The fact is that regardless of the fact that I got my favorite midwife in the end, and regardless of the fact that nobody cut me, I am still traumatized.
Remember how I keep saying it’s all about how the person feels about their experience that makes it traumatic? Well hearing that I’m lucky doesn’t make the trauma any less for me.
Yeah, sorry to say, your words of “comfort” aren’t that comforting.
Yes, in the end I got a natural birth, but here are the parts I remember.
I remember early in labor that I believed I could simply change my mind and deliver at home. But the midwife wouldn’t come to the house. I had no choice; I had to go to the hospital.
I remember the excruciating pain of having to sit in the passenger seat as we drove the five minutes to the hospital. I remember getting to triage and being told that because I had non stress tests done in pregnancy I had to have another one. I remember having to lie on the bed for 20 minutes. It was agony.
I remember being told I was in active labor but that there were no rooms available.
I remember overhearing the nurses saying that if I delivered fast I would be doing so in triage.
I remember trying to concentrate and keep my rhythm through contractions as another woman screamed from behind the curtain in the bed next to mine.
I remember having to tell the nurse behind the curtain THREE times that I did not want my blood drawn, and I remember the anxiety I felt each time I had to say it AND deal with my contractions.
I remember the long walk to my room and the relief and safety of the bathtub, and how I just wanted to retreat into my own private world.
I remember the nurse repeatedly trying to get me to cooperate for more than one cervical check, and I remember the relief I felt when my midwife didn’t insist on it.
I remember feeling that surge of power as my son started to descend into the birth canal and how quickly the peace was shattered. I remember the frantic way I begged and pleaded to stay in the tub in my crouched position. I remember how they ripped the gas mask away. I remember being pulled up to stand, forced to lift my leg up to climb out and walk. I remember the pain of being able to feel his head right against my hip bone and how all I wanted in that moment was to be left alone. I remember being ordered to walk to the bed and I remember wanting to lean over it. I remember being told firmly “no” and forced to climb onto it. I remember being on my hands and knees and being made to turn around, lie down on the bed properly, and I remember that I was pushing while lying on my side but that it wasn’t effective so I was made to lie semi reclined on my back. I remember that the pain in my back was so great that I didn’t even try to move again.
I remember pushing and pushing for over an hour and wondering why he wasn’t out yet. I remember the fear as I kept looking at that clock and thinking “they are going to have to cut me”. I remember the stress of having everyone tell me to push when the position I was in was obviously not conducive to effective pushing.
I remember the exam afterward being worse than the tearing. I remember the fear that I would need stitches and the relief when I found out I would heal without them.
I remember the fear of being threatened with a catheter at 5am when all I wanted to do was sleep a few more hours. I remember the searing pain of having to empty my bladder into the bath water and I remember how that pain stuck with me for a week. I remember hearing other women down the hall and just wanting to block out the sounds.
But I can’t do that if people keep insisting I’m lucky. I’m not lucky. My trauma is just as real and valid as anyone else’s. My scars aren’t physical, but I can still see them every time I look at my son and every time I look at my belly. It took me a year to finally embrace intimacy with my husband, and even still I have to tell myself to relax. If having to force oneself to enjoy sex, which was once so enjoyable, is being “lucky” then hell, I must be lucky. If the thought of having a second child fills me with equal parts fear and determination that the next time will be better, then I guess I’m super fortunate.
If thinking of my son’s birth fills me with regret rather than joy, if all I can seems to remember clearly is the fear and anxiety and the wave of relief when it was over, and if I can’t clearly remember how it felt to hold him in my arms or even the details of those first few hours of his life, then I’m the luckiest woman ever. I got my natural birth but I don’t remember the most important part of it; indeed those moments feel more like a barely remembered dream. So please, tell me again how “lucky” I am!