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To still beat myself up about when DS was born?

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Writerwannabe83 Mon 10-Nov-14 14:30:39

I don't know what I'm after really - maybe just some reassurance that how I'm feeling is normal.

DS is 7m/o and sometimes I look back on the first few days of his life and I hate myself because I feel like I let him down.

I go over it a lot in my mind and it usually brings me to tears. I was thinking about it earlier when I was taking DS for a walk and I just welled up.

He came via ELCS and I didn't hold him when he was delivered. He was given straight to DH (put down his top) and I feel so disappointed in myself for not asking to hold him. I didn't hold him for 45 minutes until I got into recovery and even then I was very detached from it all, I just remember feeling hungry and asking for some toast.

I didn't feel that "rush of love" for him that most mothers talk of. I did feel happy though, I remember being wheeled back to the ward with DS in my arms and I remember feeling like my little baby was here safely. I have got a photo of myself holding DS as soon as we get back to the ward, I'm smiling and look genuinely happy so I must have felt it, but my actual memories surrounding the days around his birth just make me feel sad.

BF didn't go well at that start and I look back and wish I had tried harder for him. He lost a lot of weight and had jaundice and I feel like it's my fault.

I remember my first night on the ward and I was still pretty numb and DS was being sick in his crib (mucousy) and he couldn't roll and I couldn't get to him and I felt petrified for him. I shouted for help and another mother came and turned him on his side for me. In those few seconds of me feeling helpless I was so fearful he was going to choke and die so I know I felt love towards him and I was protective of him but I just can't shake the feeling that I didn't love him properly enough.

I'm never going to get those days back, they should have been the most amazing days of my life and I hate myself because I don't feel that way. Surely I should? It upsets me that the one chance I got to enjoy and embrace the arrival of DS (and love him with my whole heart) I wasted it, I feel like I let him down by not feeling like the days surrounding his arrival were the happiest days of my life. There were external factors which led to me feeling down for a few days after his birth, but surely his birth should have been enough to make any other bad stuff seem insignificant?

I am rambling.

How do I just let the guilt go?

ouryve Mon 10-Nov-14 14:35:15

Given that I can't see anything for you to feel guilty about, I really think that you need to go speak to your GP.

How supportive is your DH? Does he know how you're feeling?

ItsGotBellsOn Mon 10-Nov-14 14:38:33

You are totally normal and not alone! Years down the line, I talk about these sorts of issues much more with other mums (now our kds are older and it is all a distant thing) and SO many people had shaky starts for so many different reasons. It hasn't adversely affected their relationships with their children at all. You realise how normal it all is with a bit of hindsight, really.

I had a c-section with my first child and felt just the same as you describe. I felt love and an overwhelming desire to protect my baby, but there was no 'rush of love' or warm, gooey feelings. Looking back, I can see I was in shock. The first few weeks after his birth I was totally overwhelmed, reall - still recovering from a major operation, exhausted and not entirely sure what the hell I was doing! I found the whole first year or so quite gruelling, if I am honest, and worried that a c-section, lack of immediate skin-to-skin and a real problem establishing breastfeeding had somehow 'damaged' the bond with my baby. He is 9 yrs old now and we are as thick as thieves...total love and a close and wonderful relationship grin.

Would you consider counselling for this? You sound ever so sad about it and it is a shame to let these feelings cloud your happy life with your DS now. You sound like a loving, caring mum and deserve to move past these feelings of guilt x

Only1scoop Mon 10-Nov-14 14:41:46

Also can't see anything for you to feel in the slightest guilty for and sorry to hear you do.

Believe me it's not all the fairy tale first couple of days you seem to think it should be for most new mums. I think your experiences are quite normal.

I had a section didn't hold dd straight away....didn't hold her that much for first couple of days if I really think about it.

