guest post: sexual assault and infertility

I’d like to preface this article by saying that some may find it triggering.

Take care of yourselves, Mamas!

*****

Thirteen years ago, I was at my church youth group.  When I left the room to go to the bathroom, I was followed and violently attacked by knife point.  The gift I had hoped to give my husband was stolen from me, and I was left alone by the church with a Pastor who immediately asked “Well, why were you outside the youth room?”

Eight years later, I meet the man of my dreams.  He is normal, calm, a gentleman… and dealt with all my quirks.  He had to be in my line of sight to make sandwiches with knives, he couldn’t walk behind me, and he dealt with debilitating flashbacks and nightmares until a magical combination of medication and counseling finally created the woman I am proud to be today.  This entry is not a woe-is-me post… but rather a story about how sexual assault can complicate infertility treatments and birth.

We tried for so long with Ethan. Sex is (was) triggering, and more of a chore than anything else. So many people telling me to “Just Relax” was triggering.  It was laughable, the journey to becoming the very person I wanted to be (a mama) was made traumatic by my past.  And then came the internal ultrasounds; again, things were taken out of my control and placed into the hands of someone else.  Though I was aware of these ultrasounds, I traveled outside of myself frequently, just wishing to get pregnant so every month I didn’t feel violated again and again.  My RE was understanding, at least to the point someone could go who had not been through what I had.  She was informative and empowering by allowing me to set the pace and telling me everything she was doing.  Though I had that power, it was still the hardest three years I’ve ever gone through.

And then we got pregnant.  We were over the moon, and finally I felt like I could have 9 months of blissful lack of vaginal disruption.  I got passed from my RE to an OB/GYN.  I met with this OB a few weeks later, where she had me undress.  I talked with the nurse, and requested to be informed about everything prior to the OB doing anything.  She made sure to tell me that the message would be passed along.

It wasn’t.  The OB came in, and proceeded to examine me in ways that I didn’t feel I consented to, and it was one of the most shameful and triggering experiences.  When I told her to stop, she told me that it was necessary to examine me to make sure I was in good shape for the pregnancy and continued on.  She left and I cried.

After that visit, I made a complaint to the medical board.  They wrote back and told me that what she did wasn’t out of the scope of her practice and they would not be passing along my complaints.  I was flabbergasted.

This infuriated me, but also was the turning point for my care during my pregnancy.

I found a midwife.  I needed to feel more in control, and to feel like I had an advocate.  I finally felt I had a voice.  I started saying “No.”  I required everything that was being done for me and to me to be authorized BY me.   Suddenly, my birth was empowering instead of frightening and triggering.  I took back my own body in a new way.

I write this post as I am starting my own journey towards my Doula certification and reading a book described as the birth for sexual assault survivors bible.  I hope that I can help empower other women to find their own voice; their own power in birth.

I write this post  to empower you to tell yours.  When there are as many blogs on this blogroll as there are, statistically, there are at least 33% of us who have gone through some sort of sexual abuse.

You are not alone.

*****

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

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Comments

  1. Wow. Julia, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I hadn’t thought how the lack of control and invasiveness common to IF could exacerbate anxiety and triggers for sexual assault victims. I think it is wonderful that you are turning your experience into a way to empower women.

  2. Julia this is very distressing to read. I hope that you have found a way to heal from this and more importantly you realise that it isn’t your fault.

    • I have, thank you! I’ve spent the past 13 years working on the feelings that this experience created. One never “gets over” something like this, but I think I’ve integrated it into my life in a healthy way. ❤

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