How do you get over it?
Bad birth & post birth experience
, Feb 24 2013 05:05 PM
18 replies to this topic
Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:05 PM
I am really only writing this as a form of self healing as so many people simply do not understand what I have been through/ going through. As one of the other girls posted, everyone seems to focus on the "youve got a healthy baby" & "youre ok now" but not how the whole experience has impacted on me.
I am a plus size mum and this is the story of the birth of my first bub. I was induced on Friday morning and started having contractions about 12.30pm. It was a slow progressing labour, my OBGYN was determined not to do a c-section because I am rather large and the risk of a csection on someone my size is rather risky. 2 lots of induction gel and having my membranes ruptured, bub was on his way.
Labour itself was ok, I managed for 36 hours with little more than gas and then had an epidural as things got more advanced. The only thing out of the ordinary was I could not keep awake, I could even sleep during full contrations. 36 hours of labour and 45 minutes of pushing I was exhausted, then they realised bub wasnt making any progress and his head was too large to pass through my pelvis.
They decided to do an emergency c-section. Called in an extra OBGYN, 2 anethetists and a paediatrician, what was happening wasnt explained very clearly and even my husband wasnt sue what was happening. By this stage I was petrified I though my baby was going to die, I was delerious, shaking dont know if it was from the epidural or something else. I was freezing cold when they dragged me off for and emergency c-section. I felt so out of control ...but then was still falling asleep, even during the procedure. I hated the whole operation, being under that blue plastic sheet did nothing but make me feel worse, I felt claustrohpbic. I dont know how much time it took but when I heard my little bubs first cry I wasnt sure how I felt, more than anything I was glad the whole thing was over. It wasnt until the paediatrician stuck little bub under the blue sheet had I realised here was my little boy.
I dont remember the first day at all. I have photos that my husband took of me and bubby but I do not remember any of it. The only thing I remember was at about midnight the anethetist came in to tell me that I had to go to ICU my red blood count was down, I wasnt producing urine & my kidneys were failing and I needed a blood tranfusion. Nobody explained to me why this had happened nor the gravity of the situation, I could have died. Still to this day I am waiting for an explanation as to why this happened. I was wheeled off to ICU and my poor little bub was stuck in the special care nursery on his own while my hubby was at home trying to get some sleep.
I hated being in ICU, I couldnt get up because of the after affects of the epidural and at that point was still not sure why I was even there. I couldnt move or get comfortable because of the stupid air mattress I was on and all the cannulas, outlines and catherters. All I wanted to do was get back to my little baby. I cried nearly all night and the next day. I kept asking the staff when I could go back to the ward and no one could tell me. A midwife and my hubby brought my bub down for a little while but seeing them go again made me feel worse.
I was finally taken back to the ward almost a day later and left in a room by myself, I couldnt reach the buzzer. I felt so alone and isolated and again couldnt do anything myself. I had strict orders not to get out of bed and couldnt do much else with all the tubes hanging out of me. Because my kidneys werent working properl my legs had swollen so much it was like someone had wrapped a pillow around each one and my belly was huge full of fluid as well.
Finally my husband came to the room with my bub and I got to enjoy my first cuddles (at least ones I remember) with my little boy.
There is more to this story about poor communication between doctors, nurses and midwives and problems breastfeeding but I wont go into that.
I want to know how you start to heal after something like this? My bub is 6 weeks old now and I find myself having anxiety attacks about death, I dont want to die but I cant shake the anxiety.
I know its only early days but I want to have another baby one day so mu bubby isnt on his own growing up but I am not sure I can mentally bring myself to do it again.
Any advice & help would be greatly appreciated.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:11 PM
Hi,I'm sorry you had a traumatic experience. My first child's birth wasn't great, and I prepared myself very differently for my second birth.
However if you are really struggling, experiencing flashbacks, depression, insomnia and other symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, it's possible you have post traumatic stress disorder. I'd see a GP and get a referral to a specialist mental health expert who will help you heal.
You don't have to struggle through this alone. Hope this helps.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:40 PM
I just want to echo what PP said.
You really do need some support.
