It is the eve of Tannah's fifth birthday. Tomorrow my firstborn will celebrate and we will all make much fuss of her on her special day.
And tomorrow, like on her birthday every year, I'll feel torn. Because one of the happiest days of my life was also one of the most traumatic. I'll have a cry at some point and try to remind myself it was not me who failed her but the system failed us both. But it's hard not to feel cheated. For both of us.
This post is hard to write because birth trauma is not something that is widely accepted in our society as something which deserves attention. Those of us who have birth trauma should "be grateful for our healthy baby" and "stop being drama queens about it". You might be rolling your eyes as you read this now. But it is incredibly difficult for me to publicly announce that I find my daughters birthday celebrations hard because of my "issue". I look forward to the day when the memories of the good parts outweigh the trauma of the bad.
Five years down the track and two beautiful, easy homebirths later it still feels pretty raw at times. I still have a lot of what if's and if only's. I still can't believe that something that, in our case, should have been so straightforward and beautiful and empowering was intervened with so much that it became so violent and traumatic and terrifying. The sense of loss and failure is still very real. I still whisper "I'm sorry" to Tannah before I go to sleep often. I still get furious at a system that treats birth as an illness, women as incubators and babies as if they have no understanding of pain.
I still feel mad that the trauma of her birth stole so much of our relationship. Those precious first moments belonged to us, as a family, and they were destroyed. The unnecessary interventions and trauma that followed interfered with breastfeeding, bonding and my coping skills in general. It made the first year so much more difficult than it needed to be. I remember trying to read a speech at Tannah's 1st birthday and bawling so much I couldn't get it out because talking about how hard it had been was just too much. We were cheated of so much more than just the birth. We still are.
So tomorrow I will blog about my big 5 year old and just how old she has gotten. The post will be full of proud Mama type stuff. And when I pull up those first photos of us to choose one to blog I'll get upset and wish that it could have been different.