The article touches on other interesting points--that seeing sick children other than your own can also play into the trauma and that men experience PTSD at a higher rate than women following a NICU experience. How the NICU experience affects you later is not just the duration of time that you're in the NICU or what your child goes through, it's a whole host of other elements including what you observed, how you dealt with the emotions in the moment, and your coping mechanisms overall.
“The NICU was very much like a war zone, with the alarms, the noises, and death and sickness,” Ms. Roscoe said. “You don’t know who’s going to die and who will go home healthy.”
Experts say parents of NICU infants experience multiple traumas, beginning with the early delivery, which is often unexpected.
In other words, it was actually a good thing that I locked myself in the bathroom that night and cried like an animal according to research.
The point of the article is that while NICUs are focusing on the infants, that parents should be considered as well. I actually have to commend our NICU--the nurses and doctors and social workers did an amazing job of addressing our feelings even when they couldn't give us answers and helped us aid them in caring for the twins while they were there.
I would never categorize myself as having PTSD, though I have to admit that I have a lot of anxiety whenever we have any medical issues involving the twins. Sometimes, the heart just can't keep pace with the head. But that may just be my genetic make-up and not a result of their early birth. You can only blame so much on my uterus.
What my heart knows: that I feel a tremendous sense of guilt whenever the topic of prematurity arises. That I have a lot of fears--some well-founded and others the product of my vast and unending chasm of what ifs. That worrying does me no good, yet I also know I can't stop doing it.
And this is the place--their health--where our stories are so tightly entwined that it makes it difficult. I don't want to betray their privacy, and yet, I have an overwhelming need to discard my own in exchange for the support one receives when they state they need it. But I can't talk about myself without talking about them when it comes to how I process something in regards to their health, therefore, I remain essentially silent about myself and just disappear into the ether for periods of time. And half the time, no one but myself knows I've been away because I am naturally flakey with email.
I also know how much comfort I have gained from reading other people's prematurity stories--how it makes me feel less alone, so there is also an impulse to share in case our story helps another person feel less alone.
Is it possible that the New York Times has been reading my mind?
To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan—
The tender for another's pain,
Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their Paradise.
No more;—where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
Isn't it so true? We all have shit to deal with; we all think we are being so compassionate to others and lament how no one understands our pain. And at the same time, would we ever want to know the future knowing full well that happiness is fleeting so we should enjoy it when we have it since "sorrow never comes too late."
In the prematurity article, the second point that moves people towards PTSD is the idea that prematurity often comes with no warning. And unlike the ripping-the-bandaid-off-quickly mentality, it's the surprise of the premature birth that brings about such fear in the future. What else don't I know? What else am I about to be told that I have no clue is on the table? That's all I can say about prematurity--that once you've had one surprise, followed by another and another and another, you become very wary of all surprises--both good ones and bad. Which I think is true of most off-the-beaten path situations with conception since we are taught from such an early age that if we so much as think about a boy, we will become easily pregnant, carry a baby for 9 months, give birth to a little pink or blue bundle and live happily ever after.
And when that doesn't happen, you start wondering in all aspects of life, what the hell else do I not know?
And perhaps this is more indicative of a child who overall is healthy. That when the issues pop up, they are so wholly unexpected because you're lulled into this idea that prematurity is an event rather than a life course. That once you move through babyhood, prematurity is over. Therefore, it sucks to read studies following the results of prematurity well into the later years--both for the child and for the adult.
Because we are so over prematurity.
While Show & Tell will go up Wednesday night, I won't be around a lot for the rest of this week. There will be directions in that top post on where to go to pick up Thursday's clue for Blogger Bingo (where the clue is usually listed, there will be a link to the person posting it for me).
If you need directions with the good thoughts, you can just apply them to wishing for peace-of-heart for me. I think that walks the line between their privacy and my need for human contact. Which makes me sound like one of Maslow's monkeys wanting cloth mommy over the wire one. But, as the New York Times points out, it's a fine line to walk.