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Pregnancy PTSD

Sep02

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesDear Amy,

Long time reader, first-time asker-questioner. And big fan of your blog(s), which may or may not have taken up countless hours of my workday, if you added it all up, but maybe let’s not talk about that right now with the oss-bay possibly eading-ray.

So before I ask my question, I should probably preface by saying I may be a monster. I’ve only talked to a very few about this, and they’ve all gently confirmed that yes, I may be a monster.

My baby, who is now 16 months old and not so much a baby anymore, is awesome. Straight up, I dig him. But it’s taken a long time to get to this place. I had a pretty awful pregnancy with 35 weeks of vomiting EVERY DAY and borderline preeclampsia that started in the second trimester which led to twice-weekly doctor visits, weekly non-stress tests, constant negotiating with the doctor because PLEASE don’t make me go on bed rest, I will literally go insane, and an induced labor where I literally could not move for 15 hours except to turn over ever 2 hours because it made my blood pressure spike. I was so doped up on magnesium, to which I had a terrible reaction, that I have no recollection of the baby being born, crying, holding him, nursing him, nada.

Result: a screaming, pointy headed baby who did want to be swaddled, cuddled, sleep, nurse, or…really do anything but scream. And not sleep. And I maybe kind of googled what the law was about leaving him at a hospital or fire station or something.  Like I said, monster.

But I didn’t, of course, and now he’s funny and smart and amazing and I love him more than I ever thought possible, which is something parents always say but I didn’t really understand until now.

I know my pregnancy/newborn story is nothing unique, but here’s my question: is there such a thing as pregnancy PTSD? Because now, whenever anyone tells me she’s pregnant, my very first thought is, “Ha ha, sucker! Better you than me!” I’ve avoided baby showers because I have the overwhelming urge to yell, “This is all such a scam! It’s not magical or beautiful! It’s horrible, it’s so very horrible!” In retrospect, I probably had a little postpartum depression (PPD), but shouldn’t it have worn off by now? Sometimes I think that in, say, 4 or 5 years it would be nice to have another one. But when I think about going through pregnancy/newborn-ness again, I nearly have a panic attack.

Is this normal? Does it go away? Am I really a monster?  

S

No. You are not a monster. Though the “very few” whom you’ve shared your story and feelings with might be monsters, a little bit, for such a stunning lack of empathy. Holy hell.

Look, not every mother bonds with her baby immediately. It’s also not something a lot of women admit to, so the next wave of mothers who have bonding issues are left adrift in a sea of “love at first sight” testimonials wondering what the hell is wrong with them. I imagine complications surrounding pregnancy and birth (you had both, big time) and extra-difficult newborns (check!) can up the likelihood of it happening, but then again, I’m friends with someone who had a textbook-perfect pregnancy and easy, natural birth…and she admitted to me that it took her a few months to decide if she even liked her baby.

Was she a monster? Hell no. She was a wonderful mother who was clearly bonded with her son…but yeah, it took her a little bit to get there. She went on to have another textbook-perfect pregnancy and easy, natural birth, and she was stunned the second time around by the incredible wave of instant love she felt for that baby. It was just like what everybody else talked about! Imagine that!

Even though I didn’t experience anything like that personally, I appreciated that she was brave enough to share that confession, and I never, ever thought that there was anything “wrong” with her for finding the early newborn days/weeks to be kind of a soul-sucking pain in the ass. Because logically, THEY ARE EXACTLY THAT. Pregnancy is uncomfortable, childbirth is painful, and then you get to spend months caring for this messy, demanding little blob-creature. Maybe those of us who walked around in a hormonal high of babylove were the crazy people, if you think about it.

Now. You say your pregnancy/newborn experiences are “nothing unique” but…they ARE. What you went through was not “typical” and it objectively sucked. Even if millions of other women had the EXACT same experience, it doesn’t really matter. Your experiences are YOURS, and nobody gets to dictate or judge your personal reaction to those experiences. Cut yourself some slack.

As for Postpartum Depression (PPD): If left untreated, it can persist for up to two years. Or even longer. So it’s entirely possible that your feelings of panic and anger are a continued extension of untreated PPD, and I have ZERO DOUBT that you are not the first or only woman to describe PTSD-like symptoms in the wake of a difficult or traumatic birth (either physically or emotionally). But no matter what acronym you want to settle on, it’s not too “late” to seek some help. You’ve suffered enough, I’d say, so don’t feel like you have to sit around and wait for it to all just magically “wear off” in a few months. (And note that there’s no “usual” timetable for how long PTSD symptoms can last, because it’s different for everybody.) Talk to your OB and tell him/her what you wrote here, and what you’re still feeling.

