Oversharing

 

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
  • Induction
  • 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.
xxx

 

78 thoughts on “Oversharing

  1. Well done you, for expressing how most new Mums feel! Having had two children, the first time i gave birth although all went “normal” it was very traumatic and nothing ever prepares you for it, and nothing prepares for how you feel afterwards.I found it very traumatic and could not get my hea round what i had just been through! So, to go through what you did, your a brave lady and should feel very proud! What you are experiencing is all normal, rest assured that your not alone. You are doing the right thing by getting out to the groups as well, they are great for sanity and there are lots out there in Skipton.Aqua babes is good also when TTB gets bigger. Good Luck and remember it takes time to settle into being a new Mum, don’t pressure yourself. xxx

  2. Childbirth is traumatic, however many times we go through it. When we lose control in any circumstances, it’s frightening and in order to move on, we need to process the event. I think you’re doing all the right things – talking to the right people and letting it all out. You’re tired, too, Heather and coping with a new baby – it’s tough. Give yourself time, relax, it’s not a competition and just like every child is different, every mum is different – trust in your judgement and instinct. Talk to other mums, but make your own decisions. You’ll be fine – plan a new blanket to crochet – you’re a wonderful mum!

  3. First of all I must apologize for my English because it’s not my maternal language so… I’ll try to do my best!
    When I gave birth my first son, five years ago, I felt as you. After 14 hours of painful labour they made me an emergency caesarean and in the middle of the operation room my doctor fell down the floor. She was sick! I was terrified becacuse I heard everything. I couldn’t hold my baby until four hours later. Then, when I got home, my wound went bad and I spent two months without moving from the sofa. I went to the hospital everyday in order to clean it but again to the sofa… No walkings, no parks… Besides breastfeeding was awful for me…
    So… I completely understand you, I spent three horrible months with my baby crying all the time and now I realized that I went through a little depression but everyting passed! Now I have a second child, he is two and it was completely different, everything was OK and I felt very happy.
    You are right when you say that it’s necessary to talk about it,I didn’t do it and I regret for that…
    I think you are very brave and that you are doing so, so well, so don’t hesitate because you are a very good mother!
    Greetings from the South of Spain.

  4. thankyou for sharing this. i am a midwifery student in australia and i find that alot of women need to talk through their birth stories to be able to have closure as well as understand anything that they have not understood. i absolutely love listening to their stories and help to answer any questions. So once again im glad that you have shared your story and i wish you all the best. : )

  5. You are in a very large “club”. So many births go off without a hitch, short labor, little pain, best care…etc. but some don’t. My first time was very traumatic, and it was all I could talk about for weeks. Get in a group of women and start talking about birth experiencces, and you’ll hear some horror stories. Talking about it, seemed to help. And I can only speak for me, but that line about “you’ll forget the pain” is a bunch of crap. My first baby was born in a military hospital, who only did C-sections as a last resort. Mine should have been a C-section. 30 hours of labor (the last 18 of which were hard, hair pulling, mind numbing, screaming labor), blood pressure 170/90, blacking out between contractions, I pushed for 3 hours, the list goes on. and being in a miltary hospital, I was just a name, rank, and social security number. It was the only time in my life, I actually prayed to die. But bless God, we both came out alive, he’s now 23 years old and the handsomest red-head you ever saw. my second, 12 hours of labor, that never really “got bad”, I pushed 3 times and he was here.

    We all have our stories. And especially so soon after you’ve given birth, it is normal to want to talk about it, to get it off your chest, to just make somebody understand what you’ve been through. you’re not alone.

  6. Ánimo Heather, eres una mamá fantástica, fuerte, luchadora, emprendedora, rebosante de alegría y optimismo. Tienes todo el derecho del mundo de sentirte así y también de contarlo y sacarlo de dentro de tu pecho. No creo que sólo estoy aquí detrás de la pantalla porque tienes unas labores preciosas, es que me has cautivado, me has enganchado con tu día a día y tu quehacer, y lo que me importa eres tú. Que te encuentres bien. Que te sientas de nuevo controlando la situación. Aunque ahora todo te parezca un caos, dentro de poco (de verdad) todo cambiará y todos los agobios que ahora sientes los verás de otra manera.
    Por cierto, me encanta llamarte “mamá” y ver tu cara mirando a tu baby en post anteriores. De corazón, ánimo, muchos besos

