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Away in a 3 day labour

From: A Balanced View,

22
December
2011
Away in a 3 day labour

My daughter turns 8 in January.

Like millions of other parents, I am dutifully arranging her party and making sure she feels special on her birthday whilst trying not to spend the GDP of a small country in the process. This year is different, however - this year I’m excited about the day and I’m also sad, because I cannot believe how quickly my beautiful little girl is growing up. This sounds really normal and you are probably wondering why I’d bother blogging about it, except for me, it’s not. It’s a brand new feeling. The last seven years have passed in a blur of ‘going through the motions’ and plastering a big fake smile on my face as I carry in her cake.

This time eight years ago, I was thirty eight weeks pregnant and had that slightly desperate and fed up look of a woman about to give birth. I’d sailed through pregnancy - which is an appropriate phrase as I was the size of an ocean liner - but I was excited and ready for the big event. When my labour finally started, I was two weeks overdue and I thought I was ready -but nothing could prepare me for what lay ahead.

I won’t labour on about my labour, but the crux of it was that the baby disengaged her head and I stopped dilating, resulting in three days of labour, hospital oxytocin drips, having my waters broken, pethidine, epidural and an emergency c-section, during which I haemorrhaged and lost a litre of blood. The horror of the labour was compounded by the fact that two weeks later I went back to a stressful job. This left me scarred emotionally and physically and I spiralled into chronic post natal depression. I spent the best part of three years swapping between manically working and lying in my bed in foetal position, totally avoiding being alone with my baby in case I tried to kill her. By the time the depression finally went away it had left me crippled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I still have it, although it is effectively managed with a very healthy supplemented diet, exercise, emotional work and regular kinesiology.

Then only last year I realised I didn’t love my child. It wasn’t for lack of trying, I simply couldn’t, because there was too much pain and panic in the place where the love was supposed to be. I couldn’t spend any time with her. The thought of it scared me so much I felt sick. An amazing clinical psychologist diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder and I learnt how to work through it.

I know I’m not a unique case. Millions of women suffer trauma after birth and it’s never really discussed or understood. In fact admitting you don’t love your child or dislike the job of parenting is a massive taboo. My experience profoundly changed my life. Before I was unhealthy and negative and hated my job but part of me died in that hospital and years later a new me finally broke through. I retrained, I got healthy and I worked through my stuff. My condition literally saved my life and I’m eternally grateful to it.

So in a few days time, like all of you, I will be celebrating Christmas and the best gift I will get is the warm glow from seeing my beautiful little girl opening her presents. And in January when I carry in that birthday cake, the smile on my face will finally be real and a miniscule expression of how much I can now love her.

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