Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Post-Traumatic Stress of Pregnancy After Special Needs

I haven’t written much about this pregnancy, because it’s been challenging to sort out my conflicting subconscious thoughts into something that would make sense—something that wouldn’t seem too dark (because we are elated to be having another baby) but would also honor the fact that pregnancy is much trickier, psychologically, after having a child with special needs. As I look around my apartment at the newly re-assembled crib, and piles of baby stuff emerging from storage, I think that the time to talk about it has probably come.

Exactly seven months ago I found out that I was pregnant.  I watched the second line appear on the test with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and disbelief  . . . feelings typical of any woman who’s just peed on a stick and is staring at that second blank spot, mentally willing a line to appear and then somehow still shocked when it does.

But there was another feeling too, floating towards the top of my consciousness, forcing itself to the surface to pop my jittery, excited bubble of glee . . . it whispered “you know better. Be careful. Don’t get too happy, don’t forget what can happen.” 

I pushed it down.  

It said “Don’t set yourself up to be blindsided again.”  I tried to ignore it. It said “Don’t expect everything to go well, and it won’t hurt as much when it doesn’t.”  I tried to shrug it off.  It said “You know better.  Don’t forget that you know better.” 

It was right.

I do know better.  And not in any sort of wise-beyond-my-years way (well, maybe sometimes, a little) but more in a PTSD way . . . like a driver after a car accident who will never be quite as at ease behind the wheel.  I’ve intermittently struggled throughout this pregnancy to find an outlook that made sense and would stick.  There were clear, oh so clear, differences between my mentality this time around versus my first “uneventful” pregnancy.

In the waiting room of my obstetrician’s office, I looked at the visibly pregnant women and thought things like “Oh, I hope that this all goes well for you” instead of “Oh, good for her! Another pregnant lady!”

Going in for ultrasounds, I walked past the other rooms in use and wondered if someone might be getting life-altering bad news, instead of wondering if someone might be hearing their baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

When my screening test results came in (we had all of the run-of-the-mill screening tests, the same as we did with Maya, nothing more and nothing less) as normal (as they did with Maya) I was happy, of course, but reservedly happy, because I now know of several hundred disorders that would never make themselves known in something as simple and silly as prenatal screenings.  The first time around I thought that “typical” results were a big, fat “Your baby is perfectly healthy!” stamp on the medical record . . . but over the past few years we’ve seen a truckload of “typical” results, despite knowing that things here are not typical.  So I smiled and thanked the doctor and left feeling somewhat relieved for “typical” but when my inner voice said “Don’t let your guard down . . . you know better” I replied  “Don’t worry, I won’t.”

When I see other pregnant women shopping at Babies ‘R Us, or talking to their friends, or in line at Starbucks, I see them through a bifocal lens of congratulations and trepidation.  I smile at them in accordance with the sisterhood-of-pregnant-women unspoken rules, but my inner voice wants to whisper to them, too, to say “Are you expecting everything to be ok? Because it might not be . . . and it will hurt less if you know that might happen.  And things will be ok, either way, they really will . . .” but I know that I can’t let that happen.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it during my first pregnancy, either.  I'm fairly sure that I deliberately didn’t read anything about birth defects or terrible delivery stories or things-that-could-go-wrong . . . because why should I?  Why not have a happy 10 months of assuming the best and waiting excitedly?  What good would preemptively worrying do me?  I wanted to maintain my ignorance, thank you very much.

But after having a child with special needs, you can’t un-know.

And so, this pregnancy has been different.

Oh, it’s been happy, for sure.  I’ve watched my body shift and expand, and felt the hiccups and kicks and stretches (which are kind of painful) of this little guy with delight.  This will likely be our last baby, and I’m trying to look past the end-of-pregnancy discomfort and savor the alien magic of watching my belly wobble and shift as the baby does his nightly calisthenics.  We've picked a name (probably) and have talked excitedly with Maya about her brother.  His room has been painted, and over the past two weeks we’ve assembled some furniture and made lists of things-to-buy and things-to-get-out-of-storage.  With 6 weeks left until my due date, things are slowly starting to come together, and I’m enjoying the nesting phase and embracing the urge to get my household in order before things get shaken up with the new arrival.

I am happy, and I can’t wait to meet this new baby.  And I seriously can’t wait to introduce him to Maya.  (Also, I can’t wait until I can gracefully get out of a chair again, but that’s a different story.)

