Friday, March 30, 2012

No, you may not.

Chris and I had our dental check-ups this morning with Chris's uncle Bruce. Great dentist, by the way, if you're in the area and in the market. We took Jane along with us so she could see what going to the dentist was all about.

Bruce was awesome and let her sit in the chair. And Jane was awesome and let them give her an entire check-up, complete with polishing and flossing. Her teeth have never been sparklier.

Is sparklier a word?

It was fairly amusing when Bruce asked if it was ok if he leaned the chair back a little farther, and Jane promptly replied, "No, you may not." Well, I guess he asked, so she answered. Ha. The less amusing part was that she has four can tell she's my daughter in more than one way.

In other news, Ben is mobile. Sigh. I'm always excited when my kids get the independence as far as their own entertainment goes, but it sure makes church require a lot more energy... At least he's still super cute.

He doesn't really crawl yet--he's made the move a few times (Brenda, you only missed it by about 10 minutes on Wednesday), but he doesn't know he can do it on purpose yet. He basically army crawls. Well, it actually looks a lot more like carpet swimming. Hello, rug burns. Now I've just got to see if I can find him some pants he won't crawl out of all day long...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Momentus State Change

Using what I've learned in Power of Choice, I have two things to share tonight.

One, going with my belief I am irreplaceable, I made this collage to remind me that I cannot be replaced in any of those groups or situations.

Two, we were talking about state changes--switching from a bad mood into a good one or such. When I'm feeling crabby, this song perks me up right away. Ha.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eight Months & An Update

3 Days

4 Months

8 Months

He did good staying in place for his picture. Most of the time.

As for the update, I got a call from Primary Children's today saying that the insurance has approved the procedure to have Jane's birthmark removed. Yay! We'll be taking her in for laser treatment at the University Hospital in a few weeks. Here's hoping it goes well.

Old News

I managed to post quite a bit during our birthdays, but I never did actually post about our birthdays. Ha. It seems a little lame to be posting it all now--10 days after mine, 8 days after Chris's--but we'll do it anyway for record's sake. And because we had totally awesome birthdays this year and it's worth reliving in blog form.

Celebration 1: Weight Watchers

I lost over 20 lbs with Weight Watchers last year (read here), then I got pregnant and gained all that back and much more to boot. I joined Weight Watchers again when Ben was only two weeks old. I have since lost more than I 20 lbs again since I joined, and more than 40 pounds from my highest weight ever. Yay! Anyway, that's what I do on Saturday mornings and that's how I started my birthday.

Celebration 2: Presents

Britta sent me a birthday package. Yay! Those were the only presents that we had to open. She was great and actually included things for the girls and for Chris, too. Yay!

 I love Ben's face in this picture. Ha.

Celebration 3: Family Pictures

My friend Cindy--we were roommates during our freshman year at the U--is fine-tuning her photography skills and offered to do family pictures for us for free. Certainly can't pass that up! Here are a few of my favorites. Or maybe more than a few, because they were great. Thanks Cindy!

Celebration 4: Desert Star

My friend Michelle--we worked together and we really good friends while at USU--gave us two free tickets to CSI Provo: Decaffeinated DNA at the Desert Star Theater. It was hilarious! No pictures, though. Too busy laughing.

Celebration 5: PARTY!!

When Tannie lamented on her birthday that she was going to forgo her annual girls' night birthday party, I offered my house instead since so many of our friends now live in and around Salt Lake. We settled on having the party on my birthday. Nice timing. ;)

It was so fun! We had quite a few people show up, lots of delicious treats (including one sneaky Weight Watchers trick...), and oodles of great conversation lasting well past midnight. That's the way to be. I'm so glad that I get to be friends with all of you! And thank you, Tannie, for letting me share your birthday tradition.

Celebration 6: Family Party

I had intended to make rice krispie treats for our family party on Sunday, but there were enough left over from the party the night before that I didn't have to put in any extra effort. Bonus! Thanks, Wendi!

