Week 36: A flashback

People talk about how the birthday of a child born violently can be triggering and traumatic – but I have not had this happen with my toddler’s birthdays. It seems to me that his birthday is his day, and my trauma is elsewhere.

Well, I seem to have found the day where it resides. Today – week 35, day 5. That is the exact gestation when I went into labor with him and now this pregnancy has reached that same day, and I can’t stop thinking about his birth.

I feel out of control, depressed, on the verge of tears. I keep having flashbacks to my labor, to that spiraling, out of control, terrifying feeling of having black vultures flapping their wings all around my head and razoring me with their beaks.

And when the vultures were gone, my broken, bleeding body all alone, my baby elsewhere, isolated, fed by an anonymous nurse from a bottle. Like Chinese water torture, they would bring him to me and I would hold him, not knowing if I would have an hour, or two, sometimes three, before they would come and take him again. Not knowing if he would be gone for one, two, or five hours.

I don’t know if it would be better or worse if there had been any actual medical problem with him or with me. Would I feel better, knowing that he needed life-saving procedures? Would I feel better, knowing that the hospital was the only way one or both of us would come out alive?

I don’t know – maybe I would feel worse. All I know is how I feel, which is that I was beaten and lacerated and violated, and my baby taken from me, as a part of standard hospital practice when NOTHING at all was wrong with either one of us. That, for me, is the most frightening part.

I can only hope and pray it will be different this time, but again I am terrified to have people around me.

I just don’t want anyone around me.

I had done so much work, good work, to overcome the fear and build trust. But now I am so flooded I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want any person to be near me when I am in labor.


About investigatingbirth

My investigations of birth began in 2009 when I was trained as a doula. I helped women consider the evidence on common interventions, and helped them prepare for the physical and emotional challenge of giving birth. After some time it became clear to me that there was another type of challenge that I was unable to adequately prepare them for, the challenge of the maternity system. But it was only after my own traumatic birth in 2013 that I realized how little I had understood. I began to ask questions that few around me - doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors - were comfortable hearing. Questions like: Under what circumstances, and for what reasons, do doctors not practice informed consent? How do hospitals deal with other patient populations vulnerable to abuse? How does loss of professional autonomy, for obstetricians, and professional authority, for midwives, impact the quality of care they are capable of providing - regardless of their training? This blog will collect noteworthy information that attempts to answer these and other questions. Most of what you see here will be aggregated from other sources and analyzed. You will also see original interviews, and the occasional opinion piece or personal story, as I try to piece together a clear picture of the system in which American women give birth.
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