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  • HyperHam 8:30 pm on May 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: birth, birth trauma, PTSD, therapy   

    Our Birth Story. Part Two. 

    Our birth story began at 9.22 am on January 23, 2011, with the birth of our son, Alex.  Most people’s stories end there; the baby is out, pictures are taken, nervous assembled family members hug in an adjoining room, the circle of life.  Like everything else about us the birth was different.  Our true birth story began when Alex made his arrival.

    Our birth story is not pretty.  It had no feel good moment.  It was 66 hours of pure, unadulterated hell, followed by two more days stuck in hospital, incredibly lonely, and in pain, and hurt.  My soul was crushed, there was no way around it, and if it weren’t for the mammoth strength of my husband, Monkey, I would not be here today.

    Life in the weeks after baby Alex was difficult, but so rewarding.  His life gave my life purpose.  He smiled (and it was a smile, not gas!) gave me strength I never knew I had.  Slowly, the physical wounds healed.  But the mental wounds, reliving the terror when I closed my eyes, feeling ghost hands and instruments inside me when I knew I was sitting on the couch, nursing my son, safe and sound, they stayed with me.  Always, always in the corner of my eye, they sat  just out of the line of sight.

    They waited.

    Alex was probably nine months or so, and Monkey had to travel for family business for a week.  I was fine, I said.  I got this.  Lexi and I had found our groove.  Baby massage on Mondays, chilling with the yummy mummies on Wednesday mornings, going for walks, we had this.  But Alex got sick, an awful lurgy headcold, and I caught it within a day, and those 10 days without Monkey was a day in, day out marathon of runny noses and no sleep and screaming and pain and finally…I snapped.  I was pushing baby in his pram (because of course his sinuses hurt so badly he couldn’t sleep on his back in his crib), and he was just screaming and screaming and screaming and I –

    • I shook him.

    He thought it was funny, to have mommy grab his pram, wheel him around, and jiggle the pram hard making the funny yelling faces, and he laughed.  I recoiled in horror, walked away, went to the computer, looked up the crisis hotline, and dialed the phone.  I didn’t get off the phone till I had spoken to someone, and had the soonest doctor appointment to deal with it.

    The first appointment was an assessment, that took about 1.5 hours, although it seemed twice as long.  I cried, and cried, and cried.  I was broken.  But anyone who is a parent, and especially the primary caretaker, knows that being broken isn’t an option.  You have to push the demons behind your line of sight, as you have priorities.  Child comes first, second, and third.  And fourth.  And…you get the point.  But the demons weren’t going anywhere, and they were now interfering with my child.  So they called me back a few weeks later; they found a therapist who specialized in birth trauma, and there was a creche in house, so Alex could play while I worked.  A few weeks after that, we began.

    I was diagnosed with PTSD from the birth, and our therapy followed the protocol for the disorder – me telling the birth story, in the present tense (and now I am on the table, and now I am pushing, etc), over and over till I became accustomed to it.  For several months we worked intensively, me telling the story over and over, talking about ‘hotspots’ in the story (parts where I would break down), working through especially difficult moments, her pushing me to relive detail after detail until….until I became bored.  I was bored of telling the story, bored of the power it once held over me.


    I had finally finished giving birth.


    The story isn’t over, of course.  I still have one last piece of the puzzle to get through – obtaining my birth records, and going over them with a general counsellor (making sure I understand what my body went through, so I have no lingering doubts about how everything healed).  But just like the birth of the child means the worst is over, so is the worst of Alex’s birth over.  I can finally look back on Alex’s birth and find some joy.

    The light of my life came into the world on January 23, 2011.  Finally, after 15 months, I can see that light fully.  No darkness in the corners of my eyes.

    Have a good night.

    • barefoot_med_student 11:13 am on May 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Wow. I’m so glad you got through the trauma – to think, there are countries where mothers with birth trauma are expected to just push through it on their own.

      I also wrote a #blogitforbabies post here 🙂

      • HyperHam 2:30 pm on May 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! It\’s cool to read your piece and get the medical side of it all. Well done!