Are you feeling a little low maybe?

bakingtins Mon 10-Nov-14 14:42:19

You have the rest of your life to enjoy and embrace your DS, and to love him with all your heart. I think it would help you to talk through the event surrounding his birth with someone, perhaps going through your notes with the hospital, but also having some counselling to offload the negative feelings. So many women don't get that rush of love, particularly if the birth was difficult, but it doesn't affect the depth of their feelings in the long term. flowers

Mulligrubs Mon 10-Nov-14 14:43:02

I had an EMCS and my DS was given to my DP first. I also didn't hold him until I was.in recovery. The first few days are a blur as I was in shock from the c-section. Actually, the first few weeks are a blur. I feel guilty at times too. My DS is almost a year old and those feelings come.back.

Perhaps we should see our GPs, Writerwannabe? Because I feel just like you although I realise I shouldn't. They means you shouldn't either.

meglet Mon 10-Nov-14 14:44:03

Oh bless you. I didn't get the rush of love thing, I had an EMCS and was just glad we were both alive! But like you, he still felt like my little boy.

Have you had a post-birth counselling session? I had a few issues surrounding post-natal ward care and thought it was me being a shit mum. Turned out the midwife doing the session said the 'care' was indeed a bit crap. It was a weight off my mind chatting to her.

I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself, lots of people don't sneeze out a baby and float around in a baby haze. It can be gruelling having a first child, physically and emotionally.

Some counselling would probably help you clear your head and realise that actually you did a bloody good job. Please don't punish yourself about it.

leedy Mon 10-Nov-14 14:44:52

Ach, you poor thing. I think what you're feeling is totally normal, or within the normal range of how women feel about their births, especially if a lot of stuff didn't go according to plan. There's so much stuff you read when you're pregnant about how birth is going to be this amazing, elating, near-orgasmic pinnacle of womanly experience and for some women it is, but for a lot of other women it's weird, or scary, or painful, or not what you expected, or just a bit "oh, right, a baby came out of me, that's a bit mad", and it's easy to hold that up against the "perfect" experience and feel a bit lacking.

Personally, I didn't feel the instant "rush of love" for either of my boys either. Particularly DS1's early days were far from being the most amazing days of my life as I had galloping PND and was barely holding it together, while with DS2 I was recovering from pre-eclampsia and an early C-section and spent a lot of time taking my blood pressure while dosed up to the eyeballs on painkillers and beta blockers. They're now 5 and 2 and I love them to bits, I feel the difficult times were such a small part of their lives now.

Also if you are still finding it hard to stop thinking about it, it might be a good idea to talk to someone professionally - there was a great mental health team in the maternity hospital I went to, who were brilliant with PND but also offered counselling for people who mightn't be at full blown defcon PND but had, eg, a traumatic birth or some other issues around it.

ElBandito Mon 10-Nov-14 14:45:37

Your baby is still very little so you are not to know that the best is yet to come. He will walk, talk, play go to school, get a job, and maybe even give you grandchildren.

YANBU to wish things had gone better, it's only human to want to do well.

Please speak to your doctor or husband if these feelings are spoiling the here and now for you.

HadleyHemingway Mon 10-Nov-14 14:48:22

I didn't have half as traumatic a birth as you, but I certainly didn't feel a rush of love for my DD when she was first born either.

I think I just felt stunned and numb and knackered and a bit shell shocked.

She was a complete stranger to me. I think I was especially thrown by the fact that she looked nothing like I thought she'd look. It was all quite a strange time and it took a couple of days for us to get to know each other.

Of course now I am besotted with her.

I really don't think any of your feelings are unusual or abnormal. Most of the new mums in my circle say they feel similarly. That they didn't give birth 'properly' for whatever reason, that they felt a bit detached from their babies at first.

What is a bit abnormal is that this is all still making you feel so sad. I agree a trip to the GP to chat this through would be a good idea.

If you want to you can also ask the hospital to debrief you on your birth, to help you understand a bit more about what went on and all the bits you were oblivious to at the time.

Whatever else you do though, DON'T beat yourself up about anything!

Twinklestar2 Mon 10-Nov-14 14:51:28

I think what you felt is normal.

