PTSD, PPD and Finding the Helpers.

That’s a lot of Ps.  The last 12 months have been trying to say the least.  When I found myself laying in the OR last June, watching as they sliced me open and pulled me apart, digging through my body in a struggle to get Rein out, I was already in crisis.  I was coping with an emotional trauma that had began to unfold a month prior (although it was already present in my body for years).  Those first 60 seconds of Rein’s life when I thought he was dead or dying, became so tightly interwoven with the existing trauma that I couldn’t separate them for months.  I’d close my eyes at night and see myself being stabbed in the gut, blood spilling, me screaming as my children watched.  It. Was. Horrifying.

In the months that followed, I began to heal little pieces of myself but I was trapped in cycles of anger, sadness, terror. As the election of our new president grew closer, it got much worse.  The way he spoke about women and their bodies, the abusive behavior he exemplified put a fire in my gut that begged to breathe flames.  When I’d see people defending or supporting him, the image of the knife tearing into me resurfaced.  His misogyny excused as “locker room talk” left me feeling worthless– their support of him felt like a big ol’ “Fuck you, this is the way it has always been and this is the way it will always be.  Boys will be boys.  Men will be men. Now act like a lady and stop your crying…”

During this time, I went crying to my midwife– “I NEED something.  I need something to help me feel better.”  The running, self-care, and high quality nutrition were not cutting it.  I did not like the person I was becoming in my home.  I did not like the way I was losing my patience so easily with Leif.  After trying a few different medications, I discovered that the side effects were too much and opted for herbal remedies and loads and loads of self care and running.

Running is where the magic happens for me.  It’s the part of my day that feels most in control.  Its the time when my brain and my spirit are able to process pieces of the trauma.  Recently, on an early morning run, I recalled the nurse who was with me during my labor.  Her name was Sara.  She was gentle, compassionate, and encouraging.  When we discovered Rein had turned transverse, she was the one that prepped me for the OR.  Her shift was over but she accompanied me to the OR. As the anesthesiologistinserted the needle into my spine, I wrapped my arms around her and she pressed her forehead into mine as tears streaked my face.  My body was shaking.  I was cold. I was terrified.  She told me I was doing amazing and to keep my mind in the secret place I had entered during my labor.  As she left and my mom and Josh entered, she said, “I’m sure we’ll meet again…”

My brain jumped to when it was over.  Rein had been placed on me and he searched for my breast.  He nursed and I sighed heavy with relief that we were both alive.  As they prepared to move us into the recovery room, the anesthesiologist leaned down and told me everything was okay– Rein’s lack of breath for that first minute was not uncommon in a c-section and that it wouldn’t cause him any problems.  In the flurry of chaos, no one had told me it was okay.

Helpers.  There are so many helpers amongst the chaos.

Our nation is in chaos right now.  Every day, we are barraged with a new national crisis.  Our humanity is under attack.  The darkness wants to wear us down.  It wants us to become so overwhelmed that we sink into a hole and allow it to consume us.  But we won’t. I won’t.  This world is filled with helpers, with people who will stand by you.  They’ll hold you, a stranger, in your frightened vulnerability and they’ll tell you you’re worthy, you’re strong.  They’ll whisper in your ear, “Everything is okay.”  They’ll advocate for you.   They’ll fight for you and with you.  They’ll even put their body on the line to protect you.

This battle is not yet over– for my own trauma or the trauma our nation is enduring. As we process and battle together, lets keep looking for the helpers.




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