“Do you have any other concerns listed here, or see any resources on this page that we can help connect you with?”, she asked, flipping the page around so I could read it across the desk, pen in hand.
I scanned the page briefly, but saw nothing relevant in its tidy boxes. My baby has a car seat and toys, we have plenty of food, I don’t need transportation or daycare assistance. The kids have medical insurance.
There was nothing there that looked like “mental health counseling for uninsured adults, sliding fee scale”.
“I would be interested in talking to someone… for myself.”
“What do you mean, talking?”, she says, looking up from the page.
“As in, a therapist.”
It’s not normal for have tears constantly pushing the backs of your eyes, requiring only the slightest invitation to spill. To drag yourself out of bed only because you have hungry people depending on you for their breakfast. Is it?
“I think I’m still experiencing some… anxiety. After all we went through this past year, thinking we’d lost him several times, having to be on bed rest while taking care of 6 kids, then the whole NICU … hell, I think I may have some PTSD or maybe depression symptoms.”
“Is any of this affecting your ability to care for your son?”
My mind quickly flashes back to previous months, when my love for my child was clouded by a constant, smothering fear so intense I couldn’t stand to look at his body undressed. When the questionnaire asked whether I had concerns about bathing my son, I left out the part where I only gave him sponge baths for months because it was painful to look at his naked body, missing the rolls of baby fat of a typical young infant.
I was no longer the confident, veteran mother of several. Things are different now, a lot better… but only last weekend I nearly experienced a panic attack when my sister took me out for a quick ride in her rented Mustang convertible, and when my friend recently suggested a girls’ night out and I nearly choked with anxiety.
If I leave, something terrible will happen to my baby…
“No… It’s affecting my life, not his. As far as caring for him, well… I may be afraid to leave him, but I’ve always been very attached to my children. I have trouble relating to my peers now. Anytime a friend suggests getting together, I freak out inside. I’m not who I was. I’m afraid of people, and that’s not normal for me.”
“Well… we can’t help you with counseling unless it directly affects your care of the baby. We can create a “family goal” to work on this, so you should definitely bring it up when you talk with your Coordinator.”
She hands me a brochure about “parent-to-parent” support. Apparently she didn’t hear the part where I said I was afraid of my peers.
She moves on to the next of the nine pages of notes I filled out about Josiah’s habits, routines, abilities and my concerns about his development, hoping to get him qualified for a program that will send a physical therapist, a service not covered by my current health insurance policy, to my home to work with Josiah.
She reads the box entitled “your hopes and dreams for your child” aloud.
“Josiah is named after a young boy king. He was courageous …
Her voice trails off, and I’m thankful her gaze is on the page, since the wall that normally holds back the tears proves to be a very thin veneer. I shouldn’t be feeling this way after a year, should I?
” … He is a miracle, and I hope he never takes life for granted.”, she reads, finishing. “That’s beautiful … this is one of my favorites.”