Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birth Trauma ~ Advocacy for Dads

*This post uses graphic terms. This post also names names and conveys strong opinions. I do it without apology.*

 Perhaps the biggest emotional hurdle I've had to deal with in terms of healing from my birth trauma has been the role that my husband played. He was supposed to be my protector, my advocate, my shield. He was supposed to fight for me. He tried his best, he really did. But he and I both were naive and had no idea what kind of protection would really be required. We had no idea that the medical staff who were ostensibly there to care for us and keep both our baby and me healthy would be the ones to cause us to go through the biggest hell we've been through thus far. We did not know that we needed protection from the "experts". My husband did not know that he should not have trusted them, that he should have asked more questions, fought harder, done something. We just didn't know.

 But we do know now. I guess that's the scary part. Knowing. Now that we know, the reality of how hard it will be to protect me and advocate for me in such a broken system should we be able to have another child is frightening. I know all too well that the medical profession says one thing and then does another. They have learned to be quick to apologize and show sympathy, but they still have not learned to bring about drastic change. They still commit birth rape too often. And yes, I said birth rape.

 It is honestly enough for me to consider giving birth at home with only those I would trust. But the list of those I'd trust is miniscule, and it only takes one look at that area of my body with a mirror to remind me that giving birth vaginally is no longer a viable option for me.

 Just last night I looked again because I was dealing with some pain, and once again I was reminded just how severely I tore and how little truth I was told about the extent of my injuries. From my urethra to my rectum, and all up inside of my labia and vagina, my body bears the scars that tell of brutal tearing from incompetently wielded forceps. The fact that those incompetently wielded forceps were used against my expressly stated will and against my right to informed consent makes those scars all the more painful.  And the pain I was feeling last night? Well, that just happened to be from yet another cyst that forms because I must wear pads nearly every hour of the day, thus dealing with fragile skin. Even using a Poise pad, designed for incontinence, only helps so much.

 I have accomplished so much in terms of my healing journey. I have three years of physiotherapy under my belt, and will go back for more when I can afford it. I have many counseling sessions, many birth trauma support group meetings attended, many blog posts written. But despite all that hard work, my life will never be what it was before midwife Heather Munro and obstetrician Duna Goswami chose to commit birth rape. I learn to deal with a new "normal" each day, one that includes baby wipes every time I use the toilet and wondering just how I'll accomplish a primitive camping trip without a flush toilet available for my morning issues with bowel incontinence.

 And so it is with bittersweet emotions that I tell you about a movie that just happens to be coming to Vancouver this Saturday, June 16th. It begins at 12 noon at the Vancity Theatre. Tickets may be purchased online by going here: Other Side of the Glass Tickets.

 This movie is for dads, for all those dads who wanted to protect their wives and their children but didn't know how. This movie is for all those dads who felt powerless. This movie is for all those husbands who dealt with not only feeling powerless, but also endured the loss of trust and intimacy in their marriages. This film is an important project. It is yet one more way our voices can be heard, so that one day, positive change will happen. I dream of it happening soon.


Marc and Megan said...

I was aware that you'd had some physical injuries to recover from after your son's birth, but I didn't know how severe it all was. I am so so sorry! I cannot even imagine how difficult the healing has been and how hard it must be to still be feeling the negative effects of it so many years later. What a terribly awful thing to go through!

I wanted to thank you for the words of encouragement you offered for me the other day... I felt such a genuine feeling of love and concern and it warmed my heart to think of someone I've never met caring so much. I really think we'd be great friends if we lived in the same town.

Also, thanks for the suggestion to connect your friend with Cali. When she's back home and things have settled a little, I'll pass on the information to her. I know having someone else to walk with you through those dark valleys, especially if they've already been there themselves, can be so comforting.

Kork said...

I must tell you how proud I am of how far you've come along on this journey...I know it's not over, but I also know that God is placing it upon you to speak up, so that fewer families have to endure this trauma...

Praying God's blessings upon you - for peace, wisdom, healing, the growth of your family, and so many more things!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

You are doing amazing things. Never doubt it.

KalinaChristoff said...

Sara, you are amazing! I hug you from here, in front of my computer, for all the things you've been through, for all the ways you've been able to rise above it all, and for speaking up the truth, the WHOLE TRUTH, of what happened to you -- and not only that, but also NAMING THOSE WHO WERE PART OF IT. Let's make this viral! Let's try to inspire all women who have been traumatized in the hands of health care professionals to do exactly what you have done in this blog!

Jessica Austin, Birth Doula said...

Sara, thank you for posting this. You are strong and an inspiration for other women who have experienced trauma during childbirth to speak up about it, to know they are not alone... and to help understand the father's role in it all. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to feel let down by their partners who didn't protect them, and for the partners who had no idea what was happening, what do to, or what their role was.

Sending lots of love your way!

Jessica (Birth Takes a Village)

Bonobo3D said...

Sara, your openness and honesty talking about that medical assault will certainly help others I second Kalina's comment about the importance of naming names.

So much medical abuse happens because people are intimidated by those in charge who are supposed to know what they are doing. That this happens during birth when a woman and her child are so vulnerable is unconscionable.

Sarah said...

This film made me think of my own experiences and my first son's poor, battered body.You are right to do this.Many of the 'professionals' lose sight of the fact that we and our babies and partners are human beings who should be treated with respect and gentle care. My friend works as a midwife and is often appalled at the behaviour of some people in her department.She nearly lost her job and was villified when she 'whistleblew' a certain event which cost a woman her life.This shocking behaviour should not be allowed and the medical staff who close ranks to protect each other should be ashamed.