Friday, May 11, 2012

My Birth Burned Down

It's the middle of the night. You wake up from a dead sleep. You can't quite figure out where you are or what's going on. What woke you? There's this noise…is that the fire alarm?!?

Suddenly fully awake, you shake your husband. Honey! Wake up, the house is on fire! Now you can smell smoke and see flickering lights under the door. You and your husband carefully open the door: it's definitely a fire, and spreading fast.

You run to your children's bedrooms, scooping them up and running for the front door. Can't go that way, it's already engulfed! You head for the back door, but there's too much smoke! You can't get out!

There's a window, but it won't open! You grab a lamp and smash the glass. Finally, a path to safety. You quickly climb out, then reach back as your husband hands the children out one by one.

Your family then stands on the sidewalk in your pajamas and watch as your house goes up in flames along with all your possessions.

You're in shock. How did this happen? But you look around and realize, you all survived. There may be some minor smoke inhalation, a cut from the broken window, a small burn, but you will recover.

Are you grateful that everyone is okay? Of course you are! Are you also upset about the traumatic experience you just went through, not to mention that you're now homeless with nothing but the pajamas on your back? Of course you are!

It's possible to feel both positive and negative emotions about different aspects of the same event. Being sad, fearful, angry, depressed, worried, traumatized, does not negate how grateful you are that you're all okay. And being happy that everyone survived doesn't erase the sadness, fear, and anger. It takes time to recover from such a trauma. You have to feel what you feel and work through it to the other side.

My births "burned down." It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to go into labor on my own. I was supposed to move around, eat and drink, be supported by people I loved. It would be the hardest thing I ever did, but at the end I'd lift my beautiful baby to my chest and all would be well.

That's not the way it happened.

Yes, I was thrilled with my beautiful babies. I was grateful we all survived. But I was also sad, angry, fearful, traumatized. I had to feel what I felt and work through it to the other side.

My first birth was struck by lightning. It was an "act of God," a legitimate medical complication that required necessary intervention. I look back at the ashes of that birth nearly nine years on, and mostly I feel wistful for what should have been. It went as well as it could have gone, and it certainly could have been worse. I am at peace.

My second birth was arson. Okay, maybe arson is too strong a word. No one wanted my baby and me to be harmed. But it was definitely some punk kids playing with matches. I was given dangerous medications when there were safer ones available. I was treated with disrespect, bullied and screamed at. My right to informed consent was ignored. My baby and I were both harmed as a direct result of what was done to us by the very people I trusted with our care. I look back at the ashes of that birth five and a half years later, and I am MAD AS HELL! It didn't need to be that way. It shouldn't have been that way.

1 comment: