I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder for a few months now. It feels weird to publish. I think to put any kind of negativity out there surrounding an experience with childbirth or a newborn is still quite taboo. But from what I’ve been reading from other NICU parents, my feelings are completely normal.
I believe it’s important that we DO share experiences in a respectful and thoughtful way so that others don’t feel ostracized from what is seemingly the norm. Plus, I want to get this out there so that my next post makes sense.
Being able to write my thoughts down has been a real healing process, especially throughout my journey with Post Natal Depression. So, while there has inevitably been some negativity, and some may see what I’ve written here as largely negative, it remains essential to me that I capture different sides of our lives.
A FEW MONTHS AGO…
I was chatting to my sister-in-law, who lives over in England, on Skype. She has a new baby and is positively glowing. Motherhood really suits her and it was truly wonderful to see. I can’t wait to get my hands on my gorgeous nephew and witness in person how my family has evolved in the most beautiful way.
Watching her and her son play on a mat, reminded me of when I used to do the same with Little Man. Like now, I used to Skype with my parents daily and it was all so exciting and joyful. I was in the midst of pure love and contentedness.
Later that night I started to feel a little angry, especially when I realised that I didn’t really get that experience with the girls.
I feel robbed”, were my exact words to Hubby.
I’m sure that the NICU and Post Natal Depression experiences are ones I will eventually look back on without a tightening in my chest. It’s given me a certain level of understanding and I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t changed me as a person. In all honesty, probably for the better in some respects.
I think it’s so easy to simply get caught up in the gratefulness of everything newborn that when other emotions come to the fore it can be quite shocking. I felt some saddness for a little while, obviously, but largely I was just so grateful to have my children alive and relatively healthy. Alas it’s taken me this long to be able to start a healing process within myself. The reality is, these feelings have come a bit out of the blue.
I feel angry that I had such a horrible birth. One that has had big physical and mental health ramifications for me. I could burst into tears right now just thinking about my twin girls being wheeled off to NICU. There is an actual pain in my chest when I transport myself back to that recovery ward and all those hours I spent alone in the hospital. It all felt so unnatural and lonely. I think even back then I swung between feeling on top of the world and complete heartbreak over the situation.
I feel robbed that Hubby or I weren’t the first to change their nappies, to hold or care for them. While I fully understand why none of this could happen and will be eternally grateful for the NICU team (BELIEVE ME, I am indebted), it doesn’t take that certain intense emotion away that as their parent, I could not do that for them. I didn’t really have a birth plan. You could call me the most casual person in the world when it comes to childbirth, however I did visualise my children being born later than what they were. Perhaps importantly, I simply imagined us being together from the very beginning.
I didn’t get my babies placed on my chest until several days later and that hurts, A LOT. Truthfully, I didn’t get that immediate bond with them because of it all. I didn’t enjoy their first year as much as I could have and it’s hard to admit that I can NEVER get that time back.
WHY DO I FEEL LIKE IT’S TABOO?
I don’t know if it’s an uncommon thing to say that you have negative feelings surrounding a birth experience or the first year of your newborns life. I think there could certainly be some taboo attached to the subjects of NICU and after you have arrived home with a baby who has been in hospital. I guess there is always the stark realisation that you HAVE been able to bring your baby home whereas we know others are, sadly, not so fortunate.
I’m p*ssed off, I guess at myself, that last year couldn’t have just been a wholly happy time, as it should have been. Instead it was filled with suicidal thoughts, physical ailments and various hospital and doctor appointments for my girls.
In a way I am pleased that the anger is here. It means I’m moving on. The fog is clearing and I hope to get to a place where I am at peace with our recent history. I need to deal with it so that I can face Little Red’s health journey head on, without flashbacks and without a sense of fear following me around.
Although I never officially got diagnosed with PTSD, my back pain specialist and GP both stated the feelings of depression and anxiety I described were very similar. Something quite traumatic happened that day, and, personally, it’d be foolish of me to keep suppressing every bit of it.
However, I refuse for the expereince to continue to be shrouded in negativity. I have a lot to smile about. Maybe I just needed to get these thoughts down, somewhere. Release them so that I can finally acknowledge the reality and move on. I think part of me needs to grieve for what did and didn’t happen and the other part needs to just keep focusing on the lovely bits.
Thank you once again for reading my ramblings. Look out for my next post where I’m going to discuss why the girls being premature has turned out to be one of the luckiest things to happen to us. Also, if you’re on social media it’d be awesome if you could give us a big thumbs up.