Kayleigh Summers of @thebirthtrauma_mama joined us on the show in episode #116: Surviving an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, to share her deeply traumatic birth story in which she literally died during childbirth. She and her baby both survived. In that episode we discussed her lengthy and non-linear healing process. It just so happens Kayleigh is also a therapist, who has a unique perspective on her own trauma as well as that of her clients. Today she returns to talk about the impact of birth trauma not on the birthing mother but on the spouse/partner, who can get overlooked or marginalized in the process. Kayleigh talks about how that stress played out with her and her husband in the household, and how they began their journey toward reconnecting and healing. * * * * * * * * * * Connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828. You can sign up for Cynthia's HypnoBirthing classes as well as online breastfeeding classes and weekly postpartum support groups run by Cynthia & Trisha at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut. Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week! Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/cynthiaovergard)
Kayleigh Summers of @thebirthtrauma_mama joined us on the show in episode #116: Surviving an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, to share her deeply traumatic birth story in which she literally died during childbirth. She and her baby both survived. In that episode we discussed her lengthy and non-linear healing process. It just so happens Kayleigh is also a therapist, who has a unique perspective on her own trauma as well as that of her clients. Today she returns to talk about the impact of birth trauma not on the birthing mother but on the spouse/partner, who can get overlooked or marginalized in the process. Kayleigh talks about how that stress played out with her and her husband in the household, and how they began their journey toward reconnecting and healing.
* * * * * * * * * *
Connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828.
You can sign up for Cynthia's HypnoBirthing classes as well as online breastfeeding classes and weekly postpartum support groups run by Cynthia & Trisha at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut.
Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!
Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/cynthiaovergard)
And so I held so much sort of anger and resentment about that, like, Don't you see what happened to me? Don't you see how I almost died and came back to life? Like, why can't you just be there for me? Why can't you just Whoa, I needed all of the space. And he couldn't, of course, give me that because he was so traumatized. And the problem is, you now have two people who are traumatized in two very different ways and who'd cope with their trauma very differently.
I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.
Kayleigh, we're really happy to have you back on the Down to Birth podcast. Thank you for being with us. You are with us for Episode 116, where you talked about how you almost died in childbirth due to an amniotic fluid embolism. And we had a really interesting discussion about that experience for you, which then led to some comments you made near the end of the episode about how it impacted your marriage. So we decided to dedicate and you're also a therapist, so we decided to dedicate this episode to marriage after birth trauma. So thank you for coming back to talk with us today. Yeah, thanks so much for having me back. I really appreciate it. So let's start by just talking about you know, I think many people especially before they have a baby, believe that the birth or loss of a baby brings people closer together like that it necessarily brings people closer together. And I think that it's sometimes surprising when they realize that isn't at all what their experience is. So you fortunately didn't lose your baby in this experience. But your husband and your baby almost lost you. And, you know, I know you were on a high in the immediate aftermath of surviving your embolism and you went home and then reality basically hit and you had all this trauma to process. And then through that process there was your husband standing, I'm guessing, feeling pretty isolated, and traumatized himself. So can you just start off by talking about that a little bit?
Absolutely. I think the way that you put it is perfect. I sort of left the hospital with this idea that I was going to live out a fairytale life, I survived something I shouldn't. And we were going to go home and live happily ever after at this sort of second chance at life. And so it was even more of a devastation when not only was that not the case, but it was the opposite. And there's a few reasons why that happens with trauma. And in my case, in particular, he witnessed my husband witnessed me dying, like he was in the room. And so he was extremely traumatized from that piece of it and from that angle, and were traumatized in two very different ways. Right, he was there, he witnessed it. And then he got all the updates. As I continued to get better and progress. I just all of a sudden woke up. And all of this physical trauma had happened to me, I lost my uterus. So I was no longer able to have children, all of these things that I was learning all at the same time. And so I was extremely traumatized. And just grief ridden and all of these negative emotions once I had come off of my high. And the problem is you now have two people who are traumatized in two very different ways and who deal with and cope with their trauma very differently. Typically, in a relationship, you have someone one person in the couple who's going through something, and the other person is able to balance that out of it. Right? Not always, but a lot of the time. With this. There was no balancing, there was no ability to hold space for the other person, because we were both so distraught. And so I held so much sort of anger and resentment about that, like, Don't you see what happened to me? Don't you see how I almost died and came back to life? Like why can't you just be there for me? Why can't you just hold I needed all of the space. And he couldn't Of course Give me that because he was so traumatized. And so I think for a long time, we sort of just existed in this trauma soup, and everyone gave all the attention to my trauma, because that was the most obvious trauma. So now he's sitting on the sidelines, distraught, upset dealing with probably I think he's talked about this nightmares and flashbacks to what happened. And, and everyone's like, how's Kayleigh? How are you doing with this awful trauma that you went through. And so he's kind of ignored. And so for us, the journey started with trying to figure out how to individually deal with our trauma, you would think, oh, couples therapy, like go to couples therapy and figure it out together. And while that can be really helpful, we were so far into our own individual trauma journeys at that point that we needed to really focus on healing ourselves, before we can come back together, and really start to heal together.
