Natasha’s Story

That you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress following a traumatic birth can be hard to admit. First attempts to discuss the topic are often met by stern faces, disapproval and an obvious lack of understanding:

“Your babies are here, safe and sound –
That’s all that matters“.

Is it all that matters? I wish there was more understanding toward women experiencing birth trauma. I wish there was compassion. I wish people would only listen, if they can’t understand or support.

When I first tried to speak about the way that I was feeling following the birth of my twins, it very quickly became obvious that nobody understood. I was left feeling guilty, like everybody felt that I was being silly and should just ‘get over it’ and be grateful that my babies are safe and well. I was left feeling like I was so wrong. Like all I should feel is love and gratitude and awe for an experience that actually haunts me. I was misunderstood. I was told to be grateful for what I have, that my babies were healthy, and that was all that mattered. It was not all that mattered. There are two people who go through birth – the babies, and the mother. The woman. I matter, too, don’t I?I am grateful for what I have. I love my babies and being a mum is the best thing that ever happened to me. It doesn’t help to be told my babies are alive – I know that they are, and I am so happy to have them in my life. But birth is about more than an end result – It’s about more than a baby, although the baby is evidently the focal point. It seems to be forgotten that there is a woman involved, too. Birth is an experience, and mine was a horrible experience. What I went through was physically horrific, it was terrifying and demoralising, and then it robbed me of my chance to birth naturally, and it robbed me of the memory of my daughter’s birth – something I can never get back. The end result does not erase what I went through, it can not give me back what I had taken away from me.Perhaps I should start by explaining what happened to me during the birth of my twins. I recently stumbled upon a term that I had never heard of before – “Birth Rape”. I would describe my birth experience as as hurtful as rape. As violating. As abusive.
I went into hospital for a routine antenatal appointment on the 20th December, where I was ambushed by doctors who told me that my babies had to come NOW. My local hospital was unable to take me due to a lack of scbu cots, so I was transferred to another hospital hundreds of miles away. I was separated from my support network. I had nothing with me that I felt I needed, I didn’t have my hospital bag, my hypnobirthing CD or my birth plan. My mother was supposed to be there as my birth partner and doula but the hundreds of miles of snow-covered, congested A-roads between us meant I was to face this hospital without her.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were told there was no rush and they would be inducing me the next day. On the 21st December they gave me the pessary and left me to labour alone for the day and over night. A consultant came in and tried to convince me to have an elective c-section as “most twin births end in cesarean section anyway, even if one twin is born vaginally”. I refused this offer about 3 times before they left me to labour alone again. I didn’t see a midwife again until 22nd, when I was given another pessary to keep things moving.

I saw a consultant again on the 23rd who explained that I was to be put on the drip to attempt to speed up labour. Before they put the drip in, they wanted me prepped for theatre, “just in case”. A consultant came around and scanned the babies to make sure they were in a viable position for a vaginal birth, he again tried to convince me to have an elective c-section before the drip was put in. I refused.

I was again left to labour alone for most of the day with no pain relief needed as I was using hypnobirthing and all was going well. When at 6pm I hit transition and said that I felt I would need to push soon, I was told not to push. The room swarmed with various medical staff, midwives, doctors and HCAs. I was asked to come through to theatre to deliver my babies, “just in case”.

I consented to going through to theatre, but once we got there, I was told that I could not birth upright as they knew that I had wanted to. I had to be strapped down to a theatre table as it was a narrow table and they worried about me falling off. They strapped my arms down by my sides and my legs up in stirrups. I wanted to go back through to the delivery room but was told that once I was in theatre, I could not go back. I had wanted my birth filmed – but this was not allowed. I believe the reason they did not allow video footage to be recorded during my birth is because it would implicate them, as evidence of their involvement in the crime that proceeded:

By the time they allowed me to push a whole hour had passed and the urge had subsided. I found it very difficult to push in the position that I was – with my legs in stirrups that held my pelvis pointed upward. After a half hour of pushing, the doctors gave me an episiotomy without telling me they were going to or asking my consent. I asked what they were doing and why it was necessary and got no answer. I screamed at them to stop as they had not given me any anesthetic and the pain was unbearable. I still remember the sound of blunt scissors hacking through cardboard.

