Obstetric Violence

First part: Pregnancy, Prenatal Appointments and arrival at the Hospital

  1. The whole pregnancy was perfect. Some people died, yes. I had discomfort, yes. I cried, yes. People were really difficult, YES. But my baby was perfect. I enjoyed his company very much. So much illusion every day. I loved each change, each sensation. I sang, talked, caressed him. I was like the ideal pregnant woman. We took pictures, (my husband and I). We recorded videos. We kissed him. How much he kicked! And I, celebrated everything. His cartwheels gave me peace. I knew he was alive, healthy, well. I slept happy while juggling was practiced inside of me. I didn’t grew tired of him.
  2. I don’t know where to start or continue, maybe I already started. I have so much to write and I don’t wish to leave anything untold. I’m ready, (I think). I’m saying it to myself. Even my medical history and the hospital data about my c-section are about to be in my hands. My son will understand one day the reason for which I tell it. I want to make it clear: He was perfect and I never regret him since his existence kept me alive during the whole process and after that.
  3. Let’s see what I remember… I was 28 years old, my first pregnancy. I walked a lot. I did pregnancy exercises. I was healthy. My baby got into position many months before. There was no complication. Everything was by the book, literally.
  4. I was seven to eight months pregnant. The baby shower was made… I took some classes, with my husband, about breastfeeding and humane birth. It fascinated me to be even more informed. They treated me really well. Now everything will be like I dream, I thought. I wrote my birth plan and I made an appointment to talk about it with the gynecologist that was going to assist me, (my regular doctor did not attend births anymore, red flag.) I went alone. I didn’t have enough money to hire the doula that gave me the classes. I couldn’t borrow money from people close to us who didn’t believe in that. My husband had work and I told him to not ask for the day off so he could accumulate more days for when the baby were to be born. Going alone was not negative to me. I could do it. I was used to it. I was wrong.
  5. The gynecologist thought that it was an appointment to get to know her. And after she checked me, once sitting in her office, I mentioned what I desired for my birth. Instantly, she got defensive. She took out some papers that another patient had given her, to whom she had refused everything. The patient changed obstetrician. I thought it was too late to do that and I couldn’t conceive the idea that more strangers looked at or touched my intimate parts. And women would be better, I thought.
  6. I wrote a paper of just a one sided page. She said no to everything. She would do whatever she wanted and I couldn’t do anything about it. She was very agitated. This made me more nervous. She even said that she would practice an episiotomy on me and I wouldn’t have a say there. She showed the husbands and asked them if they thought the baby could pass through there. And she cut the perineum. And instead of defending myself, like I should’ve, my pregnant brain and my wrong ‘personality’ in similar situations, I went into submission mode. My typical reaction, that has brought me so many problems throughout my life, was turned on like a switch. I was on autopilot… (red flag)
  7. Paid off the deductible and just out of the office, I immediately call my husband on the cellphone. The anxiety attack that that appointment caused me was intense. My husband answered immediately, despite being working. He got really scared. He mentioned changing obstetrician. I couldn’t do that. I had to stay. My other half felt very guilty. But the fault was not ours. We needed a support, special, extra and we didn’t know.
  8. A couple of days later, I went to get my haircut. I was still anxious and needed help. In an act of desperation, something that only happens if I get sidetrack, I told a certain person admired in my life everything that had happened, how badly I was treated, etc. Perhaps, one wrongly waits a lifetime for approval from people. Maybe, I wanted that person to say that she/he would give me a loan to hire the doula, to advise me to change gynecologist or, simply, his/her support. He/she ended making fun of me, laughing, trying to get other hairstylists around to laugh with her/him. Nobody paid attention to him/her. Nevertheless, her/him was enough. That was like going back to my childhood, preadolescence and adolescence… I thought that would not happen anymore. Wrong again. I contacted the doula. She advised me to stay away from that person, to change doctor. I wanted to hire her, but the cost was inaccessible.
