Loxton’s Birth Story - Happy as a Mother

Loxton’s Birth Story

When my first son was born, his birth wasn’t that amazing moment that many people talk about. It wasn’t fatal or tragic and things definitely could have gone worse than they did, but it was still a difficult and traumatic experience for me.

I was in the hospital for his birth, and after an epidural and 10 hours of labour, the doctor said that our son was in distress as indicated by his erratic heartbeat, and that he needed to come out right away. We had two options for delivery; either an episiotomy and vacuum/forceps, or a c-section. The doctor recommended episiotomy and vacuum/forceps, so we followed his advice. I was given one hour to try to push him down far enough, so that they could get him out by vacuum or forceps. The medical staff tried vacuum delivery, but it didn’t work, so they did an episiotomy and forceps. I felt nothing with the episiotomy and vacuum, but for some reason I felt everything with the forceps. The pain was so unreal and unbearable that it felt like it sent me into another world. 

Due to the intense pain I felt, I wasn’t at all able to enjoy his birth, or that first moment of holding him. My husband wasn’t even able to look at our son when he was born because he was so concerned about me and what I had just gone through. My husband says he can still hear the awful sounds of everything happening to my body, and how difficult it was for him to see me in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. It took the doctor over an hour to repair me. Apparently, I had a severe tear that went past the episiotomy in two different directions and had a large hematoma from the physical trauma of the delivery. According to my memory, I tried to nurse our son after I was stitched up, and then invited our parents in to meet their new grandson. According to my husband, I took another hour and a half to “collect myself” before inviting the grandparents to come into the room. I just found this out from my husband now as I’m writing this, and it shocked me to discover that a whole hour and a half was completely gone from my memory. My husband said I wasn’t really present because of what I had gone through.

Our son was thankfully born completely healthy with no concerns. I was however bruised and damaged from his birth, and my pain would not subside. The nurses who kept coming to examine the damage done to my body made this weird concerned-looking face, one of them saying “ohhhh honey…”  

I remember our immediate family in our hospital room smiling and laughing, excited about our son’s birth, while I was in so much pain that I couldn’t see straight. I had to ask everyone to leave, so I could ball my eyes out. I was thinking about how incredibly different my emotions were from everyone else in the room, and how sad that made me feel. This was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life, and it wasn’t that way for me.

We stayed in the hospital for a few days to try to figure out a pain management plan that would work. I still vividly remember shuffling very slowly down the dark hospital hallways to get more ice to try to ease the pain, feeling terrified and alone. And I remember hearing the sounds of other women in labour the next night, and how those sounds put me right back to the night our son was born, which made me feel nauseous and haunted by the event. I was prescribed some pain meds and we eventually got discharged. When the nurse was discharging me, I started crying because I felt so overwhelmed that I had to go home and take care of my own body and recovery, in addition to another tiny human who needed me. 

The months following his birth were long and challenging; our son didn’t take to the breast well. We were told it was because of the trauma he had gone through during his birth, and I’m sure the pain I was in didn’t help. Immediately after he was born, we were up with him through the night trying to breastfeed, cup feed, pump, and then getting a tiny rest before having to do it all again. For those of you who have done it, you know how exhausting that is!

The month following his birth, my husband and our Moms alternated staying with me. They helped take care of our son because a lot of the time, I physically wasn’t able to. I was barely able to walk and wasn’t allowed to go up or down the stairs because of the severe tear. Among other breastfeeding challenges, my pain level was so high when I sat, that it made it even more difficult to nurse. I was however determined and managed to push through it. That month, I brought a pillow with me everywhere I went. I kept going back to the doctor because my pain levels were not subsiding, but he just kept telling me it would improve over time. Eventually, my OB told me that the pain I was feeling was due to nerve tenderness where my scar was, and I saw a pelvic floor physiotherapist who helped me get to a place where I wasn’t in pain anymore. It took 5 months to get there… 

This was not the experience I had expected. I remember thanking my husband for being there for me for those 5 months as it was the darkest time of my life. On top of dealing with my own rough and long recovery, I was going through the biggest transition of my life by becoming a mother, and learning everything that goes with nursing and taking care of a newborn baby.

The emotionally difficult part of the experience, the one that was the most challenging for me, was the fact that I didn’t get that happy moment when our son was born. I wasn’t ecstatic to bring him home. I was terrified. And although I definitely enjoyed him as a baby, it took many months before I was able to fully enjoy him without being in so much pain.

I’ve really struggled to figure out why the pain of his birth was traumatic for me, when I know many women go through much more difficult experiences. The pain was so intense and unbearable – I don’t think I’ll ever really know why it was so severe. However, I know it all happened so quickly and I wasn’t really prepared for it. The epidural was sufficient enough that I didn’t feel the contractions, the pushing, the episiotomy, or the attempted vacuum, so I wasn’t really mentally prepared for the pain of the forceps. And all of the interventions happened within minutes, so I had no time to really process any of it. My experience was also very different than anticipated. I definitely didn’t expect everything to go perfectly by any means, but I expected to have one moment of joy and excitement to meet our new baby. I was suffering so much that I didn’t get that moment.

I’m not sure how we came to the decision to have another son so soon after this experience, but I’m so glad we did. I had that amazing experience with my second son’s birth that others talk about, and it helped begin to heal me from the previous ordeal. I had a natural birth with my second, and despite the insane amount of pain, it was completely different: the pain felt natural and like I was controlling it, not someone else ripping him out of me. After his birth, I felt empowered and strong again, and it was emotionally healing. 

What also helped me was talking about it…as much as I could and to whoever would listen, and being honest about my experience because birth stories are not always those amazing and wonderful memories that we all hope for. We need to be honest with ourselves and with others we’re close to, so we can heal from it. The more I talked about it, the easier it got. It also helped to accept help from my family and friends (which in hindsight, I should’ve done a lot more of!!). I joined Mom and Baby groups where I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had a negative experience. I sought out professional help for a number of areas I needed help with: breastfeeding clinic, pelvic floor therapist, etc

For anyone going through a similar experience, know that you are not alone. Birth stories are not always positive memories. They are real and raw, and sometimes scary and traumatic. Moms are incredibly strong, and we go through so many powerful and challenging experiences silently. We feel a need to be a “good Mom” and take on the intense experience of childbirth and the crazy journey of motherhood full-force without really talking about the true experiences for what they really are. Please don’t be silent. Ask for help and share your story  as much as you need to.

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