At what point did you realize that the trauma was interfering with your relationship? So significantly,
I would say within the first few weeks home dynamics were difficult at that time, because I couldn't take care of my child, right, I was still really sick. And so my husband's perspective and view and expectation as mine was, was we were becoming a family of three, right, we were doing the thing that everyone looks forward to doing, we're gonna have a baby, we are going to have this magical family. And instead, we had my parents living with us. We had visitors over constantly to help us with cooking and cleaning and taking care of the baby, all amazing and wonderful things. But I wasn't a mom at that point. There was no part of me that was involved in being a mom at that point. And so my husband's watching all of that happen, right? He's watching me pretty much revert back to being a daughter. And he's like, Where the heck do I fit in this, I'm supposed to be a dad, for the first time, I'm supposed to be sort of leading this household. And that's something we see a lot in the in the literature is, it is for male specific partners. But if we're just looking at partners in general, if the partner who witnesses the birth trauma has a more masculine role, it actually has even more of a traumatic effect, because they are expected to be this Savior and helper and rock of the family. And they're pushed back into the corner while their partner who is birthing is maybe dying, or in distress or in need, and they are helpless. And so that really doubles down on those feelings of inadequacy and trauma that they experienced. And I think that was a huge piece. For my husband, sort of circle back. I think when we realize the dynamic of our family was nowhere near what we expected it to be. There was a lot of butting heads. And there was a lot of anger between us, and really a lot of grief between us about our unmet expectations all around. Were you to able to have any moments of sort of bonding and connection posts, baby, was
there any touching, hugging, cuddling, like there was I mean, we already know that it's so hard for postpartum moms to even have that, in general. But I'm just curious how significant it was for you.
Yeah, I would say between us there was, especially in the very beginning, when I first got home, some cuddling in bed, and some like, I'm so glad that you're alive. And I can't believe that you get to be here. And I think, as we were home longer, and as the reality of our situation set in, that really started to go away. And it really started to be like, because we have even talked about the fact that we have a newborn right. So there's these two people who are reacting to their trauma very differently, struggling, distraught, etc. Also, there's a new baby that they're supposed to be taking care of which in a normal circumstance creates some resentment and just sort of back and forth between two new parents as they sort of tried to navigate and find their roles. And trying to navigate and find your role as a new parent among massive amounts of grief and trauma is nearly impossible.
Not to mention the pressure on you to be happy having a newborn to be grateful you had a baby who was here, was there guilt around that, that I should be enjoying this more.
So much guilt, I still every now and then I've worked and process through it, but I still feel guilty about that time. Here's this newborn baby that I survived with, right? And I'll never get to do this again. Right. So that's the other piece. This is the only time I had and I wasted it quote, unquote, being sad and angry and guilty about being sad and angry. But as I look back, what else was I supposed to feel? What else was I supposed to do given those circumstances? And so I tried to be gentle and give myself some grace in that period, but definitely some guilt.
Alright, so Kelly, how did you recognize that you Your husband had work to be done. Was he the first one to recognize it? Or were you the first to recognize it? And what what what first action did you take? What happened was he did all the while was he expressing his emotions all the while was he's just stoic what was going on?
