I have a friend whose birth story goes something like this: “I felt one contraction and decided my planned natural birth was not for me. I had my epidural almost right away, took a long, approximately 10 hour, nap, was woken up to push 30 minutes, and out popped my beautiful, 6 pound baby girl.” If all it took for you with a long nap and a good, painless poop, more power to ya! Most moms have a story much different than this. A story filled with hours of pain, unexpected interventions, and heart cringing regrets. I’m still waiting to meet the mom who says everything went according to plan and she absolutely loved her birth experience. I know they’re out there, but I have yet to come in contact with one. Birth IS traumatic for the vast majority of moms out there.
For several days after giving birth to my son, I would nightly wake up in cold sweats, out of breath and hearing my screams all over again (you know those sounds you didn’t even think you were capable of making until a baby was trying to come out of your body? Anybody?). I chalked it up to hormones and lack of sleep, barely letting anyone into my world of darkness. I was ashamed of feeling this out of sorts regarding my birth. I’d heard so many stories that were so much more life-threatening or scary than mine was. I kept thinking to myself, “almost every other woman goes through this, and many women multiple times. Why can’t I just move on?”
I was finally liberated about four weeks after my son was born. I opened up to my husband about my feelings, explaining to him that I thought I might be traumatized over my birth and was experiencing something similar to PTSD symptoms. His response was completely freeing. “Uh Yeah!”, he said, “of course you’re traumatized. I’m completely traumatized and I’m not even the one that it happened to.” These words came with so much earnest and understanding….. my heart took a breath.
From there we talked through the whole experience- everything that went right, everything that went wrong, the moments I felt violated, and the moments I still felt plenty of regret over.
After that night, I experienced a sort of healing. I was able to let it go and “give it to God” as they say. I moved on to caring for my son in the new chapter of our life. All it took was realizing that my experience, my feelings and my pain we’re completely valid.
So mama, or Dada, your experience, your feelings and your pain are valid as well. Birth IS traumatic for the vast majority of women… and their partners…, but there is healing and there is hope. Talk it out, let it go (no Frozen puns intended) and give it to God. You’ll feel better, I promise!