Okay, I get it. My trauma is not as bad as what some people have faced. But that shouldn’t matter. That isn’t the point at all!

 

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 fear and the anxiety due to that fear. I remember my contractions stalling and wondering why. I now think it was because I was in such a state of stress and anxiety that my labor stalled as part of my fight or flight response. I’m also convinced that’s where my strength came from to push him out when I was sure I couldn’t.
 
I remember being threatened with an episiotomy and thinking that it would just be easier if I gave up before she made that threat. I remember the fear of being cut as something so terrible that I didn’t care anymore if I tore.

 

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.

 
I remember how I struggled for 3 days to write out my birth story and not knowing why. I remember feeling a deep sense of regret when I was told I could have had a home birth after all. I remember being asked if I was okay with having a hospital birth and trying to rationalize and justify it as being necessary. I remember feeling that I wasn’t really telling the truth but thinking that I needed to be okay with it because everyone was expecting that of me.
 
I remember the irrational anger I felt whenever anyone told me that it was better that I hadn’t gone through with the home birth because “what if something had gone wrong”. I remember the crushing heartache I felt whenever my husband even suggested that we might not have another child. I remember the way I would play out different scenarios in my head on how to do better next time. Everything from insisting on a water birth where I was undisturbed except for my doula’s encouragement  to birthing completely alone. I did not often factor my husband into these scenarios either, nor did I consider the implications of having a second child beyond the birth.
It’s been over a year and I still catch myself doing this sometimes. I have to remind myself that we aren’t ready to have another baby and that the best thing would be to wait until our son is older. I need to actually visualize what it would mean to care for our son the way he is now AND be pregnant at the same time. I force myself to think of how drained I would be and how stressful another child would be on our resources. I remind myself that no matter how much I want to heal emotionally, it will not happen just because I get pregnant again. In fact, it might make things worse since I will be overly anxious and mistrusting. Basically, I have to remind myself that healing takes time and that I need to be in a better place mentally than I am right now before I even think about having another child.

 

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!

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