Postpartum PTSD : Encouragement from a mom who’s been there.

From the moment you find out that you’re expecting to those final days before you deliver, pregnancy can be both overwhelming and exciting. Seeing that first flicker of a heartbeat on the screen to feeling those first kicks of the little life inside of you; it’s an incredible journey we go on as birth mothers. And when labor begins, sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.

With my first, I had everything mapped out for our home birth. It was going to be exciting, thrilling, and rewarding knowing that I accomplished what I desired. I couldn’t have been more naïve. What I thought was going to be under 24 hours for labor and delivery ended up in a nightmare I never wish to repeat. We transported to the hospital after 29 hours at home and spent an additional 18 hours there before I delivered our daughter. I had medical interventions that no one had ever educated me about, extreme amounts of pain from my daughter’s posterior position and doses of Pitocin, and feelings of failure that were never properly addressed.

I was so focused, like most women are, on sticking to and completing the plan that I had drawn out. This feeling of failure led to a few months of postpartum depression and a battle with PTSD. I wanted nothing to do with my husband touching me for fear of becoming pregnant again. I silently suffered hallucinations, nightmares, and anxiety issues for a long time. However, I never thought I could share this with anyone. I felt like I was alone, ashamed, and trapped; like no one else experienced this.

I avoided questions of ‘when will you have another?’ and ‘ready for the second one?’ like they were the plague.

I covered up my emotions. I constantly feared that I would go through another traumatic birth; that I would fail once again. However, when I spoke briefly with my doula, she would always remind me that I didn’t fail.

She reminded me that I still delivered a healthy, 6lb. 5oz. girl vaginally, endured many, many hours of some of the most excruciating pain, and pushed like a champ in the worst birthing position! In a card for our daughter’s first birthday, she wrote to her about how strong I was during labor and delivery. I cried… hard. Coming to know that I truly hadn’t failed my daughter was the best thing someone could tell me; especially as we began to try for our next baby.

There are many times in our pregnancies where things don’t go as planned. Sometimes we lose babies. Other times, our well thought out birth plan doesn’t happen and we wind up with an undesirable outcome. Whatever event causes us to go through postpartum PTSD and depression, it’s not easy to get over. However, what I can tell you, dear mama, is you didn’t fail. You’re a lot stronger than you think.

Yes, you may have cried for nights on end. Yes, you may have bottled up all of your feelings and when you let them all explode, you may have hurt someone. But, let me tell you, you’re not alone and there is hope in your situation; as cliché as that sounds. There are other women who are going through and who have gone through this before. All it takes is a single ounce of courage, which you already have, to talk to someone about it. It’s not shameful; it’s healing, and I can attest to that.

As I await for labor to begin while writing this, I would be a liar if I said that I’m fully healed from the trauma. However, I can say that I know I have overcome those feelings of fear, failure, and hopelessness by shamelessly taking a step of courage. It involves me being completely transparent with my husband and other women close to me. Remember, transparency does not mean you are weak. You are strong. You can do this. You can heal. You ARE an overcomer.

Have you ever felt like this before? Just remember that simply being open and transparent can be your biggest asset.

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