After having IVF, my daughter coming early and having a rough pregnancy, something I now realise they don't prepare you for is if complications arise during labour.
My daughter got stuck at 7cm. I was in labour for 16 hours - she was back to back, her heart rate dropped. My pain relief was gas and air. I had an episiotomy and they used forceps, that's all I remember as I was drifting in and out of consciousness. I heard the midwives and doctor scream at me to push and I remember being dragged down the bed.
I tore. They stitched me up, unstitched me and stitched again. They feared a haematoma but found nothing, which is funny given how things turned out.
I was told to shower before being transferred to a ward for the night. I collapsed in the shower. My husband helped me up into a chair and pulled the bell to raise the alarm.
Once in bed the pain returned. My bladder was to full and I needed a catheter to pass urine. The catheter was no match for the swelling so back came the gas and air. All I remember is screaming out in pain and the flashbacks stay with me even now.
Six days passed with no tests. Doctors glimpsed, gasped and then walked away, never the same one twice. I was terrified, ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like I wasn't meant to be a mother. I still hadn't held or bonded with my baby girl. Jealousy turned to anger as I watched other mothers come and go with their babies, while I just lay there incapable of doing anything because of the pain. I lost my dignity that day and my will to carry on.
What was wrong with me?
I was discharged the next day, bruising the diagnosis. Nine hours later I was rushed back in, my community midwife said she hadn't seen a wound anything like mine. We contacted a private consultant as our trust in the staff at the hospital had long since gone. After a CT scan on arrival and blood tests, it turned out I had sepsis. I had to go on an IV drip with two different antibiotics, one being rare; I was also placed on oxygen. The doctor was concerned about organ failure.
Major surgery followed to remove a blood clot the size of an egg and several abscesses that day. I remained in hospital for two weeks and with constant morphine for the pain. My husband had to take control of my medication chart as lapses in timings brought stress and agony.
After leaving the hospital I went to see an osteopath as the hospital discharged me with no help and no plan. I couldn't walk unaided. I sat through gritted teeth. I saw the osteopath for a year and it took four months for me to be able to walk properly. Problems continued and my GP referred me to a urologist for bladder issues.
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and PTSD after being reviewed by my GP and counsellor, whom I still see two and a half years on. If it wasn't for the support of my husband and for him saying 'I think you need to speak to someone', I don't know where I would be now.
The NHS let me down and I want to let people know that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. It helped me a lot to speak to someone that wasn't involved in my labour. It's a shame and it should be easier for women to gain access to information with regards to PTSD, postnatal depression or any issues surrounding mental health.
The BTA Facebook page, which is a closed group, was a great help to me. It was somewhere to vent and get advice from women who have experienced similar issues.
A year after, I complained to the hospital but they didn't take me seriously. I took it to the Health Ombudsman; they became involved and found the hospital to be negligent. I was advised the hospital would be putting changes in place so it doesn't happen again.
I really want women and their partners to know there is help out there and please don't be afraid to ask for it. It helped me and my husband.
Please don't feel alone.