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Traumatized w/o knowing? Is it possible?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
A girlfriend just had her baby and shared her birth story with me. She is mainstream and we are more acquaintances, or I would have tried to share info.

Anyways, as she related her birth story, I found myself reading into it differently than her. She had an epi very early, they let her push for a 1/2 hour then her doctor said the baby was stuck, gave her a full episiotomy and used the vacuum.

I thought it was dreadful sounding and was ready to offer a hug and solace, but she ended the story by saying her OB was amazing and saved her baby and she is soooo happy about it.

This got me to thinking: can a behavior be objectively/factually abusive or harmful, and the person still benefit from it or feel good about it? If the person doesn't recognize something as abusive, does that make it non-abusive? Just looking for discussion.
post #2 of 34
Maybe she is not very educated about a normal birth and thinks that it really did go well? Sad, but it seems most people don't know when something is not right like that.
post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by dezprincesscc View Post
Maybe she is not very educated about a normal birth and thinks that it really did go well? Sad, but it seems most people don't know when something is not right like that.
Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
Yes, this is what I am wondering. Like, is it all based on a matter of opinion, or is there some objectivity to it as well?

e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...

Not trying to ruffle any feathers; my chat w/ her just got me thinking.



Oh! I thought of another example....I had posted a thread earlier about a college girl who had problems w/ a harassing room mate. She would tell me things that I would instantly label as very abusive, but she herself did not identify them as abusive. Is it all subjective? I remember telling her, "X is abuse" and her saying, "Well, it didn't seem like abuse" or "I didn't feel scared/hurt"
post #5 of 34
When did your friend give birth relative to when she told you the story?

I had a lousy birth experience with my first. Had the epidural early, vaccuum extraction after five hours of pushing (during which the epi failed...) And it *sucked*. But the day after it was all over, I was okay with it. Loved the OB. Adored the nurses. Would have done it all the same again.

A week after that, I was a little not okay with it. A month after that, I was *furious*. I am never giving birth in that hospital again. I am livid about how I was treated during and after labor and delivery, I am grateful that the OB was so patient (most would have had me in for a c-section far earlier in the pushing process), and the nurses were indeed awesome, but the entire labor was ridiculously overmanaged, and IMO, mismanaged.

It sounds to me like your friend's birth was managed for the doctor's convenience, and that your friend suffered an unnecessary episiotomy as a result. It is completely possible that she'll see this herself in a week, or a month, or at some point down the road. She has to get there herself though.
post #6 of 34
It does sound terrible but it could be fine for her emotionally. I know my first birth was bad but to me it was fine. My DH was even traumatized by it! But I was so out of it really it didn't hit me at all if that makes sense.

Quote:
Yes, this is what I am wondering. Like, is it all based on a matter of opinion, or is there some objectivity to it as well?

e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...
I believe it is all relative. I'm sure my birth wouldn't have been traumatic to some. I have heard some birth stories and asked mama if she was ok and she has no idea why I am even asking. I think it really depends on the person paired with the experience. Like if there was a sexual trauma or something it might trigger a trauma in birth. Then again if mama is laying there thinking everything being done needs to be and it's fine and normal she *might* be just fine (maybe not). it just really depends. A beautiful 2 hour water birth to everyone involved can be just fine but to mama the worse 2 hours of her life and she can't quite heal.

I know that in talking about my traumatizing birth and even my pregnancies I had a friend who kept saying "honey you are traumatized you need help" and I literally laughed it off and then everything came crashing down.
post #7 of 34
I know a woman who had a similar birth with her 1st child about 10 years ago. When she starts the story, she always starts by saying, "Thank God for modern medicine. I know that midwives are good, but I would never use one because I would have died if I hadn't been in a hospital with a good O.B." Then she explains the cascade of interventions that she endured and finishes by saying, "So then I screamed at the doctor to get out and get his hands off of my and I had the nurses finish taking care of me."

So saying that the doctor saved her life appears to be her way of coping with the trauma.
post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 
Her babe is a couple months old so I guess that needs to be taken into consideration too.
post #9 of 34
I agree with the time frame issue. I was thrilled to have my baby and even joked with my doula about having her as my midwife for the next baby a week after the birth. By 1 month I was sobbing, by 6 months I was railing because her "support" was nonexistent and I suffered loads of unecessary medical interventions.

I also think that it's a matter of what we expect to happen during birth. My sister had pitocin and an unecessary episiotomy to get her baby out faster than the woman in the next room, so the doctor could be present at both births. She had no idea there was a less clinical way to give birth and didn't care one bit. I would have been furious. In some ways I wish I had never learned about natural, supported birth, as I would have thought the interventions were necessay and lifesaving and probably would feel thankful instead of traumatized.

I also have seen women arrive at the hospital complete, push their babies out and go home the next day. This looks ideal to me, in fact I told my doula that was my "perfect" birth, but was extremely traumatic for these women because they were expecting an epidural and a painless birth.
post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by shellnurse View Post
I also have seen women arrive at the hospital complete, push their babies out and go home the next day. This looks ideal to me, in fact I told my doula that was my "perfect" birth, but was extremely traumatic for these women because they were expecting an epidural and a painless birth.
yes - my birth didn't go according to plan (homebirth transfer blah blah) & by the time the baby was delivered by forceps i was under a full epidural & didn't feel a thing (i had chosen that: this was 36 hours into the labour). but THAT is what i found hardest to process following the birth - the fact i couldn't feel my baby coming out of me, let alone push her out myself.

i was talking to an acquaintance yesterday who had a "terrible" time because by the time she arrived at the hospital it was too late for an epidural & she had "felt it all", which she didn't want. exact opposite. but i think her emotions are not invalid - they are HER emotions about HER experience. i don't think that everyone has to want the same birth experience, & i don't think differing experiences or desires are down to lack of education.
post #11 of 34
Surely one is only abused if one FEELS abused? The fact of delivery is just that, a fact. How one views it is so subjective - there are lots of women i know who were THRILLED with their epidural and ventouse experiece. asily as many as there are utterly traumatised by the exact same birth. It is all about perceptions, values and choices. That's why some are furious even when the birth they had was totally normal or necessary and others are quite happy with a highly unnecessarily intervened with birth.