But beneath this happy anticipation is also some sort of quiet warning . . . like a low cello note hidden in the background of a composition beneath some joyful, vibrant violin music.  It’s just a hum, a quiet “don’t forget”, a reminder to not float away in the bubbly good times because there can always be something.  It’s not something that I actively worry about, it’s not something that I even pay much (if any) conscious attention to . . . it’s just a hum, a quiet, constant hum.

I imagine that by the time I check into the hospital and settle in my labor & delivery room that hum will be loud, my nerves on edge, split with both happy anticipation and “what if, what if, don’t forget, don’t let your guard down.”  Both sides of the music loud, loud, waiting to see which will drop off in the next few hours, or next few days.   

When I settled into my hospital bed to deliver Maya, there was no low warning hum.   It was nice to be young and hopeful, putting any nervousness to rest with the mantra “millions of perfectly healthy babies are born every day.”  I’m sure that I’ll think the same thing this time, but the reassurance that it brings will not be complete. And then the inner voice will start again, with a different message, since the time for warnings will have passed, “It’s time to let go now, to let your guard down.  There’s no warning to hold on to now, it’s time to let go and see what the next chapter will bring.”  And I imagine that I will listen and surrender, putting the time for wondering aside and embracing our new beginning as a family of four.

34 weeks

 

27 comments:

Shaunte said...

Hoping for the best for you all. I read this last entry and am so very moved. You are a true champion to your family and should be proud of all you do. Mothering is never easy and you do it with honesty and grace.

Shaunte

Erica said...

Oh Dana you have done it again sister! Said my thoughts exactly-though articulated much more clearly. I too have those awful things go thru my head when I hear of soneones pregnancy-first-I hope it's a boy, then I go to that place when I remember how nice it was to be naive. I did hear that low him while pregnant with Nolan. It actually still pipes up Avery now and then and he is almost 4. You are right, it's like driving after a car accident. You know its nit likely to happen again but you grip that wheel a little tighter every other trip. I can't wait to hear the news when baby comes! Any chance you might name him gator? Hee Hee.
Ps: how is your butt so small? When I'm that pregnant you can't tell my butt from my belly!

Just the Tip said...

First of all, you look awesome. Second of all, I can relate but mostly in a different way. I had a complicated pregnancy with P (lots of bedrest, bleeding, being scared, placental abruption, etc.) But, I carried to term. The week we found out we were pregnant with M (not planned, 2 % chance of getting pregnant on our own) we found out P had a stroke in utero and got her CP diagnosis. I was not elated about M, I was horrified. I didn't want to do it again. And of course M's pregnancy was worse than P's and I had to leave P when I was on hospital bedrest. I envy people who have that blissful pregnancy experience . We are not having any more bio children, not only because something is wrong with us, since we only seem to make sick babies but because it's not worth the risk to myself, to another baby or to leave the girls without a mother. Sigh. I'm only 26. While I in no way want another newborn or to deal with the mystery diagnosis situations we have, I did LOVE being pregnant. I never had a normal pregnancy, or a typical newborn, or a typical toddler. It's something I will have to learn to figure out how to deal with. You write, so well and it sounds like you are doing very well emotionally and mentally preparing yourself, regardless of your past history.

Sarah said...

Wow, we are definitely on the same page. I am 31 weeks with my second. What I am MOST terrified of is that I am going to miss so much that first year while I am waiting for milestones to come, or watching and judging her every move to see if there are those "early warning signs" I missed the first time around. I just want to be able to blissfully enjoy her as much as possible without the nagging feelings.

Good Luck! Love following your story.

Erin M said...

I love following your story. You articulate what I cannot. My first daughter just turned 4 and is very similar to Maya (though it seems that Maya is far beyond our Gia). My second daughter just turned 1 a couple of weeks ago, and is doing great! She is right on track with where she should be, if not a little ahead of the game. I was extremely worried while I was pregnant and for the first few days she was home but then I realized that no matter what her outcome we would be fine. I also took special care to NOTICE everything. All of the little milestones were a HUGE deal, and I reveled in them! Most parents with "typical" kids don't really appreciate the little milestones that are reached. We do. It's been amazing seeing all of differences between my girls and my youngest seems to make her sister work a little bit harder to keep up with her. A little sibling rivalry is good in our case! Plus the up side to it all, even though they can't talk yet, is the love and bond that they share with each other! Keep doing what you're doing, odds are that everything will work out fine!

megan said...

I could have written this post myself, but you do it so much more eloquently. My son with diagnosed with autism when I was 6 months pregnant. It was like a bad dream I couldn't wake up from. Its taken time, and honestly it does every day, to focus on my 5 month old as his own little individual person and not let my mind go to the depths of the deep dark hole of despair. My best piece of advice would be to not read the developmental books about your newborn. Our pedi knows our story with my oldest son (who is 3) and is really great with keeping us informed on all of the great things that Grayson is doing (5 month old). I wish I was there to give you a giant hug. Please know your thoughts and feeling are completely normal (if normal is such a thing). You are not alone! Thank you for posting, as it helps those of us who are riding this wave with you.

anne said...

