My journey to where I am today has been long and winding, as will be the journey to get me to where I need to be tomorrow. It's been a journey of hope and pain, of strengths and weaknesses, of trials and triumphs. A journey from birth trauma to birth revolution. A journey to becoming me.
An excited me pregnant with baby "Parry"
I was incredibly excited planning the birth of my first baby. I googled natural births and read stories of the most amazing births imaginable. I learned all I could. I wanted a homebirth but was told no by my partner. So we compromised and did it his way. Booked into the birth centre I was now feeling a little less excited and a little more fearful. I was pleased that I would have a “naturally minded” midwife – which is what I assumed the birth centre midwives were, but terrified of being attached to the hospital.
At 28 weeks I was sent off for my GTT – the only risk I was advised of was that if I failed the test I would not be allowed to birth in the birth centre. Not realising that stress can actually affect your blood sugar levels I did the test and failed miserably. Now the fear REALLY kicked in. Ob appointments, scans, dieticians, talk about a big baby, inducing, having to stay in hospital, probably alone, for 24 hours after the birth. I was no longer excited about the birth but simply hoped to make it through unscathed.
Which I didn’t. For so long I believed that my body had failed me. It had failed to gestate healthily. It failed to go into labour. It failed to be induced. Epidurals don’t work on me so I guess it failed there as well. And then it failed to birth my baby. I left hospital 9 days after I was admitted, adamant that I would not be having more children. My body obviously wasn’t designed for it and this just convinced me of my preconceived notion that I am not maternal. Maybe I’m just not meant to be a mother?
But my partner and I had always wanted more children. So I did MORE research and more learning. I learned that my body had not failed my baby – the Australian maternity care system had failed us both. I looked more into homebirth, but it was not a suitable option for a range of reasons – some stupid reasons, some valid reasons all adding up to another go on the hospital merry-go-round.
I was assertive. I had a plan. I told my midwife the plan the day we met at 10 weeks. I hired a doula. I did a Hypnobirthing Australia course. I explored and faced my fears. I panicked. Hospital. Midwives. Obstetricians. Machines. Tubes. Risks. At some point I realised that I was NOT okay at all with the prospect of birthing in hospital at the mercy of people who don’t know me and won’t have to live with the scars. But it was too late.
Second time around brought more pain and trauma
More trauma. More blame. More pain.
I promised myself that I would never again put myself at the mercy of the system. My baby deserves better than lies and manipulation. I deserve better than bullying. ALL women and their babies deserve better than “standard care”.
My baby's birth neatly recorded on a whiteboard. So standard and sterile.
I no longer see myself as weak. I AM STRONG. I have overcome so much. For a while I thought that my strength came from having experienced the trauma that I did. But I’m going to steal a quote from a friend and say “I could’ve been strong without being violated and degraded. Why couldn’t the source of my empowerment have been quality support and loving care instead of suffering?”
The source of my empowerment and strength was trauma and I stand as a member of the maternity care revolution so that the source of other women’s empowerment and strength can be: quality support; quality education; confidence in themselves; responsibility for their own informed decisions; knowledge about their rights; respectful care; abundant choices; kindness; awe at their power.
Every baby DESERVES a healthy, strong, confident mother. And I am fighting to see that every baby gets that.
My reason for revolution. These beautiful kiddies deserve a healthy, whole, confident mum.