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My past is affecting my attitude to being pg. May be distressing to some..

(21 Posts)
Debs3693 Sat 04-Dec-10 10:51:22

I have been trying to pluck up courage to write this post for a while now. I'm sorry if it comes out a bit jumbled.
I am now 35. When I was 24 I was seriously assaulted by someone who followed me after work. As well as a physical assault i was raped and kept for a while whole he forced horrible thongs on me. He was never caught and I spent a few mo this in a psychiatric unit where I was diagnosed with PTSD. Unfortunaely the u it was a general psych u it and I never felt safe and by their own admission, they did not have the right staff and skills to help me. Despite this i have to a great extent moved on, i have a professional career, good friends and got married in sept this year to a man who loves me dearly and knows about my past.
It was a bit shock when i fell pg on honeymoon, as I wasn't sure I was able to conceive. I am nearly 10 weeks gone and am very protective of my little bean but I am completely overwhelmed with fear about how i will cope with labour and in particular, strangers touching and looking at me when I am vulnerable. See? I can't even say the words!
The thought of having anyone I don't know near my nether regions and just being generally out of control is completely freaking me out.
I thought I was dealing with my past ok but this is becoming all co summing and I feel stuck as I know I effectively "allowed" this to happen by getting pg but now I am panicking about what this means.
I am too ashamed to tell my mw and I don't want it in my notes as I have been labelled before after o was in the psych hospital but I do t know what to do or where to turn.
When I get scare dand feel out of control I feel like a cornered animal and all logic goes out the window. My asthma was v bad this summer and they wanted to ventilate me but I was so scared of them putting something down my throat and me gagging and then what they could do to me when I was asleep I refused and kept refusing u till I went Into respiratory arrest. I don't want to get inti such a state again but i already feel cornered.
I don't know what to do and I am so scared I am crying even now just writing it down.
To all my friends I am just the organized, reliable loyal and solid mate with a gsoh etc and most of the time i can be that but I can feel that slipping away from me. I don't know what to do. I am too ashamed to even talk to dh about this.

missmoopy Sat 04-Dec-10 11:09:40

It sounds like you still have PTSD. At 10 weeks pregnant you still have time to at least start some counselling, and I would suggest contacting rape crisis or rimialr and expalining your circumstances. I am fairly sure they would prioritise your case.

I am not naive enough to suggest it will 'cure' your fear and anxieties of childbirth but it may go some way towards helping. I know it is hard to disclose things like this to people but if you feel able to you could talk to your midwife and it can be specified in your birthing plan etc so people of aware of your fears. She may also refer you to the psychiatric team within antenatal services if you feel that could help?

You are very brave and I wish you the very best for your pregnancy and birth x

Bubandbump Sat 04-Dec-10 11:10:11

Debs, there is nothing at all to feel ashamed about. I have no experience with what you are going through but you sound like you are putting far too much pressure on yourself and this stuff is far too hard to do it alone. I don't have any advice on how to work what the best route is for you to take but I do think that you need to talk this through. You are in the middle of massively rising hormones which make you feel extremely tired, emotional and confused at even the best of times. There will be a way to deal with all this, it will all be fine, you just need the right help and support. I really think that has to start by talking to someone who can help you come up with a plan to get your concerns dealt with. It may well be that it starts with discussing it with your dh or one of your close friends but please try- you shouldn't and won't be able to do this alone. Pregnancy is incredibly scary at the best of times but you have people on your side who can and will want to help. My heart goes out to you.

Trebuchet Sat 04-Dec-10 11:12:57

Would having a doula help? you could form a relationship and she could be your "carer" and almost "interpreter" for what your needs are during labour. I m not explaining very well but please google doulas!

Also pm me if you like I had similar issues and came through the other side. thinking of you

fallingandlaughing Sat 04-Dec-10 11:16:24

Wow you have been incredibly brave. Well done for managing to find some peace and balance in your life It is only natural that you should have these fears and feelings.

I am sure you won't be the first woman going through pregnancy who has these difficulties sad So your midwife would be prepared for discussing them. But I imagine someone will pop up with info about an organisation who can give you advice/support on how to approach it. There is an organisation called www.pandys.org in the US, I think their website looks useful.

