Healing PTSD: Childbirth in slow motion

This post is contributed by Birgitta Hadin Lusth.

baby nakedI have been to my therapist today. I told her I have got pneumonia and it has been both very tough but at the same time I have also taken some steps in the right direction by listening to my body and telling for a few close. She said during our meeting that it is no strange that I had got pneumonia now when I finally have started talking. The body probably got a shock when it just dropped carrying everything itself. She is so wise. What a symbolism.

She has during a long period of time tried to tell me how my exhausted body feels, and she said that she cannot understand how I have managed to work as usual when at the same time I am going through therapy which it is a full-time job in itself. But I have refused to believe that it would influence all my life, which it is very silly since it does even affect my will to live. It is just to be accepted that it affects all that I am and it has to do that. It has to make a difference.I will return to how the healing process is similar to the birth process. It is an image that gives me hope and confidence, that what I feel is natural and there is a goal. The goal is to be reborn. I get a picture of myself in this birth process. I am at the end of the first stage. I have panted through contraction after contraction and given up a hundred times. I have taken step by step and survived the first panic and fear thanks to good support and guidance.

There have been people who have taught me how to breathe right and face the pain, who got me to relax in between the contractions, and who have told me that I am strong and that I am going to survive when I have thought that I would die of pain.There are people who have trust in the healing ability we all have, the strength that strives for balance and well-being. People who have patience and safely remain,  who do not hasten or stress by.  The same way it is during childbirth, there are means to diminish the worst pain but it could weaken the contractions which in its turn does not help childbirth process, and it could stress the baby and increase the risks for an instrumental delivery or large ruptures. When I see how the contractions do all the work, then I understand and I feel safe with my own pain which is the one that leads med home, that releases me to freedom.

Anxiety is life´s labor. My anxiety is like contractions of life. I have fought my way through the first stage and I find myself where the women usually say things like, now I want no more, I want to give up.  Where women  usually become desperate. “There is no way where you came from” (Gardell). There is no turning back and no choices. The pain comes continuously and you cannot believe, not even for your life that you are going to survive, or that anything good is going to come out of it. After many hours of intense labor the body is emptied of all its strength, and it is known, old wisdom that the uterus needs to gather strength before the pushing stage which is the final strength test itself. An exhausted mother who does not have the opportunity to recover or the possibility to listen to her body and wait for the best contractions is not able to do her work.

That is exactly where I am. I am not able to. I want to give up. However I understand that I need to rest in order to catch up. I have been extremely tired for a long time and my thoughts are resigned and hopeless. My first stage has taken me three and a half years. It is like an extremely tedious childbirth. Childbirth in slow motion. I do not know how long I need to rest but when I see it like childbirth, time is less important. I know my body would lead me forward.

I do not know how my pushing stage is going to be but it feels good to know how positive it is usually perceived during childbirth. How the body just takes over and it knows how. It is like throwing up backwards, my colleague usually says. It takes care of itself. Irresistible forces. It is determination, focus, strength and purposefulness, and then the first cry and the new life. If I think that way it would be something to look forward to. It would be a contrast to death which I have been thinking more and more about. It seems like life and death must take each  other´s hands before I can finally live again.

Birgitta Hadin Lusth is 39 years old, married for 12 years and has three kids, two daughters 13 and 4 years old and a son 10 years old. She works as a midwife and loves her work! Her healing process started in 2008 and she still has EMDR sessions.


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