Basically: I think your feelings towards pregnancy and newborns are  TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE, in light of what you went through. But that doesn’t mean you need to KEEP FEELING THAT WAY, forever and ever amen, especially in such an intrusive way. I’m sorry the people you’ve talked to allowed you to continue blaming yourself for being wrong or monster-like. I hope you can bring yourself to talk to someone else — your OB, physician, a therapist — who will be able to both validate/sympathize with your feelings…while also providing some practical help for dealing with them.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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41 Responses to “Pregnancy PTSD”

  1. Ally Sep 02 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    I am so sorry to read this. I understand a lot of your emotions. During my first pregnancy I threw up constantly for nine months. I was in and out of the hospital about once a week for dehydration. It was AWEFUL. I hated being pregnant. I hated the people that said it was the most magical time of their lives. I ended up with a terrible labor that ended in an emergency C-section. I was so sick from it and didn’t see my baby for a long time. I didn’t bond with him, and felt so sick that I didn’t even care. He too was a terrible newborn. It was just so hard. I feel like my attitude changed when I got pregnant again. My other two pregnancies were just as bad, but having a scheduled C-section made all the difference, and the newborn phase was just easier each time. I still get snarky around other people and their incredible pregnancies and deliveries, but it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

  2. Trish Sep 02 at 12:31 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t experience anything like you did, but I don’t think you are a monster. You had a really bad experience. I do have experience with depression, and if you think you might be, talk to a professional about it. IMO, it doesn’t matter why you are depressed, the important thing is to get treatment. I mean the people that are the most depressed are those who are for no “reason.”
     

  3. Katie Sep 02 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    Just had to chime in–you are so, so, so not alone. I had borderline preeclampsia the last few months, and engaged in similar negotiations about bed rest. My water broke early at 37 weeks, which then led to pretty much the induction from hell–I labored for 36 hours, pushed for 4, and wound up having a vacuum extraction and massive episiotomy. When they put my son on my chest, all I could think was “it’s over” and “what am I supposed to do with him now?”

    Little did I know that that was the beginning of what I can definitely say was the worst week of my marriage…and possibly my life. I had retained a piece of placenta (which wasn’t expelled until 6 weeks postpartum), so my milk didn’t come in, at all. The baby refused to latch after about 48 hours, because guess what? It takes energy to suck, and it’s not worth it if there’s nothing there. My pedi and the hospital LC both insisted that I just needed to keep trying (bottles are evil!) while my husband not-so-kindly insisted that the baby was starving (he was) and needed formula (he did). It was awful. For 3 days until we saw an LC that diagnosed the lactation failure, the baby screamed all night long. I cried hysterical tears whenever my husband gave him formula. My well meaning (but probably out of line) mother gave my husband a terrible time about “going against my wishes.” I remember sitting there in the nursery at 2 in the morning, working on pretty much no sleep for a week, sobbing, and promising myself that I would never, never, never have another baby. Follow that first week up with a massive case of colic and reflux (and pumping round the clock, because I am a glutton for punishment), and yes, I spent the first three months convinced that this mothering thing was highly, highly, highly overrated.

    My little guy is 16 months now, like yours. And I love him more than anything in the world–I can’t imagine life without him. In fact, I love him so much, that we’re doing it again–I’m due with our second in March. Quite frankly, my expectations for the pregnancy and newborn phase are pretty low–I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. There will absolutely be a can of formula waiting in our cupboard, and DH and I have talked about what we can do differently. My new OB has definitely suggested a scheduled caesarean. But, for me, it’s a means to an end. I hope this experience will prove me otherwise–but I know that the end result will be worth it.

  4. hodgepodge Sep 02 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to say to the OP that she is most definitely NOT a monster, and anyone who tells her she is for feeling what she felt / still feels is perhaps not someone she ought to be confiding in. Thank goodness for the internet, some days, right?

    Your pregnancy and delivery sound very traumatic and yes, it is entirely possible for bad experiences with one or the other to cause lingering feeling of depression, inadequacy, unhappiness, etc. Good advice from Amy; talk to your OB or find a qualified therapist to help you work through some of these issues. Good luck.

  5. Jennifer Sep 02 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    I have never felt compelled to leave a comment before but have to chime in on what I am sure will be many comments answering your question with the same answer- you are so very normal in your feelings. I had a wonderful pregnancy and a labor and delivery that I seriously don’t share with people because I am afraid of the dirty looks. However I was suprised at the amount of time it took for me to fall in love with my little one. I definitely had the same thoughts about leaving her at a fire station and cryed when I thought what my whole family would think of me. I thought a lot about how wonderful my life was before I had the baby. For me I truly had to “fall in love” with my baby and I have. I wish like so many other “secrets of motherhood” we talked about this more. And as Amy mentioned given that you are still having such anxiety around pregnancy in general, a trip to you OB or PCP may be in order, your deserve to feel better.

  6. Jennifer Sep 02 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    This is my most favorite question ever. It took me quite a while to bond with my first daughter and I love her to bits and pieces now, even though she’s still my most challenging kid. Even though she was a super tough newborn/infant, I went on to have another daughter and I bonded with her much more quickly, but she was an easier baby AND I knew what I was doing that time around.

    BUT – once I had my second, I knew I was done. I love this part of the OP’s question:

    “Because now, whenever anyone tells me she’s pregnant, my very first thought is, “Ha ha, sucker! Better you than me!” I’ve avoided baby showers because I have the overwhelming urge to yell, “This is all such a scam! It’s not magical or beautiful! It’s horrible, it’s so very horrible!”

