I was diagnosed with PTSD from my pregnancy 6 years after the birth of my daughter.
I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum during my entire pregnancy and can hand on heart say it was the most horrific 9 months of my life. I hated every single moment of it.
Harsh as that sounds, when the midwife placed my beautiful daughter in my arms, I fell in love with her. She was the single most amazing human being I had ever laid eyes on.
I took to being being a mother like it was second nature. And I was so happy as after everything I had suffered during my pregnancy, I thought I wouldn’t bond with her. I didn’t need to worry on that score.
However, over the years, issues had arisen for me in my relationship with my husband. Issues that I was quite happy to sweep under the carpet, I was happy (or so I thought) plodding along as we were. He wasn’t and looking back now I can understand why. There was no intimacy in our relationship, we had grown to be friends that lived together and had a child. At the time, I honestly couldn’t place a problem. In every other way we were fine. But then push came to shove and around a year ago, and I agreed to see my GP about this ‘problem’ that I had. For the first time, I completely broke down! I laid everything out there. Felt good afterwards too. She advised that she thought I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I must admit, I was taken a bit aback by this. PTSD? That’s a condition that people who have suffered horrific ordeals get right?
Finally the penny dropped! What I endured during my pregnancy, my 9 months of hospital admissions and prescription drugs and endless vomiting and that parasite that was living inside of me, all of that, was my trauma.
My resistance to affection and intimacy, it was all my subconscious getting to work and putting fail safes in place so I never had to go through that experience again. Making sure that this body would never get pregnant again. Never be host to 9 months of physical and mental torture again.
I was referred to a counsellor. We met every two weeks for an hour and basically I talked. Talked and talked about my pregnancy, the effect it had on me, the effect it was having on my relationship and how It made me feel. Turns out that talking about it for the first time to someone who was completely impartial was exactly what I needed to help me deal with it. I was never offered any help after my pregnancy as I suppose I wasn’t showing any signs of postnatal depression or depression of any kind to be truthful. But in reality I was sort of grieving as I felt so robbed of my pregnancy. I used to see people with their fluffy pregnancies and that amazing glow that women emanate. Smiling and happy about the life growing inside of them. I always felt so bitter. I didn’t glow, it was far from fluffy and I certainly wasn’t happy about the life growing inside of me. It was tough. It feels good to say that now, out loud. I don’t feel ashamed and nor should I. Speaking to someone about how I was feeling, really helped me. Even though I was sceptical to begin with. I honestly didn’t realise how much of an impact my pregnancy had really had on my mental health. Although I had amazing support during my pregnancy, it felt like afterwards, everyone sort of moved on. Forgot how bad it actually was. If it ever got brought up there would be the comments of “oh, you were ill weren’t you” But I was still re-living it. Every comment of “when are you having another?” was like a stab in the gut. I couldn’t understand why it was so easily forgotten about and I was just expected to get on with it.
The truth is that I will never forget, it’s just not possible. There are certain smells and places that are triggers if you will. In an instant I can be taken back to a time and a place in my pregnancy just from a smell! The memories will always be there, I just choose to deal with them in a different way now, a better way. I am moving forward now and things are really great. I’m in a much better place just for talking about it. I urge any mother to talk to someone if you feel you are going through anything that is out of character for you. Not all mental health issues are easy to spot. Especially if you are anything like me, stubborn and proud. Don’t bottle it up, speak out. There are people who can help you.