I won’t bore you with details of my pregnancy or labour. I was a healthy 29 year old and everything was very straightforward. I was healthy and felt great right up to the birth.
Labour was long (about 35 hours including 2 hours of pushing), and my son was born, 9lbs 1 oz. After that, my whole life and outlook changed.
My son was immediately diagnosed with meconium aspiration. He took a big gasp of air just before he was delivered and ended up with meconium in his lungs. I never got to hold him, or even really look at him, before he was gone to the Special Care nursery. I told my husband to follow. So now I’m alone, no husband, no baby, when I receive the news.
The doctor who delivered my son was a family doctor with extra training in labour and delivery. He was excellent and I don’t blame him for my tear. He diagnosed it as 4th degree correctly and paged the OB on call.
The OB was terrible. It was just after 1 amand he barely spoke to me, yawning as he pulled packet after packet of stitches off the tray and quietly worked away at repairing me. No explanation of what to expect, no advice for recovery, just a prescription for some heavy-duty antibiotics and he was back to the lounge to resume his nap.
6 hours later and I still had not laid eyes on my son, I’d had a short and fitful sleep, the epidural had worn off, and the nurse decided it was time for me to try to get up. I assumed it would be no problem. I have a high pain tolerance and recover quickly. I’ve never really struggled with my health in the past. I always assumed I would be one of those women skipping out of the hospital like nothing ever happened after childbirth. But this was the injury that did me in.
And yes, I call it an injury, a severe one. I had never thought about birth that way before, but it is the most severely I had ever been injured in my life, and the one time in my life where I wouldn’t be given proper time and care to recover.
I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t straighten my back, I couldn’t stop coughing. When I did manage the most pathetic half standing half crouching, it felt like everything was going to fall out. I couldn’t feel or move any of my pelvic floor muscles, and the pain from the stitches was unbearable. The nurse had to wheel me in my wheelchair to see my son. Things went on like that for 24 hours until my son was able to join me for one more day in my hospital room. They finally removed the catheter and I had to force myself to get up to look after him.
Getting out of bed took 5 minutes, getting back into bed took even longer. The pain and discomfort were something that I couldn’t have imagined. Finally, 2 days after my son was born and 5 days after I arrived at the hospital, I waddled sheepishly out of the hospital while my husband carried our sleeping son in his carseat.
When we got home, I prepared myself an epsom salts bath, got in, and cried. I didn’t want any of this. I didn’t want this injury that felt insurmountable, I didn’t want this responsibility while I was in so much pain, and, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t even want my son. If I could have taken it all back in that moment I would have. And there were many more dark thoughts that followed in the next couple of months as I struggled to heal and bond with my colicky son.
Another side effect I didn’t expect was that I lost my appetite. I barely ate for two weeks, which terrified me. I love to eat! I quickly dropped down to and then below my pre-baby weight. In photos until my son is about 4 months old, I look gaunt and sick. If it’s a photo of my full body, I’m sitting awkwardly on one butt cheek or laying on my side. It’s a person I don’t even know. It’s a depressing time to remember.
Three weeks later I was at our family doctor for a checkup for my son when she noticed how much I was still struggling to sit down and walk. She offered to take a look, thank goodness. She delivered the bad news – it didn’t look right to her down there, and her guess was that it needed to be repaired.
*Faye ~ Ontario, Canada