ADAM’S BIRTH – PART II – Birth Trauma
Date posted: March 10, 2012
It has taken me almost a year since Adam's birth to be able to write this post; I have written parts of it in my head over the past few months but I could not summon my strength and courage to actually publish my thoughts until today. Only Today I realized that I am ready to let go of the pain and anger that I have been harboring. Here is a link to the first part of ADAM's BIRTH.
Before I unload my heavy thoughts I want to clarify that I am not blaming or attacking anyone involved in this birth story or anyone reading this story now. I am writing because I need peace. Some parts of this post might seem obscene and I apologize for that in advance.
All women are as legendary as the Phoenix but only a few realize it. Looking at the number of phases and the deep transformation your everyday woman goes though during her lifetime is overwhelming. The amount of hormonal changes we go through every month, the deeper hormonal transformation we go through with sexual intercourse and intimacy, the miracle of growing a baby in our wombs, labor, and the breathtaking moment of giving birth, and the plethora of hormones taking over once motherhood kicks in, breastfeeding, and skin to skin contact with that tiny bundle of joy – all those changes and transformations are simply mythical and mystical in their own way!
Through out my pregnancy I was a goddess! I embraced all the changes and welcomed my new role with passion and eagerness. Pregnancy had its way of teaching me patience and unconditional love. I had ample time to slow down and gear into the slow lane. I planned for the perfect birth (please have a look at ADAM's BIRTH) and was mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for labor. Then everything was shattered to pieces.
Over the past 10 months I have been totally dysfunctional; I looked normal and acted normal but I was detached from myself. On the internet you find a lot of women talking about their pregnancies and some share their birth stories, then they share pictures and stories about the babies. No one actually talks about the stuff that has been haunting me and that is why I was so hesitant to publish my thoughts.
There are some images that are stored in my memory – images that mothers should not see! I remember the first time I saw Adam after he was born. He was in an incubator with his mouth wide open, his back arched, his face constricted, and crying. I remember the following 5 days with all their horror and pain. I remember me! The goddess has been defeated, humbled, humiliated, and deformed.
It is amazing how I have no recollection of labor pain! I consciously know that I was in a lot of pain but now I can neither remember nor describe it. Here is what I do remember:
1) The damn episiotomy; I will not get into the argument of whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for a woman to have the skin between her vagina and anus cut with a scissor then sewed back. This is the pain I remember! I remember how walking, sitting, peeing, and taking a dump were horrible experiences to go through tens of times at a day for at least 2 months. When I finally took Adam home I remember how I was trying to get out of bed when I felt a tear … I knew my skin tore … today every time I eat chicken I have this mental image of my skin tearing! I also remember how I looked at the exercise bars in my gym room knowing that I will never stretch my legs on them again – I just can't think of any of my former gymnast moves! Impossible! When Adam was 3 months old, I decided to have a look at my dear vagina in a mirror; I was horrified! I could not tell what was what! I am not even sure of what I saw! At first I thought it was blood (but why would there be blood after 3 months?) Then I thought it was something that would go away with paper tissue (but it did not) Scar tissue? Maybe! My intimate relationship with my body died and it took away with it all forms for sexual desire or thought! The woman in me has died.
2) Hemorrhoids; imagine waking up one morning and you are perfectly fine then by the end of that day there is what feels like a grape vine in your butt crack! That grape vine hurt and bled when you sat, changed seating position, or took a dump for six weeks then it began fading one grape at time. Even though it is gone now, I still dread touching it by mistake in the shower!
3) The hands; everything went from bad to worse the moment I set foot in that hospital! First they refused to let Cheroona in the delivery room with me, second they refuse to let me birth while standing up (this was how I labored for most of the time and I knew I needed gravity), and third came the hands (I will continue the list of what went wrong later or never). The doctor who went out of his way to check on this crazy woman giving birth at home in the company of a friend/doula though nice, friendly, and understanding in so many ways, he was still a stranger! Yes! A strange man with strange hands violently and roughly almost fisting me, reaching deep into my cervix, and rotating his fingers clockwise and anti-clock wise several times. I was already in pain … then I was in much much more pain … plus the sense of violation and loss of control … and I was supposed to relax, open up, and let the baby out! Of course I did the exact opposite (involuntarily).
