Just when I thought 2020 had wreaked enough havoc with a global pandemic, I was caught off guard with a mother-to-be’s worst nightmare.
September 6th – 12th marks Birth Trauma Awareness Week for 2020. I hope that sharing my birth story – and the trauma associated – will help to raise awareness and absolve the stigma around what people with uteruses are expected to endure simply because of our anatomy. Birth trauma is not normal, but due to lack of exposure, society treats this as a closeted issue that women are expected to deal with privately and quietly. This is damaging and I encourage all voices who have been subjected to this trauma be heard, validated, and amplified.
After a grueling battle with infertility and eventually a successful IVF, I became pregnant with my son. Throughout my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum I experienced what could only be described as a heap of traumatic experiences.
So many times we hear that our trauma makes us stronger. My trauma did not make me stronger. My trauma has left me….you guessed it: traumatized. If the weight of infertility, IVF, and a difficult pregnancy wasn’t enough, my traumatic birth experience sure was the cherry on top.
In our society, we tell women and people with uteruses that we are designed for this trauma. We are taught that our traumas are what makes us brave. We are guinea pigs to broken systems, or more specifically, broken healthcare systems.
I did not choose to be brave and endure a traumatic birth where I was convinced my son and I would not survive.
I did not choose to be so severely anemic from badly hemorrhaging during birth that I struggle to leave my home because walking is too strenuous.
I did not choose to deliver my child transversely after begging for a c-section following 3 days of labor and nearly 7 hours of pushing because I knew something was wrong.
I am not “brave” because my epidural was administered incorrectly and I was told I was lying about the level of pain I was in. I was later denied full agency over my medical care due to my being “hysterical”.
I did not deserve it when the doctor told me “the pain will be over when you decide it will be” as if I opted in and orchestrated the chaos.
What I senselessly endured is not my bravery or my true badge of “womanhood”. Take this trauma for what it is — a form of torture forced upon me, and many others who have experienced similar trauma, by negligent healthcare personnel who showed zero regard and human compassion as I begged and fought for mine and my son’s life. This did NOT leave me stronger. This left me scarred for likely a long time, unable to bear life again. No level of patient advocacy could’ve prevented such a preventable event. That is the problem.
Let’s start talking about how we don’t accept the traumas we are dealt and start working towards fixing these broken systems as opposed to justifying them as a testament to the human condition.
I am healing. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. ‘Slowly, but surely’, as they say. I hope to see that one day, in arguably the most developed country in the world, that these futile healthcare mishaps are eradicated from our systems. The more we speak, and the louder we speak, the sooner the progress we are seeking will prevail.