Celebration 7: Breakfast

Monday was Chris's birthday, so I got up and made him an omelet for breakfast. This is my one and only picture of Christopher on his birthday. :)

Celebration 8: Chinese Food

I am not a fan of Chinese food but Chris really really is--the only time we ever have anything Chinese beyond Panda Express or the occasional fried riced is on his birthday. Lucky for him, his parents came to visit starting on his birthday and they treated us to a really good dinner at the Gold Phoenix in wannabe-downtown. The service was not amazing and the atmosphere was a little weird, but the food was GREAT. Even I liked it!

Happy birthday to us!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Beginning of the End of my Trauma

Remember that line at the end of Aladdin, when Jafar turns into a genie?

"The power. The absolute power. The universe is mine to command, to control!"

That's how I feel today. Maybe not the whole universe, but I absolutely can do anything and everything I want to do. I understand how I'm thinking and why I'm thinking that way and what to do about it. Awesome.

The best result is that I know how I'm going to get past the trauma and I am 200% confident that it will work. I will be past this phase of my life and moving on to bigger and better things within a few short months.

Curious about what's changed?

I went to a seminar this weekend.

Did your brain just click off? You might be thinking, "Oh, well I'm glad for you and that's cool and I have no interest in doing anything like that so I'll just stop reading now."

I suggest you keep reading just a little longer.

I went to a seminar called The Power of Choice. I heard about it first when Chris's cousin Janneke posted about it on her blog, then I heard a lot more from his aunt Karen. Both of them have dealt with difficult life situations and I can see dramatic changes in them even just in short conversations. I was interested enough in seeing their change, knowing just a few of the things they were dealing with and how happy they've become since going to this class. I took it on faith and went.

I was highly skeptical when I first got there. To be honest, I had a bit of a panic attack just walking into the building. There were too many people there, I didn't know what was going to happen, and I knew I wasn't in a stable emotional state because of the trauma. I was nervous that I would be thrown so far out of my comfort zone that I would lose control like I have in times past when faced my with trauma and depression.

Luckily, I was there with Chris, and his parents, and his grandparents, and his aunt, and his cousin, and two of his uncles, and his uncle's friend. All told, there were 11 in our group. I was in good company. At the very least, it kept me in the room (after a quick breather in the parking lot).

The seminar lasted over three days, a total of 22 hours. After the first day, I knew that my life was going to be completely different, though I wasn't sure how that was going to happen. After the second day, I was different. After all three days, I know how I am going to get through my trauma, how I am going to be the mom I was always meant to be, and that I will achieve all the dreams I have for myself, my marriage, and my family. Not just that I can achieve them--

I will achieve them.

The purpose of the seminar is to change the world, and that's exactly what it does, one person at a time. Basically, I'm really, really, really glad I went.

The skills they teach are all based around the "Choice Process." First you identify what thing in your life you want to change. Then you identify WHY that has happened in your life--you find the negative belief about yourself that has driven your emotions and actions and produced those results that you don't want. Cool, now we understand. Keep going.

Once you have that negative belief, you figure out why you keep doing it. And you make a new belief. And--this is probably the single most important step--then you do something about it. Immediately. Right now. No time to forget or talk yourself out of it and fall back into all the old habits of thinking.

You know this stuff already, yes. Power of positive thinking, right? Wrong. It's so much more than that. It's structured in a way that really makes sense and makes it possible. It's empowering.

Just for an example, I will walk you through the basic outline of one of my choice processes.

Once I decided I was really going to participate in the seminar (not just show up), I determined that I should jump in head first and do it for real. Put it to the test and let it work if it was true or let it fail if it was wrong. So, in my very first choice process, the result in my life that I wanted to change was that I do not want to be traumatized by my birth experiences. Talk about diving straight in to the core of all my heartache. If this could be fixed, holy cow, this stuff works. If.

By using the choice process, I came to understand that my negative belief is that I am worthless. You can argue with me all you want and tell me that I'm a great person, but that's what I believed and that's what I was constantly telling myself subconsciously. That belief is the reason that I could not process my birth experiences in a healthy way. While I did not have any control in experiencing postpartum depression after Ben was born, this belief sharply accentuated those feelings and certainly played into my developing PTSD.


Still using the choice process, I came to understand how damaging this thought really is. That ultimately, if I hold on to this thought too hard, my kids will end up dead. Sounds extreme, huh? It's true. If that's not motivation for change, I don't know what is.

