I was at my therapist today and she put her feet up on a stool due to a pain she was having and quickly apologized for being unprofessional. I stopped her mid sentence and laughed because (if you’ve read my previous blog posts) she was at my birth, she literally watched a child come out of my vagina. I said “seriously, we have a different relationship than that, you saw me push out a baby…put your feet up”. It started a conversation between us about that birth, and how much work we did together to get there. It was a beautiful, peaceful, and empowering birth, that without her, I couldn’t have experienced.
When I started therapy at the age of 12, I had basically begged my mom to go. I mean what child at 12 BEGS to go to therapy? Well, me. Through my life, I have had a multitude of trauma, from birth until recently when my mom suddenly died. I’ve experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that continues to trigger me to this day. I am one of those people who look at their pasts and think, how the fuck did I make it through this? Well… I thank my 12 year old self for that. Somehow she knew what I needed to heal even before some of the hardest events of my life even occurred.
I’m sure you’re wondering how this even relates to my birthing experiences, and I’m here to tell you that it is basically everything to do with it. There seems to be some sort of disconnect between birth and the rest of life. In reality, because of the intense emotions and feelings involved, birth can be one of the most triggering events a person can experience. The problem is, since most aren’t aware that it can be triggering, when it happens it’s almost like a shock to the system. When something happens after experiencing trauma and we become triggered, our body releases a fight or flight response. This also happens in birth.
Even after giving birth twice, I could not understand why no matter how hard I tried, both births felt like I was fighting a battle I couldn’t win. From beginning to end it felt like a war against my own body. My contractions were on top of each other with no break, and I screamed in pain the whole entire time. It was excruciating, all I could feel was pain, and I was stuck in it until each child was finally placed on my chest.
It wasn’t until I was in therapy suffering with depression and had a surprise third pregnancy, that things started to connect. I made it clear to my therapist that I was scared, not just because of the depression, but because I was terrified of the “pain” of birth again. It was then that we realized together that the act of birthing put me into a fight or flight response, more specifically to me, flight mode. My body was running from itself. Trying to run away from something I literally had no ability to run away from. Basically my whole life my body taught itself to run from pain, if I didn’t I would suffer. Because of my trauma and PTSD, I had absolutely no ability to disconnect pain that was intended to hurt me, from something that may feel painful, but had a beautiful purpose.
I’d like to say that the first step is acknowledging the “problem” and it’s easy to adjust the way your mind reacts to being triggered from birth, but that’s just not life. Just like any major trauma, it takes time and intense strength to work through the trauma (sometimes for the hundredth time), but I’m here to tell you it is 100% possible. Throughout my whole pregnancy, every single week my therapist and I dove deep into what triggered me in birth. We pushed through some of the toughest moments of my life, to find ways I could find ease and calm in myself and my being. We connected my traumas, and then we disconnected them. I finally got to the point where I wasn’t afraid of my birth, I felt strong, I knew I could find the peace within myself and not let my trauma control me for another second.
In a prior conversation I mentioned to my therapist that her being at my birth would be something that would be beneficial to me, and I’d like her to consider it. She basically became my doula, and her presence gave me such a sense of peace, I knew I needed her. I didn’t expect her to come, but I wanted to put it out there. The night that I finally went into labor, I called my midwife and she told me she was on her way. I then texted my therapist and never did I expect this, but she was coming too.
When she walked in, my body let go, I relaxed. You have no idea what a joy it is to labor in pure peace. To feel so supported in that room…I felt so powerful, I felt so capable in my own body. The contractions would rush over me but when they stopped, she reminded me I could release. And I did. There were moments where there was intense quiet, such beautiful silence, I felt like it was just me and my baby working as a team. Finally. Finally. It wasn’t pain, it was purpose. All the work we did together brought me to this day, to the last push when my last baby was brought up from the water of the birth tub to my arms. I did it. We did it. And it was perfect.
It has been almost two years since she was born and I learned so much about myself from that birth. I learned not only what I needed in birth, but how to truly live with the trauma I was given. I realized so much inside me was set because of my past, but it didn’t have to be my future. My traumas didn’t own me anymore and I was far stronger than I knew. My third, empowering birth, set the pathway to my future doula business. All I want now is to do what my therapist did for me. Women deserve to have a rewarding and beautiful birth, despite their past experiences. It may have taken me 3 births to figure it out, but hopefully my experience can show you that it is absolutely possible.