Childbirth after childhood sexual abuse: Making a plan.

After being diagnosed with PTSD and the dissociative affects it can have, I can recall many episodes when I was a young child. The most profound PTSD moment that I can remember was preterm labor and labor itself.

When I went into preterm labor I was taken to the hospital. Too much happened too fast. I was immediately given an injection of a medication without its affects explained to me. Too many nurses doing too many different things to me put me in the most panicked state I have ever recalled. My husband had to do paperwork, they said, and I was there alone. I was not in fear for my child. I was in fear for myself. I was terrified. I don’t use that word lightly. The Doctor told me he had to check if my cervix was dilated before I even had a moments notice his hand was in my body. I shut down. I don’t remember anything after that. It is as if I was knocked out completely. The next thing I remember I was in a room and they told me I would be in the hospital until my labor was completely stopped. I remember the medication they were giving me, tributaline. I remember them giving me a sleeping pill and I fake took it. When the nurse turned her back I emptied the entire contents of the pill out under the bed in time for her to see me take an empty capsule. There was no way I was going to sleep. I needed to know what what happening from that point on. I think that was the starting point of my inability to sleep, especially my inability to sleep away from the safety of my own bed.

Knowing now, what I know now about PTSD and trauma, I would have done things differently. I would have said, ” STOP!” I would have said “SLOW DOWN” I would have said “WAIT.” But I was paralyzed with fear. Even with my words they would have told me it was imperative to stop the labor. I know this. But 10 seconds would have not been too much to ask for. I needed 10 seconds. I would also never have allowed my husband to leave my side. I needed to not be there alone. I needed a safety figure, a presence, with me. Just having him there would have helped me immensely.

We cannot control preterm labor but we can still have a voice for our body and our wishes and we deserve respect.

After this I was determined to have my baby as planned with a midwife as a home style birth. The birth plan was gone over and over and over with the midwife. She knew my wishes. She knew my fears. She was very calming and nurturing. When I finally went into labor my midwife was with me, my water had broken, and she stayed by my side for 30 hours. My husband was there too. She rubbed my back, played soothing sounds, made me red raspberry leaf tea. It was going as planned, until it wasn’t. My water had been broken too long for them to allow me to have a birth outside of the hospital. My cervix was not dilating. I had to go to the hospital. The midwife said she would not leave my side and she did not during the birth. Her presence kept me very grounded. My husband also kept me very grounded. But this was not what I wanted. I had not planned for this. If you have been through sexual trauma you have to make plan A, B, C and D. I only had plan A. I had no, what if I go to the hospital. What if I need a C-section. What if it cannot be a controlled, dark room, soothing music, birthing center! It was not

Bright lights were shining on me. I had one leg being held by the midwife, one leg by someone else, my husband was with me, and that same doctor that checked me when I was in preterm labor came in. I did NOT want him there. He immediately told me that if I did not have this baby now I would have a c-section. Then the nurses funneled in. My mother in law was one of them. It was her job to be there. She was working neonatal that night. But it was not my plan to have her there. I didn’t want ANYONE THERE.  I wanted my husband and the midwife like I had planned. My mother in law brought her nurse friends in and they all lined up staring at my vagina and waiting. I remember seeing my daughters face for the first time. I remember her coming out of my body and being layed on my chest. Then she was taken, my husband went with her like I asked him to. I was all alone with the doctor. Other people were in the room but it was just him and me. I remember asking in a far away voice what he was doing. He said sewing me up. And I had my second most profound PTSD moment. One that makes me so sad. One that tears me up inside. I threw up. It was joked about that I threw up a lung because they have no idea what I threw up. It was like a softball. I then got a fever which happens. My mother in law chose not to write that part down on the chart because she didnt want my baby to have to get antibiotics. My baby was handed to me. And I just lay there. I wasn’t there at all. I was finally holding my baby but I wasn’t there. I was screaming inside my head for someone to save me from all of this but the words never came out. Soon after my husband was sleeping. He had been up for days just like I had. But I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep for a long time after that and I had been up for 36 hours. I couldn’t. I wasn’t in my own body. I couldn’t connect to myself or my baby. I was again terrified. I looked at my husband and thought, ” How is he sleeping. I have this baby and I don’t know what to do.” I was so scared. I have never ever felt more alone than I did at that moment.