At this point I was terrified and was screaming at the doctors to stop, the pain was too much – the midwives tried to force gas and air on me. I know from previous birth experience that I don’t get on with gas and air. It makes me feel sick and clouds my mind. I was asked continually to, “just try it”. I explained that it makes me sick but they condescendingly told me it is the pain that makes me feel sick, not gas and air. I took one suck of gas and air and immediately felt like throwing up. I again started screaming, “I do not want gas and air, I do not want gas and air, take it away!” but they kept holding it to my mouth and telling me to suck on it.

I somehow managed to push my first twin out through all of this and immediately they started sewing me up – again with no anesthetic. Again, I repeatedly asked them what they were doing and screamed at them to stop, and they ignored me and carried on. I believe from the start they intended me to have a cesarean section for the second baby. I can think of no other reason why they would have stitched up the episiotomy before I had birthed the second baby.

The midwife began pushing forcibly on my tummy. I asked her what she was doing and why and she ignored me. I asked her to stop and she ignored me. I screamed at her to stop and I was told, “No, this is a crucial part of twin birth”. The pain from her pushing on my tummy was more excruciating than any other pain I have ever felt, I kept screaming at her to stop, and I was ignored.

Soon after this my placenta detached and I started to hemorrhage so I was given a general anesthetic.

I woke up in recovery, feeling sick to the bottom of my stomach. My baby had been born and I had missed it. I almost felt like there wasn’t really a twin pregnancy at all and it had all been some sort of con – a ploy – I gave birth to my first twin. I felt it, I remember it clearly. I saw her and heard her cry. I even held her for a brief moment before they whisked her off to SCBU, even as they were stitching me up from my unwanted, totally unnecessary episiotomy. Then as what I believe was a direct result of their intervention, they knocked me out for c-section with a general anesthetic and the next thing I knew I was in recovery and I was handed photos of two babies, but I’d only given birth to one. I only remembered giving birth to one.

I have no pictures of my third daughter’s birth. My husband had to leave the room. What was her birth like? I watched a cesarean birth on youtube to find out and ended up crying my heart out. Was she held after birth? Did she wait until I saw her the next day before she had any human contact? Was she ripped from my body, and then left alone in an incubator over night? She wasn’t even in the same incubator as her twin. She went from being inside me and with her sister, to alone with nothing surrounding her. That thought still tortures me.

I tried to talk to my family and husband about the way that I was feeling, and tried posting on an Internet forum for support, but I very quickly learned that birth trauma is a taboo topic. And I began my descent down a very slippery slope to post-traumatic stress disorder. I felt guilty, and the longer it went on, the greater my guilt became. I was afraid to tell anybody what I was going through.

For months after the birth, the experience occupied my thoughts almost constantly – day and night. It was like being pulled apart inside. I felt heart-broken. I experienced flash backs, involuntarily re-living the birth, and I’d torture myself with thinking up new and different ways in which I could have reacted to the situation to prevent the birth going the way that it did. I felt robbed of my natural birth. I felt betrayed by the doctors and midwives under who’s care I had been placed. I felt violated and abused.

More recently I am able to not think about it. I am able to shut the flashbacks out, I am able to push the thoughts from my mind. But when I do allow myself to think on it, or when I am offered unwelcome reminders: Whenever anybody asks about the birth, or when facebook reminds me that on this day in 2009 my facebook status was, “Looking forward to my natural twin hypnohomebirth!”, I break down. I can’t help it. It still hurts me deeply.