    Pili

  7. I know exactly how you feel, I’ve had three boys in three years and with all my labours I have types note of exactly what went on and when…… I think sometimes its your heads way of processing exactly what has happened to you…. For me I felt an overwhelming sense of pride in myself for have ‘done it’….. I think you just need to allow these feelings to come out, in time your time will be taken up with other things, baby things and more, and you will find yourself thinking of the whole labour issue less and less….. I still listen to songs that were played on the radio whilst I was in labour and they make me feel funny…… Maybe it’s just that almighty change in your life is sometimes a little hard to just get over……. Don’t rush yourself….. It’s totally natural…. Just make sure you keep your labour positive and look at what yo have gained from it….. X x x x

  8. Firstly, Well done for sharing!! That is the hardest thing on earth!

    When my 1st baby was born I was estatic, loved her instantly and that euphoria stayed.
    But I never felt it with my 2nd baby :-( I did everything i should do but I was just going through the motions I didn’t enjoy doing it. However I plastered on a smile and everyone thought I was fine.
    I carried on like this for 8 months, not enjoying him, resenting time with him, and feeling guilty that I didn’t love him like I should.
    I kept saying to myself ‘If A (my daughter) dies, I couldn’t go on. But if J (my son) dies, I still have A’. Hardly healthy or normal and I hated myself for it.
    At J’s 8 month check i told the HV my feelings and she arranged for me to see a councellor.
    I had one session with the councellor and managed to get my feelings sorted.
    When I was pregnant with J, lots of sad things happened. My friend lost her daughter to cancer, my sister in law had a miscarriage, and couldn’t be around me. When J was a month old my friend lost her newborn son.
    And all this made me reject J, made me feel I wasn’t worthy of him.
    My son is a beautiful boy and I love him so much.
    But pregnancy, birth and babies do mess with minds. I’m so glad you spoke to your midwife.
    Again Well Done!!
    (sorry for adding an essay onto your blog x)

  9. Hello!

    I am home with the flu and have creeped your site for a while. You are favourited on the former Crochet with Raymond. I have enjoyed reading your blog and was pleased to know you were expecting. I decided to pop back in tonight to see how you are doing. I have three kids and remember those first few weeks pretty well. It can be a tough road. I applaud you for getting help and getting out of the house. That saved me. We had this thing called stroller fitness. It helped me meet people and get that baby weight off. Give that baby a kiss from Canada!

  10. Delighted to hear you are getting the support you need. So good that you have recognised the problem for yourself so early. Not always the case, I’m sure. Pleased to hear you had a great day out with Lucy and family. Sounds like a good prescription and it looked as though you were lucky with the weather too. Keep on looking after yourself and your lovely husband and son and enjoying every moment of your baby. It passes all too quickly.

  11. Delighted to hear you are getting the support you need. So good that you have recognised the problem for yourself so early. Not always the case, I\’m sure. Pleased to hear you had a great day out with Lucy and family. Sounds like a good prescription and it looked as though you were lucky with the weather too. Keep on looking after yourself and your lovely husband and son and enjoying every moment of your baby. It passes all too quickly.

  12. Hi Heather I just wanted to leave a note to say well done. Well done for being honest and opening up about your experience. I have two boys and I remember a year after my first son was born realising to myself that I’d been in shock over the whole labour experience for about 2-3 months after. It had been traumatic and hadn’t gone the way I’d wanted/planned. I can also remember being shocked at just how painful it was because I’d thought naively it couldn’t be as painful as others had said. Haha stupid right?! And after I’d given birth my midwife said to me that I’d worn her out. Something which still makes me annoyed today11 yrs later. I hadn’t been rude or demanding I just couldn’t give birth to my 9lb1 son. I thought that that would’ve been all part of her job.!! Anyway things do get easier its not like you see on the telly or in magazines is it? Where everyone’s out having lunch and getting their hair done straight after. It’s hard work but also one of the best and most rewarding things in the world. Remember to look after yourself aswell because you need to so you can look after baby. A happy mom means a happy baby is one of the most valuable things I was told. Pamper yourself too. Take care & big hugs Lyndsey xx

