Monday, 6 February 2017
Traumatic Birth - Moving on.
This is something that I don't talk to anyone about. I mention it to my husband as he was there when J was born and knows how my recovery has been, but even with him I don't feel that I totally explain how I sometimes STILL feel, 16 months later.
It's been bottled up inside me. Most days it doesn't bother me but I still feel that I have scars that I haven't recovered from. I like to give the impression that I'm always strong and fine on the outside. Maybe that's part of the problem!
Sorry if this sounds deep already, I'm just hoping to make things clearer in my own head...hopefully writing it all down will help?
Before I had my baby I used to think "oh a traumatic birth... isn't everyone's birth experience a traumatic one?" I mean all we hear is how much it hurts... how you might have a toilet accident.. all horrible things!
My own experience was none of those things. There was no pain thanks to an epidural, and no embarrassing poo... but the whole experience has left me hurting. I've been to counselling, I know I need to "get over it", I know how lucky I am that me & J were both ok in the end and he came out healthy... but there is still this strange psychological "pain" when I think about it, and I'm terrified at the thought of trying a natural birth again. Basically I won't be trying - I've already discussed a planned C-section with my consultant even thought I'm not even planning to get pregnant yet!
It was still the most amazing experience of my life, which is what makes it hard to process. I LOVE being a mummy, and the whole experience was just surreal and special, as I'm sure most mummies feel. But I feel I need to move on from the panic I feel when I see anything about giving birth. Literally I even hate typing the word birth. Am I a drama queen?! The word makes me wince a bit.
And it's not because the experience was so awful, just that it came as a huge shock I think. And it took me a long time to recover physically. I've recently finished pelvic floor physio to do with the birth so maybe that is why this is on my mind. I had an amazing pregnancy with no problems except finding out I had Group B Strep and would need to have an antibiotics drip during labour. So when my waters were leaking when baby j was 11 days late off I went to hospital to have my drip put in.
They found that his heart rate was dropping every time I had a contraction. I was 2cm dilated and wasn't feeling any pain yet. So I didn't even realise I was having contractions. I guess that was good news!
They sent me straight to be induced on the drip because of what was going on with J's heart rate. They said he wasn't happy in there because he was overdue, and that it was time to get him out. The day was really relaxed. I wasn't feeling pains at around 4cm dilated, just a horrible pressure, but they recommended I have an epidural at that point as there was a doctor free to do it for me. If I wasn't being induced I wouldn't have taken it, but being induced on the drip, sat in one position with monitors and antibiotics attached to me I decided it was probably best to just take the epidural now rather than wait and miss my chance if things got a lot worse later.
Great... no pain, I sat around chatting all day. Very chilled - lucky me!!
I breathed some gas an air as a calming thing even though I wasn't in pain. The contractions still felt like a big pressure feeling and I didn't like it - it made me feel a bit panicky. Looking back I probably should not have had that gas and air. I feel like I sucked on it literally all day but maybe that wasn't the case?! It feels a bit blurry when I try to remember.
When they told me I was 10cm dilated and would be able to push in a while, I felt really proud of myself. That's where things seemed to go downhill...I pushed for 2 hours. I was trying SO hard and I really wanted to do this myself. My midwifes shift ended after I had been pushing for an hour and off she went and in came a stranger. I think that's where I felt things were going wrong. I'd been with my midwife for the whole 12 hours that I had been in labour and suddenly I had a totally different older lady who started putting my legs in stirrups :-(
After another 40 minutes of me trying so hard they started mentioning forceps. I said no please, I really want to do this myself. I'm fine, it's fine i'll keep pushing. And I tried really hard - I can honestly say I tried as hard as I could.
But it wasn't enough, they kept mentioning forceps and I kept panicking every time they said it.
Suddenly all these bright lights came on and the room filled up with people. I heard them discussing theatre but the consultant said she should be ok here. I went into a complete panic and was trying desperately to wriggle away from the stirrups and the consultant - having my legs stuck and unable to move made the whole thing 100 times worse. The complete fear and panic is the horrible memory that still haunts me now. Writing this has made me realise that.
I think the reason that it's taken me so long to start to move on from those horrible memories is that my physical recovery took a long time, and I still have some on going issues that will simply be part of me now - I have to accept that.
I had a bad episiotomy which got infected. I couldn't sit properly for weeks and so couldn't attempt to drive my car until J was 7 weeks old. A couple of doctors who saw my stitches weeks later said the episiotomy cut was "big and untidy". I was mad at the consultant for that for a while but I realise now it was probably my fault for wriggling and trying to move away from her so much. I guess I didn't make it easy for her to cut me with her scissors!
I still have the occasional stabbing pain in my episiotomy scar now, 16 months on. It's only occasionally, mainly if I exercise for the first time in a while. Its fine and doesn't affect me, but I think on the whole the experience came as a shock to me.
I was niave and thought I would be back on my feet feeling 100% me two weeks after giving birth. There I was months later seeing gynaecologists for the ongoing recovery problems.. just not what I expected at all.
I guess I'm quite a sensitive person and while some people maybe wouldn't be bothered by these things that have happened, it has bothered me. Counselling was very helpful. But I still want an elective c section next time. I really believe my recovery both physically and mentally would be better and shorter.
Everyone's experience is so different. I don't think we can ever imagine how different each experience is unless it's happened to us. I can't imagine what a peaceful water birth must be like and I don't think I'll ever experience one. I know some stories are just so much worse than mine but writing this down has helped a bit. My baby is healthy and that's the most important thing.
If you managed to read all the way to here you deserve a medal!
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