Feeling Like A Failure After My Caesarean
I recorded this episode off-the-cuff sitting in a hotel room early on a Sunday morning. Myself and my beautiful friend MaryAnne (from the You’re Doing Great Mom podcast) had planned the weekend away as a bit of TLC. We need that time as busy mums to rest and recharge, so that’s what we did.
After a couple of large glasses of Rioja, we got talking about my first birth with George. It was a planned home birth that turned into an emergency caesarean at 33 weeks. MaryAnne knew bits and bobs about my birth, but she didn’t know the full depth of it. She had no idea that I felt like a failure after my caesarean.
I told my family that I felt like a failure, that my body let me down, and most of all that I didn’t deserve to have children. My feelings were invalidated and dismissed, because I had a “healthy baby”.
That’s not how it should be.
Clearly this had been on my mind all night, because I woke up with the urge to record a heartfelt episode to go in depth into the birth trauma and associated feelings that led to me having PTSD.
CHALLENGING CORE BELIEFS
“As a chiropractor, one of my greatest fundamental beliefs is that the body is just perfectly designed, and here I was with a body that wasn’t perfectly designed… that had failed me… that had made it so that I couldn’t have a baby naturally. It really challenged every single belief that I have”
I really struggled with coming to terms with what happened, and how I felt about it. Not just the birth, but the initial feelings toward my beautiful baby.
As pregnant mums, I think we all sit and visualise how our lives will be, and what kind of parents we’ll be too. Nobody sits and thinks to themselves, “I think I’ll get separated from my baby and not even coo over a photo of him”. But that’s the reality for many of us.
It wasn’t this overwhelming surge of love and affection that I thought it’d be. I was scared. Petrified in fact.
It wasn’t how birth was meant to be. It wasn’t how my birth was meant to be.
WORKING THROUGH THE FEELINGS
Once I finally accepted that I needed help, I went for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) through Essex mental health services. It really helped me to shake the feeling of failure after my caesarean. I also self-referred for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) when I was pregnant the second time around and a lot of the fear cropped back up.
It’s not the easiest thing to open yourself up to the vulnerability, and I struggled at first, but it’s honestly the best thing I did.
LETTING GO OF THE STIGMA
There’s SO much stigma surrounding mental health anyway, but although people talk about PND, I’d never even thought that you could get PTSD unless you were a soldier or the victim of a horrific crime.
I believe that it’s so important to share stories of birth trauma, PTSD, PND and any other mental health issues surrounding birth & pregnancy. While I’m totally in support of positive birth, sometimes things aren’t rosy, and we need to validate that.
I’ve since discovered that feeling like a failure after my caesarean is pretty common.
I wish I’d known at the time.
- Listen to my interview on MaryAnne’s You’re Doing Great Mom podcast here
- Read more about my feelings following George’s birth in my post: I had a baby, but I didn’t “give birth”