To be completely honest, for a long time I didn’t know if I should tell this story. It was so painful and so private and I didn’t really know if it had a place on my Blog which focuses on inner and outer beauty and healthy living. I love beautiful things – whether it’s the perfect Acai bowl or a designer handbag and I love sharing them with you all. But I feel that my Blog is becoming a wellness and empowerment tool for many and I didn’t think it was authentic for me not to tell the story of my postpartum trauma and recovery. Thank you for letting me share this with you.
Pregnancy and childbirth is the most beautiful thing in the world but it can be stressful in even the best circumstances. Overall I had a great pregnancy and it was a wonderful time in my life. I loved feeling my daughter move and kick and seeing her face on ultrasound. I loved decorating her nursery and of course, all the shopping. I read all the books and took the classes and never missed a prenatal check-up.
On the day I went to the hospital, I felt prepared. But nothing in my pregnancy prepared me for an emergency delivery. Nothing in my pregnancy prepared me to lose half my body’s blood volume in 20 minutes. Nothing in my pregnancy prepared me to be unable to hold my daughter until hours after she was born – because it’s impossible to prepare for things like that.
Trauma permanently changes us. But I didn’t feel like a trauma victim yet – I was stable, my daughter was discharged from the NICU after a 12-hr stay and it seemed like our happy ending was still intact – even though we’d had a serious scare. Ryan and I were beyond grateful – we were together – there were no signs of permanent damage – we were even told that we could have more children if we wanted to.
But the challenges were far from over.
The first weeks of Brooke McKayla’s life were filled with joy and struggle. I faced emotions that I’d never had before – hormonal ups and downs for the first 2 weeks (aka the Baby Blues) – but what lingered were feelings of anxiety and guilt. After my emergency delivery, I was constantly worried that something else was going to go horribly wrong. Also, I felt that I’d failed my daughter by not being able to hold her immediately after delivery and do skin-to-skin contact. Breastfeeding after a postpartum hemorrage left me completely depleted and ultimately didn’t work out which further compounded my feelings of failure.
My road to healing started when I began telling my story – first to close friends, then to acquaintances and then to complete strangers. What I realized by opening up is that a lot of women go through birth trauma – but very few of us talk about it. In the 2 years that I’ve been telling my story, I’ve heard countless stories of healthy moms in their 20’s and 30’s going through emergency deliveries with unexpected complications. While premature births and postpartum depression seem to get the most attention, there is a world of postpartum trauma issues including anxiety, fear, and detachment that no one is talking about.
So my hope in writing this Blog post is that someone else will read it and not feel so alone. While I’m committed to staying focused on the positives – that my daughter and I are doing great – I feel that it’s important to tell that truth about my delivery and not gloss over how scary it was.
When we’re honest about what we’ve experienced, the healing begins.
Did you know the United States has the highest rate of maternal morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world? Also, according to the Center for Disease Control, serious birth complications have more than doubled from 1993 to 2014. Let’s start a conversation about #birthtrauma – how we can heal and how it can be prevented in future pregnancies – comment below or reach out to me on social media.