Tonight I made dinner for a family friend who recently had her 3rd child, she had a terrifying experience, her son had a heart issue and she hemorrhaged quite a bit. Hearing her share her story, and sharing a lot of my experience brought me to a horrible place.
I wish I could talk about childbirth like it’s the best thing in the world, but my delivery was scarring to the point where I can’t go into details about it or I choke up and get emotional like it was yesterday. My son is now 15 months, but I still hurt thinking about all I went through getting him here. It’s been eating away at me, sinking me into a deeper depression, especially as my husband and I tried to conceive for 6 months in 2017, and when I finally became pregnant, I lost the pregnancy at 4 weeks, then conceived a week and a half after miscarrying, and lost that baby too at just under 5 weeks. I know looking back it wasn’t the best time to bring another baby into our lives, going through so many difficult martial problems, and just recovering from surgery two months before falling pregnant in October. My son had just turned 1, and I was fighting constantly with my husband, he had broken my trust and I was picking up the pieces, feeling like my world had crumbled before my eyes, it was too much, and I self harmed again after the second miscarriage in November. I’ve been free of self harm for 2 years, and I fell back into it.
I cut my ankle as deeply as I could with our car keys, multiple times, until I felt better. Bryce had left them with me in the car while he took Aiden in to the chiropractor. We had just lost the second pregnancy of last year, and I was still trying to cope with the garbage he put me through. I don’t let myself feel the weight of any of these situations because it’s too painful and I’m so afraid of giving up control, to be open and vulnerable. I’m terrified of failing as a mother, I don’t want to cry or show any weakness, because I don’t want Aiden seeing his mommy sink farther and farther into a dark void. I don’t know how to cope well except ignore until it breaks me finally and I talk about it in EMDR counseling. I’ve felt myself slip back into anorexia and tearing the skin off my fingers to stop myself from crying, which leaves them sore and red for almost a week each time I do it.
It’s been 15 months since my traumatic childbirth experience and I have not made peace with it. I have to think about the disgusting OB who was on call when I was in labor. I think about the pain of pushing for almost 3 hours in one of the worst positions to push in, while my mom and husband forced my knees to my chest while I screamed and tried desperately to push my son out. I have to remember how the doctor barely looked me in the eyes, how he barked at me to push when I was already exhausted and my abdominal wall had torn. I remember the anger when the OB used the plastic hook to “break my water” which was already broken, then the nurses asking me over and over when I had surgery in my cervix or uterus, confused because I never had vaginal surgery, the nurse worryingly asking my grandma and mom if I had trauma to the area, then the horror of realizing what the scar tissue was from. I had been sexually abused as a child, and covering the top of my cervix was that scar tissue that wouldn’t allow me to dilate though I’d been on Pitocin for 8 hours. Once it was broken with the hook, no water came out, but my body started dilating quickly.
I remember my world feeling so shaky and unstable. Not only had my abuser stolen my innocence, trust, and my body from me, he shook my belief in God telling me all women are temptresses, even as children, and justifying his actions by saying “We all burn in Hell, no matter what you do in this life, we are damned as descendants of Adam and Eve.” I remember the fear as those words came out, as his expression changed, as I was sitting on my abuser’s lap as he read the bible to me on his bed at his mother’s house where he was visiting from out of state. He’s a blood relative, he violated me while I stayed with him and his mother, who I loved and trusted up until that point. I remember the look on his face, the emptiness, looking through me, then the animalistic, brutal hatred as he took every ounce of innocence I had left. A 30 year old man, to a 7 year old girl, keeping silent both in the moment, and for almost a decade. All this, flashed through my mind in disorienting fragments as I pushed my perfect son out, all I could think of was being abused.
The OB yelling at me to push him out reminded me of a previous abuser who had yelled at me to “SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP YOU LITTLE SHIT!” while abusing me at 4 years old, in his apartment. He was my best friend’s father and he was a single dad. My friend was a boy about 1.5 years older than I was, and he stood in the hallway, watching his father hurt me, and just walked away. The OB brought me right back to that dirty apartment room plastered in pornography with a glowing computer screen playing porn as he covered my mouth and made me feel unsafe for the first time in my life.
After 2 and a half hours I was so exhausted, emotionally, physically, my body was almost limp. I begged for a cesarean, I could feel everything since the epidural had worn off 2 hours ago at that point. I had a catheter in while pushing, I couldn’t drink any water, and I was laying on my back crying. I could only think about the abuse and become absorbed in the flashbacks, reliving every detail of the trauma, until I relived passing out from pain and shock during my second abuse.
At this point I said to the OB “I can’t do it, I can’t push anymore, I’m so tired, please, help me, I can’t do this.” He told me in a low, cold voice, “If you don’t push him out then your baby dies. It’s too late for a cesarean and I’m not helping you.” He let go of my legs and stared at me, I didn’t know whether he was serious or not, but I couldn’t lose my baby.
The most primal, desperate instincts in me took over in full force, I screamed and pushed with everything I could, and his sweet, bruised, and slightly cut head came out. I was relieved I was free, but the doctor started yelling for me to keep pushing, he needed his chest out, so with one final push, I brought my first child into this world, but he was limp and gray, no cry, no color to his body. I panicked but was too tired to speak. Bryce cut the cord, the OB placed Aiden in the hands of the neonatal nurse in our room, then came back and pulled my umbilical cord to force me to deliver the placenta, until the placenta ripped inside me.
