baby

My eldest son Oliver is now 5, he will be 6 in January, my beautiful bambi eyed firstborn son, a boy that, if I’m honest, I only got to properly enjoy when he turned 10 months old.

I had a traumatic birth post induction you see, a crash section, or emergency as it’s more commonly known, but crash defines it so much better-that manic rush to theatre in deep panic, the not knowing, that overwhelming sense of this isn’t how it was meant to be, the loss of control, the trauma. The pain, physical, emotional, the speed. And then relief. For some.

I’ve mentioned Oliver’s birth in passing on this blog, I’ve alluded to how tough my first pregnancy was, but I’ve never written about that time, not fully, not candidly because well I couldn’t really, not until now.

I was diagnosed with the pregnancy liver condition ICP around 8 months pregnant, a mostly baffling condition in much need of greater research, which meant constant tests, and palpable worry towards the end of my pregnancy (I went on to make a film on it to help others)…

I came to terms with that troubled, testing time along with the birth and the hard months which followed, several years ago thanks to my nurturing family and the most empowering, caring counsellor you could ask for. I was lucky.

The calm pregnancy and birth of my second son too inevitably helped heal me… yet sometimes even now, I catch myself watching Oliver asleep, his spidery lashes fluttering with every breath, and I cry.

I still mourn that lost year of his life, the one I felt I should have felt on top form for, the one I thought I’d practised and trained valiantly for (it has been my dream since childhood to be a mum)… I cry the tears of that precious time stolen from my grasp, the many moments I should have laughed more, felt happier in and relished rather than operating in that awful default, survival mode, not myself at all.

Day to day, mostly at my lowest ebb, scared to admit how dark those times truly felt and quite how alone and lonely I was all rolled into one, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt worse, particularly when my husband two weeks on, was back at work.

I could barely walk post-op, let alone think or pause for help, a colicky baby attached to me at all times who could cry for 6 hours straight and who did not like to sleep, meant there was just no time, no moment to inhale, to pause.

Understandably, but not helpfully, I found myself in a body I did not recognise, bruised from surgery, my confidence lost.

I know too of course, that you don’t need to have suffered a traumatic birth to feel all of the above, that birth and of course those newborn days and months are tough enough.

A first child is a total shock, that much we know, and whether we choose to admit it or not, most of us will undergo a period of mourning for our former life, the sleep, the freedom, the you that came before, because motherhood, parenthood defines you, it simply cannot not.

Suddenly, and as Miranda in Sex and the City so eloquently put, ‘there’s a giraffe in the room’ who depends on you to be your best, so it can survive, and thrive. You.

But what if you don’t feel strong? What if you feel weak and tired and have lost all your strength and self-belief?

Your shoulders, weary, weighed down, crushed by the enormity of responsibility makes asking for help a near impossible feat. To admit that you need help. That you just can’t. Not today. You need a break. A chance to take it all, in.

Yet your pride prevents you for reaching out, you feel a failure, the biggest failure of all in fact, you question why motherhood, the most natural thing in the world, could feel so hard. You blame yourself, it must be you.

To say you do not feel your best when all around you, and by all, I mean the picture in your head you painted of this time before the birth, the stories, the many stories the media told you and re-tell of how life is meant to be with baby, means that whilst you feel you’re free-falling, you fail to find the words to speak up, to hold your hands out and ask to be caught, to just be held.

I have the most loving and supportive husband, Peter, and parents who would do anything for their kids, but they were living in Leeds while we were based in London, and trips to us could never be longer than a few days at best, and even then I could pretend.

Not once, during the bleakest of times, my head spinning, the countdown of hours until Peter would finish work, that sense of feeling lost, not stimulated, those many months on maternity leave which felt too vast, well, I never articulated a word.

I feared I would just worry others, that I’d be deemed an unfit mother, plus when trying to discuss my concerns with my GP she told me it wasn’t PND, that I looked and seemed fine to her, but now, I know I was reeling in the after-effects of my son’s birth (PTSD) and needed family and real friends around me, to hold me up, to help me.

Going from directing sets of hundreds to just baby and I, and a baby I loved just felt odd. I was structure-less, a mile of days and weeks without real plans or knowledge of what was to come. A full stop it felt. No goals, a simple hope I’d direct again buried within a crushing fear of what an insecure freelance life would bring.

It didn’t help that my friends were mostly single and without kids at that time, to be one of the first with child, and yes I made new mates with babies but the pressure to be your best in front of people you barely know, mostly felt too much and made me withdraw even more.

Eventually my feelings were forced to unravel, it just could not go on anymore, this pretence that all was well. I cried for help and thankfully, my family and friends came running.

When Oliver turned 10 months old, we made the decision to move back to Leeds, to be close to my folks in a city I call home. Wrapped up in a blanket of unconditional love and care, my Mum was there to help me with the day-to-day care of Oliver which meant soon enough, I started to feel much better.

If only I’d known opening up would help so much.

With renewed strength (oh the irony of needing to feel strong to admit weakness)  I asked my new GP if I could see a therapist and ultimately, politely demanded (if demanding can be polite) to see someone, as he’d initially brushed away my worries.

Maybe I appeared stronger than I was. Maybe I always did.

With the help of my counsellor, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, we created an emotional first aid kit for me, we chatted in depth about the past, my fears, my goals and tools to help me distract myself from worries, mediate and relax. Before long, I’d built a box of tools to help me overcome the stress.

