The most pain I had felt since the contractions started and I’d never felt anything like it.
This wasn’t my body now; this was something happening to me out of my control.
This wasn’t labour.
It went away briefly when he arrived… “It’s a boy” my husband said.
I had a few minutes of skin to skin before he was taken away from me and the midwife was pressing down hard on my already beaten upper stomach.
“James, get her off me, what’s going on?” I remember asking my husband and looking at the fear in his eyes.
“She can’t, she needs to do this”.
The bars were suddenly up on the bed and more people arrived in the room asking me to sign paperwork. I saw bags of blood around me.
I was wheeled away leaving James with our new baby in a room on his own.
I woke about 4hrs later in an empty ward with two women looking at me from behind a desk.
After I had been wheeled back to be with my family I found out I had haemorrhaged two litres of blood.
How could I have gone from a chilled hypnobirthing labour, drug free and in my happy zone with my mum and husband at home, to…
Lying on my back in stirrups…
Two failed ventouse…
Shoulder dystocia using all five of the different manual manoeuvres to get him out, the last one being that unbearable pain I had felt having no pain relief and two hands inside me to dislodge his shoulder from my pelvis.
Recovery was hard. I needed so much healing and recovery. I didn’t realise this.
It makes sense now. I had lost so much blood and my son (we named him Montgomery, aka Monty) wasn’t getting enough milk from me. No one had told me that milk was converted from blood so if I was depleted, there may be issues with breastfeeding.
I struggled to connect with Monty for a long time. Was it normal not to be totally in love with my son? I just wanted to sleep and couldn’t understand why he was crying all the time and wanted me to hold him constantly.
How was this my new life!
Things got worse when my mum left after two weeks to head back to the UK. Living in a different country, away from all my family meant it was just James, Monty and I to figure this all out. And I didn’t know I needed help. I didn’t know this wasn’t just baby blues. I didn’t know I was anaemic.
I didn’t know my night sweats meant I had a severe breast abscess that needed to be syringed at emergency.
On top of this I was left with a 3C degree tear, an elevator avulsion (muscle hanging off the pubic bone) and fearing doing a poo in case I ripped apart. I would go for a short walk and leak. It did get better, eventually I would only leak when I sneezed or coughed and there was no way I could run again.
OK so this all sounds pretty horrendous and I wanted to paint a picture to explain how someone could go from this, to now.
Now I don’t leak at all and have learnt to adjust my lifestyle to suit my new body—no bouncing on a trampoline but I never did that anyway. I’m still nervous to run but I am being fitted for a pessary by my pelvic floor physio so I have hopes for a run and testing out a trampoline with my son very soon.
I love my body. It’s stronger than it was before I had Monty.
I’ve learnt so much on this 3-year journey and now I’m planning to do it again.
I’m still left with trauma, every time I look at pictures of Monty in the first year of life, or when I talk about my story.
It seems to be more prominent now I am pregnant, but I have hopes of healing. I am seeing a perinatal psychologist who specialises in trauma.
Life’s too short to give up and don’t let anyone say to you ‘It’s happened, put it in the past”. If you still live it now, it’s not in the past and you deserve support. Ask for help! I don’t want my first birth to be carried on to my second.
I share my story to help other mums believe that no matter what body you’re left with after birth, what trauma you have experienced, you can get back to being strong mentally and physically again, even stronger than before babies. You can do anything you want, even trampolining.
By Lara Jezepn, a Brit living in Brighton, South Australia with her husband and little boy Monty. Lara runs VirtualPT and is empowering mums to love their body, have great poos and to never have their organs fall out their vagina.
If you experienced trauma, here are some people who could help:
Centre for Perinatal Psychology
Adelaide Perinatal Psychology
Australasian Birth Trauma Association