Sexual assault victims need special birth plans. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve to feel taken care of. All the Doctor could have done was explain to me what he was doing. IF someone would have stayed with me and held my hand. If anyone would  have asked if I was ok. If anyone would have really been present for me at that moment they would have seen I was far from ok. I felt like my tongue had been cut out of my mouth and I would not speak again for years. I was traumatized all over again.

Plan B would have been: If you go to the hospital what would make you feel the most safe. If you go to the hospital do you have someone you want to stay with you at all times. IF you go to the hospital can the doctor explain what he/she is doing as they are doing it so you know what to expect, no surprises. If you go to the hospital, who will take care of you.

There is a way to have a successful and non-traumatizing birth. I just had not planned for it in my own mind or physically. My needs were not met and I had a full blown PTSD dissociative episode that lasted for a long time. I remember it now like it was yesterday. This is a trauma that I will work on healing. I plan to do this with my therapist in steps by reliving that experience with exactly what I needed right there the entire time. Rewriting my memory with the wounded parts soothed.

Having a child made me feel very vulnerable and very helpless. It took me many months to become strong and have a voice when it came to her. Once my voice came in regards to her best interest, nothing could silence it. Because of that voice it was discovered that she was born with a birth defect and at 4 months old she had a partial nephrectomy (kidney removal basically). I never had a PTSD moment with her again. With her I became a strong mother bear. I have fought for her and stood by her and held her hand every step of the way since.

If you have been through rape or childhood abuse, please set up a plan with your doctor. Then come up with a back up plan. I don’t want anyone else to experience a traumatic birth experience. It is supposed to be beautiful! Becoming a mother was not as I had anticipated. Being a mother  now is everything I hoped for and more.

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “Childbirth after childhood sexual abuse: Making a plan.

  1. Bethanyk you have so much courage for sharing. I want to commend you for being a voice for many. You are absolutely right, that we always can have a voice for our bodies no matter what the circumstances are. Thank you for sending such an empowering message.

    Like

    • Hi I am so sorry that I didn’t see your message. It went to my spam folder for some reason. I had 2 in there.
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I really appreciate you reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry this happened to you. It is good for you to share you insight for other women.

    I had this happen to me in a hospital too when I was in emerg for my heart. When my family left at 3am, I realized how vulnerable I was. There were lots of male nurses. I figured I could be raped. The next thing I knew I heard a little girl sobbing. Then I realized it was me. They doped me up so i could sleep and kept dosing me with drugs all the next day so I could go thru some heart tests. I was okay and went home after the tests.

    I had no idea that would happen to me. It came as a great shock.

    Like

  3. I am sorry that one of the most special events in your life caused you such grief, upset, and pain. I know in the hospital I worked in we have to verbalize anything we are doing even if the patient is unconscious. That is so the patient is always informed on what is happening t them. Even if they can’t understand you have to explain it. I wish the hospital you gave birth in had that policy. The anguish you felt, that feeling of being alone and not in control of what is happening to you is devastating as you know. You described everything you felt and experienced so well no one could read that and not be moved. I am so glad you found your voice and your daughter has such strong supportive parents. Thank you for sharing such a hard time in your life. Many hugs for you.

    Like

    • I was hoping that by writing about my experience it would help other parents make sure they have some plans set because I would never want anyone to experience what I did. I don’t think that people realize when and where PTSD can hit you and affect you. I just want to bring awareness and by your reply it seems I wrote it in an understandable way so that hopefully others will have birth plans.
      The hospital I gave birth in was the same one i was born in. I had hoped since my midwife was with me that things would turn out better than they did. I wish she had been born in the hospital you worked in! Any little bit would have helped.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bethany you did write it clearly and full of emotion. A person would have to have no feelings at all not to be horrified for what you went through. You do help. That is something that is so amazing about you that you do help by sharing these things that hurt you so much. I don’t know how you do it. I can’t share what I went through without terrible flashbacks, emotional turmoil, and pain. You care so much you openly share the most painful experiences you went through. That is a lot of love for other people. You said you wanted to do something you felt was important in your life to help others, well you do. Every Time someone in need reads your blog and gets the help they need from your posts you are a hero. Again the pain you relive to share these tips has stopped me , yet you do it. You reach out to people like me. I just wanted to tell you how special I think you are. Hugs

        Like

  4. A painful story to read, but empowering to find you turn into mother bear. Honest and raw, as always….which is why I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. No pressure to participate, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate what you share with me and the world. xo.

