Birth trauma healing

A Facebook group I’m in posed a question (or two): “Why do you wrap your kids? What’s your story?” 
I felt a kind of instant (and new) clarity and so, a compulsion to respond. Here is what I wrote. It was super-cathartic. 

I had a very difficult beginning as a mother- in the foreign hospital in which they were born was no whisper of a birth plan. Drs were top dogs and mothers’ wishes were literally irrelevant. I had not prepared myself for this, as many of the things which happened were inconceivable by British standards; I gave birth by C-section and had to call the Drs back to see the faces of my babies- the second of whom I was not allowed to look at as she was “too small”. 

Having given birth at 9.03 and 9.04am, I first met Olive at 5pm after they had done all the tests on her and given her a bottle (despite constantly telling me breast is best). My impatience to discover what had happened to Ivy was met with indifference at best and impatience and a total lack of empathy at worst. She was in NICU with ‘no feeding reflex’ and a dangerously low weight, it turned out, and meeting her would need to wait. That’s because the rules in that hospital were that NICU was totally off-limits to anyone but hospital staff. Totally. So for the subsequent days I had to hobble down two floors at 2.30pm to the unit. I then had to scrabble with all the other mothers to view my child through the window. View. That was it. My 4.4lb, screaming, fighting angel whom I was so desperate to hold and comfort. The Drs volunteered no information but (again impatiently, curtly) answered my questions. The nurses gave me horrifying tidbits of misinformation, such as telling me Ivy had gone for a hearing test, without the essential information that it was routine. They received my frantically hand-pumped colostrum and asked if it was yellow because my nipples were dirty (?!!??????!). 

While we remained in hospital, getting to know Olive, whenever she was taken to be weighed or checked, she was given a bottle

We took Olive home after 5 days and had to leave Ivy there. I worked so hard to get Olive breastfeeding, and succeeded as soon as we were away from the meddling (but utterly well-meaning) nurses

One final disaster happened on the eighth day. I got the call I was waiting for – to tell me that I could meet and breastfeed Ivy. I zoomed in and arrived at the ‘visiting’ time for the stupid window- 2.30. I was informed that looking-through-the-window-at-your-lonely-tiny-baby hour was different to breastfeeding time, and that I should have come at 2. I was told to return at 5. I was so furious, but getting to hold my little sausage later that day made up for it, and the next morning she was discharged. 

Things after that were not a walk in the park, but we carried on and did our best

I almost forgot to tell you about LPO’s jaundice – at the first check she’d lost weight and I was told I MUST supplement with formula, which I did from a cup (we are still breastfeeding today).

I was too dazed to fight the hospital in my vulnerable state as a wounded woman, a new mother of babies, one wrested from me. It was a deeply distressing birthing experience, and will be my only one. Thankfully I was not subjected to PND and able to pick myself up- and I had a wonderfully supportive partner and family to support me. The maternity leave was only 3 months too, which made me cling to the precious time we had together. 

If you have read this far, thank you, and I will get to the point: Now I can finally articulate this story without getting upset, and it has taken a long time. The girls are approaching four. I think wearing them has healed so much of this pain; It has erased the hurt and made me know that despite a bad start and an early return to work, we did everything we could to bond deeply with our girls. It kept us literally as close as possible. That’s what wearing and LPO and LPI has done for us.

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8 thoughts on “Birth trauma healing

  1. That is such a heartbreaking story, I’m horrified! The cruelty done to mothers and babies is unmeasurable. It is completely unnecessary. Well done for carrying your babies mummy’s, what’s healed you has healed them I am sure xxx

    1. I have been very angry about it, when I have had he time to think… But I have more significantly been pulled as closely as I can be to them. We are still a little unit of four, almost joined at the hip. Xxxxx

  2. I have not worked in a maternity unit since about 1986 so I’m probably well out of date but even then in NHS we handed the babies straight to the mum’s even if they were delivered by C-section… they were still attached to the placenta and a bit bloody and wet… We did encourage mum’s to breastfeed and avoided bottle feeding the ones that were breastfeeding because it is much easier for a baby to suck milk from a bottle than a breast so it doesn’t take long before the baby will refuse to go back to the breast. My niece had a baby that was under one kilo and only about 27 weeks but she stayed in the hospital in a room with some food preparation facilities and was able to touch the baby every day while the baby was in an incubator. I don’t think there were restrictions on the mum’s visiting their own babies. Babies not in incubators were left in sort of wheeled cots beside the mum’s beds but I have a feeling that we gathered them into a nursery at night and only took them to the mum’s if they wanted a feed or else the nurses bottle fed them so the mum’s could get a decent sleep.

  3. Thank you for sharing. So sorry you had such a traumatic start and so glad you found baby wearing. I found it really helped me to feel safe after a traumatic separation too. Sending hugs xx

  4. I didn’t have exactly the same experience but it was similar. I didn’t see my Baby B’s face in the operating room, or really at all for at least a day. They took her to the NICU and wheeled me past her incubator without propping me up to see her, I saw her feet. I didn’t make it to the NICU for at least a day because the staff fucked up my pain pills and literally 24 hours after major abdominal surgery I was completely off pain meds because they forgot to give me some, so my recovery time was really hard and painful. They wouldn’t let me take Baby B home even though nothing was wrong. She was on a different floor from Baby A so it was next to impossible for me to get to her. They wouldn’t let me leave my room until I had made my first post-cath pee, so it really took a long time before I got to see Baby B, at some point they just let me go anyway because I wasn’t going to see her. The nurses gave Baby A a bottle without telling me he was hungry if he wasn’t in the room with me – every time they took him for weight or anything, he got a bottle. My milk wasn’t coming in but they refused to give me a pump for over 24 hours. The nurses told me not to breast feed because the babies were too small. The doctor in the NICU implied I was an unfit mother and shouldn’t bring my baby home.

    I haven’t healed. I don’t know if baby wearing would haveh ealed me but I couldn’t do that either. I didn’t feel like Baby B was my daughter for a long time. She never liked breast feeding. She had an undiagnosed tongue tie for months. My relationship with her was complicated from the beginning. She hated baby wearing, she fought being in the carrier, so I gave up because it was easier.

    I’m still upset about it thinking about it now and they will be 4 in a month. I don’t know when I’ll be over it. HAving another baby and having had a mostly positive birth experience has been healing but it hasn’t completely healed me. I still get flashes of being upset. I still have weird memories of my daughter at the beginning, feeling like she wasn’t mine, being so confused at two babies in those first days.

    1. Oh Robin, I’m so sorry. The hurt is deep isn’t it? I’m surprised you had such a experience in a US hospital. My girls will be 4 in December and the early part feels such a fuzz. Sending love to you xxxx

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