  9. I continued with the gynecologists conscious of the information of what could happen to me if I stayed with them. My brain did not reason normally. I felt like I had no other choice. My body would make it. Maybe things would change. Maybe I would go into labor before the due date. Maybe I would win her over (the gynecologist that delivered babies) and everything could be. It causes me shame to remember my way of thinking, ingenuity, the false positivism, in that moment.
  10. The estimated due date got close. The regular gynecologist saw me two days before one of the most conflictive moments of my life. In that appointment, she gave me the papers to be admitted at the hospital Friday, December 9, 20016 for a ‘little help’. (As a side note: I would have 40 weeks of gestation on Monday, December 12 and I had written December 12 instead of the 9 in the previous sentence.) I felt my paleness. Those were the exact words that the doula had warned us to avoid. I took the papers. (Before that, a woman in the line to the bathroom looked at me like a weird bug because I was still pregnant at that many weeks and like that wasn’t normal…Another red flag…) I paid and got out. I called my husband with more desperation than the last time. This time I begged him to get out of work. I couldn’t take it anymore. I drove home and after a while he arrived. He tried to convince me to not go to be admitted. I thought I had no other choice. I couldn’t not go. He supported me, even though I know he didn’t want to. We made a decision as a couple. In short, he respected and supported my indecision/submission. He did not necessarily agree. I love how he was by my side. He did what every partner has to do. I believe that got my hopes up, his love and his longing to have his child in his arms. He asked to have the next day off at work and the one that followed, the day of induction. They gave him the days off, (always grateful of those bosses and coworkers from his previous job). The whole next day we had a positive attitude. We went to dinner. I ordered a spicy plate, I danced. We prepared everything we could that night. We did all the recommendations said to start labor. I got myself ready. I didn’t sleep. Sincerely, I never felt the nesting syndrome, I forced it. A weekend before, I felt for the first time Braxton Hicks, but nothing alarming. We did not let family know. The shame was too much since we wanted everything to be perfect. It was better to let people know when it all worked out in the end.
  11. I finished what I could, then I would continue I thought. I woke up my husband. We didn’t have breakfast. We were fasting, my baby and I since 10pm of the night before. (Red flag because this is only done when they are thinking of putting drugs into your system.) We left. We arrived at the parking lot. We made a short video narrating that we were going to go in and showing my pregnant belly for the last time. We never shared it. The few times we have seen the video, my husband and I, we repeat to ourselves in that past moment: “Don’t go! Turn back!” When entering the hospital, we should’ve turned back home with that first red flag.
  12. It was still night, December 9, 2016, around 6am. We walked with my pillow, blanket and small suitcase. We entered through the emergency area. Everything was desolate. No one to guide us where to go. We asked an employee about the maternity admission area. And there we walked. The door had to be open from the inside. We didn’t know what to do. I don’t even remember well how, but we passed through with another pregnant woman and her mom. My husband, the other two women and I found ourselves between doors, locked up. After a while, that seemed like an eternity, and insistently pressing an intercom that was next to the next door, a ‘lady’ answered. When she knew the reason why we were there, she answered us worse. She said we couldn’t go in with any kind of belonging, accessory nor companion. Only us, the pregnant women, were supposed to pass with the admission papers. RED FLAG… We should’ve returned home… It was not so. We agreed with terror of not knowing what the hell was going on and with a naive hope that we would be together in fifteen minutes, half an hour or an hour as maximum.
Just before entering the hospital.

