Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Being a Mum with Birth Trauma Related PTSD

In a couple of weeks my son will turn six. It's a time of year that brings up mixed feelings for me. He got so big and he is growing so fast! I enjoy seeing and sharing in his birthday excitement: the joy of him opening gifts, eating cake, having parties with his friends and family, and being the centre of attention. But, it is also a time of sadness and reflection. It's normal, I think, to to be a little nostalgc on your child's birthday. I know people who do this; my Nana enjoys telling me each year about how she remembers the very first time she held me.
For me, it is different. My reflections are more specific: 
  • Midnight: this time 6 years ago I was in hospital
  • 11am: this time 6 years ago they took me to theatre
  • 11.08am: this time 6 years ago he was born
  • 11.12am: this time 6 years ago he took his first breath
  • 1.45 pm: I made it out of theatre
  • 24 hours later: I held him for the first time
Some years, the memories have been overwhelming, the nightmares in the build up to the event focusing on giving birth all over again but never getting my baby. Other years, I have obsessed over what I remember and what I have been told, and the gaps in my own memory terrify me. One year, I tried to hold my breath for the 4 and a half minutes it took him to breathe to see if it was possible (spoiler: is isn't). I can lose hours to just staring and remembering, or trying to; running the story over and over in my head until I make some sense out of it, or asking ridiculous questions of my husband. 
I suffer from birth trauma related PTSD. I promise that's a real thing. I've had many people suggest to me that PTSD isn't something you get from giving birth- after all childbirth is completely natural and wonderful and women do it every day. They do. But for some women it is horrific, terrifying and as far from natural as you could possibly imagine. I'm one of those women (if you want to read more about it, I've posted on my own blog here and here). 
I've been told that I shouldn't dwell on these things, as though it is entirely within my control. Being a mum with a mental health difficulty (particularly one surrounding your child's birth), seems to open you up to a lot of criticism and judgement (mainly from other mums). Because you are a mum you are supposed to be perfect, you are supposed to think all things related to your child are the best things to ever happen to you, and you are supposed to constantly feel #soblessed. 
I've had many people say to me:
  • You'd do it all again though, wouldn't you?
  • At least you're both alive.
  • You have a child now, this isn't about you. 
To respond in order: no, I would not; that's great but it doesn't change my feelings; I complained about that particular midwife. 
Let me be clear: I don't want to dwell on these things. I want to enjoy being a mother without the upsetting memories. I want to celebrate my friends' pregnancies without fearing for them; I want to celebrate births without feeling a stab in the heart of envy and grief for the happiness we didn't get; I want to not feel guilty and second guess all the parenting decisions I made in the early days. I want to be completely okay and happy with the fact that I will only ever have my one child. I want to not care what other people think about this. 
My child is one of the best things to have happened in my life, but his birth is the worst.  
I am learning to separate these things, and I wish others would too. 


I am Charlotte, Somewhere: wife, mother, cocker spaniel owner and someday Queen of the Universe. I can almost always be found with my face in a book and a coffee in hand. When I'm not reading, I also like writing, knitting, crafty things, baking, eating, walking, taking photos, watching traumatising medical dramas and nurturing a close relationship with my sofa and blankets.


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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.