Pretty stoic. Definitely pretty stereotypical. Like, once we left the hospital in the hospital, he was very emotional. But once we left the hospital, and everyone knew everything's okay, definitely more stoic. Because, again, he is viewing me as the one who, who had all the trauma and sort of like, how dare he tried to take up space. And so he was trying to hold in all of his emotions, which ends up just coming out as sort of that stoic, maybe angry, upset, but not crying by any means. And so, for him, I think, so I got into therapy, the week I was discharged, because my therapist, even though I was high on life, I was like, this is gonna mess me up. So we're gonna get in therapy. And I went to this place called the postpartum stress Center, which I've mentioned before, and it's amazing, they actually bring you in as a couple first. So he came to two of my counseling sessions. And then he went and got his own therapist. So we are both in therapy very early on which I credit, my generally faster recovery and really like to call to recovery. But my ability to cope and function pretty early on to getting into therapy so early, then we tried couples therapy, probably only about five or six months out. And it wasn't successful. And it wasn't successful, because we weren't ready for it. I had mentioned before we were still so early on and trying to figure out our own individual trauma. And I think this is a really important part for me, I was so anxious about my marriage falling apart, like I had so much anxiety about the fact that it was going to fall apart and that it was falling apart. And what am I going to do about it? Because I'm a fixer, and we got to make this marriage better right away. And my therapist was like, why? Right? You both love each other? You're, you're gonna do your best to work through this. But like, Can you just chill? In therapist terms? Of course, but can you just let it be? Can you just let it live for now? Do the best you can work on yourselves. And then when you're at a place where you're functioning at a higher level and able to cope with your own emotions, at a better level, can you come back together and then sort of start to figure it out? And so that's that ended up being what we did. We stopped couples therapy for a while. We just got back into couples therapy, I want to say this March, and it's been amazing, like complete 180 it's been the most helpful tool for us in our marriage.
Can you share with us a little bit more about how you knew that it wasn't working, then how you knew that it was working so much better? Now? Just like a little specifics?
Yeah, I think there was so much that I wasn't ready to let go of so early on. And I was for lack of a better word, like drowning in my emotions and trauma still. So when my therapist would talk about doing things like date night, or love languages, which listen are all fantastic techniques. And important in marriage therapy, I just want to just scream like we are drowning in trauma. Like we don't need love languages. I don't need a break the nice notes, I need us to figure out how to like survive this. And that was kind of when I was like this might this one might not be a good fit therapist wise and too. I just don't think we're ready for this right now. So later, when we went back, I was able, I had done so much work individually that I was able this probably goes back to your original question that I was able to not bring that individual work into session, right. So I was able to keep those separate. Whereas before my individual stuff was like bleeding into the couples therapy as was my husband's. And so it wasn't, it was difficult to focus on a couple piece of it, because it was so overwhelmed by our individual stuff. So it started to work because we really were able to focus in on a couple stuff because our functioning was so much higher at an individual level. I hope that is clear and makes sense.
So what does that process look like when you work with a couple who's been through a traumatic birth? I mean, what stages they have to take place for them to grow for them to heal individually. And as a couple and to go close again. How does it all unfold?
Yeah, I mean, so definitely dependent on the person and the therapist that is doing the work with them. So it depends on what type of therapist you're going to. But there's a lot a lot Holding space for your feelings, like literally just having someone witness your feelings and your trauma, and making it a safe space for you to have those feelings is key for for trauma, healing and therapy, that's my sort of orientation around trauma therapy. There's also things like EMDR, which are super plug for EMDR. I totally agree. Yeah. For people who have been through birth trauma and especially have like, the triggers and the flashbacks in the nightmares. EMDR the research is there, it's getting there at least it's still a little preliminary with birth trauma, but it is a fantastic tool I highly recommend.
Is it ever a competition between a couple? Do you ever see that kind of stuff take place? Like, you know, you said holding space and you know, the way I interpret that as they just each really have to be seen and heard. And without that help? Is there ever, you know, the wrong day in the household when everyone's under stress where someone breaks down and says like, I almost died? And the other one is like I almost lost you. I mean, is it ever some kind of competition about who was more traumatized?
Do not ask my husband this question. I am. Yes. So it doesn't turn into a competition because I'm a real jerk about it. And it was just probably just my problem. You have you have the trump card,
you have the trump card. I didn't you were like I was pronounced dead. You know, you can't top that. So now it's like, you know, whatever he feels it's less than what you went through this kind of the message, right?
Yes. And my poor husband, right, like looking at that. Like, that's just an awful thing to do. And my family will all laugh because I often pull out this card in a very joking manner. Because I'm a little dark with my humor. I think it's like a near death experience thing most people are.
It's a good tool. It's a good tool. Yeah, break someone's humor can really break a state. So what what do you how do you use it? What's an example?