Second part: Admission, Separation, Denial

13. After having said goodbye, the other young woman to her mother and I to my husband, with the press of a button they let us in. The door closed. It was a very dark, cold, desolate area, in every sense of the word. Quickly I found myself at the front of a great counter, where I almost begged for attention from the woman behind it. She was the ‘lady’ from the intercom. I tell her that it’s to turn in my admission papers, the reason why I was standing there. She hardly attends me. And when she does, it’s to communicate in a bad way I had better have everything. I did. Then, I signed something. She pointed and said go to that room. She shows up there. She said that we had to take off all of our clothes and put on a paper gown, no shoes, only socks. I remember having ones that tied as if they were shoes. I took them with every intention because they were Christmas socks and they would make me feel secure from a hospital floor. She ordered me to take them off. She came in to scold us for not having taking off our clothes. We didn’t want to. It was very cold and we didn’t know where. She gave us permission to undress in a bathroom of that long room. The door didn’t close. Another nurse opened it constantly. Between the constant need, as a pregnant woman, to urinate, and wanting to keep a bit of modesty, the humiliation had already begun. Dressed in a paper gown, we started to talk to a woman in a stretcher in that room. She said she was there, tied to that bed, because she would have a cesarean that was already scheduled. I wanted to run away. I didn’t even want to hear that word. I didn’t want that energy to stick to me. I preferred to have any kind of pain before not achieving a natural vaginal birth. We said goodbye and we were separated.

14. I hardly remember all the experience. It’s so much trauma that my memory comes and goes. I continue… I got to a room. It wasn’t private, but I was alone, at first. Better this way, I thought. I don’t want anyone to see me like this. This way, I could concentrate on achieving my birth. I remember the window well. It was better to focus on it. Daylight had already risen. I don’t know the hour. It didn’t seemed to be more than 9am. It had to be less. The stretcher was extremely uncomfortable. And at a certain moment, some nurse came to put straps on me to be monitored. They took a lot of time to do it. I would seem to be a ‘problem’ for them because I asked for permission to urinate in the bathroom. When they started to tie me up, (nonsense because neither my baby nor I were at risk), the blonde nurse told me that I couldn’t get up for nothing. I had asked her. I thought I would dare to do it anyway. Even if they were to scold me, this (to move myself) would help with the delivery. I didn’t do it. They tied me up even more. Another nurse passed by. She was demonstrating her great tiredness and she says to me: “I wish I was lying there”. She made me feel as if I was on vacation and she envied me. I couldn’t believe she said that to me. How unprofessional! I did not say anything. I was afraid they would make me suffer more. It was better to be in their good side and stay silent. A bit later, the doctor came. She told them to put everything by veins. She was mad because they hadn’t done it already and she also scolded them as my monitors hadn’t been turned on. I don’t know if this, made them treat me worse. (I always refer to the blonde nurse that didn’t let me pee and to the one that wanted to lie down on my bed.) Another indication of the blonde nurse was to dismiss my urge to urinate by saying: that whatever necessity I had to do I had to do it on the same stretcher. I didn’t understand why they wanted to get complicated if I could easily go to the bathroom. She never gave me the ‘thing’ that it’s put underneath the bedridden people to do their necessities in. I was always wanting to piss. And another pregnant woman came to share the room. We talked quite a bit. It wasn’t her first birth. She was terrified. She cried constantly. She said it made it worse to know what was coming. She was also alone. I comforted her. The doctor came back. She greeted her. She repeated to her that she already knew all that, that they had gone through it before. She added that her husband was wrong to go to bathe, now her process would accelerate and she was a quickie. She closed the small curtain. I couldn’t completely see her, (the roommate almost in labor). Any other person could, since she was closer to the door. The doors to each room always remained opened. I felt my eyes open. The Pitocin was starting to have effect. Nothing I couldn’t handle. This is a birth: pain, hold on I though. And the gynecologist scolds her again. She tells her that she already knows about this. She orders ‘the instrument’ from one of those two nurses. It looked like a horror scene. She broke her water membranes. She screamed and cried of pain and despair, helpless. I looked at the window. It had to be already about 10 in the morning. I trembled to think she would do that to me. Maybe she won’t do that to me, my mind said. Very wrong I was. My naivety was too much. The doctor left us alone. She went from room to room breaking water membranes, tying up to stretchers, opening up intimate women parts by force, introducing unnecessary medications into the system and commenting. The screams were heard. And my roommate says to me: “In a bit, it’s your turn”. The comment was not in bad faith. It was a warning. I was still talking to her.