  13. Hi Heather I just wanted to leave a note to say well done. Well done for being honest and opening up about your experience. I have two boys and I remember a year after my first son was born realising to myself that I\’d been in shock over the whole labour experience for about 2-3 months after. It had been traumatic and hadn\’t gone the way I\’d wanted/planned. I can also remember being shocked at just how painful it was because I\’d thought naively it couldn\’t be as painful as others had said. Haha stupid right?! And after I\’d given birth my midwife said to me that I\’d worn her out. Something which still makes me annoyed today11 yrs later. I hadn\’t been rude or demanding I just couldn\’t give birth to my 9lb1 son. I thought that that would\’ve been all part of her job.!! Anyway things do get easier its not like you see on the telly or in magazines is it? Where everyone\’s out having lunch and getting their hair done straight after. It\’s hard work but also one of the best and most rewarding things in the world. Remember to look after yourself aswell because you need to so you can look after baby. A happy mom means a happy baby is one of the most valuable things I was told. Pamper yourself too. Take care & big hugs Lyndsey xx

  14. I’m really sorry I haven’t had time to read all the comments. I feel so sorry that you suffered like this. It’s so hard becoming a new Mum, even without a traumatic birth and subsequent anaemia. You have done so well to care for yourself and your baby despite it all. I feel very sorry that our maternity services don’t support women in the way they need to. It is just my opinion but I think that in different care, you may well have had a different outcome. Women do birth big, back to back babies but they need a LOT better support and being induced probably doesn’t help. I hope this in no way sounds as if I am blaming you because I am most certainly not. You have had a hard time and I take my hat off to you for being proactive in finding as many answers as you can. May I leave you with the this thought – you loved your baby so much you were prepared to be cut open, despite it not being what you really wanted! That is truly brave.

  15. Dear Heather you are always so open and honest on your blog. To have shared your story will have helped others. I think being a mum is
    the most challenging thing that we women do. You are a wonderful mum and Tiny Tin Bird is a very lucky boy to have you. My own mum
    says to take one step at a time and to count your blessings. A big hug from me.xx

  16. Writing that post will I am sure be very useful for you in your on going recovery from your traumatic birth. I too had a traumatic birth, (ten years ago now) and it definitely helped to write it all down and talk about it. I still need to talk about it sometimes! You need to hear that you did well, you need to be told that you were impressive and brave – because, with a labour like yours, you bloody well WERE!
    If you’d had an accident, or an operation, that was so hard and so traumatic, everyone would expect your life to stop for a bit while you recovered, everyone would be asking you how are you coping, etc; but when that sort of trauma happens as a result of childbirth it’s much more glossed over; mainly, because despite the trauma, you are straight into 24 caring for this new person, and also because to other people childbirth is ‘normal’ even when it wasn’t normal; also because alot of the focus is on the gorgeous new baby. You have to get on, even when emotionally you’re not ready to, and everyone seems to have gone on without you!
    I am sending you lots of good wishes xxx
    Oh, and one final point, I have not had any more children, we just have our son. (not as a result of the trauma, it was a decision based on many things) What I would say is that you will hear alot of people say that their first birth trauma was healed during their second birth, which is great. But IF this child is your only one, don’t feel that you won’t heal because you will, you don’t need another birth to somehow make this one right. And by the way we LOVE having a single child, and luckily our son loves it too so alls well that ends well.
    Sorry to have wittered on. Birth trauma is obviously a subject I feel strongly about! All the best xx

  17. I think you have done so well to take positive steps to overcome your trauma. I hope it has helped and you find it fades into the past.
    I came to your site from Lucy’s,not expecting a birth story but it has been helpful and interesting to me. It is years since I had my last child, but I will, if I get the chance, tell anybody who will listen about my story. I guess I am a bit obsessed too! What sticks in my gut is 1) being left alone for many hours 2) being told I was ‘not distressed enough’ to be in advanced labour – I had my baby less than an hour later. I was alone when the head started to crown.

  18. Thank you so much for writing this i went thought the same thing as you did having my own son. It has took me four years to come to peace with what happened at his birth as you plan and write your birth plan out no one ever warns you this might not always be the case and no everything is always going to be ok. But things do get better and weather there 24 hours old or 4 years old there are still good days and bad days it just the way you deal with them is different. Your are a star and a wonderful person thank you for making me feel I wasnt alone .

  19. Hi Heather. Please do come to bumps and babes on Fridays, if you weren’t there last Friday. Polly and I were having a bad day so didn’t make it. We would love to meet you, there are about 5 or 6 mums who meet regularly. It is also worth trying to get yourself signed up to classes at the children’s centre, they do some great things.
    I know Lucy through knitting and was meant to pass on some of my maternity gear to you through her, but (hang my head in shame) I never quite got round to it.
    I won’t be there this Friday but will be the next one, so if you fancy meeting up before hand and going together just email.
    I think you have been very brave and very right to fancy the birth trauma head on like this!
    Hope to see you soon
    Nina

  20. Oh Heather, I’d seen the beginning of your blog post days ago and wanted to read to the end (really, I did!) and comment, but I was away and could only use my phone which won’t play the game of changing pages or allowing comments – GRRR!

