Posted in Birth Stories, Blog, Featured, Mother, Posts for mommies-to-be, Rebecca, Recovering from childbirth, Still pregnant?

My story: chapter 12

*This is pretty much the final chapter, although I will write one more post finishing this up. As you will read below, I did some counseling to work through this experience. Writing these posts was part of my homework and I think it helped a lot. After my counseling was finished, I had a HUGE epiphany of why I interpreted my birth experience as being so negative and why I felt it was so traumatic. My final post will be explaining that.*

Now that my baby was finally here, I felt like I could finally relax. Besides all the hormones and emotions of becoming a Mom for the first time, I had a whole slew of extra emotions going on. So many questions I needed answers to.

Why did my cervix swell and go back to being 7cm dilated?

Why did I push for 5 hours? I mean, why did they let me go that long?

Why did I swell on the outside? Never heard of that before.

I remember crying for days. I was happy. I was sad. I was angry. I was disappointed. And I wasn’t sure what to feel.

By the way, I won’t describe it in detail. But the day after I was released from the hospital, I was back in the ER for a day. I had a sharp stabbing pain in my back near my ribs. They wanted to do a scan of my chest to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot.

Well, it wasn’t. The test was negative. It turned out to be a bruised lung, brought on by the trauma of pushing for 5 hours.

This stabbing pain came and went for almost 2 weeks slowly easing over time. When it came, I couldn’t breathe and the pain was a 10. On top of dealing with a newborn, lack of sleep, and everything else I was adjusting to, I had to deal with this stupid bruised lung. It was NOT fun. I am never pushing for 5 hours again!!!!!!

Anyway.

Days are going by and my questions are not being answered. How could they? I knew nothing about giving birth. I had a few speculations from talking with the doctors at the hospital. Basically, my cervix swelled because I had pushed when at 9.5cm instead of waiting until 10. My other swelling was from sitting on the birth stool for 5 hours while pushing. That cut off circulation to the area and it swelled.

That swelling took over a week to go away.

It felt good to cry and cry and cry after I got home. After a few weeks went by, and I was still crying and still asking questions, I didn’t know what to do. Should I talk to the midwives that helped me at the birth center? Would they be honest with me? Should I get counseling?

I attended classes at Birth and Beyond called First Weeks. Sometimes people shared their birth stories, and every time I heard one, I got mad. I would be angry someone had a 5 hour labor and pushed for 20 minutes. My resentment grew. I hesitated to share my story with friends and family, feeling like I disappointed myself or feeling ashamed of what happened with me.

I tried to work through it with my husband. I knew (in my head) that I did all that I could. I knew sometimes you are not in control. I knew all of that, but I was still angry. I still couldn’t process it all. Maybe just time would heal my wounds.

My childbirth teacher, the beloved Penny Simkin, had offered to do a counseling session with anyone who felt they had a traumatic childbirth experience. A few of my friends had actually went and counseled with her. They said it helped tremendously. But I still hesitated. I remember thinking, “well, mine wasn’t THAT traumatic. Many people have worse experiences. Mine really wasn’t that bad.”

Time went by and I tried to convince myself that I was ok and didn’t need to talk about it. Often I wondered what would help by continuing to talk about it?

I exchanged some emails with Penny about doing a session. Every time, I convinced myself that I was fine and didn’t need to talk. Then she sent me an email that said, “If you bury your feelings and emotions, they WILL come out some way, some day.”

I didn’t feel that I was burying my emotions at the time, but I was. I learned that from my Mom. Emotions too painful to deal with are better dealt with by sweeping them under the rug and pretending that they don’t exist.

A huge wake up call came when I started working out back at my gym. I do these workouts called Crossfit. The workouts are very intense, short but intense. Every time I did a workout, I would have a flashback to being in labor. WTH? I was so confused why this was happening.

I started to resent my workouts because they reminded me of the intensity of laboring and pushing. So I stopped going. After all, I didn’t want to experience that again, so if working out reminded me of labor, then I wouldn’t work out.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2010. My son is 9 months. And I’m still trying to convince myself I am OK, but I’m obviously not.

I finally decided to meet with Penny.

Let me just say that she is amazing and wonderful and I will forever be grateful she took the time to be with me and listen. Not only that, but she helped me reframe my birth experience into something wonderful. Something to be proud of. Something magnificent.

I actually had symptoms of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. You can look it up. I was shocked to realize this, but I had created an even more serious problem by trying to bury my feelings.

I’m so happy I got help. I’m so happy I worked through my emotions and feelings. It totally helped and I feel great about my birth now. I can tell the story with no resentment and that’s a big deal.

Penny and I decided to film our counseling sessions. Here’s why:  Many people have suffered from a painful and traumatic birth experience. Afterwards some people struggle with dealing with those emotions. This is a subject very close to her heart, and mine also.

I’m working now on editing the video footage so I can post it here on our website. I am also researching places that offer resources and help to those working through this same issue. Sometimes it’s hard to find help. Since I’ve experienced this emotional trauma myself, I know how difficult it is to work through. I want to be a resource to help others through it as well.

I’ll keep you posted on resources I find that can help. I want to get lists of counselors, support groups, etc and will post the lists on here of what I find.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do if you are struggling, is to talk to someone who will listen. And if you don’t have anyone, you can email me at rebecca@momsalive.com and I’d be more than happy and willing to listen!

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  1. It’s been really wonderful listening to you tell your story. I’m glad it has helped!

  2. Nikki Marquez says:

    Are you completely healed “down there” now? Did it leave you stretched or anything? I wonder about this with you and with so many other birthing stories I read or hear about. I’m thankful that that will never happen with me (Tony got a vasectomy). We are happy with our little family and our beautiful boys.

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