Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Scars

This post has been nearly two years in the making. I've grieved, I've grown, I've started to heal, and I'm finally ready to share.  

The events surrounding Eamon's birth are hard for me to speak of, even two years later. What was supposed to be a beautiful, peaceful journey for our family was ripped out of our control, and derailed in the worst way. Everyone involved that night (me, Chris, our midwife, my sister, my mother) was profoundly changed by what happened, as we watched our planned homebirth become a nightmarish trip into fear and uncertainty. Without going into great detail, the basics are this: we transferred to the hospital because of minor complications that made a homebirth more risky. We anticipated an easy delivery, and out the door we'd go. The doctor on call had other ideas. He used his fears and unfamiliarity with my situation, along with administrative means, to railroad us into a surgical birth. Here's an excerpt from my journals to Eamon:

As the situation with the doctor deteriorated and he pushed harder and harder for a surgical birth, I felt fear and anger replace my courage and calm. I knew you were safe, but doubt started to creep in. I knew I was strong and able, my body wise beyond my imagining, but the threat of intervention stalled my progress. You had already begun your final navigation of my pelvis, but fear for your safety at the hands of the doctor forced us into the second decision we hadn't wanted - a surgical birth.

Many people have never heard the terms "birth rape" and "birth trauma." Many women suffered both, but have never dealt with the grief. Sometimes the experiences resurface in the form of postpartum depression. Sometimes they never resurface at all. Sometimes they light a fire in a woman's heart, propel her to take action, do what she can to protect her sisters from the same experience.

I'm hoping I can be one of those women. I hope I can use my experience to help prevent another family from suffering. I am currently working my way through coursework to become a doula - a labor support person. I recently attended a friend's birth, and though I went into it very trepidatious of my reactions, her birth was incredibly healing and empowering to me. I look forward to hearing my sister's birth story in just a few short months, and try to share my own experience in a positive, enlightening way. I don't use my birth story to create fear in other women, and I hope my next birth story will be one full of light and joy, healing all the scars from the past. I've begun to dig out from under the weight of my experience in the past two years, and in another few years, I expect to be standing triumphantly on top of all that weight, fully free of the trauma.


Below are a few passages I've written on the subject over the past two years. 


Jan 2012 - This is a beautiful post, and a beautiful quilt. As the author mentions, it's very hard to feel "heard" when you keep hearing the same refrain - 'at least you and your baby are healthy and safe.' As Chris pointed out to the hospital administrator only hours after Eamon's birth, a grieving and emotionally scarred mother is not a healthy and safe woman. It is my fervent belief that nothing about my labor warranted a surgical birth. I fell victim to a doctor and his fear and a medical system that is totally out of control. I was forced into a corner by the machine that we call health care.


Dec 2011 - Cesarean section survivors carry physical scars, but the emotional and psychological scars are beyond imagining for me. My low, tidy scar is my trauma trigger button. Most days, I can barely stand to know it's there. Some days, it tingles or throbs quietly, like a whisper, reminding me of a battle I never thought I'd have to fight.  A battle in which I was forced to surrender. Some days, I forget it's there until my fingers glide over it as I dress, and a twinge of sadness tugs at my heart. And some days, I examine it closely, proud that my physical scar is reflecting the healing I feel in my soul. - Jan 2013


April 2012 - Sometimes I stumble across something that is so soul healing it shocks me. The universe puts exactly what I need right in my lap. Recently, I saw a book at the library that caught my eye. Less than a quarter of the way into the book, a phrase jumped out at me. It caused me to stop reading and shed some tears. So beautiful, so perfect. Empowering to me.


"A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived." 
- Chris Cleave, Little Bee



December 28, 2010
This photo was snapped just minutes after we were reunited.
All I can see is relief and sorrow on my face.

Here is a link to a post I wrote about our midwife, a woman who was and is a very special part of my life. She stuck with us until the end, fought harder than I ever would have expected her to, and grieved and cried with us. She is a beautiful spirit, and we are better for knowing her.


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