Using the choice process, I have a new belief:

I am irreplaceable.

There are moments when someone else can take care of my children better than I can, but I am still their one and only mother. I could disappear and Chris could remarry, but he could never replace me. God will always be sure that His purposes will be fulfilled, but no one can fulfill the purposes He has for me as well as I can. And oh my goodness, I know it. No doubt in my mind.

There are many different tools that are taught through the course of the seminar that are useful. Again, it's nothing brand new. The information has been out there for a long time. But it has been put into a format that absolutely resonated with me and makes so, so, so much sense. For Chris, too. And Craig and Janet. And Larry. And Phil. And Cindy and Tom and Stephanie. This is seriously good stuff, people.

My point? I think you should go. Yes, you. Not even kidding.

Here's the quick info:

Power of Choice costs $495 for the three days. But lucky you, you know me!! Because I just completed the course, I can get you a golden ticket so you can take the course for $100--that's an 80% discount. Suh-weet.

The catch is that the discount only lasts until this Thursday, March 29th. After that, you can most definitely still sign up, but it will be at the regular rate.

I feel like I need to pause here and let you know that everything I learned from this class served to reinforce the principles of the gospel and give me the tools to follow Christ in the ways that will be lasting and productive for me and my family. The program is not at all affiliated with the LDS church, but it is based on sound principles and practices. Tools. It's all about having the tools to be able to live the truth that you already know, and to rediscover and live the truths about yourself that you have forgotten.

It's all about  Passion




It's all about Choice. Take control of your life, any part. Is there anything at all in your life that you would like to change? If you have any “stuck places” in your life, unwanted results, relationships you want to improve, have been unable to make the progress you want towards your goals, or just want to create more fulfillment in your life and learn exactly how to create all you want in life, this seminar is for you. Yes, you. Raise up your right hand. Now point at your chest. See that person you're pointing at? That's the person that needs this seminar.

The next class is April 19-21. Thursday and Friday run 4:00-10:00 pm, Saturday is 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Absolutely worth the time and the money. Absolutely. If you're on the fence, there is a  free mini-class this week that introduces the choice process and gives a glimpse into what the seminar is like. That class is Thursday, March 29, 6:00-8:00 pm at 8700 S 450 W #C. Chris and I will be there for another class at the same time if you want to carpool or meet us there. ;)

Please, please, please talk to me about this. Leave me a comment, email me, call me, text me, Facebook me, whatever. If the money is a concern, please talk to me anyway. Imagine that obstacle was gone--how would you feel about it? Make your decision based on that feeling, not the money. Talk to me!! I want this to work for you, too. I want you to have the feeling that I have now. The power I have to get out of my own way and truly let the gospel work in my life. Talk to me.

More information is available at I particularly recommend reading testimonials found on the "Results" tab. I can also email you the registration form for the seminar and a ticket with more information about the mini class if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Take 2

Benjamin Ryan

Audrey Jane

Megan Leigh

She didn't think it was funny. I thought it was hilarious.

Monday, March 19, 2012

27 Moments


Chris came through the drive-thru one night while I was working at Arby's. My manager was jokingly giving me a hard time about something, and in a dramatic act of chivalry, Chris jumped from the truck and through the drive-thru window to defend me.


While quite excitedly learning his first real programming language in the first semester we were married, Chris taught me a few very basic C++ commands. I wrote a program to calculate how much cement would be needed for the given dimensions of a driveway. Because Chris told me to.


Quietly working on a puzzle of the Salt Lake Temple while watching movies or listening to Harry Potter on cd, then hiding the puzzle pieces by sliding the cookie sheets we used for storage trays under the couches.


Hanging out in the tiny storefront of the Sinclair gas station where Chris worked during his senior year of high school.


Hanging a blanket over our bedroom window in Twin Creek to block the cold winter air, only to remove the blanket and find the window to be completely iced over with almost an inch-thick layer.


Hiking up the hills behind the University of Utah dorms after we'd broken up and talking about anything and everything that came to mind--along with a few karate demonstrations.


Sitting on the floor in the hallway of the University of Alaska Fairbanks dorms, me trying to slyly ask Chris if he really was a member of the church and then trying to guess what each of the things meant on his get-to-know-you door poster.