    I absolutely know where she’s coming from and have had to bite my tongue on occasion, too. I’ve wondered about postpartum PTSD, too, because, even though I had great pregnancies/deliveries, the first year of both of my girls’ lives were just rough. Bless, they were fine and healthy, but, the no sleeping and the crying and the just being a new mom is rough and it wasn’t my niche. I totally don’t think the OP is a monster and I totally know I’m not a monster, either. I just don’t want anymore babies and I’m loving my older kids and I think that’s just fine.

  7. Laura f. Sep 02 at 12:58 pm Reply Reply

    I totally understand your feelings. My first daughter was born premature at 34 weeks after a very difficult pregnancy and was immediately taken to the NICU after being born via emergency c-section. I didn’t get to hold her for five days, much less nurse her, and leftnthe hospital without my baby. It was TERRIBLE. Everything worked out in the end but I was super nervous having my second. I mean, every time I drove down the road the hospital was on I had a panicy feeling and I refused to go in the hospital when friends had babes because the shear smell of it made me want to puke. 
    After talking to my OB she said it is possible to have PTSD like symptoms after a traumatic birth experience and she advised me to go to the hospital for little pieces of time before my due date so I could get acclimated.  I did. 
    And you know what? The second birth experience was SO SO SO much better. My doctor and I created a very clear birth plan and the dr. Made it very clear to the nurses what my wishes were. My baby stayed with me (as part of my anxiety was having my baby taken from me again) the whole time and everything was done on my terms. 
    So I would just tell you to talk to your doctor, make a plan, and be ready to expect the unexpected. 
    Much luck!!

  8. Olivia Sep 02 at 1:01 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, honey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Two stories for you. A friend of mine had a pregnancy similar to yours. Puking everyday, to the point of going to the ER for hydration, pre-eclempsia, etc. On top of that, her husband was…not the most supportive he could be. She has very real fears about getting pregnant again. Not only about what it would do to her, but to her marriage as well.

    Story #2: I had a very easy pregnancy and only somewhat difficult labor and birth. I would describe my love for my newborn daughter as a slow burn. Perhaps it was the c-section, or maybe it was the fact that she looks exactly like my husband and nothing like me, I don’t know. But I did not fall instantly, head-over-heels in love with her. I cared for her, but really my love has come from all the days since of getting to know her.

  9. E Sep 02 at 1:09 pm Reply Reply

    I can relate to this very much. I had a beautifully easy pregnancy, but the delivery was awful–it went on forever–pushing over 4 hours ending with an emergency c-section. The baby had problems, I had problems. We were finally released with instructions for blood draws and doctor visits every day. The baby had terrible colic–I love that they call constant screaming colic. What a nice word for something so utterly devastating as a new mom. I was alone with no friends or family and a husband working long hours. Baby #2 was on it’s way before baby #1s first birthday (don’t listen told you will not conceive naturally again). Baby #2s delivery went better– a scheduled c-section, but was also a terrible screamer, and I still had a older baby at home, too. I have a close relationship with my doctor and did not have PPD or depression, I was normal and just overwhelmed. My experience has been that people want to say because *your* experience is so different from what they know or hear, that *you* must be depressed. That said, OBVIOUSLY you should ask your doctor if you are concerned. Anyway, the smoke is just starting to clear now years later. I have the *exact same response* when I hear someone else is having or wants to have more children. In fact, I almost feel like I need to warn them how traumatic it can be–but a few years out from it now, I know to just say “Congratulations!” and keep my thoughts to myself. Most of my close mommy friends know about my experience because I don’t hide it, and some friends that have had difficult subsequent children have come to me to “unload.” I know that must help, because I would have loved to have had someone there then to say “I’ve been there, Know that it ends.” Because when you’re in it, you can’t even fathom that it will end. It also feels very alienating not having a shared mommy experience with other moms, as I have ZERO happy memories of the baby stage. Perhaps like the PP says, the baby stage was just not my niche. For me, it was not a “magical experience” and there’s no way that will ever “wear off” as you say. My husband and I have often said we’re so happy that #2 came the way it did, or we’re not sure we’d ever have made the decision to do it again. That said, like you said, I actually like my kids now. I’m not a monster. You’re not a monster. We just had different experiences–what was a beautiful, magical time for someone else, was a traumatic, overwhelming experience for us. But we all ended up with little people we love, adore & like very much!

  10. Crabby Apple Seed Sep 02 at 1:46 pm Reply Reply

    Yep. Definitely not a monster.

    I’m one of the “beautiful pregnancies and uncomplicated deliveries followed by verrrry prolonged bonding time.” This was with my first daughter, and I’m not sure anything in my life has felt worse. She was also an extremely, exceptionally, very very difficult newborn, who screamed all the time, hated being held, and rarely slept, which did not help the bonding very much. Just like you, she got easier, I fell in love, and now I am utterly obsessed, but the way I would look at her and feel, well, absolutely nothing? It was indescribably upsetting. I wish more women would talk about that feeling, how it sometimes takes time to fall in love, it’s awful that so many women feel like they’re the first to experience it.

    FWIW, it was much easier the second time around. Not that I’m trying to talk you into it or anything, but I spent a good part of my second pregnancy scared to death of the initial postpartum/newborn stage, and then it was the dreamy hormonal high that other women talk about. I guess my point is that we aren’t necessarily one type or the other? I dunno. Just had to throw it out there.

