How To Recover From A Traumatic Birth: Part 4 - Whose Truth Is It Anyway?
Part 4 is about questioning the ‘truth’, the reality of what that little inner critical voice says.
Because, you know what, 99.9% of what that voice says is not true. It’s just that it’s easier to believe it because that seems to make sense, and making sense of something makes us feel that we have control of it.
Except we don’t have control. That’s the illusion.
We cannot control something that cannot be controlled and life, the good, the bad and the ugly of it all, is mostly beyond our direct control.
It is not the fault of any woman or birthing person if their birth does not pan out as envisaged.
Not to mention that when a woman or birthing person’s body appears to fail during birth, it’s rarely the case that it is simply broken. There are always other factors like obstetric intervention, how much normal birth physiology has been disrupted, the attitudes of, and treatment from, healthcare professionals, family and friends, whether a woman or birthing person feels psychologically and emotionally safe when giving birth.
These factors matter and they can have a direct impact on birth outcomes.
To be clear, in no way am I suggesting that we shouldn't be very glad to have modern obstetrical healthcare, nor am I suggesting any necessary obstetric interventions should be rejected per se. What I'm saying is that they all have an impact on physiological birth that is rarely taken into account when a birth does not go as envisaged. So, please, factor that in before believing you are broken.
How your birth went and ended is not your fault if it did not go the way you thought it would.
But women and birthing people still blame themselves because they listen to that little voice as it lies and tells them they failed.
Combatting an inner critical voice is tough because it seems to speak logic and truth. Really, it whispers most insidiously and its primary message is that we failed and that we are not enough compared to other women and birthing people.
The trick is to answer it in the same way you would speak to someone you love and care about. Always when our loved ones come to us and tell us things, we reply to them not to be so hard on themselves for failing or for making a mistake they regret.
We listen, and we show them a different perspective to their situation; that it’s not their fault, or if it is their fault we suggest how they might put things right if that’s needed.
So why don’t we do that for ourselves? It seems that that little voice is the manifestation of the guilt and shame we're carrying because we 'failed' at giving birth. We treat ourselves, as Brené Brown points out, as if we ARE a mistake.
Here's the thing; it was never a test. There was nothing to fail. Without question, not having the birth you envisaged can bring immense sadness, grief, anger, resentment, even trauma, but it was never your failure.
It's time to give yourself a different perspective. Tunnel vision is only helpful if you’re in a tunnel.
Talk to yourself kindly and with compassion and love.
Keep repeating the mantra 'I did all I could and I am enough' until you can't hear that little voice anymore.
Silence that little inner critical voice with the kindness and compassion you show to yourself.