Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jumpstart Mom

It's happening especially frequently and intensely the last few days. Pete stomps on the floor, and I gasp as all my skin and muscles contract, turning me into a tiny, fiery ball of raw nerve endings. Finn knocks over a glass and the same thing happens, even though the glass is empty.
I don't know if it was having a preemie or just having any kind of baby, but my startle reflex is turned up to 11. Loud noises, quick movements, anything remotely unexpected, and I practically leap out of my skin. It's completely bizarre and uniformly annoying. Sometimes, I even know something is coming, and I'll jump.

Pete thinks he has PTSD from our whole preemie experience; I think that's patently ridiculous and self-indulgent. We had a preemie, who is now a perfectly healthy four-year-old. It's not like we were the victims of an IED in Afghanistan or sniper fire in Iraq or solitary confinement and torture. I get that PTSD can result from "less terrifying" experiences, and I totally understand that rape survivors, abuse survivors, and other survivors of grievous personal trauma can and do suffer from it (hence the quotes around "less terrifying." It's relative.), but I just don't feel that our situation--white, middle class, insured--qualifies. Certainly, it was unexpected and rather scary at times, but now, four years later, our normal, interesting, infuriating, adorable, and smart boy is just that: normal (interesting, infuriating, adorable, smart). I can look at videos and pictures from the hospital and feel a sense of gratitude and even nostalgia, not fear.

I think I am sleep deprived, four years older, 15 pounds overweight, and lacking in purpose, as well as jumpier, but I don't think that's PTSD, nor is it related specifically to having a preemie, though the first, third, and fifth are probably related to having any kind of baby.

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