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September 20, 2020

Happy, Hurting & Healing: 6 Months Postpartum after Birth Trauma.

Andrea Bate

Did you know it was recently Birth Trauma Awareness Week?

The United Kingdom and Australia both set aside an entire week each year to educate their citizens. This year’s theme was journeys—the journey from trauma to recovery.

Despite birth trauma being extremely common, it, unfortunately, is not spoken about often publicly.

Our family recently celebrated six months with our baby boy, Bodhi! Our little warrior babe. He has changed our lives for the better in every way.

“You can be happy, hurting and, healing at the same time.” This was the quote I lived by when the pain felt insurmountable all those months ago.

Not only was it Bodhi’s sixth month birthday, but it also marked my rebirth into this world—yes I’ve decided to celebrate “my rebirth” instead of it only being labeled as my near-death experience.

When I think back to our time in the hospital, I think of that quote. How is it that someone can be happy, hurting, and healing all at once? I understand it so well now. I am happy to have, and to hold, and to be with my incredible baby boy, but I am hurting deep inside with raw feelings from that day; and yet, I am healing from it all so beautifully.

Back story: Bodhi was born by emergency C-section at 36 weeks, due to severe placenta abruption. Born unresponsive, not breathing, he had CPR performed on him immediately after birth. He was intubated and sent to the NICU—those first few moments, hours, and days were critical.

I lay unaware in the ICU, recovering from emergency surgery. Thank god for my husband; he never left our baby boy’s side. And somehow I felt him with me at the same time. I knew he was with both of us—being strong for all three of us. 

Fast-forward to today: we are happy, hurting, and healing all at the same time.

As I sit here and celebrate with my beautiful son by my side, I also realize it’s really only been six months since the day that changed our lives, and I still have a lot of healing to do. I am still trying to figure it all out, piecing it all together, figuring out what actually happened on that day, and what it all means. I am still recovering from this experience and the PTSD that comes along with it.

Accepting what happened to me ebbs and flows with each new day. It’s hard to explain and to put into words how the happiest day of your life can also be the scariest day of your life. I still have a hard time articulating it to those around me.

I know it’s hard not knowing what to say to someone if you’ve not experienced something like this yourself. I remember a few people said to me, “Well, at least you’re both okay now,” which is true and I’m grateful that we’ve all come out the other side and we’re over the worst of it—however, that doesn’t take away what happened, or the horrific memories we have of what should have been such a special time.

Now more than ever, I realize how important my healing journey is and how important it has been to get back to daily living. I am soaking up every moment and all the little things that are really the big things—that unfortunately, so many of us take for granted.

I am choosing to enter this second phase of healing with more thoughtful contemplation around the whole ordeal. I am grateful to be alive, but I am also still frightened by that day. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

I am still trying to recover both physically and mentally. Why did my instincts make me go to the ER when we did? “Five more minutes and we’d be having a very different conversation,” the doctor’s words still play in my head.

Why wasn’t I in pain like all the doctors said I should have been? “Andrea you’re having this baby right now,” the urgency in the doctor’s voice as she called a code, the nurses stripping me of my clothes, laying me back on the stretcher, and running me down a hallway is ingrained in my memory.

Thinking about my husband watching our son having CPR performed on him still haunts me to this day.

Will I ever heal? What is it to feel healed? Or is this just the new me? Happy, hurting, and healing all at the same time.

Part of my healing is to stay grounded by spending quality time with my son, my husband, and my family and friends; practicing yoga; and journaling. I am taking things slow. I am conquering each new day as it comes, and being present in the moment.

Talking about what happened has been taking time, but I am slowly opening up more and more. I am on this healing journey one day at a time. Healing is not linear and neither are my emotions.

I am choosing to move forward, living openly with intention, purpose, and truth.

We always talk about these amazing, positive birth stories, but hardly ever about what can go wrong, and the healing journey afterward. I hope by sharing my experience, it helps someone out there who is in a similar position.

Six months postpartum healing.

Thank you for allowing me this space.

Love, light, and happiness.

~

And a couple more photos of our family:

 

Andrea Bate

Andrea Bate

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