Mostly, he asked me questions I finally faced and answered, and slowly with his help, with everyone’s help, I began to feel more like my old self. I had faced up and accepted that sh** happens and moved forward with my life. I’d gotten over, for the most part, the sadness of being cheated out of the birth experience I’d hoped for, I’d recovered from the sadness and the melancholy of it all.

I started this blog you’re reading here, around that time, although my first posts were lighthearted and funny, a form of escapism for me back then. This blog was a lifeline, another form of therapy. It helped me rediscover my voice at a time I felt I had none and connected me to like-minded women (and men) online who ‘got me’ and many who’d been through what I had.

This blog here offered me a space, a platform, and later a business, I could never have foreseen.

I was a finalist in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Fresh Voice category surprisingly four weeks after going live on my first post. I cried. My voice somehow seemed to resonate, my stories of my move to Leeds and tales of life with my Big Fat Greek family (such as Dad and a Little Case of Chicken Pox) entertained, the voice I thought had gone, was back, and that nomination gave me the boost I needed to return on set, to direct again once more.

A year on almost to the day, when Oliver turned 2, I discovered I was pregnant again, and despite the odds of developing ICP again and another traumatic birth would follow, neither came to fruition. Thanks to the incredible care of my consultant (thank you the NHS), I experienced a tranquil, planned elective, a joy I wasn’t sure I’d ever have, but did.

Big haired, almond eyed Alexander looked just like his older brother at birth, and this time, I felt firmly empowered, in control and incredibly content.

So why blog about this now?

I wanted to finally write this down on digital paper (!) as I’d hoped to many times before but couldn’t find the words, to share the light after the darkness.  My concern then was that one day my son would look back on this and be saddened by it all- I worry he will, now. But he was loved so much by me as he is today, by his Dad, his grandparents and despite those tough first 10 months, he never knew the pain I felt most days.

We have photos of his plump, happy face full of yogurt, his gummy grin smiling back at me, his mama, his world. We have phone videos of his contagious little laughter, walks across my favourite bridges both in London then in Bristol where we lived a while, music classes I took him to when I felt I could and in every one, he’s staring back wide eyed and smiling right back at me. A happy child who adored his mum, and still does, my only wish is that I’d asked for help much sooner than I did. That despite being a perfectionist in my work, that approach won’t work in real life.

I’ve cried many times writing this post but I know it’s time to share that troubled part of my life, to potentially help others who might well feel the same as me, all those years ago, right now, today, to offer some strength to them so they can reach out, seek help and know they’re not alone.

So that’s my story, it’s certainly not pretty but it’s honest and from my heart and I hope it might support someone struggling from a post traumatic birth.

If that’s you, please know that this shall pass, that life can and will improve, that with time and help and love, you, like me, can heal as well.

With love,

Vicki

 

 

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177 Responses

  1. Melanie Greenahalgh

    This is an honest and brutal account of what can happen when things don’t go as we hope. Your account is raw and shows how we can all wear a mantle that hides so much. Thank you for sharing that with me. #brilliantblogposts
    Melanie Greenahalgh recently posted…Ruining my RearMy Profile

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Thank you Melanie, I really feel and know I am in a good place now but that first year in particular was very tough, I am glad I finally got the courage to share this, it’s helped a lot, thank you x

      Reply
  2. John Adams

    Oh wow Vicki. I knew you’d had a tough delivery first time round but I hadn’t appreciated quite how tough. It was families in exactly this kind of circumstance that I went on Channel4 news to speak up for. That must have been such a otugh time and you’re quite right to put your thoughts on your blog. Superb post and thanks for sharing your experience.
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  3. Tanita

    This was so lovely to read vicki. It was so honest. You are such a wonderful mum and it is great to read your posts try always make me feel so inspired with life in general. Thank you x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh darling thank you and for your support, it means a lot and you are kicking ass girl and shining in all aspects of your life, much love xx

      Reply
  4. Rob

    What a heartfelt and honest post. I can totally relate to needing to wait to write a post that holds such strong emotions for you. I’m glad everything worked out. #BrillianBlogPosts
    Rob recently posted…10 Reasons To Pack Up The Kids And Head To The LakeMy Profile

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    • honestmum

      Thank you Rob, I was terrified to press publish, I was literally shaking but I’m so glad I did because it was cathartic for me and most of all I want to help others not feel isolated and to give confidence to ask for help, thank you for kind words

      Reply
  5. tracey at mummyshire

    Gosh, what an experience you’ve been through for your first baby’s birth; the trauma clearly ran deep but it’s great that over time you’ve ready to share and hopefully this experience will inspire and help others. Your boys are gorgeous, so cute, and I’m sure they’re extremely proud of their mummy, both now and should they read this I the future
    Enjoy your holiday
    xx

    Reply
  6. Silly Mummy

    It must be difficult to write such an honest post about a hard experience. I think it’s great that you have been prepared to, as I’m sure it will help others with similar experiences, & helps those of us lucky enough not to have gone through this to be able to understand what it is like for those who do. I don’t think that your son will feel sad if he sees this in future. I think he will know that you fought very hard to overcome this trauma for his sake, and maybe it will help him to know that it is okay to ask for help. #brilliantblogposts
    Silly Mummy recently posted…‘That’s Not Fair’: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last WeekMy Profile

