Here I go writing again. I guess this really is the only way I am able to process the most traumatic events in my life. Though, I probably should reach out to a therapist soon.
I am finally back in my bed with my sweet Rio laying in his crib. Finally. A touch of normalcy, yet I feel jumbled. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Sad. Lonely. Wednesday, July 7th was the five year anniversary of my abortion. It was also the day Rio ended up in emergency surgery for septic arthritis. I’m not sure how much in life is coincidence, but the emotions, the queasiness, the fear was all too familiar. On the same day five years later, my son was being administered the same “twilight drug” I was administered. Talk about PTSD – except I would have much rather been in Rio’s place. I would have taken on the pain, procedure and recovery for him if I could have. No one should ever have to watch their child be so confused and hurt.
While the medical situations of 2016 and 2021 are different for a million reasons, the feelings I am experiencing seem vaguely familiar. I have been trying to wrap my head around why today everything has hit me so hard. I was so strong through the diagnosis, knee tap, anesthesia, intubation, MRI, IVs and so on. Why am I so broken today? The hardest part is over. Rio is on the road to recovery and alive.
Every time I wrap him in my arms, my heart sobs. I can feel it in my core. The hot tears pour down my face, and I am slapped with the realization of just how much trauma we experienced this week. But, why now? We are home, we are safe, the hardest part is over with.
It finally hit me. The answer was within the staying still. While this week was long and scary, there was so much going on. It was easy to put my fear, anxiety and heartbreak to the side and be strong, supportive and patient for him.
No one talks about the time after a traumatic event. Everyone is so caught up with the trauma itself they forget the post-traumatic stress you experience. As I would like to call it, the staying still.
When everything stops moving so fast and you finally have time to yourself to process what you have just experienced, the emotions can be extremely overwhelming. Breathtaking, if you will.
For me, I am experiencing extreme feelings of guilt for the following reasons:
- not realizing the extreme amount of pain he must have been experiencing for who knows how long
- the frustration I felt and exhibited to him during the sleepless nights while on vacation
I am also coming to the realization of how just one more day of waiting could have literally taken his life – or at least made the recovery a million times harder. The realization of just how fortunate we are the infection hadn’t spread to his bone or caused sepsis. The orthopedic doctors believe the infection was even caught in time to prevent damage to his joint that would have caused lifelong issues in his knee. I’m playing the game of what if and it’s eating me alive. Sure, I could just accept none of that happened, but for me, it’s not that easy. My baby could have lost his life – that’s a realization no parent wants to come to.
Finally, I am experiencing depression in the form of great joy. It sounds so backwards, and I honestly don’t know if I can even describe it to you. I am so thankful he is safe and healing, yet my heart aches for him. For everything he just went through. For the recovery he now has to push through. For the mommas who weren’t so blessed when met with this diagnosis.
Staying still has stirred my soul. How can I educate others on this? How can I warn other parents what to look for, how to advocate for their child, how to catch it the moment it starts?
We were told by urgent care doctors it was just an injury. We were greeted with “he doesn’t look like a child who has a septic joint.” My mom instinct kept telling me there was something more. Fortunately, I have a fantastic pediatrician who took my concerns seriously and took action immediately. Something I know other parents aren’t so blessed with. I called my mom the night before we were admitted to the hospital and told her I knew it was an infection. I knew in my gut we would be making our way to the hospital the next morning – looking back, maybe I should have taken him that night. However, I was told I had some of the best surgeons working on him the day we took him in, so maybe it was best that I waited. I don’t know what the right answer is. I only know that we are blessed to have been diagnosed and treated as soon as we were.
So, while staying still isn’t something I do well. It is something I have survived before. It may take sometime to forgive myself of how poorly I handled him in the beginning, but I know I will. It may take some time to accept the realizations are not reality, but reality will keep pushing us forward and the realizations will stop feeling so big. We have made it through the physically hard part. Now, I just need to stay still, squeeze my boys a little tighter, hold them a little longer, speak a little kinder and work through the heaviness resting on me.
We are so very blessed to have walked out of that hospital with a smiling toddler who is on the mend. That for now will hold me together during the staying still.