Still grieving the holidays - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 12-20-2008, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It has been 3 holiday seasons since my dd was born. She was born just before Halloween at 27w6d and spent the entire span of winter holidays in the NICU coming home in January.

I don't want to sound ungrateful that my dd came home alive, healthy, and is now an active 3yo but the holidays have not gotten their magic back for me. They seem so rushed, something to get past It's all tinged with memories of that awful time 3 years ago.

Just wondering if anyone feels the same and if you've gotten past the "holiday grief"... how did you do it? I'm worried that my dd will not grow up loving this wondeful time in the year and not feel the magic that is Christmas because of me and my issue.
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#2 of 10 Old 12-20-2008, 10:05 PM
 
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I can't say that I have your experience as a mother...but I can speak of it from a child. And let me say right away...that I don't think your christmases with your child look like this at all...

Anyway, my mother had an accident when she was a child and severly injured part of her body at Thanksgiving. Because this was 65 years ago she then had to go to the doctor's and hospital many, many times during the holidays that year. She was 9 when it happened. Because of it, or at least as she says, because of it, she hated the holidays and always did her best to to rush through them.

So, my childhood was spent rushing through the holidays. Many years I did not even get presents. Sadly, my birthday falls in between Thanksgiving and Christmas so, that was also lumped in the mix. She only mustered it together one year to give me a party for my birthday. I was 5. And she never did it again. When asked about her approach to that period she would go back to the injury when she was 9...the holidays stopped for her then.

As you can imagine that kind of enviroment was quite frankly very sad for me as a child and I'm pretty sure there were friends of my mother who felt very sad for me. I picked up on it.

But here is the important part..as sad as that childhood..(18 years worth) of crappy Holidays. As soon as I was on my own I vowed to make mine different. When I was in my 20's I had Christmas parties. I always gave my friends gifts, I always made sure people felt special.
And I don't know if you know much about me here on MDC but I started the Holiday Helper thread where we make sure MDC mothersINneed are given gifts for their kids. My son always has a beautiful Christmas and all my neighbors enjoy many of the traditions I set up here in our house. This is what I was able to do with the shit childhood of piss poor Christmases and for that.. I am grateful what my childhood looked like.

My guess, is that you will soon let those sad memories melt and warm it up with the new christmases. Who knows maybe even this year will lift a bit. But if it does not, I still think your daughter can make her own when she is older.

hang in there and try to have a very merry christmas...

hugs

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#3 of 10 Old 12-20-2008, 10:46 PM
 
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Sunflowers, I understand that the holidays bring up bad memories for you. My baby was not in the NICU at that time so I really do not know how difficult it was.

But what we, mothers of premature babies, have in common is the loss of control. We greived the pregnancy that was lost and the dream birth that we did not have. We were discharged from the hospital without our babies, while moms on our postpartum wards had their babies in their rooms and arms. We watched while they took them home. We left the hospital every night without our baby without knowing what the next morning would bring. We left our babies with strangers and we were powerless. So we all have gone through a lot more than moms of term babies.

Even though it was the most difficult time in my life, I have to look at it positively or I will fall into post partum depression. I thank the doctors and nurses that cared for my baby. He survived because of their dedication to their profession. Thirty years ago I may have not had a first Christmas with my son.

Like Tracy said, you take alot from that child by not showing happiness during this time. I do not mean to sound rude but could you possibly have post tramatic stress disorder? It is more common than known among moms of preemies.

I wish you and your family all the best this holiday season.
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#4 of 10 Old 12-20-2008, 11:20 PM
 
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I'm right there with you...

It was actually 1 year ago today that I was admitted to the hospital at 24 wks because my water broke I didn't deliver until 1-11, so with a 1 year old at home we spent Christmas & New Years in the hospital. And I really thought I would enjoy the holidays this year but I'm just not in the mood to deal with any of it.

I haven't wanted anything to do with Christmas until about 2 days ago when I made myself get a tree. And I decorated it today.

I know how blessed we are that we now have a fabulous and healthy boy but I feel like I just can't move past this...

so no advice from me - and I'm sad to see that 3 years later you're still feeling this way ((hugs))

Mariah
Mommy to Lily & Kane and we're homeschooling joy.gif
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#5 of 10 Old 12-20-2008, 11:46 PM
 
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My boys were born at 27 weeks a little less than a week before Thanksgiving, so yes, I can relate to the feelings that this time of year can bring out. They just turned three as well.

Those feelings are part of the holiday for me now, and they may always be, who knows--but I do enjoy this time of year. I'm not sure if I can advise you on how to move on, but some things that come to mind are:

--try to remember what you enjoyed about the holidays before your daughter's birth, and reconnect with that.

--create some traditions for your family that you can focus on and look forward to. Focus on creating some joy for your daughter.

