Two weeks ago I finished my last session with the Think Positive service. I left that session with a pile of balled up tissues in my hand, tears on my face and a heart dragging down to the pits of my stomach. I left with a referral for further counselling, CBT this time, and an apology from my lovely counsellor for ‘having missed the signs’ that I needed more help than she could give. The thing is, she didn’t miss the signs. She saw them when I allowed her to, because I’ve become kind of good at that. I can hide how I feel most of the time. Or, at least I used to be able to hide it. The tears flowed harder that day as I finally admitted the truth, and that was that I wasn’t getting better. Time (almost see years!) hasn’t really been a great healer and rather than finding myself stronger, I’m actually finding things are a lot worse now.
My life is being impacted in ways that I could never have predicted.
I am not the person I thought I was. Or that I thought I would be, seven years after the event.
I do not have the answers, but I do know this. Birth trauma cannot be swept under the carpet anymore, not for me.
Honestly, I am exhausted. Exhausted from re-living what happened on the dark cold days, and when triggers are particularly bad. Exhausted from the fear that my heart might literally pound right out of my chest one day. Exhausted from the constant anxiety that seems to be literally destroying me from inside to outside.
I’m running our of ways to explain how my totally irrational fear of driving is getting worse and worse, how just the thought of a drive to an unfamiliar place can prompt days and days of nervous planning and hours and hours of cancelling, re-arranging, and cancelling again. I’m running out of ways to explain how the time of year is such a huge trigger for me and that I need to take steps early on to prevent a slip back into dark and scary world of flashbacks and fear. I’m running out of ways to explain that this is all down to birth trauma.
I should be over this by now. I should be grateful I took a baby home at all. I should be focusing on what I have here, in front of me.
I should be helping you all to understand. I should be breaking down the stigma that is attached to birth trauma and destroying the notion that women should be happy, grateful and totally in love with their babies as soon as they meet for the first time. I should be sharing stories and educating and supporting and campaigning. Because the next women going on to have maternity experiences are my children. Three girls, one boy. Four children who need me to help make the changes now.
And for as long as we deny a woman the right to grieve for a birth that she did not get, we are never going to make the changes that my children need. For as long as we refuse to accept that sometimes birth trauma is the result of the use of language, or the lack of compassion and kindness, we are never going to make the changes that my children need. For as long as we continue to make women feel guilty for standing up and challenging the system we are NEVER going to make the changes that my children need!
We cannot sweep it under the carpet anymore. Birth trauma has claimed such a huge part of my life- not only do I want that back, but I want to make people aware of it. I want people to acknowledge it. I want people to stand beside me and help me to make changes. Because this is it, for me. And I can’t settle until I know I’ve done all I can to inspire changes and build a system I can release my children into.