Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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The End: Rebuilding

February 16, 2012

The emotional fall-out from my depression, and later the abortion, wasn't just mine, it was Ryan's as well. Many things are triggering for me now, like hospitals, and I avoid movies or books with scenes of childbirth (I can't read Marley and Me without crying, and I've never seen Juno). There are lines I can't cross, scars that I carry both physically and mentally that will be with me for the rest of my life. However, something Anne Bishop writes in "The Shadow Queen" struck me when I first read it and has stayed with me since. Lucivar, a very powerful character and former slave, is speaking with a much weaker character, Blade, who was once tortured and abused. Blade tells Lucivar that he's not right, as in, not right in the head. And Lucivar replies "No, you're not. You have scars and they run deep. When a man has scars like that, there are boundaries he can't cross, lines he has to draw to keep himself whole. But those boundaries aren't as small as you might think, and a man can choose to live safe or he can choose to live right up to those lines. He might slip over a line every now and then, and that will hurt like a wicked bitch, but he might decide that what he gains will be worth the price." (Bishop, 186)

We had a lot of conversations, after a while, about maybe having another child, but it was always a touchy subject. I wanted to know for sure if we were ever going to actually try again and Ryan was much more comfortable with just seeing what happened and going with the flow. Gabe was a surprise, but a welcome one. We handled it with as much grace as we could with the help of our family and friends. The second time around was a nightmare disaster. I fell back into depression, more because of how badly I had hurt Ryan than anything else. Abortion doesn't cause depression, but not having the support of the people you love sure can, and living in a society where this legal medical procedure is so stigmatized sure doesn't help either. Depression seems to be strongly linked to guilt with me, and I cannot stand to hurt the people I love. But when hurting someone you love is the only alternative to breaking away from your self, sometimes it's the lesser evil. To commemorate the year of 2008 I got my tattoo, which reads "To Thine Own Self Be True" across my shoulders. It felt good to etch that into my skin, for the pain to assuage in some small way the hurt I'd caused and still felt. Something else that helped a lot was a book titled "The Pagan Book of Living And Dying" by my favorite Pagan author, Starhawk. It had sections within it specifically dealing with unwanted pregnancy and abortion and I'm pretty sure I still have them saved on my computer from scans I made thanks to a friend.

So where does this all leave me today? I have a good grasp where my boundaries are, which ones are set in stone and which are fluid. My experiences have made me into a staunch prochoice and body acceptance ally, and given me much more real expectations about labour and delivery. Ryan is preparing for whatever happens and is planning on keeping a keen eye out for any trouble post-delivery, and I wont hesitate (so much) to say anything if I start that slide. We're very much hoping to avoid another c-section by going with a midwife (Lillian has attended over 800 births with very few ceseareans) but mentally I'm preparing myself to go there if we have too. At the same time, I'm also trying to forgive myself for all the messes in the past. The original c-section was not my fault. Technically we did everything right, Gabe just wouldn't turn. My IUD failed me-a 1% chance that led to so much misery. You play the cards you're dealt, and I did what I felt was best. I can't help but wonder "What's next?" Hopefully nothing but an uneventful pregnancy with an equally boring labour and delivery, and quiet recovery at home where I can actually enjoy the first few weeks of the new baby's life. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Live up to the line and sometimes step over it, because I know that the pain has been worth it. If it wasn't for all the mess I wouldn't be who I am.

The image reads "I can do this. I have the strength and support of my family and beloved ones, and confidence in myself. No power in the 'verse can stop me."  It's a picture of a sign that hung over my desk in the fall of 2010 when I was away at teacher's college.

Thanks for such raw honesty in these posts. I haven't seen abortion and body acceptance linked before, but of course, they're both about bodily autonomy.

I wish more women would stand up and talk about their choices in such an honest way. Too often, the way abortion is discussed assumes it's all about teenage pregnancy, when the reality is that it could be your neighbour, your sister, your lawyer or your accountant who's had one or needs one.

Comment Comment

Oh my dear, I just now got to read the whole series you just finished posting. What a difficult, difficult journey you have been on. Wish I could be there to give you a big hug and listen to you in person.

Thank you for sharing your story here with such raw honesty. You're right, while childbirth can be a beautiful wonderful thing, it is not ALWAYS that way for everyone, and especially if things are difficult or if PPD raises its difficult head.

You sound to me like perhaps you had not only PPD but also a dose of PTSD, post-traumatic stress. That sense of boundaries or uncrossable lines, of not being able to touch certain topics or go too far in processing yet....it's a coping mechanism for PTSD, and one I recognize all too well from my own experiences. And it can be a healthy coping mechanism, up to a point, but at some point it has to be processed, when you are ready and have a safe support system. That might not be right now for you, but then again, it might be. You'll have to explore and see what seems right to you. I know for me, getting some counseling with a truly birth-friendly and non-judgmental therapist made all the difference, but it did take me quite some time before I was ready to do that. You'll have to see when you think YOU are ready.

In the meantime, there is a book I found really helpful, called "Rebounding From Childbirth" by Lynn Madsen. I also found journaling and art therapy very helpful in my healing process. YMMV.

Only you can define your healing process, but I will share that in my work with ICAN, we have found that pregnancy offers an incredibly powerful time for healing journeys. They are not easy, mind, and there is a lot of emotional upheaval sometimes, but it offers an unsurpassed healing opportunity in a compressed amount of time if you are ready to do the work.

So while this is a difficult time and I'm sure it brings up sooo many conflicting emotions, recognize that it is also a powerful time, a time with the possibility for great healing and moving on. However, the only way out is through, so remember that this pain you are going through now is part of that healing process.

You can get through this. Hang in there, and feel free to email me privately if needed. Many many many hugs to you.

Comment Comment

Thank you for sharing your journey, Jen. This couldn't have been easy to relive or to share. And it's a much more common story than our society is willing to discuss. So, thank you for sharing, and hopefully this will help other young mothers navigate the difficult time before, during and after the birth of a child. I wish you and your family all the best in the coming amazing days.


Comment Comment

Yes, finding the therapist that is right for you is so key. Brava to you for not sticking with one that didn't fit your needs.

Everyone finds their own path to healing. What worked for me may not be right for you.

I trust that you will find what works best for you.



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