This is the story of a dad called Lucas Joe and his experience of birth trauma after the birth of his son Boston.
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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My hands are cold, my body feels numb. I am still in shock, birth what have you done? My head is pounding, my visions blurred, I see your mouth is moving but I hear not a word. A million pieces of me on the floor as I bounced and ricocheted around as I burst through that delivery door.
#PTSD, Post traumatic stress disorder? Yes… It is what I have and what many others have but find it difficult to speak up about. PTSD is mental and emotional stress which has formed from a physical injury or severe psychological shock which leads to intrusive thoughts, guilt, anxiety, sleepless nights, flashbacks, panic attacks and more. PTSD can affect both men and women.
Father to Boston a happy baby boy who’s birth was the most traumatic event, that I, in my life, had ever been through, I was far from geared up on what to expect for a normal delivery, let alone one which became a medical emergency with a lot of intervention, staff and doctor jargon.
It ended with a line across her tummy that was not suppose to be there, an everlasting scar to remind us of the change of plan, the quick jolted bend in our journey, of sadness, guilt, fear, like she had let him down before he had even entered the world. As my journey goes on and each day that I take, even if yesterday was bad, today arrived and although it maybe like a yellow starburst day again, (lets admit, nobody likes those ones?) I hold on, because a pink one is just a little further down the packet… You just can’t see it yet and when you do the trauma births a new you. You are not the person you were, but a restored person who is now beginning to see the trauma as part of your life journey and something you can gain so much strength from even though at the time it left you feeling like you would never stand again.
I now see that line that once left me a broken man, a restored man. A line of a new beginning, love and hope. A small whisper in the wind filled with faith to treasure, bless and I know what a gift this little boy has been. You may have been through an ugly, heart-rending, heartbreaking, tug of war with trauma but you wear that medal with pride.
So I ask, “what can you do to help someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after birth?”
- 1 Be patient.
These things take time, just like most things in life it will not just happen over night. It is the same with PTSD each person will be different with their recovery time, don’t push them, allow them to take their own pace. We know our own self the best, even when we think we do not, so make them aware that you are in it for the long haul however long it takes. Pull up a chair, grab a drink…
- 2 Educate yourself.
Learn about PTSD, is it an illness? Is it mental health? Will he or she ever recover? You will have lots of questions and that is ok, it is important you ask them, find support and understand what both of you are going through as it affects our loved ones around us too.
- 3 Don’t pressure.
Do not pressure your loved one who is surviving PTSD, often it can be difficult to talk about the recent traumatic event they have been through and it can be one of the biggest triggers. Most of the time it is all that person will think about, why do we want to keep talking about it when it has left us broken? Allow them the space and the zone to open up when they wish to do so and when they feel it is the right time. In the meantime keep conversation as normal as possible, “yes I would like a cup of tea.. Thanks”
- 4 Look after yourself.
A burned out loved one will find it very difficult to support a person with PTSD. Look after yourself as much as possible. It can be difficult as you watch them go through their journey with PTSD, but they will always be thankful in the long haul that you kept yourself well looked after so you can offer them better support. You can’t pour from an empty cup can you?
- 5 Make plans.
Make plans for the future, and help the person with PTSD there is a tomorrow is around the corner, they made another day and they have a reason to battle strongly and that their future is not limited to the traumatic event they have been through.
Please remember to hold on throughout. It is a flaw in chemistry not your character, through all this you have not lost yourself and you remain loved, even by that tiny person who is completely dependent on you. You never asked for this, you were thrown in at the deep end, in to an unfolding event that was out of your control, but remember someone out there is sending up a flare. You are going to be ok.
Hang on. Step forward.
Lucas-Joe, Dad to Boston who’s travelling through Berlin raising awareness of fathers with #PTSD after #BirthTrauma.
Next blog – PTSD birth trauma triggers and dealing with them.