Self Expression Magazine

The Post That I Cant Say Out Loud So I Will Write It Instead

Posted on the 20 July 2011 by Sparklepanda @sparklepanda
**Warning: this is a LONG post. It is not a happy post. It is not a post to read if you are pregnant.**
The trouble with reading other blogs is that they may one day contain something that is very close to your heart. And that makes you think. And you may not like thinking.
Then in order to avoid thinking about it all the damn time, now you find that you have to write about it and you didn't ever want to write about it but here it is, in your head, so it wants to get out.
I'm looking at you, Madame Bipolar and MrsWoog
So. Here we go.
From the very beginning, the existence of my daughter Ella is very much caught up with negative events.  She was not, unlike Felix, tried for and desperately longed for. She was the "you have got to be fucking kidding me!" baby, the "how the fuck did this happen?" baby, the "anniversary" baby.  Not planned, not even considered to be a biological possibility after thehoo-hahsurrounding Felix's conception. We "came to terms with" this baby.
November 2007 was marked by 3life-changing events.
1. Monkey Boy and I went out(!) on our own(!) to a Crowded House gig (!!!) which was magnificent and wonderful as you would expect.
2. At that concert, I sat down and made the mistake of "chair dancing" which is a bad idea at the best of times because you look like Steady Eddy but more so on this occasion because my back went "Even I know chair dancing is wrong."
3. 2 weeks later it was our anniversary. 'Nuff said. 2 weeks after that I knew, even before peeing on the stick...
So I had managed to rupture a disc in my lower back, by sitting down. Normally this could have resolved itself over a number of months with rest. When you’re pregnant and you have the joint-loosening hormones released, and the additional weight increasing right at the level of the rupture...well, not so much on the resolving.
By the time I was 12 weeks pregnant, I could hardly walk. By the time I was 20 weeks pregnant I was taking Panadeine Forte and seeing the hospital physio, which didn't help at all. By the time I was 26 weeks I was taking PanFortes 2 hourly, round the clock, and begging for them to take the baby out so I could have decent pain relief. I couldn't walk, I couldn't stand, I couldn't sit.  At 33 weeks I finally got an MRI which showed the disc herniation. I knew what it was from the start, having had one before (and had surgery to fix it. Same disc, other side), but no one would take me seriously, not until the MRI.  Even then, to get the decent pain relief, I had to cry hysterically and act like the crazy female and swear at my obstetrician that this state of affairs was unacceptable and if he didn't help me I would take my own life. I was serious.  I was given Endone.  I was referred to the Mental Health Midwife, who marked my file with all sorts of big red stickers.
Endone allowed me to sleep. Blessed blessed sleep, no longer on my hands and knees, rocking on my bed, back and forth back and forth all night while wet fire engulfed my leg as it was torn off via my big toe.  I still needed it two hourly but it gave me some relief. I loved my obstetrician from that point. At 38 weeks we all decided enough was enough. Two hourly Endone, and I can still barely walk and the pain is constant, it never stops not for a second. Ella will have to be kept in the NICU for at least 5 days and be monitored for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome - or withdrawal from the narcs to you and me.
So I am induced. Have a read ofthis post and this one  to see how well that worked for me the last time.  Or more to the point, I am induced (Day 1), and induced (Day 2), and induced (Day 3), and induced (Day 4), and had my waters broken and was put on a Syntocinon drip and 21 hours later of 2-minutely contractions (Day 5) I am still only at 4cm dilation. I will never ever forget the doctor’s face as she looked at me and told me we had no choice but to do a C-section. The next half hour is full of memories that I can’t even write. Memories of distance and of pressure to do what I don't want to do, of fear. Raw, primal fear. Memories of things once done and said can never be undone. Of the end of things. Of a line drawn in the sand.
And then there is the operating theatre. And the yellow paper curtain in front of my face, hiding things to awful to see...  And the woman at my head, the anesthetist. Monkey Boy next to me.