Thanks Dana. Wonderful post, really well said.

Liz Campbell said...

Hi, you have just described my pregnancy exactly! I have a 3 year old with Rett Syndrome and a 3 month old baby, and it is so true -no matter how smooth or complicated the subsequent pregnancy and birth, the magic is not there...... For me, I actually found the first 2 weeks after the birth the hardest, all those hopes and dreams we have for our baby's future, well they are exactly the same as we had for our first daughter, and experiencing the same feelings again was hard, knowing as we do now, just how different her future is going to be from our dreams... but now I am over the whole emotional/hormonal post-natal stage, I am able to enjoy them both for who they are, and seeing the relationship that is developing between them both (while constantly wanting, but being too scared to, compare their development and milestones!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. It helps so much to have someone articulate how this feels.....

Melissa M said...

Dana, I'm so excited and hopeful for you, and so glad to read about this news even though I haven't seen you in a long time! I understand the trepidation ENTIRELY. No matter what, Maya has changed your life, and you will approach not only this pregnancy but parenthood completely differently the second time around. Congratulations and the best of luck!

Sarah said...

My SN baby is my youngest so far, but you have perfectly described my experiences with my pregnancies after several losses and then a small for gestational age breech baby. Whether I will be able to manage my stress for a future pregnancy is a big worry for me, to be honest.

Sarah D. said...

I too am due in a 8 weeks with baby #2, after baby #1 has special needs. I know what you're thinking and going through and couldn't have put it better. I didn't read anything about what could go wrong with my first, and I'm not about this one either. Whatever will be will be and I tell people, wish for a healthy baby if you want but nothing matters more than a happy baby. After all of the hospital trips that we have been through and therapy appointments and follow up appointments, I would double it if it means my unborn child will be as happy and loving as my first. (Although I must say I would go a little nuts-o if we had to add the appointments.) Thanks for your thoughts and articulating mine so well.

Sarah Dallis said...

I too am due in a 8 weeks with baby #2, after baby #1 has special needs. I know what you're thinking and going through and couldn't have put it better. I didn't read anything about what could go wrong with my first, and I'm not about this one either. Whatever will be will be and I tell people, wish for a healthy baby if you want but nothing matters more than a happy baby. After all of the hospital trips that we have been through and therapy appointments and follow up appointments, I would double it if it means my unborn child will be as happy and loving as my first. (Although I must say I would go a little nuts-o if we had to add the appointments.) Thanks for your thoughts and articulating mine so well.

Anonymous said...

My name is Camille bruno Valdez my partner and I have been trying for a baby for over two years now, We were going to a fertility clinic for about 5 months before somebody told us to contact this spell caster who is so powerful, We contacted him at this email; arewaspecialistttemple@gmail.com , for him to help us, then we told him our problem, he told us that we will either conceive in February 2014 or March 2014,but after two years of trying we were at a point where we were willing to try anything. And I'm glad we came to Dr Dahiru, Because his pregnancy spell cast put us at ease, and I honestly believe him, and his gods really helped us as well, I am thankful for all he has done. contact him via email: arewaspecialistttemple@gmail.com if you are trying to get a baby or want your lover back. he has powers to do it, he has done mine,

Julei Lucas said...

I was married for more than 9 years now. I thought I had a great
marriage. Then, he decided we should have an open marriage because no child. Can you imagine? I didn't want to lose my marriage that I valued so much, but there was just no
way could I be okay with what he was asking…. So here's what I did. Instead of
licking my wounds, I went into action… I Used Dr. Zaza’s love spells we are
now back again… here is the dr Zaza Email: drzazaspelltemple100@hotmail.com or you can also call him with his mobile number +2348103508204 Becky Sanders, Australia.

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this xx We are about to start trying for number two and my daughter has complex needs. I am very scared atm and its good to know I am not alone in these feelings x

OGUDUGU SPELL CASTER said...

It just occur to me that i have not done the right thing since when my husband came back to me, I am Mayer from United Kingdom, I am on this blog to give thanks to whom it deserve. Some couples of weeks ago my life was in a terrible shape because my husband left me and i never believe that i was going to get him back. But through the help of this powerful spell caster called Dr.Ogudugu my life is now in a joyful mood, I must recommend the services of Dr.Ogudugu to any one out there that they should contact Dr.Ogudugu through his email: GREATOGUDUGU@GMAIL.COM because through Dr.Ogudugu assistance, my marriage was restored.

