When a close relative, Morgan*, announced her pregnancy our family was ecstatic!
I had to hear hear every detail.
By this time my own pregnancy was like 15 years ago and I I was too young, sick, and terrified to appreciate the whole miracle.
Yes, I was reliving my pregnancy through her.
She didn’t mind.
I checked. I know I can get bossy and not in a good way all of the time.
We did the whole thing.
What Family’s Do
We stared at the sonogram pictures trying to figure out which family members this little princess looked like.
The doctor’s reports always came back good.
Everybody was well.
Baby was healthy and growing.
Soon to be a mom is healthy. Well sick and tired, but healthy.
Soon to be dad was over the moon.
(Questions to ask God: Why do guys always act like they accomplished something major and huge when work is still in progress?)
Everything was baby, baby, baby.
But, in the middle of a conversation one day Morgan shared with me that during a routine exam she had a panic attack on the exam table.
We don’t talk about this. Stuff.
Not when she isn’t pregnant.
Not when she is sleepy. Not ever.
What Readers Need to Know
Here is what y’all need to know….
Morgan is a Survivor.
Morgan never talks about it.
Never, ever, ever, ever, never.
Some of my family and friends do this work.
Some wouldn’t do this for Oprah’s money.
So back to my Pregnant Relative…I know that something disturbing happened to her. But she doesn’t deal with it out in the open the way that I do.
No blog, speeches, and definitely not on social media.
We don’t mention it in front of her close friends because no matter how close they are I assume that she has not told them.
I know that she prefers to deal with that time of her life privately, in her own way, and would appreciate if no one ever spoke about it.
As we continued our conversation that day, Morgan revealed that she hadn’t told a single person.
Morgan had always been private that way.
The panic attacks began when she found out that she was pregnant.
Morgan expressed that being pregnant made her body feel foreign to her in the same way that being sexually violated over and over again in her childhood years had.
Her doctor wanted to prescribe an anti-depressant. If you knew Morgan you knew she doesn’t take medications.
I got it.
She doesn’t want to feel less in control at this time.
The MOST Important Question
Now we began to strategize a totally different plan customized to see her through until the newest princess arrived.
How could we support Morgan?
I asked her an important question: What do YOU need?
She stopped sobbing.
She had answers. Okay. We came up with a few remedies.
Morgan took the lead.
1. She needed to feel in control.
As a victim of child sexual abuse, that was stolen from her. Now that she was pregnant she was feeling that way again.
2. She decided that she needed her assertive, even sometimes borderline aggressive mother in the labor room.
In spite of how her mother may come off to others, Morgan’s mother has always been her barrier if Morgan is triggered.
Now Morgan is quite assertive in her own right. However, when she is triggered, she can begin to feel less like herself. Just the thought of this possibility was causing Morgan anxiety.
3. We re-framed the thoughts that she was not in control.
She isn’t going along for the ride here. What she will be doing and is doing is unselfishly sharing her body with a little person that she has never set eyes on, but loves very deeply.
For months, she had provided this little angel with a warm soft home to grow and thrive in. Her body wasn’t being invaded. She was fully in control as she was the one and only person helping this beautiful blessing to join us on this earth.
4. We talked about who will be there and who will not.
Although he is a family member, the man who raped her will not be present as one of the greatest miracles of her life unfolds.
She will be assisted by people who want to be a helpful part of this miracle. Their knowledge, experience, and presence is there to make this easier not more difficult.
5. I gently reminded her that she could reveal to her doctors, nurses, and anyone else that touched or treated her that she was a Survivor of abuse.
She could express her needs to them.
She could educate them about her needs.
She no longer needs to hide.
She no longer needs to feel the need to live in shame.
CAUTION: Handle this one with care.
If you have a family member who is an advocate for you, you might consider having them there. Just because a person is a medical health professional does not mean that they will be sensitive and empathetic to the needs of sexual violence Survivors.
Medical health professionals are people.
People can be tactless, lack knowledge, training, understanding, empathy and wisdom.
Unfortunately, these things can further damage a Survivor in the the process of healing.
I am so Morgan and all of the Survivors everywhere who allow tiny little miracles to take up residence in their precious bodies. It isn’t easy for any woman.
It certainly isn’t easy for any woman whose body has unfortunately been the scene of a crime.
There is room for improvement to do better so as not to further trigger moms. This way both mom and baby might have a healthier beginning.
I’m smiling right now just thinking about it.
Oh, the possibilities.
Y‘all feel free to chime in about those possibilities! Suggestion? Stories? Ideas?