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Weirdly upset about birth experience, 18 months later

(10 Posts)
ShushBaby Wed 24-Aug-11 21:57:19

I have a wonderful 18mo daughter and we are both, thank goodness and touch wood, in very good health.

Her birth- the actual birth- was a good experience and went fairly smoothly, I had more intervention that I would ideally have hoped for but have no complaints.

However, my placenta would not deliver and I had a post partum haemmorhage in which I lost a lot of blood. I had to be taken to theatre to have it removed. I was probably away from my baby for around an hour. The hospital staff were all great, and tbh it was all a blur. After a few nights in hospital we went home and got on with things.

Until now I hadn't really given it much thought. I suppose I've felt that I'm fine, the baby is fine, so I could just draw a line under it. But for some reason recently I have been feeling upset about it, and apprehensive that it may happen again if I am lucky enough to have another baby. Most of all I feel quite upset at how I felt in the weeks after the birth- I was a complete WRECK, I think because of the blood loss. It was almost like I wasn't with the world, I couldn't even watch TV, couldn't concentrate. Everything was like a really bloody weird dream. I was incredibly weak and found it difficult to stagger round the corner to the shops for weeks afterwards.

I know that everyone feels overwhelmed and knocked for six post birth, but when I look back I see that I felt totally different from my antenatal class friends who were all knackered but did not experience the complete, I can only describe it as shock (in the physical sense) that i was in. For months the things that others were doing (going out, being active) were beyond my grasp.

I have to admit that it makes me feel like a failure. Like I didn't 'do' new motherhood in a strong and capable way. And I feel sad that I was such a mess, and didn't rise to the occasion physically. My friends are starting to have babies too now and I feel sort of apprehensive about how well they are going to cope and how active they are going to be.

Anyway, I'm aware that this is a shockingly first-world problem to have! On the scale of things this is really small fry. And I wouldn't talk about this to anyone in real life. But I just wanted to vent, I suppose.

SaulGood Wed 24-Aug-11 22:05:53

Oh lovey. You have my permission to feel that way. You were in shock, recovering from a major trauma and had all the hormonal issues that go with it.

I understand completely. You are feeling this way now I think because you've probably started to feel normal again and it's underlined just how foggy it was back then. And you feel robbed and surprised and disappointed that it didn't come naturally.

I seriously remember sitting on the sofa when dd was a baby and thinking 'I'm never going to spontaneously laugh again'. I couldn't imagine getting out of the fug I was in. My house looked the same but nothing looked the same iyswim. It was like somebody had recreated my life around me but it meant nothing to me. It wasn't real. I went through the motions of being alive but it just seemed so draining and unreal. And I know now that I'm 'me' again (and laugh spontaneously all the time btw grin) just how removed I was from reality back then. And you do feel regret because you enjoy motherhood, you love your child like nothing else but know that in those early months you were merely getting through it as opposed to experiencing or enjoying it physically and emotionally. I feel I let myself down a bit. It was such an important time and I sort of ghosted through it if that makes sense?

Completely and utterly normal. Please talk about it. On here. To you partner. A good friend if you can.

I know now that I had a difficult delivery and huge blood loss which resulted in anaemia and a difficult recovery period. And the hormonal adjustment, plus bfing and sleep deprivation were just working against me. I know I did nothing 'wrong' and that it's not really something you succeed or fail at but it's taken me time to realise it.

Don't let it rob you of enjoying this bit. There are better women than us I expect that just get through the first bit. It's really nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.

SaulGood Wed 24-Aug-11 22:06:54

I tried to read a book btw when dd was little. I'm a librarian and avid reader. Beyond me. Utterly beyond me. I was that wrecked.

ShushBaby Wed 24-Aug-11 22:17:24

Oh thank you for your replies and for not thinking I'm a snivelling brat!

Your replies are really on the money. The thing is, I never felt depressed or even particularly low- in fact was high on a happy vibe. But physically, my god.... I don't want to feel like that again, ever.

It's weird, I read a book a couple of weeks ago by Maggie O'Farrell (? I think) in which the character loses a lot of blood at the birth of her baby, and she feels completely on a different planet afterwards. And it was like a lightbulb went off.

