Welcome to the survivor moms speak out blog!

While practicing full-time as a community-based midwife, I had the opportunity to work with many women who were survivors, either of childhood sexual trauma, rape, or both. The experience of being their midwife, and witnessing their challenges and triumphs encouraged me to learn more about the effects of trauma on the body, and on the experience of childbearing specifically. So just as I felt "called" to practice midwifery, I felt "called" to shed light on issues that survivor moms face during the process of becoming a mother. That calling led me to begin the "Survivor Moms Speak Out" project. We surveyed many women who were both moms and survivors; and 81 of those women completed a narrative or contributed a poem for the book "Survivor Moms: Women's Stories of Birthing, Mothering, and Healing after Sexual Abuse."
Read more about the book, or order a copy, at http://www.midwiferytoday.com/books/survivormoms.asp.

Because of space constraints, not all of the narratives that women contributed to the book project were able to appear in full in the final version of the book. So I would like to take the opportunity to share some of the whole narratives in this blog, featuring a narrative at a time.
About reading survivor stories:
Although the stories are encouraging because they represent survivors’ triumphs over adversity, they can also to be hard to read, because of the intensity of the issues and events. I encourage you to check in with yourself while reading survivor stories, especially if you are a survivor of past trauma, and limit your exposure if you become “triggered”. Feeling triggered might take several different forms. You might start re-experiencing a past trauma you have had before, by not being able to stop thinking about it, or dreaming about, or just feeling like it is happening all over again. You may feel distress or have physical symptoms like feeling your heart race or sweating. If you start to experience these things, you may benefit from talking to someone who understands how trauma works and how to help you with post-traumatic symptoms.

To read more about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder you can check out the National Center for PTSD website: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/.

The Sidran Foundation offers an information and a referral resource on-line: http://www.sidran.org/

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tina's Poems

Out of Clouded Waters

Water pools
where long have
hidden my truths.
Dusty fragments of past
gather there and settle.
I keep the pond still,
until calm is lost
under storm of day to day.

She rises from the water,
thread-bare and stained
Her child-eyes
knowing always too much
but never of herself.
Never knowing of her innocence, long stolen

I stare at her through watery eyes,
Mourn our unity,
our separateness.
Touch her with arms made strong from
past submersions of her
Past drownings.

But this time I pull her to me
our wet skins touch
we lay in the warmth
of our self.
And feel the rains crash down.

burn scars
are forever in healing
even under the coolest of touches.

On starry winter nights
when your cool hand rested on my face,
our delicious fever pitched

until my eyes closed, fleeing
the intensity
of us.

did you know I had been burned
by other fires long, long ago?
sacrificed on altars
of child-lust
bereft of all
but to burn and bleed innocence
onto cold ground.

Your cool hands ignited me
and together we were hotter than I could stand.

burn scars are forever in healing...
yours were not hands to heal me
but to set me afire
all the rest of my starry nights.

I re-enter resting body
eyes open wide
and he is there.

Grinning his toothy fascination
riding as on a forbidden rollercoaster
and I am the child-ride.
Panic rises
fear of the descending
contorted brow of

His red face swallows
squinting eyes
rolling inward
rolling upward
leaving only clenched teeth.
The ride is almost over
I once again retreat inward

Later, she shows her pinched-up
face (mad mother face)
to me. Eyes flee downward in shame.
Fear of discovery.

I anxiously await my escape into
The protection of my own silence
where anger and hatred
love and hope
Are returned to my ownership
and write themselves incomprehensibly
on my forehead.

Her lifetime was lived
while her mother lay sleeping
in Denial's arms

Girlhood whispers
and feather touches
could not wake her.
Scent of bitter-coffee
and still her mother dreamed.

Silently, resigned
she left for other warmth

When the sleep
became forever
she held tears inside
for warmth.
Rocked back and forth
back and forth
wrapped in her mother's solaces.

I live my life while
my mother lays

Beginning fresh
every day
to raise them up,

She brushes golden hair
in long strokes through
earthy smelling bristles.
Dips into white water fountains
to smooth their tangles
Breathes in deep,
the long-gone smell of
milky flannel.

She weaves her tapestry
with their sun spun hair
inserting beads of her
own soul;

a cloak of green and gold finery
in which to wrap them.

For one day, they will
walk the river’s shores alone

panning for her soul

And finding that pebble
of living green,

They will become
one with the river.

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