When Hospital Error Leads to Birth Trauma: My Journey To Healing & ResilienceFeb 06, 2022
“All sorrows can be borne if we put them in a story or tell a story about them.” ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees.
(photo: This was one of the last photos taken during my pregnancy. My water had already broken in this photo, and the waves were slowly gaining momentum.)
I’ve been debating if I’d share this & how much I’d share. I’ve walked with so many women over the years, in triumph & in sorrow. I've heard so many stories, and now I have my own to add. So here it goes: I’m claiming & owning that
I. had. a. traumatic. birth.
I planned a peaceful home birth, but instead ended up with a C-section and a sabotaged immediate postpartum.
I had gone into the hospital to rule out a potential problem, which luckily I didn’t have, with the hope of then returning home to birth. Unfortunately, I was MISdiagnosed with an even more serious condition that required a C-section.
For 45 hours, I was led to believe I had a life-altering illness and that my newborn likely did too.
When I politely declined to preemptively treat my newborn before definitive test results came in, the hospital called Child Protective Services on me.
My “Golden Hour” after birth, my opportunity to meet & bond with my son was totally sabotaged. I was ignored when I asked for privacy, and spent hours being harassed by staff and social workers.
When I finally got the Hospital Advocate to help me, she expedited all of our test results, and low & behold, they were wrong. Nysio & I were both perfectly healthy.
Not one person apologized to us. As soon as those tests came back negative, the doctors & social workers & CPS disappeared. It was crickets.
I share this because if this happened to me, (an experienced birth worker who holds white privilege) this is happening to others too.
While I’m grateful that both my son & I lived through our experience, I refuse to accept that “at least I have a healthy baby, and that’s all that matters.”
The emotional & psychological wounds that I and so many other women carry are invisible. The end does not justify the means. Not in child birth. We all deserve to be seen & heard and to have the right to informed consent.
I’m blessed to have the knowledge, resources, and community support to heal and come through this, even if it takes some time. (Thank you in particular to my doula Andrey Lemon for her care & love!!)
I wish that for every birthing person.
Whatever your birth story is, I hope you can find safe spaces to share, own, grieve, and celebrate.
And if you had an ecstatic beautiful birth, please share that too. I know sometimes women who loved their birth feel guilt about sharing their triumph around those of us who’ve experienced trauma.
There’s room for all of us! Let me share in your triumph and use it as inspiration. And maybe you can listen and hold space for those of us who need to process our grief.
And if you experienced trauma and are feeling pressured to “just be glad you had a healthy baby,” I see you. There’s room for you to be grateful for your healthy baby AND feel sad/angry/betrayed/etc. about your birth.
Let’s get more nuanced. Let’s support each other in all of our journeys!
And to all you VBAC & HBAC mamas out there... please raise your hand!
I wanna see you, cuz you’re my new inspiration
My team has been amazing at supporting me postpartum. Self-care has really been a life-saver, sanity-preserver, and joy-enhancer these last few weeks!
Thank you for reading my story & for being a part of our community!
With love & gratitude,
Sparrow & the Sparrow’s Nest Team
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