Telling my birth story has been therapeutic and it has helped me cope with the trauma from postpartum PTSD.
This is a continuation of My Birth Story series, please read Part One, Two & Three before continuing.
What Happened After I Gave Birth
It took me a while to realize I had some lasting effects from Lydia’s birth.
It wasn’t postpartum, although it could easily be disguised as such. I didn’t have a hard time bonding with her and I didn’t cry any more than what I would deem “normal” in the first three months. To be honest, in the early days even though I knew my birth experience was pretty bad, I didn’t think about it or dwell on it.
I didn’t realize I had a problem until almost two years later when my husband wanted to try for another baby. We had talked several times about wanting our children to be close together so for a long time I had said the summer before she turned two we would start trying. The summer came and I started having panic attacks about going off birth control. I hid a lot of my inner feelings of terror about going through a similar birthing experience again.
In March 2014, I had met with a new doctor in preparation for getting pregnant and when I started to explain how Lydia’s birth went, I burst out into unexpected tears. I was embarrassed that I felt so traumatized over her birth. I kept telling myself that billions of women have had children so I must just be over-dramatic about my feelings of panic and anxiety.
Finally, I had to tell my husband that I wasn’t ready to try for baby #2 in June 2014 when I had already promised that I would. This caused us to have a serious blowout fight where he felt that I had deceived him when in actuality I just had a hard time expressing how terrified I was to go through it again. I had mentioned to him how scary her birth was for me, but I never really explained how terrified it made me.
Once I opened up to him about it, I decided to see a counselor to talk me through it. During our big fight, I wanted to deflect my issues and tell him it was his fault I wasn’t ready to have another baby because he didn’t help out enough the last time I was pregnant, but it was real that I didn’t want to deal with the birth trauma I had experienced. He had indeed helped out during my pregnancy, I was just doing everything possible to avoid talking about the elephant in the room.
The counselor told me I was experiencing a post-birth version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I do not think mine was as bad as some people have probably experienced, but to me it was very real.
Once I was able to put a name to what I was feeling, it really helped me to move forward. After my first counseling session, I went home and googled what PTSD after birth trauma was and felt comforted that I was not alone in how I felt.
I’m not sure if there will ever be a “right” time for me to consider having another baby, but I know that I do want to have another. Comforted by the fact that I now understand what I went through, I am determined to have a much better experience the second time around.
Update Septemeber 2017: I am pregnant with baby #2 due in March 2018! I recently wrote an update on how I’m coping with my birth trauma: Journey to Baby #2: Conquering Postpartum PTSD Birth Trauma
Shop My List of Post C-Section Recovery Essentials
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I’ve been fortunate to share my story in several different publications.
10 Must-Have Baby Essentials Every Second Time Mom Needs
How the DockATot Helped Me Heal After My C-Section
Preparing For a Repeat C-Section and Recovery – Tips From Moms Who Have Been There
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Thank you for sharing! It takes a lot of courage to share something so personal. If it’s any encouragement, my second experience was so, so different than my first. I felt confident, competent, and in control which made me much less anxious and much more assertive the second time around. I can’t relate to a traumatic childbirth experience, but the newborn/baby phase was awful for me – and that was infinitely easier, too. It did take me longer to be ready for a second (my kids are 4 years apart) but for us even that unexpectedly longer spacing has been absolutely perfect. Blessings to you and your family as you work toward what is the best next step for your family. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it is an encouragement to other women walking this motherhood journey!
Thank you for reading Kristina! It is encouraging to me to know that a lot of women find the second time around to be easier. I also found the newborn stage to be very hard so thats nice to know the second time was easier for you too. I think for the newborn stage the 2nd time at least you know what you are getting yourself into 🙂
Thanks again for stopping by!
Wow! I’ve never heard of this! Thank you for sharing something so personal! (visiting from sitsblogging)
My first childbirth experience was awful! I had a forceps delivery done by a medical student. I felt a little uneasy saying yes when they asked if a student could try pulling him out. The student didn’t do it right and finally a doctor came behind her, grabbed her arms and they pulled him out together. The tearing was really bad. For weeks I cried every time I had to use the restroom. It was awful! I have had 2 kids since then and their deliveries have been wonderful! My first delivery was 36 hours, their deliveries have been around 14. There is a 4 1/2 year difference between my first and second and not a big age gap after that. I know people wonder, but I live in Minnesota and Minnesota nice means you don’t ask probing personal questions so I have never really had to field questions of why one child is so much older. I didn’t tell my doctor about my fears until after my second child was born and he said that he wished he would have known so that he could have helped me through it all. I regret not talking to him about it sooner. You will know when the time is right for you, but most women have extremely different experiences from one child to the next. My first child was 8# 10 oz and my second child was 9# 15 oz and I could have hopped up off the bed from my second child and gone on as if nothing had happened. I think one thing that helped the second time was I wasn’t trying to do everything perfectly, I didn’t try to document everything in my birth journal or try to remember to incorporate everything I learned in my prenatal classes. I let my body do what it needed to do and trusted the process and wasn’t such a control freak. I’m excited about the birth of our fourth baby next month, I no longer fear delivery and the recovery process. I hope in time you and your family will discover what the right decision is for you. Good luck!
Chris, thank you so much for sharing your story, I really appreciate it! I wish the best of luck with your fourth baby, your story is very inspriing!
Wow! that is so familiar. I think you just helped diagnosed what i’m going through. And you are right, I find it easier and more sensible to b lame it on my mother in law for maltreating me right from the moment the baby came out of me and my husband for not supporting me through the whole thing. I had both physical and emotional trauma. The wound on my womb, caused by the midwife trying to manually detach the placental for 2 hours after the baby came out, is yet to heal after 15 months now. the emotional trauma, of not been appreciated, been made to do chores right from 5 hours after delivery, been insulted for not having a job thus i can’t eat to satisfaction, to name a few, still does hurt deep inside my heart. I don’t even want to think about having another baby. The only progress i’ve made so far is feeling better about myself because i now have a job, so I have income of my own, don’t have to depend on hubby so the mother can’t stab my self esteem anymore. BUT, i still can’t entertain the thought of having another baby. I love my son a lot. His smile was the only comfort I had through those hard times.