I am aware that many people do not agree with the term, “birth rape” and believe there is no way the two could be comparable. I have experienced both. What happened to me during the birth of my twins honestly effects me as deeply and as painfully as the other. I felt just as violated, just as abused. I had all control and any choice about what happened to my body taken from me. My cries of , “Stop! Please stop!” were ignored. My questions about the necessity of these interventions was ignored. I was physically restrained. I was forcibly cut, stitched, fingered, fisted, pushed, grabbed and hurt without my consent and despite my desperate pleas to stop. The long term effects so far prove to be just as painful and debilitating as those of rape. I am suffering PTSD as a result of the violations I was subjected to during the birth of my twins.

I recently went to my GP about getting some counseling or therapy to help me to come to terms with the birth. I do need help, but there’s still so much fear around admitting that. Around seeking it. What will people think of me? Will they think that because I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the birth, that I am having a hard time being a mother? Will they question the bond that I have with my children? Will anybody be able to see that the birth experience is separate from the end result of birth? Will anybody be able to offer me any understanding at all? Will anybody really listen to me?
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17 comments on “Natasha’s Story

  1. I feel so sad for you. I want you to know that you are not alone. I felt the same way when my first child was born. Take care

  2. i have a really hard time reading about other peoples birth experiences, good and bad because i immediately get reminded of mind. i have had two hospital births. neither one of them were pleasant but the first one was just horrible. i hate to go into detail because it just makes me sick but it was very similar to your in a sense. being forced to do things even after i said no. at one point..i had 5 nurses strap me down to put a catheter in me after the birth because i didnt pee quick enough for them. i screamed at the top of my lungs and begged them to stop. they didnt care. they treated me so horrible..the weeks after delivery were just as horrible. i understand your pain, you are not alone! i went through a very long battle with post partum depression because of it. its been 11 years now since my son has been born and it stil haunts me. it makes me very angry think about my experience. that is why i will never have another hospital birth again. it will be in my own home on my terms! as for feeling you need to talk to someone..then do it if you think it will make you feel better. there are many people you can speak to that work in the feild of PTS. they will not think that its connection to your bond with your children. its their job to listen. another thing you can do is go to the hospital where you gave birth and either write them a heart felt letter about your experience or speak directly to someone in control. i think doing this will help find some comfort..i know it would have for me. if women let this happen and dont speak up..it will continue happening. the hospitals job is to hurry up at get the woman out of there. thats their focus. and to make as much money as possible. they use oxytocin to speed up labour…which puts the mother in more pain so therefore will beg for an epidural, and them both combined is what causes uneeded c sections. its a process to them. there is a great documentary out from ricky lake..its called the business of being born. if you havent already..you should watch it.
    i really hope you can find some comfort some way. its sad to know how many women go through this kind of experience. and believe me, ive spoken to many! i live in canada too and you would think it would be better here but its not. my heart is with you. thank you for sharing your story, as hard as im sure it was for you.

    • You are allowed to have your opinion, and of course Riki Lake is unbiased and not into sensational journalism nor interested in money so she is the ultimate expert on the conspiracy for interventions for births. Speaking as a Canadian, and as the person who is ASKED to put in the epidurals – I will say that usually I am begged for epidurals , and at very inconvenient hours – line 4 am. Believe me I would rather not put them in. Some women refuse to allow labor to progress without an epidural.

      The majority of women with twin and breeches and previous C/Sections CHOOSE repeat c/sections because they think they are easier and get to avoid labor. We know medically it is safe to do a vaginal delivery but given the option the PATIENT chooses surgery 9.5/10 times .

      Regarding Inductions, the majority are for medical indications because the baby is in an unsafe environment – it isn’t growing, or the placenta isn’t big and giving enough nutrients, or mom is reacting to the baby with high blood pressure and is ‘toxic’. It is safer for babe to be out than in. It is better for everyone for a normal vaginal unassisted birth, in Canada.

      Regarding home births , after 2 neonatal deaths in Toronto on Center Island, it was decided that the Midwife had no responsibility in the death, no responsibility of care to recognize problems and refer the delivery to the hospital in time . Since Mom opted for home delivery she absolved the midwife of any responsibility to recognize when there was a problem – like a breech baby pinching off the umbilical cord – therefore losing blood supply during the delivery.