Driving from Aberdeen back to Salt Lake in my Mazda Protege, discussing how fun it would be to get married and pile all of our belongings into that car and drive wherever the inclination took us.


I gave Chris break-up advice when he broke up with the girl he started dating right after he broke up with me. My advice worked wonders, and he called me back a few days later to thank me. We spent more than three hours on the phone that night, during which time I was walking around the U's dorms barefoot in the moonlight.


In the short weeks before Jane was born, we lived in a townhouse that required a wood-burning stove for heat. We spent many a night cuddling on the couch, listening to the fire and watching the baby try to kick her way out of my belly.


Our first Valentine's as a couple, I received my first flower delivery--a single white rose. On the same day, I received a letter in the mail chronicling many of the inner thoughts of the boy I was slowly coming to love. I still have that letter.


Holding hands, walking on the dirt road from his parents' house to the cemetery, enjoying the peaceful quiet that only comes at dusk when you get completely away from cars and houses.


Walking between the trees and down the hill after leaving the cafeteria--the first time that Chris confessed that he liked me. You know, that he liked liked me.


Making an unauthorized copy of the key to the house we were still hoping to buy and sitting in the bedrooms together, imaging all the wonderful things that our family would experience in that house. (Thankfully, we did buy that house a few weeks later.)


In the top five of presents while we were dating--I was desperately missing living in Washington. Chris gave me the movie 10 Things I Hate about You, which was filmed in Seattle, along with a fleece blanket covered in lighthouses and a teddy bear. My instructions: turn on the movie, wrap up in the blanket and imagine that I was in Washington again. The teddy bear was only necessary if Chris wasn't there to hug me himself.


Senior Prom, Pocatello, Idaho. Chris and his friend Ben got up on stage, in front of the entire crowd at prom, and sang a song that they wrote for me and Ben's girlfriend, called The Golden Touch. I still have the cd recording and the written lyrics.


The first time I saw Chris after his mission, we drove to Bear Lake together. That was one of the best drives through Logan Canyon that I've ever had. I didn't know until then how much I missed talking to him.


For our first moment alone as a new family of three on the day Jane was born, we watched Stargate SG-1 in the hospital room.


Last year's birthday celebration at Anniversary Inn. That's all you get to know.


The first time Chris told me that he loved me, we were sitting at a red light in my parents' yellow van, facing west at the intersection of 4500 S and Highland Dr. in Salt Lake. He looked at me and quietly said, "You know I love you, right?"


Standing outside the hotel room where my mom and I were staying, Chris informed me that when dropping a date off after prom, it is customary to leave with a good night kiss. After ten months of dating, that was our first kiss.


Because he loves me and wanted to appreciate and share in the things that I enjoy, Chris read Pride and Prejudice and then voluntarily watched the six-hour A&E movie version.


A moment spread over the course of two years--turning the corner into the small alcove of PO boxes in Utah State's TSC, holding my breath while checking the tiny window into box 1529, hoping to see the large, white envelope that meant a letter from Chris in Norway.


Coming through the veil and into Chris's arms after receiving my endowment in the Logan temple.


Receiving a priesthood blessing from Chris that lead one of the most powerful spiritual witnesses I have ever received that Chris and I are truly meant to be together forever, and that we truly are sealed together for time and all eternity.


Standing next to Chris's gray Ford in a parking lot at USU, we kissed. The wind was blowing ferociously and my long hair completely surrounded both of our heads. Kissing in extreme weather is wonderful.


Standing in the grassy field of Willow Park, wrapped in Chris's arms for the first time in over two years, knowing that I didn't ever want him to let me go again. And he hasn't.

Happy Birthday to My Love
Here's to many, many more birthdays together

Sunday, March 18, 2012


The best thing about having only one day between mine and Chris's birthdays is that instead of just having a birthday, we both get three days' worth of celebratings. Cuz we're awesome like that. But I'm saving that post for when we're actually done. Just a couple pictures, then, to fill the gap and keep your Wampler blog desires satiated.