All of this without painkillers, I could feel my hips and legs, I could move them, I was so scared and so broken down. The doctor shoved his hand into my overly sensitive, sore, stretched out privates and pulled out the rest of the placenta in peices, then when I hemorrhaged, he forced his hand back in to stop the bleeding. I almost passed out like with the abuse, but was too worried about Aiden. I laid there in shock while his arm was halfway inside me, silently screaming. I felt paralyzed.
I remembered the suicide attempts I made over the course of 5 years, needing stitches (but not getting them) on my thigh, for a deep gash, I have a thick scar that took months to heal and years to no longer be dark red. I felt completely worthless.
A family member who I’m still close to had once told me at age 11, that a woman’s purity was ruined when she lost her virginity. That sank into my soul and made me feel dirty, violated, confused and burn with a deep rage that my purity was gone and I didn’t chose that. I made a lot of mistakes between 11 and 16, I did some awful things I wish I could take back, I hurt my family so badly with my hurtful words and lashing out physically. I didn’t value myself. I can’t explain how much I wish Bryce had been my first, the shame is still haunting me. I went after older men before Bryce. Not horribly older, but not teen boys close to my age. I felt older emotionally, I wanted someone I felt was on my level that way. I felt distrusting of men but impulsive to win their affection. I was 14, 15 and 16 trying to get the attention of 18, 19 and 20 year olds. I could’ve been abused further, I could’ve done so much harm to myself in those choices and I’m grateful nothing ever came of those attempts. I gave my body away as a young teen to a teen boy who was much smaller physically than me, to feel powerful, like he couldn’t hurt me. I was cold about sex, about life, I had no self worth.
Once Aiden was out, the OB began stitching me, for almost 20 minutes, internally. I begged for drugs, I screamed and cried, my baby was crying and being measured, he was okay, so I let loose all the frustration, agony, and fear I’d felt those hours. I screamed like a wild animal, I cried with all my might, I clawed at the sheets on the hospital bed and stared at the ceiling, praying it would end soon. I mourned my innocence being lost over again, I mourned the fear of thinking my child was stillborn, I mourned the pain of being stitched and hemorrhaging without any relief. and I let out all I could. I refused having my son on my chest as I was being stitched, I was so scared of hating him or associating him with the pain. I know that’s horrible, no good mom would think that of her precious newborn, but I did. I was not a woman in that moment, I was a terrified little girl who didn’t want to blame a helpless, perfect baby. A girl who didn’t feel like a mom because she was stuck replaying her Hell full of trauma for three hours. Tonight, I had to grieve.
Tonight was the night I knew I couldn’t run anymore from not only the birthing trauma, but all that led to it being more scarring. The damage done psychologically and the sheer terror. I have been pushing this away, swallowing this down for over a year. The men who abused me are still out living their lives, not in prison, not feeling guilty. One is even married now, the other I have no idea where he is but due to MY SILENCE, these men are not in jail. They don’t have flashbacks whenever their mind has a free moment of peace. The fear of sex, but the desire to be loved healthily and passionately. The overthinking going out to the store, or walking to the park because I’m scared I’ll be caught off guard. The discomfort at attending anything religious or church related. The distrust towards authority and male figures, the fear of ever opening up to someone.
I can’t say these things out loud easily, writing is so much better. When I try to talk about everything in detail like this, I feel as helpless and trapped as I did at 4, 7 and 9 years old. I feel the tightness in my throat as I remember each time I almost told someone as a child, the pressure on my face as if the hand that covered my mouth at 4 is still silencing me, the throbbing from one side of my head to the other as if my friend’s father is still yanking my ponytail to the side to shut me up. My stomach is queasy and my hips ache like when I was abused by my family member, and my body wants to just sleep off the trauma that still shakes me to my core. I’m jittery, I’m anxious, I’m depressed, and I want affection but hate being touched when I’m this raw. These are issues I’m working through, and have been working through for three years. Sometimes I feel fine talking about the abuse, other times I can’t. I hate this, I want to be excited when I have our next child, I can’t handle this pain again. I need to relax, take birthing classes, find a wonderful midwife and doula. I need to trust my body and my intuition. I hate what I went through but I know it made me a much stronger woman. I never knew I could give birth naturally, I never knew I could push out an 8 pound 3 ounce precious gift from heaven without a doctors interference (hands, vaccum, etc.). These horrid experiences broke me, and built me up to be a better person, a more thoughtful mom, who never wants her children to hurt. A mom who would do anything, including die, for her children. I would do anything for Aiden and any future children we have, I have been beaten but I am so much more knowledgeable because of it. I don’t feel grateful the abuse and trauma from childhood and childbirth happened, I feel proud that I looked that trauma in the face and pushed through it, and that I even ended up breastfeeding well over a year, and still do nurse my toddler. I’m grateful to God, and to my body, and mind for not giving up on me, I’m grateful I was not permanently damaged from these experiences.
I needed to write this down, I’m sorry if my story is triggering or overwhelming for anyone who decides to read this. Thanks for letting me vent, I know this is supposed to be a happy parenting and recipe blog but sometimes I can’t be all smiles, and writing is therapeutic for me.