Your experience sounds awful. I'm sorry you have had such a rough start to motherhood.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:08 PM
Firstly GBHs. I had a traumatic birthing experience for my first (I posted about it recently actually). For me I was having flashbacks pf his birth, however as I am a health professional I believe in being proactive with my health. I saw my GP and was referred to a psych for professional help. This helped significantly until my next pregnancy. I started having dramas when I was pregnant with my second. I spoke with my midwife regarding my fears and we developed a plan for the birth of my second. My second was born without any dramas.
Every now again I will start having flashbacks again (despite it being almost 4 years ago), but I continue to implement some of the strategies that my psych went through and I can manage these much better.
I cannot more strongly recommend to discuss this with your GP and look at options to help move forward.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:52 PM
Ditto to Melly_Trish. I'm so sorry you endured all of that on the day your son was born.
I absolutely recommend seeing someone, please don't leave it too long. It took me 16 months to see someone and it was 16 months longer than I needed to suffer. Please see your GP ASAP and get some help.
Take care. xx
Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:03 PM
OP what you went through sounds very difficult. I can see why you are having trouble processing what happened to you.
I think that you should definitely go and have a chat with your GP about this. I am sure that it will get easier as time goes on but there is absolutely no shame in getting some help along the way.
Have you tried to access your maternity notes? It might be helpful to go through these with someone who is medically trained and can decipher all the medical abreviations etc. It could be helpful to have some of the blanks filled in?
Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:03 AM
I just wanted to express my sympathy - I had a terrible post-birth experience after a scheduled c-section and suffered with extremely severe anxiety for weeks after the birth. Only now 4 months later am I coming out the other side, and even now the panic attacks sneak up on me occasionally. While I talked to my GP about it and was monitored by him, I found I just had to talk about it a lot to get through it, to anyone who would listen. My wonderful DH and mum would have to hear me go on about it endlessly until I could deal with it internally, and I did what you have done and vented on here a bit too. The domiciliary midwife who visited me sent me a complaint form to send back to the hospital too and that was helpful to aim my complaints somewhere relevant. Get it out to get your head around it. I'm still angry about what happened, but it doesn't consume me. I too felt that I couldn't ever cope with having another baby because of it, I couldn't even talk about it without getting anxious. About a month ago DH and I started to talk about it and now discuss it like it's just a given. We will be so much better prepared next time around as a PP said, and remember that it is highly unlikely that you will have a bad experience again. It gets easier, although that's probably small comfort at this point - as the saying goes, time is a wonderful healer, but I really do suggest talking about it, especially with your hubby and at the very least mention it to your GP
Posted 13 March 2013 - 04:23 PM
schnookle, when i had my DD ten years ago i suffered from a rare maternal illness where i ended up with renal failure and had a massive number of blood transfusions. DD and i were in different hospitals for almost two weeks and it took me over two years to mostly heal afterwards. I suffered brain trauma and damage.
I found that it is important to talk about what happened. My friends were very supportive to me and i organised a therapist who dealt with baby bonding to make sure things were ok as well as another therapist to deal with the PTSD. I found strangers and my family (as well as DH's) were not very helpful as they did not understand what i went through or the gravity of what happened.
I suffered severe PTSD on DD's birthday for about seven years. The only way i could cope was to be very busy so i did not have time to think about her birth.
I think that accepting what happened is a big part in the healing process, i accepted that what happened to me happened - this did not invalidate my anger and fear over what happened. I avoided websites and groups that made me feel worse (ie sites that bagged caesareans). This site offered a lot of information and did not make me feel so alone: http://www.tabs.org.nz/
Healing takes a lot of time and there is grief as well, if you missed moments with your newborn. I lost my memory of DD's first day and i had to memorise when she was born as i had trouble remembering it. Grief is a a big part of dealing with a traumatic birth, there is lots of blame and anger and it is hard to resolve what happened. You can't keep in negative feelings, somehow you have to learn how to let them go (ie talking about what happened). There are terrible feelings of isolation, that only you know what it was like and no-one does, or understands what you went through. Avoid medical shows or any show that deals with pregnancy and birth for a while.
I am not going to pretend that getting over PTSD and/or a traumatic birth is easy. But it does get better, once you can start healing and dealing with the grief.
