I want to thank Amy Romano for linking to this beautifully written article, the first in a series of three, on sexual assault survivors giving birth. I definitely learned from it.
I think one of the best ways to learn how to be a caregiver is to listen to people’s stories. After hearing about this particular author’s fears and experience, I feel like I can empathize better. I especially like the recommendations she gives on how to speak to a caregiver about birth. I think it has applicability in other areas of medical care:
Perhaps the most important thing we can do as survivors preparing to give birth is to tell our story. Working with a midwife or a very compassionate doctor who will take the time to listen is especially important for survivors. You may choose to have your partner join you for the conversation and focus on the facts: “I’d like you to know this about me. You don’t have to fix anything, but here are some things that I need you to do. Tell me before you do anything physically to my body, so I can be prepared for what to expect. Avoid the following words: ‘Trust me,’ ‘relax,’ etc.” If you are closer to your care provider, you might choose to really let them into your story, to open yourself to their healing words and experience.
As an abuse survivor, I bristle when I am told to “relax”. I don’t identify as a sexual assault victim, although perhaps I should. But, I do identify as a verbal and emotional abuse survivor, and there is some overlap there.
As for me, I started a new rotation today. Pediatrics outpatient. It was a lot of coughing, earaches, runny noses, physicals, and crying, which is what I expected. I liked it more than I thought I would. I hope I continue to be pleasantly surprised with my rotations.