And then pain.
White hot searing pain.  Stop. Stop Stop Stop.
I don't know if I screamed it over and over out loud or just in my head. The epidural had worked at surface level only. Once the scalpel had got past the first few layers of skin...  Monkey Boy started yelling at them to stop. "We can’t go on like this" I remember hearing someone say. MB being told he had to leave. Leave? No! Saying goodbye, I thought I was going to die. Then the mask, and I didn't care if I died. "Breathe, just breathe."
She was born - without her parents even aware of it - blue, the cord wrapped around her neck twice, meconium swallowed and inhaled and not breathing. I lost 1.2 litres of blood.
The Post That I Cant Say Out Loud So I Will Write It Instead
I hear "it’s all over, you've had your baby." Am I in the 1950s? A young child is screaming in a nearby cubicle (tonsils) but he is not my child. Where is my child? Is she ok? Why isn't she here?  The epidural line is still in and they bump up the level because my pain is too much, but the epidural didn't work you fuckers! What is the point in doing this??  It meant I didn't "get my legs back" for over 24 hours.  Utterly stuck. Can’t move. My legs are not mine, they are lumps of meat that are pinning me to the bed.  This causes even more pain in my spine and my legs and feet are now swollen to the point where the skin almost starts to weep.
And Ella. My baby. The one for whom my soul was dragged to hell and left there.  I don't see her for 7 hours. MB held her in the NICU.  He had to ask the staff where the hell she was. No one told him. He took photos, and a short video of her, and I look at them over and over.  When she is brought in and I get to hold her for the first time, I am allowed 20 minutes together. I won’t see her again until her first proper feed, in a few hours. When she screams or when they have staff. If they have staff.
I feel like I went through all that time and pain and damage to my body for nothing. I am alone, no baby. Just pain and immobility. Then suddenly we get caught up in the hospital admin game of finding places to put people.  We get shunted from room to room. Labour Ward is full, women are in full labour in the corridors. 4 times we were moved, with all our stuff. A ridiculous amount of stuff really, but 5 days in the Labour Ward...
The catheter and epidural line are removed after 24 hours. (Day 6)  The catheter has damaged my urethra: It feels like my urethra is being pulled out continuously. (This is a feeling that doesn’t stop until close to a year after delivery.) The doctor comes in to tell me that I am borderline for needing a blood transfusion because I lost so much blood in delivery. Because it is borderline it is my decision whether to have it or not. If I don’t, it will take about a month for my iron levels to come back up to normal and I will feel shit for that month. Who the hell lets a delirious woman make judgement calls like that? After what they have done already, there is no way I am going to agree to more interventions.
I start taking tentative steps, but I can’t do it. I need a wheelchair to get to my baby. Get me a bloody wheelchair! And so I go to the NICU and I see what will be her home for the next 5 days, and see all the other babies, babies who have been there for weeks and will be for weeks more. Not mine not mine please god not mine. We learn their observation and coding system for NAS, we learn the procedure in the Breastfeeding Room, and I hold my baby girl for the first time. She is so beautiful, so soft, and yet I feel nothing.
The Post That I Cant Say Out Loud So I Will Write It Instead
While MB is in the hospital with me, I can be in the NICU as often as I want. Once he leaves, I am up to the dictates of the hospital and staff levels. By Day 7 I can walk, very slowly, painfully, with much help. I can’t get my slippers on because of the swelling, but I can get to my baby under my own steam and I'm bloody well going to. The NICU is a 2 minute saunter for a normal person, for me it is 10-15 minutes.
She won’t latch onto the breast properly. She snuffles around trying desperately to find it but will not latch. So she isn't eating. Here's another failure to add to the growing list. She is on formula via a naso-gastric tube. They decide to give her antibiotics because she swallowed poo. She has a line in her nose and another one in her hand, securely bandaged like a big boxing glove. There is so much stuff attached to her, I can’t get to her at all.
