One normal day about two months ago I made the step.
It was sunny, bright beautiful day. I didn’t care.
I realized it was better than the snow and seemingly never ending winter we had been plagued with but I really didn’t care.
This was really nothing new, at some point amidst the trauma of the NICU I stopped feeling happy. It is like my body literally could not process happiness.
It feels like my happiness receptor is broken 95% of the time. Noah and the twins can still do something to make me smile and feel that spark and a good hug from the husband always cuts through the darkness but other than that I feel pretty numb.
That bright sunny boring day I was folding laundry and I just started to cry.
This deep painful ache, this unshakable sadness, this overwhelming constant anxiety got to its breaking point.
I had a number lost in my email inbox for a referral to a doctor and counselor, I quickly looked it up and nervously dialed the number. Then hung up.
How did I get here?
I paused, I have long suspected I needed someone to talk to. I have always had anxiety, my biological dad was anything but a good parent, my journey with cancer left me deeply shaken but this year really did me in.
I just wanted to will myself to get better. I wanted to be happy on my own. I wanted to shake it off.
But that never happened, these crying days were happening more and more frequently and with every passing day it seemed like all my symptoms were only getting worse.
I do not ask for help.
Really, you can ask anyone. Ask my mom or mother in law, really. They offer every day and any day to help and I don’t take them up on it.
So for me to ask someone, a stranger, for help with stuff that I don’t even like to admit that I am going through was near impossible.
I picked up the phone and dialed the number again.
A sweet lady answered and we went through my past year.
All three boys were napping and I was sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing into the phone to this poor stranger.
She comforted me and made my appointment.
It was a month away but it made me feel skeptically hopeful.
The day of the appointment came and Kevin drove me. If he wouldn’t have, I would not have walked into that building.
My first appointment was 2 hours long. She asked to see me the next day for another hour long appointment since the first appointment was basically a lot of paper work.
After that appointment I felt actually hopeful.
After an hour of talking she leaned over and answered my unspoken fear, “you are not broken, you are hurting, you are grieving, you are wounded, but you are not broken.”
For someone to say I wasn’t broken, meant I was fixable.
This hurt didn’t have to be forever. I didn’t have to struggle with every single aspect of my life.
That maybe one day I could be me again.
Many of you might wonder why I am writing this, it is because of the stigma with all of this. There is such a stigma to seeking help. Especially for mothers.
One of the most ass backward things of the past year is that I had a lactation consultant all over me for 6 months. Seriously. One from the hospital they were born at, one from the NICU and one from our insurance.
Some days I got 5 phone calls in ONE day about my breast milk.
How much are you getting in one pumping? How often are you pumping? How long on each side? Have you tried fenugreek? Eating oatmeal? Massaging? Basil or fennel oil? Mother’s milk tea? Have you talked to your OB about medication? How much milk will you be bringing in today? How are you feeling about breastfeeding? To you think you could try looking at a picture of them when you pump? How about you pump every 10 minutes for 15 minutes for an hour every day? Can you be here for every feed to breast feed tomorrow? Etc…etc…etc…
It surprised me that they were so focused on me and my milk that everyone seemed to forget that yes, breast is best but a healthy mom is more important…one of the biggest killers of a healthy milk supply is stress.
I was really shocked that admits this horrifically traumatizing experience the only people that ever seemed to get what we were going through besides our family were the nurses and we felt embarrassed leaning on them. I can’t tell you how many times they saw me cry. It was embarrassing. It was usually when everything was all ok, in the eye of one of the many hurricanes. It was only when things slowed down that my mind would actually allow itself to break down.
No one seemed to get there wasn’t time to get help for me, I was pumping 10 hours a day, going to the NICU every day and still trying to be a fully present mother for my toddler who was traumatized from all of this and deal with life in general. When could I even wrap my brain around the thought of getting help?
I just wish there was some program like the breast is best movement for parents with children in the NICU that isn’t a support group. We could have gone to a support group with other parents that had been in the NICU but we never could make the time because it meant taking time away from Aiden, Evan or Noah.
I just wish there was a program, a reach out that helped guide you through.
Walking through the NICU doors every day was like taking a step off of a cliff.
Calling the NICU was so terrifying I couldn’t do it. Kevin had to call and he would call me with the updates. I was so afraid to hear bad news.
Every moment of those 4+ months was a step into the unknown, we had no idea how to cope, how to survive it or if we even would mentally survive it.
There isn’t any amount of help or advice that makes the NICU any easier but something would have been nice. The NICU is a delicate line of Heaven and Hell. The biggest miracles occur everyday there, we have our very own. But at the same time the biggest tragedies occur along side those miracles.
Having your child hanging in the balance of the NICU and not knowing the path they will take is unbearable.
It is as if our journey in the NICU was that of a journey on a tight rope while carrying your children on our shoulders and every diagnosis or problem a weight. The tense, fearful, wobbly, heavy walk across has changed who I am.
And now that things have calmed down from what they were, they are no where near calm I have taken the step to get help.
Mainly so I can help my boys, all four of them.
I love them with all of my heart and they deserve better than this.
I hope that these steps are the ones that take me back to me…because I miss being me.