Originally posted June 16, 2014.
How many times must we ask for sensitive care?
Please welcome this wise woman to BirthTouch today. Please enfold her with your love and caring.
During childbirth, this woman was forced to have an episiotomy, a surgical incision, without even local anesthesia for which she did not give consent. And, the doctor used an intervention to rush the birth of her child rushed for no medical reason, for which she also did not give consent.
There was no indication of medical necessity, as neither the baby nor the mom had signs of distress. The emotional aftermath of this brutal and uncaring treatment at a hospital birth left the mother feeling brutalized, angry and changed her and her family forever.
She wishes to remain anonymous.
Q: When did your experience with birth trauma take place? Where did it take place? If you are comfortable sharing some specifics, please share the ones you had/have the most emotional distress about.
I delivered in a hospital, in Italy, where I received an episiotomy I had refused consent to and the doctor cut me with not even a local anesthesia. The baby was then taken out with a vacuum. He was not in any danger, his clavicle got broken in the process, and only because the doctor would not give us time to birth. The CTG was absolutely normal. The doctor went out of the room after suturing me saying that she was late for another patient’s induction. So that was why. My husband had promised me, during pregnancy, sworn more and more times, that he would not let them do to me exactly what happened. I feared only that, during pregnancy that they cut me at delivery. He did not do anything. So this was another part of the problem, for me, and for us, his lack of action and of protection.
Q: How did you go about trying to heal/make sense of the event in the first three months after the event?
It was an awful time. I breastfed but I was in constant pain from the episiotomy, and that was a constant reminder of the violence I had received. I spent most time crying, shouting against my husband, whom I hold responsible of not saving me, hating him, asking myself why, why he did not save me, why the doctor did not let me, why the baby had to be so long in being born, if it was real or a nightmare.
I could not sleep, I was ashamed of going out, of been seen by people I knew, and also by strangers, because I felt mutilated, ruined and having a baby it was “normal”, because most women get mutilated at delivery. I felt I had not been able to defend myself and this was shaming for me.
I actually banged my head in the walls, bit my arms, scratched my legs, reliving my horrors and screaming in recall. After these episodes I felt spent, void. I did not even want to get up from the floor.
I started seeing a therapist. I was in constant flood of insults and rage against my husband and then attacking him some more if he got upset and tried to go out or put some distance. I was upset if he dared contradict me. He doesn’t dare anymore, I must say.
The relationship between us has changed much. He helped me a lot in those first 20 months, until the second was born. He gained my trust back, and that was really hard, I must admit he was great about this. But I lost respect for him and I don’t feel this can change.
Q: How did you go about trying to heal/make sense of the event in the first year after the event?
I decided I would become a midwife, that I would have my delivery having a second baby. I also wanted to have my body put “normal” again but they tell me it’s not possible to repair the damage in a way which makes sense for me. And I filed a lawsuit against the doctor, which resulted in nothing, so I filed a recourse on a higher court. The episodes of the first three months went on, a lot, for the first year. The situation improved only when I got pregnant of my second just before the first birthday of my first born, a date which I was dreading.
Q: When did you feel that you were actually able to put the event in context and integrate it into your experiences and sense of self?
Getting pregnant with my second definitely made a difference on how I felt. I felt I could finally get what had been taken from me, to have my delivery. I started hoping again, in between despair.
Q: How long have you been trying to work through your particular trauma?
One and a half year of psychotherapy, but I guess that changing my career is a sign that I will be working on this all my life.
Q: What other types of therapeutic work were you doing to help process the trauma? (ie EMDR, EFT, essential oils/herbalism/ massage /Reiki/ expressive art, yoga, meditation, spirituality, prayer, journaling, blogging, talk therapy, cbt, group support etc)
Let’s say I talked a lot with “friends” on online forums
Q: What type of healing work did you feel helped you the most?
Deciding for myself and managing to defend myself the second time. The healing birth of my second saved me. Breastfeeding my first and refusing to take meds was another very important thing for me.
If I had been forced in taking meds I would have felt more and more violated and stopping breastfeeding to take them would have resulted in a big loss of bonding with my baby.
Q: Would you recommend healing options to another person trying to recover from trauma?
Not really. It worked for me because I was not really “relying on others or on an external solution” for my problems. What I did was taking my life in my hands again. It was hard, anyway. I can’t say I am the same person as before.
I am very different, maybe stronger, I feel a worse person anyway. I know that I suffered PTSD and I don’t know, yet, if I will ever consider myself really completely “healed”. I don’t have any “symptom” anymore, so I am healed, yes, but I still can notice that, even if my feelings are under control, always, I do get upset easily. Then I get easily not upset again, but all the same, I can understand that the PTSD is where this comes from.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience?
The trauma at birth completely changed my life. It has ruined my marriage, changed my view of myself, changed my view of others and made me a different person from what I was. And all of this because a doctor decided to cut me open without my consent and for no necessity. All of this suffering could have been easily avoided in the first place.
Wishing you peace and healing in your life and and much success in your work as you spread your shining light into the world and help women birth in peace.