A TinyLetter from Robyn 7.28.20

A TinyLetter from Robyn ❤️

I came across this photo of Sheldon today for the first time in a few years. When I saw it, my stomach turned. I have lots of photos of my boys crying as babies, and most of them don’t give me any sort of emotional pause when I see them. This was different. This wasn’t just a photo of Sheldon crying. In so many ways, this was a photo of me crying.

I’m no expert on any of this, but I can’t help but dig deeper into the commonality of struggle that so many women in this community suffer, and this Is just a way for me to think out loud about it.

When you’re in the midst of the fight of protecting your child’s wellbeing, there is no space or time to actually grieve. It seems likely that if you fell apart now, it would be impossible to ever get put back together… and tomorrow is another day of appointments, or therapies, or castings. Falling apart just isn’t an option. No one gives you permission to, and likely there aren’t many waiting to put you back together if you do.

What we went through with Sheldon’s treatment for vertical talus was nothing compared to what thousands of families who I actually know go through. But that’s what fascinates me about trauma – it doesn’t discriminate or judge. What wrecks the depths of one person may not even phase another.

This photo was after one of Sheldon’s several serial castings. For his treatment, they methodically casted his legs with plaster. About once a week, the plaster casts were sawed off so that the bones in his feet could be adjusted and plastered into place again. Sheldon hated it. I hated it. The first several months of my sweet baby’s life, the time that I personally love the most, when you can just snuggle them into you, were interrupted by cold, heavy casts.

Really the only thing I remember about this time was being at Dr. Dobb’s office. It was my safe place – my refuge. It was the only place where I felt like someone actually knew what we were going through. Everyone outside of those walls could see the casts, but they couldn’t feel them when they were wet, couldn’t watch as a saw approached my newborn’s legs to remove one, or the inconsolable tears that Sheldon cried through the whole thing.

It’s easy (possibly necessary?) to ignore the depths of your grief or struggle when you are in the midst of them. Acknowledging them would remove the final straw that was allowing you to stay upright. The risk of feeling those feelings is too great.

And when you survive that storm, against all odds, your whole self is so braced by fear in an attempt to prepare for whatever storm may come next, that you are unable to even process the wreckage of the first one. It’s a fascinating aspect of trauma – it affects your brain and creates a cycle hard to break.

I don’t have the answer. I just know you aren’t alone, and I know that your experiences are deeply rooted within you. I know that it takes a long time to trust yourself with those feelings, let alone someone else.

I know a lot of your stories, but I probably don’t know what your moments were or are. For me, they are usually impossible to give words to, which is why my guttural reaction to this photo of Sheldon surprised me. Maybe the moments forever etched into your brain were big moments, or maybe they were small like Sheldon’s crying captured in this photo.

But I want you to know that it does not matter what it is that affects you. It could be anything. What matters is that you know that it is OK that it did affect you. And that you know, somewhere deep, that you do not have to carry the weight alone.

Our community is a gift that I don’t take lightly. Many of you are vulnerable here, trusting here, open here. Thank you for helping guide our journey to support one another. You matter. You are not alone. I see you.

Robyn ❤️

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