  11. alice Sep 02 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    thank you thank you thank you for that reply. i’m the mother of a 10 month old boy who i love but anyting that reminds me of being pregnant or the first newborn weeks makes me panic. i felt absolutely traumatized by the whole experience, oddly more so now than at the timei was living it. i’m guessing just because while you’re in it you do the best you can, and afterwards it catches up with you.
    i’m sure it’s not as uncommon as it seems. but it’s still hard. and reading this made it easier. so thank you.

  12. Stefanie Sep 02 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    Definitely not a monster. Well, unless I am too! I threw up pretty much every day of my pregnancy through week 24. My birth experience was great, but I definitely had PPD and a baby that screamed so much we thought for sure God was punishing us for getting pregnant before we got married. We spent the first year of our daughter’s life wondering why ANYONE had multiple children. I demanded birth control at my very first post-partum appointment and when my OB told me I didn’t need to worry about because I was nursing, I said “Don’t care, lying liar, GIVE TO ME NOW!” so terrified was I of baby number 2 happening.
    I think it’s really good you will admit this, even if just to a few. I am not shy about telling people how miserable I found pregnancy and having a newborn, because I think the more people that will admit that having a new baby was not all sunshine and roses, the less guilty women will feel if they don’t like it. We have enough to feel guilty about, don’t we?
    My daughter is now 21 months, and I’m just to the point where I get excited for someone who is pregnant instead of thinking “Oh, you poor soul, I’m so sorry, your life is going to be ruined.”

  13. JenVegas Sep 02 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    You are so NOT a monster. Listen, I had a perfectly reasonable pregnancy and a perfectly reasonable labor and I have a perfectly reasonable 9 month old child. I HATED every second of being pregnant and the only thing I liked about labor was the drugs. When people ask me I tell them that I doubt I’ll be doing that again because you know what else I hated? The first like 5 months of sleepless, screaming motherhood. There’s really, I don’t think, anything in the world that would cause me to do that again no matter how freaking cute babies are. Sorry. So yeah people think I’m a bit of a loon when I say things like “yeah, one and done, thanks.” None of this means that I don’t love my kid though. And none of it means that I am not the best freaking mom I can be. Find someone to talk to. Your OB/Gyn, a shrink, whatever. I may not be able to recommend motherhood to everyone but I certainly can recommend talk therapy to everyone.

  14. Lisa Sep 02 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    Not a monster–that sounds like a hellish experience and why would anyone want to put themselves voluntarily through that again?  

    There’s a good forum called solaceformothers.org that deals with birth and pregnancy trauma (many, many different categories).  You don’t have to post, you can just lurk, it might help to read other women’s stories.  

  15. Elizabeth_K Sep 02 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    I’m six months pregnant with my third right now, and I’ve thought of writing a question sort of similar to this one, but with less sympathetic reasoning. I have had three easy pregnancies, easy deliveries, relatively easy babies (well, two of those so far), and … this one is just so hard. Not physically hard, like throwing up every day, but emotionally I’m a COMPLETE wreck, filled with rage and mad at everyone all the time for absolutely nothing (and I can see it is nothing even as I’m mad). I so wanted WANTED WANT this third baby, but I can’t figure out how my husband and I can live through these last three months. I mainly take it all out on him, not the children, which is good for them but really tough on him. Also stress issues at work (possible merger!) and my husband is a stay at home dad, so no financial back-up plan .. anyway. I’m going on and on and on about myself just to say your letter made us all feel a little better, and I know you are not a monster and just hope that I’m not one.

  16. Cheryl S. Sep 02 at 3:03 pm Reply Reply

    Please, please talk to your doctor about PPD/PTSD. You are so not a monster! Certainly for at least the first 5-6 months of my daughter’s life I contemplated running away. I don’t know where I thought I’d go, but it didn’t stop the thought from entering my head all the time. Like you, I now love my daughter more than my life, but not at the beginning! (Also, after the experience after the birth of my daughter, I knew I was one and done.)
    Talk to your doc, get some help, and to those that told you that you are a monster, WTF? Anyone who says their life after having a child was perfect is LYING. To you and themselves! Hang in there!!

  17. Dawn K. Sep 02 at 3:19 pm Reply Reply

    Motherhood is like Fingerprints-no two are the same. I get so ragey when I hear people talk about what is ‘appropriate and normal’ to feel. My pregnancy was relatively easy, and delivery wasn’t a piece of cake but I made it through. My monster time came when E developed colic. Holy hell, I thought I made the biggest mistake of my life ever thinking a kid was a good idea. For many weeks, I so desperately wished/dreamt I had some sort of receipt with which to return her, so I could light my hair on fire and scream ‘DEFECTIVE!’ as I dashed out the door without her.

    She is now 16 months and I can’t imagine loving her more. It is tough as shit, but it can eventually get better.

    Something else I may encourage you to look into as well pertains to birth control (if at all applicable). I never had any problem pre-pregnancy with BC after 8 years of use. After, though, anything I’ve tried up to this point turns me into HULKSMASHRAGE for a good portion of the month. Uncontrollable anxiety, rage, and outright venom. Which my family endured-it was bad. My husband would attest to this. I’m not taking anything at the moment, and things are MUCH better. My OB and I are speculating there is a new ‘normal’ for my hormones and we need to figure out what that is and what works best.

