Guest blogger - Tracy W
I am a mom to two preemie babies and i deal with PTSD almost everyday. It happened just over two years ago. You know those moments you see on TV when the world keeps going but you stand still, that's when it all started for me. My first baby came at 31+6 weeks. I went into spontaneous labour and it was so quick they couldn't stop it. My labour was normal and my son was born after just 4.5 hours. All seemed ok considering he was early. The paediatrician said to me he was fine, just needed a little extra help with his breathing and had to stay in special care nursery for awhile so he can get a bit bigger than his 2.2kg. A couple hours later I was living my worst nightmare. I relive this moment still to this day. I went to see my precious boy and as I walked in the curtains were drawn around the high care incubator with doctors and nurses rushing in. We were ushered out of there very quickly. They all looked terrified. That's my heart sank so deep. I just knew it was my boy even though I was still praying it wasn't him. After what seemed an eternity a doctor came to my room to discuss my son. I will never forget how calm he was when he was describing how my sons right lung had collapsed (pneumothorax). When they tried to fix it, he had a very rare complication from the procedure and it caused his other lung and heart to pull over towards the collapsed lung (tension pneumothorax). They had to put in a drain, get him stabilised and send him to the NICU at PMH. It took hours to get him stabilised and I still vividly remember watching them put him in the ambulance and take him away. He was only a few hours old and they were taking my baby away with all these tubes and wires hooked into him. This is when the world just stopped for me and in many ways it still has never really started back up.
NICU was a blur of emotions, mostly I remember feeling such guilt and absolute helplessness. I have so many flashbacks to this time of my life, strange things like taking a shower will send me straight back to the shower in my room at PMH. That feeling of helplessness washes over me with every flash back. Even though my son is now a happy healthy 2 year old I still have these horrible flashes. I suppose it's because of what I went through but also because in many ways I still blame myself.
I fell pregnant again when my son was just over 12 months old. I hoped this pregnancy would be different and boy it was, but not in a good way. My obstetrician was watching me really closely and at the first sign of anything happening she put me on progesterone. That was fine I could deal with that, until I started to go into labour at 28 weeks. I was put on bedrest, had steroid injections, numerous hospital stays/visits, heaps of medication and constant tightening pains for my last two months of pregnancy. Several times I was told I was about to have my baby and to expect that she will be going to NICU. However we defied the odds and made it to 36+3 weeks. This time my labour was only 1.5 hours and I nearly had her on the side of the road. We had 000 on the line and my doctor waiting at JHCs front entrance. She was born and thankfully she was perfectly healthy.
I had to face my worst fears during this pregnancy. I knew I was a ticking time bomb and I had time to prepare for another NICU journey. This was probably worse because I knew how hard it would be. I had 8 months of stress, fear, anxiety and pain but somehow I remained determined to keep her in. 5 months on and people expect me to be back to "normal" but they just have no idea. Unless you have given birth to a preemie and had a stressful high risk pregnancy you probably have no idea what I have gone through. Yes both my children are healthy but I have had to face the prospect of loosing a child. You never forget that feeling and I really don't know if I will ever get over it. All I know is that no matter how much I try I can not bottle these emotions up, I need to face my PTSD even though I don't want to. I now know I am not alone in this journey.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from PND or PTSD you can find more information on our website here.