My son was born in December 2009 via emergency C-section. They used general anaesthetic in their need to deliver him as quickly and as safely as possible. They robbed me of the first precious moments with my son; I never got to hear his first cries or to even give him a name. My face was not the first face he saw and my voice was not the first sound. We didn't meet until he was over an hour old and it took months for us to fall in love.
According to statistics, one in eight babies in the UK are born with some degree of medical involvement and around 30% of those women claim that they are left traumatised by such interventions.
I certainly felt that I had failed to perform and the guilt at not being there for my son quickly engulfed my every waking moment. I suffered panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, flash backs and nightmares. I became obsessed about what had happened and struggled with normal, daily tasks.
I talked to a midwife counsellor at my hospital, who was able to read through my birth notes and translate some of the medical jargon.
I discovered that I was taken to delivery at 6.34pm and that the surgeon put his knife to my skin just 60 seconds later. I discovered that my poor baby had needed a tube down his throat to help him take his first breaths. I didn't realise at the time, but this was the first step towards coming to terms with what had happened.
The NHS is apparently now attempting to reduce the number of women who are requesting an elective C-section following a difficult previous birth. Specially trained birth trauma counsellors are being placed in hospitals to provide specific care for women and their families who have been affected by a traumatic birth.
These counsellors are well equipped to spot the signs of Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common condition amongst those who have suffered birth trauma; sadly it is a condition which is often mistaken for Postnatal Depression. My son was eight months old when my GP diagnosed with me PND; I still disagree with his verdict.
For the first six months of my son's life, I existed for the sake of my daughter- she needed a mother who could pick her up from school on time and reads stories to her like she used to. I forced myself to attend baby groups where I met other ladies; I formed a support system. I discovered the Birth Trauma Association and I started chatting to women on their Facebook group.
I discovered that I was not alone- unfortunately thousands of women have been affected by a traumatic birth.
The age old saying that time is a great healer is so very true. With time, my son and I have bonded and today we enjoy a strong, loving relationship - we had to work a little harder at it though.
Birth Trauma affects thousands of families and the early days after the event can feel so terribly lonely. I struggled to understand why people were congratulating me for having my son because all I could think about what the horrific procedure that had taken place to get him here. I found that talking about my feelings was the best way to deal with them and in time, I began to write about what had happened.
Writing about my son's birth has given me a voice, one which I hope to extend to the thousands of other women and their families who have suffered in a similar way.
Those affected by birth trauma need to know that they are not alone and that support is out there to help them come to terms with everything.
Maternity Matters is a collaborative blog that I have set up with another woman; we met through speaking of our experiences. We aim to raise awareness of birth trauma and to provide support for the families affected by it; any proceeds will be donated to the Birth Trauma Association by way of thanks for their support.
Had Maternity Matters been around after my son was born, perhaps my own recovery would have come around sooner. As it is, I am still taking it one day at a time. I thank my lucky stars each and every day that I have a happy and healthy son and I try not to dwell on what very nearly was. I think this has been the biggest hurdle to overcome and I know that the journey is far from over.
I feel incredibly lucky to be part such an amazing support system and I truly believe that everything that happened on that day in December 2009 has made me a stronger person.
Was your child's birth traumatic for you?