    Like

      • I had no idea about this award stuff, either. But, I do love the woman who nominated me, so I watched a youtube video on how to attach blog links to my posts. Turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks…

        Like

      • Ok I need to watch some videos then because I don’t know how to leave links either. I did see her link though and I followed her after I read your post so I’m glad you left her link

        Like

      • Ok well I followed someone else. Someone named winged something or other. Helping abuse victims fly or something. Ughhh i need to go back and read the link and see who i followed and make sure i follow rhapsodyboheme because i love connecting with spiritual people

        Like

      • Haha…well, that’s because both of them nominated me for two different blog things, so I combined them into one post. I guess it’s confusing. Littlebird is pretty cool, too. She’s a pastor and sexual assault survivor and is starting a non profit for sexual assault victims. Worthy of following

        Like

      • I see it all now. I didn’t even see or get a notification that you nominated me. How cool. Long lost twin that you are! Super cool.
        Hey I had my first coffee experience at Barnies when I had a “situation” that i was told coffee would help. So i drove 5 min to barnies and i said “um i just want a cup of coffee” and he points to a chalk board at some Mediterranean /Moroccan blend. I said ” I just want, you know. Regular coffee” he said that was just coffee. I was thinking like Sanka or something our parents drank. Anyway…I got it and it tasted like piss!!!!! No lie!!! But I drank it for it’s medicinal purposes 🙂
        Im going to find rhapsody because i do want to follow her!

        Like

      • OMG that coffee piss story!! Haha!

        There is no notification. It’s just a regular post of mine and it’s up to me to notify you. I just took a while to let people know, is all….because that’s how I roll:)

        Like

      • LOL how you roll. I get it! I totally get it! So yeah…no need for you to go out and drink a cup of coffee. You can skip that! I forgot you were 45 too cause we are twins duh

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been trying to comment on your blog but you know i have issues!!! Sometimes it just doesnt work……Im glad you posted on mine so I could send you a message. I am so s o sorry for your loss. I read about your stepfather and just cried reading that love you gave and your friend’s story, and your story, and how there is a “price to pay” for telling our story with some of our family. I can relate to your life and to every one of your blog posts. I am just so sorry for your loss. You are such a phenomenal person for giving such love and for being there for so many.

      Like

      • Isn’t it funny how the person I connect to the most on here has the most issues communicating with me???

        Thank you. It’s been an emotional few months around here. Thank God I have therapy this week:)

        Like

      • YES!!! I truly connect with every single thing you write. I write this long comment and it says error and I want to throw my ipad across the room!!!!just know I read everything you write.
        I bet it has been very emotional!
        Just picturing you with that brush in your hand. It is such an intimate and precious thing to do for someone else. Very teared up on that one!
        But myheart feels for you. I’m glad you have therapy. I have it tomorrow. Yay for therapy!

        Like

      • I love my therapist. She just meets me wherever I am and guides me, supports me, and helps me to cope with the bullshit that is placed in front of me or the bullshit that was behind me that rears it’s ugly head.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mine was $100/visit and I went 2 times a week all last year. Finally, I got a new job with insurance she accepted, but by then I only needed to go once or twice a month. Figures. She bought a new Mercedes at the end of our summer together…

        Like

      • NICE. Mercedes. Wow. I have been going once a week for 4 or so months now. It is well worth it. $88 is just my part after insurance. Shows how companies don’t give a flying flip about mental health or they wouldn’t make us pay so much monthly for insurance to still have to pay $88. It’s crap.

        Like

      • Oh jeez…mine’s only ten bucks with insurance. BUT, my last insurance would have been 50, if she accepted it.

        and don’t get me started on our nation’s healthcare….

        Like

      • When I went to a psychiatrist because I wanted help with medications for my seizures (she was super smart and psychiatrists specialize in meds and brain) I paid $300 to see her. Our country doesn’t want me to get well!!!!

        Like

      • Oh yeah. It’s like when my brother was a complete dick and I thought, I could use this information to help educate other people on manipulators. So thanks for being an asshole because you gave me great material to work with brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Apparently my family already is!!! Perhaps if they treated me with loving kindness I would sing their praises. I just write the truth of my life and the people I meet along the way. Some of them have blessed me beyond words. One friend was in my life for a year and she gave me such a gift of unconditional love even when she was fighting cancer. And SHE deserves to be recognized for that ability to love. And then there is my family that continuously hurt me so they get recognized for their uncanny ability to hurt and revictimize a victim. I owe them nothing. I only owe myself the truth and i will speak it

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s