Thursday, September 20, 2012

The trauma of it all

The last 24 hours have been hard.  A few different things have happened.  First off a little girl came up to me at Jackson's preschool and kept asking me where my baby was.  She meant Ryan (as he was home with Josh) but she kept saying "no, where's your baby?" and pointing to my stomach over and over.  I wanted to agree with her.  I don't know why I don't have Ethan with me either sweet girl.

Then I received a "courtesy call" about a medical bill related to all that happened with Ethan and I.  The hospital's right hand had not spoken with the left, as the woman on the phone didn't understand that I am in the process of applying for financial assistance and I was therefore told not to pay anything on the balance yet.  She said "this is just a courtesy call."  Courtesy call my ass.  There is nothing courteous about calling me for money when my son died and I have been diligent about payment plans/etc.  There is nothing courteous about my baby dying.  I actually told her I didn't want to discuss this with her further and that she should stop calling me.  Poor lady, just doing her job that she probably  gets paid a minimum wage for...but I have no tolerance right now.

Last night was my support group, the fifth session out of six.  This was the week other parents came in to share their stories of their babies dying, their grief and their healing.  It was quite powerful and ridiculously emotional.  One of the women spoke about singing "you are my sunshine" to her little boy as she let him go, the same song I sang to Ethan at that holy moment.  I cried so much in that group that I had a strong headache at the end.  You know the crying that physically hurts your throat, stings your eyes and is endless?  That was me last night.  Not the sobbing, breathless cries but the physically painful cries.  I came home, said hello to Josh, took two Tylenol and immediately went to bed with Ethan's blanket.

This morning I awoke with my headache gone but to Ryan retracting and struggling to breathe.  Off to the pediatrician we would go.  As we waited for the appointment at home I rationally knew that Ryan wasn't in extreme distress - unfortunately I am very experienced with managing pneumonia, croup, asthma and others.  I vacuumed my carpet and tidied up the home.  Then I started to get anxious, not a panic attack anxious, but anxious nonetheless.  Irrational thoughts came to mind, that if Ryan were to become very sick I would regret cleaning my home before I took him to the doctor.  Tears started to flow, and I realized that I am traumatized from Ethan's death.

As I was sitting in the pediatrician's lobby I heard a mother call her son, named Ethan.  It was lovely and so sad at the same time today.  Some days that makes me smile, but today it just about started my tears again.  Jackson then declared loudly "Mom, I have a baby brother who died.  I'm not sad about it though because God fixed him."  So lovely Jackson, thank you for making me feel better.  Ryan is going to be just fine, he is likely going to be an asthmatic.  The good old routine of a nebulizer every 4 hours and daily steroids should do the trick with time.  But it's very difficult for me to hear that my son was in moderate to severe respiratory distress.  I was brought right back to the severe respiratory distress conversations with Ethan.  Intellectually I know the scenario is very different, that Ryan will live when Ethan did not.  But emotionally, it's a different story.  I've said it before, grief is utterly emotional.

It was traumatizing learning that our son was likely going to die that first night.  I started moaning loudly when Dr. Van Marter told us that.  I stared right out of the window, looking at a triple-decker as the sun went down.  I just moaned and moaned and moaned, as I couldn't cry in heaving sobs like I wanted to.  I had just had the c-section, was in too much discomfort and had my legs stuck in some boot-things.  You already know about the bells and alarms in the NICU.  Suddenly having to leave Ethan's bedside so the neonatalogist could stick a needle into his chest to save his life...  I thought I had a handle on all of this trauma, and for the most part I do.  But last night and today, not so much.  I am traumatized, that's the truth.

Not full on PTSD (remember I am a therapist, so I am quite familiar with this diagnosis), but some of the symptoms sure.  My response to Ryan's illness caught me off guard.  I brought Ryan in to see Dr. Jones today as much for me as for him.  Sure, I knew he needed treatment and medication, but I needed Dr. Jones to tell me that Ryan was going to be OK, that he was going to live.  Guess I am not fully out of the woods with this trauma crap.


  1. Its only been 3 months annie! The fact that you get out of bed every morning,,and go thru the routines of life with caroline ry and jack every day is awe-inspiring.- I dont know anyone else with the kind of strength that you have. I pray every day for ethan to continue to give you the strength to keep going. (And u know i am not usually the praying type)You are an inspiration to me. You have been thru something that no one should ever have to experience. I hope u see how incredible you are.

  2. Annie,

    I am thinking of you and your precious Ethan. I hope tomorrow will be...less traumatic.

    With lots of love to you,

    Jen (AdiaRose's Mommy)