“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”Gail Tsukiyama
I’m taking a bit of a different step for a moment with this blog. I don’t usually delve into the nitty gritty of my life but I felt like I should this time. Whether it’s just for me to express myself or to help someone else, I needed to vocalise my birth trauma.
Every birth experience is different. No two women will go through the same experience, and trauma is different for each person. It’s been a few weeks since my son was born and I’ve spent this time processing my thoughts and coming to terms with the way my son came into this world.
I am so incredibly grateful for him, don’t get me wrong! Even though my experience wasn’t ideal, I know it needed to happen in order for my little boy to come into this world safely and happily. However, it doesn’t take away how hard the experience was.
My boy was born 3 weeks early. At 36 weeks pregnant I was hospitalised with high blood pressure and very rapidly diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was sky high and unfortunately that meant it had affected my sons growth, and he was measuring tiny in the 4th percentile for growth.
Everything moved exceptionally fast once the doctors knew his weight and my blood pressure numbers. Within a few days I was diagnosed and told I would be delivering my baby as soon as I hit 37 weeks.
It was a heck of a lot to process. As soon as I started to wrap my head around what was happening, I was told he would be coming even earlier than anticipated. They wanted to induce me on exactly 37 weeks. Exactly one week after I was hospitalised with pre-eclampsia I entered the birth suite for an induction.
The induction started at 7am. And I was in labour for 14 hours before the doctors told me my baby was in distress wouldn’t survive a normal birth and I was rushed into an emergency c-section. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening, it all went so quickly. I went from wanting a natural, medication free birth to suddenly going into surgery with a spinal tap.
At 10:54pm my boy was born. He screamed, was pink and looked like a baby born doll. He weighed only just over 5 pounds and I didn’t know if he’d be rushed off to intensive care or not. It was a rough minute waiting but he passed his checks and I was able to cuddle my boy while the doctors stitched me up.
Thank the Lord that even though he was so tiny, he was completely healthy. He didn’t have to go into care and I was able to look after him straight away. It was truly a miracle that he didn’t need to spend time in the NICU, and I am so incredibly thankful that he weighed just enough and was healthy!
I was exhausted and in pain for the next few days and the time in the hospital was a blur of feeding, changing and naps. It wasn’t until my husband and I brought our bundle of joy home that the reality of everything started to sink in.
C-section’s limit everything for weeks. I was in pain and unable to do anything except hold my son. I started to feel a heaviness in my chest in the first few days we were home. I was grateful for my son but the experience I went through haunted my thoughts.
It was terrifying spending so long in labour and not moving forward. I didn’t progress fast and my little boy wasn’t ready to come into the world. His heart rate would drop drastically and I felt true fear that he was going to pass away before he came into the world.
Guilt ate me up. There’s no prevention for pre-eclampsia and there was no way for me to control it, but I felt guilty. He was small and suffering through labour because I had this disease. Logically I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, but the guilt was so strong despite the logic.
I still vividly remember the doctor saying they needed to do a cesarean. It was terrifying. I knew that the doctors knew what they were doing, and I trusted their call, but I was scared and disappointed that I couldn’t have my son naturally. I desperately wanted to give birth ‘right’ and I felt like a failure.
It’s been a few weeks now and I still suffer with some of these intrusive thoughts. I know every birth is valid and every person that has a baby (whether it be naturally, medicated or surgically) has given birth the right way. There is no right or wrong way to have a baby, and I’m starting to come to terms with this.
However, it’s still hard. It’s hard still feeling pain from the incision. It’s hard knowing that I wasn’t able to give birth the way I wanted to. It’s hard recovering and not being able to do everything I want to do. It’s hard knowing I’m at an increased risk for a repeat caesarean in the future.
It’s hard coming to terms with it all. I am above all thankful for my healthy child and I always will be. My experience will never take away from the love I feel for my child. Having a traumatic experience is hard, but at the end of the day I do have a healthy child and that’s all I could ever ask for.
In time I know I’ll be able to accept what I went through better. It hasn’t been long and the birth is still vivid in my mind. It’ll fade over time, just as the scar on my abdomen will, and one day I won’t even think about the way he came into this world.
For now, I’m working on overcoming my mental blocks and knowing I had no control over the situation. I still birthed my child and he is here healthy and happy, and I’m slowly working on appreciating that more rather than focusing on how he got here.
“A true warrior enters the unknown ready to face whatever unfolds, knowing she cannot control the outcome. ‘Birth Warrior’ refers to intention, action, and self-love, not to achievement of a specific thing.”Virginia Bobro