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Hanna on PPD and PPA after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy after giving birth

mom snuggling a baby in a hospital bed - essay on having an emergency hysterectomy after giving birth

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

My journey to motherhood was not what I expected. It was astoundingly wonderful and completely heartbreaking all at the same time.

My son was brought into this world via emergency c-section, after 18 hours of labor and 3 1/2 hours of pushing. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my uterus was ruptured during surgery—I started losing blood and went into shock mere moments after his birth. I was only able to see his sweet face for a short time while my husband held him before they were whisked away.

After several blood transfusions in the OR, they believed to have stabilized me and brought me back to our delivery room where I was, again, only able to see my son for a brief time before we were separated. I wasn’t clotting and continued to bleed out, and after several more rounds of blood transfusions the decision was ultimately made to perform an emergency hysterectomy.

Related: How to overcome—and heal—from a traumatic birth

Our doctor looked at my husband and said, “At this point, it’s her uterus or it’s her life.” Then they whisked me away to the OR after a very short goodbye with my future hanging in the air.

I spent the next 48 hours in the ICU alone, without my newborn son and my husband. The sadness I felt was debilitating. It was the lowest I’ve ever been, all of that pain and worry—pain that I couldn’t be there for my son’s first moments of life; worry that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed because EVERYONE told me I NEEDED to so that my baby would be healthy and happy; worry that I wouldn’t establish a connection with my son because I was unable to hold him for a full TWO days after his birth; pain that I wasn’t there to help my husband navigate this new, exciting, and scary time in our life; pain that I wasn’t there to help him take care of this little human who was our responsibility, MY responsibility; and ultimately the pain that I had already failed at being a mom.

After five days in the hospital we were released, and I thought that once we were home, I would finally feel relief. But I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was completely overjoyed to finally have our healthy baby boy home, and I was so completely in love with him. But on top of that, I felt the grief for not being able to have any more children. I felt the heartache of what I lost, what WE as a family lost.

Related: The hard lessons I’ve learned about grief

I felt the anger that after two years of fertility treatments to get pregnant with our son, that this had ultimately happened to me. But more importantly I felt the fear—the all-consuming fear that something was going to happen to my baby.

Everyone says that “all first-time moms feel that way,” but this was a constant thought in my head. A creeping feeling that I could not shake. Any small thing that was out of the norm sent me into a complete tailspin—everything was a worst-case scenario. I had a hard time letting anyone take care of my son, including my husband, who took care of him during his first few days of life while I couldn’t.

I was living in constant anxiety. I couldn’t enjoy the wonders of being a mom, I couldn’t enjoy watching my son grow, I couldn’t enjoy my life—I felt utterly alone. You don’t realize while you’re pregnant that the care for you as a mother is going to stop once the baby comes.

Related: This is what anxiety feels like

Yeah, you have your postpartum appointment where they give you a sheet to fill out to check if you are experiencing any PPD and PPA, but let’s be honest, in the beginning you are reeling because your newborn baby is finally here and everyone in your life is showing up for you.

The truth of the matter is that it is more likely for depression and anxiety to show up months, even years down the road. And there really isn’t anyone checking in on these moms at this point, moms like me—that’s why it is SO important for women to share these feelings and tell their stories, because if society isn’t going to support us, then we need to support each other.

Sending all my love to the mama’s out there. I support you. ❤️

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