I cannot believe I never knew this could happen to me. And that needs to stop
Meet Luce Brett
Author of PMSL
My name is Luce. I’m a writer. A partner. A mum. And I had a difficult birth which left me thunderstruck, confused, sad, broken, and well, pretty angry. I’m probably older than you. My children are now very different creatures, tall and long with difficult questions about the state of the world, films they’re too young to watch, and football. Mostly football. They are no longer squishy babies or toddlers clambering into my bed. The years were over in the blink of an eye, just as everyone warned me. But those cliches don’t tell the whole truth. Because if I close my eyes tight, take a deep breath, I still remember their smell, their serene velvet faces, their outsized hands clenched into pink fists as they look up from their crib into the world. Their sleep noises and intricate, edible toes. The echo of toddler giggles, small feet lurching towards me, an object in each hand, demanding more Iggle Piggle.
Other memories cling tightly too, like tears that don’t want to leave your cheek, or spill out when you are trying to have a straightforward conversation about what happened to you in the labour room. They are a visceral collage: light, colour, sensations, smells, many not very nice. They catch me unawares when I am minding my own business and see a pregnant woman. Maybe she is like I was, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, absolutely no idea what birth can be like, poorly prepared at school for the reality of her anatomy, slightly unclear on the mechanics of birth? I don’t want to scare her by saying it might be horrible. But I want her to know this: if it doesn’t work, if things are not perfect, if she needs stitching back together in more ways than one, there are people who have her back. People like me, further down the road, once broken and stunned about what happened, but who have had treatment, time, kindness, and validation, and are here to help her feel less alone. I think this is what MASIC truly offers.
My reaction to birth trauma was unconventional. I wrote a book – a gory, funny, moving book – about the truth of it for me, what I saw and heard and felt as I gave birth and then coped with injuries, continence issues, depression and trauma. I needed to speak out because I traumatic births are often undiscussed. Unprocessed. Unheard. I certainly couldn’t find many places that captured my weird, conflicting thoughts. Like: ‘Yes, I love my baby, but I also want to disappear’, or ’I don’t know if I feel a “rush of love” – I don’t even know what that means’, or ‘If this is ‘the baby blues’, someone needs to change the name STAT because this feeling ripples through my gut and makes me feel young and stupid and old and broken and happy and useless all at the same time’.
Also, I had noticed the magic trick: talking about birth, even tricky, injuring birth, can empower. Mention birth and others share their stories – friends, relatives, strangers telling you about their delivery 60 years ago, brand new mums asking in whispers when stitches start to feel less sore. Emails from people who’ve read my book often open with, ‘I’ve never told anyone this before…’ They talk of shame, fear, feeling silly. That’s the magic of MASIC and any place like this where you get to talk or listen. Recognition is important – we don’t talk enough about births that aren’t picture perfect, as if they should be hidden in shame. Like MASIC, I’m here to say it isn’t shameful. And don’t worry – you have found your people.
Another thing about sharing: among the crying, laughter, wincing and weeping, there’s often one poor soul, slightly quieter than the rest, eyes glassy, listening in, who hasn’t found the time or space to work out quite what they think, or what to say, about what has happened to her. If that’s you, we see you too.
Like my book, this website is a place for all of you – the entertainers, the shellshocked, new mums and old hands – to share, process, or even just start to think about what is happening, and why googling ‘birth trauma’ or ‘MASIC’ late at night is a good thing. You are not alone.
Whether you are coping on the outside and smashing motherhood every day, or hiding in the shadows wondering when you’ll get back to being you again, or feeling okay but still burst into tears when you think too hard about contractions or have nightmares about the birthing pool – this site, this community, these resources are for you. You’ve got this. We’ve got you. Hang in there. Things can change. The time really does whizz by. Treasure having somewhere you can come and reach out.
I’m so thrilled MASIC asked me to be involved. If we can talk about things, properly, and kindly, even if just with each other at first, there are ways to move on.
Looking for support?
There is support available if you need it, don’t suffer in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.
MASIC can help you over come the physical and emotional trauma you may have experienced during and after child birth. We can support you and guide you to helpful resources, all you need to do is get in touch.
Not sure where to start?
Please call the MASIC 24h freephone Birth Injury Support Helpline 0808 1640 8333