    Best of luck, GIANT hug, and know that you are not alone.

  18. L.H. Sep 02 at 3:40 pm Reply Reply

    I used to go around telling people not to have kids. Seriously. And that was after I had my son. And my daughter. I retained the slightest amount of socially appropriate sense so that I didn’t advise people who were already pregnant not to have their children, but it was pretty bad. I had a 21 hour labor with four hours of pushing and then my son slept in fifteen-minute increments for the first eight months of his life. He started sleeping through the night when he was three. My daughter had her days and nights mixed up for eighteen months. What can I say? I grow them weird. So I would literally say to people who said they never wanted kids: “Good choice!” while thinking “I ruined my life!” (Never in front of my own children, but still.)

    Now I have six kids. For real. I only gave birth to three of them, but I have six. Two things changed: I got on anti-depressants and I had a third child by accident and realized all of a sudden that I was, in fact, good at this mothering gig, and that I’d allowed the fact that I had very challenging kids to make me feel like a failure. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was part of your feelings too. But even if it’s not and I’m totally misreading the situation, you are not a monster. At all. And your son’s really lucky to have you.

  19. Karen Sep 02 at 4:02 pm Reply Reply

    Wow! I thought I was also the only one who didn’t bond right away. About a week before my due date, I started panicking because I didn’t want her. Then in labor, I was wondering how to keep her inside or how I could get rid of her as soon as she was delivered. Would anyone notice if I just slipped her into the nursery and left? Even better, could I just leave her with my husband and I’d leave? When my LO was a few weeks old, I was struggling to tell my cousin how odd I felt about not feeling bonded and wondered if that was normal. My cousin didn’t understand and light-heartedly asked if I’d throw myself in front of a bus for my kid, and I was like, uh, no? Why would I waste my perfectly good life for this thing that just ruined my life? Once in a new-mom support group, and once in a LLL meeting, I shared my story to answer the “what did you not expect about being a new mom” question from the facilitator, and both times, everyone in the room just stared at me. THIS MOM IS AN ALIEN!!!!! I still share that story, even though I still get the stares, because hopefully someone will hear it who will be reassured that they aren’t a monster.

  20. Susan Sep 02 at 4:25 pm Reply Reply

    The internet is so wonderful. Seriously. While I was pregnant, I read about PPD and stories of mothers who didn’t bond right away. And I also read women’s confessions that they didn’t particularly LIKE their babies until they were more self sufficient. And, on every site where I read these things it was coming from a positive, encouraging, honest place.
    When I had my baby, I was prepared for the worst and happily supprised when things didn’t get as bad as I feared. And, I didn’t feel alone when things WERE bad. In our daily lives, we moms are judged so often. It’s wonderful to find supportive comments like these online. You can bet there’s a pregnant first-time mom out there who will benefit from having read the question and comments here. And, good luck to the OP. I’m two years out from my delivery and am still not convinced I’m ready to try it again. One day…

  21. Jess Sep 02 at 4:56 pm Reply Reply

    Holy smokes you poor woman!! And Amy is so right, you are NOT alone. So very not alone. My second pregnancy/infant was insane. The pregnancy was AWFUL (lots of complications, bed rest, sickness) and my newborn was a screamer too. With medical issues. We ended up having to hire an au-pair when she was six months old because of my complete mental/emotional meltdown. Not pretty. And it took years (YEARS) before I too would stop cringing at other peoples’ pregnancies. I now have three happy healthy kids (one is nine weeks old) and am so glad to have survived. I bonded with number three like I didn’t at first with the first two and have learned that really, I am not so much a newborn kind of gal. Or baby gal for that matter. I’m so much better with 3+ year olds. We’re all different and that’s good!! Hang in there lady! :) To have survived and even think about doing it again is heroic. To have survived and not want to do it again is heroic.

  22. MR Sep 02 at 6:19 pm Reply Reply

    You are NOT a monster!! Shame on those people who made you feel like you were! Holy crap, you went through a huge ordeal and it was traumatic for you. Who WOULDN’T have lingering issues from that?? Women who have “normal” c-sections report enough bonding issues with their babies afterwards, and most of them are awake and at least REMEMBER the baby being born. You were in a drug induced haze and that seriously distorts your brain’s ability to put two and two together that this is in fact your child, the one that came out of you. It makes bonding incredibly difficult. Hell, mothers that have uncomplicated vaginal deliveries will tell you that they feel like they are caring for someone else’s baby – that they are detached. THIS IS ALL NORMAL AND DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MONSTER. I second Amy’s advice that it isn’t too late to get help for the trauma you experienced. And if you ever do decide to try again, if the pre-eclamsia does not repeat, you may want to try a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Being awake and aware really does help your bonding abilities. But, even if you end up with a c-section again, it likely will go much more smoothly next time. They know what doesn’t work for you now and would avoid those drugs. I had an emergency c-section with my first and even though I had always wanted my kids close in age, the sleep deprivation and delayed bonding I had with her made me take a while before I got back to even thinking about having another. And my pregnancy with my second was totally the opposite – really easy, whereas I was horribly sick with my first. So, I just want to reassure you, again: 1) You are NOT a monster, and 2) If you do decide to have another child, you are not necessarily doomed to repeat the same types of experiences. Good luck.