Third part: Forced Membranes, No escape.

15. The sun was not at its hottest yet, but it seemed to be close. The roommate was still there. And my moment came, where everything got worse for me. The doctor gave me another vaginal checkup. There were so many and so painful that I lost count. It felt harder and harder. She was trying to force a dilatation that didn’t happen. I was still at 4cm. And she seemed to stick her fist inside of my vagina. And without asking, like a veterinarian who does not notify an animal, she asks for the instrument that terrified me so much and forcibly introduces it without my consent. According to her, that would make me dilate. In that horrifying process, I remember moaning from the pain very softly and crying. There was no mercy. Even the animals at the vet are petted. They were holding my legs against my will, two nurses, the same ones I mentioned earlier. You could see how jaded they were in their gaze. I did not exist. They did not look at me or speak. They just opened me up like a worthless thing. The doctor constantly scolded me for not cooperating, because instinctively I would move away and try to close my legs. “It was my fault how long it took her.” I, very submissive, felt bad for not enduring it. She did it. I couldn’t believe that giving birth was like this, so violent. But that’s what they always say, that it’s something painful. Well, maybe this is all normal and I’m not ‘cooperating/enduring it’, I thought. Another part of me was sure that none of that was natural, I didn’t even wanted it like that, much less could I get out of there. One of those nurses put a bedpan under me and they left. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I had just been broken, forced. I couldn’t talk to my roommate anymore. This was too traumatic and humiliating. I begged and begged that there would be no more. I wanted to finish, give birth and go home to get under my sheets and cry alone without speaking. The reality was different. There I would continue.

16. After a little while, they took my roommate because she was in labor. At least, that’s what the doctor said. I did not question or speak to her. I was afraid that she could get even and hurt me more. It seemed that there was pleasure in our suffering. I was very scared and I was raised to win over people with submission and good behavior. How wrong! Brought up since veryyy little to let myself be raped.

17. Liquids started to come out of me, fluids. I had no idea what was happening to me. There was no nurse to take care of me and I couldn’t get up. Then I heard a known voice down the hall. It was so embarrassing. And I yelled to her: “Hey you!” I hate being seen in those circumstances. It wasn’t the way I wanted to have seen her after so many years. Although we had met up at her daughter’s funeral, my good friend from school, deceased months before.

18. And she heard me. Entered the room. She is in charge of the nursery area of that horrible hospital. She is very nice. She said hi. We talked. She entered on different occasions and delivered information to my husband. She was a small balsam, both for my husband and for me, in that desolated, violent, dehumanized and desperate nightmare. Without her, my husband would not have known anything about me. Without her, they would have treated me worse… I remember her face expression when she saw me. She tried to conceal it. And told her typical adult jokes. Nothing was funny to me. I remember smiling out of courtesy. I remember perfectly the intimate things she confessed to me.

19. When that person found me on that room with the bedpan under me… Her face said it all. She felt sorry and couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The nurse who was admnistrating me the drugs, that didn’t stop parading, came in and that person ordered her, in a good way, to help her. She immediately did. They both changed my bedpan. I imagine they cleaned me. I don’t remember well. How good to have found that person! My obstetrician knew her well. She was surprised that we knew each other. She (my doctor) started to ’treat me better’. Although the damage was already irreversible. There was no way to stop the violence. Once it starts, it’s impossible to stop and brings with it one ‘thing’ after another…

20. Now starts the ‘blur’. Moments that come to me and go, cloudy, like a bad dream from which you enter and exit without being able to control it, not being capable of distinguishing what was real. Even though I know that it was, real…

Fourth part: Drugs, Mockery, Violence WITHOUT CONSENT


21. She came in and out of my room, that gynecologist. She checked me too much. There was no justification. She never asked for my consent. She just did it. I didn’t know I had rights and that I could demand. I thought I had to let them do that to me. She kept on forcing it. It was peace to me when she took more time to enter again. That person came in, I passed out and I heard her comment it. They were about to put another drug into my system. And I asked what was that to the nurse. My question seemed stranged to her. She answered me that it was Demerol to, supposedly, help me with my nausea. I said that I didn’t want any kind of drug because I was going to breastfeed. She said, (the woman that administered everything by vein without permission), that that would help me feel better. Submissive again. I trusted her.

