Getting my birth records was very helpful. It took me 2 years to work up the courage to request them. I was just so afraid that I would find something in them that would "prove" that the whole mess had been "my fault." What I discovered instead were some details that helped confirm that I really had chosen the right moment for the c-section, and some questions that will probably never be answered. Also, for some reason it was really comforting to me to see the name of the resident who had been present for the last 12 hours of my labor & for the c-section. She was far kinder than the attending OB, but I couldn't recall her name. It's just so weird to go through so many intense moments with a bunch of total strangers...somehow seeing her name made her feel less "anonymous" in my mind.
My physical recovery was very slow, probably for a bunch of factors, including my age, the fact that I had a lot of pregnancy weight to lose, my DD's nursing patterns, which made it impossible for me to sleep, and the breast infection I got immediately after DD was born & took 3 months to clear up. But anyway, when DD was 8 months old I bought a bicycle and started using it to commute to work, and it did wonders for my body & psyche. For a long time I felt like the oldest, slowest, fattest thing on the road, but slowly I found myself getting stronger & my rides getting longer and easier. Now I bike year-round in Wisconsin and I sort of relish the physical challenge of biking when it's super cold or windy. I've never been much of an athlete, but the loss of confidence in my body was so great after the birth, that it's been very helpful to put myself in situations where I can push myself to my limits & feel like I'm up for that challenge. Frankly, a tough bike ride on a cold windy day still feels like a walk in the park compared to my labor. I still don't have any confidence that my body could handle birth again (not that I'm going to give it a try), but I have restored my faith in my body's strength & endurance & resilience, and that has been HUGE.
When I was about 6 months out from the birth, I started dance therapy & kept it up until DD's first birthday. That was enormously helpful. I talked, moved, drew, and wrote with my therapist. It was so helpful to be witnessed and heard by someone who could handle the intensity of my story. And it was literally the only activity that I did purely for me during that first year of DD's life.
And connecting with other women, yes. That is so important. Joining MDC and being active on these boards has been very healing to me.