Anaïs is 34 years old, works in tech, and is the mother of Iris, aged 4. She discusses with us her experience of motherhood, surprising, overwhelming, violent, which gave rise in her to a deep need to share. Describing, writing pain, emotions, love, anxieties, injustices, questions, has become his daily life. So that all this remains. So that all this serves.
Announcing my pregnancy was an extremely ambivalent moment. My husband Paul and I were coming back from our honeymoon, and we thought we had a few months ahead of us before we got a positive pregnancy test. Oh but not at all! Bim bam boom, I got pregnant in 14 days! It was really a big slap in the face because I wasn't expecting it at all. Having uterine problems and pain, I really thought it was going to take a while. So I didn't have any difficulty getting pregnant, but much more difficult digesting the information... I was clearly not psychologically ready: in my head there was a mixture of stress, apprehension of change, and obviously, fear of the 'unknown. On the other hand, I had no doubt about keeping this child.
Very early on, my gynecologist detected a separation. Verdict: forced rest for one month. Between the confirmation of my pregnancy, and the doctor's recommendations, this start of pregnancy was really difficult to live with. I had no stomach, no noticeable symptoms, so it was all very vague, very abstract... At first, I told myself that I could still vacuum or do some activities, but as soon as my body was subjected to effort, I had tightness in the uterus. I understood that I had to really lie down, and I followed the prescribed treatment to the letter to limit the risk of miscarriage. After this total month of rest, the separation resolved, and I was able to return to work. But I was very tired, and it wasn't limited to the first trimester. In my fourth month of pregnancy, everything got complicated again: I already couldn't sleep, my stomach was getting hard, but I thought I was just feeling my daughter moving, I didn't understand that it was already contractions. So I was stopped at the fifth month, my gynecologist made it clear to me that I would not return to work before the arrival of my baby. Bim, another abrupt news to digest. Beyond the worry I had for my baby and myself, I was consumed with guilt at the idea of telling my employer. She had already not taken the news of my pregnancy well, so I was very anxious to have to convey this new ruling to her. It's strange to feel this pressure, right? I went back into forced rest mode, with a midwife who came to the house to check that everything was going well twice a week. When your family doesn't live nearby and your partner works face-to-face, it's a very lonely time. Netflix has become my best friend! And to prepare myself psychologically and physically for this big upheaval that is coming, I still allowed myself one visit per month to a sophrologist, and I read a lot, a lot, a lot. I learned about the different types of parenting that exist, about education, emotions, but no reading about the period that would arrive after my delivery, the famous postpartum.
My baby arrived two days premature. For someone who was at risk of giving birth prematurely, well, that’s an achievement (laughs…)! You can imagine: I wanted a birth without an epidural, in a nature room, everything, and it would have been a nice story to end this bedridden pregnancy. But… no (laughs…)! I wouldn't have created my Instagram account and I wouldn't be talking to you today if that had been the case!
It took me almost 48 hours to give birth, with extremely painful contractions, a cervix that wouldn't open, my strength obviously exhausted, and an emergency cesarean section as the last sequence of the film. Even if we know the possibility of this scenario, we are not sufficiently prepared for it, and it is therefore terribly violent. The operation itself, the painkillers they give you, the staples that don't hold and my gaping scar... And of course, you're asked to walk a few hours later, with your urinary catheter between your legs. I had a very, very bad experience with this moment.
Among this chaos, I had my Iris, my calm little baby, who didn't cry. Maybe she felt I needed some reassurance, I don't know. We left the maternity ward after five days. But I wasn't feeling well, I had a fever, cold sweats, and it lasted a few weeks. Tired, and at the same time fascinated by the little being to whom I had given life, I clearly silenced my state of health.
I calmed my physical pain with doliprane, and I held on. It was only when I was upset a little by my lover and my sister one day - when they told me that my scar was really not pretty and smelled and that I needed to see him, that I I realized that my body might be malfunctioning, and that I needed to listen to its signals.
I'm not going further by telling you that they saved my life. When I returned to the hospital for an emergency consultation, it was confirmed that my scar was in a state of putrefaction, and that I had inflammation of the lining of the uterus (postpartum endometritis). I was immediately put on antibiotics, which finally improved things. The weeks that followed were very hard, I had difficulty digesting everything I had experienced, all these contradictory emotions and physical feelings. It took me 12 months to realize I was in post-traumatic shock. And 24 real months to get better. It is URGENT that mental health is taken seriously and concretely within our society. Yes, there is worse elsewhere, but yes, there is also better. Particularly during the most important period of their lives, women deserve much more sustained, caring and lasting support.
While waiting for things to change, I'm writing to share, to tell other women that they are not alone, and that there is nothing shameful in feeling this whirlwind. Nothing taboo. My Instagram account and my blog are not therapy. When I write, whatever the subject, it is because I am finally at peace with it. And I hope everyone can find their own way of being as well.