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  7. Sarah

    Wow! What a truly moving post. Beautiful writing and so brave to share your experience. Unfortunately we still live in a society in which asking for help is seen as a weakness. It so shouldn’t be. It actually takes courage to do so and you (and others) should be proud for doing so. I believe in taking the positives from difficult experiences: they make us stronger, better people and you’re testament to that. What you’ve achieved over the last 5 years since that traumatic time is inspiring for us all. Much love xx
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  8. Amy @ HandbagMafia

    It’s amazing how long the memories of birth affect us- you never really forgett. I hope writing it out brings further healing xx
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…Still Breastfeeding: It’s ALL About ME!My Profile

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  9. Sara

    This story certainly pulled at the heart strings. Well done for fighting through the darkness. So glad for you that you shared your story as I am sure a lot of mums out there are. I am glad that. I have found your blog. Truly inspiring. Sara xxx

    Reply
  10. Harps

    Thank you for sharing and giving women like me the reassurance that it happens and it’s ok that we went through a rough time. You’re a huge inspiration to me blog wise too – amazing to hear how well you did so quick especially given all you were going through. You should be incredibly proud. May god bless you always xx #brilliantblogposts x
    Harps recently posted…Arjun’s First Birthday Jungle Party … The Party Bags/FavoursMy Profile

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    • honestmum

      Thank you so much darling, I am sorry you had a tough time too and hope you feel better, always here to talk, much love xx

      Reply
  11. Carlyakamummy

    I think it is so important that people are open and honest about mental health. Too many people keep it to themselves which can be so harmful. It is great you feel strong enough to share your story now. I can empathise with you, a traumatic first birth (emergency section) then discovering both my babies had heart complications. Counselling helped me a lot and Im not afraid to tell people. There is nothing wrong with seeking help and I think more people should do so. #losethestigma is what I say.
    Carlyakamummy recently posted…What is Involved in a Naming Day?My Profile

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    • honestmum

      I am so sorry you went through this and I totally agree we need to lose the stigma, my biggest worry was my son reading this and feeling sad but I am so glad I’ve shared this, I know he feels and knows he was and is loved and I want other women who might be going through the same or similar experience to know they are not alone and that counselling can help, thank you for your comment and I hope you feel much better and stronger and I hope you children are OK too xx

      Reply
  12. jeremy@thirstydaddy

    I have a close friend that went through a similar situation. I’ll be passing this along to her
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  13. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Hi Vicki, thanks for your post. This was really good to read. I haven’t suffered a traumatic birth but I have struggled previously to get help from gps when suffering from depression. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one – and yes how ironic the need to be strong when asking for help, something I couldn’t manage at the time (thankfully I did manage to find elsewhere eventually). Alice x
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    • honestmum

      Oh Alice I’m sorry to read that and so glad you got the courage as I did to reach out and ask for help, I hope you feel much better and stronger xx

      Reply
  14. Katie

    What a brave and beautifully written post Vicki. I am sure that you will have helped a lot of people by writing this. I hope it helped you writing it too. x
    Katie recently posted…Far Far Too Many Photos Of Our Trip To The Lavender…My Profile

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    • honestmum

      Thank you Katie, it was the toughest post I’ve written but I’m so glad I finally did, it was truly cathartic. Thank you for kind words x

      Reply
  15. Emma

    Thanks for sharing this. I have been thinking about writing about my traumatic birth, although as it was only 2 weeks’ ago it’s still very fresh. But I always find writing things down helps me process them so it is a way of healing. I have been lucky that I have still been able to bond with my daughter and do not think I have PTSD but I have been having flashbacks of the pain and fear I experienced. I rang the hospital as they offer a service to talk through your birth but the first appointment is in October!
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    • honestmum

      Oh Emma, I am so sorry it was traumatic, be kind, very kind to yourself, don’t ever fear reaching out and speaking to the hospital sounds good but October is far away. Could you speak to your GP in the meanwhile, explain the flashbacks are troubling you, I found speaking to someone objective really helped me to process and come to terms with what happened, much love xx

      Reply
  16. Katie Heels and Hooves

    Oh Vicki, what a very brave and beautifully written post this is. I’m so sorry you suffered, but so very pleased that you were able to find ways to heal and to overcome things and become you again. Thank you for sharing as I’m sure this will help lots of women out there in the same situation xx
    Katie Heels and Hooves recently posted…Finding a new identityMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Thank you so much Katie, I was so scared to publish this but so touched by the response and so aware of how much trauma needs to be discussed and shared. I’m deeply saddened by how many have suffered as I have, much love x
      Honest Mum recently posted…Being Honest: A Traumatic BirthMy Profile

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  17. Mummy Tries

    As tough as I imagine this was to write, I also know from experience how cathartic it would have felt to press the publish button. A traumatic birth can leave behind such deep wounds, and I’m just really pleased that you got the help you desperately needed when O was 10 months. It’s testament to how wonderful your family are that you moved back to Leeds to be with them.

    Thanks for your honesty, I bet most women that read this will relate to it in some way or other. My first birth was horrendous too, but second was better and third time was an absolute doddle in comparison. My husband joked afterwards that it was shame we were stopping at three because I’d got so good at giving birth 😉

    Much of what you have said here is how I feel about my current situation. Although it wasn’t a shock, P’s autism diagnosis has knocked me for six, and I was not expecting to feel this way.

