Birth trauma is real, PTSD birth trauma is real, and more people are coming forward to share their birth trauma stories!
A few years ago, Cristen Pascucci, founder of Birth Monopoly, and photographer Lindsay Askins collaborated on Expositing The Silence. Their project's intent is to expose the silence of birth trauma.
Now Cristen is the Executive Producer of the powerful upcoming documentary Mother May I. It's time people not only feel they can share their traumatic birth stories but also speak out against the care providers who harmed them. This is how we create change!
When birth trauma is triggered, it can stop a person in their tracks. While it can happen without warning, it's common for life events like birthdays to transport a person immediately back to the moment of trauma – their child's birth.
Below you'll read a heart-wrenching piece by Roze Red. Her story matters as well as the stories of countless others.
Birth trauma is real!
The sunlight is damp on my skin. My feet slap against the cement as I cross to the grass barefoot.
My feet are freezing and stuck.
I wiggle my toes; straining against the tape and stumble as I walk, unable to lift my feet from the hot grass.
The hot grass slips between my toes as I pick up twin #1 and wave at #2 over the length of the playground.
I lean my face down to #1's face and I'm stuck.
Tears are plastered to my face and hair is a mess of veins against my cheek. My husband has his skin against mine and his tears twist into mine as twin #1 laughs into my hair and I set him back on the ground.
He runs away laughing. I pause to catch my breath because it's trapped in my chest like lead. I twist the balloon strings around my fingers.
They constrict me.
The strings are wrapped across my thighs and ankles.
I know what they're doing so I try not to move. But they're ripping apart my skin and muscle so I jerk impulsively at the straps. And scream. “I can feel you!”
I can feel you…
Tiny hands tug at my pant legs; dirt and ice cream stained.
I look down and smile. Well. A macabre play of one as I fight the razers in my throat and grit in my eyes. That's all he wanted; acknowledgment.
“Please just stop, I can feel it!” Just hear me.
Tears are running down my face like acid leaving trails of black in the rivulets. White flashes in the corner of my eyes, pressing against my face; he wipes it all away. “Please.” I sob.
I just want to enjoy this birthday. Their birthday.
My throat cracks while I watch them both wander across the pavement. But I shake my head slightly to throw the tears from my head because I don't cry in public.
I don't cry, I don't cry, I don't cry, I don't cry.
I stare at the ceiling feeling my stomach jerk to the left; my skin split jagged. I concentrate on the stupid dots so hard they're all I can see everywhere I look. My husband's face is covered in dots, the monitor I distantly hear people screaming over is dots, the sheet draping across my expanded belly is dots and I can't think.
I can't think past the flashes in my head for a minute. They impose over my family like flickers of an old TV screen that isn't quite right.
I'm not right anymore because my insides were scooped out to bring these wonderful twin boys into existence and I felt every second.
They're laughing in the hot sun and I'm buried in ice; frozen to the hard table that I can't get off of no matter how hard I jerk. My thighs hurt because I'm pulling at the straps. They're digging into me and splitting the flesh underneath like my body is rotten.
Why? The ceiling and dots blur as my body goes numb and I'm no longer in it. Floating above myself I hear them talk about my blood pressure bottoming out but it doesn't matter anymore.
It doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter anymore because I'm not there anymore.
It's over. It's been over for a year; why won't it go away?
It's splitting into my skull like a jackhammer. The resistance I try desperately to throw up is futile against the onslaught of images and feelings that are scraping my insides raw.
Those same insides that were pulled outside. They pawed through me; a human treasure chest…
My stomach twists and I'm wretching into the grass next to my sons' first birthday cake.
If you've experienced birth trauma, please know that you're not alone. There's no shame in seeking professional support from a therapist. Postpartum Support International has outstanding resources, including a toll-free number you can call to speak with someone for help. To file a formal complaint, Improving Birth's Accountability Toolkit can walk you through the process.
You Might Also Like:
7 Ways to Have a Better Birth After a Difficult One
The Dark Secret Many Mothers Keep: Exposing the Silence Project
Trauma, Fear, & Transformation: An Australian Plus Size Birth Story