--acknowledge your feelings for being what they are. Don't pressure yourself into feeling some imagined elation at the season. Let yourself be where you are, no guilt, no shame.
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#6 of 10 Old 12-22-2008, 12:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of your input :

I have been putting some thought into the things mentioned and I have come to a few decisions:

1. This year is the year I make NEW traditions on Christmas day! I think that is what I really need to move forward and re-learn to love the day. My kids and I will open Santa's gifts, exchange our own, and just spend the day together. This year that will mean movies in the family room, playing with out new toys, reading our new books, and making cookies!! I haven't made Christmas cookies with my dd ever so this will be our new time to do that!

2. I do think I struggle with a bit of PTSD over this whole experience and if I keep feeling so... well so whatever it is I feel, I'm going to address it with a professional. If I can't get past it in 3 years, I guess I need a bit of input from someone who knows how to help me get past it.

Again, Thanks! and have a Happy Holiday!
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#7 of 10 Old 12-22-2008, 12:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflowers View Post
Thanks for all of your input :

I have been putting some thought into the things mentioned and I have come to a few decisions:

1. This year is the year I make NEW traditions on Christmas day! I think that is what I really need to move forward and re-learn to love the day. My kids and I will open Santa's gifts, exchange our own, and just spend the day together. This year that will mean movies in the family room, playing with out new toys, reading our new books, and making cookies!! I haven't made Christmas cookies with my dd ever so this will be our new time to do that!

2. I do think I struggle with a bit of PTSD over this whole experience and if I keep feeling so... well so whatever it is I feel, I'm going to address it with a professional. If I can't get past it in 3 years, I guess I need a bit of input from someone who knows how to help me get past it.

Again, Thanks! and have a Happy Holiday!
Your cozy Christmas sounds wonderful. You are on the path to a beautiful beginning. Hugs to you and your family and a beautiful 2009.

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#8 of 10 Old 12-22-2008, 01:40 AM
 
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I can relate. I went into the hospital 2 days after Christmas and gave birth on 1/10. While I wasn't actually in the NICU on the holiday, the entire holiday countdown, to me, often feels like a spiral down into the inevitable. The first 2 years were really really hard, and I know I posted about it here.

Actually, one of the things that I found the most difficult was holiday lights. I always loved driving around and looking at the lights. But I came to associate them with my kids being in the NICU (because yeah, even in January people still have their lights up) and driving home late at night without my babies. I know I posted about that here. I think I was driving to the supermarket one night last year or the prior year, and I almost had to pull over because I was going to break down into tears.

This year, my girls have discovered the lights, and their excitement has brought back some of the joy for me. We actually drove around for 30 minutes or so tonight looking at the differnet houses, with the girls shrieking and babbling and excited about. I even though about posting something about it here, but probably would not have had you not brought the subject up.

The anniversaries are still tough. We're going to be at my MIL's in Atlanta on the 27th, the day I went into the hospital. That probably means I won't be allowed to mention it because my H's family is very much in the "but they are so healthy now!!!" vein. Maybe it'll help not to be able to dwell, though.

I definitely think seeing a therapist would help you. Mine has helped my PTSD a lot. I told someone on another forum here that in the past few weeks, we've even had a bunch of sessions that focused on my other emotional issues, not this one! If that's not progress, what is?

I like the idea of creating new traditions and finding new ways to embrace the season. I hope you find a way to do so.

Betsy, mama to beautiful, strong MZ twins Lillian and Kate, born 11 weeks early on January 10, 2006.
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#9 of 10 Old 12-23-2008, 11:51 AM
 
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OMG!! DH and I just talked about this last night. This is our 3rd year and yes to a point we are grieving the holidays. But I have a different twist on it.

Maggie was born on 2/15. The first 2 years I told DH dont even mention valentines day to me. Not so sure this year though. We were in the nicu for Easter. It was very tough plus dealing w family members asking why we didnt come to their house. Maggie was in for Mothers Day too. After dealing w Easter, I told my family dont even call on that day. I had DH drop me off at the hospital at 9am and he spent the day w our older dd. He picked me up at 5pm and we went out for dinner w our dd1.

But yes, remember 2 years ago taking an infant to my brother's house for xmas eve was a distaster. He has a huge house that echoes. And we all know how much preemies HATE that. It took MAggie a good 2 years to get over that echo stuff and loud noises.

NOW:
For us, we have had some extremely cold weather this week. A few days after MAggie was born, we had a zero degree day. The cold snap reminds me of getting out of the car in the cold parking lot and feeling it on my newly stitched c section scar. Also driving on the highway that lead to the nicu in the cold also brings back memories for both of us. We had bad PTSD for the first year. Now thinking about it is more a recollection but yes, we still have a touch of PTSD issues that may never go away.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#10 of 10 Old 12-26-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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You know, I think this happens any time of the year. Probably harder around the big holidays though.

My DS was born on Mother's Day so that holiday was a bit rough. He was also in the hospital over Memorial Day, which is when we usually go on a big camping trip every year. I think this year is the first year I didn't think too much about it (he turned 8 in May). It was surprisingly hard when he turned 6 and his birthday fell on Mother's Day again. Everything was the same day of the week. That won't happen again until he's 17 so hopefully it won't be as much of an issue then!
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