June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. This post provides important information about children and PTSD.

Some things parents never forget. Like the first time a mother holds her newborn child. Or the first time a baby belly laughs at a father’s antics.

But when I think of our son’s early days, one unpleasant memory comes to mind. Our baby’s wince of pain when the nurse took him–bristling with drainage tubes, feeding tubes, IVs, and monitor wires–and placed him in his daddy’s arms.

Newborns Don’t Feel Pain

“Should we really be moving him?” my husband asked. “Wouldn’t it be better for him to lie still in his bed?”

“No,” the nurse assured us. “He needs the security of your arms more than anything right now. Besides, newborns don’t feel pain like they do when they get older. That’s why your baby isn’t on pain meds.”

I looked at the two inch vertical incision on our baby’ stomach and at the horizontal one that began under his armpit and ended at his spine. I looked at my son’s drawn mouth, the frown lines on his forehead, and the strain in his eyes. “Are you sure?” I questioned the nurse…and later the surgeon, the pediatrician, and the GI doctor. “Are you sure he’s not in pain? Are you sure this won’t affect him emotionally?”

He Won’t Remember

One after another, well-meaning health care professionals gave the same answer.

“He won’t remember.”
“He won’t remember.”
“He won’t remember.”

Our baby was 26-years-old before a mental health care professional confirmed our suspicions.

Our newborn son did feel pain during and after surgery.
He did remember.
He remembered a lot.
But because the experiences were pre-verbal, he had no words to describe how he felt.
Those memories were the source of his emotional and behavioral issues during adolescence.

To read the rest of this post about children and PTSD , visit the Not Alone website.

Photo credit: www.freeditigalphoto.net