Until reading your article in Mail Online today I have never felt anyone truly understood how traumatised I felt at and after the birth of my first child who is now 35 years old. For a long time the birth would play over and over in my head like a film on a loop which I now recognise as being flashback/trauma.
It was a difficult birth from beginning to end, I thought my baby was going to die during the birth, the panic in the room, not being listened to and things that were said that are as clear today as that day 35 years ago. I ended up with Keillands Forceps which caused bruising to my daughters face and head (better than being dead) but caused me quite significant vaginal injury which resulted in two operations to repair. All because they wanted to avoid a C Section.
Additional emotional trauma by the lack of care and understanding of the severe pain I experienced from when the epidural wore off until the GP discovered the damage at my 6 week post-natal exam. I felt I was being treated as a rather pathetic, first time mum who was a little sore from the episiotomy but it was so so much more. There was little professionalism.
Although I desperately tried to be everything everyone expected me to be with my beautiful perfect daughter I was seriously depressed although I now look back and see PTSD. I hid this until she was 7 months old when a wonderful new health visitor actually listened and recognised that despite my ‘mask’ I was really quite unwell.
I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital (which is a whole other story!) I had made the decision that suicide was my escape from this hell of guilt and pain....... I had a plan in place and felt that my daughter deserved to be loved far more and better than anything I was capable of. This part would make me cry even up to only a few years ago. Until this point no professionals truly listened.
From this point on I started to recover and eventually made a full physical recovery but the emotional trauma has never completely gone but it is manageable and no longer impacts on my daily life. The guilt however, has never left me. My beautiful daughter deserved a much better mother and mothering experience for the first year of her life and my professional experience (41 years nursing) unfortunately makes me aware of the damage that she may have suffered as a result of my being so ill at that time. I did go on (eventually) to have two more children by planned C Sections due to the physical damage of the first delivery. I am truly amazed to have read the articles about the other mothers experiences and that after all this time there are other women’s experiences that I can truly identify with.
What would have made your birth experience better? More professional understanding both during and after the birth about the physical and emotional impact I had on myself and my ex- husband .......the marriage collapsed.
Also, for them to be aware that what is said during the experience can and does stay with the mother for EVER.