A woman who developed PTSD after losing eight pregnancies in nine years has revealed she began suffering panic attacks when she saw pregnant people.
Charlotte Kingsbury, 41, from Nottinghamshire, began trying for a baby when she was 31-years-old, but has lost multiple pregnancies over the years.
The HR officer, who has ‘unexplained infertility’, said the repeated losses left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, telling the BBC: ‘When I saw pregnant people, I would start to go quite numb and struggle to think or speak and I would start to have panic attacks and I would have to so seek out some mental health first aid.’
After ‘trying everything modern science could offer’, she gave birth to son Ansel during the summer and hopes her story can help other women in similar positions.
Charlotte Kingsbury, 41, from Nottinghamshire, developed PTSD after losing eight pregnancies in nine years
She said: ‘In total I’ve been pregnant nine times and i have one living child who was born this summer. So I’ve had eight pregnancies that didn’t work out in the last nine years.’
‘Our infertility is something they call unexplained infertility which just basically means, they don’t know yet.
‘The age I am now, 41, you wouldn’t expect me to be particularly fertile but we started trying when I was 31.’
She explained the PTSD had affected her and her life ‘in every way’, saying: ‘For the first few years it was about sort of being upbeat and positive.
The HR officer said she would feel ‘numb’ when she saw pregnant people and began suffering from panic attacks
‘For the next few years, it was about getting through the days, if I’m honest.’
Charlotte continued: ‘No one wants to leave the hospital with a box instead of their baby. But we were so grateful to have anything.’
The HR officer said the losses dramatically impacted her mental health, adding: ‘When I saw pregnant people, I would start to go quite numb and struggle to think or speak and I would start to have panic attacks and I would have to so seek out some mental health first aid.
‘One thing I’ve started doing in the last few years is to take pictures of myself crying because I felt that my grief was so unreflected in the world.
Charlotte said a pregnancy with twin girls in 2018 ‘progressed further’ than her others, and said losing the babies was ‘the most horrifying experience’
‘It’s part of lamenting for the babies I’ve lost. A sort of keening deep in my heart.’
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
People with PTSD often suffer nightmares and flashbacks to the traumatic event and can experience insomnia and an inability to concentrate.
Symptoms are often severe enough to have a serious impact on the person’s day-to-day life, and can emerge straight after the traumatic event or years later.
PTSD is thought to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, and was first documented in the First World War in soldiers with shell shock.
People who are worried they have PTSD should visit their GP, who could recommend a course of psychotherapy or anti-depressants.
Combat Stress operate a 24-hour helpline for veterans, which can be reached on 0800 138 1619.
She explained: ‘After you’ve had a loss, or mire than one, you realise that you’ll never again have the excitement or joy when you see the two little lines on a pregnancy test.
‘After a loss that’s no longer guaranteed, you’re then worried about how long until you lose a pregnancy.’
Charlotte began attending a bereavement group to share her experiences with other people.
She said: ‘Finding other people like myself is part of what has given me the tenacity to keep going until this little boy was in my arms and I want to help other mothers to have that support as well.’
Charlotte lost twin girls in August 2018, revealing: ‘That pregnancy progressed further than our others.
‘At the time we felt that it was some ind of magical fairytale ending to our story.
‘Then to suddenly lose them both was the most horrifying experience of my life.’
Charlotte began stitching a blanket to record her experience of pregnancy loss, carefully sewing a row every day until I had a living child.
She said the blanket is now something she can ‘snuggle up under’ with her son Ansel, who is now 21-weeks-old.
She said: ‘We just tried everything under the sun, everything that modern science could offer, and got there finally in the end.’
Yet she added that she was conscious many parents do not experience that happiness after repeated losses.
Charlotte explained: ‘Something I’m really mindful of…My story resulting in a living child, I worry now that I will be a trigger. It would be a sad thing for people who have now yet had that success themselves.
‘For me, the focus is on getting people the support they need before they know whether it is ever going to work out.’
Charlotte said she tried ‘everything that modern science could offer and everything under the sun’ and has since welcomed 21-week-old son Ansel (pictured together)