22. Hours before, when there had been sun for a long time and the pitocin was beginning to do its awful incomplete effect, came the social worker with papers to fill. How would I fill these papers if my mind wasn’t 100% there?, I thought. That is the intention: to make the woman in labor complete important information when she is at her most vulnerable, alone and unconscious. I remember well that she asked me if I was going to use drugs. I told her I didn’t want them. Her answer: “That’s what you say now.” And then she laughed mockingly.

23. The day went on. I felt the sun coming through my window get hotter, brighter. I go in and out mentally. I battle with wanting to stay alert to ensure my survival and that of my child. The drugs beat me. I spent long moments in complete desolation. I snoozed. And a thought came to me about the Virgin Mary and how she had given birth at a stable. And I felt sorry. Another part of me doubted if it was better to have a birth like that of Mary’s. I analyzed how women suffer. I was wondering if I had done something wrong, if something was wrong with me, in me, if I was weak, if that humiliating treatment was normal. I was wondering why women did this to me. They seemed to hate me and it felt like a great torture, a vengeance, rape. I remembered how for the first time in my life, I began to love my body when feeling the life of my son within me. I understood my greatness, the power of being a woman and I saw the mistake in hurting my temple. And now… just now! In this magical, beautiful, miraculous and unrepeatable moment, when I start to become justamami, they do this to me? Others harm my body.

24. I also remember feeling things that I cannot share. We women always keep parts to ourselves. To talk about that would disembogue into other waves that don’t come into subject. And around 3pm, they let my husband in.

Fifth part: ‘Failure to Progress’, their favorite absolution.

25. When my husband is allowed in, I was moved to the ‘birth’ room. It was horribleee. It looked gross, without spaces for a companion, cold, not cozy at all. I remember looking at that room when I walked in and seeing an ugly sink, a sad and ugly chair and the stretcher. I thought it was like a nightmare that environment/place. I still had false hopes that everything would become pretty, beautiful, almost perfect and miraculous. I wouldn’t know how to distinguish if that was my naivety or the drugs working.

26. Once I was on that stretcher, I fell asleep. I don’t know how many hours, how much time, I spent there. I just know that when I opened my eyes I saw José, my husband. He was standing close to the door. I was not happy or relieved to see him. I just felt constant pain, uncontrollable, not natural. I remember looking the other way. My partner did not come close. He didn’t look happy. I turned my gaze to him. He took a shy photo of me, the only one we have of that part of the torture. And I looked at him like saying that I didn’t want a memory of that…

27. At the end, I wanted everything to be over already. I felt like I was dying. I vomited, my mind went away and returned to the world. My baby was super scared. We were hungry. I was dirty. They raped me. Is the same. They held me. They forced me. My parts were mutilated. They mocked me. They made fun of me. They didn’t respect me. They kept giving me drugs through veins without warning or explaining what it was. I had told them that I wanted nothing. Why did I avoid so many medicines and for what so much care during all of the pregnancy? They could have ruined even my hopes of breastfeeding. They insulted me. They left me exposed. My husband was not allowed in until too late. They tied me up to a stretcher. I had to take it. I had to be able to do it. Maybe, this was normal. I couldn’t believe myself anymore. They created an emergency for me where there was not. They put my son’s life in danger without having the necessity to do it.

The picture speaks for itself.

28. After that photo, there was no other taken by my husband. The known person took other photos that she later sent us. I couldn’t see them for a long time. The following was of an emergency nature. Nothing changed. I was not dilating, obviously. That doctor couldn’t open me enough. She scared us. I saw her talking to my husband separately. All my life waiting to be an adult to receive respect… Nothing. I asked what was happening. I could already read my husband’s face. And I heard that my baby could be in danger. I resigned myself. I accepted it because I though there was no option for my son under those circumstances. Although I had a small idea of what that would mean to me.

