The Hypervigilante

If I were a super hero, I’d be “The Hypervigilante.” My power would be seeing every detail, pointing out potential issues, and making the world a ‘perfect’ place. A hallmark of PTSD is living your life on guard. Once upon a time in Gotham city, the Joker invaded your life and took away your sense of safety. Now, you spend every day in a high state of escalation.

Noticing everything has made me amazing at so many things. I’m great with data details, which helped me escalate in my profession. I specialize in possible sources of gluten contamination, which is why I don’t get glutened very often. “Did that bread touch my salad?! Take it away!”

Yet I am exhausted most of the time. It’s the little switch I struggle to turn off. I jokingly say, “I live life at a 10.” The sentence I don’t say after is, “Because I don’t know how to live life at a 5.”

In the age of a pandemic, my super power came in handy at first. I could see every threat better than most, and as a result I kept my family safe. However, as March stretched into April, and now July goes into August – life at a 10 is taking its toll.

What makes this stage of my life unique, is that I’m now no longer alone in my vigilance. As COVID has killed 150,000 in our country, many other Americans are also living life at a heightened state with me. We question our grocery store trips, getting our hair done, what to do for child care, and whether we should try to dine out for the first time in months.

Talking to my mother-in-law I said, “I’m use to living in this state, and I’m exhausted. So I can only imagine how exhausted everyone else is.” I’ve spent a lot of time explaining PTSD to people. After living through this pandemic together, I’ll never have to explain trauma to people again. We are living through this thing together.

Out of thin air we lost so much. Doctors and presidential candidates were taken. The memories we wanted to create were stolen. Grandparents have yet to meet their new grand child, graduates never got to celebrate their accomplishment, and weddings were moved to backyards instead of dining halls. It’s sad. It’s exhausting. And we’re all tired together. This way of living cannot subsist for much longer.

We were meant to be social creatures, embracing each other’s company. For some time we can embrace life at home. But slowly, the embrace is feeling like a choke hold.

“If only everyone would wear a mask!” I scream in my head.

“Stay six feet away from me and my children.” I whisper to myself when anyone comes near.

“If only the nation had better leaders who could wrangle us together!” I shout to my husband.

If only we could all be vigilant for a few weeks, instead of this dragging on for months.

If only … If only… If only…

Until then, my practical prayers have turned to asking for miracles, and my hypervigilance stays on track until exhaustion wins over. The hypervigilante stands on guard. Trying to keep my family safe.

Welcome to the world Georgia Quinn.

We woke up at 5:00 a.m. like we typically do. The night before I was in quite a bit of pain. Del and I were in the middle of arguing about nothing, and every time he’d state his case the baby would make a sharp move that caused me to cringe. “She seems to only be moving when I say what I think,” he joked.

On my morning walk I started timing my contractions. Braxton Hicks seems to be something that my body loves (although I’m not as big of a fan). The week prior I thought I was going into labor because I was having contractions three minutes apart for an hour – and then they just stopped. But from 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., they went from every eight minutes or so, down to seven, then ranged between four to six minutes.

Around 7:00 a.m. I told Del to pack the car. We had a 9:00 a.m. check up with my obstetrician, so we were weighing whether to go to the hospital’s labor floor or go to the doctor’s appointment. We opted to go to the doctor’s appointment early.

Del’s mom has been watching Carly, and she came over at 8:00 a.m. I wasn’t sure if I was really in labor or if it was Braxton Hicks. But at one point Del was taking a very long time to pack something in the car. Instinctually I yelled, “You need to hurry up because we have to go!”

On the walk into the obstetrician’s office I had to stop walking when I had a contraction. When they did the COVID screening at the front door they asked if I needed a wheelchair. Every woman was giving me the look of “Girl, you’re in labor.”

My obstetrician did the normal checkup. He checked to see how dilated and effaced I was and said, “No change since last week.” In that moment I thought Braxton Hicks was going to drive me to insanity. Then a contraction hit me, and my obstetrician said “I was just kidding. You are five cm dilated and we’re admitting you right now.”

They wheeled me to the labor floor. They got the usual IVs going and did all the paperwork. And then my body took over.

After 45 minutes I told our nurse that within the next three contractions I was going to deliver the baby. I told her to call our doctor now and get him in here.

I did one more contraction and knew I was closer. I did another and I knew I was closer still. I asked her to check whether I was at 10 cm, and she said with one more contraction I probably would be. The last contraction took hold and the doctor walked in. He checked me over and said, “You’re ready to have this baby.”

From the time the doctor walked in to the time he left – it took nineteen minutes. I pushed twice. Before I pushed the first time they did a quick reminder of what I had to do. I repeated it back and gave it everything I had. While pushing out I let out a gigantic scream. To which the doctor replied, “You held that note a long time.” I waited for the next contraction to hit and then did one more amazing push.

Georgia Quinn Belcher came into this world at 11:09am. She is perfect. Dark hair, silver eyes, and my chin.

They handed her to me and she breastfed right away. My greatest fear is that she would not eat well, and God decided to settle that for me right away. Its a gift for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through this experience I learned how amazing my body is. I told everyone my due date of July 2nd was wrong and I was going to give birth sooner. I was right.

When I doubted whether my Braxton Hicks were real contractions, my instincts took over and told Del to pack the car faster.

When they asked if I wanted pain meds I said no. First of all, I’m not sure they could have gotten them to me fast enough. Second, my body told me I could do this. I went through 10+ years of severe neck pain. I knew I could handle a few hours of labor.

I knew she’d be there in three contractions and she was.

I knew I could push her out quickly and I did.

My body has a history of trauma. Trauma from others, trauma from accidents. Sometimes I’m frustrated at my high cortisol levels and the fact that I feel everything. However, all of those moments led me to this one. They have put me so in touch with my body that my labor was nothing short of a very fast miracle (Why have a meeting that could have been an email?).

Once again God made a beautiful thing out of me.

Welcome to the world Georgia Quinn Belcher. Our down to earth queen. The fifth in a line of amazing George’s. You will take hold of this world and make it better. You will be fast and furious, and your father and I can’t wait to help you get there.