Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Processing an "Unexpected Birth Experience"

I sometimes wonder if I should have contacted a therapist sooner after the birth of my daughter. While the ultimate outcome of her birth was, as expected: a healthy baby, the way by which that came about was entirely unexpected and in the process I feared that the outcome might not be good. For a long while, I thought that maybe if I just buried what happened and focussed on being a good mom, focussed on enjoying being a mom, focussed on all that was good - it would not matter - this seemed to be a feasible way to cope. What happened just wouldn't matter, it would fade into the past and life would go on. Perhaps, I thought that my complaint was without merit or substance - after all I was subjected to nothing more than what women have endured for millenia, nothing more than what millions of women do every year (natural childbirth) - what right did I have to expect anything different? Maybe I was not entitled to feel bad or upset - maybe I was one of those "cry babies" who bemoans a "bad birth experience", and that I needed to just pull on my big girl panties and grow up - I have a healthy baby, and isn't that what really matters? I even had well meaning friends and relatives tell me that not getting the elective c-section was, "for the best" and a "blessing in disguise". Perhaps, I was just failing to see the silver lining in this situation - and in particular, what right did I have to put my need for what is commonly viewed as a "medically unneccesary" c-section ahead of others with "legitimate medical needs". Perhaps, I thought that by seeking the help of others, I would be admitting to being weak, or worse, thought of as a "bad mom". At the time, I thought the advice, "give it time" was good advice.

So that is what I did.

I focussed on motherhood and gave it time and tried to bury it...except like a zombie, it would not stay dead. I could not help but think about it, often when I was alone, in the shower or asleep. "IT" lurked just beneath the surface and was still very much so, a "live" issue. A restless ghost in my past, making its presence known at times both predictable and unpredictable. More than a year passed before I realized that it wasn't going to fade - that the mark on my life was more akin to a tattoo than a bruise. Contemplating a subsequent pregnancy breathed new life into "IT" - particularly after the stillbirth at Victoria General Hospital in August 2011. I couldn't ignore "IT" any longer.

It was then that I started to blog again. It was then that I wrote to the "Patient Care Quality Office". It was after I received that response that I contacted a psychologist. Perhaps if I had contacted a therapist sooner, I'd be closer to letting "IT" rest in peace now. Perhaps I would have realized how neccessary it was to face the zombie head on, identify it for what it really was and constructively find ways to put "IT" to rest. Perhaps, this pregnancy would be more at ease. But then again, maybe I was just doing what mothers with bad birth experiences but are left with healthy babies are "expected to do" - cope with it as best they can, on their own. Maybe it's that expectation that needs to change.

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