Both the LP and I grew up having bad nightmares (the LP night terrors). He still lets out blood curdling screams while still dead asleep and embroiled in nightmare sometimes. My affliction worsened – severely – after Baby A’s birth and I was later advised they were symptomatic of PPA (postpartum anxiety, related to and sometimes experienced together with post partum depression (PPD) but sometimes experienced independent of PPD).
While Baby A was still very young I was offered medication not recommended while breastfeeding. I declined. Breastfeeding Baby A has never been easy so I opted to ride out the daytime anxiety, for which I had some tools in my arsenal, and suffering through the nighttime anxiety, for which I’ve never found tools apart from the training I got after a brain injury that triggered a flood of childhood sexual abuse memories and corresponding nightmares.
Most of the PPA nightmares involved drowning – of my dog and my children mostly though occasionally of other people’s children. They knocked me flat. Every time. I never went back up bed or sleep on the nights when they struck.
The MT seems afflicted with the nightmare gene too. He says almost every night before bed “I hope I don’t have a bad dream”. “Me too” I always respond. I hope not too. And then I make the same wish for myself and the LP.
Wishes are just that. Obviously. Sometimes they come true (like dreams). Sometimes they don’t.
Early this morning I awoke from a bad dream that was muddled and disjointed. I only recall that it ended with Baby A being struck (and dismembered? I made myself wake up and cannot take my mind back there) by a vehicle while I ran out (in slow motion – why can we only move in slow motion when something awful is afoot?). The fear and gore took my breath away. And got me out of bed. Immediately.
If I had to live with these sort of nightmares again often (as occurred for a while after Baby A’s birth) I would readily drug myself into a stupor. I would wantto eliminate any opportunity to recall such horrors.
I sometimes wonder how parents of violently or tragically killed children survive. I have often wondered (still do) how my own mother survived after her first born son died – in somewhat suspicious and utterly tragic circumstances. I know she struggled mightily. For ever. His death shaped my childhood. And has resurfaced from time to time my entire life.
On that note, is it moot to describe such circumstances as utterly tragic? When is the death of a child not utterly tragic? In the case of my mom’s son the tragedy – for me – is amplified by the fact what happened could readily have been avoided but for the foolish or perhaps malicious acts of another. And that the other was himself a child. From tragic circumstances.
I don’t know why I’m writing this post except to exorcise the demon of this morning’s awful dream. I hope I don’t have (any more) bad dreams.
Do you ever have nightmares about your children being harmed? How do you reground yourself after them?