At the advice of two of my best friends and fellow team members for Improving Birth Abbotsford, I saved up the money I needed to get birth trauma counseling a few weeks ago. I figured that it couldn’t hurt, and I still had a lot of stuff I needed to process and work through, so that it wouldn’t trigger me anymore. Well, it worked!
I had an AMAZING two days working as a vendor at the Baby and Tot Show last weekend. I talked to SO MANY women who have been traumatized by the hospital birth setting out here in the Fraser Valley. I also talked to a few women who had empowering births (not at MY hospital, not surprisingly) and even a woman who insisted on a vaginal birth with TWINS!
And throughout all this awesome networking and information and connecting with all these women, I didn’t get overly upset. Well, I WAS upset in the sense that our maternity care system sucks and that none of these sad stories should have happened AT ALL, but as for emotionally triggered back to my own birth…nothing.
I can tell my birth story and not get anxious halfway through it. I can tell it without crying. I can think back, and it doesn’t automatically raise my blood pressure and heart rate. I texted my doula this week to confirm that she was still available for my birth in April. She is. I also asked her, point blank, if I was right that the only reason I didn’t end up in the OR was because Jules stood up to the hospital staff and told them to give me that extra hour to push. I was right. Their policy is TWO hours, not three. I don’t know what other things she went against protocol for (vaginal exams, maybe?) and it doesn’t matter anymore. I KNOW that my hospital sucks. I know that their “mother and baby friendly” maternity ward is all smoke and mirrors. But that’s fine, because I’m past that. I’m moving on from that experience and I’m going to use my knowledge to inform other moms of their options. I’m going to empower other moms to ask questions and challenge policy, because I’m PROOF that policy is not serving women. Policy doesn’t allow for women to birth their babies in their own time; healthy and without a scratch. I got a skid mark at best, and again, that’s only because I HAD to get him out right then because the extra hour that wasn’t actually allowed was almost up. Jules was under pressure. It wasn’t her call to make anymore. I can accept that now. I know what my body needed. SHE knew what I needed. She did everything in her power to help me do what I needed to do, but in that institutional setting her hands were tied on a lot of things. A less vocal midwife might have given in and let the OBs have their way; but Jules was not afraid to stand up for me. She was my hero that day. And I will be forever grateful.
It’s funny, but for the first time in two years I can look back at everything and I can smile. She DID minimize my trauma. It could have gone so much worse, and I’m glad my son had the sense to wait that extra week and extra day after triggering labor to make sure SHE was the one to catch him. He must have known, on some instinctual level, that I wouldn’t have been safe if it wasn’t Jules on the ward that day.
But now that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the system failed me, I am even stronger in my convictions that things need to change. And also, I’m having my baby at home.
It’s going to be awesome!