I found Jennie when my eldest, Amelie, was 10 months old. She was glued to my side permanently. She woke at least 7 times a night and needed feeding back to sleep each time. She took an hour or more to go to sleep each night and would wake within about half hour of going down.
I also suffered horrific post natal anxiety at the time, which was triggered by my birth experience.
By and large, it was pretty textbook as far as the medical side of it goes. She was born in the pool with no complications, out within 40 mins, I had a second degree tear, just gas and air, she and I were both healthy.
Throughout pregnancy and in the final furlong leading up to her birth I was terribly anxious about not knowing what was going to happen. It wasn’t so much the pain factor as silly things like, what if there was traffic on the way, what if all the parking spaces are full, what if Danny gets stuck on the way home from work etc etc. I was also obsessive about knowing where in the hospital we would need to go once we arrived.
On the evening before she was born I had been in slow labour for a day and it had begun to pick up speed. The pain was getting more intense and so was the worry. I called the hospital to ask their advice, saying I thought I was in established labour. They were typically dismissive, saying, “oh no, you won’t be, you’ll KNOW when you are because you won’t be able to bear it”. The problem with this advice is, of course, all women are different and have different pain thresholds. Mine happens to be high.
Before we got into bed that night, my instincts started kicking in and (sorry for tmi) I just had this insight that I should put on a maternity pad right then, so I did. A couple of hours later, my waters broke and I was terrified and crying because they were pink (sorry for tmi again). Everything I’d read and been told beforehand said they should be clear. I thought something was wrong. I called the hospital again, sobbing, and they said that was fine and to come in.
I somehow managed to calm myself in the car on the way there and by the time we were seen I was focusing on breathing and not descending into a panic attack.
We went to reception (what?) and were told to take a seat (what??) and someone would be with us soon (what???).
I don’t remember much of what the triage nurse said, other than she didn’t really come near me or ask me many questions. They sent us home and told us only to come back if I had been ill or I was at “unbearable pain” stage.
When we got home, I went to my safe place, the bathroom. I was labouring there, running cold water on my hands with each surge (no idea why) and waiting for this elusive “pain so unbearable you think you might die”. Don’t get me wrong, it was painful, but I was managing.
My instincts kicked in again and I said to Danny, nothing had really changed, I just felt like we should be at the hospital now. Danny called them and we even made up that I’d been sick as for them not to tell us to come in.
When we got there it was the same receptionist on who was there the first time. She again told us to take a seat, but I couldn’t. I bashed my hand through contractions on the reception desk to focus on something else. I vaguely remember her saying “that was about a minute then, wasn’t it?”. I didn’t look up or answer. I remember Danny saying something but don’t know what it was.
This time she ran to get someone. Danny helped me into the triage room where the 2 triage nurses told Danny to sit at the other end of the room and me to take off my leggings and underwear and hop up on the bed. I couldn’t. “I can’t…can you help me?” I remember clearly, they didn’t even answer. It was kind of like in cartoons where someone’s really bored and looks at their watch and sighs. I started to try struggling on my own but Danny barged past them to help.
They examined me roughly without explaining what they were doing and said, “Ooh! Yep! You’re 9cm. Follow this midwife and make your way down to the birth room.”
Danny helped me get dressed and supported me as I continually stopped to concentrate on a contraction.
Before we left triage I said I wanted the pool. When we got into the room the midwives said they were filling the pool and it would take around 20 mins to be ready. Meanwhile, one shoved gas and air in my mouth and told me how to use it, again, without asking me. About 5 mins later, I had my first push.
The whole time between arriving and the first push was about 15 minutes. What triggered my PNA was, I realised when telling my birth story in detail for the first time to a friend 4 months later, was the simple question, “What if I had listened to them and left it another 10-15 mins to tell Danny I wanted to go back?”.
This tiny, simple thing resulted in me basically spending the first year of Amelie’s life being Marlin from Finding Nemo. I was absolutely petrified of everything, most notably, her choking to death and us leaving the house, at all. Because, “What if..?”.
It took me 3 weeks to leave our bedroom for longer than it took to go to the toilet or eat a meal. It took 3 months to build up the courage to take her to the shop at the top of my street. And this continued in varying degrees for a long time.
I had previously suffered with depression and realised at around 5 months that this wasn’t just normal worries all moms have. I went to the doctors and had a course of CBT, which was fantastic, but it didn’t make it go away.
And little Amelie, such an anxious little thing. She wouldn’t be held by anyone else, barely even Danny. As she got older she wouldn’t approach a new toy to see what it did without me showing her it was safe first. Anything that made any sort of noise was out of the question. She also held in her emotions, shutting down and going quiet and still when things were too much for her, instead of melting down like my friends’ kids the same age did.
Then I found Jennie.
Before I had Jennie’s help, I was actually embarrassed to admit to other mums that the trigger of my PNA was my birth experience because “nothing went wrong” and we both came out more than fine, physically. And, generally, that’s all anyone cares about. And OF COURSE, I am so lucky and grateful to have had what many would see as an easy, natural birth and a perfectly healthy baby to boot.
But Jennie validated me. She helped me to understand that BIRTH EXPERIENCE MATTERS, and just why it does. She performed energy work for both Amelie and I and gave me the tools I needed to get well which CBT never could. She gave me the permission I’d been searching for to parent instinctually.
Fast forward 22 months, Amelie is now 2 years 8 months old, adventurous, nurturing, intelligent, inquisitive and loves life. I discovered this was who she really was all along. She was never an “anxious baby”, she was just being my mirror.
And I am a strong, fearless mother who knows what I want for myself and my children.
…oh, that’s right, I had another baby! Little Rosalie is almost 10 weeks old and the difference in her pregnancy and birth experience shows in her temperament. And I hand on heart swear to all the gods, she would not be here had I not sought Jennie’s help.
Join my FREE Online Class on Tuesday 23rd January at 8.00pm ‘3 Things Your Little One Remembers From Their Birth Experience’ (and how it affects their sleep and emotions) Register for your place <<<<HERE>>>>