    Really vital post hon, thanks again for sharing. Much love xxxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…Some things I have learnt in my 36 YearsMy Profile

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    • honestmum

      Oh darling, thank you for your kind words, I am so sad you are going through such a tough time with P’s diagnosis, I can understand that shock and I want you to know I’m here for you, to listen, to help in any way I can.

      It was so emotional yet cathartic to write this post, I have sat reading the comments here and on social media in tears, that so many of us have or are currently suffering from trauma, depression, shock and stress, I am glad I found the strength, finally to add to this honest discourse on the subject and really hope it becomes more widely discussed and women, partners and families can receive the support they need, sending you so much love xx

      Reply
  18. Hayley - Downs Side Up

    Oh Vicki darling, I want to reach through the screen and hug you. Thank you for your honesty, your feelings are so well described and I can relate to much of what you said. The shock of parenthood, the shock of the unexpected. This post will give many hope. Much love H x
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  19. Mim

    Beautiful written and honest as always, Vicki. I hope finally writing this was therapy for you and you can finally think back happily. Thank you for sharing. Mim x
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  20. Amber

    I could have written a lot of this post, except that I have not yet had the healing second birth that I’m so desperate for and my mind is still often on that PTSD loop where I can’t think about anything other than that I want to go back and do something, anything, differently to affect the outcome. It’s really hard. I’m contemplating CBT but I think that the healing second birth will do it, if I get one. It’s probably going to break me completely if it all goes wrong. It scares me a little bit, to be honest.

    Thank you for sharing. I don’t think that your son will think badly of you in the least; he’ll already have a whole childhood of knowing how wonderful you are, after all. I expect that he’ll probably just feel tremendously proud of how far you have come.
    Amber recently posted…What Is Having Twins Really Like?My Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Oh no Amber it breaks my heart you are suffering, please know that I am here for you and that a counsellor can help so much, mine gave me so much reassurance and strength for my subsequent pregnancy and birth. Much love xx

      Reply
  21. Hannah Budding Smiles

    Oh Vicki I wish I could hug you! With tears in my eyes reading your post (in a huge crowd of people awaiting the changing of the guard!) I can feel how you felt in many ways. I was blessed with an easy pregnancy and birth but from day 1 Toby screamed mercilessly for up to 10 hours a day. Arching his back, flailing, in agony from acid rolling up and down his tiny system. He couldn’t lay in his cot, in his pram, couldn’t feed for long without being in pain and it broke me. He’s just turned one and the slightest thing, him screaming in the night or a tantrum in the day, makes me feel so small and so weak because try as I might, I’m not over what we went through for the first 6 months or so of his life xx
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    • honestmum

      Oh Hannah I wish I could hug you too, it is so relentlessly hard when your baby won’t stop crying or sleep and it’s traumatic. I am so sorry you went through that time and hope you have support and feel you can talk to someone about it because it was tough and you deserve the time and space and understanding to help you recover from it, sending you much love and hear, always if you need to talk xx

      Reply
  22. Mother Mands

    Fantastic honest and moving post! Sharing our stories not only helps ourselves but others too and makes us feel we are not alone. All the ‘perfect happy endings’ portrayed in films, etc make us feel so isolated when things happen differently. I love the blogging community for its honesty, for hearing mums like you tell theirs stories!
    I agree with you about being strong to ask for help, when you already are strong and that’s what people expect if you if feels wrong when you are crumbling and need that extra help. I haven’t had counselling and I don’t know how things will go, especially with a future pregnancy, but I hope I have the courage to seek out that help if I can’t handle it all.
    Your son definitely has got big beautiful bambi eyes! 🙂 x
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    • honestmum

      Oh Mandy thank you for your words, I am so sorry for all you went through, for losing Robyn, it breaks my heart but I also know too well how raw emotions can feel how it isn’t easy or sometimes not the right time to start talking to a counsellor. Although I wish I’d opened up earlier, I need a little more strength than when I felt my worst, the absolute pits to ask my GP to see someone, to express what for so long, I couldn’t find the words for. Sending you love. I am always here for you xx

      Reply
  23. Kate Takes 5

    Oh bless you. I really hope writing it out was cathartic – I find it usually is. Huge well done on coming through it all, asking for the help you needed and in turn helping others. Inspirational.
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  24. Ebabee

    A beautiful post from the heart. It’s hard to share such deeply personal things so thank you for your honesty. The first year of motherhood can be traumatic for so many reasons but as you say most of us just accept it and think that there is something wrong with us. I hope new mums struggling anywhere get a chance to read this and get the help they may need. Sharing your story is such a brave thing to do. xxx
    Ebabee recently posted…5 charming pink girls roomsMy Profile

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    • honestmum

      Oh Nomita, thank you so much for your wise and touching words, it was the toughest post I’ve written but I’m glad I finally did, it was cathartic and most of all I hope it helps others xx

      Reply
  25. Katy Acquaye-Tonge

    Vicki – I just read your post and all of the comments from other women.
    It is a gift to create a platform where women feel free to openly discuss and exchange their experiences. Without your willingness to reveal your own vulnerability, we wouldn’t truly understand your triumphs and I am really grateful for your voice in the blogging world. Thank you for being so authentic and true. This is a powerful, wonderful piece of writing Vicki, I salute you!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh Katy, you’ve brought tears to my eyes, thank you so, so much, I don’t think I can find the words to fully express how grateful I am to you all for your comments and support. I was so frightened to share this, to re-live it and set it free, but I am so relieved I did. You are right, the beauty of blogging is to share and discuss our experiences, and make it a safe, supportive place for others to reach out and help one another and most of all, know we are not alone x