Benjamin Ryan

Audrey Jane

Megan Leigh

Yeah...Megan pretty much hated the exersaucer when she was a baby. I couldn't find a single picture of her in it. Maybe I'll take one tomorrow, just so she can match...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Matchy-Matchy Green Squared

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

P.S. Name that movie.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How do you like your eggs?

We have occasion to eat out with other people fairly often, and if it's up to me we'll almost always go to Village Inn. In our adventures there, I'm always mildly curious to hear how others like to order their eggs.

Sunny Side Up

The egg is fried, but never flipped. The yolk is uncooked, as well as a good portion of the whites. Almost Rocky-style, but not quite as uncooked as just dropping the egg in a glass.

Over Easy

The egg is flipped, but the yolk is left runny. Some of the whites may be runny, also.

Over Medium

The yolk in this fried egg is runny again, but it is cooked slightly longer so the whites are not runny at all (if cooked correctly).

Over Hard

The egg is fried until the yolk and whites are entirely cooked.


Mix it all up and cook the whole darn thing. Add cheese for extra deliciousness.

There are way more options out there, but this covers the basics. My personal favorite is over medium. I like being able to dip my toast in the yolk, but uncooked whites I find rather disgusting. But that's just me. How do you like your eggs?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bowling Height

I find myself always wanting to quickly follow a trauma post with something funnier. Today's humor: book club, bowling, and Benjamin.

Our Phillips et al Book Club is continuing strong after starting up 21 months ago--that's 21 books. Sweet. We have our core group of stalwarts who come every month, new readers every month, and the always-welcome floaters who we see now and again. I thoroughly enjoy it.

At our meeting last night, Mom brought me an early birthday present:

Welcome Book Club Members
Seriously? You didn't finish? Again??

Ha. Totally cracks me up. But that's not even the best part. The label on the back reads as follows:

"This is a perfectly fine, if not certainly adequate doormat. Important things you should know about your doormat--Warning: Do not use mat as a projectile. Sudden acceleration to dangerous speed may cause injury. When using mat, following directions: Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about. This mat is not designed to sustain gross weight exceeding 12,000 lbs. If mat begins to smoke, immediately seek shelter and cover head. Caution: if coffee spills on mat, assume that it is very hot. This mat is not intended to be used as a placemat. Small food particles trapped in fibers may attract rodents and other vermin. Do not glue mat to porous surfaces, such as pregnant women, pets and heavy machinery. When not in use, mat should be kept out of read of children diagnosed with CFED (Compulsive Fiber Eating Disorder). Do not taunt mat. Failure to comply relieves the makers of this doormat of any and all liability."

Ha again. If you didn't actually read it, go back and read it. It's funny.

Long ago, I asked Chris to get our Wii set up, which we had never done since we moved to Salt Lake. Once upon a weekend when I was gone, he pulled everything out from behind the old VHS tapes and moved it to a picturesque location next to the old VCR. Well, cool. I kept looking at it, waiting for the day that it was actually hooked up and useable.

Brilliant me--it was hooked up. I just assumed it wasn't. We all know what assuming does. Now Chris gets all kinds of credit all over again for doing something for me. :)

Since I learned of the entertainment potential awaiting at the press of a button, we've started playing a lot more often. It's fun with the girls. It also helps me stay awake during quiet time while the kids are asleep. Some of my trauma nightmares have been coming back and unless I'm really really tired when I go to bed at night, my brain won't let me fall asleep. But that's not funny. Moving on.

Our current favorite is Bowling.

Megan needs help, and doesn't usually last through an entire game.

Jane, though, thinks it's awesome.

Especially when she gets a strike. Check out that enthusiasm.

Wendi and Tony were over on Sunday, and they commented on how tall Ben looks when compared to Jane. I thought documentation was in order.

She's short, he's tall. Sounds like me and Chris.

In other news, Ben is simultaneously learning how to crawl and how to walk. When he's on the floor, he'll pop himself up on his hands and knees,

or if you hold on to one hand, he'll push off with his other arm and kick his legs like he's trying to swim. This kid desperately wants to be mobile.

His skills are actually a little more advanced in the walking department. He can pull himself up if he has something to balance against, and if you hold both hands, he'll actually walk. Not super coordinated yet, but literally getting better every day.

I'm quite curious to see which manner of mobility he actually manages to master first.

