PTSD trigger. Managing.

First things first: for those of you who are nurturing worriers like me: I KNOW I am overreacting in the extreme.

I got a cheerful voicemail from my OB nurse saying: “We got your test results in, absolutely nothing to worry about, but give us a call back to discuss.”

Innocuous, right? Right. completely!

But ever since the day three years ago that a nurse at Columbia’s Center for Women’s Reproductive Care told me that my AMH was 0.4, and that this was “normal” and “nothing to worry about,” I have been leery of nurses saying “normal” and “nothing to worry about”  to me. I knew, then, that 0.4 was not normal, but no one would talk to me about it until I came into the office. So when information is held until it can be discussed in real time, or in person, I worry.

But I’m not writing today because I think there is actually anything to worry about. Of course, my mind is spinning through all of the blood tests they took at my OB appointment, wondering what in the world could there to be to possibly discuss—low Vitamin D? Wonky CBC? Low progesterone?—but that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because this is the first time during this pregnancy that I’ve felt triggered.

Which is kind of astounding.

So far, everything has gone smoothly. There have been no concerning numbers, ultrasound images, or labs. It’s just gone swimmingly along in a textbook way. I’ve known all along that I would not have been able to enjoy these weeks as much as I have had there been any little snag whatsoever that indicated that my baby was in danger of not surviving.

Case in point: This isn’t even a snag. Or maybe not a snag yet. But I don’t feel so great. And I find myself thinking of my little teddy-bear rock star in there, wriggling around, worrying that something is not quite right. I find myself whispering, “Please, please release me, let this happen, let us have each other,” and I don’t even know who I am talking to, or why. (Begging doesn’t work, anyway, in my experience.)

When a veteran comes back from war, he or she will often be, just as the movies depict, triggered into fight-or-flight mode by events in civilian life that have nothing to do with war. A flying frisbee might make him or her duck for cover from a grenade.

The same thing happens for women who have experienced pregnancy loss. The nurse calling to discuss test results with me today, who is using de-escalating language, has nothing to do with the nurse who used de-escalating language three years ago when conveying information that was actually quite bleak—but the echo is there all the same, and it is immediate.

Trauma fragments our experience. It takes our minds years and years to synthesize what has happened, to put those fragments back together and make a coherent story out of them. Until that happens, those fragments will surface, out of context, and feel like they are happening in real-time.

But I don’t exactly feel like what happened three years ago is happening now. Its more like a smudgy shadow of what happened, not nearly as intense.

I’m not looking for reassurance at all. I’m just trying to explore this psychological phenomenon so that I can better understand it. Because I can’t expect there to be zero snags during this pregnancy. And I have to prepare myself. I want to be strong—but managing is not even really about strength or will power. Getting through a trigger is all about comprehending the trigger. About recognizing and acknowledging that thoughts are just thoughts and do not have to have any power.

Anyway! I’m okay. Just waiting for the nurse to call me, already, and discuss whatever needs to be discussed…

Leave a comment


  1. Sheepish grin: Low Vitamin D. Not even that low. Should be 30 or above, and mine is 29. Nurse said that oftentimes women in early pregnancy will have low Vitamin D, usually levels in the teens. Am upping my D3 intake by 1000 mg.

  2. Phew! That’s a relief. Your post struck such a cord. I get it. I’m feeling those triggers all the time. Pregnancy announcement, Mother’s Day, seeing bumps, iffy calls from the clinic. Anxious. All the time! Because what happens if we lose this one too? It’s all far too scary to think about. Hugs. Go get yer Vit D girl! xxx

    • Ah, I’m so glad you understand—but then again, not glad for you! Glad for me. Because it makes me feel less nutso. I had this terrible thought the other day that our 2 year contract with RBA is up in September—so if I lose the baby after that…mmmnnnoooooohhhh, thought banished. I hate that these sorts of things even have to ocurr to us. I got me some Vitamin D already and have already taken nice big dose. (:

  3. Awesome news!

  4. Danielle

     /  May 12, 2014

    Oh, I’m soooo glad all is well!!!! I received that same kind of message the day I had my glucose fasting test. I was in the middle of a computer-based training and didn’t realize my phone had rang. Message: “Your test results are fine, but please call us as soon as you can.” Wha??????????? Talk about 17 worst-case scenarios running through my head in a matter of seconds. Total PSTD moment. The verdict: I had low iron. That’s all!!! But of course, in a “normal” pregnancy I suppose that’s kind of a cause of concern (if only because no pregnant woman wants to take more iron and suffer through even worse constipation than she’s already experiencing). But I was over the moon with happiness. Low iron??? That’s all?? Woot, woot!! Bring on the iron supplements. If that’s the worst thing I had to deal with (it was), then I was relieved.

    I really hate that infertility and loss robs us of our ability to enjoy pregnancy. Without a doubt, I was not able to relax until at least 20 weeks. By week 30, I was finally feeling confident. The last four weeks I cherished immensely. Everyone assumed I was miserable. I felt nothing but joy.

    • (: This makes me smile. You totally get what I’m saying. No one should ever say “as soon as you can”—it just sounds like a freaking death knell. I’m so glad all went swimmingly and that you totally enjoyed your last four weeks. xoxo

  5. Like Danielle, I was almost excited to hear I had low iron. I cautiously listened to the every word the nurse said, waiting for the bad news to come, and then it was just “low iron… you need to take a supplement.” What a relief.
    I’m glad the nurse got back to you so quickly. The mind sure wanders to bad places quickly. Also, I know what it’s like to have that “smudgy shadow” around. I hope every day pushes that further away for you so you can enjoy this pregnancy more and more!

  6. You’ve put into words so beautifully how I feel a lot of the time. Like you, I feel joy a lot of the time, then BAM! out of nowhere, anxiety strikes. I think these triggers are normal after loss and infertility, and I think you do a wonderful job of exploring those feelings.

    So pleased to hear it’s just your vitamin d that’s low. I was a 29 last year, and it shot up after a couple of months of being on supplements.


  7. I was going to say maybe it’s your iron (mine’s a perpetual problem though I’ve kept it up with floravit the last couple of years, yay!) if not Vita. D. Thank goodness all is well. Interesting rumination, all the same – thanks for ruminating with your peeps!

  8. phew! What a relief that it was just the vitamin D! I was praying for you after I read your post. I was a nervous wreck! It’s crazy that I never get nervous for myself but I do for others.

  9. Ahhhh such a precarious time. Sending you positive thoughts as I know how tough this can be. Hugs :)

  10. Very pleased to read the update, totally understandable that you’ll feel nervy xx


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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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