This moving story is from Haley, who wanted to share her story about her experience of having a c-section after a long and difficult labour and how it impacted her mental wellbeing.
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During my pregnancy I felt happy, excited, powerful, confident, and beautiful. However I did have spotting throughout my pregnancy and a fear that I would lose her. I treated my body like a temple. I did prenatal yoga, acupuncture, massages, vitamins, didn’t take any medication even when I was sick. I had a doula. Me and my husband read the prenatal books. We attended an all day prenatal class. I was ready for the big day. I was excited.
I was going to be medically induced because my daughter was late something that was discussed with me even before I was late which made me feel very anxious. I was aiming for a natural birth so I decided to get naturally induced by having acupuncture done. It worked and at 3 am I was in early labour. I had spotting so we went to the hospital to get it checked out because of my issues with spotting during my pregnancy. They said I was in early labour everything was fine and sent me home.
I laboured at home for a long time. I couldn’t get a hold of my doula because she was with another client. What were the odds we would both be due on the same day. I could not get a hold of my backup doula. We went to the hospital and my doula met us there. They told me they were admitting me. I was so excited this was going to be the moment that I would meet my baby. The one I had longed for and hoped for. The one I waited forty plus weeks to find out if our baby was a boy or a girl. I wanted the surprise.
Things were going relatively smoothly but my labour was not progressing and my water had not broke. The OB decided to break my water. Your baby has meconium. My heart stopped how could my baby have meconium? I did everything right. That’s when things became really intense, contractions on top of each other. It felt like my ribs were breaking. I could feel her head jammed in my hips. The pain was intense. That’s when I decided to get an epidural. Well that didn’t work. One side of me froze and the other side didn’t. I was scared. They tried three times none of them worked. They kept pumping me full of picotin. I screamed for a c section at hour 18. I begged and cried and pleaded.The OB said no your ok. Labour is painful. I knew something was wrong, call it mamas intuition. My doula fell asleep.
The OB made me go 21 more hours with little pain relief. My daughter was stuck and we both went into distress. Something is wrong, something is wrong, my inner voice was screaming at me get help! At this point I tried getting off the bed half frozen. They pinned me down physically, restraining me leaving bruises all over my arms.
A new team came and they said because the epidurals weren’t working and it was now a full blown emergency they had to put me to sleep. I remember thinking there was no way either one of us was going to wake up. I have heightened death anxiety as a result.
I don’t remember seeing her or holding her because I had gone 36 hours with no sleep, I was in a drug haze. My first memory with her was waking up to a Rubbermaid bin with a baby in it. Are you mine? I had no idea. I remember thinking she was beautiful. Then I saw my husbands face he was crying. I started crying “why did this happen to me?” I kept telling him. I had failed, tears streaming down my face. I had failed him. I had failed her. On top of that I had a nasty infection under my eye which later would turn into a scar. Most women only have one scar from a c section I had two.
I remember getting home and being like I don’t know how to be a mom which made no sense to anyone. I had been looking after kids for six years. The worst depression and PTSD started. I couldn’t get the labour out of my head, I felt so saddened that I didn’t get to hold her, or hear her cry, or have my husband there. I felt frightened by the thought of what if there hadn’t been a team change, we would both be dead. The trauma was so severe I kept having panic attacks all day long. The panic attacks got so bad I had to be hospitalised. I couldn’t function. I had to spend almost a month away from my baby girl. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened and trying to get better. I still feel broken, like I’m a fraud as a mother, and less of a woman. Counselling has helped but I still struggle everyday.