HUNGER FOR WHOLENESS IV: Heal Yourself Before Giving Birth
The price is just too much for the little ones who have to live with us while we go through our own recovery. As Mate’ pointed out with his own mother, we women do not have it in us to provide the safe, compassionate, and unconditional environment we want for our children, while we are still processing our own trauma. The guilt and shame that brew from feeling inadequate as a mother fuel the flames of rage, and we are stuck in a vicious cycle of self-hatred and reactive outbursts, anger, and abusive behaviors. Without holistic support, the world turns, and the next generation inherits the burden of abuse and recovery.
The importance of healing before pregnancy becomes quite obvious. If we then add childhood sexual abuse, the issues reach another level of complexity. Giving birth can ignite old trauma As an evidence for my case, I will refer to Rachel Lev-Wiesel and her research team who studied one aspect of the effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). In their study called “Childhood sexual abuse as a predictor of birth-related posttraumatic stress and postpartum posttraumatic stress” they show several examples of “social difficulties” amongst adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and pointed to the intensifying effect from pregnancy. For instance, if a woman have sexual abuse in her past, the birthing experience can in itself initiated these “difficulties”, and without the right support, develop into PTSD (2009, p. 878). If she is lucky, she is diagnosed and treated for having postpartum post traumatic stress disorder, at least some of her trauma is addressed.
For me, that diagnose was somehow overlooked, and as a result, my girls were living in the nightmare of never knowing when mom was going to explode. I had daily panic attacks, and was waiting for my girls to die at any moment. My first experience with motherhood was evidence enough that it was quite possible to lose a child. After having had to end the life support for our first daughter, my husband and I were not ideal prospects for parenting. Still, I decided, mostly from lingering panic of becoming childless, to have another baby. The pain and helpless feelings from losing my first daughter, mixed with the growing anxiety and rage from trauma, did not provide the desired climate in uterus for my second daughter. Nor did it offer the kind of environment research tells us our children need to flourish. To be continued.