  23. radiem Sep 02 at 9:33 pm Reply Reply

    Yup, not alone. If it weren’t for the internet (Amalah’s sites in particular), I’m not sure I would have made it through this last year with my son.

    My difficult labor, eventual c-section from hell, and my struggles with breastfeeding and bonding made for some really awkward dinner party conversations while I was post-partum. I just can’t sugar coat this stuff around friends, even acquaintances, and pretend like it’s all such a dream come true when it’s not. I’m still not sure how to handle myself socially, especially when everyone we know seems to be expecting. Yelling, “better you than me sucker!” seems a little much, even though I’ve been tempted to say the same. Maybe just try to focus on what DID go right? I dunno.

    As far as being gunshy for the second go-round, we’re in the same boat there as well. We’ve decided that the only way we’re having a second child would be to save up enough to hire at least a part-time nanny to help get us through that first year. For us, getting through year one was the biggest hurdle. Now that our son’s personality and sense of humor are shining through, and now that he’s more independent, we are enjoying parenthood so much more. 

  24. Jeannie Sep 03 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    I’d just like to say that when I hear your story I don’t think “monster” I hear a strong, strong woman who went through hell and made it through all the while still taking care of a newborn.

    And like all PP I want to say you’re not alone and there is help. And if you do decide to have another, there’s no reason the pregnancy or newborn period will be the same as the first one.

    Good luck!

  25. Alison Sep 03 at 2:23 pm Reply Reply

    The previous poster who asked her doctor for birth control right away reminded me. I didn’t even have my period back, was breastfeeding full time, and on the pill, and I still insisted on using condoms as well for the first year. I had a sucky pregnancy followed by an extremely long and difficult labour and a colicky baby and I never ever wanted to do that again.
    Now that my daughter is two, I can imagine maybe having another baby some day, but not any time soon. For a long time I told people she would be an only child.

  26. Kim Sep 03 at 8:05 pm Reply Reply

    Amalah had a question about bonding with your child – on BounceBack, maybe? – and the answers were all over the place. I had the 35 weeks of vomiting, too, but luckily my labor went well. But I swear I’ve had PPD with both of them, and the person I saw when #2 was little was all, I can solve this in two sessions! And.. not so much. I am stabby waay more than I should be, and my LO is 20mo. I see my GP next week, going to get more meds and take them this time (although it means I have to wean, and I know she’s plenty old enough, but she’s my last, and my baaaayby.) My second pregnancy was much better, but I got through it by muttering, “never again, NEVER again,” under my breath. Used that phrase all last year, too.
    The good news is that the kids phase lasts much longer than the baby phase.

  27. TBinKC Sep 03 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, so VERY not a monster, for so very many reasons. Just the opposite, in fact.

  28. EG1972 Sep 04 at 8:05 pm Reply Reply

    I had normal pregnancies, which I didn’t really enjoy, and had no idea what to expect. With my first son, it was love at first sight. With my second, it took me a good three months to fall in love with him, which really upset me and made me feel like a terrible person. I agree with the other posters, it’s too bad women often aren’t comfortable talking about this aspect of parenting. It feels good to know one is not alone (or a monster).

  29. Sarah Sep 05 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    Man, expectations are a killer, aren’t they? You hear from the lucky few who have blissful experiences with birth and babies, you see all these commercials for baby products showing the wonder of pregnancy/infancy, all designed to SELL YOU CRAP when in fact what you’re subconsciously buying is the EXPERIENCE of being the perfect, happy mom with the perfect, happy baby.
    And then reality bites, and there are a few little good moments interspersed with chunks of awfulness. I have a friend who can’t get pregnant, and whenever she’d ask me wistfully to tell her about it, I would respond, honestly and gently, “It’s about 25% amazing and 75% uncomfortable and painful.” I know she longs to experience it, and I want that for her, but I also couldn’t lie to her face and paint it as something that for me, it’s not.
    I have been on bedrest for preterm labor with all three of mine, as well as had morning sickness, and the last two pregnancies were awful and complicated for other reasons, too. Birth at least always went pretty easily for me, thank goodness, but I did have a pretty bad tear with the second baby, enough that I was on prescription painkillers for a week or so. It made me in awe of people who slog through c-section recoveries, taking all those drugs, and still manage to bond with their babies at all.
    I had SUCH a hard time coping with weening off the painkillers and dealing with the hormonal crash and sleeplessness and all that too. And my baby, while not colicky, just never slept longer than two hours at a time. Ever. And was constantly hungry. I remember telling my mom sadly, “I know I love him, but sometimes I don’t LIKE him!”
    I felt so bad, because my first baby had been love at first sight and all that, she slept through the night right away and was so easy, never cried. I feel like that newborn experience was one in a million, and it almost ruined me for my second child, who was WAAAY more normal! I was totally bewildered by feeling so overwhelmed and resentful and physically hobbled.
    So all that to say, every single experience of pregnancy and birth is different, there IS no normal, and it’s the expectation of what things SHOULD be like that seems to cause the most problems for new parents, as far as I can tell. If we could just stop filtering things through this idealistic lens of what parenthood is supposed to feel like and just accept each situation for what it IS, it would take so much pressure off!
    PLEASE believe us that plenty of people with only moderately bad or not bad at all experiences STILL often feel the way you did. You do not have to apologize or explain! Pregnancy and birth are not all dreamy and blissful and the ultimate personal fulfillment. They are biological functions, and while having a kid is ultimately nice, those biological functions that get them here can really screw with your head and your body.

