Please be aware this story discusses trauma and pregnancy loss. Please read from a safe space.
Bio: I am a mother of 2 boys (age 7 and 3). My dream for motherhood was filled with fertility, pregnancy loss and trauma. But, thanks to IVF, I now have two amazing boys. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and work full time.
My fight for motherhood started at age 36. In fact 2 years after continuously trying, we were told that it wasn’t going to happen naturally and we needed to do IVF. My first brush with pain and disappointment in my journey to be a mother. Guilt, sadness, worry, financial stress, failing as a woman – all of that came into play. But we had amazing doctors and on our first try, we were pregnant. After an amazingly easy pregnancy (I truly loved every minute of it) and him being a week late, we went for a non-stress test. His heart rate was low and irregular, and we were sent straight to triage. After an evening of ‘preparation’, I was induced the next morning.
At approximately 9 am on December 6th, 2011, a nurse rushed into my room, white as a ghost, desperately trying to position the fetal monitor. She was shaking, I was now panicking. She calls the CAT team over the intercom and within seconds I was surrounded – no time to sign waivers. I was being run down to the OR. There were rumblings of “knocking me out” because there was no time which made me panic even more – all the time my husband was not allowed to be with me. Luckily when they turned me on my side to do a spinal, his heart rate went back up. He was born at 9:15 am via emergency c-section. It took me over 4 hours to get the feeling back in my legs. I held onto the suction ball for an entire month thinking my child was going to choke on my milk. And so began my baby blues and the start of my road to PTSD.
Fast forward to the summer of 2013 and we are trying again for #2. I felt great but the doctors were worried about the position of the baby. Multiple trips to the high-risk OB eventually resulted in a ‘you have nothing to worry about’ from the doctor.
It was just before 11 am on September 4th, 2013, and I was at work – 12 weeks pregnant and literally about to go into a meeting. I felt unwell suddenly. I can’t say why or how but I knew something was wrong. I stood up to go to the toilet and literally a flood of blood ran down my legs. I ran into the toilet and knew – this was what my IVF doc had warned me about. I called to someone in the stalls to call a doctor. Luckily I worked at a company with doctors on staff. I was losing the baby. But not in a normal way – I was losing too much blood. I had to lay on the floor until the paramedics came. When they moved me to the gurney I tried to stand and passed out. I was rushed to SF General where I occupied a trauma room for 12 hours. They couldn’t stop the bleeding; I lost the baby and almost my life, had 3 D&C’s and I will spare you the rest of the details. It took me 3 weeks before I could return to work. And so the PTSD piled on top of the previously unchecked PTSD I had sustained with my first child.
After 6 months I knew I wasn’t right. I couldn’t stop crying – I could barely function. I was in a bubble and was pretending at work. I sought counseling and started with an amazing lady who worked on my PTSD. It took a while to deal with the PTSD and it still sometimes haunts me mildly to this day.
I never thought you could get PTSD from having kids. I never thought I would be the person to have to deal with ‘baby blues’ and the constant worry and paranoia that comes along with it.
I wish I had known beforehand what the signs were, where to get help, and that it was ok to admit you were struggling.
I want to share my story, not for sympathy or to create sad emotions. But to open up the conversation on the real struggles we have when we have children. From recovery, to learning how to breastfeed, to dealing with the emotional roller coaster, to the tiredness. And we are so guilty when we need or ask for help. My mother-in-law always said, “In my day, women never talked about this stuff. You just got on with it.” Well, those days are over ladies. We need to talk about it, help each other out, tell it like it is, support each other through the pain and emotional trauma. Let’s cherish each other’s knowledge and each other and open up the conversation even more to help out those future moms.
If you find yourself struggling with infertility, please join our monthly support group: https://www.cherishedmom.org/peer-support-groups/
Check out PSI’s group for pregnancy loss: https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/loss-grief-in-pregnancy-postpartum/