WARNING – Oversharing alert. Don’t read this if you are squeamish or don’t want to hear about my birth again. If you read to the end, well done.
I just need to write this down – I do apologise for wittering on about having a baby and giving birth on what is ostensibly a crochet and photos-of-flowers-etc blog because I know it’s not interesting except to myself, but I find writing my blog very therapeutic and I need to empty my head. If I had a pensieve I would use that, sadly I am not Dumbledore and do not have one. (Wouldn’t that be fun though?)
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was feeling a bit squiffy in the head about the whole birth ordeal. At the time and for the next couple of weeks, amongst the whole newborn fug/bloodloss recovery thing, I thought that what I was feeling was normal. And it probably was at that point. When the third and fourth week passed and started rolling into the fifth week since TTB was born and I was still sitting up at night obsessing about all the details while feeding him, and being unable to close the maternity ward tab for the hospital on my internet browser it occurred to me that this probably wasn’t normal. One of the websites that I had found whilst obsessively scouring the internet for anything to do with the labour ward and other people’s experiences there had a list of the signs of birth trauma and a link to the Birth Trauma Association website.
Copied from there, these are possible reasons why people have birth trauma:
- Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
- Poor pain relief
- Feelings of loss of control
- High levels of medical intervention
- Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean section
- Impersonal treatment or problems with the staff attitudes
- Not being listened to
- Lack of information or explanation
- Lack of privacy and dignity
Oh wait, hang on a minute … at least seven of those happened to me. And obsessing about the birth for so long afterwards seemed to be a result of that. I wasn’t really sure what to do about it and my post natal appointment (yesterday) wasn’t for another two or three weeks. In the end I wrote a letter to my midwife (the community midwife who had done all of my ante natals and is really lovely) with a bit of an update about me and TTB and how he is laughing and holding his head up, and sent some photos as well. I mentioned that I was struggling to come to terms a bit with the birth – that I really didn’t expect her to do anything but that it helped me to write down what was bothering me. I didn’t expect anything to come of it and actually felt both a bit guilty for having lumbered her with it and quite a lot better for having done so. She phoned me the next day (it was a Frantic Friday and I was at Lucy’s, who very kindly took TTB off for a cuddle and a look out of the window while I took the call) and said that it was concerning that I was still so bothered by the birth 5 weeks on, and would I like to make an appointment to go through all my notes?
I had that appointment today and it went really well. I think that as well as the traumatic birth thing, I am having a few problems letting go of the whole experience. I have wanted to have a baby for such a long time and it has always been something on the horizon in the future that I would do and have always had thoughts about the labour and having a new baby and posting the announcement and everything … I feel odd that this major event has gone from being something that I “would” do to something that I “have done” and am unlikely to do again (unless anyone wants to magic a third bedroom and some extra income for Andy?). I miss my bump and I really loved being pregnant! It felt so special. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful having TTB but it’s loads more work than being pregnant (well duh) and all the “special” attention goes on the baby rather than on me. I appreciate how selfish that sounds but I just mean that I loved being pregnant. Even the massive feet. I did have an easy pregnancy though.
So in terms of the birth, the thing that really upsets me most of all was the induction. I had a scheduled induction booked for the 20th September but ended up having it on the night of the 19th because my waters broke on the 18th. The induction was very painful, the ward was very hot, I was all on my own, I didn’t feel like I could cope and I went for almost 5 hours on my own without being checked by a midwife. They were short staffed and had a lot of births which is fair enough and I do understand, but it was very hard being in so much pain on my own for so long. I didn’t feel that the midwife was particularly supportive either (but at the same time I must stress that I don’t in any way feel that she was incompetent or negligent in the slightest, I just could have done with more sympathy and support rather than being told that it was just going to get worse.) and that was hard.
The next thing that upset me was the loss of control later on. This is when I had a drip put in my hand and a monitor on the baby’s head. I wasn’t able to labour like I had been doing all day and I didn’t feel that I was listened to when I told the midwife this. This turns out to be documented in my notes exactly as I remember it, so I was listened to it just didn’t feel like it to me at the time. I also feel like I was being pushed to have an epidural when I didn’t want one. I continued to refuse and I am very glad that I did because I think if I had accepted it, I would have felt like my subsequent (although I didn’t know at the time) caesarean would have been “my fault” and as a result of the epidural. I take comfort in the fact that the section was as a result of the fact that my baby was gigantic and had turned back to back (ouch).
Having to have a caesarean does not upset me at all in hindsight. It was upsetting at the time but I was so worked up about the pain of the drip and the monitor and all the examinations (seriously, it felt like everyone in the hospital was having a rummage! In reality it was two midwives and a consultant but you know what I mean.) that I was in tears anyway and it was all just a bit horrible. I kept telling the consultant and the anaesthetist that I’d never had a caesarean before (I am sure they were aware of that!) and that I was really scared. They were very nice about it though. The worst part for me was waiting to have the spinal because I had to sit on the operating theatre table (and I had to climb onto it with that stupid drip in my had) with the drip, the catheter etc and being all sore while still having contractions while I waited for them to do the spinal. I know all that can’t be helped though. Other than that it was fine and a bit of a relief actually, until the part afterwards where I could hear them counting my organs and then going “It’s not contracting, I’m not happy with that.” and then not being told about all the blood I lost.
After having gone through it all with my midwife I do feel much better about it all. I feel like I lost a week of my life … waters breaking on Tuesday and then I didn’t come home until 5pm the following Monday. I wanted to know if it could have been avoided and I could have just had an elective section (I was measuring big all the way through) but because I followed the growth curve despite being above it, it wasn’t a concern. However, should I have another pregnancy I will be under consultant led care rather than midwife led care and the baby’s size would be monitored a lot more closely and I would be able to elect for a section under this PCT rather than be expected to have a VBAC by default.
I think I needed to be told that I had done well … that I’d done a good job of going through labour. I don’t feel like I delivered my baby really and after he was born it was all a bit of a blur and I think I needed to know that I’d done ok. Apparently I have. My desperate need for approval is sated then.
For anyone who thinks that they may be suffering after having a traumatic birth – PLEASE talk to someone about it! Make an appointment with your doctor, or speak to your health visitor or your midwife. I had officially been discharged by the midwives after 10 days but they were still there for me and happy to provide this service. Don’t just suffer with it.
(errm sorry if you are still reading, I have just looked at the word count …)
Some other things that I need to get out of my head for my own sake:
- it’s better to go out for a walk in the daylight and come back to a dark house that I can light up rather than sitting in the house and watching it get darker, especially if the baby wants a nap but can’t send himself off. Go for a walk!
- find somewhere other to walk to than Tesco, especially as you have a conspicuous pram.
- GET OUT and meet some people. Man up and go to an NCT thingy and speak to people. I am going to go to the one tomorrow and the one on Friday morning too. I am I am I am.
- I am happier with a clean and tidy house. This room is currently clean and tidy with significantly less clutter than before (thanks mum) make the effort to keep it that way.
- There are always going to be bad days and they are horrible. Not every day will be a bad day, but when you are in a bad day it is very very hard to see past that bad day. Don’t suffer inside at home.
Finally I would just like to say thank you if you’ve made it to the end of this, writing this was mainly for my own benefit but thank you for reading.