Still breathing

I had another Guess what! moment today. I held a plank for a minute on each side. I hadn’t made it that far at home, but Amy said “I bet you can do a minute” and she was right.

She talked to me the whole time so I couldn’t hold my breath. That’s a great trick. If you’re like me and you tend to hold your breath when you are tense, talking to someone – even the cat – can help you keep breathing. I learned while training for the half marathon in 2010 that it was a good way to know you’re at a good running pace, too. If you can hold a conversation you’re getting enough air.

Today, I learned I’m still breathing. Somehow, through everything that has happened over the last nearly 11 months I have kept breathing, kept pushing. Kept surviving.

After physical therapy today I met with a counselor who I am hopeful will be able to help me unpack all of this new baggage and process everything in a good way. Turns out, I just didn’t process for a long time. Now I’m having extreme emotional reactions to pretty normal things, snapping at my husband for no good reason, having trouble concentrating, and not able to remember a lot of things between my son’s birth and surgery day.

This first visit was basically an assessment. Listening to myself say some of that stuff out loud was really jarring. Some of the things she asked me I hadn’t even thought about.

  • Do you feel like you’re outside of your body, watching yourself? Yes, that happens a lot now when I get really tense.
  • Do you think your lack of concentration is hurting your job performance? Yes. I am not as productive because I can’t stay on a project and finish in one sitting like before.
  • Are your mood swings mild, moderate or severe? My husband would definitely say they are severe. I try to be my cheerful self during the day and at home I let it all out. It’s not fair to him, to my son or to me. My husband has had to put up with a lot.

There were dozens of questions like that. And each time I had to listen to myself say something was wrong. But this time, someone was ready and prepared to do something to help me.

I’m angry that it took as long as it did for me to get an x-ray. From Jan. 22, 2012 to July 12, 2012 is a LONG TIME to wait for answers. I truly believe the midwives and my general practitioner did what they thought was right. But I want them and every doctor to know that there are severe cases that WILL NOT HEAL on their own. I don’t want another mom, another family, to go through what we did for five and a half months. If you’re hurting and it’s not getting better, you deserve answers.

The counselor today said to me: “I don’t know how you did that. I don’t know how you coped as well as you did for as long as you did.”

I’m coming to realize that I don’t either. But in a way it was comforting to hear her say that. It was validating to hear her say this was a big deal. Just like when we met Dr. Sojka and he looked at my x-ray and said he would expect that to hurt, a lot.

I was not being a wimp. I was not over-reacting. I was hurt.

Now, I know it doesn’t hurt all the time. There are times I forget and do something stupid — like trying to twist while holding a 30 lbs box this weekend (STUPID!) — but for the most part I don’t feel pain anymore. Now, I am just out of whack.

My husband is right, I do snap a lot. He’s away on a work trip right now and I can’t get over how quiet our house is. That never happens when we’re both home. And he’s told me recently that he’s afraid to talk to me because he doesn’t know what’s going to set me off. That’s not good. And I hope counseling helps me improve that, too.

But mostly, I hope it lets me remember. I don’t remember my son’s infancy. If I don’t logically know something happened or have a picture that shows it happening, I don’t remember.

The weekend that three great friends from my hometown came to visit we packed it full of fun. I have two memories from that trip. One was falling on my knees outside their hotel while carrying my son in his car seat (he was fine. I scraped my knees pretty good). The other, was trying to run across the street to them and actually feeling OK about it. Feeling happy — that was before Mother’s Day, when the pain started to get worse again.

Another friend – who has guest blogged here – came in February and the only thing I remember is the pictures she took of my son.

I didn’t remember that we had taken our son to our favorite camping spot this summer. And I don’t remember the first time I was home alone with my son or the first time he laughed.

When the counselor asked me questions today about my son I told her what I do remember is wanting to just hold him all of the time because that meant I didn’t have to get up to get him, or put him down or move in any way. I wanted to hold him close so I could know it was worth it.

It’s not his fault and if this is what had to happen for me to be able to have my son than I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I worry a lot about what he will think when he is older. I don’t want him to have guilt. If he has a wife, I don’t want to terrify her with stories.

My son will be 11 months old in five days. He’s doing amazing things – cruising along the coffee table, turing book pages and saying his name. These are part of his first year. But his first year is not just a story about my son. It’s a story about the three of us overcoming obstacle after obstacle. It’s a story about remembering to take things one day, one minute, one step and one breath at a time.

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