  3. I dont know if my thought will be considered acceptable on this blog. I am a health care professional and I deliver anesthetics in the OR and in L&D. I have also been assaulted by an unknown male on a bike path while in medical school and carried the hurt/shame alone for years.

    As I read your story I recognized many of the medical situations that you speak of – the encouragement of a C/Section, the feeling of panic and loss of control. Your choice being taken from your hands. Things moving along so fast it’s like you are on a moving train. I am sad that it was such a negative experience for you and continues to haunt you. You definitely need to talk to someone about your experience. I would start with my GP.

    Firstly, you have to know that Postpartum Depression is huge and may be affecting your thinking. Women do very awful things at the worst, and don’t bond with their babies at the best. It makes you not sleep, eat, function normally. It affects your reasoning. It happens because the growing babes need and take your essential fatty acids from your brain and spinal column for their own central nervous system development. With twins this drain would be worse. You may have this biochemical depression which needs to be supported, treated, appropriately fed, and understood. This awful situation may be cycling and hanging around when it doesn’t need to. Thus the GP.

    Further, I have been in a body violation situation and didn’t tell anyone for 20 years. Over the 20 years in my mind the shame/fear/hurt morphed into guilt for being in the area at all, for not telling, for perhaps letting a psycho go free to escalate from sexual assault to murder. After talking about it with a professional and facing the ugly feelings with a rational, non involved person I was able to see what was real, what I was making worse than it was because of my emotion, and what generalizations and assumptions , conclusions I was holding as true, which when dissected just weren’t reasonable. This was done in my time, by me. I made the leaps of understanding. And the magnitude of the event came down significantly, and lost it’s drama. It unfolded. Because I talked about it and let it go. I think some of your assumptions about peoples attitudes and reasons for doing things might need to be looked at.

    As an Anesthesiologist, we do C/Sections, Trial of Forceps and Standby delivery for twins all the time. Because the second twin has a problem and significant chance of not delivering safely. The uterus thinks it’s done after the first, and clamps down to deliver the placenta and stop bleeding. I will tell you that I have to hang around just in case there is trouble, and I don’t like the hanging around. Most times the delivery is fine, but some of the time it is not, the Obstetrician is in a hurry to get to that second babe before it gets starved of oxygen. The OBGYN is not comfortable, and is not acting for his own mood. The patient comes first, as long as babies are OK, and if things are not OK then the babies come first. I have never been involved with a surgeon who did not care about his patients, and treat them with respect and caring. The fact that you believe you weren’t listened to/heard makes me think that things were pretty urgent and communication suffered badly. I know that I have believed that I have said things to a patient, and it has been taken in a manner of not caring.

    Lastly, when you are feeling better and have some perspective, you also need to talk to the OBGYN and Midwife. THey may be defensive. Perhaps a letter. But you do need your story heard, and you need to hear WHY they did these things – then you may not be so offended – like the episiotomy. It probably was necessary. They don’t like to do them either. You heal better without them. You need some reasons answered for your questions, and when you have those reasons – perhaps in point by point form you will understand things. The gas may have been to relax the uterus so the 2nd babe could be born without a C/Section. You would be even more upset if there was something wrong with your baby.

    I hope you get the help you need. I feel for your pain. Your distress is terrible. Sandy

  4. I can sympathize in a manner to this. My doctor recommended induction because my placenta was aging and even though my water hadn’t broke, I was losing amniotic fluid over two weeks. Amniotic fluid is baby pee. My baby was starving. So I agreed. The problem wasn’t my doctor. The labor and delivery nurses didn’t follow orders, didn’t stop the drip, told me not to push, etc. My doctor was pissed to say the least. I refused the oxygen also because it made me sick, until my doctor made me look at the monitor. During my contractions, because the drip wasn’t stopped, my muscles were compressing the umbilical cord, causing my son not to get oxygen for almost 90 seconds at a time. He told my we needed to super saturate my blood to get to the baby. My doctor understood from day one that I am not stupid and refused any treatment until the pros and cons were explained. I think it is wrong what happened to you, and I would definitely take it to the hospital board. At least to get monetary compensation, decreased bill, help with counseling. Too many people allow doctors to play god. Next time, or for anyone else reading this, threaten to sue until your wishes are met.

