Traumatic births and Post Natal Depression
April 8, 2017
Perhaps let me start at the very beginning…
Khloe’s birth was a c-section. I wanted a natural birth from the beginning and my OBGYN at that time convinced me that because she was a breach baby and she was “big” -she would not be able to be born natural. It was not a good birth. Nothing was explained to me and I was left with a baby, a c-section and a lot of panic. What now? Why am I still bleeding post-partum after three months? I was in a lot of pain. Went back to her numerous times just to be told to suck it up. Having a kid is hard. And to get yet another prescription for different birth control pills.
I was a mess. In pain. Alone. Confused. And depressed.
It’s been nearly five years since I came face-to-face with THAT woman, yet I still remember her name, her face, her accent, the colour of her hair, the indifference in her eyes, the tone of her voice. I remember EVERY single thing about her. After the c-section I did my best to move on from the worst of my feelings, but when I fell pregnant with Zoe, I started having recurring nightmares sparked from my previous experience. In my dreams I was screaming at my new OBGYN, yelling at him to “get her away from me”, “don’t let her near me”, “get her hands off my baby”! My anxiety was real. My intense fear was real. The feelings of worthlessness, powerlessness, and helplessness were REAL. I would wake with a heaving chest, breathless, and crying. It soon became apparent I had not moved passed these feelings at all.
Just before I was diagnosed with PND (when Khloe was 3 months old), I made an appointment at another gynecologist in another town, and we had discussed my birthing experience in great detail. I had never cried so much in my life. Whilst sharing my thoughts with my doctor at the time was a huge relief, my feelings had remained unresolved. Hidden from view, I simply hoped they would slowly fade over time… Clearly, they had not.
In hindsight, I honestly don’t think my expectations around the quality of care I would receive were unreasonable. The majority of what we see and hear from family and friends about their personal care during birth is warm, kind, giving, and supportive. Indeed, our private hospitals and specialists pride themselves on the quality of their care. And really, whilst I had “ideas” around what I would “like” for my birth experience, I certainly was not inflexible to the advice of doctors I ask questions. I do. I like to know what my options are and be informed before making a decision. So was it unreasonable to expect this woman to speak gently, inform me of my options, and generally treat me with compassion and understanding? Surely not. But she performed the c-section that morning projecting a coldness I had never before experienced. To have to endure such blatant indifference and patronsing behaviour left me feeling beyond powerless. In my time of need, I had been let down by the very person I had hoped would simply hold my hand, put my fears at bay, and provide me the strength and information I would need to get me through until the end. It was instead a nightmare. I could go into so many examples of her behaviour, but I think I’ll leave it at that.
So after already having a c-section, the new gynecologist had to do a laparoscopy as well as a d&c to remove 6 pieces of placenta she “forgot” to take out. I was devastated. He had to cauterize sections of my womb and clean out the mess she made. On the left side the ovary bent backwards and grew stuck on the womb. That had to be fixed too. I left the theatre that day with one working fallopian tube, and a cauterized womb. And the news that should I want to have another baby- I will have to seek fertility treatment.
I fell deeper into depression. My anxiety became out of control as I was so scared that something might happen to Khloe. One day after a heart to heart with my mom I decided to go and see a doctor. Diagnosis? Post part depression. I felt like a failure. How could this happen to me?
But with the help of amazing people and some medication the world started to take shape again. I felt better.
Her behaviour was atrocious. Her actions were unfathomable. Her overall impact on my birth experience and health has been devastating. And I hope to goodness no other mother EVER has to experience such helplessness and powerlessness at the hands of such an awful person. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe she had her own things going on that I didn’t know about. Maybe… maybe… maybe! I have tried so hard to be understanding of her behaviour, but nothing seems to justify nor will ever take away how she made me feel. I know they say we choose how we feel about any given situation, but giving birth is such a vulnerable experience. It doesn’t matter your personality, your age, your profession. You are at your most vulnerable! Unfortunately, I was one of the unlucky ones that time around.
I can say though without any hesitation that my current OBGYN ensured my second birthing experience was the best it could possibly be… and the quality of care I received was amazingly warm and still makes me smile when I think back to my time in hospital with Zoe. A very stark contrast, and one for which I will be forever thankful! It’s incredible how healing a good experience can be on the back of something so traumatic and unexpected.
It’s been a huge relief to finally get this experience all down in writing. I am always surprised at how much “feeling” I still have with regard to this issue and want to thank-you for allowing me to feel safe enough to share it with you here.
Thanks for reading as always and really hope everyone is doing well.