International Museum of Women - MAMA
Renee Hoffman - USA
The birth of Renee Hoffman’s first child was traumatic and frightening—despite her desire for a natural childbirth, after several medical interventions, she had a cesarean section instead. Renee used her passion and talent for quilting as a way to process and release the trauma around her labor and delivery.
My son was born via cesarean section January 22nd, 2010 at 6:14am. Throughout my pregnancy I had planned a med-free birth with as few interventions as possible. At 41 weeks my certified nurse midwife pressured me into an induction. The induction went smoothly, and I labored through it without any pain medication for 18 hours. I eventually got an epidural after being "stuck" at 9 centimeters for 6 hours. An hour after getting the epidural, the fetal heart rate started dropping during contractions (a known side effect of epidurals) and I was convinced by the on-call doctors that a cesarean was necessary. It was a textbook surgery, with no complications, but it was emotionally quite traumatic for both my husband and myself. Our son was very healthy at birth, weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces.
I cried a lot after he was born, partially due to hormones, but mostly due to the events surrounding his birth. At follow up appointments with my certified nurse midwife, I felt like I was told the same thing over and over, as though she was quoting from a script: "Just be thankful you and the baby are healthy, that's all that matters." Never was my emotional damage or turmoil addressed.
I decided to wait a year to heal mentally and physically before doing in-depth research into cesareans and vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs). I met with a certified professional midwife--the very midwife that had delivered my twin brother and I nearly 27 years before--about having a homebirth. She was wonderfully encouraging and supportive. She encouraged my husband and I to find a way that would help us release and express our emotions from our son's birth. One night as I was falling asleep I came up with an image of a woman releasing red waves of pain and emotions into the wind. I had been planning on making a Ticker Tape quilt for a while, and knew the method would work well to turn the image into a quilt.
I wanted to include single words that expressed all the emotions and thoughts I had had since having the cesarean, and wanted to get my husband involved too. We both made a list of words separately then we discussed our lists, adding even more words. As I started quilting the words onto the quilt, I thought of new words and soon there were 70 words! It took nearly a month to complete, and now hangs above our bed. About two weeks after it's completion I became pregnant, and am currently expecting our second child, via home VBAC, in March 2012.