4) The abdominal pushing; when I was unable to open up and push the doctor and his assistant began pushing Adam out by applying pressure on my stomach. Pressure here means almost pushing with all your strength. Add to the misery and pain endured in the previous point what seemed to me like being physically attacked to give birth. Of course no birth was happening and Adam was distressed – thank God a c-section was not next.
5) Finger up the ass; under the normal circumstances with the right person this should not be mentioned in a trauma post. I blacked out after the pushing on my stomach and when I regained consciousness, Adam was already born and taken away. There was the doctor sitting on a chair with his head visible from between my legs almost done with stitching the episiotomy and I could feel it. Remember the "grape vine" I mentioned earlier, well that grape vine would naturally cover the anus and make any form of penetration difficult and painful. So the doctor was horrified by the sight of the grape vine – which says a lot about the kind of pain I put up with in labor – he suddenly inserted a thick rough finger with a suppository. Now as I write this, I do not remember this particular pain, but I remember the sense of invasion and violation that were the main highlights of this birth
I know the doctor and his assistants were doing a great job applying what they were taught and excelled at but that is not my effing problem! I felt like shit! I still feel like shit! I totally and completely hate my body and I totally and completely lost interest in sex!
6) The dream; as if what I already wrote was not enough! I have a recurrent dream! In my dream, I am at a hairdresser's getting a haircut and I am upset and shouting at a man and a woman. They are telling me my hair looks beautiful and I am telling them that I hate it and that was not how I wanted it. They also cut my hair with some sort of surgical instrument – not your regular hairdresser scissors. I email the doctor and ask him to tell me the details of the birth and what happened when I was under. He kindly responded – as he always did – and told me that after the pushing Adam was still away from the vaginal opening and that they had to use the forceps. That was the instrument I see in my dreams.
What really went wrong?
I am not talking about the hospital and Adam in the NCU. I am talking about what really turned this perfect birth into the nightmare it became for me. FAITH! I lost faith! This is what went wrong!
When Cheroona sent me the generous box of gifts and treats, she added 12 birthing affirmations or empowerisms – as she likes to call them. Here is a link.
Affirmation #9 says: I am prepared to meet whatever turn my birthing take.
This means that I have taken an informed and educated decision to birth naturally at home – the way women always did – and that I am ready to deal with the outcome no matter what it might be. That outcome might be losing Adam!
This was a trigger of fear when I was actually in labor. This was why I went to the hospital. I keep thinking that if I waited for one more hour … just one more hour .. Adam would have been born in the comfort of our home, caught him with my hands, held him onto my skin, breastfed him immediately, gave him a peaceful lotus birth, and buried his placenta under the jasmine tree as I had planned. Deep down I know that he got distressed because I was distressed. At home I was in a lot of pain and I needed a break but I was so close .. and I lost faith in my body to do what it was supposed to do. I lost faith in Adam knowing his way out! I lost faith in God looking after the two of us the way he did through out the pregnancy.
This birth experience has changed me forever and today I am trying to come to terms with what has happened. I am thankful for Adam and that he made it through. I am thankful for the luxury of spending every waking moment with him and enjoying being his mother. I am thankful for being strong enough to breastfeed him regardless of the social challenges and pressures. I am thankful for all the people who love us and have supported us. I am thankful for having someone like Cheroona in my life!
I am thankful for not being cut open in one of those commercial c-sections (Out of more than 20 women I know, one delivered naturally because she was stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital and the baby crowned in the car)
Everyday I hear of friends or wives of friends giving birth and I wonder if they have their own birth traumas. I wonder how they are dealing with it. Most women suffer in silence!
Here is a link to The Birth Trauma Association