My son was born six years ago. When he was four days old, I googled ‘birth was horrific‘ because I was looking for some kind of reassurance that I wasn’t alone. That what I’d been through wasn’t unique to me. That my experience didn’t make me a freak of nature. Until then I had no idea that birth could be like that. No idea that I would be scared, battered, bruised and alone. No idea that the word horrific could even be associated with what I’d been assured would be one of the most amazing life events I’d ever experience. And I discovered a new phrase. A phrase that summed up what had happened to me. A phrase that made me feel sick. A phrase that since went on to fuel me.
I’d had a traumatic birth. And so had other women. I was suffering the after effects and had many signs of PTSD already. There was a reason I was feeling this way.
When he was ten months old, I started to blog. And this blog became the sounding board for all the horrible things I was feeling. The sleepless nights. The anger. The isolation. And not long after this I signed up to be a media volunteer for the Birth Trauma Association. I wanted to tell my story so that changes could be made. So that other women knew they weren’t alone either. So that birth trauma would not be a phrase that made my skin crawl. It would empower, educate and unit instead.
The first interview I gave was to the BBC, regarding shortages of midwives in NHS maternity wards in England. I had no political agenda. I simply told my story. It was hard. The producer and camera man were both lovely and very patient and seemingly understanding. I spoke for close to two hours about the events surrounding my sons birth, the after care and my thoughts on the midwife shortage. I expressed how grateful I was to the midwives who cared for me and spoke about being kissed on the cheek, apologised to. Cared for.
My interview was heavily edited and cost me the friendship of a family member who no longer speaks to me. It created a rift in my family for no reason other than the fact that person did not read my blog or understand the context of my interview. But I did not regret speaking out. I still don’t.
The next interview I did was for the Daily Mail, despite my strong misgivings about the paper. The article was about birth trauma be PTSD and the journalist was wonderful. She gave me a lot more control over the tone and voice of the piece and I was very pleased with the result. It was a good article and I have no regrets.
Beyond these two interviews, I’ve had many many comments on this blog from people who simply do not understand birth trauma, or me. People who believe that what they have been through is a lot worse than anything I have ever written about (and let’s face it that is as much as they will ever know about me, what I choose to share). People who want to claim victory over who owns the biggest battle scars. I’ve also had comments from people who want to hurt me. Who want to upset me. Want to stop me from writing about my experiences.
I won’t stop writing about birth trauma. And yet I’m not sure I will do another big interview like the BBC and the Daily Mail interviews. Not because I don’t think they will help, but because I’ve learned to look after me a little better.
Should we taking to the media about birth trauma? Absolutely yes. But only if we are in control, and unless we are writing the piece with absolutely truth and honesty we can never really have that control. Unless the journalist we’ve entrusted our story to has a very good understanding of birth trauma, it’s going to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
We can’t lump a woman’s story of birth trauma inside an article about positive birth or hypnobirthing techniques. We can’t lump it in with an article on obstetritians vs midwives. We can’t lump it in to an article debating the rise of C-sections. We have to share these stories on their own merits. With respect. And with dignity.
And if we’re asking whether or not women should indeed share their stories on their blogs, then of course my answer is absolutely yes. Because here, I have control. You can tell me that you don’t understand and I will strive harder to help you. You can tell me that you don’t agree and I will welcome the debate. You can tell me that you have suffered more than me and I will listen to your story, try to understand you a little better. In an article I have no control over I cannot do that. Only through blog can I be sure that my words cannot be twisted.
I tell you my truth. I hide nothing. I tell you because someone somewhere wants to hear it. Someone somewhere will find comfort in it. Someone somewhere will google ‘horrific birth’, find me and know that hey are not alone.
I’d love your support in the 2016 blogging awards. Being nominated is a wonderful way to raise awareness of issues that matter, and with your support I can help give a voice to families who have suffered a traumatic birth. This will lead to better understanding for health care professionals when it comes to helping and supporting women and families. It will also lead to better understanding for us all, so that women like me can access support without judgement. Thank you!
Please click the links below to nominate me in the following categories: Inspire, Writer, Reader’s Choice, Best baby, Best Writer.