The Place He Was Born
Learning to Love My Scar
A Traumatic Birth
My son’s birth was terrible in so many ways. It set me up for some pretty dark days for a long time after he was born. It’s a really hard thing to consolidate that the day he was born was the worst day of my life – when it should have been the best. And it’s so awful that the joy I should have felt meeting my son for the first time was overshadowed by the trauma I experienced. Most of which was caused directly by the actions of the hospital staff.
For some time afterwards both family and friends were angry at the hospital on my behalf. For some context, it was bad enough both the obstetrician and the midife apologised to me for what they did the following day. A friend who is a midwife suggested – and insisted – that under the circumstances I could have sued the hospital.
But while everyone was angry around me I was the one saying “It’s okay, he’s here, he’s healthy, and everything is fine.” Everything was not fine. I was traumatised. I was barely keeping it together. But I just wasn’t ready to unpack that pain.
The Long Road To Recovery
Though gradually with the help of a perinatal psychologist I was able to make some sense of what had happened to me.
But even two years after he was born it upset me that my cesarean scar still occasionally prickled and tingled, especially in the shower. The skin around it was numb, so it didn’t feel like it was part of my body. I felt like it wasn’t supposed to be there. I had stretch marks and extra skin on my belly, my breasts had changed shape and I always looked tired, but I was okay with those changes because they were supposed to happen, I expected them.
But here was this scar, this alien feature on my body, this constant, inescapable reminder of what had happened to me.
His scar was a reminder of where they had cut me. And everything that happened leading up to it.
It was ugly. It made me feel unsexy and embarrassed. I hated knowing that it would always be there.
Planning For Another Birth
Getting pregnant for the second time was both wonderful and scary. Early in pregnancy I could feel my scar tissue tugging and stretching. Even though I was scared, I planned to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after a Cesarean)
I was told over and over by midwives, my doctor and obstetrician that my scar could rupture. It could be the part of my body that gives way. That it made birthing dangerous. The obstetrician even graphically described the consequences of a full tear – telling me my uterus could rip open, my baby would come out into my abdominal cavity and she then suffocate.
All because of my scar. I was being told my scar put my baby girl at risk. So I had even more reason to resent it.
Telling Him Where He Was Born
As my pregnancy progressed my son, who was three years old at the time, started to have questions about his baby sister – and specifically how was his baby sister supposed to get OUT of me.
He then naturally wanted to know how he was born.
So, I told him in simple and age appropriate terms.
I said that I’d gone to the hospital and the doctor had to cut my belly and lift him out. I showed him the scar. I told him that’s where he came out of me. That the scar was the place where he was born.
And that was when I started to really heal, inside and out.
I’ve come to see the scar as where he left my body and came into my life.
The place he was born can’t be that operating room, it was quiet, sterile and too brightly lit – the place where I was terrified and surrounded by people I didn’t trust.
He wasn’t born from that hospital, he came from me, from my body; he came out of that scar.
Then the scar held together and my baby girl was born in a dark, warm room – where I felt safe and respected – and I healed a little more.
I don’t think I’ll ever be happy about how my son was born, but I can be happy that I get to wear on my body the place he was born for the rest of my life.