  • HyperHam 10:47 pm on January 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: birth,   

    Our Birth Story 

    This is the story of the birth of our first child, WeaponX.  It is not a pretty story. I’m crying as I type it, because… well, many reasons.  The intensity of what we went through was overwhelming, and I don’t think either of us have had the time to really process it all.  I’m crying because I feel a lot of guilt over what I feel were mistakes on my part during the birth which led to so many issues.  I’m crying because I’m a new mum, and while you can plan for so many things during pregnancy, you can’t plan for how you feel once that amazing new life form is placed in your arms. 

    On Friday Jan 14th, my due date, I went in for another check up, where I was told I was 75% effaced, and 2 cm dilated or so.  I also had blood tests done for Obstetric Choleostasis, as my whole body was massively itching.

    On Tuesday 18th, the test results came back abnormal – not deadly high, but high enough that they wanted me to come in for another test.  We went in on Wed for the blood and to listen to Weapon for a bit.  On Thursday 20th, the doc called.  The test results were a bit higher (46, the top level should only be 40).  Between being almost a week overdue and in torture from this pregnancy (I was still vomiting once a week, the heartburn meant I was drinking Gaviscon like water, etc), and obsessing over every internet factoid I could find about OC (the levels could jump at any minute, you could lose your baby within moments, etc), when the doc offered induction, I grabbed it with both hands.  We went into the hospital at 1.30 pm, on Thursday the 20th. 

    They induced me at 3.30pm using a pessary, and hooked me up to a bunch of monitors and such.  By the late evening, there was no change, so Monkey was kicked out till the next morning.  We thought for sure Weapon would have started to be born by then.  We were idiots. 

    After 24 hours, (Friday the 21st), the pessary was taken out and I was continually monitored to see if I could ‘kick start’ my own labor.  I was examined, and found the pessary actually caused my cervix to *harden* and begin to close!  I was also told Weapon may have flipped, and that I could leave the hospital, and they would monitor me via blood levels.  I was terrified of leaving, convinced my child would die if I didn’t stay hooked up to the monitors, etc.  I stayed another lonely night in the antenatal ward, waiting for a spare slot in the birthing suite upstairs.

    Saturday the 22nd, at 12.30 pm, they decided to go with breaking the waters artifically/Syntocin drip method.  After a DROWNING (poor midwife looked like she had taken a swim!) from the waters, the Syntocin drip was placed in and we waited. The machines continually monitored my heartbeat, blood pressure and plenty of other things that’d occasionally go ping.

    At 6pm, they placed an epidural in my spine – because of a prior back injury, they had to place the epidural three times. There’s nothing as much fun as hearing a bunch of doctors say “Ok, you’re just going to feel a bee sting in your back”, talk behind you and then say “Ok, one more bee sting” – over and over again. The spinal block was finally adminstered, and we settled in for a long night.

    The spinal block worked a charm – I felt nothing. However, the epidural that they used to top it up didn’t work – the spaces between my veterbrae were too compressed and the medicine couldn’t reach my nerves and do whatever the hell it was supposed to be. That, paired with a posterior baby, me being strapped to my back in a bed and the syntocin drip equalled for very very painful contractions.

    We laboured throughout the night – I’ll admit at this point I started losing any sembalance of time and space. The contractions got so hard that by 5am (Sunday 23 January) I was screaming every minute or so, and I’d only get 30 seconds of respite between each contraction. The epidural had stopped working, so they gave me gas and air but it lost all effectiveness by 6am, but it didn’t stop me chugging it for all that it was worth, and resisting any attempt to have it taken away from me!

    At 5.30am, I was still snarky enough to shout to a random hospital orderly: “I’ll give you £10 to cut this baby out of me!”, but shortly after that, I became a gas’n’air chugging fiend….

    Monkey is now going to take over writing this, as I have no clue what happened at this point.

    Monkey:   The doctors had wanted to examine her innards for sometime, but she was resisting all attempts to be examined – who wants more pain when you’ve already got plenty of pain? However, by 7.45am she’d been given doses of an extra anaesthetic (PHC-A or something) and at 8.30am, she was examined by the doctor.

    Who suddenly commanded her to PUSH, P-U-S-H and P–U–SSS—-HHHH. I tell you, when you’ve been watching your poor wife struggle for at least 14 long hours and you had already begged for a C-section, it was like being led out of the light. Someone hit some kind of emergency button, and suddenly six women came in, all exhorting her to push in a variety of phrases. 

