If you missed my last TTC update, it might have been because it was hidden away in a gratitute post here. I never intended to hide it, it was simply an answer to prayer so I was very thankful for that. Since then, our TTC journey has been on 'pause' and uneventful with zero shots until further notice. Ehum - that is until our rainbow baby makes a positive apprance on my HCG blood tests.
In my healing posts, I have often brushed over the topic of PTSD. Maybe you thought I was exaggerating a bit or maybe you thought nothing of it. The reality is that I have/do suffer(ed) from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since our horrible ultrasound room experience with Julian. That description definitely doesn't even begin to express the dreadfulness of that day for me.
A quick google search can tell you exactly what PTSD is and what symptoms are associated with it. Scrolling through the list of symptoms and reactions, I can pretty much check off all of those boxes except for the "self destructive behavior" bit. Fortunately, I am a naturally optimistic person with a very good support system and a deep founded faith. So I do consider my case to be somewhere on the 'manageable' end of the spectrum.
I, the Lord, am your healer - Exodus 15:26
I first acknowledged my PTSD after experiencing anxiety or panic attacks shortly after being exposed to a variety of triggers.
For instance, having to go back to my postnatal check up just two weeks after losing Julian. The dreadful ride back to that same OB office full of pregnant women or women with their living newborns.
Just the thought of seeing Julian's OB again made my heart race a million miles per minute and the adrenaline flooded my entire body in a matter of seconds. I could barely breathe in what felt like an increasingly shrinking car on the way to the clinic and I had to take huge deep breathes.
If my husband hadn't been there to help me take those breathes, I wouldn't have been able to get out of the car. Thankfully, that was the last time I stepped within at least a mile of that place.
There were many other instances just like that one and the triggers were all different. Ultrasound rooms, my OB's face (whom I randomly saw while exiting a nearby restaurant), labor and delivery stories or tv scenes, general baby talk or just the thought of housing another life inside my body.
All those things had the potential to instantly spike my adrenals and make my heart race at an unbelievable rate. All I could hope to do in those moments was breathe and cry it out. So I quickly learned to avoid ALL of those things.
Ok so now on to the good part! (Breathing deeply...)
👆🏼That's me in switzerland being happy despite PTSD 🙂 PTSD doesn't mean you're depressed or unhappy. It means you have suffered trauma and need healing.
Working Through PTSD
I no longer have recurrent nightmares like I use to. For the most part, avoidance helped me out A LOT. However it wasn't a permanent fix for my troubles.
I couldn't realistically expect myself to avoid baby talk and the idea of having another baby with my husband for the rest of my life. Sigh
Don't get me wrong. I still avoid most labor and delivery scenes on TV and nitty gritty detailed talk. I most definitely never want to step foot at Julian's OB's office or anywhere in its vicinity ever again. However, working through PTSD means taking small victories as they come. Maybe I'll get to where I don't have to avoid even those things some day but I'm not in a rush.
Through a serendipitous line of events, I made the decision to work through my trauma via a family psychotherapist this fall. It sounds super serious, but most of her clients are children and she is also a play therapist. Not that scary after all, right?
She suggested I try EMDR therapy for my PTSD. Honestly, the term scared me a bit but her warm explanation of it and her own personal testimony of how it worked opened me up to the idea.
EMDR therapy stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. In a nutshell, EMDR helps your brain reprocess your trauma and helps you become less sensitive to it. It has an 80-90% success rate according to the research and it is a faster method of healing trauma than simply hashing it all out with your therapist.
Why it matters for TTC
EMDR Therapy was never on my TTC to do list and it wasn't recommended by my reproductive endocrinoligist. However, through my studies on Hashimoto's, I happened to bump in to this very term as a suggestion for treating underlying anxiety.
The very next day after my therapist suggested EMDR, Izabella Wentz' in her book Hashimoto's Protocol, suggested this exact therapy in her trauma chapter. (Do you believe in coincidence?)
Hashimotos and trauma are directly related to each other because our thyroid is our body's fight or flight organ. When we are in a constant battle with anxiety and fear, which is true for PTSD sufferers, our endocrine system has to work on overdrive and soon it will surely become taxed and overworked. A taxed endocrine system will keep our adrenals constantly high and create increased levels of inflammation throughout the body. All of which are no bueno for trying to conceive nor housing a baby for nine months.
I know I have benefited greatly by only a handfull of EMDR sessions. Have you experienced PTSD after baby loss?