Maybe your midwife can arrange to get you consultant led care so you get the same person each time. Or you could have homebirth with a doula who you have spent time getting to know? This is the sort of time I really think the medical professions have to be imaginative about what makes the best care.

Could you show this thread to your DH as a starting point? Maybe he could raise it with your midwife if you don't feel able?

I know you have worked hard to recover and be the strong person people know But it is OK to be vulnerable, to be scared, to be upset. You will still be you.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Sat 04-Dec-10 11:19:58

There are lots of threads on this - you're not alone.

Some suggestions I've had that really helped me are:

write down what your triggers are and make sure they're attached to your birth plan so people can avoid them, for example I have 'no internal exams' in big, big letters on my file, along with a whole lot of other things
get in touch with the perinatal psychiatric team
tell your DH how you're feeling if you haven't already - his support will be invaluable when you have to explain it to other people
explore the option of having a doula or an independent midwife with you

You can do this and there is help available.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Sat 04-Dec-10 11:21:11

Oh and the other tip I had was to ask for a named midwife who has experience of dealing with survivors of rape and sexual assualt/women with PTSD.

TransatlanticCityGirl Sat 04-Dec-10 11:24:35

I like the idea of hiring a doula or maybe even a private midwife.
Also I think it might help you to talk through your feelings with a qualified therapist, and if you haven't already, your husband. It is also amazing how liberating it can feel if you can open up to one close friend - you mentioned that they all see you as someone who is quite together and with it - and maybe keeping up this appearance is putting further strain on you? If you trust your friends enough, maybe talk about it with them and you'll be amazed as the support you receive.
I can't imagine what you're going through, but I can sense that you are strong enough to get through this no matter how hard it feels now!

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Sat 04-Dec-10 11:30:41

I've PMed you.

Really, with only a few details changed, you're describing what happened to me.

1 in 4 women suffer some form of sexual abuse during their lives, so there's no reason for you to be feeling alone or misunderstood, yet sometimes professioanls can seem not to listen or understand because it's all too much for them. But there are people out there who will listen, care and do all they can to help.

For me, getting an independent midwife was a godsend but as the other suggestions on this thread show, there are many things you couls try that might help.

Big un MNworthy hugs

Debs3693 Sat 04-Dec-10 11:44:58

Thank you for all your comments, it really does help to know you are not alone. I just do not want to get into the mental health system again, it was just awful and I am too ashamed to talk to dh or mw. I don't want it in my notes. I am hoping just talking a bit on here is enough for me to control it.
Omg I am a mess today!

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Sat 04-Dec-10 12:03:45

Unless you want to use your MH history to push for an ELCS, there's no reason for you to need to get into the mental health system again. And unless you are showing signed of psychosis or behaviour dangerous to you or the baby, you won't be referred unless you agree. But I hope that you will be able to find a way to talk to DH about this. It seems as though you really need his support. Feeling ashamed is a very normal part of PTSD, but the assault you suffered was not your fault.

QueenCleopatra Sat 04-Dec-10 12:40:05

Hi Debs. I've never posted here before - I lurk and read a lot but as I'm not pregnant and probably won't be for another couple of years I haven't felt I had anything to add to any threads until I read yours.

I just wanted to say that if you want to consider something that may help with PTSD, you might want to look into EMDR. It's used a lot to help with PTSD and trauma and combined with other therapies may be of use to you. You can find more info about it here:

http://www.emdrassociation.org.uk/

While I'm not trained in EMDR myself, the people that I trained with when I qualified as a hypnotherapist were EMDR qualified and from speaking to them I really believe in the value of it and hope to be trained to use it one day.

I hope you find the right support for you.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Sat 04-Dec-10 12:40:29

You don't have to go into the MH system if you don't want to, but I found that knowing that there were people who were specialised in this was helpful and that knowing who they were while I was in a more balanced frame of mind than when I might end up needing them (because for me stranger fear is a huuuuuuuge thing) helped.

Having your wishes in your notes is nothing to do with MH at all. It's about you being very clear what you do and don't want done and making it so that no-one can miss it. Every medical professional should be reading your notes before dealing with you so if you have in there that you want warning before you're touched in any way, no internal exams, explanations for everything that's going on, whatever you find helps then they will see and (hopefully) read and respect that.

