After having my first born I was told that my next birth would be much 'quicker/easier'. I naively believed this. I was massive, baby was growing into a very big boy and I was under the care of a consultant for previous complications during pregnancy, including Pre-eclampsia.
Weeks before my due date my consultant wanted to hurry things along and on the same day of the appointment I was sent to hospital to be induced. I sat nervously in the hospital bed. Looking back I’m not sure what’s worse, not knowing what is coming next with your first birth or knowing what’s about to come that’s harder!
I was given three pessaries to induce the labour. I was left in a room on my own with very little sight of any midwife. The pain got intense-I panicked-I felt so alone and completely freaked out that I knew what was coming! I asked for pethidine and I got through lots of gas and air but the baby had moved into the back to back position putting so much pressure on my lower spine (I was convinced my back was going to break!) Eventually after waiting until I was 10cm dilated and until they had space for me I was taken down to the delivery suite, which happened to be the exact room I gave birth to my first born.
I was encouraged to push for two hours and I was exhausted-I had lost complete control of my emotions and in that moment I lost all faith I could carry on, and wasn’t sure I could take the pain any longer-I was petrified. My husband sat beside me white faced and completely silent. It was a traumatic time. Eventually they took me to theatre.
I had what seems like 20 doctors attempt at different times to use forceps to help-it didn’t (I felt violated- I felt sick) they tried the ventouse- it didn’t work. His shoulders then became stuck which led to a emergency c-section. I heard him but I didn’t see him. I was told he was fine-he wasn’t. Hours later I still hadn’t seen my baby, I sat in my bed in tears because they wouldn’t let me move until I had peed. I couldn’t.
My husband brought a picture of our baby for me. I looked and I cried, I had no connection to this picture and then I felt guilt! So much guilt. Guilty I wasn’t with him, I wasn’t strong enough to have a ‘normal’ birth, guilty I hadn’t laid with my baby on my chest . Someone else had dressed and fed my baby and I hadn’t even touched him.
Hours on I was lucky enough that a lovely lady offered to wheel me down to NICU. I was excited, nervous, scared. As I saw him lying in the incubator I cried again. He had wires coming from his head and tubes. I wasn’t warned about this. I had no idea why he was even in there! The nurse asked me to hold him whilst they gave him his medication. I couldn’t-I couldn’t see him scream in pain, he was black and blue with bruises from the delivery. He had very bad jaundice and I was scared I might hurt him, I was scared of what might happen, part of me subconsciously didn’t want to form that bond if he was maybe going to be taken from us. I felt guilty for even thinking about this. And the possibility of him maybe leaving us was our reality.
He had a severe infection, he was bruised and his body had been through a lot, he also had thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) every day was a battle- a battle with the physical pain my body was in, a battle with my body not producing enough milk, my battle with knowing my eldest was being passed from members of family to friends and suddenly mummy and daddy disappeared.
I felt disappointed that we didn’t all get to have that closeness straight after the birth. The emotional introduction with the eldest and his little brother. Instead he would come to the hospital, stare at all the tubes and wonder why he couldn’t hold his brother , (which we had promised he could) —more guilt. He wondered why we didn’t go home with him when he begged us to and I felt completely torn in half. Writing it down now and thinking about this all again makes me think “wow we went through it didn’t we” and I can luckily say that I now have two happy boys.
Talking is the key, being honest about how you feel really helps. It’s much harder to smile and say “I’m fine” when you really want to escape into a lift and cry your eyes out because you feel you can’t cope.
Whilst volunteering I listened to a birth trauma presentation and learnt about some of the effects it had on families. I sat in the back of the room having not spoken about my story to many and I silently sobbed, I didn’t think I would stop. A wonderful lady came to me at the end of the session and asked if I wanted to talk. She was the first person that had actually asked me this, and yes I did.
I wanted someone to know how much I was hurting still, how much guilt I had for not having the birth I wanted. My anger at the way I was treated whilst at hospital. The fact that I now associated the room I had my eldest in with such a traumatic experience.
Weeks went by and I met every week for a counselling session. It honestly helped me to change my life in so many ways, together we talked through every part of my pregnancy and birth, my hopes, my disappointment, my physical feelings and as time passed I could talk about everything but I didn’t cry constantly, I realised I did everything I could have done at the time and that it was ok to feel all of the things I felt.
My boys have an amazing bond now. Right from the start I involved my eldest in caring for his brother. Although my eldest seemed scared to touch his brother at the start. He would sit with me whilst I fed him, they shared a room, he would read him stories and sing to him. He helped with changing and bathing and his confidence in playing with him really grew. My youngest asks to see pictures of himself in the hospital and I’m so glad I made that decision to talk about my feelings to someone because it now means I can sit and answer questions that he has, and we can talk about how we all felt.
Although my eldest doesn’t remember much, he does remember parts and I’m glad we can all talk about it and can enjoy and be thankful for what we now have together.