Childhood Abuse, Childbirth and My Story
There are many women who testify that childbirth can be a horrible experience because of the memories, feelings and almost a "reliving" of childhood abuse.
For some reason, not many people know that it happens, but more people need to know about this, so that women can prepare or know how to respond after they experience it, and so her medical professionals and husband can know how to be more supportive and careful.
Take my story for example:
I was pregnant with Evan (my third) and really excited. I really wanted a boy and I was really excited about the name I had picked for him. I was still going to some counseling, but life was getting much easier and God had really done some healing work in my heart. My only major problem at that time was that for some reason I was bound and determined to have a home birth. Now I had wanted one with both previous pregnancies but had decided against it for whatever reason. But this time was different. The thought of going to the hospital actually made me cry and I argued with Chase about it a lot because he was not comfortable with the idea of a homebirth. We went back and forth and the more we talked about it and he said "no" the more betrayed I felt. I looked up "birthing clinics" where they are more open to the mother's needs and comfort, but couldn't find anything. My options were to:
1. Have the baby at home, which was not an option in Chase's mind, or
2. Have the baby in the hospital, which was not an option in my mind!!
After a few months, I finally realized how hysterical I was being and I wondered what was causing me to react this way. This one issue was hugely breaking down the trust I had in my husband and his love for me. So I asked God one day, "Lord, why am I feeling this way? What is it that is driving me as far away from the hospital as I can get?"
And then I heard my counselor Robin's voice in my head...it was a question she asked me after my first child was born: "Did you experience anything during your labor that made you feel like you were reliving your abuse?"
At the time I thought that was totally a bizarre question and responded, "Ummm...noooooo..." But now I realized I had with my second child, Harmony.
God had immediately answered my question, and all the memories flooded in and I made connections with the feelings I had during labor to the same ones during the abuse.
See, delivering Harmony was one of the most horrible things I had ever been through, as the due date drew near, I felt like I was going through post partum depression, before the baby even came! I felt an urgency that she had to get out. I went to the hospital a few times hoping that they would think I was ready and they always sent me home. The last time, however, I told them through tears that they were keeping me in the hospital until the baby came or else I could not be held responsible for my actions. (!!!) They took me very seriously then and did what they could to start labor. I had hard core contractions for 2 days but they weren't doing anything. I was exhausted and sick and tired of waiting for this baby! Also, I had a mid-wife for this birth. For some reason, I had it in my head that the dr. I previously used was not as natural as I wanted and I wanted to go as natural as I could (until I went crazy, that is!)
She was very nice and very supportive, but I kept finding that she would just tell me what I wanted to hear, and then when she left and I thought of all my questions to ask, (because that is always the way it works out!) I would ask the nurse and she would always have a completely different story of what was going on than what my mid-wife just told me. It was very frustrating and broke down my trust in her...anyways-
my water finally broke and we finally started to get somewhere-really fast! They were actually rushing me into the delivery room! The pressure was on and they said the baby was coming quickly. After suffering for two days, and now being dilated enough to do so, I asked for an epidural, but they didn't think I had enough time to get one, so instead she offered some meds called (I don't know how to spell it but it is pronounced,) "Stay-doll." She said it would make me a little drowsy (RED FLAG!!!) but it would take the edge off the pain and make it easier on me. So I agreed. They put it in my IV and I soon began to experience a new form of hell on earth. It was soooooo awful. Instead of a "little drowsy," it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. My eyelids had never been heavier and it took so much strength to open them even for a second, then to top it off, when my eyes were closed, I was suddenly in a red circus tent with organ music playing and penguins flipping off of seesaws through the air! Sounds silly, and I can almost laugh about it now, but at the time it was horrifying! I would close my eyes and be in the penguin circus and open my eyes and see Chase, my sister, my midwife, the nurse and then I would be gone again back in the awful red tent. And to top it all off, I still felt every ounce of pain! Take the edge off, my foot! I was inwardly hysterical that I was going to sleep through the birth of my child and yet feel all of it! I felt trapped, and completely out of control. I couldn't even control my own thoughts! After awhile, (because it didn't go fast at ALL!) I started to come out of it and some of the anger that had been boiling inside began to come out as I lashed out at my mid-wife that she had better get an epidural in here fast and she had better make this stupid stuff I was on wear off faster! She got the point and got my epidural taken care of. Finally.
