My story started back on June 11 when I was 24 weeks pregnant and I went to the hospital with severe pains in my upper abdominal area. I was instantly diagnosed with preeclampsia with a blood pressure of 190/110 and put on magnesium to prevent seizures. There was talks of delivering my sweet baby that night, but my doctor decided to hold off as long as we could, so she could hopefully grow a little more. They gave her steroid shots in hopes that her little lungs and brain would develop as much as possible. I made it to 25 weeks while on bed rest on the high-risk OB floor before my fluids decreased, my blood pressures continued to rise, the pains in my abdominal area got worse, and Charlotte needed to come out for both our safety.
Our micro-preemie Charlotte Cate was born on June 19, 2018, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and 11.2 inches long. She was intubated and swept off to the NICU where her short journey began. Five days after her journey began, she gained her angel wings. Charlotte went into cardiac arrest on mine and my husband’s third wedding anniversary while attempting a chest tube procedure for a pneumothorax. Her tiny heart and stiff lungs could not handle it anymore. Her dad and I watched as they performed 45 minutes’ worth of chest compressions on our tiny little baby and we ultimately had to make the decision to let her go with God. We finally got to hold our sweet baby, bathe her, dress her, and tell her goodbye.
We are now fighting the battle every day of wanting our baby here on earth with us but knowing that isn’t going to happen. It has only been a little over two months since she left us, and I am still having to adjust to no longer being pregnant and knowing she’s not ever coming home with me. And now there is this little thing called anxiety starting to make its way into my life and I am just having to take it day by day.
Anxiety is real, and I’ve never experienced it before until now… 2 months following Charlotte’s death. My anxiety started a month ago and I experienced my first very small anxiety attack while my husband Casey was on shift. I started feeling anxious about something bad happening to him and thinking ‘What would I do if I lost my husband too?’ and I couldn’t control my thoughts. I started feeling very scared and I began crying. Luckily, I was able to calm myself down enough to call Casey and explain what was happening. I went to bed that night and was fine the next morning.
Fast forward to a week later when I went back and saw my doctor for my 7-week C-section follow up. I got there and the girl sitting at the front desk asked me with the biggest smile on her face, ‘Where’s the baby? No baby?’. I just shook my head no to which she replied something along the lines of, ‘Why didn’t you bring your baby?!’ (Again, with a big smile) and I just had to fake a small smile and tell her she actually passed away. ‘Oh my gosh… I am so sorry’ is what she said and then continued helping the lady who was at the counter on the other side. That lady had probably just heard me, as well as the lady sitting right next to the window in the waiting room. If there is something I don’t like, it’s attention on myself and I instantly felt like both women were just staring at me trying to maintain myself and not break out in tears in the waiting room.
I made it to the back and sat down for the nurse to take my blood pressure and she asked how I’ve been, what’s going on, yada yada. I mentioned I had been having anxiety and she asks, ‘What’s making you feel anxious?’ So… there I sat and had to explain once again why I was feeling anxious… only increasing my anxiety.
It’s so strange that I can talk about Charlotte one day and then the next day I can hardly say her name without wanting to cry. That same night I sat at my parent’s lake house celebrating mom and Casey’s birthday with the family already sad that I didn’t have Charlotte there to celebrate her daddy and Gigi’s birthdays. I gifted my mom and dad a necklace and keychain of Charlotte’s footprints that night. My mom tried to tell me a story about my sweet niece talking about Charlotte, but I couldn’t handle the story and I began crying, which then led to me being embarrassed and angry at myself for crying in front of my family. We got back to our own lake house that night and my second anxiety attack began.
One of my biggest fears is that everyone is going to forget my Charlotte and that’s where these anxious thoughts that night stemmed from. Since I had cried in front of everyone I was fearful that people would take that as ‘we shouldn’t talk about Charlotte because it makes her sad.’ My thoughts then tell me because of that no one will talk about her and everyone will forget about her. And my thoughts then send me into a panic and my chest gets tight, I dig my fingers and nails into my skin, I rub the crap out of my knees, I pick my cuticles, I pinch my skin extremely hard, my muscles all get super tight and my entire body tenses. I hyperventilate, and I can’t control my body.
This anxiety attack was scary. It’s scary not having control over your own body and what is happening. My husband held my hands to keep from bleeding or rubbing my own skin raw and reminded me to breathe because I honestly just forget to do that… that’s the last thing on your mind when everything else feels like its falling apart.
And now last night. The third anxiety attack in the last three weeks where my husband had to physically help me out of the bathtub because I lost my strength and my chest got tight, my muscles tensed up, and my world caved in yet again.
I am beyond thankful to have such a loving, helpful, AMAZING husband who holds me up when I’m at my weakest.
Anxiety isn’t fun. It’s not glamorous and I don’t understand why there is such a stigma on people who have anxiety. I have anxiety and I’m not scared to tell people that. I’m not scared to tell people I’m taking Xanax and Zoloft to try and control what’s happening in my life right now. I’m not scared to tell people that I am looking into grief/anxiety counseling because maybe this post could help someone else now or in the future to know that IT’S OK to seek out help. I’ve come to the realization that I cannot do it on my own… I can’t handle what is happening on my own. Three panic attacks in the last month wears your body and your mind out and its okay to get help. Its ok to admit you can’t do it by yourself. Anxiety isn’t something that just goes away… it’s something you learn to control.
Some days I feel like my world is falling apart and some days I’m in the best mood still enjoying life. Today I felt exhausted and beat down after my anxiety attack last night. I went to bed calm, but I still felt sad when I woke up this morning. I walked down the school hallways at my work just trying not to cry because it was just one of those days. I was so afraid something was going to trigger the tears and I wouldn’t have been able to stop it on my own.
Being fearful of triggers is exhausting. Grief is exhausting. Faking a smile on days like today is exhausting.
But it’s a battle I am learning to fight….
One day at a time.
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