A story about my struggle with PTSD from the traumas of pregnancy with the triplets. “I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I know now that God numbs us during those times. If I had felt all the true emotional and spiritual pain of that moment I think my heart would have burst.”
At times, I’ve been feeling emotional and crazy, like level 10 on the crazy scale. About three months ago I felt it coming on, and I knew exactly why. It was the first time since the triplets had been home that I was able to take a breath. I wasn’t in emergent survival mode instead just regular survival mode. And my mind and heart finally had time to slow down.
With that pause, all of a sudden – BAM!
My mind started running through the traumas of my pregnancy like scenes of a movie, over and over. I would have flashbacks; I just cried and cried all the time. I was feeling things that I hadn’t had a chance to feel before. It wasn’t baby blues; it felt a little bit like anxiety but different. I had finally started feeling and dealing with the emotions of my pregnancy traumas. I couldn’t shake the thoughts or feelings, they were haunting me.
I knew what I needed to do –I started talking about it and reaching out to people who have been through this but the pain wasn’t great enough yet to take action. I mean, why would I do something right away? (insert sarcasm) I have to wait until I am really uncomfortable to do something about a situation.
Here are the scenes from the movie in my head:
I woke up in a pool of blood at 12 weeks pregnant with triplets and knew that had I lost one, two or even all three babies. The doctor said I could go to the ER or wait two hours to come into the office. I knew it wasn’t good, so I wanted to wait to get bad news from the women who I knew.
I was so happy to see Judy, the ultrasound tech. Seeing her face, filled with care and sincerity, gave me comfort that I would have an answer very soon. As I lay on the hospital table and stare at the ceiling with tears rolling down my face, not looking at the ultrasound screen just knowing that everything that has happened up to this point was for nothing. The tears, prayers, medicine, shots were all for nothing. I was angry, panicked and defeated. In just a matter of seconds Judy said, “I see three heart beats.” I was in disbelief! Thank you God!I continued to bleed severely from hemorrhaging for two weeks, and I was on bed-rest for the entirety of my pregnancy, another four months.
I knew what that meant.
I knew it was over.
My water had broken.
I was in shock and disbelief and went into in emergency mode. I got a towel and put it between my legs because water continued to gush out. My mom was on her way over to visit so I called to tell her that my water broke, and we needed to go to the hospital. This is the first time in my life I was thankful for my mom being in full on panic, crazy mom mode. On the way to the hospital I was calm. It had a lot to do with the fact that my mom almost ran into two ditches, one truck and thought she was a NASCAR driver. She was so scared and worried for me and the babies. I kept telling her to slow down. It cracks me up when I think about it now. I remember thinking, “Thank God she is freaking out because it is helping keep me calm.” I kept telling her everything was going to be OK. I didn’t believe that, but it felt good to say it.
Coming from a girl who can’t remember much about last week; I can describe the following events with great detail much like it happened yesterday. I remember the smells, the colors — everything is so vivid.
My water was in fact broken, and I was in shock. As I lay in the hospital bed I see the on call OB/GYN, Dr. Wilking, sitting to my right, and my husband on the left. I had never met her, but I liked and trusted her because she was in the same practice as my OB/GYN. She wore blue scrubs, white shoes and her hair in a pony tail. She was very kind, but I could see the sadness in her eyes.
I still cry thinking about the moment when my OB/GYN walked through the door. My heart filled with ease and comfort as Dr. Leinenbach walked in the room. She was wearing a white t-shirt and black gym shorts and didn’t have any make-up on which made me think she had come from home. She made me feel like no matter what happened, she would do everything in her power to protect me and the babies. She is cautious, confident, intelligent, and loving. I added her to my “love list” a long time ago.
The doctors were sitting in chairs around my bed talking to me and my husband, but I couldn’t hear much of what they were saying. I remember Dr. Wilking saying with pain in her eyes that in most cases women deliver with in 24-48 hours of their water breaking, and at 20 weeks babies are not viable. I just looked up at the ceiling with continuous tears rolling down my face. I was numb. I felt almost no emotion, no pain, just pure heartache. I didn’t know what to say in a prayer so I just asked God to take over. If I close my eyes, I can transport back to that moment. The pain from that moment was so intense that my heart could burst if I think about it too long. It was over. My three sweet babies that were growing inside me – were not going to live much longer.
