This story discusses child sexual abuse and suicide and could be triggering for some readers.
For my whole life, I had been sent the message that the days on which your children are born, are the most incredible days of your existence. These memorable days are so joyous that they somehow overwhelm the pain associated with labour.
I didn't know I was allowed to tell this story unedited. I thought birth stories were exciting, happy and sometimes a bit gross - but in an endearing or funny way.
However, after my second baby was born, I was so traumatised that I unconsciously shut the memory down. It was twisted and minimalised in my brain to protect me so that I could carry on in my life as a mother. I would try to tell my birthing story with humour. I thought I was protecting future mothers and partners from the reality. I thought I was protecting myself from the horrors that floated around in my mind.
It took me years to acknowledge how deeply my birth trauma affected me. What it triggered from my past was debilitating.
Of course, I had heard the phrase birth trauma before and assumed it meant something terrible happening during the child birthing process, to the mother or the baby. My experience is slightly different, so I've started to call my experience, 'after birth trauma'. By making this distinction I can process the memories of my baby being born and separate what happened to me after the labour process and in my past.
Our lives are filled with events, and I believe these moments leave a mark on us. For better or worse, we are built by our experiences. This is how we form our perspective and learn to manage new outcomes for challenging moments. Everyone has good and bad experiences stored in their memories. A new event can be powerful enough to trigger an old memory; a memory that is almost forgotten and has been buried to protect you; a memory from childhood you've never completely understood.
In my case, it was my after birth experience that revealed something from my past.
Days before the due date of our second baby, I woke early in the morning with cramps. My sister was visiting from interstate and she was convinced her very presence had sent me into labour early, so she wouldn't miss the main event.
The cramps developed into noticeable contractions that my sister timed while my grandmother made me cups of tea. I left a message at my husband's work, telling him he needed to come home asap.
By mid afternoon my waters broke, and I really wanted to get to the hospital. My sister and grandparents don't drive so I was contemplating calling a taxi when my husband rushed through the door.
Speeding along the motorway, I could feel the baby was coming out, and I screamed. My sister had jumped in the back seat and was excitedly updating her social media status.