I have PTSD. It probably doesn’t shock anyone reading this, given everything that we’ve been through in the past 6 years. It comes with the territory when you’ve lost a child, I think. Lately things have been a bit more at the surface than usual. Why, I don’t know.
Anyone with PTSD will tell you that the flashbacks to the traumatic event are the hardest thing to deal with. I am very good at reminding myself that it isn’t happening rightnow, but the memories are still hard. For me, the trigger for the flashbacks is usually sound; not too shocking for someone whose whole life revolves around the auditory. Beeping can bring me right back to the sound of the alarms in the hospital. The hiss of my husband’s CPAP brings back the rhythmic hiss of the ventilator. Anything that triggers the flashback sends me right back to 2007 and the horror of seeing my baby with his chest wide open. The swelling that was so bad it made his skin weep fluid. Seeing a silently screaming baby and not being able to pick him up to comfort him. Watching his entire body turn into a giant bruise. The sensation of holding a cold deargodtoocold little baby that had already gone from this world. The scratch of the pen of the insensitive twit of a nurse, filling out paperwork and leaving toe tags out for us to see as we rocked the swaddled body of our son. Waking myself up sobbing in my sleep. Shopping for funeral clothes to fit my postpartum body. Watching my husband carry a tiny casket from the pavilion where the funeral was held to the grave site. Our tiny living room, overflowing with funeral flower arrangements. The nursery upstairs, decorated and ready for a baby that never came home.
The images and sounds are a movie that sometimes plays itself out in my head, over and over and over again. Having to deliver a second child into the hands of the same surgeon that tried to save Kenneth seems to have brought it all closer to the surface than it was before. Even though Elise’s outcome could not have been more different than Kenneth’s, just the thought that we were so close to losing a second child is enough to give me chills.
In some ways, I treasure those memories. Horrible as many of them are, they are all I have left of my son. Memories and pictures.