birth trauma

I am so lucky

Ignorance is a funny old thing. Sometimes we prefer to remain ignorant about things in order to protect ourselves. Sometimes we refuse to understand or to listen to another point of view because we think we’re right. I’ve come across both.
I was ignorant about the dangers that faced my son and I during his birth. I was blissfully unaware that my tiny son’s throat was invaded by a sterile plastic tube; his very first breaths in this world came via an intubation that nobody felt I needed to know about. Until I read through his notes with my midwife counsellor, I was ignorant of the first fight he faced in life.
At first, I was distraught. How could I have slept, whilst my baby was fighting to breathe? How could I have not known of his desperation to survive?

After that, I was angry. How could they have neglected to tell me they had put a tube down his throat to resuscitate him? Why did they feel that it was okay to write it in my notes, using medical jargon that I would never understand? Why didn’t anybody tell me? Why did it get to that point, where my precious baby needed assistance, when he should’ve been born healthy and screaming?

At the same time, I was confused. How was his apgar score 9 at first testing, then 10? How does a baby who needs a tube to help him to breathe his first breaths manage to score so highly on the apgar test? How does that happen? How do medical professionals manage to persuade me that everything is okay, before hurriedly sending me under and plucking my baby from my body in panic?

Ignorance is not bliss. Not knowing the answers to these questions will haunt me everyday.

Recently, someone asked me if I had ever considered what would’ve happened if I had not had an emergency c-section. My answer to that question, through tears, was that not a day has gone past without the realisation of what could have been. The ignorance of that question shocked me. Another has asked me why I felt my c-section was so traumatic, when all the surgeons were doing was saving the lives of my son and I. My c-section was not traumatic. My son’s birth was.

Ignorance towards birth trauma is sadly so rife that comments such as these are not unique. Yes, my son lived and YES I am so, so happy that he did. He does. He is alive. I know how lucky I am. Perhaps I know more than most how lucky I am. That does not mean that I am not allowed to feel.

Its okay for me to feel upset about what happened with my son. It doesn’t mean I love him any less. It doesn’t mean that I am feeling sorry for myself. It doesn’t mean that I am not aware of all the awful things that happen every day in every country around the world.

I am so lucky. I have taken a step towards a life that is full of pain and sadness and I have turned away to live my life with my family.

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Ghostwritermummy and Bump: the interview and the Birth Trauma Association

If you read my blog you will know that I did a BBC interview. You might not know exactly why I did it or what it was like. I blogged about it over on Ghostwritermummy and Bump and I would love your comments.

 

 

Read Midwife Shortages on Ghostwritermummy and Bump

 

Before you go, please take the time to sign the petition to get 5,000 more midwives working in the NHS. Thank you.

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Healthy mind, healthy pregnancy

I have been asked my @MerrilyMe over on Patch of Puddles to link up with a post about how to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Patch of Puddles is a fellow finalist in the MADs Blog Awards most inspiring blogger category. I’m not ashamed to say that I am in tears after reading her emotional post. Please take a read and, if you can, link up with your own post.

My first pregnancy was a very relaxed affair. I was young and I was unaware of how precious life really was. I sailed through nine and a half months with barely a twinge and only one experience of heart burn. I was induced at 42 weeks and my daughter was born via emergency section due to fetal distress. When she was lifted from my body, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, body and foot (she wriggles a lot) and I was told that we were lucky to have her. They didn’t need to tell me. Holding my daughter was the most amazing feeling and I longed to do it again.

Image source: flickr.com

Four and a bit years passed before I saw two blue lines on a pregnancy test again. We were going to do this again. This time, I had taken pre-natal vitamins before conception and I had read up on childbirth enough to know that I was frightened. I mean, frightened. How had I never realised before that my daughter’s birth had actually been really scary? Had my subconcious really protected me from all of the emotions I was suddenly feeling? I no longer trusted my body; I was convinced that I was unable to give birth naturally. The problem was that nobody apart from my husband really understood.

At 36 weeks, I met with my consultant’s assistant (my consultant being too busy to see me himself) and I told him our plans for an elective c-section. I described the terror I was feeling that something would go wrong again, that I was unable to deliver my baby naturally. I was dismissed. It was eventually agreed that I would have a section booked for one week after my due date, to give me time to go naturally if I could.

It was a waiting game. Each time I looked at my daughter I thought of that cord around her neck, restricting her entry into my world. I asked my consultant to scan my baby to see if the cord would become tangled again. I was told that a scan would not show anything and that the likely-hood of the same thing happening was very unlikely. I began to dread any slight twinge I felt, desperate to hold on for that magical c-section date.

It was like fate had decided I needed to see something of the real world, the one with pain and despair. My hospital cancelled my section three days before I was due to meet my baby, with no explanation. I was given a different date and left to stew. My baby took action into his own hands and I went into labour the day after he was supposed to have been delivered safely into my arms.

As much as it is difficult to say and difficult to write, I know that I did not look after my mental health during my son’s pregnancy. Looking back, fears over childbirth and feeling miserable due to morning sickness all contributed towards extended periods of feeling terribly low, alone and frightened. I never told anyone how I was feeling. By the time I got to the hospital, I was terrified. I was told I was not in labour and I was admitted until my section, which was three days away.

Alone and in pain, my demons began to claw at me and eventually they got the better of me. I wanted- no, needed– someone to talk to but my husband had been sent home and the staff on duty were so busy that I was literally invisible. This is the moment I will remember feeling the most alone, but not the most frightened.

Eventually, my son was born. I was given a general anasethetic and he was delivered into a room filled with people who would never love him. He was all alone. I missed the first hour of his life. I wasn’t there for him as they inserted a tube into his throat to coax his first breaths. I will never, ever forgive myself for that.

After his birth, my mental state deteriorated. I went from being unable to talk about his birth, to wanting to know every tiny detail. I obsessed over what had happended and I felt sure that I could’ve done something differently. And you know what? I could’ve.

This time around, I am a different person. How could I not be? I heard my son’s heartbeat disappear into my darkest nightmares. I felt the silence wrap around me like a cloak of daggers and I was sure that he was dead. It was all my fault. So this time, I am taking care of myself and my family. I am no longer scared.

This time, I will not be persuaded into making birth decisions I am not happy with. This time, I have educated myself on my body and my rights as a pregnant woman. But most importantly, I am talking. I am writing. I am sharing. I am keeping myself- my body and my mind- healthy. I owe it to myself.

Please take a look at the other posts in the blog hop. Please also take a look at Tommy’s Healthy Pregnancy campaign.

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Twelve Weeks

Yesterday I posted a Silent Sunday picture of my bump at twelve weeks. I must explain that I know it is not a bump yet. I also must admit that I was breathing in slightly (well, its a force of habit, When the camera points at me I feel the need to suck in my cheeks and hold my belly in as much as I can. Don’t we all?) but that’s not the point. It’s a bit of a milestone for me, reaching twelve weeks. I’ve written about it over on Maternity Matters. Please pop over and have a read.

 

Twelve Weeks.

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