My first childbirth went rather smooth. I felt horrible pain, but my baby came out after an hour. I thought to myself I never want to give birth again, and I guess that’s what most moms say after a delivery. Then, after two years of enjoying being a mom to my firstborn, I got pregnant again. Honestly, I wasn’t that excited. I was more of terrified. I couldn’t bear the thought of feeling the same amount of pain, but then, believing it will be all worth it, I thought I just had to be strong and prepare myself once again.
My experience, according to maternal mental health experts, is trauma. Dr. Patrick O’Brien said, “Women with trauma may feel fear, helplessness or horror about their experience and suffer recurrent, overwhelming memories, flashbacks, thoughts and nightmares about the birth, feel distressed, anxious or panicky when exposed to things which remind them of the event, and avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma, which can include talking about it.”
Eight months had gone by, and the day was almost near. I was in the bathroom when my tummy contracted. I thought it was just nothing, but then blood started dripping down my legs. I couldn’t scream because it would cause the blood to flow even more, so I slowly went to the bedroom and woke up my husband. He rushed me to the hospital, and the doctor said my cervix was starting to open.
They tried to stop the labor by administering Terbutaline. It was successful, but I stayed in the hospital for two days more. It was hard as I was thinking of my firstborn. We left him to my mom, and we hadn’t parted ever. He visited me, and I was so happy to see him until the visiting hours were over, so we had to say goodbye. He kissed me but accidentally kicked my tummy, and that was the start of my labor.
I thought the baby was going to come out anytime soon, but I labored for 13 hours until it was finally time. They rushed me to the delivery room. The pain was excruciating as it should be, but it was different from my first. I couldn’t think of words to describe it, but at that time, I just wished that it will be over.
The baby came out after five pushes, and I was exhausted. The doctor put the baby on my chest. I was happy, but I couldn’t smile. I was so weak that I could not move a single muscle in my body. At last, it’s over! They took me back to my room, and I just wanted to rest. My newborn was left in the baby room, and luckily he didn’t need to be incubated.
Then, I felt the need to pee, so I stood up and slowly headed to the bathroom when I felt somewhat dizzy. I thought I was going to faint. Then I called my husband, and I was put on my bed and was on the catheter to help me pee. Then suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I called for my husband to hold me. They checked my blood pressure, and it was 210/100! I thought it was the end as I couldn’t breathe, and I was put on oxygen. I saw them doing all things possible to help me, but I felt like I was slowly fading. I whispered to my husband, “Hit me.”
I couldn’t remember much, but my husband said I was touching his face while smiling, that it was like I was saying goodbye. I was even waving at someone, but no one was there. I also thought I was passing, but I thought of my sons, and I said to myself, “No, I can’t go.” I am not a faithful person, but at that time, I remember praying, “I pray for more time. My sons need me. I still want to love them and see them grow up.” I guess my prayers were heard. I was out of the hospital after two days.
I thought my nightmare was over. It was five months after I gave birth, but I still hadn’t gone back to normal. I went to my doctor, was told that I had postpartum depression and that it happens. However, it got worse. I started to have panic attacks, especially at night. I would wake up crying, and I constantly thought of dying. I had felt what it was like to almost pass, and it was horrifying.
It was post-traumatic stress disorder. Transformational psychologist Dr. Debi Silber explained that post-traumatic stress disorder in women is “not only that the person is remembering that painful event, the body responds as if it’s happening again.” She added, “So while cognitively they know it’s not, at a subconscious level, they’re re-experiencing it, and as the stress response is ignited, stress hormones are released and the cascade of physical, mental and emotional symptoms emerge.”
Now, it’s been two years. I thought I’m going to be fine by now, but the anxiety hasn’t gone. I still think of dying every hour of every day. The saddest part is I wasn’t the mom I should be since I was always irritable. I asked for more time with my family, but I haven’t been using it wisely.
As what Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA, said, “Coming to terms with a negative birth experience is a process that can take months. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.” I realized that I needed to get help, so I went to see a psychiatrist. He put me on medications and said I need therapies to aid in my treatment.
I don’t plan on wasting my time curling up on my bed and fearing death while I’m still alive. It is easier said than done, but I have to actually live life and be the mother to my two beautiful sons. They need a mom, and I couldn’t be it if I remain to be locked up in fear.