I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I know now that God numbs us during those times. If I had felt all the true emotional and spiritual pain of that moment I think my heart would have burst.
I was transferred to another hospital, and as I arrived in my room I met my nurse, Patty. She had beautiful blonde hair, kind eyes, and red-orange manicured nails perfectly shaped into ovals. I thought to myself that I liked her nail color, and we had something in common. I didn’t know Patty would be someone who I will never forget. As she diligently hooked me up to IV’s and and all the other gadgets, she paused, looked me in the eyes, laid her hand on my arm and told me they have seen miracles in the hospital. She had the same sadness and worry in her eyes for me, but she had hope and she shared it with me. She gave me the hope that maybe, just maybe, we could make it.
I laid in my hospital bed for the next four weeks. At the 25th week, the doctors concluded my membranes had likely resealed. This is very rare. I was sent home, and on the on the 27th week I was back in the hospital for contractions and later that night my water broke again.
For the next five days I was fighting for my babies’ lives. The last three days I was in labor, full-on painful labor with contractions every five to 20 minutes for THREE days.
I will never forget when my husband arrived during one of the last days. I was getting out of the shower, and he walked in. I fell into his arms, buried my head in his shoulder and cried. I had met my match. I was done. I had been so strong, positive, grateful and enduring through this journey, and I felt like my body and heart couldn’t go on another second.
But I was done; I was broken.
I felt guilty for feeling weak because I had been so strong thus far, but the weight of the emotional and physical pain was too much. I couldn’t do it anymore. So I just sobbed. I will never forget that feeling; it was true brokenness.
The babies were delivered at 28 weeks at 2 lbs each on September 1 and doing great!
As I reflect on these events, these traumas, these scenes, I believe God wrapped his arms around me in those times and protected me from grasping the enormity of the moment. But now I see them all for what they were – purely terrifying.
Not long ago, on May 9, was the one year anniversary of my first trauma. I thought about it a lot that day, and in the evening I broke down and sobbed and spent the evening and next day under the covers crying. It is hard to describe what was happening because I have never felt something like that before, but I was almost scared it would happen again, a thought I knew was irrational. I was overly emotional, and I just couldn’t shake it.
Today I am still grieving and processing these events and quit frankly, I am pissed that I am dealing with this. Sometimes I feel like, “haven’t I gone through enough, and now I have to deal with crap that I’ve already gone through, WHILE I have all these little people to take care of!”
That’s the thing, everything turned out great- but that’s not what this is about.
I have reached out to women who have walked through this, and they have given me resources that will help me. I know I need to seek counseling. I want the tools to cope with these traumas. I have made several phone calls and will be starting counseling soon.
I know that if I want to be the best wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend, then I need to do the work and get well. I want to look back on these moments of my pregnancy with gratitude instead of anger and hurt.
So, here I go, onto my recovery. And because a woman that walked before me took action, and she is better, I have hope.
UPDATE: The babies are 20 months now. I no longer feel queasy when I drive by the hospital where I delivered. I have talked about my struggle. I was honest about my feelings and thoughts and didn’t let them grow in the dark.
Prayer and the connection with other women was how I found my serenity. All of the events, mind movies, flash of memories, queazy feelings — all of it — I just walked through it and gave it to God. I prayed for acceptance and peace over and over again. And it came.
When I went to visit a friend and her newborn baby in the hospital, I called a fellow mom who spent a long time in the hospital pregnant with multiples. I told her how I was feeling. She said, “I know. I felt that way too. It gets easier.” After a few minutes in the hospital parking lot and shedding a few tears, I walked in. It did get easier.
I have to remind myself to pray, talk about it and connect with other women who have walked my journey before me. I need to hear that connection and that it will be “OK.”
– Stacey Godbold (Creator of Project Reveal)