By the way, Megan's arm is totally fine now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Part IV: In which my son is stolen

Links to Part I-III to the right

I read and reread the lists of symptoms of postpartum depression. Sure, I fit the list to a T—depressed mood, extreme fatigue, zero pleasure in anything, inability to make any kind of decision. PPD gave me something to work with, a reason for the hell I was trapped in inside my own mind. And yet, it didn’t fit.

I knew there was something else going on. There was a bigger issue hiding somewhere inside my mind, I just couldn’t find it or understand it. I was lacking the information and the tools to figure it out, but I knew that my feelings went beyond only depression—as if that wasn’t bad enough already.

I found my answer the night that my nephew Ivan was born. Michael and Amanda had each been texting me throughout the day with consistent updates on appointments, decisions, and ultimately the induction. (By the way, Amanda knows about this part of my story already.) I was glad to be included along the way. It was nice to know what was going on, even though they were up in Idaho and I was nowhere near enough to actually be helpful.

I couldn’t sleep that night. (Neither did Michael and Amanda, but they had a good reason.) All night long, as I thought about Amanda being in labor, I had one intensely overwhelming thought: I want to trade places with her. It was such a desperate, powerful feeling. There was nothing I wanted more in the entire world at that moment than to have the chance to go back to two months before and give birth to Ben again. So I could do it right.

I didn’t give birth to Ben. He wasn’t born. He was stolen from me.

My mind raced over and over through the events of the day I had gone to the hospital, expecting to have a c-section, having that option removed from the table, going into intense back labor for sixteen hours, only to again be faced with a c-section. Even now, writing about this over seven months later, my muscles tense up and my breathing becomes shallow and my hands start to shake just from thinking about it.

All told, I might have slept for 20 minutes that night. At 5:30 in the morning on September 30, I finally figured out how enormously troubled and bothered I was about the events surrounding Ben’s birth (or the apparent lack thereof).

It was through some emailed website links from Lisa—thank you—that I learned about traumatic birth and the pursuant post-traumatic stress, though I didn’t make all the connections for a few weeks still.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition, gives the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD. While I had not officially received this diagnosis from a medical professional at this time, I did experience the necessary nine areas for a clinical diagnosis. To ease my explanations of what my PTSD looked like, I am going to use the DSM IV-TR criteria and draw that picture in pieces.

From the DSM IV-TR, the criteria for PTSD are as follows:

Criterion A: Stressor

The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:

1.       The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.
2.       The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

There are two parts to my trauma with Ben’s birth. One was my complete lack of control throughout the entire situation. At almost every turn, I prepared myself for one of two eventualities—try the version, it works and we stay pregnant or it doesn’t work and we deliver today; go the hospital and have a c-section or go into labor on my own; be induced and have a baby—and every time, the situation played out with that third eventuality that I never even considered—the version fails and I’m still pregnant; denied a c-section and get induced; labor for hours and hours and still have the c-section I never really wanted in the first place. Talk about helplessness. I could not control anything that happened at any stage, through no fault of my own.

The second part of Ben’s birth is something that I still cannot talk about. To this day, there are only three other people who know what happened to me on the operating table immediately before the c-section actually happened. It involves horribly strong feelings of intense fear, helplessness, and horror. For the sake of writing, we’ll refer to this particular moment (which actually lasted much longer than just a moment) as “the incident” just for ease of reference.

Criterion A met.

Criterion B: Intrusive Recollection

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in at least one of the following ways:

Deep breath. This is hard.

1.       Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions.

Thoughts of the hospital experience popped into my head all the time, triggered by all kinds of things or nothing at all. I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened and how desperately I wanted it to be different. I would replay that video in my mind over and over, rehashing every detail and remaking every decision, wishing I could go back and do it right. All the time.

2.       Recurrent distressing dreams of the event.

I have always been a vivid dreamer. Every single night, I dreamed about some element of the birth. Every time I woke up, it was the first thing I remembered. The dreams morphed into scary and twisted manifestations of my emotions, with vibrant colors and harsh details that accentuated the parts I most feared. Every night.

3.       Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated).

