Siobhan read my book and I was so moved by what she had to say, that I asked her to do a guest post.
I just wanted to write you a quick note thanking you for your book. I just finished reading it – I know, so late to the party – and I cannot express enough gratitude for what you have given me.
I’ve been struggling for some time with post partum “issues”. I wouldn’t really call it depression…maybe anxiety…I don’t know. I just haven’t been myself since Saoirse was born. I used to be absolutely care free, fearless, and had a good hold over my anxiety. Now, I’m so high strung and anxious – like it’s a struggle to leave my house some days. I’ve never said this to anybody, but it was almost like I was going through some post traumatic stress…but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
For the most part, I’ve worked through it, but I’ve been stuck for about a month. I’m the type of person who needs to know WHY I feel the way I do in order to completely heal. That was the issue. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way. I thought I had the perfect birth (or as close to it as I could ever really have), Saoirse is happy and healthy… really what more could I ask for? For the longest time, I thought it was because I didn’t achieve my breast feeding goals. I felt like a failure as a mother…a woman. I felt like my body betrayed me. There were times reading your book, I had to put it down and sob – not cry – ugly cry sob. It was all falling into place.
I originally wanted a home birth, but my OB didn’t do those and I was too ignorant to look for someone who did. I went into labor naturally and ended up with the practice’s midwife the day of Saoirse’s birth. I have to say most of my labor was pretty easy and I was free to move about as I pleased. I spent most of the night doing laps around the maternity ward. Then some time just before dawn they did a blood pressure check and it was “a little high” so I had to stay confined to the bed. They wouldn’t tell me what the number was. My blood pressure was a “a little high” my entire pregnancy and it never concerned my doctor. I think they didn’t tell me because they knew I would have called bull shit.
That’s when my labor started to actually hurt. I asked for some drugs – not an epidural – but the IV stuff. The nurse proceeded to mock me and tell me to just get the epidural and to stop being a “scaredy cat.” I’m covered in tattoos and donate blood regularly, I’m not afraid of needles. I do not like the idea of a needle going into my spine – it’s a spine thing, not a needle thing. When I asked for time to think about it, she then told me not to worry about any pain management because they were going to send me home because my contractions weren’t registering on the monitor. I ended up not getting anything.
Finally around 8am, my midwife came, checked me (I was 6cm at this point) and broke my water – without my knowing or permission. I could have sworn she said “Oh your water broke” but my husband says he saw her do it. It did speed up my labor and she let me get up and walk around which made things bearable again. About a half hour before Saoirse was born I got into the shower. The hot water must have really relaxed me because I thought she was going to slide out then and there. I had my husband go get the nurse – my body was telling me it was time. She was ready. My body was ready. She was coming. The nurse came and checked me and said I was only 9cm, so I couldn’t push yet. My body was pushing on its own. I had no control. So, the nurse pretty much stood there arguing with me for 10 minutes about it. Finally, I told her I would deliver the baby myself with or without them.
She got my midwife and she checked me AGAIN and even though I was still only 9cm, she said I could push. If I had to be on my back, the most comfortable way for me was with my neck back, back arched, kind of lifting my butt off the bed. Of course this didn’t fly, and a nurse held me down while she insisted my husband do the same. Luckily, Saoirse was out in 4 pushes. They placed her on my belly and I just looked at her. I didn’t cry. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t count her fingers or toes. I didn’t feel anything. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I physically felt like I could run a marathon at that point. I just went though the motions of latching her, all in a daze. My husband was crying. My sister was crying. I wanted to cry. I just couldn’t.
Why wasn’t I feeling that bond? Why wasn’t I lovey dovey? Why did I feel like I needed to scoop her up and run for my life? Why could I have run for my life at that point? It all makes sense to me now. I was totally in fight or flight. It didn’t end there. It went on for my entire hospital stay. I didn’t sleep for 2 days – maybe a half hour here and there – but for the most part I was awake. Breast feeding only lasted 2 months for me. I think it all goes back to pretty much being in the state of fight or flight for weeks after Saoirse’s birth.
My husband and I are very private people – hyper guarded. We don’t get along with our families – they’re toxic people. Of course they came out of the wood work and made it all about themselves and wouldn’t leave us alone. I think I was so concerned with guarding her from these awful people – adrenaline always pumping – the oxytocin never flowed. I never made enough milk for her. It wasn’t until all these people faded back into their holes that I was able to look at her with amazement and cry tears of joy. So much precious time was stolen from me by these personal space invaders – the nurses up to my toxic relatives. It all makes so much sense to me now.
I’m not at the end of my healing journey, but I’m back on track all thanks to you. The next time I have a child it will be in my home and no one will need to know about it until I’m ready. I have to be honest with you though – if I were to give birth tomorrow or even a year from now I don’t know if I could do it without a midwife. I don’t trust my body. I know now it wasn’t my body that betrayed me. It was trying to protect me…regardless I don’t have the same faith in it as I used to. I think my journey will end when my trust is restored. I’m not sure how I’m going to get back to that place. I’m sure it’s going to require a leap of faith. A leap I’m a little closer to taking because of your book.
So, what was suppose to be a quick note of thanks has turned into a disjointed babble fest. Sorry for that. I guess I just wanted you to know how much your experiences meant to me. You’ve given me a wonderful gift. I’m infinitely grateful.
Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart,