Friday, October 26, 2007

The Sleep-Walking Wounded

This started as a comment to Julie's recent post: The Trauma of Separation, but it grew too long.

I believe that the entire country is in the midst of unacknowledged trauma. I think that's the only way they can continue to minimize this loss and call it beautiful.

Unless someone had a home birth, or a birth in an enlightened birthing center or hospital, almost everyone was separated from their mother immediately after birth for a period of time. I can remember 18 years ago when my son was born, the majority of the babies in the hospital were in the nursery while their mother recovered in her room. Hospital stays then were 2 days postpartum, but that's only out of managed care guidelines. I can remember in the '70's and early '80's relatives having 4 or 5 day hospital stays. So that's days of sporadic on and off contact with mom: she's there / she's not / she's there / she's not.

How terrifying is that to a newborn?

So my belief is that this is a nation of the walking wounded who never talks nor thinks about their own separation. The only time it's brought briefly to their consciousness is in the context of adoption. Is there still that baby in them, confused and terrified at the lack of their own mother, that causes them to deny this trauma?

I believe so.

What else could make an entire nation not only blind to the horrors of mother/child separation, but to go, at the risk of being horribly politically incorrect, fucking RETARDED at the thought of it? (Sorry, but people's reaction to adoption brings out my inner 13-year old and I've found it best to give her free reign.) What else could cause an adoption professional to call adoptees 'quality product' - at a conference on adoption ethics - without a blink of an eye?


That's my belief, at least.

I don't care how long a baby was separated from mother as an infant. What's 3 hours to someone with no concept of time? It's still a separation, and it's frightening. And damaging. And traumatizing.

But what do I know? There was no one around during the BSE ensuring quality product. I could be irregular discount store material for all I know. Adoption is so different these days, you know.

Anyway, real kids, this part's for you. If you were separated after birth from your mom, for 2 hours or 2 days or whatever - I'm sorry. That sucks. That must have been really terrifying. If no one else in your entire life will acknowledge it was wrong, know there's a whole bunch of defogged adoptees who do. Because it was.

Now wake up.

11 complaints from ingrates:

Mary October 26, 2007 at 3:11 PM  

Thats hard. My two oldest kids were born with complications. I didnt hold my son until he was a day old (my dh stayed with him when he was taken though). My oldest daughter had to be medivaced (sp?) to another island, so I didnt see her until she was two days old (my asis did go visit her but its not the same). My youngest was the only one who was born healthy and was only taken away for a about an hour. Makes you wonder though.

Ungrateful Little Bastard October 26, 2007 at 3:40 PM  

Yeah I had a c-section so there was a separation there too at first. I'm glad to see now even in a lot of hospitals the baby and mom are never separated at all.

I can remember an aunt in the '70's who at the time she gave birth, she only saw her baby at feed time during the 5 days when she was in the hospital. The baby was in the nursery the rest of the time.

Anonymous,  October 26, 2007 at 4:14 PM  

It makes you wonder.

I wonder about the two days that Nate spent with his mom. Did she hold him or was he in a hospital nursery? I don't know the answer to that. And the babies that were "abandoned." *shudder* Poor little bebes.

Then my boy goes from his mom to the orphanage and 4 months later to us. That's hard on a baby. I know having a permanent family is better for him, but the changes are hard on a baby.

Anyways . . . you might have something there. Sometimes I feel a huge disconnect from people and I hear a lot of people expressing that, in so many words.

Sure does make you wonder.

Unknown October 26, 2007 at 8:27 PM  

I totally agree, I can't believe I was so stupid when my son was born, how much power I gave to hospitals and authorities.


Anonymous,  October 26, 2007 at 9:44 PM  

Each of my children's personalities matches PERFECTLY with their individual birthing experience. I even blogged about it once. Oh yea....I'm a believer.

T. Laurel Sulfate October 27, 2007 at 3:46 AM  

Damn, that's brilliant! Since I never gave birth, this never would have struck me in a million years.

