Broken water at 33 weeks. Near death experience. Emergency C-Section. Premature baby. Massive panic attacks. NICU. Transverse lying baby. Weird doctors I didn’t know.
All of the above describe my traumatic birth experience with my last born child, Richi. And all of those terrible things I had to go through did, undoubtedly, give me far worse PTSD issues than I already had.
My name is Sarah, and this is my traumatic birth experience story.
At 33 weeks pregnant, my water broke at 4:30 AM. I was rushed to the hospital where they confirmed it was my water that had broken and was leaking continuously. I was transferred to the children’s hospital an hour away where I remained in a hospital bed for a week afterwards, as the doctors tried everything to keep him in there as long as humanly possible. I was pumped full of medications and drugs. I was constantly monitored. I was told that I could have a normal vaginal delivery as I had with all four of my other children. That is, unless something were to go wrong. I knew I was at God’s mercy at that point, and anything could happen – but nothing would come to prepare me for just what lied in store.
At 5:30 AM on February 16th, 2016, I woke up to pee. I had bathroom privileges, and so I made my way in there, and when I wiped I knew something was very wrong. There was a dark green substance on the toilet paper. I remember having half a heart attack when I looked in the toilet.
I started crying and called the nurse. She confirmed what I already knew. My baby was now under stress, and had passed meconium – or, pooped – in the amniotic fluid. THIS meant I would have to have an emergency c-section that day.
NONE of this was according to my birth plan. Not a single, solitary bit of it was anything remotely similar to the natural, medication free, intervention free birth I was anticipating. Being held hostage in a hospital bed for a week, and force fed medications that made me extremely sick and that gave me the worst stomach cramps known to mankind, was not in my birth plan. And a c-section was something I was completely uneducated about, because I had never experienced one – nor had I ever had a reason to research the topic. All I knew was it involved surgery. Surgery is one of my hugest fears. I had no choice, though, because he was in a transverse lie – meaning, he was laying completely sideways and the doctors didn’t dare perform a manual version because of the fact that he was under stress.
I knew they had to do it. I was just terrified beyond words. I prayed hard.
At 7:30 PM I was whisked away to be prepped for surgery. My husband was a nervous wreck but he stuck by my side the whole way. He was brought back when I was given the spinal and as they were beginning the surgery.
I began to have the worst panic attack of my entire life. They administered a medication known as Versed to make me more relaxed, but the combination of that medication plus the spinal was too much for my body to bear. My heart rate/pulse and oxygen levels slowed way down. I felt myself drifting away. I felt myself dying.
My husband was freaking out, I remember. He asked if I was okay. They said I would be fine and gave me an injection of something or another – I’m guessing epinephrine or something similar – to raise my heart rate and get me breathing again, and I was so high from the combination of medications I had no idea what was happening around me. Being numb and laying there on that cold metal table with all the bright lights was just too much for me. Not knowing if my baby was okay or was going to make it was the hardest part of the entire thing.
When they delivered him, he was purple and didn’t even cry. That wasn’t a good sign to me. They showed his beautiful yet distressed face to me for about 1 second, and then the NICU team literally ran with him out of the room and off to the NICU.
My baby was literally ripped away from me. Just stolen right out of my stomach. Taken away by people I didn’t know. He was delivered by a terribly mean man who I had never met before that night. When I tried asking him questions before my surgery, he was a complete asshole to me. Like, how heartless can you be? You see a girl crying, scared, and needing to be reassured, and all you can even do is be an asshole.
Sidenote: for anyone in the Cape Coral/ Ft. Myers area, I highly suggest you STAY AWAY from Rex Stubbs – unless, of course, you don’t mind an extremely icy cold bedside manner. Then again, he did make a clean incision that healed to practically nothing, but I digress.
So, as you can see, my birth was less than what I wanted it to be – far less. I was so incredibly depressed after my birth, and nobody really knew that – because it was nothing like I had hoped. I had to leave my baby in a NICU an hour away from me every day, and drive that far away from my beating heart. It hurt so bad. The pain was unbearable. The fact I had a C-section and couldn’t give birth like a ‘normal’ woman could really bothered me. The fact that I couldn’t breast feed directly and had to pump bothered me so much. So much about the way my baby came in to the world bothered me- and it still does to this very day.
But, a year and a half later, I am finally allowing myself some time to heal. I still have moments and even days where I will randomly cry about all of it. I still have flashbacks every so often about portions of my experience. I still have a very hard time looking at pictures I have while in the hospital before I had him, his NICU pictures, and the pictures from when he came home on an apnea monitor.
The whole experience was about as traumatic as it could get. But I know I am allowed to hurt and to be angry. I am allowed that, because my last and final pregnancy didn’t go as I had hoped or planned. God had other things in mind for me. I don’t know why or what the purpose behind it all was, but he knew what he was doing. I just have to trust and believe that there was a reason.
Birth trauma is very real. I had absolutely no idea that Birth Trauma Awareness Day was even an actual thing until this week. And in lieu of Birth Trauma Awareness Day, which is today, August 18th, I wanted to share my story with all of you.
I wanted to share this experience with all of you in hopes that maybe just one mother who has felt what I had to endure, who is hurting, who feels inadequate or not good enough because she had to have a c-section, or for the mother who didn’t make it full term – this is for you. I want to help at least one person to feel brave enough to tell her story.
Just because your story didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, doesn’t mean it’s not worth telling. It’s beautiful, and painful all at once. Talking about it sometimes helps.
Things won’t always feel this bad. The pain eases with time. It will still remain, but it will become somewhat of a distant memory. Focus on the good, and take it day by day. Cry if you need to. Vent if you can. Do something that makes you smile. But always remember, you have the most beautiful prize at the end of it all – and you have graduated to strong mama status just for simply making it through.
I am proud of you. I love you. I am here for you.