My daughter is almost three years old now, but the memories of the trauma I experienced after her birth remain fresh in my mind. Shortly after I gave birth, I began hemorrhaging. What had been a long (twenty-seven hours), but relatively easy labor turned into a nightmare. My blood pressure dropped and I began to vomit all over myself.
My husband and daughter were rushed out of the delivery room and taken to the nursery. A specialist was called in to perform an emergency surgery. I was told that the doctors would try to save my uterus and ovaries. If my uterus and ovaries could not be saved, they would have to give me a hysterectomy. If the bleeding didn’t stop, I was told I was going to die.
After a three-hour long surgery, during which I was fully conscious, I was in critical condition. I was allowed to be reunited with my daughter and husband, however, I was I was told not to move a muscle. I could not hug my husband. I could not hold my newborn baby. I was afraid that if I closed my eyes, I might not wake up again. I lay awake all night in pain. I felt robbed of having all those perfect moments you dream about after you give birth, where you hold, smell and cuddle your new baby for hours on end. My daughter’s bassinet was next to my bed and I stared into her big brown eyes all night long. I promised her that I would be ok-she would not be a motherless child. I survived and five days later the three of us went home. Many of my friends thought I had a C-section because I was in the hospital for so long.
I was diagnosed with PTSD a few weeks later. I spent the first couple of months at home with my daughter, afraid to leave the house. This was a very unusual feeling for me. As a professional make-up artist, I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Suddenly, a trip two blocks up the street to the post office was challenging. When I ventured outside, I was easily startled and wrought with anxiety that something would happen to me, my daughter, or my husband. Every stranger became an enemy. It became increasingly difficult to sleep at night. The demands of motherhood eventually took over and I pushed my personal feelings about what happened aside.
I joined a local hospital support group for new moms and enrolled in “mommy and me” music classes. It felt great to connect to other new moms. We shared intimate details of our lives with one another and bonded over talking about breastfeeding, sleep schedules (or lack there of), and baby gear. I made many great friends through the new moms support group and looked forward to weekly play dates outings. Despite my outgoing nature and positive outlook on life, deep inside of myself I felt like a silent victim. No one else I met had post-partum hemorrhaging. My emotions ranged from anger and guilt to fearfulness and sadness.
One day I “googled” PTSD. The majority of the resources were for war veterans. I was shocked to see that there were very little resources for mothers and non-veterans with PTSD. I was fortunate to come across a link for Michele’s website, yourlifeaftertrauma.com. Although we experienced different types of traumatic events, I felt connected to her while reading her story. Michele’s candid conversation about PTSD and its effect on her life mirrored some of my own feelings.
Through therapy, I have learned that connecting to other women and sharing my story was going to impact my recovery in a positive way. I learned that it is okay to talk about my feelings, that they are honest and normal. Feelings of embarrassment and being given an inappropriate label often cause trauma victims to avoid discussing their mental and emotional anguish.
I am happy to share with you all that today I am feeling great! I have come a long way from the woman who was afraid to leave the house a couple of years ago. I am very active in my work and very involved in my community. I am proud to be an advocate for maternal health issues and honored that Michele asked me to write a guest blog post! I want all of you to know that there are so many women who have experienced a traumatic childbirth and are seeking others to connect to, but don’t know where to find the resources they need.
I started my website as a way to promote my work as a celebrity make-up artist and somehow along the way it became my personal journal, exposing what living with PTSD has been like for me. In sharing my story with you, I hope that those of you who have experienced birth trauma, or trauma of any kind, will find that you have a friend and someone who you can connect with.
Follow my journey. You are not alone.
About the author: Timoria McQueen is a PTSD Survivor, Make-Up Artist and Beauty Expert. Timoria has been making her mark in the beauty industry for over 15 years. To read more, you can visit her website or join her on Facebook .