I’m halfway through my pregnancy. So much has happened and I truly thought I’d be writing more about it than I am. But… when I go to write, all that comes out is negativity and fear. And those really aren’t the mental spaces I want to give all my time to. Therefor… the lack of writing.
I especially didn’t want to write about this particular experience, because it’s the most negative of negatives, as it deals with sexual assault. (Stop reading now, if you may be triggered by such things.)
But… it just came out of me. And I thought I’d publish it anyway, since maybe someone else out there is going through the same thing, and wondering why…
A few weeks ago I felt my baby moving inside of me for the first time
I had been seriously dreading “The Quickening.” I somehow knew it would be an unpleasant feeling for me. And In the weeks building up to THE QUICKENING, I had been telling myself that all the flutters I had been feeling were just gas.
And, thanks to it being a major pregnancy symptom, I was able to prove it so. But on this one particular time I knew it wasn’t gas. I knew it couldn’t be anything else.
I was sitting on an airplane, waiting on the tarmac, and I felt something brushing across my innards. Unlike the gas bubble feels of before, this was like something was lightly tickling my stomach muscles.
And it horrified me.
Almost all the other mothers I know have told me that feeling the first flutters inside of them was magical, and their favorite part. Me? I hate it.
More than hate it, feeling my baby moving inside of me feels like a violation instead of a miracle. Feeling things in my body that I have no control over make me want to scream and cry and jump out of my skin.
Why do I react in horror instead of honor? The answer was surprising…
I went to my therapist to try to get some help. When she asked me “does this ‘violated and wanting to crawl out of your skin’ feeling feel at all familiar to you?” I instantly thought of my worst experience of sexual assault.
It happened in high school. And it’s not something I think about a lot. In fact it’s something I try to push down and forget. But I’d been intensely reminded of recently because of Christina Blasey Ford‘s much televised and discussed testimony.
Once my therapist and I started talking about what happened to me in high school, I immediately felt the revulsion of having my body violated all over again. Of being forced to feel things I didn’t ask to feel. And remembered that in the moment, and every other time I’d think about it, how I wanted to escape my body.
But I know that my baby isn’t trying to violate me!
She’s not doing anything wrong. And she’s not something that I didn’t ask for and am being forced to endure. But still… feeling something happening to my body that I’m not in control of triggers a trauma response. Apparently my sexual assault trauma brain doesn’t know the difference between a good “surprise bodily sensation” and a bad “surprise bodily sensation.”
Thankfully my therapist is amazing.
Thankfully I was open-minded enough to let her try a very personal type of therapy on me called Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. It involved physical touch (with permission!) to help me physically complete the movement that I was unable to do in the moment. For me that involved pushing and yelling of profanities. And eventually it helped me create a mantra to help me every time I get panicked by the flutters.
“This is just a sensation. I’m not being violated. I’m okay. I’m safe.”
I repeat this to myself until my initial trauma response calms down. And then I go back to not really enjoying the fluttering feeling, but at least I don’t want to crawl out of my skin anymore.
The good news is, weeks have passed, and those flutters have turned into kicks, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I feel less freaked out by those. My therapist suggested it’s because I can actually understand what those feelings are. Clearly that’s a kick… or a punch. And those creepy tickles are a terrible thing of the past. A thing of the past that helped me process another terrible thing of the past.