  5. I feel so moved by your experience , I had 2 natural births – the first with a wonderful midwife who helped me follow my birth plan , I delivered in a kneeling position and was upright throughout my 12 hour labour . I felt empowered by this , I ad a retained placenta which resulted in epidural post delivery for the removal – not pleasant – painful – but the rest of the experience made up for it . My second labour was over within 45 mins – rather a shock in my bathroom – just me and my partner there .
    in my experience midwives play a major part in delivery involving doctors only where neccessary .(I am a nurse and part of my training included experience on labour wards etc – I stress I am not a midwife )
    What you went through sounds terrible and a violation of your rights .
    I would complain to the hospital , your dignity was not respected , decisions were not made with you , they were about you . Communication sounds appalling. Are you in England ? if so complain to the hospital – , you can also complain to the Care Quality Commission.
    I hope you get the help you need and some counselling to help you come to terms with your terrible experience.

  6. I am so sorry that you had to endure that horrible experience. You have every right to be angry and to feel any other emotions that you are feeling. I hope you are able to find the support and understanding that you need to help you get through that painful experience. Please remember that seeking help doesn’t render you unable to care for your children ; it can only make you a better person. I hope that you decided to go back and bring legal action against them for what the did to you. It was wrong and they should be held accountable!!

  7. It sounds like these doctors and nurses aren’t taking the time to explain everything to you. Which is wrong. I’m in the US, and informed consent is a HUGE thing, along with bedside manner. Many of these stories on birth rape and birth trauma that I’ve been reading haven’t been happening here, one or two maybe, so far. I know I would never stand for doctors and nurses doing these things. I would threaten to sue. In 1987, while in labor with my sister, doctors tried to force my mother into having a blood transfusion when she was hemorrhaging. When she refused, the doctor looked at her and said that when she passed out, they would have my father sign the consent forms. My mother told him that if that happened, she would sue the doctor for malpractice. She was fully aware of the risks and still denied consent. Years later, in the 1990s, a recall was sent out for all patients who had received blood transfusions during the late 80s were to be checked for AIDS. She stood up for herself, threatened to sue, and because they did what she told them, she is AIDS free. Imagine if that doctor did what these other doctors are doing, she would have AIDS. Consent is HUGE. If you don’t want a treatment, you shouldn’t get it, especially if you are aware of the risks involved. It seems like nowadays doctors want to do C-sections. I’m glad that as a welfare recipient, I can only get a C-section if it’s a medical necessity. I HAVE to do a vaginal, due to my health insurance. I’m thanking God right now that I don’t have to go through what many women apparently have to. I didn’t think that doctors were into approving unnecessary, invasive and destructive surgeries. Women need to stand together in this. You don’t look at an actual rape victim and say, “You’re alive. So what you went through doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.” We don’t. We listen, sympathize, empathize, whatever, but we do not blame the woman for getting raped, and we accept that what they went through changes them. To say that going through a traumatic situation where you already have very little control, then having that control taken away from you, to say it didn’t matter because everything turned out okay is just as wrong. How did women have twins before C-sections came around? They were successful. These doctors are hindering themselves with technology and new procedure, sometimes the natural way is better.

  8. I am also suffering PTSD from a birth been in therapy 5 months would really like to talk to someone else who feels the same as I feel completely hopeless, please get in touch

    • If you ever need to talk to anyone, you can email me at lacy.wilmerton@gmail.com If you want, I can ask my mom to penpal you online, she’s been through A LOT, she has severe complex PTSD, so she is very understanding and willing to listen. While I might not be able to understand, I can listen as well, but my original thought was to get you in touch with my mom. You need someone to talk to, don’t bottle it all up and don’t be afraid, either.

