January 16, 2015

Cut, Stapled, on the Mend?

I was approximately six weeks postpartum when I finally broke down and asked my doula to come for her postpartum visit. She had been asking me since week two to come, and I just couldn't bear it. I had been delaying this visit as long as rationally possible. I anticipated a judgmental tone, a "you let us all down" undertone to the whole meeting. I just couldn't face her.

When it finally became embarrassingly far out from my delivery date, I couldn't stall any longer. She had other clients to see, loose ends to tie up. She stopped by on a hot summer day, quiet and thoughtful.  She asked me how I was feeling, but she didn't need glasses to see through the pleasantries I was offering. I was in bad shape and she knew it. There was nowhere to hide.

She started off delicately, sticking to the "factual" type details of the visit: "How's the baby feeding?" "Are you feeling any pain?""Any concerns?"I tossed her a bone: "the baby spits up a lot, it's kind of worrisome." After that exchange, she stepped up to the plate, boldly stepping into the fire:

"How are you doing?"

"I'm okay."


"You know, kind of having a hard time." I said nonchalantly with a shrug. I couldn't look into her eyes. She knew. She knew I was a total mess. She looked at me expectantly, waiting…the silence was cacophonous.

Before I knew it, words were tumbling out faster than I string them together. The tears flooded my face. I cried that pitiful cry; the one where you're gasping for air as you try to talk. And she let me. She let me fill the space with my sadness, anger, and shame. Then, I was holding back something. Things that I'm not sure I am even ready to write.

I worried she secretly resented me as a client, no matter gentle and attentive she was coming across. At the time, I can say that this silent presentness upset me very much. It was like a friendly tabby, quietly sitting in the corner watching, listening, an occasional flick of the tail. The eyes are watching thoughtfully, the ears listening attentively, but what does that tail flick mean?

I didn't want a quiet, thoughtful response. I didn't want space. I needed someone to catch me. I was drowning, but I couldn't ask for a life preserver. I should have told her, but I didn't. I couldn't be any more pitiful than what she was already witnessing. So, I just shut it down. Numbness, information seeking, compartmentalizing.

Self preservation.

One of the first things she recommended was reading "Cut, Stapled, and Mended", which she confessed would be a difficult read. I dutifully wrote down the title and scrawled "difficult to read" next to it on a scrap of paper from an old spiral notebook.

This scrap of paper has been beckoning from the junk drawer for 7 months. Every time I picked it up, my hastily scribbled note scared me away. The scrap went back into the drawer, back into the dark. Another time, another day perhaps.

After my previous post, putting it out there for the world to see, I very well couldn't back down. To the drawer, out comes the paper. The search was on, the book ordered. This was Monday.

Today is Friday, and guess what folks:

Truth be told, I liked it. It was a quick, candid read. It felt authentic, real. Half of the words were the very same that I had shared with others about my own negative birth experiences. All I could do was nod along as Roanna chronicled her sadness, her desperation for answers, her trials and failures. She went to extreme measures, even beyond what I think most would consider Eastern or homeopathic measures to achieve her goal. Without giving too much away, she knew what she had done did not work the first or second time, but undeterred she kept trying. Kept growing.

A question formed in my head: "Why did my doula have me read this?" Was she trying to tell me I needed to resort to the extremes that Roanna did? (drinking frog extract, seeing a psychic, boiling a root for 30 days and drinking the tea it produced, taping magnets to my body) Or was it simpler?

Well I asked her today over coffee. Her simple answer was: "I wanted you to know it could be done."
Simple as that. Did I have to go through all Roanna's extremes. No. But it is important to know what my personal limits are, and then take it to that level. That way, I can tell myself, as Roanna did, "I did everything I could."

I'm frustrated that I didn't do this sooner. The book was not the big, bad, scary beast I thought it was. Although, it might have been the day, the week, the month after my doula's visit. She told me she could see a change in me, one that I cannot yet see. Maybe this is a sign, a sign to keep on going. To try the next hardest step.

Maybe it's time to talk about Lollipop's birth…well, at least try to talk about it while I tackle, "The Labyrinth of Birth." It serendipitously arrived on my front porch this very afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. GHA! Tears over here mama - I am so wickedly excited to watch/read your journey and excited that you are starting laborinth for birth :)