THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT OF LABOUR AND BIRTH. You have been warned.
Ok, so a lot of people around me are pregnant, or have had babies, at the moment. Here is the awful truth, which will probably make me sound like a cock, but it’s the truth. I don’t want to hear about your pregnancies, I don’t want to see your cute little newborn. Why?
Well, I have PTSD from both my pregnancy and after, which is triggered quite badly when I see people gushing over their happy situations. It makes me sound like a miserable bastard. I can’t physically be happy for people when all it does is remind me about how crap I was. I couldn’t do pregnancy properly, I couldn’t do motherhood properly. There is a touch of jealousy and bitterness that people are having happy moments and enjoying their children, because I couldn’t.
From 12 weeks into my pregnancy, I began to fall ill. Unbeknownst to me, I had a weakness in my pelvis which was aggravated by having SPD (Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction is basically a dysfunction in the Symphasis Pubis. Or a Broken Fanny Bone!) which meant that walking became excruciatingly painful. I had to give up my job. Depression began to set in, as I couldn’t move around the house, I couldn’t get out. I was trapped by pain. I couldn’t take painkillers.
By the time I hit 20 odd weeks, I went to the Doctor with some research into what I thought I had, I am so glad I did. The Doctor didn’t believe me. I begged for crutches. Pleaded for help, but was sent for a brace. (An elephant girdle that can help take the pressure off your pelvis but didn’t really work). I went back, begging to be referred to physio for help, but the Doctor just brushed me off as saying I wasn’t wearing the belt enough. I was livid, I was in constant pain, was now sleeping alone (Hubby was in the spare room, because I was using a double quilt to keep an equal gap between my knees, turning was unbelievably painful, it was just a nightmare.)
The most prominent memory I have, is being in agony doing the Christmas food shop at midnight. I wasn’t allowed a wheelchair because I “was pregnant, not disabled!”. I was mortified. I waddled around the shop, wandering and sobbing behind the husband and my brother, when an old lady hit my hip really hard with her trolley. I spun round as fast as I could and snarled at her, what was she doing? “I didn’t see you there.” “How can you not see me? I am the size of a hippo, clearly in pain and you thought it appropriate to hit me with a trolley because I wasn’t moving fast enough!” I cried some more, the woman walked off completely not giving a shit. We weren’t even half way into the shop. As the shopping expedition went on, I honestly don’t know how I managed to continue walking. But I was by the cereal, about to grab a box of something for me, when an elderly man walked his trolley straight into me. I watched him. He saw me and still did it. Why? Because I was in the way. I said a few expletives and screamed and cried some more, then told the husband I was going to waddle to the benches, where I was going to stay until it was time to pay.
After much nagging, at 34 weeks I was called into Physio. I was given crutches. I was like Bambi on ice, but they did help a bit. Physio said to me as I was leaving, “Don’t cross your legs!” To which I replied, “If I had crossed my legs to begin with I wouldn’t be in this mess!” In front of a waiting room full of people.
It was after Christmas, the frost, ice and snow, I didn’t leave the house. I couldn’t risk it. After slipping once and landing flat on my arse, I refused to go out. Which although I protested, I was still sent out to get milk, on crutches. A nightmare.
I have diary entries that are fraught with pain and desperation. Pleading bump to come early, pleading my body to behave, begging to be free of pain. It didn’t happen though. I have no happy memories of being pregnant. At all. I hated every minute of it. I was told that if I got pregnant again, with the weakness already there, I would snap my pelvis as it won’t be able to cope with the pressure of the baby being in there. That sealed my fate. There was no way in hell, I was going to put myself through that again for a baby. No way. NEVER.
Labour was supposed to be the most painful part of it all. I found labour a blessing. It was painful yes, but I had been in agony since 12 weeks, it was nothing really.
I bathed first thing in the morning, in a ridiculously hot bath (DO NOT TRY THIS! It raises your blood pressure and can cause complications), I got stuck trying to get out. I walked (with my crutches), over the shop for pineapple juice. I drank a litre of pineapple juice and an hour after my pains started. (This was at 7pm). I didn’t think it was the start of labour as the pain wasn’t all over my bump which all the books tell us it is. It was in my pubic region and at the top of my bump. That was it. That was the only place I had the pain. I breathed through the pains, concentrating on staying calm and timing the contractions, as Hubby callously screeched “Remember this when you want another one!” (I didn’t swear once through my labour, not once, but I would have gladly stabbed him.)
At 10pm, I phoned the hospital, I was told by the midwife to take some paracetamol and have another bath! I groaned and cried and did as I was told. With some help, I got back in the bath where the pains seemed to amplify. I was in there 5 minutes when I knew I needed to go to hospital. Maybe I was too eager to get this baby out, but we went down there. I was meant to have a water birth, to help with the SPD and pain relief. I was told that upon examination, I was only 3cm and I had a long way to go.
Hubby and I then spent 2 hours walking back and fore the length of the hospital, stopping every so often as a contraction came. By 12 pm, I went back to the ward, unable to cope with the pain. I begged for gas and air and was refused. (Not sure why, even to this day). I was given Pethidine instead. That shit is evil. Then they put me on a birthing ball. When the contractions came, my legs were shaking under the hospital bed, when the contractions went, I slept, leaning against my husband. I had no choice, I couldn’t stay awake.
