TW: talk of sexual assault/rape, please be in a safe place with support if this may act as a trigger.
As you likely know by now, if you’ve read my previous posts, I am currently “as big as a house” pregnant. (Okay, okay, 35 (almost 36) weeks pregnant).
I am discovering that as my estimated due date gets closer, I’m having more nightmares and flashbacks of past sexual assault/rapes. I know there is a correlation here with my fears around the birthing process:
- Cervix checks (penetration and exposure)
- Having a stranger deliver my baby (touch me, penetrate me, etc)
- Having to wear the flimsy gown that doesn’t really cover any of your bits
- Strangers poking and prodding me
- Strangers entering my room, seeing me naked and vulnerable
- Being stuck in a bed, not feeling in control of even the things I should be able to have control over
- Possibly having to have my water broken with the hook (more penetration)
- Possibly tearing (as this happened when I was raped)
- Possibly having to have an episiotomy (I’ve watched birth videos where the doctors just cut the woman without consent and even while she is begging them not to)
- Possible vacuum assisted birth (which again brings with it episiotomy and penetration)
- Being disrobed without my consent (again, in videos, to establish skin-to-skin, the nurses just rip the mom’s clothing off; I want skin to skin but I don’t want that)
- Having my breasts touched without my consent (if I require assistance with breastfeeding)
- The position of my body as I deliver (I cannot do the traditional medical model, on my back, legs in the rests)
- Postpartum exams (something about how I’ll be examined and touched triggers me)
Honestly, I could probably go on but I think you all catch my drift! I’m scared out of my mind about having this baby vaginally. I let my OB know about my trauma history. Her suggestions were: induce labor so I could have her deliver (though that wouldn’t guarantee that still), break my water if it didn’t break on its own, do some cervix checks via ultrasound (why I need them before I’m in labor, I don’t know)… if there was anything after that, I stopped listening. I decided it wasn’t a good fit. I don’t want to be induced. I don’t want a hook in my vagina. I don’t want unnecessary cervix checks pushed on me.
I thought maybe a Midwife would be better. I could try for a water birth. I know the water can help prevent tearing, it can ease the pain of labor, etc. So, I tried to find a midwife that could take me and that I could afford. The two together is like trying to find a unicorn. I was able to get in with one but the appt was ages away and by the time they got me in I’d have to pay the whole shebang up front (several thousands of dollars even with 2 forms of private insurance).
In the time I waited for that appointment and as the nightmares and flashbacks have increased, I’ve wondered if maybe it really would be best to just have her cut out of me. Would that be less traumatizing? I don’t know if I could find an OB who would do a C-section because of PTSD… but maybe it is worth looking into… As much as I want to be in a place mentally that I can have this beautiful, magical, empowering vaginal birth… I don’t think I’m there.
Given the statistics on how common sexual assault and rape are I can’t help but wonder, how did all the women who’ve experienced these traumas experience the births of their babies. What did they do to prepare? Were they able to have the magical experience? Did they choose a C-section? Was birth something else to just survive and then work through later in therapy? I know at the end I get this beautiful, squishy baby! And, I am so excited for that part. But, the terror almost outshadows that excitement.
I am already so, so in love with my baby girl. I just wish I knew how to safely get her here, while maintaining my mental and emotional well-being in the process. I want to be present for her birth. I don’t want to check out and dissociate and just survive.