I don’t seek out fireworks on the 4th of July. Since I usually have to go to work the next day, I don’t really want to go out, get stuck in the crowd while trying to get home, and end up staying up far later than I really wanted to in the first place. Instead, I usually watch A Capitol Fourth on PBS. I didn’t last night. I was too tired. I could hardly stay awake when Anna and I got home from the family gathering. There was no way I was staying up after she went to bed.
I’m glad I did. That meant I got a couple of hours of sleep before the fireworks started.*
As I felt mini panic attacks, I found myself very jealous of the PTSD-afflicted combat vets who can get a sign asking their neighbors to be respectful when setting off fireworks. My response might not have been so bad if there hadn’t been a little boy, he sounded around three or four, shouting, “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” after each explosion. I’m not sure exactly where he was in relationship to the fireworks his family was setting off. I couldn’t see them. But I could hear him. “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” And I couldn’t keep my brain from going to the worst-case scenario.
I finally figured out that if I closed my window and turned my fan up to its “white noise” setting, I was able to dull the noise enough to fall back asleep. I don’t remember it being this bad last year. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was hot enough that I already had my fan turned up. Maybe I was pregnant-exhausted enough that I slept through most of it. But next year I’ll need to remember to try to block out the sound before I go to bed. I just don’t think a sign explaining I have birth-trauma-related PTSD would be as effective as the ones combat vets receive.
P.S. No, I am not comparing my PTSD to that of combat vets. My triggers are very different from theirs. I truly hope that when people see those lawn signs that they are respectful in their selection of fireworks. I was annoyed by the noise; it was the little boy’s gleeful shouts that scared me. I need to know my neighbors are being safe, not necessarily being quiet… But quiet would be nice, too…
P.P.S. Yes, Anna slept through the whole thing. She has now slept through an earthquake, a tornado warning, and fireworks.
*Dear neighbors: No longer illegal does not equal good idea. Just because the law says you don’t have to wear a helmet doesn’t magically make you safer while riding your motorcycle without one. Just because the law now says you can buy fireworks (and someone set up their sale tent a block from where we live) doesn’t mean they’re no longer dangerous.