A while back I blogged about my very traumatic birth experience. It’s been over 2.5 years since that difficult period of my life and yet I find that the trauma still lingers in unexpected ways.
This past October I had a random but very severe bloody nose. I was driving to an important work event, had just stopped home to shower and change into my fancy clothes and was minding my own business heading down to Southington. I had a cold but really was fine. All of the sudden I thought my nose was running so I grabbed a tissue only to discover I was bleeding. And profusely bleeding. It was like something I had never experienced. The blood was rushing out and nothing I did helped to control or stop it. Within a minute it was pouring out of the other nostril and I knew something was wrong.
I turned the car around and drove myself back to my house to have my husband bring me to the ER. Having a young child meant that in this emergency situation she had to come with us. I continued to bleed profusely and by the time we got to the ER I’d guess an hour had gone by. They rushed me right in and I ended up needing this plug thing stuck up my nostril (like UP into my sinuses). It was horrible.
At one point my husband and I had to make a choice about what to do with our daughter. It was approaching dinner time and we knew we couldn’t keep her at the ER for very long. So long story short, we make the decision that he would leave and take her home and my mother-in-law would come stay with me and bring me back when I was released. At this point I was having terrible anxiety. Panic really. I had this thing shoved up my nose and was told it had to stay in for days. I could barely breathe. I was alone. I was scared.
After I got home the anxiety only got worse. I couldn’t sleep. I was in a very heightened state. I ended up calling the on-call doctor and getting anti-anxiety medication prescribed during the early morning hours because I was really, really struggling.
That was a brutal few days but I got through it. I chalked up the anxiety to the fact that my breathing was constricted and lots of people get anxiety in those kinds of situations.
Flash forward to December. I got the stomach bug and I got it BAD. I ended up so dehydrated that once again my husband had to bring me to the ER. I had the fleeting thought that maybe I should bring the anti-anxiety medication I was prescribed for the nose situation but I ignored it. And I ended up in the same position as last time. It was near dinner time and my husband couldn’t stay with me. So we again made the choice for him to leave with my daughter and my mother-in-law would come an hour later. Again I had horrible anxiety. This time I asked for medication while I was there. I was panicking and I didn’t even know why. I felt like such a baby. I even told the nurse I was sorry, that I hope she didn’t think I was ridiculous for needing anti-anxiety meds for a stomach bug.
Now that I had two situations in which minor emergencies required medication on my part, I decided to go back to the psychologist who helped me through the birth trauma. Through talking with her in just one session it was clear that these emergency situations were mimicking some of what happened during my daughter’s birth.
During my emergency c-section my daughter was born in distress. My husband and I had to choose whether he would stay with me for the rest of the surgery or go with her as she was being whisked out of the room. I told him to go with her, of course. I was left on the table alone, not knowing what was happening and scared. That feeling of being in distress and being alone has apparently stuck with me.
It seems so clear now that my anxiety during those last two unfortunate trips to the ER was caused from lingering birth trauma. So now we’re talking about a better plan to handle emergencies, one in which I (or he) comes first and we rely on others to take care of our daughter.
It amazes me that years after my birth trauma, it still bubbles to the surface sometimes. I no longer dwell on what happened or think about it very much but it’s still there. And as I move forward with a new emergency plan, I know to cut myself some slack if I do end up needing medication again in the future. I’m not crazy or a baby for panicking. It’s my bodies natural response to emergencies now because of what happened in the past. All I can do is try to plan better and be kinder to myself if I need help.