Birth Trauma Awareness Week has arrived.
Birth trauma happens! But it is not something that is talked about much, so many of us who have been through it end up feeling alone.
So today i share my story to raise awareness;
I always thought that because i finally got pregnant after all the suffering, that my labour would be a time to remember and cherish. Unfortunately for me i did not have that privilege.
There are no words to even describe how awful i feel that i do not get to cherish my miracle baby’s birth, and because of this i feel like i did not bond with Lilee as quickly or as well as I should have. It took me 6 months before I felt like we had bonded.
-My contractions started on monday 28th september 2015 but were very irregular.
-On Tuesday 29th they were coming roughly every 3-4 minutes and stayed that way. I was exhausted.
-On Wednesday 30th baby stopped moving, a quick trip to hospital and i was told all was ok and to rest.
-On 1st October i had a stretch and sweep and was told I was 3.5cm. I told the midwife what had been happening, and how i thought i had been losing water, how often the contractions were coming and how tired I was from not sleeping and she told me this was normal.
-My waters broke at 6.20pm, again i rang the hospital but was again told to wait. Eventually my mum rang and said that they were bringing me in.
-When i arrived i was 4cm dilated, i got given pethidine plus gas and air at 8pm on my request, I felt like I couldn’t go any longer.
-At 10pm i got taken to labour ward due to colour of my loss, my pulse and my temperature.
-At midnight on 04.10.2015 i was advised to have the epidural, i was still 4cm dilated. After an hour and at least 4 attempts later it was in, i was also started on a hormone drip. Finally i could relax a little.
-At 4.30am i was again in unbearable pain, the epidural had moved and was failing, my temperature was at 38.3, Lilee was becoming distressed and her heartbeat was dropping. The doctor was called, after an examination i was 7cm dilated. They did a PH test and it was high, the decision to have a category one, emergency cesarean was made by the doctor at 05.39.
-I was rushed in and prepped, Tim was changing into scrubs. My epidural had completely failed. Tim came in but got told to leave as i needed a general anesetic. I still remember the force of the mask being pushed onto my face. I felt like i was suffocating.
-Tim went down to see our daughter at 7am. I awoke fifteen minutes later and was informed by my mum that i had a daughter, the first Whiteway girl in over 200 years. I woke to no baby in the room, i felt empty. I barely hear my mum say she was alive before i blacked out again. Eventually i awoke properly… Tim got back about an hour later and i saw the first pictures of my beautiful miracle. Then i told Tim to take my mum to see her granddaughter whilst I was cleaned up, by a woman who was rough and made no attempt to talk to me, no attempt to ask if i was ok even though the tears wouldn’t stop.
– The doctor came to see me and informed me that they decided to do the cesarean due to many reasons. I had an infection in my womb, probably due to early rupture of membranes and my waters were stained with meconium which Lilee had swallowed. Lilee’s APGAR score was a one when she was delivered and she needed oxygen immediately, so thank goodness they made the decision when they did else i may not have her with me today. She was taken to NICU.
-I asked to be taken to see her immediatly but kept being told no one was free to take me. I eventually saw her sometime between midday and 2pm. I got to hold my baby for the first time, but it was short lived as my bed was in the way. I was taken back to the ward, no baby in my arms. I was told I could go over as often as I liked but because of how Ill I was and my medications I couldn’t get over much. I felt like a failure. I barely saw my girl for the first 3 days of her life.
– On 05.10.2015 Lilee got moved from intensive care to high dependancy. She had a lumbar puncture and tried her first bit of expressed milk.
– On 06.10.2015 Lilee got moved down to low dependancy. I couldn’t express enough milk and she wouldn’t latch.
– On 07.10.2015 she got moved to my bedside but had to return to neonatal unit for antibiotics a few times a day. She had her first breastfeed. I had to watch the doctors attempt to put a cannula in Lilee 8 times, seeing her scream brought me to tears. I hugged her and nevr wanted to let go. Then I got rushed for an emergency mri to rule out a problem the epidural may have caused as I still had numb legs even though it had been 3 days. I got put on a 24 hour feeding ban. I also found out I have water in my kidney that shouldn’t be there and dehydrated discs.
– On 08.10.2015 I spent the day trying to get used to having Lilee with me. I was exhausted and struggling. I still hadn’t slept much as every time I was about to dose it was either time for more medication or Lilee needed me. Since the 28th September, ten days ago I had maybe 12-15 hours of sleep. At 7pm I tried to breastfeed but failed.
– On 09.10.2015 Lilee had her last dose of antibiotics, neonatal staff helped me all day to get Lilee to latch, eventually she did. For first time in days I get relieved about something.
– On 10.10.2015 we got discharged. I was still in severe pain and sent home on oral antibiotics. Finally I no longer needed an IV. I finally had a decent nights sleep, Lilee fed well, I was glad to be home.
– We then spent two nights at home followed by a night in a hotel for our wedding anniversary.
– On tuesday 13.10.2015 I started to become very ill again, I got taken back in to maternity ward. My wound had become infected and on top of the infection I was already fighting my body just couldn’t cope. At least Lilee stayed with me though.
Finally after another difficult stay we could go home again on the 17.10.2015. I was sent away with even more antibiotics and painkillers.
My physical recovery was slow and even now at almost 3 years postpartum I am still suffering. I have nerve damage from epidural and I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia bought on by trauma.
Shortly after the birth, I got diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety. It is a daily battle for me, I spend days being plagued by flashbacks, nights filled with nightmares. I live in constant fear of something bad happening to Lilee. I am hypersensitive and struggle to have a relationship with anyone. This is only a very brief description of what my life now looks like. But it does help to know that there are others out there who understand.
Lilee unfortunately suffers because of my mental health, she does see me crying at times when the flashbacks come and that is not fair but i hope one day i can educate her on mental health and help her understand that it is in no way her fault.
Thankfully Lilee is happy and healthy, she amazes me everyday. Luckily for us, we made it through our breastfeeding struggles and that helped with the bonding massively, and eventually we bonded after a long six months, we continued to breastfeed to 17 months, and i am still so thankful for that journey as without it i am not sure the bond ever would have came. I wouldn’t want our bond to ever change. She makes me smile and laugh and is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I love watching her grow and learn.
My recovery is still ongoing and I expect it will take a lot longer yet but I have hope that i will fully recover one day. Having Lilee and my partner Kurt side certainly makes it easier.