Those who ask aren’t you over it by now? Those who expect you to have moved on. Those who cannot fathom how something so minor can have such an effect on you, still. Those people? Those people will never get it. Those people will never understand. Those people may never be educated otherwise. Because to those people, what you went through was nothing. No big deal. No reason to complain. Or, it was so awful, so horrid and so terrifying that you should really be mindful of scaring other women. You cannot win.
You cannot win because birth trauma already claimed the victory. While you were sleeping, or screaming, or crying, or nothing, birth trauma was there. Seeping through your life, into your being and around your soul. and it’s a long and lonely road. Because even I fall to get it sometimes. Even I struggle to comprehend the enormity, how much my life has changed. How much I have changed. And I’m sick, and tired, of feeling like I need to explain. Or apologise. Or pretend. And I’m so, so sick and tired of feeling this way. Of being embarrassed and ashamed of who I am. (more…)
It’s 3am. The house is still, quiet, sleeping. The clock in the hallway downstairs ticks softly: one two, one two, one… two. Outside, a cat mewls softly and a bottle falls onto hard ground, tinkling faintly in the distance. Between us is a door. Solid, yet thin enough to hear his breathing. Rasping and uneven. Faltering. Fragile. Underneath me the carpet starts to sag and I shift my legs slightly, trying to conserve warmth but failing miserably. It’s hours until the heating will kick in and anyway, nobody else is up so why heat the house?
And I wait.
He’ll wake soon. And it will all begin again. And I’ll sob quietly into the darkness because I know that this night will be exactly like every other night. Except that this night might be the night that breaks me. Finally I will fall, shattered. A million tiny pieces of useless motherhood splintering onto the ground. Swept away with the rubbish. Gone. Forgotten? Probably. Hopefully. (more…)
You’re sitting in a room, all alone. You’re seated on the edge of the bed and your body feels heavy as it sags towards the floor. You’re breathing hard. Shallow. You close your eyes because when you do that, the reel inside your head begins to slow and the flickering images start to make a little more sense. But they’re still there and you know that no matter what you do, those images are staying. Imprinted on your soul forever. Because you’re changed forever.
Someone beside you reaches for your hand. They know you’re broken. You’re scared. You’re screaming for help. You don’t know what they’re thinking. You don’t know what they’re feeling. You don’t know if they understand. But you need them. And as they take your hand in theirs you fall into them.
“At least your baby is here, healthy and happy! That’s all that matters.”
And the world comes tumbling down.
I have heard this so. Many. Times. I have learned not to react. Not to shut down and wallow. Not to question myself and my own reactions to what happened. I’ve learned that not everyone understands. They can’t. They won’t. I’ve learned to appreciate that birth trauma is still so misunderstood.
I get comments and emails and messages that question my motives for writing about birth trauma. What happened to me is nothing compared to what happened to them. They went through what I did and they aren’t traumatised, so why am I? They’ve been through much worse, what gives me the right to complain? They don’t have a baby, happy and healthy, at all. So how dare I feel cheated, or mournful or angry?
I won’t dismiss your feelings. But I won’t accept that it’s ok for you to tell me a healthy baby is all that matters. I matter too. My birth experience matters. My emotional wellbeing. My state of mind. I matter as much as you do.
I took a baby home from the hospital and I will always ALWAYS be grateful that I did. I will always know how lucky I am. I will always appreciate the work that was done to save my son’s life. But I will also always remember the horror that was his birth. I only wish I could forget.
A healthy baby is important. But it is NOT all that matters.
We’d been there for hours and the room was crowded and I could feel the strength of my resolve slipping through my fingers. I could see the people around me but their outlines were blurred and they moved so fast . It was impossible to keep up. To take it all in. I couldn’t do it. Too tired. Too scared. And then they were pushing up the bars with a BANG and rubber soles were hitting the floor with squeaks. And blurry faces were covered with masks and words were being thrown over my head and everything started to slip away. And that was the longest silence I ever heard.
As the beep beep beeps of my son’s little heart began to die away.
And only silence followed.
In the time where his heart should have filled the room, there was only silence.
And in the space where my heart should have been there was only silence. A black hole. A void. Gone. He was gone, I was sure. (more…)