    HyperHam  says: “it wasn’t so much the pushing that was excruciating … but it felt like my insides were being torn out and there was nothing I could do about it. Between each contraction, I remember them putting things in me – I had no idea what they were doing but I knew I was so far beyond the pain I couldn’t express myself beyond gutteral screams”. But oddly, these screams were nowhere near as bad as before.

    Monkey: They ended up doing a second-degree episitomomy and used forceps before the baby finally emerged at 9.22am – with a cord around his neck.

    HyperHam : “That’s when I realised what they were doing – they were reaching inside of me to try and un-hook the cord), which was cut immediately and the baby plopped onto my stomach. I don’t remember that actually happening – I remember putting my hand up for something on my chest, and my hand being covered in blood. I asked what had happened, and they said I had a baby. I was so far gone, I didn’t recognise the child on my chest. I thought when I passed the placenta, THAT was the baby. He was “pale, flat and floppy” according to the birth notes, so upon exiting he was taken to the crash cart to be resucitated, and he started to perk up fairly quickly.”

    Monkey : “Once she had realised that the baby was out, she told me to cut the cord (as our birth plan had laughingly suggested). Unfortunately, of course, the cord had already been cut. She then told me to follow the baby, exhorting me to make sure I had protective gloves on – which seems ironic given the blood bath around me – and that the baby was at the time surrounded by 5 suitably dressed medical personnel (including one bloke!) I wasn’t going to touch the baby just yet. At one point, someone congratulated HyperHam  and told her there was no more pushing, and she didn’t respond because she was OUT for the count. Of course, I looked behind me at her and erm… I had wanted to document EVERYTHING but some things are best left not photographed.”

    Monkey : “The baby was eventually handed over to me, looking a tad confused, still and being very quiet, but very much alive. Of course, I showed him to her, and that was that really. We coo’ed, we aww”d, then the new midwife (the shifts had changed) came in and went ‘WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED?'” Then we looked around and found blood EVERYWHERE. At chest height on the curtains covering the door, in pools underneath the bed, all over the crash cart trolleys and all over every single person in the room.”

    “The midwife came and weighed him, swaddled him, and she got to hold him for the first time to her breast before he was put him back under the warming grill and fell DEAD asleep for a couple of hours. In that time, somehow we managed to update Facebook in our sleep with the first picture.”

    “Four hours later, after a suitably long nap, she tried to get up to get a shower – a process that involved unhooking her from all the various machines – but she felt very dizzy in the bathroom, and had to be supported and then carried back into the bed. ”

    HyperHam : “Alexander (the baby) and I spent the night in the “High Dependency” unit, where I had a blood transfusion of three pints and IV shunts placed in both arms and my foot for additional fluids. I was also monitored for a tachy heartrate.

    By 6am the next morning, I was moved to the traditional post-natal unit where I stayed for the next two nights recuperating, and where Alexander was monitored for jaundice. despite all attempts by staff to make my stay as easy as possible, the NHS doesn’t allow partners to stay overnight. So the first night in the post-natal ward was one of the worst nights of my life – and needless to say, much-needed sleep didn’t really happen, what with being in constant pain and confusion and the realisation that you suddenly have this new lifeform and no NCT or pre-natal class, or book, can prepare you for that night of loneliness.

    We were finally sent home six days after walking in, with a new beautiful baby boy, a mountain of medications and a regimen of hemo-dialysis injections that Monkey has to give me every morning.

    • Charlie 1:03 am on February 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hard to know what to say as the account is very moving and real. I just hope you're not beating yourself up about the fact that the birth wasn't the wished for birth and are able to hold on to the fact you survived what sound like quite a traumatic and also life giving experience so there's the sadness as well as the joy. Labour is one of those life events where we're often faced with the fact we can't control things, least of all when we most want to and I know for myself that can be quite difficult.

      I hope you're being looked after and looking after yourself and if there's anything you need then let me know-we're close by and happy to pop in with bits and bobs-Otis and I walk up gold hawk road mon and wednesday to and from his nursery anyway. Otherwise look forward to seeing you at next get together.

      Take care x Charlie & Jonny

    • suburp 12:14 am on February 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      oh man.. there is A LOT of resemblance to my own birth story.. I mean Nemo’s aka Tornado (on suburp).
      geez.. you poor people.. and i remember vaguely promising you a smooth birth since your pregnancy already seemed kind of yucky.. damn. i might write mine down at some point, really some ressemblance there.. bless you guys, well done xoxo

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