Ungrateful Little Bastard October 27, 2007 at 10:23 AM  

Yeah it was just the norm. I hadn't heard anything about the idea of attachment parenting at all while I was pregnant. It was just a nurse during my (wasted) natural childbirth class who had brought up that we shouldn't be separated from our babies after birth, and we shouldn't let anyone other than our spouses into our room for at least the first day. It just sounded so right to me. But then after my c-sec, I gave away my power too. When it comes to any type of authority figure sometimes (most times) I turn to mush. It's horrible. The separation wasn't long for me but it's still something I feel sad about.

Unknown October 28, 2007 at 7:54 PM  

i guess times have really changed and practices vary from place to place. both of my children stayed with me in the hospital - in fact there was no nursery, the nursery was for preemies or babies born with special needs.

in fact, i felt quite the opposite. i shared a room with 3 other mothers and their screaming babies.

and they boot us out as early as 8-24 hours after birth.

Baby Keeper October 31, 2007 at 12:07 AM  

Great post.

Since the moment of conception there is zero period of time that is not crucial in the continuum of development of the human. Of course, labor, birth, and the first minutes, hours and days are some of the most critical. The mother and baby have been symbiotic until then. The baby knows nothing of the world but through the mother UNTIL birth. In seconds the baby's physiology must transition and become physiologically independent. AND she or he is still dependent upon the mother. How idiotic to think/believe/promote that the mother and her body -- who has maintained this life for almost ten months does not also do so in the first moments and hours. Every cell in her wants to keep her baby alive and thriving -- the reason to wait for placenta to stop pulsing and mother's body to release it. Her body knows when baby is ready. Science shows us her heart continues to regulate baby's heart -- reason for keeping them together at all times in hospital and for co-sleeping.

I believe that ninety percent of all Americans were born "under the influence" of drugs and abused -- so that you are right. They can be highly educated and well-meaning professionals and yet so violate a newborn human being in the name of "science", while parents, tired and hormoned up, numbly watch. And no one else names it or calls anyone on it. THANKS for doing so.

The human being's brain is as functional during birth as it was in the last trimester (science tells us the amazing things prenates can do and how they learn) and in the early infancy. How's come this society thinks that when a woman enters the hospital in labor and gives birth that the human baby's brain magically goes to "OFF" so that nurses and doctors can do whatever they wish to the baby and s/he is said to not remember birth. OF COURSE, our brain that was present, in that level of development, EXPERIENCED birth and REMEMBERS it. Human babies are amazing SENSORY beings -- they are taking everything in, like a sponge. Any parent knows that. Three year olds don't suddenly learn language. They've been hearing and responding in the womb since six months gestation. Just because they don't have the words to express their feelings doesn't mean they aren't experiencing labor, birth, separation, and abusive touch and interventions.

Medicalized birth has systematically taken away women's rights and power. We can heal though from our experiences and claim our power.

Wow ... I could go on and on ... hope you'll visit my blog,

Thanks for the post!

Baby Keeper October 31, 2007 at 12:22 AM  

Hey, I surfed around your site a bit and see that it is focused on adoption.

I wanted to add that there are some amazing new theories and practices to assist people in healing birth trauma/experiences -- both as a mother and a baby, and a father too.

Babies who were adopted -- regardless of the age can really gain from the therapy. They never got to grieve. Babies' experiences in the womb are wide ranging and especially the separation adds to them. Birth is our first experience of this world. It is imprinted on our brain so that we act it out over and over throughout life.
(look up Marcy Axness on this site). -- shows the therapy I do and features an adult woman who was adopted and whose mother died at birth.

Take care ... oh, do you know Mary Ann Cohen in New Jersey, the original founder of ORIGINS? If not, she is a great contact.


Ungrateful Little Bastard October 31, 2007 at 9:42 AM  

Thank you. I've been looking into EMDR presently but running into the usual problems with it in this day and age of long work schedules and managed health care:

1.) Is someone certified in EMDR? If so,
2.) Are they on my insurance plan? If so,
3.) Are they taking new patients? If so,
4.) Are they less than an hour drive away from me? If so,
5.) Do they have available hours that don't conflict with my work schedule?

So far, no luck

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