In June 2014, I welcomed my twin baby girls three months early. I was separated from them shortly after birth and three days later, I held our sweet baby Ilana as she took her last breaths. My introduction to motherhood went so drastically NOT according to plan and has left me with the arduous task of overcoming a birth trauma.
Your trauma might not look like mine. I hope it doesn’t. Two women will probably never stand next to each other and have the same experience, even if they have the same diagnosis on paper.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few ways to help support myself and help those around me support me as well. Here are a few things that have helped me cope.
How to Survive Birth Trauma
1. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to be sad and scared and mad. It’s OK to feel whatever emotion you need to feel. My best friend once told me, “Don’t let your feelings have feelings.”
2. Identify triggers. Try to identify situations, conversations and experiences that might be a trigger for you. It may take some time, but eventually those triggers will be easier to handle and won’t send you to the deepest, darkest corner of your closet.
3. Find an outlet. Talk to someone. If talk therapy isn’t for you, find something that is. There are so many different and new types of therapy that can help you. From EMDR to art therapy. Scream into a pillow. Let it out.
4. Don’t put yourself on a timeline. Two and a half years later, nothing about my traumatic birth experience is “easier” but a lot of it isn’t as sharp of a pain. And yet there are still some aspects of it that are extremely raw and maybe always will be.
5. Avoid comparing trauma. There’s always going to be someone that had it a little worse and someone that had it a little better, but what does that do for you?
6. Know that no way is wrong. Expect that you and your partner might process and live with the trauma in different ways, but neither is wrong. And understand that when you are at your low, your partner might be at his or her high.
If someone hasn’t told you recently, I am so sorry that you have had to go through this. It’s not fair and it’s not easy. Love and light, mama. —Julie