I spent Mother's Day this year with my mom and 96-year-old grandma, who live in Washington state. It was one of those sweet reunions that the COVID-19 vaccine has allowed. And while I was loving the quiche and fresh fruit and cut flowers, I couldn't stop thinking about this article — "It’s time to recognize the damage of childbirth, doctors and mothers say" — which I read that morning before brunch. Here's an excerpt:
"The United States has some of the highest maternal mortality rates among developed countries and those statistics have worsened in recent years, particularly for women of color. Those are the worst-case scenarios of bringing a child into the world — the nightmare stories that terrify soon-to-be parents. But making it through childbirth alive doesn’t mean a parent is medically out of the woods. The health care system is often unresponsive, too fragmented or ill-prepared to handle women’s postpartum conditions, from physical pain and discomfort to psychological anguish, that can have life-long consequences. Many women surrender, thinking this is just how it goes when you have a baby."
I had a traumatic childbirth experience, and now holidays like my son's birthday and Mother's Day are triggering for me. I didn't want to ruin anyone's Mother's Day, but I had to post about it because I know there are lots of mothers out there like me who want the world to know that glossing over childbirth and being unaware of the inequalities in our health care system adds insult to painful injuries that are often too intimate to talk about.
Maybe your mom is no longer alive, or maybe she doesn't remember much from your birth or doesn't want to talk about it. But I would encourage you to open up a dialog with the women around you who have given birth. Ask them about their experiences. Listen if they want to talk about it. Believe them even if it's hard to believe.
-- Jennifer Pemberton, KTOO Managing Editor