Posted 13 March 2013 - 04:51 PM
A postpartum doula is specially trained specifically to talk you through your birth experience, give you creative ways to express yourself and your grief, and work on healing. They might be able to give you a more personalised experience than a general psychologist/counsellor could, as I find they are often a bit bamboozled by birth trauma if they haven't experienced it themselves. Google "doula" in your area and see what you come up with - best of luck xxx
Posted 13 March 2013 - 07:56 PM
Katpaws, I don't think I ever thanked you. You posted the Tabs link back when I was first seeking help and it really did help.
So thank you.
I hope you're doing better OP xx
Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:24 AM
BeachedAsBro, i am glad i was of some help. It is a shame we don't have something similar in Australia.
Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:02 PM
This is much the same as my 2 births with DD1 and DD2, I feel for you I will say there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I would strongly recommend talking about your thoughts and feelings. It will only get worse if you keep things inside. Seek professional help asap. Having a traumatic birth like yours is not at all what anyone can prepare you for even yourself.
Alot dont realize that its not the normal 'baby blue'. Its even worse when you leave and go home and yes baby is doing fine but I have been a strong believer having a c section and that even more so with a traumatic birth that it should a standard that there are follow up counseling appointments for mums.
I hope you get better soon and I feel deeply for you. You are not alone in this......
Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:29 PM
OP, having gone through 2 traumatic birth experiences I can't offer you a straight answer but I can offer you the empathy and understanding you can't get in real life, and tell you that it does get a bit better with time.
I can relate to some of your story. Our first daughter was a traumatic delivery. She was a a shoulder dystocia and ventouse birth with no pain relief, a protracted second stage, I suffered a 3rd degree tear, DD1 needed resus at birth, medical staff repeatedly tried to manually remove the placenta, I had a 3L PPH requiring 4 blood transfusions, retained my placenta and needed surgery under GA to remove it and due to problems post op was separated from her all day.
I struggled for a while after. I would have flashbacks and nightmares. I wanted to talk and talk about it, but couldn't bear to be in a situation where other mothers talked about birth. I also became resentful of friends births - of those who birthed easily, and of those that recalled a traumatic birth experience just because their birth didn't fit their plan (disclaimer: I understand this is wrong now!). I also found many, many people didn't understand my experience. You can't explain to someone who hasn't been there.
Time definitely healed the horror memories - of the pain, and the fear. But I often get a flash of a memory and it still affects me in a smaller way. Her birthday also brings back strong painful memories.
My way to deal with it, wrongly, was to aim to have a 'healing birth' the second time. While I first thought I would never go through it again, I became determined to 'fix' my first birth. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. DS birth was an emergency CS after full labour, failed epidural and excruciating pain, so a GA was needed, another large PPH and blood transfusions.
Despite that, I did one thing differently and decided to talk it out. I spoke to a counsellor, talked to DH (he found he needed to talk after the second one, whereas after the first he tried to forget it) and found understanding friends. I found it much easier to process by expressing my anger, and sadness. I also wrote about it, privately. That helped process it too.
Katpaws is right, acceptance is a big part. Also accepting that yes, it isn't fair, but it happened.
Sorry this is a long rambling post. I am very inarticulate when it comes to this subject. But I just remember how lonely I felt and want you to know there are many people here that know how you feel.
I hope things get better for you OP
Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:31 PM
samshine you have made me cry.
i had almost a copy of your first delivery for my #4.after a prolonged 2nd stage they discovered she was posterior & trying to deliver sunnyside up. they decided to use the vac & it slipped on the 3rd attempt to get her out & as a result she ended up with an open wound the size of the vac on her scalp. she ended up with an infection & had to be tube fed because she refused to feed & in SCN for 4 days.i too had a PPH which i had never had with any of my others & after dealing with the sight of her head & feeling as guilty as buggery that i didnt look after her & she got hurt, facing all the loss i thought i was in trouble. great staff made sure everything physically was ok but i didnt have a de brief or anything. didnt know i was able to. suffice to say i ended up being diagnosed with PTSD & had counselling for several months. like you i had flashbacks especially her birthday or when someone close had a baby. i also had memory loss of parts of the delivery & the fact that i literally could not remember parts of her birth really upset me.
