As I listened to my sister telling the twins the story of the day they were born, I too slipped into reflection. It’s their birthday; they are 14 today, and it’s a tradition with my family that each sister that was present would ring to say happy birthday and tell their version of the birth story. The children love hearing these stories even though it happens every year.
As they talked, I reflected on the day that changed many things in my life for better. The day the twins were born was hazy. I had two doses of morphine and two doses of epidural. I survived labour mostly in a daze of drugs. I had decided to have the twins by natural birth, but I had no idea what that entailed. In retrospect, I should have asked more questions. But you don’t know what you don’t know.
I started labour on the Monday during supervision, and I didn’t want to call the hospital because whenever I do they always told me to come in. I was having twins and one was not developing as fast as the other, so they checked me every two weeks. This new pain I was feeling came suddenly, but I was so used to being in pain that I didn’t think it was labour.
My water broke, but it was nothing like in the movies, so I didn’t know what was going on. Instead of phoning the hospital, I rang my friend who is a midwife. She told me to go to the hospital, I disagreed and went home. I didn’t sleep that night.
I woke up Tuesday morning after a few hours of fitful rest and went to the toilet and screamed. I rang the hospital and I was told to come in and I wailed again. They sent the ambulance; two came-one first responder and another ambulance. I was still screaming when they arrived.
We reached the hospital and met a grumpy, stern midwife, I wasn’t going to be okay with her, but luckily for both of us, the hospital didn’t have enough beds for twins and sent us to the other hospital in Leeds. The nurses and midwives were utterly different.
Labour stalled and then continued around 5 pm that evening. The twins arrived at 2 am after another course of epidural.
Wednesday – I was moved to the ward and the children were taken to me. After a couple of hours, the consultant came to tell me that my daughter had to return to the special care unit because they found a problem with her. I cried for the three weeks she was in the hospital.
Three weeks later she arrived home, and we were strangers. I had left her in the hospital and taken her brother home. It took years to understand what happened and what I needed to do to fix it.
I was learning how to heal, which meant learning about me and healing my attachment injuries.
It is incredible how adversity can uncover things in one’s own life. In trying to solve one problem, I stumbled on many others that were urgent. I am forever grateful for my children because they’ve helped me to grow beyond my wildest dreams.
In learning how to bridge the three-week gap, I came up against obstacles in me that I knew had to be addressed. I discovered attachment injuries and noticed that our marriage changed as I was re-traumatized by giving birth.
I was a new parent confronted by these massive obstacles that I didn’t know how to overcome. I didn’t know anyone who healed from these injuries and so I didn’t know where to begin. Everyone seemed fine. They adjusted to parenting well and were sailing through each stage. And here I was still recovering from giving birth to twins, leaving one in hospital and struggled with intimacy. I thought for sure something was wrong with me.
Our lives changed on so many levels the day they were born. The impact felt like our own personal earthquake. We spent many years understanding the shift and still more working through and adjusting to the life that we had. Not the one we thought we should have or the one we thought other people had.
Realisations like this are isolating, because there is no one to talk to, and therefore it isn’t easy to gauge who can understand it.
That was my first insight into the impact of childhood trauma on parental responses and romantic relationships. I was living it.
Healing taught me that I could have a relationship with myself.
My husband met a new woman after I came home. I was now a mother and his wife.
I met a new woman, although I didn’t know then or took the time to get to know her. Those days I was focused on being a great mother, I wanted to be like the people I saw, work tirelessly and never got tired, never complained and did all the things all the time. I quickly realized that that was not sustainable; it wasn’t even realistic for me.
Counselling training changed my life in many ways. I was heavily pregnant as I started training; it was a life-changing journey. I purposed to use the skills to improve my life, even if I never got to work as a counsellor. I learnt to get to know me and understand, accept and love me.
For example, the day I found out the term introvert, I felt vindicated. There were other people in the world like me. I wasn’t stuck up, frigid or any of the other names attributed to me.
It was those realisations that helped me position myself as the kind of woman, mother and wife I wanted to be. I didn’t need to consult my husband or anyone on the changes. I used introspection, prayer and time alone with God to figure out and embraced who I was becoming. Over the years, that person has evolved, but I’ve stayed true to the core of who I am.
Through learning and healing our attachment injuries, we can help others heal. Assisting others to form a deep connection is a considerable part of the work that we do in retreats and conferences.
When a woman tells me she is unable to function sexually, I often hear sexual trauma and my training, coupled with the workaround self-development, help me understand the cultural context that frame that problem.
The work that I do doesn’t feel like work; it grows as I grow and has blossomed into a ministry that helps thousands every year to begin and continue their journeys of understanding, self-discovery and growth.