***DR OGUDUGU SERVICES*** CALL +2348057266712

* Reuniting Love Spells or Reuniting Lovers Spell.
* Attracting Love Spells or Lovers Spells.
* Psychic Love Spells.
* Return & Reunite Love Spells (Lovers Spells).
* Bring Back Lost Love Spells.
* Poweful Magic Love Ring.
* Powerful Love Talismans.
* Black Magic Love Spells to make some one love you.
* Love Spell Perfume to Attract Your Love.
* Gay Love Spells.
*Money Spells
*Protection Spells
*Binding Spells
*Healing Spells
*Job Spells
*Fertility Spells
*House Protection Spell
*Justice Spells
*Spells For Bad Dreams
*Spells For Snake Bites, Scorpio, And Deadly Insects
*Voodoo Dolls
*Crystal Balls
*Spirits Invocation
*Genie Invocation
*Magical Charms
*Weight Loss Spells
*Wish Spells
*Prosperity Spells
*Pregnancy Spells
*Talismans
*Banishing Spells

andrianmeelin said...

My name is Andrian Meelin ,i want to give a very big thanks to Dr OGALA for helping me to get pregnant and now i have a baby girl and i am heavy with a boy inside of me. i was married for 7 years and i couldn't get pregnant whenever i take in it will flow out, i became very confused and frustrated until a friend in my office introduced me to Dr OGALA who came down to the states to help me untie my womb.he gave me just water from his temple to drink and he also gave my husband something to rub before we made love. i am very grateful to him . if your out there and still finding it difficult to get pregnant or when you get pregnant it doesn't stay contact him i assure you its going to be very alright with you. contact info, EMAIL:Holyspellcast@yahoo.com or Holyspellcast1@gmail.com TELEPHONE:+2348039456308.WEBSITE: http://holyspellcast.wix.com/holyspellcast

Felicia Pual said...

i have been married for the past 7 years with no child and since then i have been trying to get pregnant i have been to specialist hospital and they told me that everything is fine but with no lucky of having a baby until i finally met Dr.Ologbo online who help me to prepare root and herbs that i use to get pregnant within a month am so happy now, finally am a woman to be in few months from now contact Dr.Ologbo on his via email Ologbotemple@gmail.com or his mobile number +2348073887808

Felicia Pual said...

i have been married for the past 7 years with no child and since then i have been trying to get pregnant i have been to specialist hospital and they told me that everything is fine but with no lucky of having a baby until i finally met Dr.Ologbo online who help me to prepare root and herbs that i use to get pregnant within a month am so happy now, finally am a woman to be in few months from now contact Dr.Ologbo on his via email Ologbotemple@gmail.com or his mobile number +2348073887808

alli spell said...

I want to share my testimony on how i got pregnant, i have been married for the past 11 years and i was not able to bear children my husband and i always quarrel all the time and his family disrespect me because i don't have a child, i cried all day all night until i met a spell caster online name Dr. Alli and i explain every thing to him and he guarantee me that his spell work and it work very fast in action, so i send him my info and he consult with his gods and told me the problem i was having and how to cure it immediately with spell work so i follow his instructions, now i am one months pregnant and also have a son. i wanna tell the whole world that this is real because i know what i pass through, contact him now via email Allispellhelp1@gmail.com or call him +2348100772528

Chelly Bruece said...

What a miracle to be pregnant again from the help of Dr JATTO, for 3 years of marriage me me and my Husband has been barren and ever since then i have been to several spiritual doctors they never helped me at all, and even with this childlessness me and my husband separated and he told me that he won't leave with a woman that can not give him a child, i cried and cried so much, until i met with this great spell caster that helped me and restored me back to my husband after meeting with him on the internet of how he helped others woman on conceiving having a happy family, after contacting him on his email:drjattolovespellteple@gmail.com or drjattolovespelltemple@yahoo.co.uk,and after speaking to him he cast a spell for me and when he was done my husband came back to me and made love to me and without wasting much time i was re-united back to my husband and after all we have been through i finally got pregnant and found out i was 2weeks pregnant and so that how my joy began. contact on his Mobile number:+2347050270268 or visit his website:http://drjattolovespellte.wixsite.com/spelltempl..

janeweintz said...

