Anxiety over 1st birthday due to trauma - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 07-27-2010, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone (or is anyone) experienced anxiety when baby's first birthday draws near? Instead of feeling happiness for this upcoming occasion--it is a reason to celebrate the life of DS--I feel like I am reliving the moments of labor and birth, since they are so deeply connected to this time of year. I keep remembering the moments that led up to labor, how excited and naive I was, how positive I was that everything was going to go as planned. I should be focused on the birthday party planning and on the joy that DS brings to my life. What is wrong with me? I was looking forward to his birthday. Now, I just want it all to be over with. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get through the "anniversary" of a traumatic birth?
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#2 of 4 Old 07-27-2010, 02:19 PM
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I also had a lot of anxiety leading up to DDs first birthday, so I can relate to this. I think it is very common for women who have had traumatic birth experiences to feel anxiety around their child's first birthday.

I did a lot of therapy, and that helped.

The party planning became part of my healing process, too. We planned a huge party with family and friends, and it was actually helpful for me to take all my nervous energy and channel it towards something productive. I made sure there were a lot of people at that party who understood what I had come through during the past year, and so I used it as an opportunity to get a lot of support from my community. That approach might not work for everyone, but for me it was helpful.

I got in a huge fight with my partner about 4 days before her birthday. That was painful, but in the wee hours of the morning we finally had a very raw, but very real conversation about some things that needed to be aired. Afterwards, I felt like I could move on from some things that had kept me "stuck" since the birth.

For me, getting through the first anniversary of her birth was a huge deal. There were things that I just couldn't let go of until her birthday had come and gone. It was like I needed to go through an entire cycle of the seasons before I could really begin to have new perspective. I wish that I had been able to heal faster, but for me it took a year before I could start to let go of the trauma.

It is nice to now be approaching DDs 2nd birthday and to feel much more "normal"...not like the whole thing is freighted with anxiety & significance. I can remember feeling traumatized, but I'm not carrying it around with me all the time like a huge weight.

The journey is different for everyone. I wish you well as you find your own way.

Living in Wisconsin with my partner of 20+ years and our DDenergy.gif(Born 10/09/08 ribboncesarean.gif). Why CI Mama? Because I love contact improvisation!

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#3 of 4 Old 07-28-2010, 04:56 AM
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I think it is very normal, but by no means easy, what you are experiencing. Both my birth experiences were traumatic, and I do go through conflicted feelings around both birthdays each year. e.g., Anxiety, guilt for having negative feelings about the births, etc. It does get better. Therapy has, and does, help, as well as, being able to acknowledge with my partner what those days were like for me. I think that it helps to have space to feel the complexity of the emotions and to not be judged. I also tend to try and highlight the joyful parts of the day as much as possible to try and balance out the challenging points. My sons are nine and four and we have a ritual of talking about what it was like to get to meet each of them which really helps me sit with some of the rest of it. e.g., My older son doesn't know he was whisked off to the NICU and I didn't get to hold him. He knows that the first thing my husband said when our baby came out was, "You are going to laugh, he looks just like me." I think the fact that you can talk about your ambivalence is great. If you feel safe with this, have your partner hold you on the morning of the birthday and get out some of the "harder" emotions, it kind of clears the way for the joy. Happy birthday to your little one! And happy birthing day to you!
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#4 of 4 Old 08-01-2010, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
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I want to thank both of you for replying to me in my time of need. It is so good to know that others went through this. I had no idea that I would feel this way about DS' birthday, and I hadn't read of anyone having trouble with the connection of specific dates/seasons to trauma. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree about focusing on the positive emotions. After reading your replies, I looked through DS' newborn photos--which of course are adorable and positive only. I remember feeling so whole that first day after his birth, like DS filled all the missing parts that we didn't know were missing in our family. The wonder, the joy, the fragile quality of life--I will focus on these things this coming week as his bday approaches. I am aiming to be at peace with having to go through what I did to bring DS into this world, which is getting easier and easier as time moves on because time does truly heal all wounds. Thank you for the encouragement and sage advice. You are a blessing.
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