MB has been sleeping in the hospital with me, on a camp bed. He went home one night to make sure Felix was ok withNanna Sadly for me, he chose Day 3 to do it.  Everyone knows Day 3 is the killer after delivery: the tissue box will be too hard to reach and you will start bawling. I had no baby with me, the delirium of 5 days labour and no sleep for 8 days, the trauma of the C-section, the pain of my spine, the pain of the C-section, and no baby with me. Ella’s NAS scores are borderline, which means that she may have to stay in hospital for another 2 weeks and be given morphine.  And there is an awful ruckus in the room next door. Furniture being tossed around. Hushed voices in the corridors. Then Police. Every staff member is in the nursery, around one baby. I have no idea what happened, but it scared the hell out of me. I find out months later the mother had killed her baby. 
This is the start to the Day 3 Baby Blues. For me it was the start of psychosis.
The phone calls from the NICU are incessant this day. There is no MB to wheel me down there and seemingly no staff either. One trip is enough and now I have to make several, on my own. No help from the hospital for the woman who can barely walk.  By 10pm I can no longer cope. The phone rings after I just get back into my bed from being in the NICU for a feed. She is crying again, come down. WTF???  Thoughts reel through my head: stick a plug in her face, give her a bottle, give her Phenergan, go away, just go away I can’t deal with her.
So I call for a nurse who never comes. But the NICU keep ringing. Incessant.bloody.ringing.  (Fucking deal with her yourselves, I can’t bloody get there.)  Still no nurse, so with incredible pain and utter exhaustion I drag my arse out into the corridor and hold onto the railing, and I just can’t make myself walk down there again. And the tears start rolling, as they do.  A nurse is coming, asks me if I am alright. Bloody stupid question. I try to tell her but I can’t get much sense out of my mouth. Pain, walking, bloody baby, NICU, can't just can't.
"Well there's no point crying about it, is there? Is there? That won’t make it any better." 
Is this woman for real? It is the final straw for me. If I had enough spirit left in my body at that point I would have decked her. The best I could do was look at her and cry more. I silently beg for my mental health nurse to come and rescue me. But she never comes .
Nurse Hardarse rang the NICU and asked them to bring Ella to me. Great, fine, but they leave me alone with her. That's sensible, right?  Distraught mother with known mental health issues left completely alone... (I wonder now if that is what happened in the room next door...)
I fed her. She wasn't really interested. I needed to go to the toilet. She started crying, and it seemed the part of my brain that was used to babies crying and knew i could leave them for 30 seconds had been removed.  I dragged her bassinet on wheels contraption into the toilet with me. Why?? I don't even know. She wouldn't stop screaming and my how that echoes in a tiled room. 
I wanted her gone. I didn't want anything to do with her. And I hated myself for it.
I have no feeling in parts of my right leg.  No one knows why. (Try the epidural placement, numnuts.)  They put me through another MRI.  Have you had to get into an MRI machine 3 days after a C-section when you can’t feel your feet and your back feels like it is folding you in half all by itself.?  I can’t stand, I can’t sit, I can’t lie down. The MRI shows the herniated disc. Wow, yes it’s still there. They don't know why I suddenly can’t feel big patches of my legs: Sudden Onset Post-Partum Patchy Leg Syndrome, first case ever reported.  They are all idiots.
With Ella’s NAS scores so high, we are looking at not going home with her. We ask for the Parents' Long-Stay Room.
Nope. You can stay in this room here, but that means that you are not actually a patient in the hospital and no nurse will come to help you.
I live a 1 hour drive away, which I can’t manage anyway because I have this spinal injury and I can’t sit in the...
 Nope. Other mums do it.
Other mums don't have my spinal injury.
Express your milk and have your husband bring it in every day. 
Eventually they realise that they need to check the nerve responses in my legs (checking for damage from their fucked up epidural) so I get discharged to the “Non-hospital Room” and then readmitted within the space of 3 hours.
