‘Giving birth to my daughter made me want to kill myself – I was so set on dying’



If somebody had told me six years ago that I’d spend most of my waking hours thinking about my vagina, I’d have laughed them out of the room.

But the constant, biting pain I feel down there not only rules my life, but my family’s too. It’s only with the support of my husband David, 43, that I’m still alive today.

In March 2019, after spending almost three years in agonizing pain following my daughter Selina’s birth, I decided to take my own life. When I was saved, I was furious. I had been so set on dying and ending the torture I’d been living with.

Selina’s birth in January 2016 had been a difficult induced labor that ended with a vacuum delivery. A cup with a handle was attached to Selina’s head for her to help guide her out of the birth canal.

In a rare complication, I suffered damage to my pudendal nerve – the main nerve running through the pelvis. Mine had become trapped, causing a compression injury and I was left with horrific pain that felt like someone was squeezing clothes pegs on my vulva.

Despite multiple trips to the doctors, GPs and specialists dismissed me, saying normal women coped with postnatal discomfort.

“Not being able to wear underwear or trousers isn’t normal,” I told them. But my pleas for help fell on deaf ears.

To avoid pain, Natalie sat in a wheelchair with her legs beneath her

I began researching online and eventually found a Facebook group for women with pudendal neuralgia. My symptoms ticked every box. I couldn’t even sit down and was only able to wear linen trousers.

But when I asked a gynecologist if my symptoms could be caused by that condition, he laughed at me. I walked out of that hospital and sobbed my eyes out.

“Will I ever get better?” I asked David, a former marine. He felt as helpless as me.

Even a pain clinic couldn’t help me. I couldn’t tolerate the medications I was prescribed and spent months in withdrawal from Nortriptyline, a medicine for nerve pain. It did nothing but leave me a nervous wreck.

I forked out privately for acupuncture and physiotherapy, but nothing worked. I tried to carry on my job, as a skincare aesthetician, but the only way I could see clients at my beauty clinic, near our home in the Wirral, Merseyside, was by lying on the floor or sitting with one leg underneath me in a wheelchair. If my bum touched the seat I yelped in pain.

Eventually, I had to stop working altogether and everything fell apart. I couldn’t care for myself or my family, sex became increasingly difficult – although David was understanding – and my mental health spiraled out of control.

Before giving birth, Natalie prided herself on her fitness

White hot pain

In the spring of 2019, I realized I could no longer bear to be around my daughter because I was worried my rattled state would frighten her. I thought, “What’s the point of living? I can’t even be a mother.”

It tears me up to say it, but the white-hot, pinching pain that coursed through my vulva and pelvis every waking minute had become so severe, I didn’t even feel I loved my daughter – the pain left no room for anything else . I was number to joy.

It’s hard to think about now, but not even the thought of leaving my three-year-old girl without a mum was enough to pull me back from the dark place my mind had gone to. I wanted to end my life.

If my mother-in-law hadn’t been worried about me on that fateful day, I’d be six feet under right now. She called David, who rushed home and broke the door down in sheer panic. I was taken to hospital and given life-saving treatment. It took a long time for me to come around, but when I did, the first thing I felt was pain, then rage.

After that, David began making desperate calls to experts in pudendal neuralgia outside the UK. One day, he told me he’d found one in Texas.

David and Natalie with their daughter Selina

“How can I travel there when I can’t even drive Selina to school?” I said.

David kept searching until he found details of pudendal neuralgia expert Dr Eric Bautrant, of Bastide d’Auxium in Aix-en-Provence, France.

In November 2019, I flew to see him. He ran a color ultrasound and within minutes diagnosed pudendal nerve entrapment. It was a relief to finally put an official diagnosis on my pain, but infuriating too.

Why hadn’t doctors or specialists in the UK run that simple test?

We borrowed money from our family and used all our savings for a £7,000 surgery with Dr Bautrant to release the nerve and repair the damage that had caused it to compress.

But relief was short-lived. The nerve had been trapped for so long it was still firing all the time. We paid thousands more for radio-frequency ablation, Botox injections and cryoneurolysis, to no effect. Eventually, Dr. Bautrant fitted a special pump into my abdomen that released a constant drip of local anesthetic to numb the aggravated nerve.

It was unbelievable. Slowly but surely, I was able to stand, walk short distances and even go back to work. I felt more like myself than I had in years and while I still had bad days, I also had days when I could do the school run and cook tea.

Crying tears of joy

All the love I hadn’t had space to feel flooded back and whenever I looked at Selina, I cried tears of joy. Suddenly all those little moments, like cuddling, reading her a bedtime story or driving her to school, they all felt real. They were the golden moments of normality I’d craved and missed out on for years.

I knew I’d never have another baby because of everything I’d been through, so I wanted to soak up every new milestone.

Now, I’m facing a new battle. I can’t get my pump refilled here, so every four to six weeks, I have to travel back to France for a five-minute refill.

So far, David and I have spent £50,000 trying to get me back to a decent quality of life, but we shouldn’t have to. The NHS acknowledges this is a real condition, but I think lots of medics don’t know it exists, or seem to not want to treat it.

She is now out of pain thanks to Dr Bautrant in Provence, France

To the women out there who’ve suffered a birth injury – I’m so sorry. I know how hard it is, but please keep going and advocate for better healthcare. You’re not alone and there are doctors who can help.

I now know there is light at the end of what once felt like a dark and seemingly hopeless tunnel, and I’m so happy I’m here today. Selina is now five and I absolutely love her being her mum and David’s wife. I love my daughter so much, and I’m so glad to be finally feeling glimmers of the woman I once was.

To help Natalie, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/victoria-mounsey-2. If you’re struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to, call Samaritans on 116 123

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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