Living in the Shaky Place
In this essay, which first appeared on Jessica Valenti's personal
blog, the editor and writer discusses the post-traumaic response
she had to her daughter's premature birth last year.
© 2006
"It started several weeks after my daughter's birth with an itch on my c-section
scar. It was an entirely normal twinge, something that happens when nerve
endings are healing. But instead of noticing the itch, maybe scratching it and
moving on, my knees gave out and I hit the ground.

Suddenly I was on the operating table again -- multiple sets of hands in me,
shifting and tugging at unknown organs. I'm not sure how long I stayed on my
living room floor, but when I became aware that I wasn't in the hospital, my
hands were shaking and I was covered in sweat.

It was the first of many flashbacks I would have over the next year or so -- a
post-traumatic response to my daughter's premature birth, NICU stay, and the
illness I developed during pregnancy that I thought would kill me. (It's common for
parents of babies in the NICU to develop PTSD, as it is for women who have
traumatic birth experiences.)

The funny thing about PTSD is that it's sneaky. ..."
Read the entirety of "Living in the Shaky Place" by Jessica Valenti as it appeared in The Atlantic -
Jessica Valenti - The founder of, Jessica Valenti is the author
of Full Frontal Feminism; He's a Stud, She's a Slut; and The Purity Myth. She
has written for Salon, The Washington Post, The Nation, and others.