I fell pregnant with my daughter Bobby in November 2016 after a miscarriage the previous August. Although the miscarriage made me slightly more anxious about my pregnancy, overall my pregnancy went very smoothly and I looked forward to meeting my baby.
At exactly 42 weeks pregnant, I was induced. This is where it started to go wrong.
It took a total of 30 hours for my baby to be born. We had an unsuccessful epidural, followed by reductions in Bobby’s heart rate. Eventually we ended up in theatre, needing help with forceps. This resulted in a very bad tear and big blood loss for me. I clearly remember staring at the ceiling light in theatre and wondering if I was going to die.
The first few days after giving birth were a blur of exhaustion, but eventually we made it home. After a few weeks I started to realise there was something wrong, more than just “baby blues”. I would close my eyes to go to sleep and flashback to being in theatre. I cried excessively and was very angry and irritable. I couldn’t stop thinking about being in theatre. I felt like a failure and that I wasn’t good enough for my baby. I worried that she didn’t love me or even like me. I was too scared to tell friends and family how I felt because I was worried about what they would think. I also worried that I seemed to find the adjustment to parenting really hard whereas everyone else I knew seemed to be finding it easy.
I was very lucky that I had an amazingly supportive Health Visitor. She asked at every visit how I was feeling and eventually I confessed to her about how I felt. She referred me to Let’s Talk and I was seen within 2 weeks. There I had face to face counselling with a wonderful counsellor called Jane. Together we worked through my traumatic birth experience using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Jane helped me to understand that I was not only grieving for my lost pregnancy but also the chance for a happy birth experience. Jane helped me separate the traumatic birth experience from my relationship with Bobby, and recognise that I was good enough to be her Mummy. Jane also helped me to open up to friends and family and I realised that other people were struggling with their new role as a parent too.
Now Bobby is healthy, happy and 21 months old. Although I still feel sad about my birth experience sometimes, I can accept what happened during our birth experience. We have a wonderful relationship and I am so grateful that I get to be her Mummy. I have made some really close Mummy friends who are very supportive and with whom I can be honest. It’s OK not to be OK, and it’s OK to talk about it. No matter how bad things can seem, it can get better if you talk about it.