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Birth Trauma | My Experience

19th January 2017

Birth Trauma | My Experience

Birth trauma. It’s almost a taboo subject. If you and your baby survive the perils of childbirth mostly intact, you’re supposed to celebrate, be too loved up with your new bundle of joy to worry about the experience you’ve just been though.

But it’s not that easy is it?

If you’ve read X’s Birth Story, you’ll know I didn’t exactly have a great labour – the short version is 23 hours, back to back, ending up with a failed epidural, forceps and a postpartum haemorrhage.

Sounds pretty bad, right?

Oddly, I’ve managed to move past the physical things that happened. It took a while, and many sleepless nights of tears and panic attacks. Now, as we approach X’s 3rd birthday there’s only really one thing guaranteed to send me spiralling downwards.

And that’s the hour after he was born.

Last night an article popped up on my Facebook feed about the importance of this first hour after birth. And without even reading it I suddenly found myself unable to breathe, tears flowing and an all too familiar feeling gripped my heart.

We had an instrumental delivery because both of us were knackered – he was almost out but his heart rate was dipping significantly with every contraction, and I had been awake for nearly 40 hours by the time he was born. When he finally made his entry into the world, he was popped up onto my chest – I was too tired to see straight so I barely remember this bit. I remember the sound of Hubby cutting his cord. And then X was taken away to be checked over.

It’s then I remember the midwife yelling for someone, shouting PPH – postpartum haemorrhage, ie. lots of blood.

Birth Trauma | My Experience

It was almost an hour before I got to hold X again – he was at the other end of a long delivery room, screaming. I was being stitched up again and again in the attempt to stop the bleeding – Hubs said it looked like a murder scene. My midwife leaned over me and gave me the gas and air back – “Suck on this till it feels like your face is going to fall off…” I could feel them stitching, but it was nothing compared to hearing my son screaming at the other end of the room.

me, screaming? never!

Hubs was torn between holding my hand and looking after X.

I understand why I couldn’t hold him – I was exhausted, having not eaten anything for nearly 24 hours and being awake for 40, I was seriously dehydrated, dealing with the remaining pethadine in my system and bleeding profusely.

The next few hours were a bit of a blur – I don’t remember holding X for the first time. I do remember a midwife shoving him at my boob though.

Holding him. I don’t remember the first time I held my son, and it kills me. I’m sure lots of women don’t remember it – labour isn’t exactly fun and games. But in the midst of everything else, this one point is what my mind keeps coming back to. And I’m certain other people have far worse experiences than I have had, far far worse, but that shouldn’t, and doesn’t, make my feelings any less valid.

x at one day old

Nearly 3 years on now, and it’s not the trauma of the birth itself that still gets me but the aftermath. It took me weeks to bond with X, he didn’t feel like mine. I spent days in a fog of feeling like an utter failure as a mother. But I never let him out of my sight if I could help it – the thought overwhelmed me with panic. The first time we went anywhere with the pram I had actual white knuckles from holding on to the handles so tightly. Even now I hate him running off by himself, and it kills me every time I drop him off to be looked after by anyone else.

I’m sure, with time, this will pass. He starts nursery in April so I’ll have to get used to it! And he’s far from the helpless little thing he was that day now. I doubt I’ll ever fully recover from this though, but over time the pain will ease.

But it’s still not something we talk about, birth trauma. We laugh off our labour stories, “oh god yeah, it was awful… ha ha ha!” but I wonder, deep down, how many of us have been traumatised by events around giving birth.

 

Mummuddlingthrough

Diary of an imperfect mum

  1. This post made me so sad. I (fortunately) didn’t have to go through anything like this and it honestly breaks my heart that you have had to. I hope time will heal for you but it may also be worth having a chat with your hospital to see if you could discuss the birth and the aftercare to see if that helps?
    xx
    #coolmumclub

    1. Thank you. It was a long time ago now, and we’re not local to that hospital any more. I had a whole catalogue of complaints to make, but honestly motherhood just took over. I’m holding on to the fact that if we ever have another, I will now have this experience to give me the strength to say no, and make demands to make sure my experience isn’t traumatic like this again. Medical emergencies are unavoidable, and I have a lot of thanks to give them for getting both of us through it mostly unscathed, but a little kindness from them after the birth in light of our bad experience would have gone a long way. Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You poor thing. I sympathise. My experience was nowhere near as traumatic, but I had heavy bleeding which they stopped by ripping the placenta out quickly (ouch). I didn’t get to hold my baby at first either and I do feel a bit sad about it sometimes. #coolmumclub

  3. Thankyou for sharing such a personal story. I had a fairly traumatic birth, and although I can remember holding her for the first time, it all felt so surreal and just like it wasn’t happening, definitely no rush of love that people talk about. I didn’t feel like I bonded with her for weeks. Its really hard. I’m absolutely sure the birth ‘experience’ effects that. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. It’s hard when there’s an assumption that you have to pick yourself back up and get on with things for the sake of the baby – it’s expected that your needs immediately become second to theirs. Feels like society has lost something of the community that used to gather around a new mother to offer assistance.