About 3am, I asked about the birthing pool and was told that I would have to wait another 2 hours because you aren’t allowed in the birthing pool after you have been given pethidine. OH FUCKING YEAH! I was really happy about that! I was told to have a bath instead! (Where is the common sense in that!) So I had my third bath of the day, well, I didn’t. As soon as my arse touched that water I wanted to push, but tried to resist it. I was in there to relax and let it help, but the urge became too great.
I called out for the midwife, telling her I needed to push. This was at about 3.50am ish. Hubby had gone downstairs for a cigarette and to update the family (which I didn’t really want him to do but he did anyway). I was dressed and was waiting by the reception area, calling out that I needed to push. Apparently waking most of the maternity ward. I was finally wheeled over the the labour ward, where we met Hubby on the way.
I was put in the room with the birthing pool which was filling up. Was checked and told it was too late, I’d have to push on the bed. I fucking sobbed. My waters hadn’t gone either, so they had to be broken. Baby’s first poo was in there. I’d be staying in. I was on my back to start with, on the midwife’s orders, I tried to push and felt an almighty crack and screamed, “Nope, I can’t do it like that!” I turned over onto all fours. I pushed twice and her head came out. Third push and she was here. This bloody, shitty mess that was squeaking was my daughter. Hubby cut the cord, didn’t want to hold her. I kissed her cheek, out of shock. Covered myself in crap and blood. She was cleaned up, weighed and handed back to me for skin to skin and an attempt to breastfeed.
Hubby was in there for half an hour. Then left. I was left with the baby and didn’t have a fucking clue what I was meant to do. The midwife came in with a cup of sweet tea and some buttery toast (the BEST I have ever had in my life!). We were left alone for a bit, then I was told I could have a shower and tidy up.
The best feeling in the world, I washed and bled everywhere. It was like a serial killer had been in the room. I dressed, protected myself with maternity pads (you end up walking like a duck) and tried to feed the baby again. She wasn’t having any of it.
We were taken over to the maternity ward, put in our bed and left to it. I can remember holding her and thinking what the fuck am I meant to do now. Where is the rush of love? Where is the happy feelings? I felt numb.
I tried to sleep, Kiddo woke up every hour, cried all the other babies awake and then would go back to sleep when comforted. I tried too feed her, was given advice on how to hold her because I am large breasted. We slept and cuddled, but I felt nothing for the child in my arms.
The sun rose on the ward, Kiddo still hadn’t taken anything from me. I was told to express. I did, a tiny pipette full of colostrum. I would do that every hour or so, but would try her on the boob. Kiddo wouldn’t take it. It compounded the feeling that I was shit.
Eventually, she did take the breast, she had a bit of a feed. We were told we could go home. That’s where it went from bad to worse.
The next couple of weeks went downhill fast. I was out and about walking with the baby because I couldn’t face being stuck in the house with her, or it, as I began calling her. For the first six months of her life, no one would listen to me when I asked them to take her from me. I would cry, pleading with her to feed properly, to latch on properly. It never happened.
There is so much shit I could tell you about what happened in the 6 months after she was born, up until the moment I was finally diagnosed with PND (Post Natal Depression). I was told by a Health Visitor that I can’t have PND because I was getting out with her, I had fantastic eye-contact with her, my reply “I was looking right at her as I stood over her with a pillow”.
I have been branded a bad mother for not missing my daughter, when I first went back to work. I had to, the thought of being in the house alone with her terrified me.
I haven’t had a happy experience. In fact, it’s safe to say it was shit. I knew I would get PND, but everyone brushed it off as baby blues. I was criticised for the way I fed my child, what I did with her, that I spent too much time cleaning, that I spent too much time holding her and was spoiling her, that I was neglecting her. So many conflicting opinions from other people was spinning me out.
I’d wander between hating this bundle I had created to feeling so wrecked with guilt at feeling like this towards her, that I didn’t want to let her go.
I can’t be happy for people who are expecting, or just had a baby. I can’t get excited. Babies scare me now, they bring back too many horrible memories, that I am terrified I will taint the new mother’s happiness. I have nothing happy or positive to say about pregnancy or birth or afterwards that I can’t offer opinions. I don’t want to be the one to bring a happy pregnant woman down because I can’t physically experience the feelings they are feeling. I can’t empathise with them. I can’t connect with them and feel completely fucking useless. I was told I would never conceive naturally, yet I did twice. (I miscarried the first). I was meant to love and cherish this little bundle and I couldn’t. I couldn’t love her. I didn’t feel like I loved her until she was 2. That’s 2 whole years of her life I missed out on, that I couldn’t enjoy for what it was. I couldn’t enjoy the precious moments. I have very few positive memories of Kiddo in that time.
Sounds horrible. I have slowly distanced myself from all my pregnant friends and find that I am hiding more and more of their posts because I can’t bear to read them as it’s another reminder of how shit I was/am.
The diagnosis of BPD has shone a light on why the experience was escalated, because of my inability to control my emotions. I don’t know how to control the outbursts. I steer clear of situations that bring back emotional memories.
So, in summary, I am sorry to all my pregnant friends who have needed my support and I haven’t been there, or that I have ignored your posts about your pregnancy, or that I haven’t liked the new photo of the new baby. I can’t do it. I can’t hold babies. I can’t be around little children. They terrify me with the emotions and the memories hey bring back of Kiddo being that age. I am sorry I am a shitty friend. I am sorry I can’t be around you when you need me. This is me in my cocoon. This is me trying to protect myself from the horrible memories and the feelings that pregnancy and little children and babies provoke within me. I know I am fighting my own demons, have been from the age of 12. I am sorry.