Birth Trauma Survivor and Maternal Health Advocate

“And oh she had been broken. She hid it well, but Ross knew from personal experience that once you had put the pieces together, even though you might look intact, you were never quite the same as you'd been before the fall.” Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

Bobby and Miss J accompanied me to my first post partum doctors appointment–the last time I was there, I was thirty-six weeks pregnant. After thirty-six weeks, they tell you to be prepared because you can deliver at any time. Boy, was I ready!

Towards the end of my pregnancy I indulged in any type of food I wanted and as a result, I gained a whopping 42 pounds. Dr. B once asked me why I was gaining two pounds every week. I told him it was because after every appointment, I walked down the street to Five Guys to gorge myself on a cheeseburger and fries. Then, when I got home, I would eat Haagen-Daaz strawberry ice cream. I would try to have only one or two scoops, but I couldn’t resist. I usually ended up eating the entire pint. He looked a little disgusted at my confession. I was nine months pregnant and I was always hungry. Back off!

Now, it was two weeks after the birth of my child and a lot had changed. The last time I was there I was giddy and nervous with excitement at becoming a mom. Now, I was exhausted and broken down. I was on the edge, always afraid that I would hemorrhage again.

I checked in with the receptionist. I felt like everyone (the staff as well as the patients) in the waiting room knew all of my business.

Look, that’s her. That’s the lady who almost died after giving birth. 

The three of us waited until they called my name. Miss J was in her car seat sleeping and we piled into the exam room. A nurse weighed me and took my blood pressure and then instructed me to take my clothes off from the waist down. When I asked why, she told me it was because Dr. Chinn needed to do a post partum check-up to see how I was healing. I was not prepared for that. I didn’t want anyone looking down there. The nurse handed me several of those rough paper sheets to cover myself with and left the room.

Dr. B briefly popped into the room to say hello and ask how I was doing. I did not want to see him. I wanted him to leave. Seeing him filled me with mixed emotions. He helped saved my life, but I felt so violated by him at the same time. He knelt down and said hello to Miss J and told her how gorgeous she was. Before leaving he gave Bobby a congratulatory handshake and me a hug.

After a few minutes Dr. Chinn came in with a nurse. Dr. Chinn has one of the most pleasant dispositions I have ever come across. Her voice is very soothing. You never feel like you are bothering her with too many questions and although her schedule is usually jammed packed, she makes you feel like you are her only patient for the entire day. Her hair and make-up are usually done beautifully too, which you all know I appreciate.

She looked through my chart (which was now the size of the Iliad) and began to go over everything I had been through and everything I could expect over the next few weeks. It was hard to hear it regurgitated all over again. Hemorrhage. Transfusions. Embolization. I could feel my eyes starting to water, but I held it in. Next she asked me to lie down and put my feet in the stirrups. I could feel a huge lump forming in my throat. I wish Bobby had left the room. It was embarrassing. I was wearing a huge maxi pad and still bleeding. I was afraid to spread my legs. I was worried that the stitches from the surgery might pop and I would hemorrhage again, right there in the examination room. I spread my legs very slowly. When Dr. Chinn was finished, she covered me up with a sheet and said that I was healing as expected, but that I would see some bleeding for several more weeks. She explained that I was to call her or Dr. B if more than two maxi pads filled with blood in less than an hour.

Lastly, she said she had talked to Dr. B about the possibility that I might have PTSD. She also had a list of resources for me.

I pulled up my underwear and my pants and sat up on the table. I wanted to talk to her alone. I couldn’t speak freely in front of Bobby. I asked him to take Miss J out to the waiting room.

She handed me a sheet of paper with the names of several therapists typed on it and I started to sob. I noticed a star next to one of the names. That person must handle the really crazy people, like me, I thought to myself.

“Oh no, am I crazy now?” I asked sobbing and kind of laughing at the same time.

“You’ve been through a terrifying event and you’re holding up quite well considering what you’ve been through. But I do think it would be helpful to speak to a therapist when you’re ready.” Dr. Chinn replied.

She handed me some tissues and held both my hands. I sat on the edge of the examination table with my hands covering my eyes, and cried until no more tears came out.

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