When I woke, I wasn't able to see my son right away, and each time I woke for weeks later, I would forget I had given birth and feel so empty because my baby was no longer inside. I felt nothing when I was finally allowed to see my son 18 hours after surgery. I felt nothing when I held him finally almost 36 hours after he was born. I wasn't there when he was born! I seriously questioned whether he was even MY baby- even though he looked like a tiny skinny version of what his father looked like when he was a newborn.
Time spent in NICU isn't really conducive to healing either. It was hard to hold my baby because I was in pain. I was at the mercy of others for even knowledge about my baby's health. You don't even really have a say in the health decisions being made. They wouldn't let me even attempt breastfeeding at first and I had to fiercely advocate for it, just to be allowed one session per day. I'm grateful my guy was a fighter and clearly didn't enjoy being in the hospital anymore than his parents did- He left 5 weeks earlier than they thought he would! But even at home I dealt with feelings of inadequacy and extreme anxiety that something would happen to my son.
Later at my 6 week appointment, the OB who did my follow up chirped the party line "Healthy baby, healthy mama" as though it had all ended well, but in my mind I was anything, but healthy.
I couldn't sleep. I couldn't leave the house, except for very short times and only near people I knew and trusted. No ONE could hold my baby for weeks unless I was right there. I later learned these were signs of postpartum anxiety- something that they DO NOT talk to you about when you leave the hospital. It's all about postpartum depression these days, and you can easily cheat on that "test" they give you before you leave the hospital.
I would sit and cry for hours at night. I would clutch my baby for hours during the day and wonder why I felt this way. Why was I so empty and unhappy? Why couldn't I just get "over" it?
There are so many different things that I went through- fear, concern, loss of choice, abandonment, violation, discrimination of size and age, uncontrolled pain, uncaring hospital staff, complete loss of control.... I still find it hard people don't think birth trauma is a real thing.
I think the hardest part was we had planned and trained for our birth and we KNEW it should have been better. It could have been better.
In the near future I'm going to share some of what I have done to start healing, but I want to share with you that it is real, and if you are feeling some of what I did and still do- You are NOT ALONE.
And there IS hope.