This story is from Bella, who wanted to share her story about her baby’s birth experience and how the right support after a traumatic birth matters.

Please be aware that some stories may trigger difficult memories and emotions so remember your own self-care as everyone will be at different stages of healing.

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Thank you

This time round I had a planned cesarian section, my last birth resulted in an emergency section after being induced, 14 hours in labour and 2 hours pushing I didn’t have any faith that my body could labour and deliver a baby. My Caesarian was as pleasant as it can be everyone was jovial almost, and within the hour my son was born, I was stitched back together and then moved to recovery.

Later I was moved to the postnatal ward, my mum, dad, brother and my other son came to meet our gorgeous new arrival. We said emotional goodbyes especially to my older son as within an instant it felt like he had grown so big!

In the hours that followed having my son, I became very unwell, the emergency button was pushed and within minutes I had around 10 health care professionals at my bed trying to work out what was going on. I was in and out of consciousness throwing up and scared out of my life. My partner stood by holding our little boy as the horror unfolded. I had the most painful internal examination and remember screaming out in pain. Then the consultant explained she believed I was bleeding internally and a hysterectomy may have to be preformed to save my life. I remember those words to this day and they spin round and around in my head. I was wheeled back to the theatre in a rush, my partner and baby walked behind and were sent to sit and wait in another room. I was sure I was going to die and I hadn’t got to say a proper goodbye to my partner and newborn son. I was terrified.

I have always had a fear of being put to sleep but here I was back on a theatre bed being poked and prodded before a mask was placed over my mouth and nose. I was fighting to pull it off in a terrified state my hands were pinned down.

It was found I had a severe internal haemorrhage losing 3 1/2 litres of blood and was suffering sepsis. I had blood transfusions and iron infusions with IV antibiotics and fluids. After surgery and being sedated for 12 hours on life support in the intensive care unit, I was brought round with my mum and dad at my side. I was confused and distressed as I had no recollection of what had gone on. How did I end up in a ward that looked like a spaceship with wires coming from my nose, mouth and neck and where was my baby?

I was told by my mum that my partner was with my baby and he wasn’t leaving his side. That thought eased me slightly knowing he was with my partner. My mum also broke the news to me that I had been opened up from my section wound to above my belly button. She showed me my wound and I felt my heart break. My heart broke again and again every time I saw my wound. I felt like a monster all sewn back together.

Little by little the wires were removed and after what felt like a trek through the dessert I was allowed small sips of water. It was like I was drinking for the first time. The kindest nurse brushed my teeth and plated my hair and tried to make me comfortable. I was exhausted but too scared to sleep in case I died. I cried to that same nurse as I was too scared to fall asleep and every time I shut my eyes I had flashbacks of my childhood and all kinds of weird memories. I remember the family in the next bay visiting their family member, they were staring at me and whispering amongst themselves and I could here them saying how young I was. I felt so vulnerable.

I told my nurse I was too scared to sleep, and she responded with such kindness. She took my hand looked me in the eyes and told me she was right by my side and wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. Later that evening I was moved back to the delivery suite where a midwife would look after me one to one. I was reunited with my partner and baby and it felt euphoric. I was alive, my baby was doing well and my partner was allowed to stay with us. The next seven days were spent in the hospital all together just getting by day by day. Lots of tears were shed between me and my partner. We almost lost each other and the plans we had made for our future were almost taken away.

We were discharged from hospital, my partner and mum were around for a week to help with the children and then work commitments meant they had to go back. Here I was with a 2-year-old and newborn and I was only a shred of the women I was before. I was broken, battered, bruised and had not an ounce of fight left in me.

A very healing process.

I had the routine visits from a health visitor but no extra support. I had my stitches looked at (all 30 of them) by a midwife whose first reaction to me was why did they use a classical cesarian cut to remove my baby rather than look at my notes and the ordeal I had been through. I had a hospital debrief only at my request with my obstetrician who couldn’t give a reason why this happened. I felt alone, angry and so let down.

I went on for 8 long months with many days laying crying on my son’s bedroom floor. I would jump at every little noise even the doorbell ringing. I had literally fallen to pieces I was so weak and felt like the worst mother alive, I may as well have died that night my son was born were the intrusive thoughts that flooded my brain. I don’t even know how I got through those times, every day on my own with my two sons and brutal physical and emotional wounds. The evenings were spent trying to piece what happened together with my partner but we would just end up crying. Why did this happen to us?

I had a follow-up appointment with the ICU whose aftercare is outstanding. They walked me around the intensive care ward and explained what treatment/life support I had revived and went through minute by minute of my minute-by-minute notes. A very healing process. The surveys they did on me revealed that I had recovered physically very well, but emotionally I was not coping. At around 8 months postpartum they referred me to my local perinatal team. Something I feel should be offered right after an event of birth trauma.

Now this is the part when things start looking up (thankfully)! I was met at home by the kindest lady. She listened, acknowledged my feelings, gave me advice and referred me for EMDR treatment. This lady was my saviour! She gave me hope when I had lost it all. She called me weekly and visited as much as she could.

I am waiting for EMDR therapy and taking medication for PTSD while waiting for therapy. I have sought out my own healing and tried reiki with positive effects.

I am currently on my journey to become a Doula with a strong interest in the postpartum period and mothering the mother. Slowly but surely the loneliness is lifting, I’m finding my tribe and I don’t feel the need to hide my feelings from friends and family, something I did so well before getting help. I’m sure they didn’t even know how bad I was suffering, I hid it through shame and guilt.

Bella Goss

We almost lost each other

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