fast forward 2 yrs & i too felt that my #5 was 'sent' to heal me from the bad birth. i went back to counselling after i had a panic attack at my booking in apt at the same hospital, to prepare for the worst to happen again & i am so glad i did becasue it was pretty much a carbon copy delivery. this time however i made my wishes VERY clear that i did not want the vaccuum. a c sect was what i requested if need be. they were better prepared for a possible PPH which i didnt have & although i didnt have the vac as per my request i experienced the mcroberts man & the corkscrew which was just as traumatic. this time without asking i had a debrief with the head midwife & the midwife that looked after me & also the ob that delivered. it was soooo helpful to fill in those blanks while it was all still fresh in everyones mind. i did end up back in counselling but it was more for dealing with my overwhelming emotion that her & i survived & the fallout from delivering the way i did & being told repeatedly what an awesome job i did when i still felt i failed because it wasnt the 'healing' birth i had niavely set myself up for.
it is an unspoken topic,traumatic births. for me i got fed up with being told 'youre fine shes fine move on' 'its one day.shes here now' 'couldve been worse'. no one should have their feelings disregarded. we carried them for nine months & had an ideal of how we wanted things to go. and it didnt go to plan & things were out of our control. we had to place ourselves & our babies into the care of others & that is scary & traumatic. i agree acceptance is the first step & allowing yourself to grieve
Posted 17 March 2013 - 09:04 AM
Oh, hopinfor5now, sorry to hear about your awful experiences.
Wow, there really are some similarities. They used (tried) mcroberts manoeuvre with DD too. Also, at my booking in with my second, they recognised I still needed to work through it and organised a debrief of DD1's birth. Unfortunately, our debrief was a year later with an OB who had little interest in my concerns and had not been there, and the interest was more about how the medical team would manage it to minimise difficulty for them. A month or so after that my friend who was a student mw on the ward asked to go over my first birth with her preceptor and educator, as she had followed the birth for her studies, and also to help me with my second. The educator and the midwife were appalled at some of the management. I found out DD had been having decels in HR 5 hours before she was delivered, and that to be let have a second stage of nearly 5 hours was twice what they normally allow. I had been critical of the midwifes management of our labour as I had known something wasn't right, and in response she had told me 'it was 'my fear affecting the labour process and holding the baby back'. As soon as shift change happened and a new midwife walked in our labour turned into an emergency situation.
I've gotten off track but I wanted to say there is definitely value in the debrief process in the days afterwards so much more than reopening old wounds later, so I am glad you were given that opportunity this time. The midwife who laboured with me the second time rang me once I was home and we went over the birth, and she gave me reassurance we did everything possible to avoid complications but didn't. That helped process everything much better than a debrief a year later with a disinterested person.
I hope time is healing your grief for your birth hopinfor5now. I can totally relate to your frustration at being expected to be grateful you and her are ok and just forget about it. If you had suffered painful trauma and had a near death experience during routine surgery or in the community people would give greater allowance for you to grieve and process it mentally, so why not for this. I hope that time continues to help you and it gets easier. Don't be hard on yourself.
Posted 18 March 2013 - 04:45 PM
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories with me. It is good to know that there are others out there who have been through something similar and come out the other side.
I am feeling a little better these days and have taken the advice and am seeing a counsellor to talk things through which has helped immensley.
I still get panicky and anxious, always seems to happen at night but am slowly getting my way around that. The road is still long but again I want to thank you all so much for your support.
I dont know any of you personally, but you have all helped me more than anyone could ever know :-)
Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:06 PM
So glad you're getting the help you need to get better OP and that you're seeing some improvement... Nights have been the worst for me too but that too eases with time. All the best
Posted 31 March 2013 - 07:41 PM
Sorry you had such a horrible experience.
I did too, almost 2 years ago yet some nights it feels like yesterday and absolutely terrifies me. I had treatment last year for post traumatic stress and post natal depression. Put simply I had massive bleeding and as my anaethestic put it I was touch and go.
will also admit doesn't help when MIL the other week brings it up in front of others saying "I thought you were going to die,,what did your mum think?" ...argh!!! Doesn't help when others feel like they can talk about it so freely as if I can too, yet instead I think I cried myself to sleep that night.
Anyway big hugs.
Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:22 PM
OP - do you have a discharge letter from the hospital for your GP? Do you have a regular GP? I am wondering if talking about what happened with your Gp might help. It might help to also understand medically what happened to you at that time to give you some closure to the experience. Sometimes talking to a GP about what happened might help.
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