The Longest Year: Living Through Emotional Trauma and How I Survived

There are two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
— Albert Einstein

Welcome! I couldn’t think of a better way to launch my new blog, Ask The Nurse, than to introduce myself and share the most difficult year of my life. This year has me pondering how to share my experience and it has given birth to this blog, so what better way to start than dive into the deep stuff! HA! 

Who Am I?

My name is Missy and I am a Registered Nurse, but my favorite title is Mom. My son lovingly calls me “Mom Bomb” and my heart leaps with joy when I hear his teeny little almost three year old voice say those powerful words to me. Before I had kids, I was very career driven and I would have done anything to achieve my professional goals. And I did! I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Study of Human Movement) in just two years by taking 18-24 credits a quarter while being on the President’s list and with honors. I then jumped immediately into nursing school with the intention of starting my career in the operating room. I was told by many that starting a nursing career in a specialty was not likely and I should be open to other options. Challenge accepted… and accomplished! I started working in the operating room the day I received my nursing license and I still work in the operating room on a per diem status 7 years later. After I started working, my husband and I thought it was the perfect time to start our family. What I wasn’t prepared for was the dramatic life altering shift in priority that I would feel the second I held my newborn baby. Nothing else in this world mattered. No professional achievement was worth what my new job became. Something was placed on my heart that said I would have NO GREATER work than being a mommy. I have friends who are CRUSHING it in work outside the home and they find great meaning and fulfillment in that because that was the calling placed on them. I believe that we are all given a specific purpose in this life, I just wasn’t sure how mine fit together. The answer to that question was answered on July 18, 2017.

The Day that Changed Me

That joy I felt of being a new mommy was blessed on me three times. We had our “surprise” blessing on June 9, 2017 when we welcomed our third baby into this world. She was the easiest of all my newborns. On the morning of July 18, she was almost 6 weeks old and we started our day just like every day of her life that far. She woke up, I brought her in bed with me where I fed her and she fell back asleep. This gave me the opportunity to tend to my two older children. She had been going through a separation issue the last few weeks and wanted to be close to mommy a lot- as newborns tend to do. So I heard her crying while I was making a piece of toast for the older kids. She cried for a few seconds and then the crying stopped. I had a gut check reaction that I should go to her, but my mind said ‘maybe she self-soothed herself and was able to fall back asleep.’ So I fought that urge until I got a pang of panic and dropped the toast on the counter and ran upstairs. I found my baby lying face down, not breathing, and white as my sheets. I knew exactly what I needed to do and I did it. I removed all of her clothing and started performing strong sternal rubs to stimulate her to breathe. It worked! She started breathing, but she was not fully out of the woods yet. She was not responding to any other stimuli. She had lost all reflexes and she kept forgetting to breathe and the light kept fading out of her eyes. I was still losing her. My husband is a firefighter/paramedic and he had left for work that morning. I called him and told him to get home immediately. In that time of waiting for him to arrive with monitors, I was at a loss of what to do medically for her. What I did have on her changing table was a bottle of frankincense essential oil. 

To back up… At that point, I had been an advocate and educator on the use of essential oils for 4 years. The main point I would drive home in my teaching was that nature has provided us with some incredible tools to help with life’s little emergencies. I didn’t know if anything could bring her back, but I knew that frankincense crossed the blood brain barrier and it encouraged blood flow and oxygen to areas of application. So I grabbed the frankincense and I applied it to the bottom of her feet, the base of her skull, and down her spine. I can’t really recount how long this event lasted— you know how life altering events move in slow motion. What I do know is that I witnessed her body begin to show signs of life after I applied the frankincense. She started to turn pink, her body started to warm up, and the lights came back on in her eyes. ALL of her reflexes returned. My husband arrived and she was doing so much better. He put monitors on her and checked her vitals and she was perfect. I had her seen by her pediatrician and they said that we were “lucky” and that she appears to have no delay from being without oxygen. There was no luck in this situation. This was an act and gift of God. After having this baby it became clear why I was given the skills of being a nurse and why I was given the desire to educate myself and others about natural solutions in the home. Whatever you want to call it, I don’t care. I had my baby back. 

The Aftermath

July 18th was a difficult day, but I wasn’t prepared for the trauma that event would have on me, Every. Single. Day. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I displayed some of the same symptoms that a combat veteran would have after being in war. Loud noises completely debilitated me. I would literally drop to the ground and cover my head when my son let out the loudest scream to inform his sister that he didn’t want her sitting next to him. You can imagine the difficulty this poses when you have a 5 year old, 2 year old and a newborn. I would hide most of these feelings from those closest to me because I felt such extreme guilt that I was having such a hard time when we had a good outcome— I mean my baby lived! Some people don’t get to say that. By holding those feelings in I would commonly have what is called “chandeliering” where I would stuff my emotional pain so deep that when I encountered something that triggered me (in my case it has been loud noises), the emotional lid would pop off and become monstrous. After the outburst, I would be filled with such extreme shame that I could behave so badly and irrational. Then guilt followed. How could I still be in this place? Why couldn’t I get beyond this? I had not experienced anxiety, panic, nightmares, and flashbacks like this before. She is alive! I am so thankful for that! I am so thankful for the knowledge and skill of being a nurse to save my baby. When I was able to put purpose to that pain, I felt like I started to make headway. I sought counseling and did Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. The greatest benefit I have received from this form of treatment was I was no longer having flashes or nightmares. I still vividly remember the situation and I can recount the details very clearly, but I don't have the terror associated with it any longer. If you have experienced trauma in your life I highly recommend seeking out EMDR therapy. Click the link I provided above where you can read a little bit more of what this form of therapy is, see if it is a form of therapy that you can benefit from, and you can search your area for available clinicians. 

At the same time of seeking talk therapy and EMDR, I dove into the emotional benefits of essential oils and used them very quietly and frequently. I know a lot of details of the benefits essential oil compounds have on the body, but I hadn’t ever experienced the impact of the validity until that point. I also wasn’t prepared to tell my story- and wasn’t able to without sobbing. So sharing emotional benefits of essential oils was very difficult without sharing those experiences. I still frequently weap tears of gratitude and thankfulness of what these little bottles have provided me. I absolutely believe that they can help you too.

We Weren't Meant to Do It Alone...

Friends, we all are going through hard things. What I learned during the most challenging time in my life was that it was going to be a process and that I couldn’t do it alone. It was going to be hard and it wasn’t going to happen overnight, but something good was going to come of it. What I want my kids to learn from this challenging year of mommy being different, and sometimes a little scary, is that it is okay to have emotions. It is okay to explore those emotions and seek every resource you can get your hands on to help process those emotions and experiences. I want them to know that they don’t have to pretend to keep it all together or to suffer in silence. I am still a work in progress— I am sitting in a puddle of tears as I type this—We have reached the one year anniversary and I can positively say that I have come leaps and bounds in a year. It doesn’t end here. In fact, I feel like it is just beginning. I have learned a lot about myself and I have found purpose. I have put the pieces of the puzzle together that has merged my callings of being a mom, a nurse, and a natural wellness educator.  I am here to share it with you. I often get asked about health and wellness and how to integrate natural solutions into everyday life. I felt like it was time to share and this blog was the perfect opportunity to provide you with a resource answering common questions I get about mom life, being a nurse, and growing my business from home. 

If you are walking through something hard, reach out to someone that you trust— even if you don’t think anyone will understand. 

We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.
— Brene Brown

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Missy Sanders

The Natural RN