Day 10, and Ella is finally given a clean bill of health. Nothing on her blood screens at all, apart from all the drugs they gave me during delivery. No narcs! No Endone! I didn’t harm her in utero!  It frightens me that she came so close to being put on morphine for 2 weeks on the basis of an arbitrary and subjective scoring system.  Its 5 days since delivery and I am so delirious I am unable to see clearly.
My discharge meds in the morning consist of two Endone tablets, which is a four hours’ worth of pain relief.
What’s this?
It’s all we are going to give you, mums aren't normally sent home with Endone
Most mums don't come in here ON Endone…
You will have to see your GP.
And we were sent home. No mental health evaluation, no post-trauma counselling, no referral for post trauma counselling, no social worker visit, and no "we're sorry". 10 days, 1 baby, 1 new source of PTSD, 1 case of Post-Partum Depression, 1 case ofPost-Partum Depression in baby's father, no family supports at home. 
The red stickers on my file were never looked at. The fact that my labour was 5 days long was never written in my file. The fact that I was inadequately anaesthetised and could feel them cutting me open was not written in my file.
“Length of labour: no labour” it says.  
It was all a bad dream. My file says it never happened.
So we went home, taking with us much more than we bargained for.  Within a week I was thinking up ways I could get rid of her. (I know, we all joke about this when they are being little shits, right? I actually wanted to get rid of her.) I considered the options: Its cold outside at night, she wouldn’t last long. Hide behind a bush; no one would see what I did. (What was I going to do? I didn’t think that far, it’s pretty obvious my thinking was totally fucked at this point.) Give her toMB'sparents.  Just get her away from me! I felt no love, no connection. I didn’t hate her; I just thought she would be better off not with me. I felt sorry for her because she had me for her mother.  I looked for signs that she might love me: anything. I didn't see a thing. To my mind she hated me. Fair enough too, I thought.
And then, after a week, the panic attacks started whenever we were out. I wanted to scream, I wanted to vomit, I wanted to run run run and never stop. I felt like I would explode. The fear, the inescapable fear would grip me from nowhere and toss me on a sea of anguish from which there was no escape.
No one wanted to assess me. We had a CAFHS Nurse and a Mothercraft Helper in our home every week.  No one did anything, even though they both reported to the hospital they were worried about me.  I knew that I was not right but I couldn’t communicate this to anyone. My GP notices after 2 months that I am severely depressed.  She asks how I feel but I dare not tell her about my thoughts towards Ella.  She checks my thyroid and I have  Post-Partum Hyperthyroidism. I have lost so much weight, I am running around like I run amethlab, I don't want my baby and it takes 2 months to pick it up???
With hindsight, it is clear that I should have been in an institution for Nutter New Mothers I look back with red hot shame at the things I thought of doing. When I see photos of Ella at 3ish weeks old, she is clearly smiling at me, clearly looking at my face with love. Yet at the time I couldn’t see it, not one bit of it. It wasn’t until she was about 3 months old I recognised a smile from her and thought “Ok, now I can mother this child.”
Thankfully, there is a lot of information freely available about Post-Partum Depression. Signs to look for, what to do if you need help, support groups, celebrities opening up about their own experiences, etc.  How about we also take a good look at one of the potential causes of PPD: how we are treated in the days immediately following the birth of our child. How much support we are given by those caring for us, whether we are listened to at all, whether we are given a chance to “debrief” particularly if the birth was a traumatic one, whether anybody stopped to ask “How are you? Are you coping? Is there anything you need to talk about?”
Not one person in that hospital bothered to ask me how I was. How did I feel???  I was in shock. I was severely traumatised. (I still am.) I wanted to die.
Had someone allowed me to process what had just happened to me, in a supportive environment with trauma counselling, maybe I wouldn’t have gone home with thoughts of killing my own child.
The Post That I Cant Say Out Loud So I Will Write It Instead

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