My Birth Trauma27th September 2018
By now, you may be aware that I am featuring in a book called Mumpreneur on Fire 3, which is a collaboration of 25 inspirational stories from real mums in business. My story is about my pregnancy journey, Group B Strep infection, labour, and what we experienced throughout that time. As many of you will know, we had a really tough journey, and it’s really been a long road to recovery for me. It has been a really long process from leaving that hospital, to getting to this point. Some days I feel proud and so so brave, but there is still that fearful voice inside, and some days are still bad. Healing is a step by step process. And not just for me. It’s important to know that these things effect men too.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding birth trauma for women – and I think even more surrounding birth trauma for men. But it does happen, and these things should be taken seriously.
We had a labour and birthing plan in place; we knew what we did and didn’t want to happen BUT in my opinion, a birth plan leaves too much room for things to go wrong. You can’t control labour, or the process, but what you can control is how prepared you are, how educated you are, and how aware you are. It is very hard to make labour go to a plan, but very easy to be educated about the facts and your rights, and that is where empowerment comes.
In hindsight, I have a lot of regret and guilt surrounding my birth – I had a strict plan and I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t prepare myself for the harsher things that can happen – so when they did, I wasn’t able to make informed decisions. And that, is what I want for other women, information.
I want to share my story for several reasons.
Firstly, I want to heal. I need to have my experience heard. Labour and the two years that followed were the loneliest, most fearful days I’ve ever been through. I felt so much shame, guilt, embarrassment and fear; overwhelming fear. I was not ok, and it took a long time for me to accept that and say it out loud. As part of the healing process, I need to say it out loud, and for others to hear me. It’s a part of my recovery, and I deserve the opportunity to heal. As does anyone that has ever been through any kind of trauma.
Secondly, I want to create awareness and break down the stigma attached to birth trauma. There are so many women out there who are suffering, and many are also suffering in silence. There is so much stigma, shame, guilt and fear attached to birth trauma, and that stops women and families being able to heal. There is a culture of mothers expected to be stoic, brave figures; we hide our pain, we have everything together, we’re strong for our families – and that is a LOT of pressure to put on anyone, especially a new mum. If you’re disappointed, angry or traumatized by the birthing experience, embrace it and talk about it. You’re not alone, I promise you that.
And third, I’m doing it for Seren, my daughter. Because, what example am I showing to her if I don’t talk about what we went through. I want her to know that’s its ok to talk about trauma, to talk about the things that have affected us and to be open and honest about our feelings. What example would I be setting to Seren if I didn’t talk about what this experience did to our family?
So… here goes, without giving away too much of my story, I want to share a few lines that I hope will give you a tiny insight..
The days that followed the birth were some of the most lonely I’ve ever experienced. Matt wasn’t allowed to stay with us at the hospital. I was left alone with our new born, totally exhausted, still covered in my own blood and totally out of my depth.
I remember spending the night awake, counting down the hours until we saw him again. I was exhausted, but too frightened to sleep. The baby slept in my arms, and I watched her…. ALL NIGHT. I pushed a buzzer when she cried; I had NO idea what I was doing.
I didn’t sleep for days after. I felt abandoned.
The second night things took a turn for the worse, and my worst nightmares were realized. The baby was acting strange. She was agitated, barely woke, barely ate and turned a yellow colour. The midwife on duty was concerned and immediately called for a doctor. After several blood tests and a lot of tears it was agreed that the baby had caught an infection, but they didn’t know what it was …..
It was me.
I’d passed on my infection.
It was all my fault.