They often I will say, yeah, remember that time I almost died, though. Like in response to someone you know. And, hilariously, I said something about that to my mom the other day when she said she was jokingly annoyed with me. I was like, Well, I mean, I could not be here enjoying your company, your beach house. And she said, which is my whole thing. She was like, you know, Kayleigh, I can hold both feelings. Oh, good for her. And I was like, Oh, my God, using using it against me. But no, it's Yes, that has been a big issue, and has actually been a part of our couples counseling is me sort of holding that, like, it's really hard to get over when you are the one that trauma happened to, like, no one Trumps that, and I have, I'm a very competitive person. And so I've had a difficult time really, you know, like, you didn't lose your fertility. I'll say to my husband, like, technically, you could go on to have many more babies with other people like I'm the one that this happened to, when in reality, I'm not the only one that's happened to right it's so so hard to balance those things.
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So each person needs to hit to be seen and heard for their respective trauma because you blacked out you were not consciously aware while it was happening. He was he was acutely aware. And you know there was that whole period during which he wasn't even prepared to go see the baby because he wanted to know what was happening with you and he was stuck in this conference room holding his breath and finally he basically acquiesced and went to see the baby and he was completely he was living that in very slow motion while you did the opposite happened for you. So once each person is feeling really seen and heard and you know you cry for each other now, not just for yourselves. Yes. And then what what is the next what did the next stage look like for you?
I think for us, um, a lot of is I mean, we're still kind of in that stage, right like that that stage is pretty long, because there's, there's so many different conflicts, right? There's the difference in our trauma, which bleeds into a lot of other conflicts in our life. There's the conflict of leg fertility, right? That's another big one. Like, I can't have no more kids, are we gonna have any more kids? Are we not gonna have any more kids? Do we agree, we disagree. That's a big conflict in itself. And so I think it continues to be holding space, but also, our therapists are current, their press does a very good job of holding us accountable. I am a therapist. So I know how to talk the talk and walk the walk. And sometimes that's really unhelpful in couples counseling, and it drives my husband bonkers. Because he always feels ganged up on what's an example of that? Like, I know how, like, I know, when I'm being, I'm not handling an argument well, and so in couples therapy, I'll be able to say, like, yeah, I should have done this, this and this, and this, these are the things I should have done. And like, Look, what a great student I am, like, I'm doing all the right things. Right. And your therapist is like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Thankfully, our current there like we've had couples therapists way in the past that were sort of like that this therapist is like, No, I'm not buying your BS, like. And so I think that's also really helpful, like having a therapist that can not be confrontational, because that's not what we want in therapy, because then I would feel called out and like, not safe, right? But holding me accountable for my actions in my behavior that happened outside of the therapy rooms. Very, very important.
Can you talk to us a little bit about some of the things that you brought home, from the therapy sessions and the things that you enacted in the home to start coming back together,
one of the biggest, biggest things for us like that is a small thing is like assuming goodwill, assuming good intentions. And I think for us that we were not doing that for a very long time. And that that starts an argument within a second, right. And so assuming that the person is not trying to be demeaning, or putting you down, or whatever it might be. And also, like the simple stuff that that we all forget about, when we're in the midst of trauma, we're bringing that back in like that, the I feel statements and like letting the person tell their whole feelings story, whatever, before you interject, I'm a big and interjecter, I just love talking. And so really bring in those small skills that we all sort of know about if we're in this sphere, and reminding ourselves to continue to use them because we had completely forgotten about them in in the midst of trauma. So those, those were some things. And so the other thing that was really big for us, which is definitely a couple specific is that we're very sarcastic week, that is just our personalities, like we're very, we're both competitive athletes, we're very sarcastic, and that is like our love language. But things change when trauma enters the picture. So we're not the same individuals. And we're not the same couple that we were before this trauma happened. And so sarcasm is obviously a defense, right? And it can be pretty crap sometimes. So I actually having to like, step that back and be a little gentler and a little kinder with one another. And do that really intentionally. Because we sort of have gotten into the pattern of just being super sarcastic with one another. And that's not something that will change as a whole, but being more intentional to be just nicer, which sounds so easy and so silly, but really is such an important Cornerstone along with assuming goodwill of the other person.
Kayleigh, was there any correlation between your healing with your husband and your bonding with your son? Or were they happening in tandem or just totally independently of one another?
