feeling "out of body" with birth; mind & body not connected - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-13-2004, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about a strange phenomenon I have experienced, specifically, feeling 'out of body' during two instances in my life.

The first instance was during my first birth, in a hosptial with a poorly functional epidural. The pushing stage was very short, and after the OB delivered dd's head, I put my arms around her trunk and pulled her out, onto my chest. (It was an empowering birth, though I would not choose anything like it in the future, or suggest it to a friend!)

However, in my mind's eye, I was pulling out a baby who was 14 feet away from me, rather than RIGHT between my legs. So too with my mind's image of the OBs location--he wasn't BETWEEN my legs, as close to me as the computer keyboard I'm typing on now; it was as if he were across the room.

Ok, fine. I thought that's just how birth is, it's so wierd to be pulling people out of your crotch, it's surreal.

Then I experienced by second birth at home. I had my hand on my crotch as baby crowned, took my hand away when ds emerged, then put my hands down onto him (I was kneeling over the back of a couch) and grabbed him.

In my mind's eye, that scenario is not surreal. I remember it as yep, having my hand down by my crotch, as matter-of-fact as when I wipe my arse every day. Not to diminish the lovelines or wonderment of the birthing moment, but it was not a surreal, 'across the room' type of feeling.

NOW onto incident #2 of the surreal 'out of body' feeling, when I recently had my umbilical hernia repaired at 4 months post-partum.

I was unmedicated, save a shot of lidocane into my belly-button area. I was lying on the operating table in the OR, two masked surgeons going to town on my bellybutton, Led Zepplin playing in my headset per my request, a scrub nurse taking token snapshots per my request, and another nurse at my head. The whole deal lasted 15 minutes, and crapola, it was suprisingly painful to have all this shoving around going on in my bellybutton, as the surgeon crammed protruding intestinal stuff back down where it belongs.

When I recount that image, again, the surgeons and MY BELLYBUTTON were way far away, like at my feet, rather than AT my bellybutton.

I also have a bellybutton ring, and over the years have had all sorts of unpleasantness with that, from the intital piercing to jewlery removal & re-insertation (what with all this pregnancy stuff!!!) and none of that pain is remembered as surreally as the surgery.

What's goin' on, mamas? Is this a pain thing? A hosptial thing? A common experience for birthing women?

The surreal-ness of my bellybutton surgery is the catalyst for this thread...is my response related to anxiety? Was I indeed that anxious at my first birth, then?

Just pondering! Thanks for your reflections and your own experiences.
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#2 of 6 Old 03-13-2004, 04:02 PM
 
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i think it sounds like a trauma survival mechanism. i've heard that sexual abuse victims have similar experiences, where they learn to go out of their bodies to cope with the event at hand.

fwiw, i'm not a psych major nor do i play one on TV.

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#3 of 6 Old 03-13-2004, 04:35 PM
 
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i had the i'm-watching-myself thing going on quite a few times when i was severely depressed over a decade ago....my psych and therapist both said it was a coping mechanism. i think it's called disassociation maybe--whew, there's a stretch. anyway, i was living a life that i couldn't connect w/---my therapist explained it's a survival thing to not be *in* the moment, as it were. the mind is so amazing! i'm not sure how common it is with normal birth, but w/my hideously interventive birth---it was very surreal, and i was praying to leave my body. seriously. i wish my mind *had* gone along.

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#4 of 6 Old 03-15-2004, 04:02 AM
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by tinyshoes
[B]I've been thinking about a strange phenomenon I have experienced, specifically, feeling 'out of body' during two instances in my life.



Wow, thanks for sharing this, it's fascinating. What strikes me is that the two incidents were both in the hospital, both presumably attended by male authority figures...?

Feeling 'out of body' really does sound like disassociation to me, too.

Was the feeling of out of body just from the waist down?
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#5 of 6 Old 03-16-2004, 08:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by SamuraiEarthMama
i think it sounds like a trauma survival mechanism. i've heard that sexual abuse victims have similar experiences, where they learn to go out of their bodies to cope with the event at hand.
It sounds this way to me, too. I've done this. Whenever I am experiencing a physical trauma, my mind and my body separate. Sometimes it's really severe, like I'm watching a movie from really far away and sometimes it's smaller, like I'm just on the other side of a glass wall. Sometimes I don't even see what's going on, and those are usually more difficult to "come back" from; I tend to curl up and fall asleep afterwards, and wake up later as though it was all a horrible nightmare.

Ironically, I did not experience this during Eli's birth. The pain was so omnipresent and lasted so long that I just couldn't escape it. I was too tired and my brain was not functioning as it usually does. I could not get away from the pain at all until I got my epidural, and then it was like the choirs of angels began to sing... :LOL

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#6 of 6 Old 03-16-2004, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by honey
Was the feeling of out of body just from the waist down?
I guess it just felt like my body was longer or bigger or farther away from my head, somehow.

Like, with my first birth, I do feel like it was my body from which I pulled my nweborn baby, but if I demonstrate the 'pull out baby maneuver' physically, it seems like I'm doing it inaccurately, because in my mind's eye, I was pulling her out from across the room.

With my bellybutton surgery, I was within my body, but as I'm sitting here, my PANTS are lower on my belly than my belly button, and my pants seem closer than the surgeons do in my memory.

I didn't feel like I was completely out of body, or watching a movie of myself. It's more like, when I imagine the scenario NOW, in my memory, I don't remember the action being as close to my head as it technically must've been, as my head is attached to my body.

I guess when I think about, if I heard myself telling these experiences, I'd have to offer the trauma/dissociation reasoning also...

...it is quite interesting to me that this is the diagnosis, even though technically I wouldn't say that I was technically traumatized by the events, but heck...I guess I was.

Perhaps because I've learned so much about birth and the unpleasant, dignity-robbing practices that go on in L&D, my experiences are indeed happy sunshine fresh...but I guess for me, compared to my own experiences, they weren't that happy, esp. compared with my homebirth.

I think there's something to the fact that I'm in a hosptial in both scenarios, & supine....and like you said, honey, both were attended by male authority figures, though by the time I made it to my hernia operation, 4 months post-partum, I viewed my surgeon not as know-all godlike, but like a decent-enough mechanic (not even as an awesome mechanic.) (But just because I had an attitude, doesn't change the fact that I'm the one who was flat on my back on the operating table, and he and Student Surgeon were the ones standing and wearing shoes, so I still had no authority.)

I guess I had a thought that a lot more MDC mamas would be in this boat with me, who also felt this way somehow during their hosptial births, and we'd all be holding our oars, angrily, yelling, "that's why a hosptial is no place for a normal birth!" in a united sisterly fashion.
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