I felt the same as I had an EMCS. When they told me I had to have it, I was disappointed that I would miss the 'golden hour' but I told myself that I had the rest of my life with him and it was only one hour.

I do understand how you feel as I had to ask my OH to tell me what happened after my son was born as I felt like I couldn't remember. But as we started talking I remembered stuff.

I didn't get the rush of love straightaway but I got it that night when it was just me and my boy in the hospital together.

You have the rest of your life with him, don't worry about one day.

Thurlow Mon 10-Nov-14 14:52:13

I think the fact that you've come on here and asked about this shows that, deep down, you know there is something irrational about the way you feel and you're asking for help.

they should have been the most amazing days of my life and I hate myself because I don't feel that way. Surely I should?... I feel like I let him down by not feeling like the days surrounding his arrival were the happiest days of my life... surely his birth should have been enough to make any other bad stuff seem insignificant?

In a romanticised way yes, they should be the most amazing days of your life - but for a lot of women, and I mean a lot, they aren't. Because you've either been through several days of labour and are so exhausted and in pain you can't focus on much else, or because you've just had major surgery. Or just because the arrival of this little tiny person who is 100% reliant on you for everything is, in reality, pretty bloody overwhelming. I know a significant majority of my friends who are mums say that they didn't feel that overwhelming rush of love when they first had their baby. I didn't. I was relieved and happy and pleased to meet her, but it took a long time before I knew that I was in love with her.

I had an emcs, didn't see DD for 12 hours. It affected me for a long time, the whole experience of a long and traumatic birth and a baby in NICU upset me and it was almost all that I could think about. 3 years on and it doesn't bother me so much. Yes, it would have been nice if it had been different - but it wasn't, and I can't change that. But I know that is not a switch you can turn on in your head. I can say, though, that as time goes by the way your baby came into the world becomes less important to you.

Writer, I'm going to say this in the nicest possible way and hope that I don't get deleted for referring to your history. You have posted a lot over the past 7 months about worries and concerns you have about your DS, his birth, your first few days together, and your relationship with him and your families. I haven't done a search, I just remember you. I am clearly no professional, but something about the way you have posted over the past few months suggests that you might have PND, or would benefit from having some counselling about your birth experience.

Everything you have worried or posted about is all completely normal and thousands of mums every day worry that they didn't enjoy birth, or they didn't enjoy those first few months. But cumulatively it can point to someone needing a little bit of support.

Wailywailywaily Mon 10-Nov-14 14:53:44

DS2 and I were stuck in hospital for a week after his birth, I remember very clearly looking at him in his crib and wondering if I loved him.

I love that little boy more fiercely than life now (five years on) but it took a while to really catch hold of me.

Please try not to beat yourself up over this, there is no right or wrong birth - a good birth is a healthy mother and baby - its a traumatic experience that takes time to recover from. Be kind to yourself.

MagicMonday Mon 10-Nov-14 14:56:41

It's actually a relief to read that someone else felt like this. I had traumatic forceps delivery and was an emotional zombie for weeks afterwards. It passed and the subsequent guilt has also eased. My gp was very supportive, do speak to someone.

Poledra Mon 10-Nov-14 14:59:57

Oh you poor thing! You have all my sympathy - I felt so similar after DD1 was born. She was an emergency section, under general anaesthetic, and I felt so guilty that I hadn't been there when she was born (obviously, I was there, but you know what I mean). And, when I came round, DH asked me if I wanted to see our beautiful daughter and I, still groggy, said 'No, I'm too tired, I'll see her tomorrow.' (I'd been in labour for 14 hours prior to the section). I felt awful that that was the first thing my baby heard me say.

Then DH left us to go home, and she, like your little one, started choking and bringing up blood and I couldn't get to her and I'd dropped my call button. I had to shout out till another dad in the recovery unit heard me and got a nurse. She was fine, they think the blood was probably from me during the operation but I remember that feeling of helplessness so well.

