Monday, December 29, 2008

A tsunami of emotion

I have not felt much like blogging lately.

At first I thought it was because a silly incident that happened at Christmas... but then thought back to this week, four years ago. And I immediately realized why my heart was heavy, my words few, my mood sour and my eyes teary.

Four years ago 11 Indian Ocean countries were hit by a catastrophic tsunami. So many lives were lost. Such destruction, lost and peril. My heart goes out to everyone impacted by that powerful, destructive force of nature.

In the hours after the tsunami hit, I too was hit by my own personal tsunami. A tsunami of emotion.

Anderson was only a few weeks old. I had taken to sleeping in his nursery for night feedings. It is amazing how comfortable and wonderful I felt, nestled in with my second baby. I was happy.

Unlike with DJ, breast feeding came naturally. Ander and I quickly became pros at a skill that eluded me with DJ. For that, I was so happy and content.

Life was easy. I slept when baby Anderson slept, woke with him, fed him, changed him, cradled him. Repeat. David and my parents took care of everything else.

During one late night feeding I turned on the radio. Coverage of the tsunami was in full swing.

I sat, staring at the radio. Stunned at what I was hearing. My heart breaking for everyone involved or touched by this disaster.

I looked down at my little boy. So sweet. So innocent. I could not help but smile through my tears. I thanked God my family was safe. I hugged my little boy and drifted off to sleep with him at my breast.

Little did I know that I would soon be hit by my own tsunami. A tidal wave of emotion that would leave me crippled, injured and scared forever.

A few hours later Anderson awoke again, looking for boobie and comfort.

While I fed him I listened to the radio. The CBC was now speaking to survivors and the stories were heart wrenching. Every single one of them.

One in particular tore my heart. It was an interview with a woman from Australia. She had been on the beach with her 3 month old baby and her 30 month old son when the wave hit. She frantically struggled to hold onto her two young children. She spoke of how strangers attempted to grab her and her children - to rescue them. But, the tide was too strong and they were being pulled out further and further. She fought hard - trying to keep her babies above water.

She soon realized that without the ability to tread water, she and her babies would perish.

She had to make a choice.

Both her arms were wrapped around her children. She was frantic.

She had to make a choice.

At this point in the interview, the traumatized mother was sobbing and frantic. The interviewer was sobbing. I was sobbing.

I turned off the radio.

I looked into my sweet baby's face and drifted off to sleep.

Just 19 days earlier, I had become a mother for the second time. I now had newborn and a 12 month old. I was now responsible for two of God's children. Two. Like that Australian mother in Thailand. That mother who in split second, had to make a choice.

My exhausted body slept, but my dreams haunted me.

What if I had to make a choice? How could I make a choice. Would I make a choice? What would be my choice? What if I had to make a choice?

My dreams turned into nightmares of house fires and only having the ability to save one of my precious children. What would I choose to do? My dreams turned to nightmares of car accidents, and only having the ability of saving one of my sweet babies. My dreams turned to nightmares of illnesses and plagues - and me having to make a choice.

The next morning, my waking hours became my worse nightmares.

I became crippled with fear, anxiety and worry. I could not stop thinking of that woman from Australia, who had to make a choice.

I was hit by a tsunami of emotion. I became crippled by indecisiveness. Smothered with fear. Overwhelmed with anxiety.

At first I could hide it from everyone.

A few deep breaths before driving the car. A shake of my head to expel the demons would work.

Then, I began to unravel. I could not sleep. I could not focus. I could not cope.

I began to question my ability to be a good parent. I started to plan escape routes. I took to analyzing every day events for dangers. Risk was every where. At any moment, I might be called to make a choice. To make a decision. The decision.

Crippled by indecisiveness. Smothered with fear. Overwhelmed with anxiety.

Once when I was driving to playgroup I came to a stoplight. I stopped and waited for the light to change.

Before the light could change from red to green I became crippled by indecisiveness. Smothered with fear. Overwhelmed with anxiety.

The light turned green. I stared at the steering wheel. Unable to put my foot on the gas. The car behind me honked. I turned around. It was a burgundy Malibu. While turned, I looked down at my babies in the back seat. Secure in their car seats. I turned to face the front, hands gripping the steering wheel. What if. What if I did drive through that intersection and a car came through the intersection at the same time and was about to hit us. How could I save both my children? How could I angle our vehicle so that I took the brunt of the impact. What if only one of my babies would survive? What if I had to choose? What if I had to decide?

Crippled by indecisiveness. Smothered with fear. Overwhelmed with anxiety.

The turned red. I was safe. Then it turned green again.