It took awhile for the first drug to wear off, and it kinda mixed with the epidural resulting in me having no control over anything, because now I can't move anything from the waist down. So now, I have no control over my mind, no control over my body, I am SCREAMING on the inside and my husband and my sister and my mid-wife were all there doing nothing but staring at me, poking at me, and oblivious to all the turmoil I was in and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal by the man who has saved me from so much but now leaves me exposed, helpless, and on my own. (And he thought I was just having a baby! :) Poor guy.) So Harmony finally came! And it was a great moment, but it was over all too quickly. My sister had to get home, Chase had to leave, my mid-wife left, they took my daughter away and I was left alone, now physically. And for some reason, (I don't know if it was the combo of the meds, or them not doing the epidural right, or what, but) I was left temporarily paralyzed from the waist down-for HOURS. With my first daughter it was no big deal, it actually started to wear off immediately after Chas was born. But with Harmony is was a different story, it was several hours before I could wiggle my toes, and in the meantime, I was completely dependant on the nurses. I was stuck in bed. Just awful. Eventually I obviously got my legs back, and we went home to live happily ever after. I didn't think much more about it, and got used to having two babies.
( Also, side-note...they chalked up my urgency to get her born due to the fact that the cord was wrapped around her neck several times, there was a large knot in her cord and it was affecting her heart rate. After that I had no actual post partum!)
So I made all of these connections and it was such an "AHA!" moment! I talked to Robin and the ladies in a Bible Study we were doing with Robin, and they encouraged me to seek the Lord's safety and protection, to ask for trust in my "Rock." And so I did. It was clear by the decision made by my husband that I was to look this fear in the eye and allow God to stare it down. I told Chase what I had learned about the situation I was facing and he prayed with me and apologized for letting me down, even unintentionally. (Isn't he amazing?!?!?)
I memorized some verses on fear and trusting in God as preparation to go to the hospital. I also went back to my original dr. who was way more natural than I thought. He was just amazing with both of the deliveries he did for me, and I am still kicking myself for not using him to deliver Harmony too. I just ADORE Dr. Tindall! I am really sad he is retiring in three years!!! Anyways, back on subject, I looked into aromatherapy, and decided to make the room I delivered Van in to be as peaceful as possible. I recruited my friend Deana to come and help me and Chase. She very graciously came and served me and kept the praise music going, she rubbed my hands, feet and back for hours! We did use aromatherapy and some warm washclothes soaked in essential oils to help with pain and calm me down, etc. All the nurses who came in mentioned how peaceful it was in my room. And actually, some of them came in just to hang out for a bit! Chase, Deana and I played games, and I had a wonderful wonderful nurse. There were so many things about it that were just great. I mean it was still labor, so it was far from a party, but it was the best birthing experience I have had. Evan came out weighing 9 lbs, 8 oz! Also, I really enjoyed breastfeeding him. I hated breastfeeding my daughters-even though I enjoyed the closeness and just holding them all the time, it also felt like torture and I wasn't sure why it felt that way...but there are women who only have trouble with breastfeeding and not labor because of childhood abuse, it just depends on the person. :)
The verses that the Lord gave me for labor with Evan are Psalms 61:1-3 "Hear my cry, O God, attend unto my prayer. From the ends of the earth will I cry unto Thee! When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that I higher than I. For Thou has been a Shelter for me, and a Strong Tower from the enemy."
"Evan" is the Welsh form of John which means, "God is Gracious" and He certainly is!
I contribute so many of the pregnancy and delivery problems women have today (C-Sections, Abortions, not wanting more kids, etc.) to the fact that we live in such a sinful world where women have been damaged by this sin and don't know that there is a God named "El Roi" which means "The God Who Sees" or another name for Him, "Jehovah-Rapha" which means "The Lord Who Heals!"
May my life and yours point these dear women to Him-the Rock and Strong Tower, the God Who sees and the Lord Who heals.