I’ve blogged about my first birth story. To say that it was traumatic is putting it mildly. At the time that I wrote the post I had still not come to terms with it, nor what exactly made it as traumatic as it was. Probably one of the biggest things I’ve had to do in order to prepare for the birth of my second child is come to terms with this previous birth experience.
Firstly, I never knew how traumatized I actually was until I fell pregnant again. All of a sudden all the repressed memories flowed back and haunted me. I really struggled to enjoy a lot of this pregnancy because of the unresolved fear and hurt. It’s been a long journey but I have finally found peace and some healing. I now love being pregnant and am savoring each special moment because I know that this might be the last time that I am pregnant. I’ll long for these precious times one day in the future.
So what have I learnt and what helped me recover? Well after writing that blog post it forced me to realize something. That the main source of my hurt was not the disappointment of having c section. It is how I was treated and how I was made to feel throughout that birthing experience. I felt like a lump of meat. I did not feel like I had any real choice over what happened to me and my body. I was not treated as if I had much choice in any case. At no point did I ever feel like anyone explained my options to me in a way that I could make an informed choice. In fact at the time I felt indebted to my doctor for even letting me attempt to give birth vaginally (induction is not naturally). Retrospectively, now that I have done my research I realize that because of the way that my birth was handled I never really stood much chance anyway. There are so many things I would have done differently had I known then what I know now. There are so many more questions I would have asked and times that I would have insisted to have some sort of say about what was being done to me.
To the people in the hospital I was just another sausage in a sausage factory. My son’s birth was just another tedious part of a busy day. The fact that it was a life altering moment to my family and that it would have a major impact on our psychological wellbeing was not a concern for them. The level of compassion and respect that I was given when I was at my most vulnerable was abhorrent.
So where does this leave me now? I have found a new doctor who is deeply respectful of my wishes and my right to make choices about my own body. A doctor who never trivializes my questions and my wish to understand matters completely. Funnily enough I could not go back to my previous doctor even if I should wish to as I was basically told not to come back by the secretary when I mentioned that I would be getting a second opinion about a VBAC with this pregnancy.
I have joined an online support group for local moms wanting a VBAC and the information and support there has been phenomenal. I feel much better equipped to make decisions this time and stand up for my wishes when need be.
What I do have to ask myself though, is why I had no voice last time? Why did I give up my power and rights over how my body is treated so easily last time? Is it because we are taught to trust doctors so implicitly? Was it blinding fear? The only reason I felt so confident to fight for starting off our breast feeding journey properly is because my cousin had invited me to the Le Leche Leauge Facebook page the second she heard I was pregnant. I am eternally grateful to her. Reading the stories there gave me the confidence to demand more information and the right to make informed choices about my child’s care. I wish someone had done the same for me with regards to making me understand my rights and options around child birth.
How did I find peace?
- By empowering myself with enough knowledge to understand what happened to me last time. I am so unbelievably grateful to my doctor for the level of patience he has shown me as I agonize over every detail with him. No question is treated as silly and never have I been made to feel rushed through them.
- To acknowledge that that experience was not okay and that I will not let myself be treated with such disrespect again. I have honored myself this time by surrounding myself with a team that I finally feel I can trust.
- Should I end up having a repeat c section I might be disappointed but it will be my decision and based on facts and the knowledge that we truly gave natural birth a proper shot.
- Figuring out where the injury really lay – in the disrespect more than the actual birth itself.
- The amazing people I have met along the way. Random people who have pushed me forward on my journey of healing in new directions that I would not have discovered on my own. Strangers lending me helpful books. Kind conversations. Morale support over shared experiences. Advice from women who have been through the same experience and fought for a better experience the second time around. Care givers, not even just the ones on my team, that are passionate about women’s rights over their bodies that are out there every day advocating for women to have the birth experiences they want and deserve. Mothers who have shared their birth stories and their wisdom gained along the way. The courage of random women standing together.