I hope you find that you can open up to someone about it. I won't deny that it's painful but if you can open up to your DH he can act as your advocate and tell people for yor. Or write it down in a letter/print off this thread and hand it to the midwife to read.

I had to write it down in the end because even hearing DH explain things set me off.

naturalbaby Sat 04-Dec-10 14:21:59

i don't know if this suggestion would help but i was quite worked up and anxious about the thought of internal exams and interventions so i had a home birth using a water pool. i had one internal to check how dilated i was then got in the water and the midwife sat at the other end of the room leaving me to get on with it. she used a mirror every now and then to see if everything looked o.k and then checked for tears afterwards but it was the most amazing experience. i was very lucky to have a low risk, uncomplicated labour but being at home meant i felt much more in control. i also used hypnobirthing to stay calm and relaxed in the last few weeks, and throughout labour.

missmoopy Sat 04-Dec-10 21:12:22

An elective c-section may be something to consider if you cannot face the internals etc. It obviously is a big decision but I am certain with the information you have bravely shared with this any obs team would agree to it.

meg89 Sat 04-Dec-10 22:02:05

really feel for you.. Although like others i dont have any experience of going through anything like what you have, i do suffer panic attacks and anxiety,so do understand what its like to feel completely consumed with worry and fear,and feeling out of control. Mine has started to return a bit since being pregnant 2nd time round, last time it was bad was after having my son,where i got pretty ill. Saying all this is what makes me think u really need to talk and get some of it out of your system with somebody who will listen and care,your dh,a midwife,friend. It will help. Like you said being this strong person to your friends,and upholding this will over time just make you feel even more anxious and stressed,alone... I definately think that the suggestion of a private midwife sounds like a good idea,knowing the person throughout ur pregnancy and knowing exactly what will/wont be happening and how you want it to be,will hugely help with the worry and anxiety,just feeling a bit more in control should make a big difference.. I really hope everything goes well for you,you have got this far and clearly conquered so much so far,so theres no doubt u can do it. Good luck xx

RememberToPlaywiththeKids Sun 05-Dec-10 10:46:04

Have you considered either a home birth or a birthing centre birth? They are far less medicalised and you don't have to have internals if you don't want to or you could just say a quick one if you absolutely have to (ie worried about whether they will need to go for CS or something)? Also - the internals I had (1 each birth) wasn't a nasty speculum job and the MW's face wasn't between by legs or anything and it took about 4-5 seconds I would say. With all the sensations of labour going on, it's also nothing like having one if you're not in labour if that makes sense.

I've had one of each kind of birth and had someone in the room but they weren't really 'there'.

Someone in my antenatal class had a similar experience to you and she just had that she had been trauatised in the past and that she needed to be 'handled' very sensitively. She said it was all so much better than she was fearing.

I'm so sorry you've had to go through this

Debs3693 Thu 09-Dec-10 20:33:37

Hello I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who responded to my post. I have been feeling rather low since but have been thinking about your suggestions. I don't know what I am going to do yet but I really do appreciate your help. Xxx

Miffster Thu 09-Dec-10 20:39:34

Here is a very relevant thread which may be of help to you, written by a rape/abuse survivor who was also dreading the same stuff as you and looking at how to minimise distress to herself.

She got some great advice - good luck, I hope you are able to find a way through the scary stuff into a peaceful place.

Debs3693 Thu 09-Dec-10 21:32:00

Hey miffster thank you for the link that was really helpful to read. Could have been written by me! X

Hest Mon 13-Dec-10 01:17:50

Well done for plucking up the courage to write about this, you are not alone in experiencing the things which have happened to you.

Good luck with your pregnancy. Take some pressure off yourself - its normal to have conflicting feelings about wanting a baby even when you HAVEN'T been through what you have! I just thought I'd mention to you that the sort of abuse you suffered is also a recognised reason for an elective cesarean if you feel unhappy about internal exams or the idea of vaginal childbirth etc. Do seek some help now if you feel you need it from the NHS or a women's refuge/victim support etc, although sadly counselling services provided by the NHS can be sketchy. Best of luck for the future, I'll be thinking of you xxx H

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