A mother has shared her traumatising C-section birth without having anaesthesia.
Now, Rachel Somerstein is having difficulty bonding with her newborn child.
Somerstein shared her experience in a 3000-word essay on Longreads about how a botched spinal block by her anaesthesiologist left her in agony throughout the entire procedure.
The 37-year-old mother explained how after the trauma she struggled to connect with her daughter. "My skin felt as if it had electricity inside and I didn't want to touch her, or anyone," she wrote.
The journalist from New York explained that she did not blame her anaesthesiologist for the excruciating pain, but faults her obstetrician. "I held responsible the OB who didn't listen to me, who continued to cut me through my screams," she revealed.
Somerstein revealed that she never filed a lawsuit because she struggled to find someone to represent her. "One mused, 'How long was it? Five minutes?," a lawyer asked about the C-section's time duration. "You're healthy, your daughter's healthy. What are you so upset about?," another said to her.
In her essay, Somerstein recalled that the first warning sign was when her anaesthesiologist had to up her epidural medication three times.
After the epidural finally worked and her water broke, Somerstein was in labour for 24 hours. Her nurse suggested a C-section as the baby's heart rate wasn't returning to safe levels.
Later, in her obstetrician's surgical notes, he described the pain Somerstein endured throughout the C-section.
"The patient was a having great deal of difficulty, tolerating pain, was indicating that she was having a great deal of difficulty coping with the pain and was screaming from the pain," he wrote.
When the doula showed Somerstein her baby girl, for the first time, the mother struggled to even look at her.
"No, no, no, I don't want to see her. I can't see her. Take her away!" she recalls telling the doula.
As well as struggling to get close to her baby, Somerstein revealed the concern she has that her daughter might read how she reacted, once she is older.
"Can you imagine if she reads this? If she learns that at her most vulnerable, her first hours on the planet, I sent her away?"
Now that her daughter is almost 4, Somerstein's heart is larger and "has opened to accommodate my love for her," she revealed at the end of her essay.
She fears that she is seen as a "damaged person" from the experience but knows it is her job to protect her daughter from such feelings and to change their narrative from the way it began.