Um, I would say they were probably independent. But something that is correlated is my husband's bonding with cow and our relationship, because we both had a really difficult time bonding with cow but as we see with a lot of male partners that usually they may bond but they're kind of like, what do you do you don't like you're not fun. You just kind of sit there if this isn't like I guess I love you because you're my kid. But then as they really start to get a personality, we really see male partners bond a lot deeper and are more involved and they do the playtime so much better. And that's what I'm seeing as we get until like a year and then two years so this past year watching the way that Steven Cal have bonded has definitely, I think So blood char relationship in a really positive way.
So in the beginning, the lack of bonding on his part was adding to the difficulty between the two of you.
I think, I don't know what it was adding To be honest, I think it was just there's a lot of guilt that I have about that, like, here's this poor newborn who had nothing to do with what happened. And now he has two parents who are traumatized and can't bond with him. That's just I have so much guilt over that still. Did you ever apologize to your baby about that? Oh, my God all the time when he was little when I would be rocking him. Oh, my God. I would apologize to him all the time about just like the way he came into this world. And, yeah, and the fact that he had two parents who were so distressed for the first like six months of his life.
Well, we don't want him to grow up and feel he has to apologize to you that his birth did this to you, right? I mean, everyone who loves someone else can find a way to point the finger at themselves and feel guilty. It's just testament to how much love there is really, that we even feel that guilt. Absolutely. You made a comment earlier that I wanted to ask you a little bit more about because we learned so much I referenced our stillbirth episode all the time Episode 14, I think it's one of the most powerful episodes we've ever put out there. And we talked about husbands that three women in the episode in the roundtable episode all have husbands, and they talked about how after they lost their babies in their respective cases, the whole community around them, the friends and family, the work colleagues, they freely went to the husbands as the gatekeeper to to the mother as if she was the only one who lost a child. And that was always so much of How is she? How is she doing. And it's heartbreaking when you think about it, especially when you think about that traditional male role of having to keep their chin up and endure and fix. They played that role. They stepped into it, raising their hand as the gatekeeper until it hit each of them that they lost their own child. What was that like for your husband? it? Did he experienced anything similar to that.
So I think he experienced it probably with females more so than with males, I think males sort of put themselves in his position. And we're like, oh, my God, you watched her wife die. Right? And not that not that they really talked about, like they didn't speak about it, though. They just were like, oh, man, that's
interesting, because they could all relate to that panic, they would feel if they went home alone with a newborn.
Exactly. But yeah, I think with the with the female piece, I think he did experience a little bit of that. I think probably because I have, again, such a like an outspoken personality about my story. Like, I'm going to tell my story. And I'm going to tell the way I want to tell it, I sort of stepped over that gatekeeping that could have happened, like I do think that like was sort of the way it was set up at first. And then I was like, No, no, like, I'm here. I'm not I didn't die. And so I'm going to tell you what happened from my personal experience. But to that point, there was a lot of gatekeeping in the beginning that needed to happen from my family, including Steve to everyone else to sort of disseminate information about how I was doing. And my family did a really, really good job at taking that off of Steve's shoulders and giving it to sort of like my best friend and my brother's wife. We're actually in charge of informing other people for the most part of what was going on. My mom did some of it too. But my mom and my husband were kind of like, we need to focus on Kayleigh. So you guys are going to be in charge of letting people know so they did a really good job or disseminating that gatekeeping so it didn't actually land on Steve.
So Kayleigh, your birth trauma stories, one of the most intense that any person could possibly experience but obviously many women experienced much milder cases of birth trauma, they may not even realize they've experienced a traumatic birth until way down the line. And they may not know how much it's impacting their relationships. So can you speak to our listeners a little bit about how they might know if trauma from their birth experiences interfering with their relationship?
Yeah, absolutely. So I would say nine times out of 10. The many, many women that I've spoken to the partner is has experienced some strong feelings. I don't want to call it trauma. I don't want to label what other people experienced trauma without them labeling it that way. But their partner has experienced a very strong feelings towards what they felt was a traumatic birth. And I say that because I think A lot of women get surprised when we look at traumatic birth, that was maybe the way that son was treated by their provider, or coercion or things like that. They think that their partner didn't pick up on it, or they think that they weren't affected by it as they were. And I think a lot of that has to do with this idea of like, my trauma wasn't that big of a deal. And therefore, it didn't really affect anyone around me. And I have no right to feel this way. So there's no way my partner would be affected by this. They're not as sensitive as me, you know, sort of labeling themselves. I think that happens a lot. But I think the best thing that you can do is talk to your partner very candidly and very openly. So having a conversation by saying like, Hey, I felt like my birth was really traumatic. This is why xy and z, I'm wondering if you have any feelings towards my birth, it's okay, if you don't, but I'd really like to sort of open the lines of communication, because I have a lot of feelings about it. I think that that disarms them a little bit by really making it about you while inviting them into that conversation. And they might not bite, right? They might, they might not be ready. And that's another thing, it might take time for them to be ready to talk about it.