29. I was moved by an unknown man to another stretcher. The open door, me with the hospital gown trying to cover my nakedness. Nobody helped me. Super humiliating. Was someone else unknown going to see me naked unnecessarily? The answer would be yes. They didn’t care neither the doctor nor those nurses. The man didn’t do anything wrong. He was just doing his job. Being aware of this doesn’t change the fact that I felt embarrassed.

30. He took me and moved me to the stretcher that would take me to the surgery area. Once there, everything went by very fast. To the point that I felt scared that my husband would not come in on time. I think that the presence of the known person had a bigger influence, than what I imagine, in this part of the experience. In this part, she did not left us for a moment. Soon she was going to punch out of work, but as being the boss of the nursery, she would personally take care of our baby.

Sixth part: Epidural, C-section, Recovery

31. Just before entering the operating room, they were waiting for me at the door to put anesthesia on my spine. The only instructions they gave me was not to move. I couldn’t stop shaking as a side effect to all the drugs in my system. I couldn’t control it. I felt an intense need to push, but nothing would happen because I was 4 centimeters dilated since my arrival at the hospital.

32. I remember telling them: “I just want to stop feeling this pain and nausea already.” They told me that that was going to make it go away, but I couldn’t move. It was true. They told me not to move. I tried not to do it with all of my might. They injected me once and it wasn’t perfect. They had to do it a second time. And they pushed me to the operating room.

33. Once inside, they moved me to the operating table. It was all really fast, with more order. It was like having entered, for a while, to another hospital. I saw the surgical knives. I was no longer nervous. I was like in another planet. But I was still fighting to stay awake, conscious. And didn’t stop looking at the door waiting for my husband to come in. My body didn’t matter to me anymore. Now I only thought about breastfeeding.

34. I think I asked the known person for my husband. At a certain moment, she entered with him. How strange he looked! I have always thought that he looks cute in all work uniforms. I didn’t liked how he looked with the gown, mask, the gaze he had, how slow he walked, someone so anxious, and everything it meant.

Concerned. Worried. Not happy. Mad. (His words, not mine.)

35. I was naked in front of a man (the one who did the surgery) and many more women, again. I was so traumatized, humiliated, ashamed. I wasn’t raised to see nakedness as something natural. I felt like a piece of meat in exhibition. And my poor baby feeling me, hiding, about to be taken out and away from his mom needlessly.

36. For the first time during the whole day, I was asked what and how I felt. The anesthesiologist opened her eyes very widely every time I described to her everything that was done to me. I wish they had told me and explained when they put the catheter…

37. You hear everything. You feel and you hear. They took him out: 4:56pm. They notified José. The known person took photos. My baby took a few seconds to cry. He did it. Beautiful cry. I hadn’t seen him. They took him to be cleaned in the incubator they had prepared for him. They had ripped him from the perfect one. My baby kept crying and I only wanted to hold him. They inserted something in me. They didn’t tell me anything. I told the anesthesiologist, who was on the part of my head, that I felt that they were putting something in me. She was surprised and put more drugs in me. I felt like the piece of meat from a butcher shop and I didn’t even have my baby.

Always wishing I could have been the one who cleaned him and first saw him.

38. I heard how they interacted with my son. He didn’t stop crying. The transition that a baby goes through when born via cesarean is more traumatic for him/her. My instinct was to get up and hold him tight to my chest until he calmed down. I had to wait until they brought him to me. And he was brought to me, with some medicine that looked like Vaseline in his eyes, by the known person. That is put on babies at the hospital always after they are born.

