Can a baby remember trauma experienced in her or his first years?
In times past the answer was an immediate and insistent “No”.
Before about 1990 it was commonly believed that because virtually nobody can recall and describe any event from early childhood, let alone early infancy, be it happy or troubling, a baby makes and keeps no record of anything before what we can later recall and express in words.
This of course sounded very reassuring and comforting!
- The serious mistakes some parents make when a baby is very young – hey! “They leave no memory, no record, no damage.”
- Family, life and health dramas which a little one survives – “No need to worry about it affecting baby.”
- Separation from mother, adoption, foster relationships – “None of this will affect let alone harm a little one.”
- Will we have our baby son circumcised “so he looks like his dad”? “Go ahead, I’m fine, no worries!”
- My baby needs life-saving surgery but anesthetising a baby is risky – “Just go ahead, she won’t really suffer.”
- A baby’s screams (obviously from extreme pain) under the knife upsets a young theatre nurse – “Hey, he won’t remember anything.”
Continue reading ““No brain – no pain” That’s insane!”
Pyloric Stenosis (PS) treatment has come a long way since my surgery for this condition in 1952. In the old days, babies were isolated after the operation, no family visiting. No nice clear plastic surgical tubing brought oxygen and fluids to the baby; the “hoses were black, an inch thick, and so numerous, I could hardly see you,” my mother told me. And my scar was formidable, like a crazy TV antenna, which grew bigger with time.
Today, rocking chairs in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, are often made available for family visits. The surgical tubing is light-weight and clear, adhesive strips with cartoon images holding them in place. And the scar? Smaller, given the possibility of having a laparoscopic pyloromyotomy versus an open procedure for which the incision, hence the scar, would be bigger. Even so, the scar from the open method or Ramstedt’s surgery of today is far more cosmetic than an earlier one. Finally, baby is typically released after one or two days as opposed to ten days to two weeks! Continue reading “Launching Our PS Awareness Blog”
Written by Wendy Patrice Williams on November 2, 2016
As adult survivors of infant surgery without anesthesia, it’s difficult to be angry about what happened to us early on. We feel grateful for having been helped and saved, and we should. The surgeons, the nurses, the staff, our parents, and families leaned in and lent a hand. We survived because of them. What’s not to be grateful for? Continue reading “To Be or Not Be …….. Grateful”
Last December my wife and I welcomed a friend and film-maker from the US. I worked with him on a documentary he is making on a subject of common interest to all of us – the effects of infant surgery done when it was widely believed (esp. pre-1990) in the medical world that babies don’t feel or remember pain. Yikes! Yes, really.
My friend has interviewed several of us who had infant surgery in the “dark ages” and he is now recording interviews with several professionals who have written about or provide therapy for people affected by pre-conscious but unremembered (“somatic memory”) trauma.
We hope the result will be available Continue reading “After infant surgery – untangling the emotional baggage”