I recently spent 7 days in NICU with my 4-week premature son G. While the experience was vastly different, it brought up a lot of trauma from previous psychiatric hospitalizations.
Post c-section I was in too much pain and was too worried about G to be bothered. But as we improved being there chaffed. I had a key card and ‘could’ leave at any time. But that would mean leaving him. I began to feel totally trapped. The smell of the hospital sheets was the same. The food was the same. The boredom was the same. Suddenly I was a psyc patient again.
As an involuntarily committed psyc patient you have no control over your stay. They say when and if you can go home. The worst part is they often tell you things are going well and you might be home by end of week and then they yank it away because of some small thing.
When this happened with G I totally lost it. He was doing so well. I had even gone home for the night to get the house ready. When I returned in high spirits the next morning he was back in the incubator under the jaundice lights again. The nurse told us at least another two days. I freaked out. This had happened to me so many times before and something in me just couldn’t hear those words again.
I feel selfish even writing this article because my poor baby was the one unwell and I should have been entirely focused on him, but I also have to be honest about how I feel.
G is really grappling with his bowels because his little immature digestive system is struggling to keep up to his voracious hunger. The little dude is up to 6lbs 3.5oz already and wants tons at every feed but is then gassy after. We have tried every method to help his poor little belly but the doctor assures us only time will help. It is hard emotionally to listen to him cry and exhausting to hold and burp/belly massage/comfort all day and night. Hubby and I are totally drained and hoping it passes soon.
Since I still struggle to sleep, even when given time, I have been dealing with a lot of symptoms creeping in around the edges. I keep telling myself it is just stress and fatigue- but I am also researching the earliest possible time to get back on meds. Everyone keeps telling me this is normal for new moms to be all over the place, which I am doing my best to deal with, but it’s the music that is really getting me. Some days it is so loud it distracts me from everything and keeps me awake. A few days ago (after 1 hour sleep in the last 24) there was a lovely mix of random disconnected talking, a few screams and MUSIC. I finally caved and took my rescue med Olanzapine and 10mg of Melatonin. After a solid 6 hours of sleep things improved dramatically. I was not cured, but I was coping again.
The part that scared me most was my anger toward G. That was really the straw that made me medicate, I could never live with myself if something happened.
I think it is this feeling of ‘crazy’ that is bringing back all kinds of junk from my past. I find in this state I can remember things that happened when I was in this state before. I’m sure it is because I don’t have the mental resources to block it, but also I think you just connect to those feelings better when situations are similar. I have been having very realistic and upsetting dreams about old things and potential new things. Since the meds I have started to ‘unpack’ my night with tea the next morning and put everything away so I can focus on my baby and the (seemingly endless) daily chores without being distracted. It is helping.
I think G and I are still bonding well. Hubby and I are trying to find little moments together now that my sister has come to help out (a total godsend!) and we are less snappy with each other. Overall things are not burning down. They are not ideal- but what life ever is?