My Dariel

39. I remember that he was put close to my face so I could see him. What I wanted was to have him on top of me. The known person tried to put him on the boob for him to suck, to latch. There was more than one try. They were failed. I understood that in that forced way it would not happen. And as the known person was head of the nursery and I had signed that I wanted exclusive breastfeeding, I felt calmed that I would breastfeed. The law protected me. And they took my son. I had to chose to tell my husband to go with him. I preferred that he ensure that they did not force dilation of the foreskin of his penis nor did they give him any formula. I did not think twice. My baby came first and I couldn’t go. I was left alone, again.

A kiss

40. As soon as my husband, son and the known person left to the nursery, I went away. It was as if everything my body endured for so many hours, it finally had its effect. I told the anesthesiologist that I felt like I was going to go (faint). I was losing my vision. This time, it was a sensation of more than wanting to sleep. I drew my strength to warn. I had a baby waiting for momma.

41. She put through IV something to help me and nothing. She asked for a second time how I felt and I remained ill. After a third dose, of I don’t know what drug, I felt that I revived. At last, I saw the man who performed the cesarean, (although blurred since I was not allowed to have my glasses). He was drying his sweat. I spoke to him out of nervousness. He was kind. I still remember him.

A gaze

42. I don’t remember by whom, but I was taken to Recovery. Desolation, again. No idea of my son. No contact. Some nurse put on me an electric hot blanket. They talked about going to eat. They left.

43. I did not understand why I there so many hours. My husband tells me that two to three hours passed. Not that I intended them to ignore protocols. I only deserved explanations and humane treatment.

44. They came back. Some nurses talked of being hungry, (and I without eating). I waited for them to eat and I called them. They did it and came like reluctantly. I explained to them that I almost hadn’t seen my baby, (I’m short-sighted and my glasses were removed), and that he was without food because I was going to breastfeed him. One of the two nurses told me that she was sorry for my son and that he must be hungry, making one feel like a bad mother. That made me get an instinct and answer her that with all more reason I had to be transferred to the room to feed him. She told me that the situation was that: it was going to hurt, (what they needed to do to me before going up to the room). I told her that I didn’t care. I needed to be with my baby.

45. Then the nurse agreed to do what remained to be done. Two nurses did something to me that I did not know. They started to clean the vaginal cavity to leave it without blood. They were talking to each other at the same time they were doing that ‘cleaning’ to me. They were insensitive. But that didn’t matter.The pain was enough. The nurse who ‘talked to me’ said that she had to take out all of the blood clots. It feels like you’re being scraped inside with a disposable plastic spoon, until they finish. I was pushing off their hands. It hurt in my vagina and in my soul too much. And they finished.

Seventh part: Room, Visits, Breastfeeding, not recovered

46. When leaving the recovery room, I quickly found myself in front of my parents and sister-in-law. I didn’t want to see my parents because my dream was to have a vaginal birth and break my family tradition of c-sections. And with my sister in law, I felt ashamed. I longed to set a good example for her. I felt like a complete failure.

47. They moved me to a room. I had no idea if talking to the recovery nurse made me go up at last. It was a shared room. How much they moved me! I felt that as a humiliation since under the paper gown I was naked and they kept strolling me around the hospital. I never grew up believing that nudity was natural and beautiful. I saw it as taboo, sultry and wrong. With less dignity I felt.

He was born to be a father.

48. I didn’t want to share a room, but I felt I had no choice. My mother intervened there. We don’t get along that well. But how much I appreciate her intervention, for whatever reason. She paid for a private room. To that, they responded quickly in the hospital.

49. Since I was in the first room, I asked about my son. I did not understand and will never understand why they took so long to give him to me. He was my baby, we needed each other and I would feed him. They just kept telling me that I didn’t have to feel bad because he was okay and I would see him when all the babies were brought to their mothers, whenever that was. It was there when I discovered that my husband and parents, thanks to the known person, had held, snuggled, seen and taken photos with my Dariel, (that’s his name). Everyone except his mommy. And I was needing him, wanting to be a mother and conscious. How unfair, both for him and me! The bride at weddings is the most important. Why couldn’t it be similar here? I had to wait for my son.