      Thanks for popping in ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Wow, I can understand why this has affected you so badly. There is so much pressure on those first moments, and they don’t always look like the images you see in the media! I was vomiting all over the floor while I held my first daughter for the first time.
    You’ll get there – give it time xx
    Thank you for linking to #coolmumclub

  5. I think more women are affected by this than we know as, you’re right, if you have a healthy baby it a bit of a taboo subject. You need to heal too though. It may pass with time or maybe you could speak to someone about this? I’d hate to think of this holding you back and completely enjoying your gorgeous little boy. Much love xxx #coolmumclub

  6. Loved this post as someone who also had a traumatic birth resulting in surgery and thena baby in intensive care I understand exactly what you are saying. It is almost unacceptable to speak negatively about your birth experience but some women so indeed have extremely traumatic experiences and we need to talk about this more! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

  7. I had a VERY similar experience. 10 people had come and gone and held my son before I had. This doesn’t count the doctors, nurses, or my husband. It still hurts. Because of that when my youngest was born I restricted all access and it was only me and my husband at the hospital that first day. I still didn’t get to hold him until after that hour had passed. I was in recovery from my surgery and he needed a bit of extra attention. It still wasn’t perfect but it was better. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. My Mum and my husband were there for the birth, and they held him first, plus a fair few doctors. We only had my dad visit us at the hospital, although next time round I don’t think I’d even have that. It’s hard when you’ve carried them for 9 months, dreaming of holding them, and then you don’t get to!! I feel like I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since! x

  8. I had a VERY similar experienceโ€”30hrs of labor, back to back, failed epidural, forceps, 3rd degree tear (episiotomy), and post-parting hemorrhage. To top it off, my son was born not breathing, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his next. I didn’t get to hold him right away for this reason, they just took him straight to the incubator to try to get him to start breathing. I remember looking to the side and a nurse shoving a stick down his Throat. It had been around 6 minutes & the nurses couldn’t get him to breath, there were about 6 or 7 nurses around his incubator. Then I heard a male nurse say, “It’s been too long he’s not gonna make it”. But the nurse kept shoving the stick down my baby’s throat and patting his back. I could hear her ignoring the male as she kept saying, “C’mmon buddy, you can do this. C’mmon!” Suddenly I hear my baby choke & try to let out a cry. Immediately they took him to the NICU. They took him away & I hadn’t even met him yet! I can’t remember what they did to me, but the stitching was horribly painful because of the severe episiotomy. I was given a pain killer which only cause me to pass out. When I woke up, I was in a new room. I didn’t get to meet my son until the next day. I remember walking inside the NICU and meeting my son for the first time. I went through all this alone because I demanded that my husband stay with our son the whole time. I needed to know that he would be there at all times. I cried all the time. I couldn’t control my emotions. I had to get blood transfusions so I couldn’t go see my son until the next day again. I was released 4 days later but thy were keeping my son. I said I wasn’t going to leave without my son. The nurses told me he would be here for at least 6 months. I was devasted. I cried and yelled at God all the time. “This wasn’t supposed to happens! I prayed to YOU, ALL THE TIME, I prayed!!” That’s what I would say over and over again. I came home with empty arms, cried in my brother’s arms as he welcomed me home. The next morning, I had my husband drive me back to the hospital. There I met the doctor who was caring for my baby. He told me that because of the amount of time my. Any had been without breathing there could have been significant consequences. At this time, I broke down, I felt my knees go weak…and the said, “hold on, let me tell you… we ran all the needed tests and everything came back normal! He’s also doing great, breathing on his own and, honestly, I don’t see why he would t grow up to me a normal healthy kid. He’s a tough little dude!”. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t find words to describe how hearing those words felt. He said he’d like to keep him a few more hours for observation and if everything kept being fine, I could take him home with me that afternoon! When I returned to the hospital that afternoon to pick up my baby, I hugged the nurse who took care of him for me and happily headed out of the NICU. As we were heading out, the nurse who had just the day before told me that my baby would be in the NICU for at least 6 months was shocked to see me leaving with him in his car seat. She said, “they’re letting you take him already? This never happens! He’s a lucky boy!” I smiled and said, “We’ve been really blessed!” At that moment, I realized God had saved my baby and I asked him to forgive me.

    This is the FIRST time I share my sorry, it’s been 5 years. The first year was the most difficult with panic attacks, depression, and overwhelming emotions. My son is a healthy and very smart kid, but I still get flashbacks when I look him in the eye or when I give him a hug, and I think how I almost didn’t get to have these moments with him. I’m trembling as I’m writing this, tears welling up in my eyes, my heart is pounding but I’m glad to have been able to finish saying my story. Thank you for reading and sharing your storyโ€”which in turn inspired me to take the first step and share mine.

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