When I was 12, my mom was pregnant with my baby sister and although I already had 2 other younger siblings, this time I was old enough to remember how this new baby actually arrived. What I did not know was that this would be the beginning of my phobia of childbirth – Tokophobia.
I did not know all the details, but what I remember is my mom and newborn baby sister home from the hospital and everything seemed normal. Then one day I had gone to the library with my cousin, and we came back home to find my mom outside in a mental state I still struggle to describe today. She was not herself, doing and saying things that just didn’t make sense. My father was out of town, and my carers didn’t know what to do. I was involved in calling the ambulance and trying to get help, and it was later discovered she had a retained placenta which is what caused all of this.
Mom was in ICU for 2 months over the Christmas holidays. At some point so was my baby sister. It was a stressful time for the whole family and my first exposure to complication after childbirth.
In hindsight, I wish that after her recovery we had received some sort of counselling, or just the family speaking about it to understand it better. All I got from it was making a decision that I did not want to go through that, and the only way to avoid it was to never fall pregnant.
Years passed and that Tokophobia feeling never went away. It made me scared to interact with men in general. When I met my husband I confided in him about this experience, and he understood and had his own reasons for not wanting children.
In my late 20’s I did want to get over this phobia because I knew that it wasn’t a hereditary kind of condition, just a traumatic experience. So I started seeking help by talking about pregnancy in general to various people, doctors, anyone who would make me think positively about it.
By the time I was in my early 30’s, I was at least open to the idea that if it’s my time, I will embrace the experience and make the most of my pregnancy. I still didn’t want to try to have children, but keen to think positively no matter what.
I then received heart breaking news about my cousin’s wife passing away during childbirth, and that brought back all the fears again. I still wanted to keep having positive conversations so that I’m not always expecting the worst when it comes to the topic of pregnancy.
As mentioned in my previous Ectopic Pregnancy story, I was trying to get the Copper IUD to ensure I won’t fall pregnant, but somewhere in-between the appointments and delays we found out we were pregnant.
This was it, that moment to just embrace it and we did for a couple of days. As you can tell from the linked story above, it didn’t end well.
I am sharing this because I just never have, and when something goes wrong you look back and wonder how much of it was your fault. Did my body reject this pregnancy? Do I actually have Tokophobia? This is why we need more information and conversations about fertility, pregnancy, the positives as well as the negatives.
I hope to connect with more people just as willing to share what they go through because it does help. It makes me think more positively, and also warns me of certain things. I now value the power in sharing stories and experiences to help others.