  9. First, I just want you to know that this is one of the most heart-wrenching and moving stories I’ve ever read. It’s also the first thing I’ve read on the subject of birthrape. I’ve never been pregnant or given birth. and I don’t know that I ever will decide to have kids. But I am a rape survivor, and I cannot imagine the kind of pain you’ve gone through and continue to struggle with. It is appalling that you’ve been further violated by people who think they have the right to name your experience for you.

    Second, I wanna weigh in on the debate over terminology. I think the trauma you described sounds exactly like rape. I get that this is a very contentious subject, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should stop asking ourselves which situations make it okay to exert dominance over another person’s body, to rob them of their agency, violate their personhood, and ignore their wishes and protests.Seriously, how many women have been told that what happened to them doesn’t qualify as “real rape”?? She gave him her phone number, let him buy her a drink, or wore high heels, so she must have wanted it. She didn’t *have to* sleep with the professor or boss who propositioned her. She wouldn’t have gotten drugged if she hadn’t been partying. He didn’t rape that hooker because he gave her money afterwards. He’s her husband, it’s his right to have sex with his wife. He’s her gynecologist, it was just a “routine” exam. She was in labor, the doctors were just doing their jobs.

    Let’s not forget: RAPE IS NOT ABOUT SEX! Rape is about power and control. When you’ve been forcibly subjected to that kind of powerlessness and victimization, the last thing you need to hear from anyone is that it could have been worse, that you should look on the bright side, or that your assault was less real, less painful, or less relevant than others.

    Kudos for speaking out in the face of criticism, for naming your own truth, and for demanding that people acknowledge the reality of what happened to you and so many other women.

    • Your statement about terminology and rape being about power and control is the best I’ve seen on this site yet. Thank you. I think it’s the most succinctly put and clear to understand for people possibly questioning why women want to use this term, and why it is absolutely okay and their choice and right to do so.

    • This comment is wonderful. Thank you so much. I know that you left it about four years ago, but I still wanted to thank you, and I hope that you see that. I don’t know how notifications work for these comments, but I just want you to know that your validating words work wonders. I am so sorry for what you went through, too, and I wish you the best.

      “Rape is not about sex”.
      This is so true. Every time I see a birth or medical rape survivor be told that it can’t be called rape because it was a doctor, I want to scream. It wouldn’t matter if they were looking for the winning lottery ticket and the fountain of youth up there and hating every minute of the procedure, if you say no, whether in the exact word or in other words and gestures, they have no right to penetrate you.

      I’ve been struggling to validate myself now, two years out from what I’ve been told is a medical rape. I’ve never been pregnant or given birth, so I can’t fully relate to that experience. But I did have my own experience, and I was sexually abused as a child (as well as facing nearly every other type of abuse through my teens). This stuff is violating. It is traumatic. It is horrifying.

      In my situation, I was in the ER for abdominal pain that had nothing to do with my reproductive system. The doctor told me he had to do a pelvic exam, that it was of the Utmost Importance. I asked if he really HAD to, and he hmmm’d and hawww’d and basically said yes, you have to, but you can always be stupid and fight that. That’s a paraphrase, obviously, but. I asked if a female doctor was in, and he said no, he was the only one and he had to do it. I didn’t even say anything, which obviously meant “okay do the exam” (?????), so he left to go tend to the other patients. I was at no point informed that I had every right to say NO, you may not do the exam. I was made to think that I had no choice, no options, no autonomy. And due to prior abuse, I struggle with a tendency towards defeated compliance when I feel especially forced into horrible things. I turn into a rag doll sometimes, because it means I’m less likely to be hurt. I’m working on it. But I just lost my fight – I didn’t try explicitly speaking up for myself again.

