Blame the drama on the trauma

3 Sep

Expect drama from me this week. Let me explain.

Do you ever try to fix something, over and over again, but you can’t because it’s broken for good?

When I was finding myself reliving the events of last September while trying to go to sleep, or catching myself thinking about it for hours, or discussing it with Drew for the 118th time, I had to ask myself: Wait a minute. What’s wrong—with me, with this?

Then I realized: Drew and I have this thing we are trying to fix, except that it’s already occurred.

Conceptually, September 9 is a great day. It’s the day our first child entered the world. But September 9 really wasn’t that at all. Not in any sense. It was scary. It was hurtful. It was exhausting. It was confusing. It was not a happy day for us. So much so that I wonder if I’m not subconsciously nervous about the anniversary’s impending arrival, as if in some weird way I’m going to have to relive it all.

Relive these things: the utter force of knowing something was very wrong with our baby. Being whisked down the hall for an emergency delivery. Not hearing our baby cry.

Relive our thoughts. Did we think our baby might die? Yes. Did at one point we think she might have already died? I’m so sad to say this, but yes, at one point I wasn’t sure if she was still alive.

Relive being outright told that she almost didn’t make it. And hearing her referred to as a “34-week save” by the neonatologist.

But I guess if I have to be frank, I relive these things all the time. In a way, I torture myself. It’s because I had to let myself go there. I had to actually allow myself to believe what could be true. That things could have been so different. And once you go there, once you get into that hole, I’m telling you—it takes a long time to dig yourself out. I’m still digging sometimes.

When you go there, occasionally, when you least expect it, you return. You relive. Many times this year, I’ve relived. It is mentally exhausting to think about how quickly and easily our story could have changed. I don’t have to spell it out for you, and I won’t. But it could have been very different.

As Jane Darby’s birthday approaches, in some ways I am preparing to grieve. To grieve that day. To grieve what happened. To grieve those 19 days in the NICU, and every sacred thing we saw and witnessed there that we never want to see or witness again. I don’t think people really, truly know there are babies fighting for their lives each and every day out there. You can’t truly know until you live it anyway. I came to truly know, to truly learn, not only this but also that sometimes babies just don’t make it. I grapple with that fact all the time.

That’s where the trauma comes in. Our baby almost died. And based on our surroundings in the NICU, it was too real of a reality. Too possible. Something I knew could happen because I witnessed it. It’s not something I say lightly just because we had a scary experience. It’s fact. And it’s really hard to accept. I am writing about this because I want people to understand where I come from—why I talk about this a lot, why I post over-dramatic things on Facebook, why I can’t seem to move past it some days. You see, Jane Darby’s birthday hurts. It’s hard. It scares me.

The hard to accept part doesn’t mean I don’t accept, and it doesn’t make me far from God. If anything, I notice things more, thank Him more, ask questions more, and talk to Him more. I tell Him when I just don’t understand the way things are, or why we live in a world where children die. I’m an unknowing child myself, and I think like one. I believe this is a very natural conversation to be had with our Creator.

One day, I’ll carefully explain all this to Jane Darby, and differently. Her story isn’t that she almost died. That’s my story, Drew’s story. I don’t want her operating off the notion that she almost wasn’t with us, so I don’t plan on being dramatic much longer. For now, I’d like her to know she is and has always been our little girl. That we were by her side every day in the NICU. That her mama called the NICU in the middle of every single night to check on her, for 19 days. That even her strong daddy cried when she wasn’t gaining weight.

That we loved her so much that, even on her first birthday, we still felt the sting of her frightening entrance into this world. That we were still traumatized, and still recovering. And that, even so, we’d do it again.

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