Dr.Eve – 28 April 2022

DEAR DR.EVE
It has taken me a long time to write this letter but I don’t know where
else to turn.
I feel so bad at a time when I should be feeling so happy. I gave birth to
my baby boy 3 months ago and I am struggling to cope. I am impatient,
ratty and so tired. He won’t latch so I can’t breastfeed and I feel guilty
about this.

I am afraid that I am harming my baby and that is why I am reaching
out to you. I promised myself that I would never be like my own mother
and I am afraid that is who I am becoming.

My mother left me alone a lot and I was sexually abused by a babysitter.
She still does not know about this as she would not believe me.
Like my mother, I fell pregnant as a single woman of 18 years old. Like
my own father, the father of my child is not interested in being a father. I
am living with my mother but my relationship with her is bad so I feel
alone.

I had a terrible birth experience – the nurses left me alone and my baby
got into difficulty and no one noticed so I had an emergency C Section
and bled so much afterward but my baby is healthy.

Is there any medication that I can take to get me into a better mood?
Zophar

Dr.Eve Responds:

“Dear Zophar,
You did well to reach out to me. I am not a medical doctor so I cannot
talk to you about medication. However I highly recommend that you visit
a medical doctor, one that you trust and know will listen to you.
Medication may well be part of what you need to manage your mood and get you to feel more in control of yourself. You deserve this Zophar, you have a right to be seen as a mom in distress and supported by health care providers.
What I can do is educate you which may allow you to reduce and
minimize your feelings of guilt, shame, and blame.

Motherhood is an intensely rewarding … and stressful period – more so
for mothers with unresolved trauma. And it sounds as if you have
unresolved trauma.

“Unresolved trauma” is an active and usually disruptive emotional
response to a terrible event or experience. Trauma that is “unresolved”
can be characterized by mental, physical, emotional, and/or behavioural
symptoms or distress.

You have survived complex trauma, more than one trauma, namely
childhood sexual abuse plus neglect and abandonment by parental
figures. And as a result of this, you may have symptoms of untreated
PTSD which includes, among many others, addictive behaviours, an
inability to deal with conflict, anxiety, confusion, depression, or an innate
the belief that you have no value.

Motherhood is a traumatic event and adds to unresolved trauma, and a
mother can feel as you do: disconnected from herself and most
significantly, from her baby. Mother nature prepares a woman to care for
her infant. However with a history of trauma – yours and your mothers –
you are at risk of not being able to follow Mother Nature’s urges to bond,
attach, and be close with your baby.

Let’s add on the medical trauma that you had during your birthing
experience. It can leave a woman in a state of shock and fear. This
further places the mother at risk of being able to attach to her child.

I want to add another piece that may be comforting for you to
know: Women who have survived sexual violence find it harder to
deal with hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy and
may be more challenged to connect with their baby or breastfeed.
And just so you know postpartum depression is more common for
survivors of sexual abuse.

As you can hear Zophar, you are not alone. This means that I am
encouraging you to reach out, to find other women who are having
a similar experience to you. There are many women who are
experiencing motherhood trauma, and remain silent for fear of
being judged.”

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