  30. blfa Sep 06 at 9:47 am Reply Reply

    I never comment on here – I’m one of those people that just quietly read others’ opinions; however, in this case I felt compelled to share. I also had a very, VERY difficult pregnancy. Vomitting started at 6 wks and ended on the operating table. In the beginning, I was so sick that I couldn’t pick my head up off the pillow (truly, I’m shaking typing this just remembering all of that). I MADE my OB put my on 5 wks of bedrest. The rest of the pregnancy was full of vomitting pretty much ever morning, high blood pressure, weekly OB visits and non-stress tests. I completely understand. Everyone told me labor would be easy (because they didn’t know what else to tell me). Well, I had 28 hours of labor, 3 different types of induction, followed by a c-section. And about a wk later, I had horrible reactions to all the narcotics. Couldn’t breastfeed, couldn’t eat, and was back to throwing up all the time. Trust me – it was a very, very rough road. I even mentioned to my husband that perhaps I had pregnancy PTSD. Every night when I went to bed, I would see the operating table in my head. (Which btw is incredibly obnoxious when you finally get a few minutes to actually sleep in-between taking care of a newborn).

    Anyway – long story short. I completely understand. I didn’t have any depression – but, I truly wonder how people do this all of the time and love every second of it!

    I have no advice to you other than to tell you that there are others of “us.” I think most people keep these pregnancy/labor stories to themselves so as not to scare all the other poor women.

    And the end of the story is that I have the most beautiful, most healthy 4 month old ever. And even though I start to twitch at the idea of doing this all over again, I have a feeling that I will. Good luck.

  31. Kimm Sep 06 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    You are just another version of normal, not monstrous at all. I went through more bad stuff after baby was born, the birth was not as horrible as some, but I can just now sit down without pain after almost 6 months. It made me never want another one. My sister said she didn’t like her first child for several weeks, and felt awful about it, she warned me beforehand, but I liked him just not when he was screaming constantly for the first 2 weeks til he got on baby Zantac.

  32. Eris Sep 06 at 11:32 am Reply Reply

    You. Are. NOT. A. Monster.

    Please don’t ever, ever use that phrase about yourself again, EVER.

    You are normal. This is normal. Normal is a big range that runs a large gamut. Just because your traumatic medical issues were due to carrying a baby does not make them any less traumatic, if anything, it makes it more so because people are less likely to give you compassion and love when you talk about a horrible pregnancy versus, say, cancer treatment or something. The people you spoke with are very much in the dark and are not healthy or supportive. Please, please, please seek out counseling, read tons of blogs and books and any material you can get your hands on and find some new supportive friends. When you see that your experience is part of the “normal” spectrum, just far down on the line near absolutely lousey, you’ll know that you’re normal and strong and wonderful and that your reactions to your experience are okay. Therapy, and connecting with others who had the same thing happen will help immensely. You are NOT a monster. You are NORMAL. You are WONDERFUL. You survived a hellish ordeal, please seek out support through proper channels so you don’t carry the PTSD feelings around forever. ((hugs))

  33. Hannah Sep 06 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    I also had a horrible pregnancy (diabetes, non-stress tests, etc., etc.) and a fairly okay induction, but I didn’t bond with my daughter AT ALL when she was born. And, like you, I felt horrible. So I’m so glad to see these comments here, because hopefully they help you and make you realize that you are not a monster at all. I was like the poster above – “where’s my receipt? I want to take her back to the baby store!” – and it really took me about 6 months to actually like her. I also developed PPD at about 4 months, not immediately. Now that she’s 17 months old, has a sense of humor, can sort of communicate, and is fun to do stuff with, it’s much better. I took antidepressants, which also helped, and started exercising (long walks with her in the stroller), and I feel like I’m just now really coming out of the fog. So you are NOT A MONSTER, you are completely right to maybe never want to have another one (I felt like this and had spent $30,000 to get pregnant using science), and just enjoy the heck out of the fabulous kid that you have. Also, smack your “friends” for me.

  34. Ashley Sep 06 at 9:01 pm Reply Reply

    Please don’t think you are a monster! Seriously think about getting some help. I had a pretty ok pregnancy so being pregnant again doesn’t terrify me. It’s labor, delivery and the first 18 months that scare me to death! My daughter is 2 1/2 and I am just now getting to a place where I can consider having another child. My labor and delivery were so not what I thought it would be or wanted. Newborn days were a nightmare of jaundice and low milk supply. Nothing went the way I wanted and all my “plans” were shot to hell. I was miserable the first 6 months and had a pretty raging case of anxiety and PPD. I got some counseling when my daughter was a year which helped me pull my life back together. I love my daughter to pieces but it took me a bit to get there. I am scared to go through it again but I know I will regret it if we don’t try for another baby soon. My husband is much better prepared to help me if he sees the PPD again and I know that it will be rough but worth it in the end. Good luck!