She's 10 yo now (how did that happen??) and I have got over it. It takes time and space to do so. I remember one of my sisters asking me about how I felt about it afterwards, and it all came flooding out - it was like she gave me permission to feel badly about what had happened. Does your hospital offer any post-birth counselling? I had two sessions with a MW (I think my hospital called it 'Birthrights' or something like that) to talk over what had happened. The MW chosen to do it was someone who had had no contact with me previously, as they felt this gave you the opportunity to be completely frank about how you felt. It was hugely helpful to me but I reiterate what I said before - it has taken me time and distance from the events to feel better about them.

Finally, I want to reassure you that I adore my daughter. Like you, I didn't get that rush of love immediately but you know what? Just because it took a bit longer does not mean I love her any less than another mother loves her child (or than I love my two subsequent children, both of whom had much less traumatic entries into the world!). Those few days after you gave birth where not your only opportunity to love your DS with all of your heart - you get that opportunity every day of your life from now on.

flowers This is a bit of an essay - please feel free to PM me if you want to talk further about this (or ask on the thread).

EarthDays Mon 10-Nov-14 15:05:11

I had a very different birth to you, it was relatively easy but my baby got sepsis whilst in the womb and was very very ill.

She was in an incubator for the first week with wires all over her and once we finally got home all she did was scream for the first year and I blames myself for her getting sick, and having such a crap first year not enjoying her as such. I even unfollowed my best friend on FB as I was so jealous of her perfect easy baby.

Now I realise nothing will make those bad memories change, time will not go back but it wasn't my fault and reading on here actually it's perfectly normal to struggle with a new baby. Nothing your written is your fault, all you've done is your best which is the best anyone can hope for. So well done for getting this far.....having babies is hard.

Onlyonamonday Mon 10-Nov-14 15:19:45

I remember thinking "oh glad that's over.. I'll get some sleep now "shock I was glad all was ok but that was it .. I felt numb in shock and .. "Who is this little stranger? "
Two days later I remember the midwife coming round on the ward to help me bath her, ... It was then I became a mum ... Even after going home I sat and cried for no obvious reason for a few days ... I also didn't take well to bf. My dds are now 19 and 17 and are both well balanced healthy individuals we are very close and I love them both fiercely ... A shaky start is nothing to beat yourself up about, it is not a nice feeling ... As said before if you carry on feeling so low see your gp or hv

creampie Mon 10-Nov-14 15:27:12

So many people seem to feel like this now and it's so sad.

I blame things like the NCT classes and babycentre for making everyone feel like anything less than delivering at home with no drugs, and immediate skin to skin and ability to establish breast feeding is a failure. It's not! Giving birth is bloody traumatic and difficult at the best of times. The person that first coined the term "birth experience" needs a damn good talking to....

Damnautocorrect Mon 10-Nov-14 15:40:16

I have to say I felt the same, I was an emergency c section too. There was no rush of love, I didn't know I could hold him, I didn't even see him until recovery.
I had no support at home, no support around, no midwife support, no health visitor and no baby experience.
At about 8months I finally got out the house. I look back at those early days and do feel very sad, I'm envious of people who love the 'baby shower', 'baby group' thing. It's just not how it was for me.

But it passed by a year and I know it did us no long term harm. We can't change the past, it's done just concentrate on the here and now

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 10-Nov-14 15:48:40

Snap in many ways. YANBU but I think you need to realise that your experience was in no way unusual. You need to move on and realise that what's important is now, and not that the first few days were not a Disney film.

Have you reviewed your delivery notes? I found that really helpful. I found out all kinds that no f**ker told me in the 48 hours I was in the hospital pre delivery for. Baby was suspected back to back but they couldn't establish this [outcome was yes, she was b2b], pelvis was narrow, examinations difficult, all sorts that made the EMCS outcome more predictable. It put the feeling of failure to bed, and just made me feel grateful that I had survived which 100 yrs ago, would have been debatable.