Are there any key indicators that you could acknowledge that occur between couples postpartum, that may indicate that some type of birth trauma is playing out?
Yeah, I mean, I think if we're talking about the partner, if we're talking about the partnership, obviously, if there's a lack of connection, if there's a big shift in the partnership that wasn't there before, it's always important to explore that traumatic birth or not. And I also think, from a partner, if there's a lot of, like, lack of emotion, and that stoic stance that we were sort of talking about, and also the opposite, right, like lashing out being overly reactive, any emotions, or any behaviors for them that are very far away from their baseline, are things that are important to explore, again, traumatic birth or not.
Kayleigh, one thing you said that stood out to me was that after experiencing trauma, the individual is never the same again. And the couple is never the same again. And I can imagine people listening to this episode feeling a mild panic upon hearing such a thing. So can you share the beautiful side of that?
Yeah. I mean, post traumatic growth is the beautiful side of that, right? The the idea that and I want to be clear, I'm not an everything happens for a reason person, and I'm not. You needed this to make you stronger. I don't believe in any of that. I do believe in post traumatic growth, which is the idea that as you go through something, and as you make your way through it, and you survive it, you become stronger, and you become a person who is more resilient. And you didn't need that to become more resilient. I didn't need to have an AFE (amniotic fluid embolism). But regardless of that, that's what happened. And so post traumatic growth is that other side of it, and you will never be the same, but it's not necessarily a negative.
It's not, it's almost like the individual gets to know him or herself much better than they ever would have had they not been through that experience. And the couple also gets to know themselves better as a couple.
Absolutely. One thing that my therapist said to me that has always stuck with me in in prenatal work is birth trauma is awful. But what it does is it allows a woman, a woman to totally open herself up because she's in pieces on the floor. So you can actually dive in and get through everything and process every single little thing, because you're already shattered. And when we don't have that it's sort of all of our defenses are still up. We're feeling guilty that we have postpartum depression, like why do we have like, all these things, but when you experience something traumatic, you're just in pieces on the floor. And so you need help getting put back together. And that's such a significant experience. And there's so much that can be said about learning and growing through that experience, both as an individual and as a couple.
Post traumatic Growth is so impactful, and it can be so incredibly powerful for people but not everybody grows after trauma. So how do we guide people to take that first step? What is the thing at what what's the difference between somebody who experiences trauma and grows and somebody who gets stuck? And how can you help them make sure they do grow?
So the the research answer to this question is that Typically people who are able to grow through towards post traumatic growth and trauma is the difference is resilience. And so they are more resilient person. But if we look at that we can build resilience and people like that is that is a skill that you can build, you're not just like born with it or not, you can build resilience. And so figuring out the ways, there are many different ways and figuring out the ways for that person, in particular, to start to build towards resilience and grow in their trauma. I do want to make the caveat of every day, we don't have to be working towards post traumatic growth, I have a really difficult time balancing the idea of toxic positivity and post traumatic growth. Post Traumatic Growth is amazing and necessary, but also sometimes we just need to sit with our crap and be sad and feel awful. And that's a part of the process. And I think we forget that when we get really ingrained in this, like how do we get towards post traumatic growth we get with post traumatic growth by like, feeling the feelings and sitting with them and acknowledging them and letting them be without defending against them.
Right? You can't jump through the fire to the other side, right? It has to burn down it has to you have to go through the whole process for different people that takes many varying lengths of time.
Yes. So if you're willing to do the work, right, if you're willing to put all of those pieces back together, which takes years sometimes, but it's so worth it. You can see that post traumatic growth, if you're willing to dig in during therapy, if you're willing to work with your partner, be willing to really face up to the trauma, right. And if you're willing to do that work with your partner, you're going to be able to deepen that relationship and you're going to be able to heal together when it's right for you.
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Right? I'm a therapist, I'm emotionally like yes, let me take on all your things. But I was like, nope, this happened to me and my body and no one else. Like I get to be the most traumatized, which is not healthy or helpful, but that's just where I was in that first year. And so, but as you said it's totally subjective. Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
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