  35. Bear Sep 06 at 10:16 pm Reply Reply

    We adore our 19-mo-old son as though he were the sun /and/ the moon. And for the first three months, we referred to him as The Demanding Little Stranger. 

    No, you’re not a monster. The right word for what you are is spelled b-r-a-v-e.

    I have made a point, ever since, of telling friends and family about to spawn that the first few months can be brutal, and that just when you start to think “Was this really a good idea…?” will be days immediately before the kid starts to smile at you. And sleep sometimes. And be a little less demanding (and strange). They all nod somewhat tentatively and look at me like I am The Grinch. Then, when their kid is six months old, they say “You know, when you said that, I thought you were being kind of a jerk. But I’m so glad you said it, because when I started to feel that way I knew it was normal and I wasn’t some kind of monster.”

    Interrupting the great myth of the serene “babymoon” and the effortless perfection of parent-child bonding is brave, and I commend you. 

  36. Jenny Sep 07 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    Just another chimer-inner of the “not a monster” regard. Because you’re really not. TV and crazy (sometimes lying) women make childbirth out to be a magical experience, but very few of my friends experienced it that way at all. I had a pretty easy pregnancy, but an awful birth experience. I also don’t remember meeting my daughter for the first time and I cried about that for days. I started really liking her around 5 months, when she finally slept longer than an hour at a time and was more of a person, rather than a lump who cried and nursed and pooped. I don’t feel the urge to yell “sucker” at pregnant women, but I do want to warn them “it may not be fairy tale awesome but it WILL TURN OUT OK IN THE END. And eventually get awesome!”

  37. Liz Sep 08 at 1:27 pm Reply Reply

    Definitely Not a monster. I had pre-e, bedrest, mag and a truly horrible postpartum nurse combined with a 46 day NICU stay for my son. And just now 2.5 years later am I able to look back on my experience with some perspective other than, “Well I’m glad I have my son, but that SUCKED” It takes time and don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.

  38. Jo Sep 11 at 9:46 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, yes, yes. I had to remind myself to breathe after reading that post…

    You are SO not a monster. I had the same experience – vomited for nine months, in and out of the ER, basically laid on the bathroom floor – couldn’t work or sit up, or enjoy life, a week of labor, 4 hours pushing and then an emergency C-section. I am still tramatized by it. I didn’t meet my son for nine hours.

    I watch other pregnant women who are all glowy and happy. I could have cared less about my fetus. I was so unattatched that friends and family thought I would try to harm him when he arrived. It took a while but I am head over heels for my son now.
    I will never have another baby though. I am just not that strong… you hang in there and know you are NOT A MONSTER. You are normal having had a major trauma to you body and mind.

    I wish I could talk to someone about it. I feel like people who haven’t been through that kind of hell diminish it. It was real and awful even if an amazing human was the result.

  39. Carrie Sep 14 at 12:26 pm Reply Reply

    I still feel this way and my kids are 5 and 2. Somehow I thought maybe having the second one would make it better? Yeah, no. I never enjoyed being pregnant. Not magical or beautiful. When I dared imply that is wasn’t the most fabulous, serene experience of my life I got horrified looks. The babies weren’t particularly difficult I guess. Had to have c-sections with both. I really really tried breastfeed but it was just impossible. Got mastitis with the second one and I remember lying in bed so sick, unable to take care of them at all and feeling like I was ruining his life already because I couldn’t hold him, feed him, wasn’t taking any pictures of him. My mother in law was there all the time, thank God, because I was just useless. When he was 9 months old and I was suicidal or ready to kill them both I got on antidepressants and it’s better now, I guess. I try to be a good mom, but I have to really really make a consious effort every day because none of this comes naturally. It actually seems like it gets harder as they get older. You couldn’t pay me enough to have another one and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I guess this isn’t helpful other than you’re not alone.

  40. mk Sep 14 at 9:09 pm Reply Reply

    Not a monster. Counseling would be helpful though. Just to talk it through. PPD is real and very misunderstood- even by the OB/GYN. Just go talk to someone. I was a totally full functioning sahm who just “happened” to be a little angry and sad- and taking it out on my husband.  I waited 10 months, and only when my husband insisted did i go. Honestly, it was the best thing i’ve ever done. Even if you don’t have PPD it just sounds like maybe you need a little time to talk and space and non judgmental ears to listen. 

  41. KT Sep 20 at 4:03 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I wish you could have talked to my OB/GYN during your pregnancy. Last time I was in there I was just getting over the morning sickness and starting in on lots of growing pains. She looked straight at me and said, “Pregnancy is not a special time. It’s something you get through, you have the baby, and then you decide if you want to do it again.” It was so nice to be able to get some real sympathy about the fact that while some women get all happy off the pregnancy hormones, some don’t. Some women love their kids tons, some women are wondering if there’s a return policy at 2 months. And my doctor recognizes this even with women who have much, much less traumatic experiences than you. Try to find a professional near you who recognizes it as well and do some talking.

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