Updated: Jul 7, 2022
A post close to my heart that took me a while to write up as there was some healing to do first. Full disclosure, there is some birth trauma involved.
It all started on Wednesday, 27th of February 2019 at about 2:00 in the morning. That is when I woke up because I needed to wee and my waters broke. At first I wasn't sure what was happening but after a few minutes it was clear. It was show time. I was 39+1 weeks.
As I was taking too long in the bathroom, my husband woke up and asked if everything was okay. When I told him that I thought my waters had broken, his reaction was the cutest. He immediately started repeating what we had been told during our antenatal class about what to do if this happened. It was time to drive to the hospital to make sure everything was fine.
We got to the hospital and I was not in any sort of pain yet. I just remembered myself thinking where is all this water coming from!! In the hospital, the midwives started to monitor my daughter's vitals, and everything seemed fine but she was not moving at all. So, what was supposed to be a quick check up, turned into a couple of hours in hospital until my daughter decided to start moving. Good news was that everything was fine. We were then sent home to get some sleep at about 4:00 in the morning. Obviously, I could not get any sleep. By the time we started driving back home, I started feeling the first contractions. That's when I understood what the midwife meant when she said that the first ones could be like period cramps. Contractions started to get more intense as the day went by and by 4:00pm I was ready to go to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, I was about 4cm dilated. They wanted me to go home but I insisted in staying as I was already in a lot of pain, so we stayed. After a few hours, I was already in the transition stage and about 9cm dilated. The pain was intense and I could not take it anymore so I asked for some pain relief medication, to which the midwife said that I could only get the happy gas as the baby was coming soon. Ha! I got the happy gas and was ready to push. I got the green light from the midwife to push but after a few tries, nothing was happening.
The midwife then checked my cervix and turns out I got stuck in the transition stage and stopped dilating at 9cm. Also, because I was already pushing, my cervix was swollen. That's when I was told they needed to prepare everything to get me an epidural. By this time, I was in so much pain that lots of the details are blurry.
I was then transferred to a delivery room to get the epidural. My husband says it took three attempts to get it in. Once I had the epidural, I was able to relax a bit and get some sleep. I remember an OB came to check my progress and make sure everything was okay. I was then told that he was going to the theatre to do an emergency C-section and once he finished with that, if I was still not fully dilated, then I was next.
A couple of hours went by and the OB returned to check on me. Luckily, I was fully dilated but my daughter started to get distressed. I was already exhausted and there was something wrong with her position. That's when we were told - We will have to use forceps and we have to do it now. I got really scared but still managed to ask the doctor for any possible risks. Which ones? I do not remember what I was told back then.
Well, they started using the forceps and I started pushing as hard as I could. My husband tells me that the OB got really frustrated with me as he kept asking me to push and I kept trying to push while inhaling some happy gas. I just remember being in a lot of pain, even with the epidural. In the end, my beautiful baby girl was born through an assisted labour on Thursday, 28th February at 3:08 in the morning, after approximately 25 hours of labour.
After a few hours of being in the maternity ward, in our room, I looked at my husband while nursing our daughter, who was sitting in a couch next to my bed, only to see him bursting into tears. He was in shock. He had been all by himself all night supporting me and making sure I was okay. When I asked him if he was okay, he just said that he had not been that scared in his life ever; that he could not believe how our daughter was in one piece after the way he saw the OB using the forceps and how strongly he had to pull our daughter to help her get out. I honestly do not remember any of this.
After she was born, there was a tiny complication as I would not stop bleeding so the OB decided to put some gauze and wait for a while to see if the bleeding would stop by itself. Luckily, it did after a day or so.
Everything was going great and we were thrilled to have our little one in our arms, finally! She was doing so well. She latched perfectly from the moment the midwife put her on my chest after she was born. She made sure to keep us on our toes that second night wanting to be on the boob the whole night to make my milk come in. Everything was going as it was supposed to until the morning of the third day in hospital. That's when I started having a terrible headache. I could not sit up; I could not stand up. It was the worst headache I've had in my life. Turns out I had a dural puncture, which resulted in a cerebrospinal fluid leak, hence the headache. After waiting for a few days to see if it would go away on its own, the doctors decided that my best option was to get a blood patch, which meant getting another epidural to insert some of my blood to seal the leak. This was so stressful because it meant I could not be with my daughter for a while. I remember a midwife trying to pump some milk while I was lying flat before the procedure, but she could not get any. I went down to where I was having the blood patch done knowing my daughter did not have any milk if she got hungry and knowing my husband was all by himself. The good news is that after a couple of hours of being laying flat, I was able to stand up again and the headache was gone.
We stayed in the hospital for longer than expected but luckily, a few days later we were sent home and we were all okay.
Time went by and I just did not talk about my labour to many people, and whenever I did, I would try to laugh to make myself feel better. It was not until I started doing my sleep certification that I knew there was such thing as birth trauma and how impactful an experience like our own labour could be on our mental health and our journey into motherhood.
I guess I would like to finish this post by stressing how important it is to be able to talk to someone about your labour, even when you think that you should be grateful because it was a quick one. Why? Well, because trauma is something that it was too much for us to process, or it happened too fast and we were not prepared for it. Two people can experience the same event and respond in very different ways. So, trauma is an "inside-out" experience so comparison is futile.
If you do not feel ready to talk to anyone about it yet, then writing about it can also help. In my case, my first step to heal was to talk about it with my husband, then I was able to process everything that happened and finally, I got to write about it.
Last but not least, birth trauma can also affect partners or whoever was present at that moment. So, it is as critical for them, as it is for us (the birth mothers), to deal with the trauma in order to heal.
Thanks for reading :)