You’re sitting in a room, all alone. You’re seated on the edge of the bed and your body feels heavy as it sags towards the floor. You’re breathing hard. Shallow. You close your eyes because when you do that, the reel inside your head begins to slow and the flickering images start to make a little more sense. But they’re still there and you know that no matter what you do, those images are staying. Imprinted on your soul forever. Because you’re changed forever.
Someone beside you reaches for your hand. They know you’re broken. You’re scared. You’re screaming for help. You don’t know what they’re thinking. You don’t know what they’re feeling. You don’t know if they understand. But you need them. And as they take your hand in theirs you fall into them.
“At least your baby is here, healthy and happy! That’s all that matters.”
And the world comes tumbling down.
I have heard this so. Many. Times. I have learned not to react. Not to shut down and wallow. Not to question myself and my own reactions to what happened. I’ve learned that not everyone understands. They can’t. They won’t. I’ve learned to appreciate that birth trauma is still so misunderstood.
I get comments and emails and messages that question my motives for writing about birth trauma. What happened to me is nothing compared to what happened to them. They went through what I did and they aren’t traumatised, so why am I? They’ve been through much worse, what gives me the right to complain? They don’t have a baby, happy and healthy, at all. So how dare I feel cheated, or mournful or angry?
I won’t dismiss your feelings. But I won’t accept that it’s ok for you to tell me a healthy baby is all that matters. I matter too. My birth experience matters. My emotional wellbeing. My state of mind. I matter as much as you do.
I took a baby home from the hospital and I will always ALWAYS be grateful that I did. I will always know how lucky I am. I will always appreciate the work that was done to save my son’s life. But I will also always remember the horror that was his birth. I only wish I could forget.
A healthy baby is important. But it is NOT all that matters.