Angela N. Davis, MM, MTBC
What if...all pregnancies aren't happy ones?
I’ve grown up marveling and admiring the power of women and pregnancy. The inner strength it must take to bring life into the world...how a mother vibrates on a different level than everyone around her. Most of the time, she’s so happy and proud that it radiates in everything she does and every move she makes. But what if she was impregnated through forced actions, without her consent? What if there is trauma tied directly to her pregnancy? What if every kick and thump from inside hurled her back into an attack where she had to fight for her life? What if the things that bring joy to others brought feelings of guilt, shame and/or confusion? A recent Grey’s Anatomy episode got me to thinking: What if all pregnancies aren’t happy ones?
Most times when it comes to something we view as negative, as human beings, we tend to want to A) hide it, B) judge ourselves, C) handle it ourselves or D) all of the above. We’ve experienced judgment from family and friends (or society in general) in the past, and so we have conditioned ourselves to go into protective mode.
First off, let me be clear. You’re right to go into protective mode. You’re right to reach out to anyone who might see or hear you. You’re right, however you safely and lawfully choose to manage. Because, madam or sir, no one gets an opinion on how you grieve.
But know there is help.
A bereavement doula helps you deal with grief processing, even in the most special of circumstances. S/he can help you find your way through those feelings, or simply support you when and as needed. A birth doula can advocate on your behalf during labor and delivery, and give you that emotional/physical support regardless of your level of understanding for your options. There for you when you need someone, silently supporting when you can stand on your own. If your choice is adoption, an adoption doula can support you through that journey as well.
There is this long-time stigma in the black community that “we don’t do therapy, period". We handle things “in-house,” or show weakness if we ask for help. That idea has many people from enjoying an otherwise happy life, and perpetuated generational curses and traumas. Enough is enough. It is passed the time we learn how to heal. A brilliant therapist once asked me in the midst of my extreme reluctance, “What do you have to lose?”
I have seen more people of color opening themselves to healing and getting help for some of their personal struggles. There are so many types of therapy, music therapy being one of them, that there has to be something that fits yours personality. But how are you supposed to find someone that you can trust?
It’s all about the relationship you build with your therapist through counseling. Bound by law from sharing your secrets, you don’t have to worry about being jaded and scarred by betrayal. While finding a good therapist is key, at it’s best manifestation, you get out what you put into the therapeutic relationship. Julie Wrocklage (@juliewrocklagecounselor) recently posted an image to Instagram entitled, “The Anatomy of a Good Therapist.” In the image, there are characteristics of (you guessed it) a good therapist; you should be on the lookout for these qualities as you get to know a prospective therapist.
Some of the more obvious characteristics include maintaining confidentiality, empathic and doing a good job listening. They ask questions, instead of just listening to you pour your heart out. Some less obvious qualities include a therapist who stays on top of recent psychology research and information. While research has come a long way, new discoveries happen everyday that may completely change our approach to each respective discipline of therapy. Go check out her image on Instagram for more of those traits and make a list for your first couple visits.
If you need help, google therapists in your area and start some research. Call around and ask questions. Compare, guilt-free. Just do your research, and in protective mode if necessary, work on your mental and emotional health the same way you would work on your physical health. See a good doctor for the bullet you took to your soul.