A couple of weeks ago, I posted this photo and narrative to Our Stable Table’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I was thoroughly surprised at how far the post went, who was touched by it, and the outpouring of joy, celebration, tears, empathy, and love that came our way.
During the first few months of E’s life, he was drugged heavily to keep seizures at bay. Once he weaned from the medicine and the effects wore off, he wanted very little to do with being close to me. He rejected the boob, he rejected mommy’s comfort unless I was the only person available to hold and soothe him. My efforts to console, rock, and hold him close were met with terrified eyes, cries of protest an arching back, or hyperactivity. Yes, it was heartbreaking for me. But I also fully understood the profound trauma he had experienced, and even though I ached to be his safe place, I knew I wasn’t. I accepted it, supported him in his choice, and tried my hardest not to take it personally.
E has always been affectionate and sweet, generous with kisses and cuddles (as long as we are standing or sitting upright), and loves his mama. I see it in his eyes, in his playful actions. We laugh and joke and play with ease. But E has never been able to just let go and relax with me. And he definitely hasn’t been able to sleep next to me.
If I’m completely vulnerable here, I couldn’t relax with him either. E stopped breathing at my breast. I blew air into his lungs to keep him alive. For many days, I didn’t know if he would live or die. For many months after that, E and I did not trust each other. E didn’t trust my milk, my breast, my body. I didn’t trust that E would stay, that he would keep breathing, keep overcoming.
Our trust was broken.
That moment, us cuddling and E sleeping on the couch? That moment was our healing. The PTSD losing it’s iron-like hold on our hearts. Our final defenses crumbling down. Both of us giving up the idea of control or hyper-vigilance and relaxing into what our bond is now. It is unbearably sweet, tenuous, and victorious. It is brand new.
I can trust my son to stay and he can trust me to keep him safe.
I shared our couch cuddle with the Internet because these moments, the small victories that signify huge change and growth, often go unnoticed by us. Unmarked. Undocumented. Unseen by others. In the midst of heartbreak and fear, exhaustion and anxiety, these are the moments that keep me going. It fuels me to keep fighting to restore what we have lost as a family, and advocate for the families out there who experience adversity that comes with life-altering circumstances.
So, I have a request: I want your moments. I want your #tinytriumphs. I want your pictures, the small things that equal big progress and healing in your life and in your family. I want to share these with other families who often feel hopeless and helpless (like my husband and I often do), because we need each other. We need to be reminded of victory, even when it stings our exposed wounds. This is how we move forward, even when the progress is painfully slow.
Here’s how you do it:
- Send us your picture with a narrative of what is significant about that moment, around 100-300 words. Fewer words are okay, too.
Ways to submit your #tinytriumphs:
- Email me. Carrie at ourstabletable dot com.
- Tag OST on FB or IG, and be sure to change the settings to “Public” if you want us to share.
- Private message OST, and we will share it publicly.
- Include the #tinytriumphs in the post.
I can’t promise we will be able to share all of the submissions, but we will certainly try. Because we need this.
We grow together, we mourn together, we celebrate together. Everyone deserves a seat at the table, and your moments matter here.