This is the fourth time I have carried a baby this far. The fourth time that little kicks and prods have caught me by surprise. The fourth time that I’ve watched my body expand and my family grow. It does not get any easier. Pregnancy after birth trauma will never be easy.
Four years ago I opened my eyes and saw a baby. A head of blonde hair. Bright blue eyes. A tiny body wrapped in a coarse blue hospital issue blanket. A baby with a name. Cleaned, weighed, held. Named. My baby.
I had no recollection of his birth. My last memories of his pregnancy were the pounding silence of the heart rate machine, the footsteps smacking on the shiny tiled floor and the hands pressing on my throat as the tube was inserted. My last thoughts were that my baby had died. He had lost his fight before it had even begun.
And then nothing.
And then everything.
A baby. My baby. My baby who cried, who needed me, needed to be held, to be fed and to be soothed. A baby who needed the me that had not been through the horrors of all that had gone before us. And the months that followed were not all bad, not really. There were days that we smiled, and we laughed and we enjoyed our son as normal parents would. There were many days. He brightened our lives in the way he still does. But the days followed the nights and the dreams and the memories and that fact remains. Echoes of that day ring in our ears now and then and there is little we can do but remember. Live it.
It is harder during pregnancy. Each kick is a reminder. Each prod. Each midwife appointment, each hospital trip. Each birth announcement, each twinge. Each time I allow myself to stop and to go back there. It is hard.
But it is not impossible. During my last pregnancy, and especially after The Toddler’s birth, I felt I was being healed. I felt in control. I felt that what had been was not to be again. And this time I am feeling more positive still. But pregnancy after birth trauma is still hard.
Trust is a lot harder to win. Confidence in anything is hard to come by. Motivation is lacking some days. Wanting to curl up and let others take over is tempting. Wanting to say yes, to be led, to hand over the control sometimes seems like the easiest, best, option.
There is very little mystery. I do not wonder how I will know if I am in labour. I do not look forward to twinges in the night. I know these things are inevitable, and (at this point) more favourable than an elective c section. But I know that when- if- that day comes, I am going to be scared.
I know that I am going to wish I did not know what I know. I’m going to wish I did not have to travel down that same path again. I am going to hate the machines and the wires and the people and the silence and the noise and the pain and the fear and the possibility and the risks and the doors that swing and the feet that run and the beeps and the masks and the not knowing. I am going to wish that I had made a different decision.
All of that is going to happen but it won’t change anything. I still want to do this, my way. I am still working on it and I know that I will get there.