To me it is important to take a person's feelings on a given day about a given thing as valid. Which means if a mama is thrilled with her failed induction and c-section experience today you celebrate with her and if she is devastated by it next week you commiserate with her. We all re-examine reality and cast it in a way we are comfortable with. For some people "trauma" doesn't occur to them as a possibility and for others it takes many years to work through.
post #12 of 34
Well according to what I have learned on MDC I should be all depressed and angry about my birth experiences. But, I'm not. I did my best with what I knew at the time and I'm not going to let myself be traumatized after the fact. My children are happy and healthy and that's what matters now.

Now I am still educating myself about childbirth (even though I'm done myself) and am passing that info on to others. But, what I'm finding is that a lot of women just don't care. They want the baby and don't care to give the pregnancy and birthing part of it that much thought.

In the end, if I were to have a 3rd child I think my pregnancy and birth would be WAY different b/c I know more (thanks to MDC). But, I will not allow myself to feel traumatized about past experiences.
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by claddaghmom View Post
I thought it was dreadful sounding and was ready to offer a hug and solace, but she ended the story by saying her OB was amazing and saved her baby and she is soooo happy about it.

This got me to thinking: can a behavior be objectively/factually abusive or harmful, and the person still benefit from it or feel good about it? If the person doesn't recognize something as abusive, does that make it non-abusive? Just looking for discussion.
yes, i think trauma is extremely subjective.

it sounds like your friend believes the interventions were necessary. and who knows? maybe they really were. (doesn't sound like it, but my point is, none of us were there--if the baby was in distress, the doctor's actions might have been called for.)

if she ever finds out that those interventions weren't necessary, and she was manipulated, she may very well feel abused.
post #14 of 34
I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action. I think an OB performing unnecessary interventions is being abusive of his/her patient, regardless of the patient's feelings. This happens a lot in obstetrics, imo.

Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end. If someone doesn't feel traumatized, then they weren't - probably. (I do have one caveat - people can realize, much, much later, that they suppressed the trauma at the time that it happened. I did that, to some extent, with my first section. I knew it was awful, and I had a bad time...but it wasn't until my next one was brought up that I realized just how messed up I was by it.)

It sounds quite likely - not definite, but likely - that the woman in the OP was abused...but that doesn't mean she was traumatized.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
Surely one is only abused if one FEELS abused?
This is why I separate abuse and trauma. This isn't birth related, but I knew a woman once who said, about her live-in boyfriend, "sure, he rapes me, but he treats me good". She actually laughed at the idea that he was abusive, because he bought her gold jewelry and maintained her in a relatively lavish lifestyle, and she grew up poor. IMO, beating her and forcing her to have sex when she didn't want to constituted abuse, whether she saw it that way or not. (She was a fairly classic case of having been raised by such abusive people that she saw abusive behaviour as "normal"...so he was a great catch, by her thinking.)
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action....Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end.
:

As an extreme example, if someone does something awful to you while you are unconscious, they abused you. Whether you are ever aware of and traumatized by what happened or not.

And it's possible to be traumatized by the actions of another person who was not being abusive (I would probably feel somewhat traumatized by a c-section, even if I was certain it was medically necessary and done by a good, respectful, OB, for instance).
post #17 of 34
I agree with the distinction between abuse and trauma, just like I agree with a distinction between pain and suffering. One is external and one internal, one objective and one subjective.

So an event that seems "perfect" from the outside may be horribly traumatizing/cause suffering for the person involved while an event that seems "horrible" from the outside may be totally fine for the person involved. Actually, my vbac OB uses the suffering vs pain example a lot when discussing modern obstetrical practice and natural birth... that the goal of the medical world is to relieve pain but that removing pain does not mean you remove suffering and in fact the removal of pain may cause suffering.

Of course, an internal subjective view can change and an event that was once ok can suddenly be "not ok" and vice versa. But overall if the mom feels like she had a good birth than she did. Even if it isn't the birth we would pick for ourselves.
post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action. I think an OB performing unnecessary interventions is being abusive of his/her patient, regardless of the patient's feelings. This happens a lot in obstetrics, imo.

Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end. If someone doesn't feel traumatized, then they weren't - probably. (I do have one caveat - people can realize, much, much later, that they suppressed the trauma at the time that it happened. I did that, to some extent, with my first section. I knew it was awful, and I had a bad time...but it wasn't until my next one was brought up that I realized just how messed up I was by it.)

It sounds quite likely - not definite, but likely - that the woman in the OP was abused...but that doesn't mean she was traumatized.

You rock! lol That is the conclusion my brain was trying to reach and I appreciate everyone helping out!
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
No, I agree with you. I just think there are good odds that in our society she may feel that this is just how it goes.
post #20 of 34
seems to me that she is thrilled to have her new healthy baby. How do you know that this baby didn't have problems that needed to be taken care of...possibly shoulder dystocia? It may sound dreadful to you, but the reality is that it really could have been a medical emergency. I say celebrate with the new mom....the most important thing is that everyone is healthy.
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