OK, I know its been too long since I last wrote.Â I’m slacking.Â I’m sorry!
I’m currently reading A Wise Birth as part of AAMI’s Childbirth Reading Room. I’m enjoying it.Â Its definitely aimed at parents rather than professionals, but I like switching up and reading about birth politicsÂ
There is a bit of a recurring theme in the book that touches on the way that women view themselves and their care providers after a traumatic birth. I hadn’t thought too much about it before, but it really described my grieving process very well. I still feel a lot of shame and embarrassment when I think about my first birth. Intellectually, I know its so silly to feel that way, because what happened to me was a perfect example of the cascade of interventions. It is really hard for me to get past the feelings that I had during the birth. I felt like a trapped animal. There was so much fear and horror. The end result was obviously wonderful, because my beautiful son was born, but the process to get there was so traumatic.
In talking about this subject, Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman say that “most women do not criticize their birthcare directly.” I find this to be incredibly true in my case. I always compliment my OB, and yet she made all sorts of poor decisions – the steroid shots, bedrest, and terbutaline when I wasn’t in preterm labor… the cervidil to induce when I was already 4cm… the forced-lying position… the 4th degree episiotomy… the forced pushing when I didn’t feel the urge… The list goes on. Still, I compliment her when I describe my birth. I blame myself. Interesting.
They speak of a woman with a birth experience very similar to mine. They say
[We] send women like Leslie home to work out how it came to be. What is wrong with her that her body had to be cut, she must wonder… Leslie stands alone over the baby’s crib and faults herself for her baby’s birth stress.
She does not accuse us – those of us who failed… her… She absorbs the neglect, the non-answers, the damage, and the responsibility. She criticizes herself. She suspects that her child has been hurt and she grieves. She lives with the memory of the experience and the judgment she makes of herself as a mother for the rest of her life.
This is really interesting to me, because I really do fear that my son was hurt during my labor. That Cervidil (that I never needed), that was put in to augment my “post-dates” that came after months of drugging and bedrest to stop my body’s way of preparing for labor, also caused me to go into one huge contraction. The nurses didn’t notice, so my husband had to run out screaming to tell them. When they came in, my son’s heartrate had plummeted to the 30s. His brain was oxygen-starved. He passed meconium from the stress. He aspirated that meconium, which caused more problems. I feel so guilty about it though. I’ve never thought about it, but why do I blame myself and judge myself so harshly?
There is a note going around right now on Facebook where you write about your first born. I thought about doing it, and then realized that I’d either have to write about my first birth experience (my hospital birth of my late miscarriage) or else my son’s birth (the one I’m talking about here.) When I considered it, I decided that I’d rather not do the note at all. That’s so sad. I just feel such shame.
The good news, though, is that my last two births have been so healing. My oldest daughter’s birth healed me enough to believe that my body could pretty much work. My youngest daughter’s birth taught me that my body does work! My old posts on My Body is Not a Lemon and Check with Your Doctor reflect that journey.
I’m off to read some more. Its been nice to realize that I’m not alone in blaming myself, and also nice to know that its OK to let go of that guilt. Who would’ve thought that this little book would be like free therapy for me? LOL.