You know how everyone’s mother always says, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Well, we all know that’s impossible – especially on the Internet. But there are certain situations when – if you don’t have anything supportive to say, you should really just shut up. One of these situations is when a woman talks about a traumatic birth. If you find the words, You have a healthy baby and that’s all that matters! beginning to roll off your tongue – just keep them in your mouth.
After the birth of my first child, I fell into a deep depression for months. I had an unexpected emergency c-section that frankly shocked and traumatized me. I wasn’t prepared to go through surgery. Having since had to have another c-section, I can say with confidence that an emergency c-section is terrifying and totally different than one you expect.
My child’s heart had come to a near stop which necessitated lightning speed in the operating room. He was ripped from my body. I’m really not exaggerating. What seemed like about 30 seconds after they numbed me and made the initial incision – I heard him crying. The physical recovery was awful. The short time I had spent in the hospital, really fearing I was losing my child put me into a very dark place. No one understands why a healthy person with a healthy baby is crying everyday. Pretty much everyone except my husband chalked up my depression to some sort of disappointment that I was not able to birth naturally. Yes, I was disappointed – but it was more than that. The experience really scarred me.
It would be impossible for me to provide a tally of the number of times someone said, Well, the most important thing is that your baby is healthy! I just wanted to respond, No shit. I’m his mother. There is no one on this planet that cares that he is healthy and alive more than me. Totally discounting the way a mother feels to remind her that her child is alive is the most dismissive, patronizing, and frankly, cruel thing you can do to a woman that is having a hard time coping after her baby is born. You’re basically saying – you don’t have a right to feel the way you do, because people have it way worse than you.
Here’s the thing; a mother losing a child in childbirth or giving birth to a severely unhealthy baby isn’t traumatic, it’s catastrophic. The two situations have nothing to do with one another. It’s like having someone tell you their car was stolen, and saying something like, Well, at least you didn’t die in a fiery crash! The two scenarios are so far apart from one another – it is senseless to compare them. If you know someone who is having a hard time after a difficult birth, this is what you should say:
You are strong.
You made it.
I’m so proud of you.
I’m here for you.
Don’t be the asshole that says, At least you didn’t die in a fiery crash!
(photo: Getty Images)