      I just broke down sobbing. I spent the next four hours panicking, hyperventilating, dissociating, completely freaking out. The nurse who was assigned to me responded by making fun of me. I felt so humiliated and degraded. Everyone I’ve told said that as soon as they noticed that I was very clearly not okay with the proceedings, which was completely obvious, they were obligated to not do the exam and to find alternative ways of examining my NOT EVEN PELVIC pain. (Honestly, why is it that as soon as a girl gets above age twelve, any time we go into a doctor for anything, they’re convinced it’s thanks to our vaginas? You could go in for stitches on a head wound and they’d still be like, “maybe this is only happening because you have a vagina. You must be either pregnant or crazy.”)

      But they did it anyway. I barely remember it, I just dissociated right away. What I do remember is watching this old man that I did not know take his fingers out from inside me and throw out the gloves and walk away like I didn’t feel violated and terrified and disgusting, because I wasn’t a person to him, I was just an assembly of body parts whose consent was an obstacle to get around, not something that was needed or important. The nurse wiped me off poorly with a nasty, rough paper towel and left too. I know they did it to “help” me (not that there was anything wrong down there, just like I’d SAID), but I felt so used. Disrespected and violated.

      All the feelings from my prior abuse(s) came back full-force. I was suicidal for days. I had been healing from major depression, self-harm, and anorexia, and I had to work the hardest I’ve ever worked not to relapse. I just wanted to shower in bleach and then die. My family thought I was ridiculous and dramatic. My brother told me that my irritability was “why he doesn’t like me” (he treats me like that a lot of the time).

      It’s been two years and it still bothers me. I still have nightmares where I’m forced to spread m my legs for strangers who didn’t listen to my “no”, who shove their instruments and hands up me while I cry. I’ve had GI issues nonstop, and no dietary changes make them go away. I’m considering acupuncture. I’m discussing my PTSD with my (amazing) therapist. Still.

      It felt at least as violating as my abuse as a child. It felt at least as violating as my abuse as a teen. It felt horrible, and it was made worse by everyone who told me to shut up, that they were only doing their job, that it wasn’t a problem, that I was only upset because I’m crazy and bad and silly. That I should be thankful, or at least be upset somewhere else, quietly, privately, silently.

      So I do empathize with birth rape survivors. I can only imagine the horror of having a beautiful, joyous, bonding experience stolen from you. I know for certain that when I do have children, I am going to find a midwife and do everything I can to give birth at home. My mother had my brother and I three months early (I apparently broke the water and wanted out – first and last time I was ever early to anything!) and the doctors almost killed her (and actually, all three of us) by not listening to her.

      Doctors need to stop viewing patients as an amalgamation of body parts with unfortunate opinions. Our consent is not an annoyance nor an obstacle, it is NECESSARY.

      It is not acceptable for any random man, or woman for that matter, off of the street to tell someone that they must strip and spread their legs to be penetrated by instruments and hands. It being “for our own good” doesnt make it better. The person doing it having a medical degree doesn’t make it better.

      I’m truly appalled by the medical professionals in the comments here who urge survivors to have empathy for their rapists. To understand the DOCTOR’S point of view, to claim that that will bring healing. It may have for them; it doesn’t for most people. It is a form of self-blame. If you think it’s fine to treat women like this, you are part of the problem, full stop. Justifying it will not make it okay.

      So, that’s my piece. I just wanted to thank you for being very clear that nonconsensual penetration is rape, it is an abuse of power, it is wrong. I know that that assertion is helpful to me, and it is certainly helpful to the legions of women who have experienced birth rape, as well. I hopeful that those who are currently browsing this blog (as I’m sure people must do regularly, since this problem has not been resolved) find your comment and that they find healing.

      • I am very, very sorry you were abused like that and retraumatised by people you went to for help. Unfortunately, the medical profession, like other professions that let people have control over others, is a haven for sociopaths. Yes, there are lots of good, caring doctors, but there are also many truly horrible people who shouldn’t be allowed near other humans, much less people at their most vulnerable.

