Being a mom first time mom or dad of a preemie you go through everything very differently, you feel and cope in very different ways. But you always put 110% of your energy, prayers and life towards your little miracle baby or babies, never really stopping to take care of yourself because you know this little person always has to and always will come first.
I did that, I do that, I put my son above all and it came at a price to my mental health. I want to share my story for other Preemie Parents out there.
If you read my blog you know what we went through, if not here is the cliffs notes version, my son was born 16 weeks early and we spent 157 days in the NICU, and 33 days in the childrens hospital, he almost died 4 times on us in hospital, but always came back. We were sent home 3 times, our first time being sent home, within 24 hours he stopped breathing and turned blue causing his RT (respiratory therapist) to start CPR and I called 911. My husband got the call at work and rushed to meet us at the hospital. We were back in the NICU for 48 hours, they didn’t find anything and sent him home, again. My husband was laying on our bed with him in his arms and he stopped breathing and turned blue, I started CPR on him while my husband called 911 and meet the paramedics at the door. This was 4 hours after our second discharge…
We were admitted back to the NICU for 12 days, and an additional 33 days in the childrens hospital, to get to the bottom of this.
When he was admitted again it took a lot for me to hold him again, or even touch him, I was so scared to touch my son…. How would that make you feel as a mom to be scared to hold your son? I felt like i was failing him, and finally the final time he was sent home I never slept, I watched him breath or held him just so I didn’t sleep and miss if he was in distress again.
I was forced to see a PTSD councillor, and I thought the doctors were nuts. I didn’t have PTSD, PTSD wasn’t something moms got. I was just having normal first time mom, and a preemie parent, anxiety and I brushed off all my feelings and focused on my son and never treated myself properly.
That was the worst decision I made as a mom. Now, 9 months after that final discharge, my PTSD is rearing its ugly head, again, to the point I panic if he spends the night at our parents places, I call my husband at 3 am to tell him to check on the baby because I have a gut feeling he stopped breathing again. Mixed that with work stresses I cannot cope, and I have to be medicated in order to keep my life in order, so I can be the best mom I can be for my son. And so I can be the best wife I can be for my husband, who is being a saint through all this.
Had I addressed these issues earlier, and not buried them, I most likely would be in a better place, and not be on some of these medications. I am sharing this because PTSD is common in parents of preterm and sick infants, and it’s almost always untreated in a proper time, like mine. New moms of preterm and/or sick infants, not seeking treatment to help, you are not only doing an unjust thing for you, but your family as well. Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone.
In order for you to be the best parents you can be, you need to make sure you are taken care of as well, use the resources hospitals provid, social workers are there to help you find the help you need. Talk to them, talk to other moms, find a support group, create a support system of people you can talk to candidly. You are not a bad parent for taking a day to focus on your mental health!
Take a day to have a bubble bath, play with your other children, read a book, treat you and your significant other to dinner and a movie. If you are there every day, its ok to take a day, once and a while, for you. If you had a full term baby, a healthy baby, and you needed a break, you would call a sitter, a grandparent, or someone you trusted to watch the little one for a few hours so you could de stress and collect yourself. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to dp the same thing in this case?
Please moms and dads look after you too.