I am the most happiest creature on this planet earth because of the wondrous works of Dr Bosun Natural root and herbs,for making me conceive when all Doctors reports was that i can't conceive again because my Fallopian tube were blocked.
I saw a testimony of a lady(Jane Weintz)on the internet,Who gave a brief story about how she got pregnant with the help of Dr Bosun natural root and herbs.i quickly contacted him and i got his natural root and herbs syrup,he gave me the instructions on how to use it.
To my greatest surprise,i got pregnant the very date he told me and gave birth to triplet.kindly contact him on:
Tel: (+234) 803 539 4535
Web: http://bosunherbalcenter.wix.com/herbs
E-mail: bosunherbalcenter@outlook.com

Anonymous said...

My name is SARAH, my partner and I have been trying for a baby for over two years now, We were going to a fertility clinic for about 5 months before somebody told me to contact this spell caster who is so powerful, so i contacted him at this email;( agbazara@gmail.com ), for him to help me get pregnant,And I'm glad we came to DR.AGBAZARA TEMPLE, Because his pregnancy spell cast put us at ease, and I honestly believe him, and his powers really helped us as well, I am thankful for all he has done. contact him via email at: ( agbazara@gmail.com ) if you are trying to get a baby, he has powers to do it, he has done mine, or whatsapp or call +2348104102662

Donald Maria said...

My name is DONALD MARIA . i live in canada, and am married for 25years
without conceiving or getting pregnant until the issue resolved to
problem in my home , i was really worried and bothered because i don't
want to loose my husband to another woman. i have went to hospital, the
doctor told me that i cant get pregnant again i thought i have lost my
husband and my marriage already.i decided to check the internet for
updates on healthy living and i came across a story of a man who Dr
ODUDU helped his wife(GARRY SABINA ) to conceive a baby. i decided to
put a try because this has been my greatest problem in life.i contacted
Dr. ODUDU via email and tell him my problem and he assured me that he
will help me, he told me what to do which i did and today i am a proud
mom with a son and daughter. Words will not be enough to explained what
this man did for me.i know there is someone in this same condition and
you feel there is no way. i urge you to contact Dr.ODUDU now i have
giving birth to twins a 2 boys. and my husband now love me more than
before. if you are in need to get pregnant or you need your EX lover
back or you want to win lottery, contact him through his via email
(oduduhealinghomespell@gmail.com ) or
( oduduhealinghomespell@yahoo.com )
you can also call him or add him on whatsapp with this number
+2348169616855
try him and there will be a solution to you problem.

Donald Maria said...

My name is DONALD MARIA . i live in canada, and am married for 25years
without conceiving or getting pregnant until the issue resolved to
problem in my home , i was really worried and bothered because i don't
want to loose my husband to another woman. i have went to hospital, the
doctor told me that i cant get pregnant again i thought i have lost my
husband and my marriage already.i decided to check the internet for
updates on healthy living and i came across a story of a man who Dr
ODUDU helped his wife(GARRY SABINA ) to conceive a baby. i decided to
put a try because this has been my greatest problem in life.i contacted
Dr. ODUDU via email and tell him my problem and he assured me that he
will help me, he told me what to do which i did and today i am a proud
mom with a son and daughter. Words will not be enough to explained what
this man did for me.i know there is someone in this same condition and
you feel there is no way. i urge you to contact Dr.ODUDU now i have
giving birth to twins a 2 boys. and my husband now love me more than
before. if you are in need to get pregnant or you need your EX lover
back or you want to win lottery, contact him through his via email
(oduduhealinghomespell@gmail.com ) or
( oduduhealinghomespell@yahoo.com )
you can also call him or add him on whatsapp with this number
+2348169616855
try him and there will be a solution to you problem.

linda allen said...

Hello everyone, i am here to share my testimony on how i conceived my baby. by the help of a spell caster called Dr aza, i have been married to my husband for 12years without no issue.i had problems with my in-laws even my husband started to have new affairs aside our marriage. it was a very terrible thing to bear. i became a laughing stock among my pear, i prayed and fasted and nothing happened. i was now seen as always unhappy.i was even ready to pack out of my marital home and stay on my own because my husband was not given me any attention that i needed from him. i decided to focus on my job and try to live happy on my own. on this faithful day, i decided to check the internet for updates on healthy living and i came across a story of a woman called mercy, saying that Dr aza helped her with a spell that make her to conceive a baby. i decided to give him a try because this has been my greatest problem in life. today i am a proud mother with a son. words will not be enough to explained what this man did for me.i am a happy mother,i know there is someone in same condition and you feel there is no way. i urge you to contact him. This is the solution to every single mother around the globe. distance is not a barrier, he will surely make your dreams come trough. contact him today via email: azaspellcaster@gmail.com you can call him or whatsApp his number +2348107155060