This is what PTSD looks like at 13 weeks pregnant. New haircuts for my husband and myself, a new (to us) car, and a new house that we own.
Here we are 6 weeks prior to that in the second scariest event to-date in our marriage:
I know we look all calm eating pizza in the ER, but I can promise you internally we were anything but that. You can see my now dilapidated Nissan Murano here, with the front bumper almost completely removed.
We were headed to the grocery store after church, still riding a high being a mere 7 weeks pregnant. While we had a green light, another gentlemen had a blinking yellow light, didn’t see us, and proceeded to turn in front of us where he hit our front bumper and back passenger door and wheel. Fortunately, my husband was driving and the impact was on his side. I only say fortunately, and so does my husband, simply because there would have been a greater chance of us losing our precious baby girl had I been driving. Luckily, we walked away with me having a dislocated shoulder (from throwing my arm over my husband) and Micah with a re-injured back.
Within the next six weeks, we had STAAR testing (we both teach middle school), interviews for new jobs, buying a house, buying a car, dealing with lawyers, and beginning physical therapy. Oh and I was still growing a human inside me. At the beginning of June, right after school let out, things got odd. It was really hard for me to be in a car. REALLY hard. It was beyond emotional. I was so scared any car that pulled out was going to hit us and hurt Charlotte, Micah, or myself. I ended up being diagnosed with PTSD in July through a long, tearful conversation with my obgyn at the start of my third trimester. I was given the lowest dose of Zoloft for the remainder of my pregnancy and was reassured that a healthy mom will produce a healthy baby.
Here’s the truth, and I don’t think anyone knows this outside of Micah: I did not enjoy being pregnant – emotionally. I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of joy and love for the baby inside me like all of these other mom’s talked about. And you know what? That’s okay. I barely felt an overwhelming sense of joy to be myself, nonetheless growing a life. Don’t get me wrong, I prayed and prayed for that joy to come, and it just didn’t. I finally got to a point where I was happy being pregnant, and I loved my daughter in my belly, but I felt like an outcast for not feeling what a ‘normal’ mom should feel.
Ladies who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any mental illness: you are not alone in your struggle. You are not weird for not feeling that connection; you are not any less of a mom; you are not frowned upon by God. Now that my daughter is here, I do feel that overwhelming sense of love, joy, worry, and responsibility unlike any other and it’s a feeling that only comes with parenthood and remains unexplained otherwise.
It’s okay to admit that you don’t feel that joy. As I said above, you have to be healthy to produce a healthy, growing child. I still have my days where I look at my daughter knowing she was almost taken from me before ever having a chance in this world, days where I wonder why I was chosen to be her mom, when someone more ‘mentally stable’ could do it. But by the grace of God, support from family and friends and my wonderful husband, I’m able to see that God chose me with a purpose in mind.
If you’re worried the medicine will affect your child, talk to your doctor, but don’t try to fight this alone. Some people can talk it out, others need medicine, and overall we all just need time to heal, pray, and find peace. And that is okay. Mama, you’re doing great, and you need to take care of yourself. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, it’s going to be alright. Pray to God for everyone’s hearts to be prepared (that’s exactly what I did the entire time I wrote this), and if you ever need encouragement, shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can… but you’re never alone. Remember that.
To my family who had no idea, who is shocked at reading this, I couldn’t find the words to tell you. Whether it was past experiences hearing that pills were a cop out, or depression isn’t real, or to go take a walk – I couldn’t bring myself to tell you. I was afraid of being judged, being looked down upon for having to rely on something. But I can tell you this, ever since that day in July when I finally asked for help, I’ve felt more myself than I have since the wreck. And that is a beautiful, freeing feeling to me that only God gave me the strength to face.
Need some verses for encouragement? These really get me through the tough days: Psalm 40:1-3; Deuteronomy 31:8; 1 Peter 5:6-7.
And take a listen to “It Is Well” by Kristene Dimarco