Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A traumatic birth

 My husband was in jail and I was in no way prepared to give birth without him. So I checked myself out of the situation, mentally. In typical Deena fashion I rebelled -only, I could hurt no one but myself. "If I can't have my husband with me, then I'll have nobody!" was the plan. I drove myself to the hospital with the intentions of walking in pregnant, getting the epidural, and walking out with a baby. I had no expectations or hopes or dreams beyond that. I just wanted to put the whole thing behind me.

...But when the anesthesiologist tried to start the epidural it didn't work. He stuck my back 7+ times. Nothing took. Nothing worked. By the time he was finished I was left with a horrible one-sided numbness that was anything but helpful. I was also hitting transition (the hardest part). That's when they told me they had done all they could and everyone left me. The next contraction hit me so hard I couldn't breathe. A student nurse was in the room and she saw me gasping for air. She paged for help as the contraction came to an end. As soon as I could fill my lungs with air I burst out crying... one of those wailing, screaming, everything coming out cries. This was NOT supposed to be happening. I could not do this. Especially not alone. Childbirth pain is an intense, physical and emotional battle. You don't go into battle unprepared. You need to psych yourself up for it. You need to prepare mentally. I was completely unprepared. It was something I hadn't even allowed my mind to consider would happen. Each contraction tore into my body like an invader, an unwelcome guest, a surprise attack.

But I had no choice. By the time the doctor arrived to catch the baby I was begging them... "Please, please kill me. Give the baby to my mom. She'll raise him". And I meant it. They just smiled sympathetically, unable to help. When I pushed, for some reason, there was a sharp pain in the bladder area. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the lower abdomen. This was on top of regular contraction pain. But, as many mothers learn in labor: you can either lay there and endure it longer or you can cowboy up and push through the pain. It hurts like hell but makes it end faster. And like all the mothers before me, I did what I had to do to get him out and felt the "ring of fire" as a nice finishing touch.

Afterwards, when my husband called, and when others asked how the delivery was I tried to explain how horrible it was; but everyone blew me off with pat comebacks like "well, at least it wasn't that long. You survived". I just couldn't seem to communicate to them that, no, I was not OK. I felt like-and I mean no offense to abuse survivors- I felt like I had been brutally raped. The next day the cafeteria sent me two gourmet meals that they send to new parents. The nurse who brought it in said something like "Oh, you're husband's not here yet". Yeah. My husband's not here yet. I didn't care though. I was ravenous anyway. I ate both meals and went to sleep.

That birth changed me. Something broke inside me: like a child who is abused who grows up to become an abuser. I realized this when I was flipping channels on TV one day and stumbled on a horror movie in which a girl was being tortured. I didn't turn it off. I watched it with morbid glee. I don't think it's something I can undo. I think that innocence is gone.

When I got pregnant with my 3rd I had to face the labor and delivery room again. I had to face my demons. It was good to work through it though. I joined a traumatic birth support group online. It was immensely helpful to have others who understood, who didn't just blow off my experience. I knew I had to try for natural birth and come out victorious. I knew it was the only way to put some closure to the experience. I spent a lot of the pregnancy visualizing how strong I was going to be. The day finally came to give birth and I thank God that I got the healing, natural birth that I needed.

Today I face birth again. Every birth puts my traumatic birth a little further into the past. I pray for another chance to bury that memory under another birth of strength in the face of pain, support from loved ones, and a mother's loving gift of life.


  • At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Awww Sweetie! My Dh missed my first birth {c-section} - I was in NY and he was in NC. My mom was in the OR with me. My son will be 10 in March and it was just a mere few years ago that I truly felt I was able to move on.



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