk factors, level of support, contributing circumstances, proper professional care.

We may feel helpless as the storm whirls around us. But we are not as helpless as we believe ourselves to be in the midst of this vortex. Others always stand ready to come together as a community to support us, to join hands with us in this shared experience.

We must also remember our loved ones become trapped in this vortex with us. They too, need support, love, and understanding.

As I sit and listen to the angry sea, I find peace in knowing that soon, this too, will pass. So the angry waves crashing upon the shore bring solace and strength. The sand will one day be replaced, the beach will grow stronger, and once again, we will play in the waters of the ever-changing sea.

Know too, that one day, your Postpartum Mood Disorder will pass, and you, you will be stronger, able to play in the ever-changing sea of your life.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @jamesandjax Reflecting on PPD

There comes a time in the postpartum experience when you are well enough to look back. It’s challenging to look back. To see the scary so intimately intertwined with the happy. To see a piece of tiny snuggly clothing and then be triggered with anxiety, scary thoughts, flashes of depression – is a frightening thing. Yet, all who have struggled with postpartum struggle with this very issue at one time or another. It’s what drives us to think about whether or not we should have another baby. It’s what casts shadows over our children’s first birthday, second birthday, etc. This.IS.HARD.

This week’s Postpartum Voice of the Week takes this precise issue and writes about it beautifully. The post is short, simple, and to the point. She takes you from happily nursing her child and drinking in his scent to screaming on the phone with her mother about how hard motherhood is – I can’t do this! Yet, through all of that, she still loved her son. During PPD and even more today.

Without further ado, I encourage you to read her story in her words. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Postpartum Voices of the Week: @jme814 & @Atlantamom

I wish this post was longer but it’s late, it’s been a busy day, and I am tired.

The posts really do speak for themselves and don’t really need much of an introduction. Be sure to go visit them and leave some love there too. Congrats, ladies!

Earlier in the week, I read a great post over at James & Jax about PPD and emotional triggers. We discussed this at #PPDChat this past week. I love this post because in it, James not only states that triggers “was one of the most profound topics covered during any of the PPDchats in which I’ve participated” but she also shares her own issues with triggers during her PPD. It’s so very important to let other mothers what may cause your postpartum to flare up but that it can be different from Mom to Mom. Thanks for sharing and writing an entire blog post on this very important topic.

Go read James & Jax’s post here: PPD & Emotional Triggers.

Then the other day, Amber at Beyond Postpartum wrote about the Strength & Influence of a Survivor. This post is also short and to the point. But it is very powerful. Amber points out the power of a survivor. That there is power in the voice of a survivor when someone who is lost hears that voice. Amber’s words are a must read for the struggling and survivor mom alike. Go read it.

 

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Happy Survivor Day to me!

Today, four years ago, at 2:20pm, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl.

She was three and a half weeks early after 42 hours of labor and not quite complete.

Her palate it seemed had not quite made the journey.

But she was eager to join us and had lessons to teach.

Oh, the lessons she had to teach were difficult to learn. But beyond priceless.

Lessons in love, patience, joy, understanding, beauty, laughter, faith, discipline, coping, and discovery of strength we did not know we possessed.

FOUR years ago today my trip down a spiral staircase began at a rapid pace.

But here I sit, four years later, the mother of three beautiful children.

I laugh, I cry, I parent.

But I am here. And here I sit as I sigh and smile, grateful deep down for all the time we have had and the time to come.

The mother of a child who, four years ago, needed a feeding tube to grow. Who needed round the clock care for the first month of her life.

The mother of a child who needed 6 surgeries in the first 5 months of her life.

And now – now she laughs. She talks. She eats without help. Without fear. Without a feeding tube.

She can say “Bobby” and blow up balloons.

Bubbles? Not a problem for this princess anymore!

She can say her ABC’s and sing a tune.

A good book is often found clutched in her sticky hands.

She.is.HEALTHY.

And I am happy.

I can understand 85% of everything she says to me. (Less than a year ago I couldn’t understand 50% of what she was saying)

She hugs. She loves to be tickled.

She can tell a very funny (and original) joke.

She is absolutely uncompromising on more occasions than I care to admit but I still love her with all my heart.

She says “I Love You, Mommy and I mean it!” which melts my heart more and more every time.

Four years later.

We’re closer than ever.

Happy Birthday to her.

Happy Survivor’s Day to Me.