      Reply
  26. Tim

    Oh Vicki, I knew you’d alluded to this in the past but I had no idea about the true story behind it all. You’re very brave for sharing it and hopefully it’s both cathartic for you and will reassure inspire others in similar situations that they are not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    Tim recently posted…When little days are the best daysMy Profile

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    • honestmum

      Thank you Tim, it was a tough one to write and I was scared to publish but I am glad I did, it was truly cathartic and most importantly, I am touched others have said it’s helped them.

      Reply
  27. Tara

    What an incredibly honest post. I can relate to much of what you write. I had counselling before I had Freya (after I lost my first two pregnancies) but I never even thought about it afterwards and I really think it would have helped. I just thought that I had what I wanted now, I shouldn’t be miserable despite all the trauma, so kept it all in until, like you, I had to ask for help. I really hope a mum struggling today reads your words and finds the courage to seek the help they need.
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    • honestmum

      Oh Tara I am so sorry you experienced this too, and you are right, it does feel like because we have a healthy child we shouldn’t complain but we need to be emotionally healthy ourselves to be strong for that child and asking for help is crucial to that. Thank you for your honesty, I hope you feel well and strong now, I really hope this post helps others who felt like we did x

      Reply
  28. Sarah (@tamingtwins)

    Oh honey what a brave and heartfelt post to write. I hope it was cathartic to get it down on paper. I have no doubt that this could reach someone at the same lowest ebb and show them light at the end of the tunnel.

    I ended up having one with forceps and one emergency c-section within 20 mins! I think the difference is that when you’re having twins the expectation is almost set that you’ll probably end up needing some intervention. Sad I guess but on a plus note it wasn’t a huge shock.

    So well done for writing this and getting through it. You’re an inspiration xxx
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    • honestmum

      Thank you so much Sarah for your words, it was emotional to write this and very cathartic, I am saddened that so many of us have similar experiences. I’m glad you didn’t feel too shocked but you are right, although it is expected and in a small way you can try and prepare yourself for intervention that is a lot to go through, a baby born one way and then surgery the next. You are a strong lady and an inspiration yourself xx

      Reply
  29. Cat

    What a lovely, honest post. There is no way your son could sense anything else but love and devotion from you. What resonated with me was the weeks of nothingness stretched out in front of me after my first was born. After a hectic work and social life – the nothingness just seemed so overwhelming. I felt so much pressure it was unreal. It’s only now, after having my second that I realised that it is possible to feel differently, more relaxed, even when in survival mode. Now I know this I am trying to be so much more of a supportive and encouraging friend to my pregnant friends, letting them know that it is totally ok and normal to talk about the less than positive feelings we all experience.
    Much love,
    Cat
    http://www.breedandwrite.co.uk
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    • honestmum

      Oh Cat you are a such a great friend to your pregnant mates because you are right that pressure and that nothingness is overwhelming and so tough, having my second I too felt so much more in control and aware of how I might feel and what would help me. Hugely I was close to my family which was priceless, that support, love and friendship meant so much. Thank you for sharing your experience with me, love xx

      Reply
  30. Alexandra @dontcallmestepmummy

    Oh Vicki I loved this. I relate to it so much, for different reasons. It took me nearly 18 months to admit I was postnatal after my second as I was scared of being seen as a failure, and sadly I didn’t have great support. It’s so good to see such high profile Mamas out there like yourself who can highlight that this is real for some of us. Especially us Mums that are used to being at a high capacity and carrying a great workload to all of a sudden as you say being scheduleless. Thank you for writing this post xxx
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    • honestmum

      Oh Alexandra I am so sorry you had a tough time after your second, how are you feeling now? The hardest thing is admitting how you truly feel, I know it was for me, I was so utterly scared but it’s so important too because if you don’t it’s hard for others to see that especially because pretending can be easy, going into survival mode. You are right that going from being busy and having a career to simply days of no structure can be so hard. I don’t think of myself as high profile in any way but thank you and I do hope this post helps others at a time they most need it, I wish blogging had been around then in the way it is now, such a wonderful way for us to communicate and support one another xx

      Reply
  31. Polly Mixtures

    I can relate to so many of your words. My waters broke 11 weeks early, I had my daughter 5 weeks early via emergency c-section. I’m still struggling to even contemplate baby no.2 although she is 14 months old. My blog has been like therapy for me. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I think like you did, I may need to demand more help. I think people also mistake me for being stronger than I am. This post really moved me. Thank you x
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    • honestmum

      Polly, I am so sorry you are suffering, I know how you feel, I’ve been there and 14 months isn’t long, not when you are dealing with a young child, still a baby and went through so much, I felt robbed of a longer pregnancy as Oliver was born 3 weeks earlier, I didn’t feel prepared, which I know it’s hard to even at the full 9 months but it all happened so fast as it did with you and you need to heal from that time. Please speak to your partner, family and GP, speaking to a councillor helped me so much, that objective voice, so calm and supportive, he gave me the confidence that things would improve and they did. I promise life will get better, here if you need me and I mean that x

