My son Mickey had the most traumatic birth of my four children , I feel it is safe to assume. He showed many symptoms in his early weeks and months that my daughter did not, and would most definitely garner the label "colicky" from those people who like to use this catch all term to deny infants their whole personhood...
But while I have told several times the story of my c-section, and referred to him being "fussy", gassy, attached to breast 24-7, rashy, stiff, no eye contact, fearful, distant, withdrawn...I have only told 2 people about the fact that Mickey, at age 4, vividly remembered his birth!
A little background as to Mickey's temperament at the time of the amazing event:
He was an energetic, intense, and somewhat serious little boy. Like most little kidsthat age, he liked to be pretty physically active-- jump off the couch, run instead of walk, spill instead of not spill, my only point being, he was not calm or quiet or anything like that---EXCEPT IF YOU TRIED TO TIP HIM ANYWHERE EVEN CLOSE TO UPSIDE DOWN. Even to carry him sideways in your arms, "like a baby", he would absolutley FLIP OUT. SCREAM IN TERROR like a banshee, stiffen and grab at you like he was being drowned, scratch you and claw at your face, nononononono dont flip me over! dont flip me over! dont DROP ME
Well, I always said, "baby, Im not going to DROP you! Mama always has you!"...but it continued.
Fears of even being carried, he would stiffen, and buck, and well, it was almost insulting, and certainly strange, often inconvenient, and we did not understand what the deal was. Maybe if you dont have a toddler in your life currently, you might be thinking "dont lift him up then" but it happens alot in the daily living with little ones. In and out of the high chair, in and out of the stroller, in and out of the cart, in and out of the bath, off the table (my boys are climbers), out of the flower patch, up into the car seat....everytime the spazzing and grasping and crying.
Well, this would be a much more poignant story if I would have been a blogger back then, and alot of the details that would give you chills have escaped me now, but somehow, someway, I had lifted Mickey again. I think he was asleep, and I was moving him upstairs to his bed. In this lucid state, he did not buck or struggle, and I got him all the way into his bed. Just as Iwas laying him down, he started crying, crying, crying, it was a sleepy sort of opening up and he was talking about "I dont like when Im upside down, Mama..." and I said "I know, baby..." and he said "They hurt me when I was in your tummy, mama..."
Although I had already begun to read and reasearch somewhat about birth trauma, and I had definitely constructed some conclusions about how his surgical birth and his being induced before he was ready to be born had affected his personality, I had NEVER EVER talked to him about any of this. Nor had he heard anything of the sort spoken in his earshot. The ONLY thing he could have gotten in his mind about birth, etc was the fact that his one year old brother, Casey, was born at home. Mickey was not in attendance for the birth, but we talked as a family about homebirth being so nice, and isnt it great that mommy doesnt have to go away to a hospital. We never even got into "you were cut out of my tummy" or anything.
So of course, I was like, "they did?"...real open ended....
And this is what he told me:
"They smashed me and smashed me, they smashed down my heart and I couldn't breathe, remember, Mama? And they tip and tip me over and over and they tried to make me go so upside down and hurt me! And I couldn't see you! And they were so so mean to me!"
I just hugged him and hugged him and said yes, yes, I remember, baby. I remember.
I told him that he was a very special boy to remember being in Mommy's tummy and that I would never tip him over or smash him, ever.
Over the next few months Mickey went from a fearful, worried, cautious child into one who could finally try new things, take a laugh at his own expense, and eventually, into the 7 year old who screams CANNONBALL! with his friends as he jumps into the pool, thinks fireworks shows are awesome, and, sometimes, lets me carry, and even tickle him.
Some folks would say that these things are a part of maturation, and that the story he told me was some sort of rehashing of adult things he overheard. Perhaps. But when he opened up like that to me, there was nothing but truth in that room, and nothing but relief afterwards.