50. My husband tells me that they brought me my son at around 8pm. I quickly tried to breastfeed him with the help of the nurse. All the nurses that came from the nursery were good. They were the employees of the known person and she left them instructions.

51. So I had to feed my poor baby, for the first time, with my parents, husband, sister-in-law and nurses present. My sister-in-law closed the curtain, which barely covered, but was something. I will always be grateful to her for that gesture. She doesn’t even know how much she helped me and how much it meant. I thought: “Oh, thanks.” I didn’t tell her.

52. As I was still drugged, I hardly remember anything from the first time I breastfed. I still have to ask my husband how it was and the details. I only remember that I fell asleep, that they told me what to do and I didn’t understand, but I did. To this point, I remember the classes I took. I would not let breastfeeding be stolen from me too. I was going to achieve it. I always visualized that.

I watched him wondering why I wasn’t allowed to just hold him whenever.

53. I should have felt happy and grateful, according to the world. It wasn’t like that. I could not bear the crying when my baby was taken from the room. Not being able to get up, take him and change him, I despaired. My husband didn’t know how to change diapers. I did. I dictated the instructions resigned. All the visitors could carry my son. Not me. And it wasn’t a party. It was traumatic, embarrassing, humiliating, inhuman, both for me, the other women, my husband and my baby. The nurse reluctantly bathed me. I only felt peace when everyone left, my husband fell asleep and I did not follow orders. After I breastfed, I fell asleep with my little boy on me, even if it hurt, (and it hurt).

54. I thank the nursery nurses. They helped a lot with breastfeeding. The good is not forgotten. Breastfeeding was not stolen from me too. Not all succeed. I am very aware of this.

55. My husband left the hospital only once and my dad relieved him. He couldn’t bear to see me like that. I had always been characterized by taking care of myself, being independent, holding on strong. I couldn’t even get up. My dad used all of his strength. They didn’t seem to be enough. All that effort because the nurse had already waited a long time to bathe me. She passed me soap and I let the water take it out. She told me to clean my intimate parts. I told her, holding back tears, that I couldn’t reach. She did it. Her gestures and face made me feel humiliated. There was no necessity. If I had been able to choose, I would not have even bathed.

56. For some reason, before leaving the hospital you are weighed. This wreaks havoc on the mind of a mother who has just given birth. I understand that there are routines to perform, procedures and protocols that cannot be avoided. However, the comments stressing the weight as if it were the most important thing at the time, that’s not professional.

57. I remember how perfect I considered my little suitcase, first-time mother at last. I didn’t know that there are clothes that hurt to wear after a c-section. Underwear hurts. Pants hurt. Shirts had to have accessibility to breastfeed. When they let me get dressed, I discovered that everything was wrong. My husband went home to fetch and to bring me guessing what he thought was right with the instructions I had given him. I hated when he wasn’t with me in the room. I hated that visitors kept parading without being invited to my privacy.

58. My cousin and my aunt wiped me. My godfather stood me up. I got to the bathroom. They helped me sit and left the door open to help me up. I called them. I couldn’t clean myself. How embarrassing I thought! They didn’t make me feel bad. They were loving, tender. My younger cousin wiped me, the same one that I wiped. My aunt’s face, when I ‘walked’, was of indignation.

59. I remember that one of the nights a person who came to visit was arguing with my mother. She kept repeating that it had happened to me like to her and ‘had not given the measurements’. I wanted to scream, but had no strength. That visit was intelligent and clarified altered to her that this was not possible. He understood that that was wrong. That was no real reason for a cesarean. He was furious. I loved him.

60. I entered that hospital on Friday, the day they perform the inductions. We were all discharged on Sunday. I knew that was wrong. I did not feel recovered nor could I walk, but I already wanted to be in my home. It was all just beginning. I should have given birth hiding in my bathtub as I wanted, alone. And like with everything, it doesn’t matter until it touches us closely. In this case: how giving birth should be, is and why a violent approach to women has been normalized in our most beautiful moment.