I thank God for the police car that just happened to pull up beside me. I am certain the police officer could tell something was not right.

Cars honked. The light turned red again. I was safe.

The police officer got out of her car. Motioned for me to roll down my window.

Tears streaming down my face, all I mumbled was, " I cannot decide. I cannot choose. Please help me."

Crippled by indecisiveness. Smothered with fear. Overwhelmed with anxiety.

The police officer guided my out of my car. Walked me to a nearby plaza parking lot.

We called my husband.

I calmed down. To this day, I do not really remember what happened next. But my husband comforted me. He assured me. He loved me. He encouraged me.

Slowly, I drove home.

Slowly, I took control.

Slowly, the tides of emotion starting to reverse.

With love and support from family and friends, and medical help I survived a tsunami that is also called post partum anxiety. And while, the love and support I received from family and friends - along with medical help - helped me to deal, cope and conquer my demons, four years later I still struggle to understand the power and destruction a tsunami can pack.

My heart goes out to everyone impacted by the actual tsunami that hit Thailand and surrounding areas. By no means does this post make light of that situation. But at the same time, during this time of remembrance, I also think of all new parents who may be facing their own personal tsunami. I pray and hope they too can survive, like I did.


forgetfulone said...

What a touching post. I'm convinced I had post-partum stress/depression/anxiety for which I was never treated. I'm glad you had the love and support of your husband. And look at the great mommy you are today!

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Oh my gosh, I am totally balling. I could totally feel what it was like in the car for you that day. I am so sorry that you went through that, but I am thankful that you were able to come out the other side with love and support of family. bless you Laura, and bless you for sharing, I am sure that someone will be helped by what you wrote.

Happy New Year sweet friend!

Lauren said...

That was an extremely touching post, I was crying just feeling what you went through. Thanks so much for sharing that will all of us. We have all had things happen to us and to share that will help someone else who really needs to read that right now. Post-partum stuff really sucks, luckily it doesn't last too long. I love how Brooke Shields told her story, so that we all don't feel along, and now your story adds to that. Thank you again for being so open. Happy New Year! Loved your Christmas pic, what a beautiful family God has given you.

Danielle said...

There hasn't been one of your blog's that I couldn't relate to but this one especially...sometimes I think you are my lost sister....your words could have been mine..I was on maternity leave and struggling with post-partum (but didn't know it) when 9/11 hit. Every moment of that day is still as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. It's amazing how motherhood forever changes how you see the world.

ps. I just noticed how close you are to your weight loss goal! Amazing! Way to go!

Don Mills Diva said...

Oh Laura - you have expressed what you went through so beautifully and with such raw emotion I have tears in my eyes. I am so glad you were able to overcome your anxiety and depression and get to where you are today...

much love for a happy 2009!

Kat said...

Laura, what a beautiful post.
I remember that story of the mother who had to decide. It has haunted me many times.
I am one who always thinks of worse case scenarios so that I can always be prepared, and though it is not crippling, I can relate to this post.
I am so thankful you have such a wonderful support system that helped you through that. How scary.
Thank you for sharing that story with us.

OHmommy said...

What a very touching and real post. Thank you for this. I am balling and thinking about it all. I am so sorry you went through that all.

Teehee... my word verification is "cling"

InTheFastLane said...

We are so blessed to never have had to make that choice. Sometimes it is overwhelming realizing that there people that make similar choices every day.

Amy said...

Wow... I have goodsebumps and tears running down my face.

I don't really know what to say, except you are an amazing mother and wife.

Never forget that.

DJ said...

beautiful story - post-partum hit's each of us differently, but what you went through and described is touching.
With mine I went on an emotional rollarcoater too - did not sleep for days and could not stop crying - the doctor had to drug me to knock me out

Momisodes said...

What a moving story. I am so proud of you for overcoming the anxiety; for being so brave in the face of so much fear. That story and so many others are so heartbreaking. I remember that day so well. I can see why it made such an impact. Sending you *hugs* and wishing you and your family a happy new year.

Erin said...

That was such a beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us. I am glad it is not something to be ashamed about anymore. Hormones are crazy little buggars!

Barrie said...

Have you read Sophie's Choice by William Styron? (It was made into a movie--with Meryl Streep.)

Tiddly Inks said...

Whew! What a post. I think many mothers, myself included, can relate to the paralyzing fear that grips you when you consider the awful things that can happen and that do happen everyday.
I am also glad to hear that you came through it and I am thankful that most moms do come through it.

Best wishes for peace and joy to remain in all our hearts as we watch and guide our children...and ourselves.
Best wishes to you and your family.