The flashbacks were the worst. Everything around me seemed to disappear and my mind was completely taken over by images of being in the hospital. I never knew when those moments would come, and once they were past, I felt like I had just barely had surgery and had to recover all over again.

4.       Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

If I just say yes, does that sum it up enough for you?

5.       Physiologic reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

Any comment about hospitals brought on shortness of breath, muscle tension, and blurred vision. Any reference to birth or pregnancy or even new babies brought on panic attacks. So yes.

Only one of those five is required for diagnosis—I fit all five. Criterion B met.

Criterion C: Avoidant/Numbing

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by at least three of the following:

1.       Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.
2.       Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma.

It was at this point that I basically stopped reading blogs. I had too many friends who were pregnant or who had recently had babies and I couldn’t handle reading their happy stories of how wonderful birth was and how amazing their babies were and how much they just loved being mothers. I fully acknowledge that my problem had absolutely nothing to do with any of those women—I still greatly admire and want to be friends with all of you!!—but I first unconsciously and then very consciously stopped reading anything that might bring up anything to do with birth or babies.

I also stopped having playdates. Having a newborn always brought the seemingly obvious topics of conversation—pregnancy, birth, babies. All the things I couldn’t talk about. So I just didn’t talk to anyone.

3.       Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.

I’ve always thought this one was just a little ironic—how do you know if you’re doing this if you can’t remember?

I was, in fact, missing a very important part of my trauma. I had completely, 100% blocked out the incident for months. There was one night when I was going to go to a movie with Deborah. I met up with her at her work, with the plan of leaving there and going to the theater. I was too upset and confused by everything on my mind to go to the movie and I just wanted to talk. Deborah was great and just listened to me. I talked for two or three hours, first in her office and then at dinner, during which time I unloaded anything and everything that came to mind. It was in telling her the story that I suddenly remembered what had happened. Holy cow. I had so completely forgotten about it. It was shocking to remember again, a shock that I didn’t recover from for days. Still haven’t, really.

4.       Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.
5.       Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.
6.       Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings).

Yes. To all of the above.

7.       Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span).

For once, no. At least I thought I would still live.

Three required, I had six. Criterion C met.

Criterion D: Hyperarousal

Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), indicated by at least two of the following:

1.       Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
2.       Irritability or outbursts of anger.
3.       Difficulty concentrating
4.       Hyper-vigilance
5.       Exaggerated startle response

Yes to 1, 2, 3, and 5. It took me at least an hour or two to fall asleep every time, which is particularly problematic when woken up by a newborn several times during the night. I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep per night, all in chunks of one hour or less. I was very quickly extremely angry with my kids, especially Jane. I couldn’t get anything done. I felt like I was constantly walking in a fog, unable to concentrate on anything. If someone bumped me or came around the corner, I was so startled that I often lost my breath for several minutes, as though I had had the wind knocked out of me.

Criterion D met.

Criterion E: Duration

Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in B, C, and D) is more than one month.

I didn’t understand until well in October, but the symptoms started when I was still in the hospital, in the first days immediately following the birth. At the time of my learning about traumatic birth and PTSD, it had already been almost three months.

Criterion E met.

Criterion F: Functional Significance

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

In Utah terms, heck yes. Criterion F met.

And for completeness and interest’s sake—

Specify if:

Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than three months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is three months or more

By this count, chronic. What an oddly powerful word.

Specify if:

With or Without delay onset: Onset of symptoms at least six months after the stressor

There was definitely no delay in the onset of symptoms, even though it took me a lot longer to realize and understand.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder was first studied and diagnosed in relation to war veterans of World War I. It still sometimes seems odd to me to make such a dramatic connection between something as horrifying and tragic as war and combat and something generally considered as wonderful and amazing as the miracle of birth. But, in my journey, I have learned that there is a very powerful universality of emotions that connects everyone. I may not have witnessed death and violence, but I was placed in a situation that was horrific to me. My body and my mind were violated by others whom I thought I could trust. I had no control over what was being done to my body, in forcibly real ways. It makes sense that my mind would be so bothered by what happened and respond in ways as dramatic as PTSD.

I don’t like to leave my story hanging, as I don’t know when I’ll get back to writing again, but next time, I will get into what has actually helped me. I promise, there is hope in all of this.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

taking advantage



of the march sunshine