I do feel a bit <whispers> traumatised actually. Only a bit. (I've known proper trauma and this is nothing compared. But still).

Thanks again ladies. Is good to write it down.

SaulGood Wed 24-Aug-11 22:54:40

The Hand That First Held Mine?

Ted's wife, um Elina is it? Had a cs and loses time/sense of reality afterwards. I read it on holiday in March and it's spot on isn't it?

I think if you had significant blood loss and you were caring for a newborn, your body was prioritising doing only what it had to. Doesn't mean you didn't feel happy or mentally well or anything like that. Just that so many of your 'norms' shut down. I felt exactly the same way. Like a shell I suppose with only enough faculties to do the bare minimum.

idlevice Thu 25-Aug-11 00:48:41

Similar experience here. I couldn't believe no-one advised me about the effects of massive blood loss apart from taking iron supplements, specifically the length of recovery time. Looking back it seems obvious but when you have just have a baby, even if everything was routine, you need thingsw spelling out.

It is not uncommon for an experience like this to contribute to PTSD or PND so it may be helpful to talk to someone. Passage of time doesn't always help with traumatic experiences, esp with things like this where baby's birthday or comtemplation of having another child can bring it to the surface.

ShushBaby Thu 25-Aug-11 09:12:59

Yes SaulGood, that's the book. She describes it so well, perhaps she has been there herself (or maybe is just a great writer!).

Thanks idlevice. Perhaps I will talk to someone. Maybe just my mum. I wish someone had explained that the blood loss would make me feel that way. I actually didn't realise I'd had a post partum haemorrhage until I heard the community midwife on the phone to the hospital discussing my iron levels- heard the words 'severe pph' and thought 'what's that?' and worked it out for myself.

I think there's an assumption that new mums are going to feel totally wiped out/flakey, and also an attitude that as long as baby is fine and mum has survived in tact (well sort of), then all is well. Both of these things are true, to some extent. But actually I don't think much care is taken to identify and prepare/support those women who might, because of complications, feel MORE knocked for six by the experience. And I can see how this could really effect not just a woman's life and wellbeing, but her ability to care for her child.

I truly only feel back to my normal self now, 18 months on. I always wondered how my antenatal friends could be going out at night, going on holidays, exercising etc months after giving birth. I thought they were superwomen and I was crap. Turns out I just hadn't recovered yet, as I do all those things now.

Bumpsadaisie Thu 25-Aug-11 11:06:31

Lovey, the reason your NCT friends were up and about was that their bodies didn't have a massive medical emergency to deal with straight on top of labour!

You were dealt a much harder hand to play - they were able to be "strong and capable" because they had a much easier time of it, frankly! You really can't compare yourself to them!

There is such a range of experiences. Some people pop the baby out and are back on their feet and raring to go within a couple of days. Others have a longer recovery.

Beegey Fri 26-Aug-11 22:58:44

I had a similar experience, Shushbaby. My placenta didn't deliver and I had to have in manually removed (after what felt like days of labouring a back to back baby, forceps etc). It was frigging AWFUL. Yes, the baby was great, I lived to tell the tale etc but it IS a traumatic thing to happen - be kind to yourself and get more help if you think you would benefit from it.

If it helps, placenta plopped out beautifully and completely the second time, to my great relief.

georgie22 Fri 26-Aug-11 23:19:49

I didn't have a PPH but I did have a 3rd degree tear so went to theatre post delivery and left dd with dh for over an hour. I've only been thinking tonight whilst I was in the bath how hard I found those first few weeks and months of dd's life. I just didn't feel like me any longer and I had moments when I actually doubted if I had made the right decision in having a baby. I think it's only now when I look back at that time that I realise how hard I found it all -we also had huge problems with breastfeeding. My only consolation and the reason I would like to have another baby in the future is that I know those feelings don't last. I love every moment I spend with dd now - she is a complete delight and I look forward to her waking up so I can see her lovely smiling face. Looking back I feel guilty for how I felt in those early days - I just seem to have had the realisation of how tough it was for me and for dh too.
I can only imagine how tough that time must be when you have also had a medical emergency post delivery and are having to recover from significant blood loss. I hope you can get some support - it's probably not a bad thing that you're feeling that you need that support in order to resolve your feelings about what was a difficult and traumatic time.

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