Ultimately your son was born healthy and well, and spent the first 45 mins of his life in his fathers arms. I don't know what's wrong with that. I imagine you've made up for that 45 mins over the past 7 months somewhat unless you are married to a fantastic man.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Nov-14 15:49:49

Why should the first days after giving birth be the happiest of your life? They're grim! You're leaking, bleeding, cathetered if CS, in pain, hormonal, exhausted, struggling with breastfeeding and have a little bundle squalling at you the whole time. Objectively, that's pretty shit. And it's perfectly ok to think it's not the greatest thing ever.

Babies are nice, don't get me wrong, but post-childbirth isn't just about the baby. You had a major operation for one thing, and you don't expect people to be in ecstasy at having their appendix removed!

Thurlow Mon 10-Nov-14 16:07:07

The other thing is, as your child grows up, you start to understand that you are better at certain bits of parenting and not so good at other bits.

So with hindsight you can start to look back and think, wow, the newborn stage really wasn't something I was great at. But toddlerdom - hello! Now this is good.

Which is all fine. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint; everyone finds stages you struggle with, and stages that you love.

BigfootFilesHisToesInYourTea Mon 10-Nov-14 16:08:05

"Why should the first days after giving birth be the happiest of your life? They're grim! You're leaking, bleeding, cathetered if CS, in pain, hormonal, exhausted, struggling with breastfeeding and have a little bundle squalling at you the whole time. Objectively, that's pretty shit. And it's perfectly ok to think it's not the greatest thing ever."

^^ That, plus also massive life change from being free to please yourself (moreorless) to be shackled to this tiny being and the terrifying realisation that you're now completely responsible for a totally dependent and demanding human being. The first days after birth are awful! And I say that having had 1DC with a traumatic birth and 1DC who was a (relative) breeze!

"...the one chance I got to enjoy an embrace the arrival of DS (and love him with my whole heart) I wasted it"

You get to embrace his arrival and love him every day, surely? You seem to be setting yourself impossible standards to live up to, based on I'm not quite sure what. You are setting yourself up to fail, failing, and then blaming yourself for not living up to these impossible perceptions. You're not being fair to yourself, or realistic.

Have you done the PND check recently? The Edinburgh PND Scale is what the health visitors use. One of the statements you're asked to rate yourself against is "I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong". Have a look, and maybe consider talking to your GP/health visitor.

KitCat26 Mon 10-Nov-14 16:29:27

^ Exactly what noble said.

I felt similar after DD1 was born by forceps. It was a horribly painful, messy, exhausting and overwhelming experience. And she was a 'good' baby.

Your family and friends are delighted. They expect you to feel delighted. You expect to feel delighted... I felt like I'd been hit by a bus.

I was bettered prepared for DD2 and her arrival (planned section) was so, so much better.

NeedaDiscoNap Mon 10-Nov-14 16:43:39

Hi writer - I remember some of your other posts and think I wrote about my experience with my DD previously.

I share some similarities with you - I didn't experience that 'rush of love' for my DD (now 5 months) and I thought she looked like an alien at first. I felt so detached from her to begin with and was so doped up to the eyeballs I couldn't really bond with her for the first couple of days.

I struggled with this for a while, before realising that I had postnatal anxiety. I felt overwhelmed by everything, not least my labour (emergency section, lost a lot of blood, DD had v low birthweight) and I seriously thought that my DD deserved a different, 'better' mother. I also struggled with BF and she lost so much weight she was taken to special baby care.

I felt so much guilt. Looking back now I was so hard on myself and even if I say so myself I'm doing a pretty good job with her. What helped me was talking, a lot. I kept it all in til I felt like I was going to explode. A couple of my wonderful friends listened and listened and listened. I also spoke to a sympathetic GP who has left the ball firmly in my court.

I agree with PP that you sound as though you are experiencing some of the symptoms of PND. Who do you have to support you?

I feel completely different now that I have managed to move on from the guilt. I hope you get the support you need thanks

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