Saturday, 13 July 2013

HOPE - Post & Antenatal Depression including Birth Trauma

My first pregnancy was hard. Wonderful, exciting, very much wanted, but hard. There were complications and it was a very stressful time. Our son was born by emergency c section 13 days after his due date, after 56 hours in labour. Looking back now I realise that the way I felt in the days following L’s birth was due to birth trauma, thinking back to his birth now often brings me to tears, I was treated rather badly by some of the hospital staff, although I must say there were also some fantastic health care providers but in the midst of the chaos they weren’t my initial memories, I was also in hospital for quite a few days and found myself getting more depressed each day.

By the time I came home baby blues were in full swing, I adored my son but couldn’t stop obsessing over his birth, how different it was to what I had hoped for, what I had planned.

We’d had a gender scan so knew we were having a boy from 16 weeks, we had named him, personalised his room and called him by his name through the rest of the pregnancy and I am so thankful for that. I truly feel I’d have struggled with the initial bonding had I not already ‘know’ him so well.

The months following the ‘birth’ I struggled a lot. I grieved the birth experience I had wanted so much. I missed my bump, cried over the fact I hadn’t ‘given birth’. It sounds crazy and I have never, and still don’t, think that people who have caesareans are any less a mother, never felt they haven’t given birth to their child, but for me I couldn’t get my head round it, I truly felt I hadn’t “given birth”, I had gone through hours and hours of contractions, my waters had gone, I laboured but I didn’t give birth, someone just handed him to me.

As time went on I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I didn’t feel like me, I longed to be pregnant again, I needed to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy and a ‘normal’ birth. I felt that if I could manage that it would cure me of the feelings I had, that I would at last feel I had earned my new title as mummy. By the time our son was 16 weeks I was pregnant again and was thrilled that I had done it, I was going to be able to put it all right and actually give birth.

The excitement and relief didn’t last long, I fretted about everything, was totally irrational and panicked at every cramp, terrified I was going to lose my baby. I had many early scans, my 12 week scan was actually the 5th I’d had in this pregnancy. I loved my new baby from the minute I got the positive test but as time went on, the obsession, fear and confusion (which was of course all due to post and pre natal depression – I was diagnosed with both) overwhelmed me and I started to worry about how I felt toward my baby. We had found out we were having a daughter, one of each – perfect, but my son was my baby, how could I have another baby? Why had I been so selfish? Why did I need to have another baby so soon, before my baby had even become a toddler?

My second pregnancy was hard. I was ill, depressed, scared.

My beautiful daughter was born 13 days late, by emergency c section after 24hrs of labouring. I didn’t get to ‘give birth’.

In the recovery room alone with my daughter I could see she was beautiful, the perfect little girl and I loved her so much. But I wasn’t the natural mum I was when my son was brought into the world. I was afraid of being alone with her, not because I would have done anything to hurt her – a million miles from that- I was scared she wouldn’t like me, or that despite adoring every millimetre of her, I wouldn’t click with her. I remember shutting my brain off for the first breast feed. Letting the midwives get on with forcing my nipple to her rooting mouth, hoping it would be done and dusted soon.

That night, alone with her again, I couldn’t take my eyes from her, she was so perfect. But was she mine? Again I hadn’t given birth? Could I take credit for her birth? I didn’t think so.

3:19am the ward was quiet. My curtain was drawn round my bed. I was watching my gorgeous girl. She was perfect but ‘my baby’ was at home, without his mum. I had gone through another hard pregnancy, another “failed’ birth and was now mum to 2 babies. I remember having a flitting thought, one I can’t put into words but it basically was that this little girl, MY little girl needed me as much as her brother did, and if I didn’t show her how much I loved her she may never truly believe that I did.

I sat for a moment longer, watching her in bed cot, then spoke to her, out loud but so only we could hear. I said:

“c’mon baby girl. Let’s do this”

Then I picked her up and for the first time in the 24hrs she had been outside of me, we relaxed into each other, cuddled and sealed the bond that should have been present a long time before.

My children and 3.5 & 2.5 now. I adore them both. Not one day of my life as a mum have I not loved every single thing about them but I am still working on healing myself, accepting that despite the knot it gives me to think about it, I did give birth to my babies, I still have to fight to remember details of their births and I still cry when I think about it. I have anger and sadness as well as happiness but at least it’s going the right way.

I still have depression of some description. I don’t like to refer to it as post natal depression but it doesn’t seem to fit. Whatever it is it’s something I truly wouldn’t wish on any other mum. Birth trauma related depression really needs addressing, it’s awful, but if you are going through it, I promise you’ll come out the other end eventually

If you have been affected by this story or would like further information then the following website may be helpful - http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/

If you have a story you would like to share; that could help others please do get in touch. I welcome any subject and if required I am happy to post anonymous. Other HOPE stories can be found here.

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