      Reply
  32. Heather Crowe

    I love how honest and beautifully written this post is; you always see pictures in magazines and films that portray post birth to be picturesque and easy; i haven’t had a child yet and even I know that is just not how it is, the only thing that is the same for every mother is the love that is there and you can tell that you are overflowing with it as you read your posts x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Thank you Heather, that means a lot, the expectations made by the media and society are ridiculous, they pose so much pressure, I hope this blog and so many others out there help ease that pressure somewhat and prepare others that births can be tough and asking for help is so important. Thank you for your kind, touching words x

      Reply
  33. International Elf Service

    What a beautifully written and honest post. I’m so pleased you’ve talked about this as I know it will help many others and many of us can relate to the sheer shock of becoming a Mum but not feeling ourselves or how we thought it would be.

    I totally understand what you mean about the physical /emotional aspect and that is of course a massive part of our ability to cope every day, feel like ‘us’ and look after a little one. Our hormones are all over the place and pregnancy and birth really do leave their mark. A traumatic birth is a massive deal and anyone who has gone through one should be kind to themselves and allow themselves to feel whatever it was they felt, or feel now.

    Both your boys will grow to be men who love and respect their mother. Not because they think they should, but because they genuinely will. You’re a very good Mum.
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    • honestmum

      Oh this comment brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much Emily, I completely agree with you on being kind to yourself, it’s so hard in those early days and months but so important for those struggling to reach out. I do my sons grow up to feel that way xx

      Reply
  34. Julia @ Rainbeaubelle

    Just reading all your comments shows how much writing this post has helped people already! It was so brave of you to write it down and I am so glad you managed to open up in the end and had the support of your family in Leeds. As for crying writing posts, I do that all the time! x Sending love
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  35. Maria @ Suburban Mum

    Thank you so much for sharing this Vicki. I love how honest it is and how far you have come from your experience.

    My first birth did not go to plan either and I also had to have emergency c-section. I fought and fought it but “failure to progress” after nearly 25 hours in labour meant I had to resign myself to a section and I remember crying before being wheeled into theatre – I too was scared of the unknown. One of my first memories after having E was of me still lying on the operation table shaking uncontrollably unable to keep my eyes open from the tiredness and all the drugs I was pumped with. I don’t even remember if I managed to have skin on skin with him!

    I also cried the first night I was home because I felt like I was in someone else’s body. I wasn’t “me” and it took me a long while to get over the birth (like you I never mentioned it to anyone) and to then even think about having another. Luckily second time round I managed to have the VBAC I wished for and the recovery process was much smoother – but even then there were a few hiccups!

    Sending you hugs xxxxx
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    • honestmum

      Oh Maria I am sorry you went through what I did, I felt exactly the same, that I wasn’t in my own body, you’ve nailed it, I didn’t feel myself in any way, an empty vessel almost. I am so glad you got the birth you wanted and it went mostly well, much love x

      Reply
  36. A MUM OF A MUM

    I am so pleased you have written this. I am the mother of a daughter who is slowly coming to terms with her own experience which echoes all of the above. It pains me, having been with her throughout and seeing first hand what she has had to battle, that there are so many more of you that have had experiences like this… My grandson is a delight and she too worries how he may feel one day if he ever learns of this in later life. He is truly loved by everyone close to him as is she… It is and has been difficult for all of us but like you all, time heals and love and laughter are always there in the dark ready for you when you are ready… Big hugs to all…you are amazing Mums and thank you for sharing. It helps those of us who are helping you too to understand. Thank you.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      I am so sorry your daughter, and you are going through this, I understand how she feels and the importance for asking for help, has she spoken to her GP, speaking to someone objective and being referred to a counsellor helped me hugely. I hope she feels better soon, with time, support and love I know she can xx

      Reply
      • A MUM OF A MUM

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, I am pleased to see so much conversation going on around this subject. So well done you for being brave enough to open up and start it off. She has seen a doctor and a counsellor…not the best experience but we’re muddling our way through.

      • honestmum

        I am sorry to hear that, I had the same experience when I reached out to begin with, please see another doctor or ask for another counsellor xx

  37. Wave to Mummy

    What a touching and honest post. So sorry you felt like this but so glad you managed to pull through. I’ve read you refer to your difficult time before and wondered what happened.

    I too had a difficult time after birth due to the way the birth happened. For me the main thing that helped was to get my hospital notes and reading through them, but also (probably even more) writing a blog post about my birth story. Putting it out there in writing helped me to process the whole knotted ball of disappointment and sorrow and suddenly it didn’t feel that bad anymore.
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    • honestmum

      Thank you for your words and I am sorry you had a difficult birth too, reading through notes can be helpful, my hospital months later gave me mine back. I wish I’d written this post before, I just didn’t know where to start and I wasn’t really ready until last night. I love that blogs can help us process too xx

      Reply
  38. Stephs Two Girls

    It’s so brave and kind of you to share this to try and help others. Am sure he won’t mind in the slightest once he’s older – your ongoing love will be all he needs. I was like you, with parents and family far away at a time when I needed them most, but somehow you make it through, and the memories become a little softer at the edges. Glad to hear all is going well now for you xx
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    • honestmum

      Oh I hope not Steph, he is such a caring little boy already, I hope he knows how loved he was, and is. I’m so glad you are OK, it is so tough when family are far away and you are right, time does heal. Thank you for your words x

