Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A few months before my twin girls were to turn a year old, I started to have intense feelings of sadness.  I would see a book that I had read while on bed rest and begin crying.  If I caught a glimpse of the maternity clothes that I never got to wore, I broke down.  I couldn’t even bear to give them to a good friend of mine who had recently become pregnant.  I didn’t want to see anyone else in the clothes that I never wore.  As we got closer to September 30th, and the day that my water broke, I cried daily.  I actually sobbed every day.  My husband kept telling me that our girls were so healthy and beautiful and he didn’t understand why I was so upset.  I didn’t either.  Finally, for lack of a better option, I began surfing the internet.  It was then that I came across other mothers who had had traumatic pregnancies, “done time” in the NICU, and were also feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness even though their babies were fine.  As I continued my research, I learned that there are doctors who are actually studying women who have had babies in a NICU and that they are finding that these women are exhibiting signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Finally, what I was experiencing had a name!  It was then that I decided to seek some professional counseling.

The counselor was wonderful and told me that she had treated several women like me who had PTSD and that it was totally normal.  She went on to say that I had experienced such a traumatic experience and that anniversaries of traumatic events often brought those horrible feelings back.  I also learned that I had repressed a lot of my emotions during the time that I was on bed rest and when our babies were in the NICU.  I went through the motions every day and felt that I had to be strong for my daughters.

I write this post because I know that there are other women out there who have experienced this or may be experiencing this right now.  I know that you feel lost and sad and as if no one understands.  I know this because I was you.  Just know that I understand and I support you.  Please be kind to yourself.


  1. Oh yes, I had PTSD following my son’s traumatic birthat 27 weeks and 10 week NICU stay, at first I had no idea what was wrong with me, I wasn’t my normal self at all, but I was confused, as I wasn’t depressed.

    My GP was wonderful and diagnosed me straight away. I am now absolutely fine, and my former 27 weeker is now 20 months old and he’s perfect 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! My water broke May 7, 2010 and I lost my son May 31 at 24 weeks. My daughter spent 3 months in the nicu and is fine now. But like you described, there are still sad days. Maybe I too have a glimpse of PTSD. I would have never thought about that! Im glad you got answers!!

  3. Pamela Harper says:

    i can totally understand how you felt, i went throught the same thing when my girls were born at 25 weeks. it is always nice to connect with other moms who have been through what you have been through because they are the only ones who will understand

  4. hey Kim, DS was born 7w early as you know(due Feb 2009, came Dec 2008) and even now that he is 2, i still find myself thinking about what he went through and what i went through. PTSD is very common for preemie parents. and yes, your daughters as well as my son are healthy children today! but we don’t easily forget where they came from.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. I know it will help other Mom’s. We are so proud of you and how you have handled all the ups and downs these last 2 plus years. You have created two strong, beautiful little girls.


  7. I did experience (and still have some mild symptoms) PTSD. I am a therapist myself by training! I did go to a counselor to treat PTSD and found it very useful. My symptoms have significantly improved, without the use of any medication. I encourage any parent who continues to struggle with a preterm birth to research therapists in their community. My first step was talking with my OB/GYN to get a list of names….

  8. My doctor told me that. Not surprising. The day after my little guy was born, he had to be intubated. He quit breathing and they had to bring him back. I had like an out of body freak attack. I can totally see that.

  9. I believe this for sure! I am still dealing with a lot strange feelings 20 months later. Thanks for the article, it’s nice to know I might not be alone!

  10. Completely understandable. Not sure it was PTSD, but even after the “all clear”, it took me 8 months to stop using the apnea monitor.

  11. Believe it and still dealing with it 6 months after being home. I actually wish it would be more widely acknowledged so that people don’t end up feeling crazy or alone. In fact that’s part of the reason that I sought out this page, websites, etc. ~ so I could make sure I wasn’t crazy!

    • That is why I wrote this piece! I am so glad, for lack of a better word, to see that other women have experienced this. Not that I’d wish this on anyone but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I am so glad this post resonates with so many and helps.

    • Thank you so much for writing this. My son was born at 31 weeks on April 30, 2011. One week later (my first mother’s day) I ended up back in the hospital b/c of a severe panic attack. We were able to bring him home one week ago on May 20 which is fantastic. I can’t express how happy I am that he’s finally home but I can’t help feeling panicky, worried, nervous, etc. Especially at night, I’m so worried about his breathing that I can’t sleep…even though he sleeps through the entire night, only squirming around when he’s hungry. My husband doesn’t understand why I cry so much. He thinks I’m depressed but I know that’s not the problem. Like I said, I’m so so happy to have him home but feel like I’m the only one that can properly care for him. I’m even on my husband’s case about dumb things like swaddling. Anyway, I just want to thank you once again for writing this. I am so happy to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way!

    • Kristin-
      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad your little guy is home. I also found it so hard to trust anyone with my girls for about a year. Consequently, I was one tired and VERY cranky wife and mommy! Try to let your husband help you. If you are too nervous to trust others with your precious preemie, maybe ask them to help out by washing bottles or doing something else around the house. You need and deserve the break.
      Best of luck and God bless all of you.

  12. Thank you for sharing. My son was born at 32 weeks May 31, 2010. He was born without an anus and spent 31 days in NICU and then another week when he had surgery. I got diagnosed with PTSD and thought the doctor was wrong untill I went to another hospital and used the soap that smelled the same as the one we had to use in NICU. Now I know there is other women out there with it and I’m not alone. Thanks again

  13. Kim – Thank you SO much for this. As you read on my website this article has helped me understand that all those feelings that I have been hiding are okay.


  14. Over time, the panic will fade. But I’m not sure if the life changing experience of being in NICU and having a traumatic birth experience ever fully ‘goes away.’ My son was full term and came out with no heartbeat. He had looked good on the monitors til the very end. It will be hard to ‘trust’ the experience next time around. In the meantime, my husband and I started a support group for other NICU parents in Calgary, Alberta.


  1. […] today I saw a post on Facebook from Preemies 101. It was an article on PTDS. This article hit home. I finally expressed some of my feeling to my very good friend Lori on […]

Speak Your Mind