Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blisters and Broken Legs

Picking up where we left off, I’ve still got post-partum thoughts rattling around in my brain almost two years later. What better place to put them than here?

After 5 weeks of hospital bed rest, 10 weeks in the NICU, an extra bonus surgery for me, a simple Christmas, and an emergency surgery for Isaac as the cherry on top, we threw all our stuff in a moving van and finally settled into our new house. And we lived happily ever after. Except we didn’t. Or at least I didn’t. There was still a pumping schedule, a baby who wouldn’t sleep unless my face was touching his, the piles of boxes to unpack taunting me as I was chained to a pump, not mention the piles of emotions I hadn’t unpacked either.

One evening, I found myself awkwardly sitting on a couch in a therapist’s office, making very stilted small talk. He saw right through me, and cut to the chase, “You’re a busy new mom, I know there’s a reason you’re here” but even then I couldn’t bring myself to open up. Finally he said, “I get the sense that you don’t think you’re allowed to be here.” And he was right. My baby lived, his life was miraculously spared not once, not twice, but three times, our NICU stay was smooth, motherhood was what I had wanted for years. This is what I had always wanted. There were people out there who were sicker, sadder, lonelier, and we’d been abundantly blessed. With our abundance of blessings, wasn’t it ungrateful for me to be struggling?

Luckily, he disagreed. Here’s how he explained: If you’re hiking and get a blister, every step you take is painful. Sure there might be someone further ahead on the trail who’s broken a leg. Of course, they’ve got severe injuries that need care and attention. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the blister is painful, and that it hinders any progress you make. Acknowledging the blister in no way discredits the pain of the person with a broken leg.

I don’t share this with you to air out the nitty-gritty of my private therapy sessions, but because we all buy into this lie from time to time. We don’t think our troubles are big enough for attention because we know of someone who’s suffering more. How does our reluctance to admit to our struggles help those with heavier crosses? It doesn’t. There’s enough mercy and consolation to go around. Sometimes, we’ll have blisters, sometimes we’ll be the one with a broken leg. One person’s blister could be another person’s broken leg (this analogy is a dead horse now, right? I'll stop, you’re welcome). Two years later, I’m glad to have gotten some ointment for my “blisters,” they’re mostly a memory. If you have some nagging blisters, I hope you get some balm for them too.


  1. Good girl!!! It's not easy and it's really good to admit that you need someone to help you sort things out. I sure did! Did you know that PTSD is very common in NICU parents? Even those of us who had "normal" NICU stays. Add on a complicated pregnancy and any other of life's big changes (moving, perhaps?) and you're adding to the trauma.

    I'm glad you've got some perspective and I'm so glad you're blogging again!!

  2. Thanks for posting! I'm glad you got help and can spread awareness. I've been reading some sickening stuff about PPD lately.

  3. Wow, tears are pouring down my face as I read this. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you've delt with your blisters. You give us courage to try and handle ours.

    1. You're more than welcome; I hope your blisters heal soundly and smoothly!

  4. Anne - this is so so good. I always brush off my struggles because I know it could be MUCH worse, and while sometimes that helps get me out of my funk, sometimes it's just confusing. I love you for sharing this...keep it coming!

  5. A lovely return-to-blogging post! Thanks for this important reminder. It's hard to let yourself complain about motherhood after you hoped and prayed for it for so long. But it's true. It's a whole new kind of struggle and you need support through it as well. Especially with all of the challenges you guys faced. Thanks for being so real with us here. <3

  6. This is a fantastic post.

    (And I've gone to therapy to deal with trauma connected to the full-term birth of my perfectly healthy baby, so from where I stand your leg is pretty broken. :p )