Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sharing our stories, . . .

(My two angels, I'm the luckiest mom on earth!)

A women will remember the day her child is born for the rest of her life. Whether a positive birthing experience or a negative birthing experience, it is so important for us to share what we have gone through with one another. In this sharing we can find common ground and healing. I was surprised at myself when I realized towards the end of my second pregnancy with my son, that I had some post traumatic stress from my previous birth. It needed to be talked about and processed.

On the outlook, my sweet daughter, Serafin's, birth seemed so peaceful and beautiful. Parts of it were. She was born at home, no major complications, labor was long, but not very intense until the end. However, what you don't read in my birth story is that I tore horribly and my pubic bone separated because her head didn't mold when she came down the birth canal. I don't know why I didn't write about that when I got to writing the story down, in retrospect, I believe I was simply trying to push the difficulties out of my mind because it hurt to think about it. It wasn't till I lost my mom, eight months after Serafin's birth, that I realized that the only way to get through pain is to walk right through it. This insight has helped me process pain and suffering tremendously.

As I got closer and closer to the birth of my son, I realized how much I still needed to talk about the birth of my daughter. Among dealing with the ambiguity of my upcoming birth plus fears that surrounded it, somehow I was still holding onto the memory of what had happened previously. I was desperately afraid that I would tear again and have to deal with a separated pubic bone like I did the first time. Once I began focusing in on these fears, I was able to begin to fully process just how painful parts of my first birth were.

How many times have you heard someone say, "we did what it takes, momma and baby are now safe and that's all that matters." While the safety of momma and baby are of utmost importance, it is most definitely NOT all that matters. The emotional impact that unprocessed trauma has on a human being can follow them around for years and years until it is fully experienced and processed by that individual. That's why it's called post traumatic stress. Even if our minds aren't thinking about it, our bodies carry it with us till we can slow down enough to allow ourselves to be in the experience physically. For example, have you ever noticed that when you are angry, if you just stop the mind chatter and allow yourself to be angry, to sit in the feelings, wether it's a knot in your stomach or tightness in your shoulders, usually the anger shifts somehow? It either goes away, lessons or becomes something different.

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, I remember finally processing some of these old feelings. I remember sitting and noticing the tightness in my vagina when I thought about giving birth again. Feeling the flutters in my chest and allowing them to be there, not pushing them away. Just simply sitting with them, acknowledging that there was hurt in me that I was carrying around from my past experience. It was amazing to see how my fears shifted as I approached birth for the second time.

Inspiration for this blog post has come to me after attending a birth stories potluck. I hadn't had a chance to share my experience in quite some time and it felt so good to speak of it in detail. As I recalled it, I was brought to tears and was once again reminded how my body holds emotions. It is so important for me to talk about these things. It is also wonderful to hear other's experiences. I find comfort in knowing I am not alone, and I also learn from listening to others. Our stories, wether blissful, or painful need to be shared so we can learn about ourselves and each other.