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"I would lie in bed at night and relive that moment over and over, unable to make sense of what had happened and trying to figure out what I could have done differently to stop the tears from happening"

Catherine

's Story

I had an uneventful pregnancy. I was healthy throughout and was so excited when my waters broke one evening before my due date, when I was 38+4.

After a CTG the following morning to check that my daughter was okay after my waters going we were sent home to hopefully let me go into labour naturally.

I started having contractions at 5pm that evening, and by 11pm we headed to the hospital as they were very close together. I was found to be 6cms dilated when I arrived and things progressed smoothly from there.

After an hour of pushing my daughter was born into the water at 4.30am, calm and quiet and healthy as can be.

Just as my daughter was crowning I had a huge amount of pain and I distinctly remember feeling something tearing, like something was giving out, but assumed I would just need a few extra stitches and pushed through the pain.

I ended up having a PPH due to retained placenta, so was taken to surgery. When I woke from surgery and was taken back to my room I was so pleased that it was all over and my beautiful girl was finally here safely.

I felt tearful and shaky when I thought about the birth, but figured it was just the shock of the whole process and assumed that feeling would wear off as time went on.

I was worried by how much pain I was in, that I couldn't sit down, but was assured by the midwives that the pain and bruising was normal, so when we left the hospital when my daughter was 5 days old I slowly got back into normal life with my new baby.

Fast forward to almost 5 weeks postpartum I came home one afternoon after a busy day out and realised something felt not quite right, which is when I discovered my prolapse.

Over the following months I fell into a depression and have really struggled to come to terms with the fact that my easy, uncomplicated, drug-free water birth led to such life changing injuries.

I kept playing the moment my daughter was born over and over in my head, remembering that feeling of something tearing and I now know it was the feeling of my pelvic floor muscles being torn off the bone.

I have been diagnosed with very bad bilateral levator tears, for which there is currently no cure. Every time I thought about that moment I would feel sick and shaky. It was like a bad film which I couldn’t turn off. I would lie in bed at night and relive that moment over and over, unable to make sense of what had happened and trying to figure out what I could have done differently to stop the tears from happening.

I have almost been hospitalised a few times because my mental health has been so unstable and I regularly see both a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

Thankfully, at almost 11months postpartum, I have finally started to see some physical improvement with the use of a pessary and the support of my excellent women’s health physio.

My injuries still have a physical impact on my daily life though I try to not let it affect the sort of mother I am to my daughter. Some days are better than others, but recently I have found the bad days are few and far between.

Emotionally, I have done a lot of work with my psychologist to process my daughter’s birth and I no longer feel like it has a hold over me. I do not have nightmares anymore. For so long I felt so stupid for giving birth ‘wrong’, like I somehow did this to myself, but I know now this is not the case; I was just unlucky.

Right now I am looking forward to the future, and hoping one day we might be brave enough to give my daughter a sibling. I know my second pregnancy will not be as easy as my first was, but I find myself getting excited about the idea of another baby instead of recoiling in terror at the thought.