      Reply
  39. Colleen

    Thank you for such an honest by name, honest by nature post. I recognised myself in this post so mcuh, and i still do. I believe that I have/had ptsd but i have never spoken about it with anyone. I had a care free pregnancy and an horrendous birth which still traumatises me to this day. I carry guilt that i was too poorly to even hold him on my chest. My notes said “declined skin to skin contact” but it didn’t say why, it didn’t say it was because I had passed out, because I had a traumatic birth, because I laboured for 22 hours. This still makes me feel so sad. Anyway, thanks again. It’s good to identify x
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    • honestmum

      Oh Colleen those notes can be so emotionless, please don’t feel guilty, you went through so much, you couldn’t physically hold your son, none of this is your fault, please know this. Please don’t be afraid to reach out, to ask for help, to speak to others. Seeing that cousellor was the best thing I did, it gave me someone objective who understood and could give me the tools to deal with the sadness, the anger and the anxiety of it all. Sending you lots of love, things will get better, they did for me, lots of love x

      Reply
  40. Nathalie

    Wow, just wow!
    You have just described how I was with my first, after her traumatic birth. I’m sat here typing this with goosebumps all over, and tears flowing
    Thank you for sharing, and well done in being brave enough to describe so eloquently just how it is. Every thing you’ve described is so bang on. Especially the needing to put on a front, not being a burden, trying to do your best for everyone else, and ignoring the one person who needs help the most, ourselves!!
    So much respect Vicki, so much!
    Big hugs xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh Nathalie, thank you so much, I’ve been in floods reading yours and everyone’s comments, I am so sad this has effected so many of us, I wish I could hug you all. Traumatic births are so doubly hard as we feel we need to put on a front when we are suffering the most, I really hope this helps other women, thank you for your touching comment, I cannot express how much it’s meant to me xx

      Reply
  41. Leanne

    The bit about trying not to be at your worst in front of people you have only just started to get to know really hits home for me. After having a baby, I have struggled with social anxiety big time. Those friendships of new mums are ones I knew I wanted to treasure and would need for a long time, but I wasn’t convinced I was in a state fit enough to create lasting relationships. And then there was the small task of keeping a person alive, feeding and washing myself and not neglecting my husband…. In a nutshell, you were SO not alone, and aren’t in mourning what you still feel you lost. But you should be so very proud of the fact you have raised a happy little child despite everything you struggled with (physical and mental). Keep being honest, but mostly to yourself. Thank you for sharing and being so brilliant x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh Leanne, it really is so hard to try and put on a front, especially when you feel it’s not possible, there is no energy for that when you’re in survival mode, I wish I’d known I wasn’t alone then, when I needed it so much, I felt I couldn’t admit the pain, the loneliness because I worried no one would understand. Thank you for sharing your experience, I am sorry you suffered too, much love xx

      Reply
  42. Charlie O'Brien

    What a brave and insightful piece. I too had a traumatic birth (dangerously low heart beat and emergency forceps) and felt a lot of what you describe in the early weeks. I went from being a confident outgoing radio presenter to someone who was fairly scared of just going to the shops! Thank you for talking openly too about counselling. I believe most of the world would benefit from therapy but we are too uptight to realise it! Charlie xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh Charlie, I am so, so sorry you experienced this as well, it stops you in your tracks, I too lost all confidence and it took a long time to heal. I hope you are so much better now, much love xx

      Reply
  43. Potty Mouthed Mummy

    Oh lovely, this made me cry. Harrison’s birth was tough, for different reasons, and when he was here I felt quite alone. Like you I didn’t want to write or say things in case people misinterpreted or judged me. Reading this, there is only love. I don’t think Oliver could ever know anything other than how much his mummy loves and adores him. Well done for sharing gorgeous lady xx
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    • honestmum

      Oh Sian you have made me cry too, I am weeping into my keyboard because that means so much to me, thank you, just thank you xxxx

      Reply
  44. Tory Knowles

    I absolutely relate to this. The overwhelming waves of an emergency c section is more than in the moment. It’s, as you articulated so well, the physical and emotional scars that can take months and even years to heal. I loved my son from the moment he was born but profoundly, my overwhelming memory from his birth is shivering uncontrollably in recovery after the emergency. My body in shock and at odds with my desperate need to nurture this beautiful little person.

    I remember the sheer fear of being alone afterwards and the growing fear of nighttime when I’d lay in pain from my surgery, feeding him. Thank you for sharing your experience because it’s made me feel a little braver. Xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh Tory thank you for sharing that, I absolutely relate to every word, you are physically and emotionally in shock post emergency section and the support you crave is colossal yet you must give, immediately, when you are at your weakest. Thank you for making me feel braver too, I am so glad I published this now xx

      Reply
  45. Lizzie Roles

    Vicki thank you for writing this post, it’s really important you did. I had a great pregnancy & an awful birth with my first baby & felt most of the feelings you felt too. i didn’t bond with him for months & breast feeding didn’t work out & I still mourn for the loss or that bonding time even now. As with you, my second birth was so much better but even with my second the breast feeding nightmare from my first time round tainted that too. I love both of my kids to the moon & back & no-one knew how much I suffered, how low I actually was, like you I stayed quiet. After my second enough was enough so I had counselling too. So if so many people feel this way it’s very important, vital in fact, to share this story. Having a baby isn’t always the fairytale, it’s hard work and can wreck havoc with our hormones. But we’d do it all again wouldn’t we? For these kids we adore. Lizzie XO
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    • honestmum

