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/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Holly’s Story

My husband and I chose to have a homebirth with a midwife and a doula. The labor was progressing quickly and my midwife explained that I was almost at 10 cm. I was excited that I would begin to push soon but then the contractions changed. The contractions became shorter and fewer. My midwife checked the dilation after about one hour and I had gone from almost 10 cm back to 6 cm. I did not realize this was even possible and I was upset by this. My midwife explained that this was most likely due to some fear I was experiencing and to try to let it go. I did not feel I was consciously aware of any fears I may be experiencing and the labor continued to slow down. My midwife appeared annoyed and she became persistent that the change in dilation was due to some fear inside of me. This was troubling to me because I felt she was blaming me for the change in the dilation, and I felt she was being pushy about her belief that this was due to fears inside me.

She seemed to be getting frustrated with me and said, “This most likely is due to the abuse from your past, you need to let it go.” This statement was extremely upsetting to me. The abuse I experienced had been told to my midwife in private and she said this comment in front of a doula whom I had chosen not to tell. Breaking this confidentiality made me feel even more vulnerable than I was already feeling. I was also very angry that the abuse I experienced was being discussed during the stress of labor. The reminder of the abuse added stress to an already stressful situation. It also seemed to be taking traumatic events in my life and making it into something casual, that I could just let go of so easily.

After the birth I began to notice many symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which I have experienced in the past. I could not eat, I was having nightmares, I was hypervigilant, and very irritable. I would think often about my labor experience and would feel angry towards my midwife. I decided I needed to confront her on how I was feeling. I explained to her exactly how I was feeling and how I felt during the labor. She was very apologetic and explained to me why she was frustrated during my labor. Confronting my midwife helped with many of the post-traumatic stress symptoms I was having. I felt that I took control of a situation that was feeling out of control.


rhonda moore said...

A good midwife is hard to find. That woman had no right to say that to you and put that pressure on you. You should confront her and tell her how damaging this was to you.

I had a horrible midwife myself. She sexually violated me during my labor. When my husband asked her what she was doing she lied and said I was just working hard. She continued to violate me throughout my labor.

When I confronted her about it she said she must have gotten caught in a web from my past sexual abuse. Then she said she was doing it for my best interest and wasn't trying to be sexual with me all midwives touched there clients that way.

During my pushing I said it felt like an orgasm my midwife said you should have one and without asking she started touching my clitoris. I have been traumatized for years over this. I told her ten years later that she was a pervert. She apologized for doing it but blamed it on the fact that she was emotionally unstable at the time. She said she was out to lunch about what she was doing.

I really regret not pressing charges against her. So I am hoping to get my story out there so other women who may have experienced this won't feel alone

So stand up for yourself don't let her get away with it

rhonda moore said...

I just saw that you did confront her that's very good.