Birth Trauma: A Wounding of More Than Just My Lady Parts

Birth Trauma: A Wounding of More Than Just My Lady Parts

From my journal, August 2012…

Moments after arriving at the hospital, I was laying in the mechanical bed, all sorts of wires and tubes coming from me, when the resident OB burst into the room, all loud and cocky. He proceeded to—roughly and painfully—insert an internal monitor into my uterus to read the strength, length and frequency of contractions.

I started to cry.

As well as crying from the pain from his far-from-gentle “execution of duties”, I remember also grieving for the lost home waterbirth we’d joyfully anticipated, and thinking in that moment, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be! This isn’t how it was supposed to be….”

His curt “What are you crying about?” was met with my sister’s truthful “She feels violated!”

That advocacy was rewarded with a threat of her removal from the room and from the birth of her only sister’s first child.

This wound has So. Many. Layers…

I think the biggest aspect that is, in this moment, asking to be witnessed is how I’ve been affected physically by childbirth. Yes, I have a belly full of stretch marks, and while I would have preferred to be one of the few women who don’t receive that trophy, I can deal with it.

The “biggie” is the fact that it’s been 10 weeks and the place where I tore has not yet healed. It reopened a bit yesterday from something as simple as sitting on the toilet the wrong way, or from getting up off the couch not carefully enough. There was a bit of blood when I wiped. And while the physical discomfort is certainly less-than-ideal, there’s the emotional aspect.

I feel so disconnected, so estranged, from that part of me—both that anatomical part of me and the feminine/sexual part of me.

I think I even feel afraid of it.

In some ways, I feel betrayed by it. It feels like my womanhood let me down by tearing in the first place and now, by not healing. In more ways than one, I feel raw.

I feel scared of my genitals.

I feel scared that it will reopen more, scared that it will never fully heal, scared that I’ll never be able to have Geoff inside me again, scared that I will have him inside me again and that it will lead to another baby and thus, having to go through the stretching, the ripping, the tearing, the lengthy healing all over again.

At times I’ll simply become aware of my crotch and, seemingly out of nowhere, great sobs will arise. There are so many deep and uncomfortable emotions held within this perineal scar—if it can even be called a scar at this point, considering that it still stings when I pee…

They say to give yourself 6 weeks after giving birth before anything can be “inserted”. Those 6 weeks have long come and gone, and still, at 10 weeks—10 weeks!—I feel “Hell, NO!” do I want anything going near there. And that makes me sad…

To be honest, I feel like damaged goods. My heart longs for intimacy with Geoff, but my body wants absolutely none of it. My body is scared of even simply being touched.

I feel a bit “ruined”, and I feel bad for Geoff. This stretched and torn vagina is not what he signed up for. I wish I had something more…whole…to offer him. A bit of a sex-drive, at the very least.

I’ve been torn apart. Literally and figuratively. And I’m just trying to piece myself back together. Pieces of me have been scattered. Some pieces are held in the doctor’s uncaring hands. Some pieces are held within my scar. Some pieces have yet to be found…

TORN…A Poem About Birth Trauma

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Jen Hannah

Jen Hannah is a Birth Trauma Speaker and Musician who is fiercely committed to the reclamation of childbirth. After healing from a traumatic experience giving birth, she is now passionate about bringing this cultural epidemic to the light. Her award-winning music serves as powerful medicine in her mission to empower and encourage women, and to offer continuing education to maternity care providers. Her work fosters the openness and mutual respect that is imperative to the return to mother- and child-centered birth. Jen is the grateful mama of 2 kiddos, and wife of inspirational speaker and Bubble Man, Geoff Akins Hannah. http://yoursquarebubble.com/