        If you are able, I highly recommend reporting both the doctor and the nurse to the hospital and their respective governing bodies. It may not get them fired immediately, but if everyone abused by medical professionals complained about them, eventually a lot of the bad ones would get weeded out.

  10. Natasha you have had a horrible experience.

    Are you aware of Sheila Kitzinger’s “Birth Crisis” network?
    http://www.sheilakitzinger.com/birthcrisis.htm you may find it helpful.
    Also, I suggest that you get someone to “debrief” your birth if you haven’t already done this. You could approach a Supervisor of Midwives at either your local hospital, or the hospital concerned or if you can’t bare that, you could ask an Independent Midwife to do it with you. Have you obtained a copy of your maternity record from the hospital? That would be helpful. Contact Medical Records department.

    I wish you well in your recovery.

    Valerie

  11. I went through this with the birth of my last child. I was already suffering from PTSD. I went to the hospital after my water broke. At first they gave me meds to prevent labor, as they felt the baby was too small. About 3 days later, my labor began anyway. After being in hard labor for nearly 24 hours I had only dilated to 3. They then decided that they wanted to give me an epi, followed by pit. I was alone, scared and in the throes of severe depression, so I just kind of shrugged and said ‘whatever’. I was, of course, glad that the pain would go away. I knew NOTHING about the pit, and was just told it was something to help me dilate all the way. About 6 hours later I hadn’t had much progression, and the epi had begun to wear off. I really don’t know how much pit I was getting at the end, but my doctor had gone home about 8 hours earlier and told the nurses to call him when I was at least at 8. When they finally took me to the delivery room, the doctor walked in, did a quick exam then with NO warning, pushed forceps into me and dragged my son out in less than a minute! (At least, I THINK that’s all the time it took!) When I got back to my room I could feel that my bladder was overfull (I had been on a saline drip most of those hours. When I was in the labor room, I was cathed, but they removed it when I went to the delivery room. Because of the epi I was unable to pee on my own, but I KNEW I was ‘swimming’ in it. I finally talked a nurse into cathing me again after about a half hour. I OVERFLOWED 2 cath bags. At any rate, I have suffered from stress incontinence ever since. I’m pretty sure it was from the forcep delivery. I was an emotional mess for a LONG time after. I also developed Fibro and CFS shortly after that. I only know that I was never offered ANY options to what was done. They had my psych reports. I think they took advantage of that. They could just say I was ‘crazy’ and didn’t know what I was saying when I finally complained. I wish I could explain this better, but I’ve blocked so many of the memories that I can’t remember the entire experience in sequence. I’m sure I’ve left out some info that might be important. Yes, in the end my son was fine. It was hard to bond with him for nearly 3 months though, and I will ALWAYS regret that. My 13 year old daughter did about 80% of his caregiving during that time. I will always regret THAT as well. (She actually ended up caring for ME during that period as well. I will always be ashamed of that too!) My initial PTSD was due to the murder of my husband 6 months previously, so my poor daughter was ALSO suffering. The ‘good news’ is that we all survived. My daughter has done SO WELL and I’m so proud of her. She’s now a college grad with a great job. She still helps me though. We are all very close as a family, but it COULD have ended so differently. In the end we simply turned it all over to G_d, and the healing began.

  12. Dear Natasha,

    right now I cannot answer extensively, because what I read about your delivery was in the first page or so almost as if I had written myself – I am also a mother of twins and had an “emergency cesarean” after 30 hours of induced labour.

    I know all those comments: be happy that you have healthy children, stop moaning… I could go on for pages – complete and willful ignorance of my own experience during and after birth.

    Which made a difficult experience even worse and prevented healing from starting.

    My twins were born in 2003, and I recently had 6 sessions of EMDR for this birth experience and I am still not done with it.

    I wish you and your kids all the best and I really, really can feel with you.

    Best regards

    Julie

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