    But scanning all the lovely comments above, I can see you have been totally looked after and reassured, so mine is just a little add on.

    You’ve done a fantastic job, and especially by identifying and tackling what has been troubling you, whilst feeding your gorgeous baby so successfully. I’d say you are a fab Mum!

    You are right with the walking, I loved walking with my babes, but did used to feel a bit shattered afterwards especially if they woke as I arrived home – I’d think ‘Darn, not even 5 minutes to put me feet up.’ And like you , I discovered I didn’t mind an untidy home when I was out at work all day, but being at home with kids certainly cured me. And Baby and Toddler groups – fabulous! I’m still best of friends with many Mum’s I met 18 years ago (as long as I avoided the Mum’s that professed to be perfect, with perfect babies because they made me feel bad about myself. I’m sure they were very nice people, but not good for my soul!)

    Keep going girl, and push for those moments that you know make the clouds lift, and they will become more frequent.
    Love
    Fi
    (I’ve just realised I’ve written all this as if we are friends, weird, you have no idea about me… sorry if that is a bit freaky, it’s meant with the best intentions)

  21. Am now slightly terrified at the prospect of having children one day BUT! I wouldn’t want to go into it thinking “oh everything will be wonderful” and then it not being, much better to be honest and prepared, so thank you for sharing what looks to have been a very difficult thing to do. You’re very brave you know, and I hope sharing with your midwife & now us helps to put this behind you x

  22. Well done you for recognising that you don’t feel right about the birth and you have taken action and talked about it. The birth of my second child was traumatic, I haemorrhaged severely and was put under for the birth. I felt like I missed the whole experience and we were both unwell for a spell. I often felt upset and anxious but never did anything about it, he’s nine now and I’m only now feeling like I’m coming to terms with it. Talking is a great healer and you have taken a very brave step, it will pay off. Never stop talking and asking for help. Best wishes xxxx

  23. Childbirth is such a funny thing, so wonderful, so scary and so momentous at the same time. I wrote down both my birth stories – they weren’t traumatic as such but I didn’t want to forget a single detail. I do remember how scary and hard it can be, being a new mum, never mind with all this to deal with as well, so big hugs to you xx

  24. I went through something very similar. I had an awful pregnancy and was very ill then at the end it was found I had a big baby and further problems were also discovered – after they had let me go 10 days over! I had to have a c-section – I was lucky not to have to go through labour though. The after-care on the postnatal ward was horrific and I felt traumatised by the everything afterwards. I wish I had told someone as I suffered for months thinking about the awful pregnancy, being in hospital, that I should be able to cope but couldn’t.

    I completely agree with your conclusion – go for a walk, tidy house helps and get out and meet people. Thanks for sharing your experience. After 4 years I have finally got over my experience enough to try for number two – maybe I would have been ready before if I’d some help earlier.

  25. Hi Heather
    I had a traumatic birth with my first born (9lbs4oz and I’m tiny) and had a C section with my second as a result on doctors orders. Consequently I still feel like I didn’t do what I so desperately wanted to do – give birth naturally. There was nothing ‘natural’ about my first delivery, despite the terminology and it took me a long time to get over that. The delivery was mismanaged (35 hours, every midwife & med student on the planet having a go, lots of blood etc) and could so easily have led to the death of one or both of us. When I complained to the hospital afterwards – a 6 month process – they replied ‘ but you had a live baby though didn’t you?’ as if that was OK then. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second that I was referred – by a different hospital – to a counsellor and I could really really talk about my ongoing issues.
    Don’t be afraid to talk to other women. We truly are our best resource.
    I really wish you all the best.

  26. Hello lovely, have followed your blog for a while but not ever commented or regularly read – just saw this post. I could have written that myself a good few years ago, my birth with my eldest daughter was massively traumatic and I felt much like you – having my ‘birth afterthoughts’ meeting was the best thing I ever did. I found it so much easier with my second daughter, because my eldest already had a routine – pre-school, toddler groups etc that I HAD to make the effort to look presentable and leave the house, and you are spot on when you say you have to force yourself to go out, but you feel ten times better for doing it. Dont be afraid to ask for help, I suffered with PND but I never got help for it, I wasn’t brave enough to speak up, but I wish I did – I can still feel it lingering almost 7 years on and I wonder if it is too late to ask for help now. x

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