What can you do to come to terms with an unexpected outcome?
At the Pregnancy and Parenting Network in October we discussed Unexpected outcomes at length. One of the issues we discussed is what are some positive strategies to help come to terms with an unexpected outcome. Strategies that the group came up with were:
- Probably one of the most important things to do is to debrief after the birth. You many need to tell your story over and over to different people. Having a skilled listener can be very helpful. Talking to your midwife can help
- It was suggested to write down your birth story. It was felt that it helped you to learn more about your experience and that you'll remember more.
- Reading other women's stories was viewed positively by most in the group
- Look after your health - eat well, rest and consider natural therapies
- Seek counselling if needed
- Give yourself time ...
Do you have any other suggestions? Can you share your experience?
Birthing a glorious baby in a not so glorious fashion
I have always believed in my body’s ability to birth naturally. After taking 20 years to achieve a successful pregnancy I had come to view the impending birth as my magnum opus. I was going to birth a glorious baby in a glorious fashion.
Numb from the waist down in an operating theatre after days of labour, and hours of what I would politely classify as torture at the hands of clock-watching hospital midwives, was not what I had planned. I suppose because I am resilient, and because most of all I was aching to hold a living baby in my arms, I let go of it all in the moments before they lowered that blue curtain and I saw my glorious baby for the first time. One out of two ‘glorious’ isn’t bad right? I had a beautiful baby, the baby I strived for 20 years to carry (my first baby was carried by another woman on my behalf).
Twenty-four hours later the cracks were beginning to show. My adoration of my child was beyond words but it was the little things that got to me. Like when I absentmindedly flipped through her new blue book and my eyes fell on the words ‘failure to progress.’ I had failed. My body had failed. I was a failure. How could this be? How could I, the great campaigner for gentle birth, me, the woman who had championed the cause and converted so many woman, I, who had watched those women go on to have glorious births… How could it be, that in the end it was me who had failed?
Here I sit twelve months on and for the most part I have made peace with what happened. I understand now that great emotional pressures in the last half of my pregnancy (including my partner leaving) undoubtedly contributed to my state of mind and my inability to let go and surrender to my labour. I also have come to trust the feelings I had from early in the pregnancy that the baby was poorly positioned. It was this positioning which started the spiral and ended it. And last I have come to accept that all this accepting cannot change what happened.
But now for the crunch. As I ponder another pregnancy I am torn between an intense desire to give my body a second chance – to forgive it its trespassers and believe in it again – and to run screaming in fear straight to a hospital.
As I work through these feelings I have found myself beginning to do something suggested to me soon after my daughter’s birth. I was privileged to have a wonderful private midwife with me who, knowing how important it would be for me, took many photos throughout my labour and of my baby’s birth. She knew when I said ‘Take photos. Please. We have to be able to tell the story’ that I meant photos of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Anyway, in those early days my midwife suggested that I set the photos to music in a short film style. At the time I thought I could never do it. But slowly, all this time later, I am. I have shed many tears examining each photo, remembering the feelings that went with them and grieving for what I lost. But at the same time I have come to view this as my new opus. Testament to what my body could endure, how far I would go, to birth a living baby.
I still feel cheated and perhaps, to some extent, I always will. But for the most part I have come to believe that, for whatever reason, my baby was meant to be born exactly where she was. I must trust in her and believe that she knew what was best. Also I must forgive my body and allow it a second chance. After all it has been through, it deserves at least that much.