How a teenage surgery led to post-traumatic stress disorder.
JESSICA'S MOTHERHOOD STORY
My motherhood story actually begins way before I met my husband or was thinking of having kids, in fact I was still going to underage dance parties.
I had always been a bit of a bigger girl but when puberty hit, it hit hard & with vengeance. By 15 I had back pain and wore the kinds of bras my Nonna was wearing because that’s all we could find that fit. I wanted them gone and had the support of my parents and the physicians we had seen for my back to have a breast reduction. The initial surgery went well but I had been told I may not be able to breast feed. At 15 I was fine with that. I would finally be able to buy tops at Westco!
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Then things went pear shaped. I had a blood clot. You know how they say that can happen after surgery? Well it does and it did and it was catastrophic! Three more surgeries to remove tissue that was dying away, reconstruct and 3 weeks of hyperbaric treatment to get my body healing again. I now had scars (externally) to be embarrassed about instead of big boobs.
I wasn’t truly aware of the scars on the inside though until I fell pregnant with my first baby.
I worried from the minute I saw the test was positive. I started every sentence with “as long as everything goes well”. I didn’t want a baby shower and I didn’t set up a nursery because I didn’t want to jinx myself. I went anxiously to every appointment waiting for my OB to tell me what was wrong. I worried about the tiniest change and couldn’t bare the constant thought that plagued my brain “What if I don’t get to bring my baby home?”
At 20 weeks I had a skin reaction that can be a sign of a liver problem which increases the risk of still birth. I had to have a blood test to check. I cried everyday waiting for the results. They were fine.
I got distracted for a bit by our renovation and moving to our house. I busied myself with making sure I gave the teacher replacing me detailed notes on every student in my class. But I still worried and checked for kicks constantly.
At 36 weeks my OB noticed my baby’s growth had slowed significantly. He sent me for a scan and we had one of those moments when the tech excused himself to check results. He came back with a doctor who explained that bub had an abnormal cerebral blood flow (an abnormal blood flow in his brain).
I was now terrified but also felt justification for all my worry, I knew something was going to go wrong and now it has and although I was told the baby would be ok, I was beside myself.
I spent the next 2 weeks having scans and feotal heart monitoring every couple of days. One day when I was having the feotal heart monitoring a woman came in with her husband. It was a pretty open room so I could hear her as she explained to the midwife that her OB had sent her in because she hadn’t felt the baby kick since the night before. They got started but the midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat. This poor woman was beside herself. The midwives moved her on to have a different type of test and reassured her that it was just a precaution. I was almost as mortified as she was. I prayed for her and her baby every night and couldn’t even tell my husband about it until years later.
At 38 weeks, with no change to my baby’s condition, I was induced.
Our healthy baby boy arrived into the world on the 10/10/14. He was perfect and still is. I was a bit of a mess. He was a screamer and I can’t count how many times I cried with him. Initially most doctors were putting it down to tummy issues and mum guilt kicked in with vengeance because I couldn’t breastfeed.
Everyone’s babies seemed so content compared to mine. For a long time I thought I had spent so much time worrying about getting him into the world safely that I hadn’t bothered to worry about what I was supposed to do once he arrived. I hadn’t prepared myself because I hadn’t read 'the books'.
Then I went to have a Reiki session. At the end the woman said to me “Your son must be an anxious child because you were a very anxious pregnant woman.” Talking with a few more people, some who know me as a patient and others who know me as a friend, they agreed that I had a form of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout my pregnancy.
Based on the trauma of the my previous medical experience, when faced with the next big medical event in my life, I waited for something to go wrong. My anxious baby was just like me in tiny human form.
I spent endless hours holding him to sleep, keeping him close and going against everything the books (not all of them but a lot) said I should do. And I know in my heart that it helped relieve some of that anxious feeling for him though he’ll always be a sensitive soul.
Armed with this knowledge, my second pregnancy was so different while being so the same. Medically they were very similar, both slowed their growth at similar stages but mentally they were opposite. I just felt joy. I was excited. I wasn’t worried pretty much at all.
My beautiful girl arrived the 10/2/17 with the most joyful little spirit. She barely cried, even for feeds and woke every morning with a smile.
Our minds are so powerful. I don’t blame myself or congratulate myself for the way either of my kids are. But I know the difference.
I'm a Primary School Teacher who loves music & still sing occasionally. I'm a typical Leo. As I gotten older I've become more active and love being with family and friends. My happy place is the Tyrone foreshore on the Mornington Peninsula.
Children: 2 (Leo is 4, Stella is 2)
Motherhood in 5 words: Awesome, emotional, amazing, challenging, memorable
Coffee order: Normal latte with one sugar
Fav fam-friendly place: Parks! All parks & any parks. Local or further away.
Connect with Jessica: @mammacino
It’s a mum/teacher blog where I share info for parents about schools & education. I also share info for teachers about parent realities along with some stuff just from our daily life.
The information in this story is a unique and personal reflection of the writer's experience. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.