      Of course darling, those children are our world, thank you for sharing your experience too, the hairs on my arms are on end reading your words. I was worried to go live on this, even 5 years on, I am so sad you went through a similar experience as have so many who have commented on social media and here but writing honestly about how tough birth and the time (however long) following can be hopefully will hep break down the barriers and pressures we all face as parents because those can prevent us asking for help, they can make us feel alone. I know that’s exactly how I felt first time. Thank you for your words and support xx

      Reply
  46. Kay

    Oh my goodness, I could of written this myself! I love the term “crash” section, as that’s completely how I felt. One min I was in a delivery room with my husband, one doctor, two midwives and the next the room filled with about 15 people then telling me to give my Husband a kiss and off they ran with my down the corridor to theatre and I was then put to sleep. I was told I didn’t suffer with PND but nearly a year later it was realised it was Post Traumatic Stress. I’m now mostly anxiety free, but I am due to have my second baby (elective section) in just under 5 weeks time. I keep having little flash backs and I’m starting to worry again. I want to make this next birth a lot more of a positive experience, I would love to hear any tips that you have for me to calm my nerves! xxx
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    • honestmum

      Oh Kay, I agree, I think that is what I suffered with too, it was never verbalised but the trauma from it all was immense. I had such a tranquil second elective, I am going to tweet you the link and it is here too: Having a Happy C-Section http://honestmum.com/having-a-happy-c-section/. I am here if you need to talk or any advice, I mean that.

      Reply
  47. Notmyyearoff

    Oh honey I wish I could hug you, I hope the second birth plus the councilling gave you peace and closure. I can relate to SO much of this. At the time I thought it was normal for me to be absolutely floored for more than 6 months and that feeling so rubbish was part and parcel of it. It took me absolutely ages to even acknowledge that it had all affected me so much physically and emptionally. And it affected when we started trying for our second, simply because I didn’t want to go through all that again. It took us years to get there and in a way it was like a healing process as it made me slowly acknowledge all the issues and things that had formed my first birth. This time the consultant has been fantastic and they’ve been really supportive. The words “elective c section” have been put into my notes now and it was so much more straight forward than I thought it might be. Thank you for all your posts on this topic, I know it’s been really emotional for you to write it but it’s helped me so so much. Xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Oh hun thank you so much for your words, I am here for you, always and know exactly how you feel. I feel strong and this in itself has helped me even further, it’s been so emotional writing this post and facing pen to paper/fingers to keys how hard that time was but so cathartic too. I felt my second section was so tranquil and I was in control and content, it was the best thing for me and I would have another tomorrow. I know things will be different for you too, for me, having a second was more relaxed in every way, I wasn’t afraid to ask for help, to admit if I was tired and I was happy because I wasn’t traumatised. Please ask me anything you need, always here for you, wishing you an amazing second birth sweetie xx

      Reply
  48. Liz

    Think this is a wonderfully written post which I hope was cathartic and will help
    Others, well done wonderful mummy x

    Reply
  49. Toria

    Oh Vicki, I cried reading that. I had a terrible pregnancy with my first, followed by a traumatic birth that I still find it difficult to think about 4 years on. I had counselling, but still it lingers. Other people think I’ve moved on, that somehow it’s all ok now, but it isn’t. I feel such a sense of sadness (and then guilt for the sadness!) on her birthday each year and I wonder how long that will last? Like you, I had an elective c-section with my second and it helped me to heal some of those emotional scars. But then I feel guilty that her birth was a better experience, which I know is silly. I’m pleased that you’re feeling stronger and I’m sure this post will help lots of mummies, like me. It’s always a comfort to know you’re not alone.
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    • honestmum

      Oh Toria, I’m crying that you cried, I was so scared to press publish, scared my son might read this and be disappointed, and scared to revisit that time but reading these comments has reassured me I did the right thing. I totally understand and know so well, how you feel, I think we have to accept there will always be some sadness around that time and it’s normal it is there, but as the years go on, it will fade and fade, that space will be filled with all the new happy memories we are making. I really didn’t want anyone reading this blog, feeling like I did then, to wait to reach out. I waited so long to admit I was struggling and wish I’d read a post encouraging me too, letting me know it was OK (blogs were not something I knew much about then). Sending you love, always here if you need to talk too xx

      Reply
  50. Lucy Bishop

    An incredible post my darling, and one I can so relate to on the traumatic birth front. Luckily for me I didn’t experience too much mental grief/pain afterwards apart from the physical pain for a few weeks after the birth, but the mental scars from that very traumatic first birth have never left me, and still worry me – especially now trying for baby number 2. I have decided to ask my GP if I can chat over my notes from Bert’s birth with a professional to see if they can help me put it to bed, so to speak. Your post was hugely brave, and I’m sure will be incredibly comforting to many! Love you darling xxxx ps. just going to go and have a nose at those early posts you linked too! 🙂
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    • honestmum

      Oh Lucy I am here for you and I completely know and understand that fear. With the right support you can overcome that worry and have a happy birth, I am here for you always, my councillor helped so, so much. Thank you for your kind words, I was so scared to hit publish xxx

      Reply

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