Friday, February 19, 2010


Salon recently ran an essay about a woman's experience with PTSD following childbirth. It was only about a year ago that I realized I had a touch of PTSD myself following Arin's emergency c-section 19 years ago; I used to have obsessive thoughts daily about the c-section and everything leading up to and following it (especially waking up in recovery not knowing if I had a boy or girl, not knowing if the baby was alive, the recovery nurses not knowing, either.) It got better over time, but it was really only Hannah's birth, three years later, that healed that situation for me completely.

After reading my last blog, a dear, wise friend suggested that I might have some PTSD following my mom's suicide. I hadn't thought to label it that, but it makes perfect sense. Her death and all that led up to it were definitely traumatic, and I've had similar obsessive thoughts about it since. Another dear, wise friend told me that I had been blindsided by my mom's death and often when people are blindsided, they become hyper-vigilant, hence my sudden germ phobia. This also makes perfect sense. There is a therapist in Redlands who does eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, which is supposed to be helpful for PTSD (yet another dear, wise friend found this very healing after she couldn't stop thinking about a murder across the street from her house); I may give it a try.

Asher's cold has morphed into pneumonia, which is so scary--in fact, it's one of the things I had been most afraid of. As a writer, I often want to move toward the things that scare me most, but that doesn't mean that I want life to hand me the scariest things! He is doing remarkably well, given the circumstances; he is still full of smiles much of the day, which is a huge relief. We caught it fairly early, so hopefully the antibiotics will kick it in the butt now. The doctor also detected a heart murmur, which he said could be from a small hole between the chambers of Asher's heart. Of course the thought of anything being wrong with my sweet baby opens up a huge hole in my own heart, but the doctor and my dear, wise midwife sister have tried to reassure me that this is common and usually self-healing and I shouldn't lose any sleep over it (unfortunately I already have, but then again, I lose sleep much more easily than I find it). He wants us to see a pediatric cardiologist once Asher is feeling better, and hopefully that visit will set all our hearts at ease. I'm pretty tapped out in the trauma department as it is.

In happy news, it looks as if we're set to close escrow next week. I'm very excited! I so look forward to being in the new place and making it our own, a place of comfort and calm and fun, a house that will embrace us through every season of life.


  1. Gayle,

    Congrats on the house wrapping up nicely.

    While I have no personal experiences to parallel yours, my heart is with you in regards to your mother's death and the pneumonia Asher is suffering. Do hope that any anomalies with Asher are no more than what's common and self-healing among other babies.

    Actually, to think about it, on a bigger social scale, I do feel a bit of that PTSD thing myself. The passage of Prop 8 in California by immigrant theocrats has made me super-sensitive to homophobia outside white European cultures, whether it's all the hateful crap said right here in California in Korean and Spanish, the Surinamese thugs over in the Netherlands, or what's going on right now in Uganda thanks to American evangelicals. It's built up to a point where sometimes even merely seeing a Latino/a face can set me off.

    Looking forward to your new books!


  2. Gayle,
    I'm glad you're treating yourself as well as your baby. For the record, my baby's heart murmur healed on its own many many years ago.

    I can't wait until you are closer by again.

    New books, yay!

  3. Dearest Gayle,
    EMDR is AMAZING! I was treated for PTS symptoms after my neighbor was murdered in 05. I couldn't sleep; every time I'd close my eyes, I'd have this slide show of images I imagined from bits of information we were hearing. I can only imagine how much more intense your experience since you were so much closer to you mom than I was to Estela. Highly, highly recommend EMDR.

    Congrats on the house--always good but also a stressor so be sure you are taking care of yourself and accepting care from your friends and family. (mini-sermon over now.) :)

    Think of you often and miss you terribly! xoxoxoxo to you and yours.

  4. Gayle, EMDR ia amazing for all types of trauma. I really think you'll find it beneficial, and I think the insights of your friends are right on. I wish you healing & rest -- and of course, Asher as well. :-)


  5. Gayle--I am a praying person, as you I hope you don't mind if I pray for you and for Asher. I figure it can't hurt and might help. :-)

    You have gone through so much lately. I hope that the new house will give you a safe space. Blessings to you and all whom you love.


  6. Levi has a little hole in his heart, too, and he is doing just fine. It hasn't closed, but it hasn't gotten bigger either. The doctor is not worried at all, so I choose not to worry. Listen to your sister!

    Hope Asher is well soon! xoxo