This is Katie’s story. She wanted to share her story to show that PTSD is real and how getting the right support is so important to healing.
Please be aware that some stories may trigger difficult memories and emotions so remember your own self care as everyone will be at different stages of healing.
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You hear a lot in your antenatal classes about postnatal depression, it’s in every book you read and it’s on the midwives checklists to ask you about your mood. It has every right to be, what a terrifying thing to go through.
But I wasn’t depressed, I’d been there before and I definitely wasn’t that. My bond with Ellie was powerful and was there from the start.
I just couldn’t stop thinking about the birth.
Every time I closed my eyes to sleep, my heart would start racing as I remembered what it was like to be in theatre. To hear them talking about blood loss, to see my placenta walked past me in a Tupperware box. The feeling of panic would return when I remember how scared I was to think that Ellie was getting distressed, feeling like I was doing a bad job, I wasn’t pushing hard enough.
The fear I’d kept suppressed throughout my induction and labour, seemed to rip through me every time I wanted to rest.
I’d run through every detail that I could remember, trying to piece it all together and make sense of what had gone wrong, why had I ended up needing a forceps delivery, was it something I’d done, could I have done more?
I presumed it was normal, it was a huge moment in my life, of course I was going to remember it. But after around 8 weeks of getting emotional every time I mentioned it, and 8 weeks of laying awake during the precious moments Ellie was asleep unable to stop thinking about it. I mentioned it to my Health Visitor.
She explained that it wasn’t a normal process that I was going through, and she thought I’d benefit from going to the hospital for a ‘Pregnancy and Birth Revisited’ session, to help figure out what was playing on my mind so much, and why it was doing so.
The session was incredible. It was a one to one meeting with a midwife in charge. She sat with me and went through my notes. Explained things that I didn’t understand, reminded me of things I’d forgotten in my drug fuelled mind., she even made notes of things that I’d said to feedback to the midwifery team. She helped rearrange the events of that day and show me that there was nothing that anyone could have done differently. Including me.
She also suggested that counselling could help. She believed I was suffering with postnatal post traumatic stress disorder. I didn’t even know that was a thing!
Seeking help was the best thing that I ever did. I thought my thoughts were normal, but not being able to sleep, and feeling negatively emotional towards your birth experience, isn’t normal.
It took me a couple of months to write the blog about the birth, because revisiting those emotions was difficult. When I began writing it, I had a couple of nights where the thoughts came back. I found it hard to write the experience down because I was struggling to make sense of it again in my head.
It’s an ongoing struggle, and it will affect my decisions when I next have a baby, and I’m sure moments of relapse will happen. But PTSD was one of the reasons the blog was born. I wanted to be able to share and reminisce about my amazing experience of being a mother, but to also help to get things straight in my head once and for all, and if I ever doubt myself again, I can look back at these posts, laugh at myself and your often hilarious comments, and get myself back on track.
Please talk to someone if you think this could be you, I can’t begin to tell you what a difference it can make. No one will judge you, it has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent.
You can read more about Katie’s journey on her blog, ‘Being Ellie’s mum’.