Tokophobia – have you heard of it? 13

No, I hadn’t either. But I was reading a pals blog, a lovely happy post, then I clicked on one of the related posts at the end. It was this the truth about tokophobia. Tokophobia apparently means an extreme phobia of pregnancy.
So there is a new word for me to remember.

I am terrified of pregnancy. Terrified of birth. Terrified of labour. I have flash back phobia related dreams. I imagine myself in labour, even though I am only dreaming I feel the pain. I feel cramping sudden pain like smaller contractions. Until I wake up I am back there. Things didn’t go well for me at the birth of my first son. Apparently it was all fine and not medically unusual. But I kept saying “something is wrong. Something is still inside me.” They didn’t believe I knew my own body, first time Mother, what would she know? “Its probably just a strange feeling dear, you’ve got to get used to not being pregnant now.”

It wasn’t that. But I couldn’t get them to hear me, to listen, to believe me. I was released from hospital, only to return days later from post partum hemorrhage. Extreme bleeding of a type only girls can experience. I was told I’d die, by doctors. I might die in my sleep or even before then. I told them to leave my bedside, I said goodbye to my son. He was 5 days old, and I was saying goodbye, telling him “if Mummy doesn’t wake up look after your Daddy. If I don’t wake up, I don’t blame you son, this is not your fault. You are perfect son, you are special, and if I die its worth it because you are safe. I know you don’t understand my words, but Mummy loves you forever, wether I wake up or not. Look after Daddy as I love him.” Those words hurt to say, they hurt to remember.

It took me years, and several panic attacks to convince myself I’d cope and not die and that things would be better the second time. Doctors said severe bleeding again was rather unlikely. I became pregnant easily, too easily, and very fast. I didn’t have time to panic. But I was kind of in denial. Repressed memories relating to the first birth, and the bleeding. Memories that resurfaced whilst heavily pregnant. I thought I was going to miscarry, I thought I was going to bleed to death, and my baby too.

A couple of months before the due date I was struggling massively, phobias set in. I think I went a bit nuts. The birth was fast, but hell for me. It left mental scars my therapist is still working on now. He arrived in a very short time, I was home alone. Midwife wouldn’t come, I phoned 999 I was told get a bus. I said there wasn’t time, they said something like “calm down, you’ve only been in labour for half an hour, you’ve got time.” They didn’t realise I was telling the truth – baby was coming in a hurry. I went door knocking, begging for help. I was alone for Gods sake! A neighbour I had never met let me in. She counted my contraction times and her face went pale, she knew this was too fast. She helped me to her car, I was screaming and crying and hysterical. She stayed calm, but clearly this wasn’t fun for her either. She supported me as I waddled in to the hospital. Minutes later my second son almost ripped out of me. No painkillers and a whole lorry load of trauma. The midwives had left the room to discuss my state of panic, I yelled and yelled “come back, baby is coming NOW”, they came back, but I was alone as he crowned, as the waters went. In the safest place but so overwhelmingly afraid. Stress and fear and panic. I had my second son, he was alive but I expected to die, to bleed to death.

But it does not just go away. I am so terrified of the bleeding I am terrified of becoming pregnant. I am so terrified of pregnancy I am afraid of bedroom time. I can not be pregnant ever again. I take contraception daily, despite there being almost no possibility of it happening, as I can’t get close like that often. I love Blokey, but my phobias just increase and I become afraid of more and more things as they become associated to the existing phobias.

I wake up sometimes dreaming I’m pregnant, to most Mums that is a good dream, to me its a nightmare. A no win situation. If I get pregnant I could die, the baby could die and my two sons lose their mum.

I can see a pregnant lady and cope, but if she grabs her bump, and shows any hint of labour I will be screaming inside. Freaking right out. If I became pregnant the fear would be too much, and two likey outcomes would be “getting sectioned” or self harm. Just thinking of being very pregnant makes me feel sick, and labour, well I can not find words without enough flair and feeling to explain the fear attached to it.

I wouldn’t mind another child, its not being a Mum to one more that bothers me, its the logistics of it. I CAN’T DO IT. I just cannot do pregnant.

My name is Julie, and I am Tokophobic.

This week is mental health awareness week.

Did you have phobias? Anxiety? Talk about it, write about it.

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13 thoughts on “Tokophobia – have you heard of it?

  • Babus Ahmed

    I totally understand where you are coming from I suffer from OCD and irratinal fears are something that affect me, now more than ever, and it doesn’t matter what the expert or books say I cannot get myself to do certain things. I suffered alone and quietly from my teens and didn’t talk about it until I came to crisis point in 2009 and realised that I was suffering from a mental illness that affects a lot of people since then I have been working on it and my anxiety levels are lower but I still have much work to do.

  • Mummy Barrow

    Writing that down is a massive step. How very brave of you.

    Now talk about it. And keep talking about it. Phobias are a learned behaviour. Very real. But learned. And they can be unlearned. They just take support and time.

    You are stronger than you give yourself credit for

    Lots of love

  • Jenny @ The Brick Castle

    Oh hon, what scary and horrible experiences. I had 2 very, very quick babies. One minute I was asleep peacefully in my bed and 20 minutes later I was holding a child both times. It’s scary stuff, and I had no problems at all, I didn’t bleed excessively. I went into shock the first time it happened to me, and if I was in any way concerned about how my delivery would go it would have been too much – for both me and my partner. Instant births look great on the telly, but the reality is not actually as much fun.
    You may have tokophobia, but it’s not entirely irrational. Have you considered a more permanent form of contraception? So that couple time isn’t ruined for you both xx

  • Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer

    Oh goodness, what a shame to carry all this with you all the time. I completely understand the dreams and flashbacks – I had them for ages after my two – and some of it is ‘normal’ – although I always argue that word is used incorrectly instead of ‘common’ – yet yours isn’t, you have a name for yours and I truly hope you are able to get help and your hubby snipped. Some ‘bedroom time’ hormones when he’s been done, might actually help to heal you. X

    • JulieRoo Post author

      I can’t – really I just cannot. It was (and is) ridiculously scary, with a genuine risk of complications and worse. I read your comment like “try for another baby” and it freaked me out, even though I know you didn’t mean it like that.

  • ghostwritermummy

    Julie, you must join the Birth Trauma Association Facebook group and find them on Twitter too. THey helped me massively after Luka was born. Believe me, I do understand some of what you are saying. You are not a freak, you have a genuine phobia but you are not alone. Massive hugs
    x x x