Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it contains references to childhood rape
This is my story, a story I have bottled up inside me for the last 5 years. I haven’t shared with anyone other than the amazing staff that helped me on this recovery journey. I hope sharing this helps bring awareness to birth trauma and mental health. ** trigger warning, self harm/rape **
Mental health is something I battled with from a young age, I was diagnosed with depression at 14 and by 15 I had been hospitalised 4 times for self harm and a accidental overdose. I drank everyday and had no limits I would drink until I would pass out. At 15 I was raped by 6 men in their 20s when I had passed out this led me down a bad place.
At 16 I fell pregnant with a guy I had only known a few months and I followed through with my pregnancy.
I had serve utis throughout the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy and at 20weeks I had such bad pain on my left side I couldn’t walk or speak through. I went to the hospital and I was told nothing was wrong and it’s just growing pains. This happened multiple times even tho I insisted it was something else but nobody listened.
For weeks I slept in the bath in hot water.It was the only place I could sleep.
At 32 weeks I went to the hospital because it was so unbearable and finally somebody listened when I had a ultrasound my kidney wasn’t draining and was twice the side of my right kidney.
I was kept in hospital on iv antibiotics and fluid until I was 37 weeks on the dot when they told me I was being induced. I was told nothing about my induction or even my thoughts on it.
My induction was 7 days long from start to finish, I spent most of it alone with no support. When I asked for pain relief I was told I wasn’t allowed it. When they broke my waters they said they weren’t sure if they would be able to but wanted to give it a shot. This was one of the most painful events of my life. I stated screaming no but they wouldn’t stop and kept insisting to keep trying.
On day 7 with very little sleep I started Picton and my contractions started of strong and expected the baby to be born that night. I was refused pain relief still because I wasn’t far along enough in the induction. This was at 9am I had no support during this time or felt I advocate for myself.
I was finally allowed a epidural because I was no longer able to speak or move because my contractions were so painful. This is minutes before his birth time and I was being told I needed to have a c-section because he was stuck and his heart rate was dropping. thankfully he came before that. My midwife showed up 10 minutes before he was born and I hadn’t heard of her throughout my induction.
I was then put on a postpartum ward which I then got in trouble for not waking up to my baby and bleeding too much. I left the hospital with a baby who couldn’t latch or would feed.
Following the birth I become depressed very quickly. I regretted my baby. I couldn’t slept and the flashbacks were all day everyday. I had no support from my partner who was cheating on my me but I felt like I needed him and was scared of being a single mum. I felt isolated. I no longer wanted to be alive and struggled to care for my child and myself but I knew I had too. This wasn’t his fault. One thing I remember clearly is my mum saying “ do you even love your child”
At 3 months postpartum I tried to get help and was told their was nothing they could do to help me. I looked into spending hundreds for private birth trauma help and as a 17 year old with no money that was a lot. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
For the next 3 years I had flashbacks daily, I cried about it weekly and I was always on edge. Whenever somebody spoke about birth or pregnancy I would instantly set into panic. I struggled with sleep and was extremely depressed.
When my child was 1 went into full time work and separated from his dad. This was caused largely from my depression and he couldn’t handle it anymore. Fair enough I was a wreck. This continued until my child was 3 but I felt like I was somewhat healed and could manage it.
I met my now husband at that job I started working at 2 years prior and we planned to have another baby and got pregnant easily. This is where my ptsd took a all time high. I had flashbacks constantly and would cry all day and stopped sleeping. I was always full of anxiety and it was taking its toll and felt like i couldn’t go through with the pregnancy.
I saw my gp and I broke down every time I spoke of my previous birth and she yet again said their is very little that can be done to help.
I then saw my midwife for the first time and I again broke down crying and she referred me to maternal mental health which really saved me. I was given weekly therapy and created a birth plan down to every single detail and they said if I had a good second birth it may help heal my first. I was finally diagnosed with C-ptsd
I also found out with a ultrasound for my second child I still had a swollen kidney and I have permanent damage.
I had an amazing birth with my second. I felt listened to and had a natural unmedicated birth with the full support of my partner who was their every second.
I continued my therapy weekly and unfortunately I still continued with my flashbacks and the somewhat hell I had lived in the past 4 years.
I did edmr therapy which bought back memory’s of things I couldn’t even remember and made me aware of just how abusive my relationship was. Which I don’t feel comfortable sharing details of that.
At 3 months postpartum I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder and started moody stabilisers.
5 years on I still deal with flashbacks regularly and anxiety around birth. I still have sleepless nights and I say I won’t have a third child and it’s not because I don’t want too but I don’t think I can cope with a third pregnancy and the emotions that come with it. I don’t share my first birth with people because I always feel like somebody had it worse or i shouldn’t feel this way because I have a living child and it wasn’t that bad but I felt violated and I had no voice.
I now am doing a lot better and I thank that my amazing mental health team and even though I live with ptsd and bipolar disorder my life finally feels good and I am blessed with a amazing husband and two beautiful children. I am doing a Batchelor of social work to help other teenage mums have a voice and have support. Maybe their is light at the end of the tunnel after all.
I finally feel ready to tell somebody and hopefully It helps another mum struggling that things do get better.