Well, we all know that certain phobic responses can be caued by a sensitising event of some kind, don’t we?
So, if we are bitten by a dog, we protect ourselves with a new phobic response that gets us scared and forces us to be aware and move away when faced with other dogs in the future.
But what about if faced by your wife giving birth?!
Now, we have some friends who have just had beautiful twin baby boys who have had to stay in hospital for some weeks to grow to a healthy size and it is hard on the parents.
I have lots of friends having babies and my brother and sister-in-law re soon to have a second baby… Everyone I know, the father has been there at the birth.
Never before have I considered that the experience could be a scarring, potentially problematic one as described in this hypnotic article in the Times just recently. Since the birth of their baby, the featured couple have had sex just twice in 18 months due to the effect of the childbirth experience upon the father. Let me quote and put you in the picture as to how the man felt:
“I feel angry, resentful and upset that Kate insisted I was there when our daughter, Sarah, was born. She knows I hate hospitals, but I was made out to be a freak and a wimp unless I was in there. We had agreed that I would go in and out during labour and didn’t have to stay for the birth, but I ended up witnessing every gory detail. Kate was in labour for hours. It was a Saturday night in a busy ward. The monitor she was attached to kept bleeping, and I couldn’t find a midwife to help. It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever encountered. No antenatal classes can prepare you for that. I’d become doctor, midwife and husband rolled into one. I hated seeing her in so much pain.
“All hell broke loose in the early hours of the morning: the baby’s heartbeat began to drop as Kate was pushing it out. Suddenly, the room was full of people and I found myself at the end of the bed, Kate’s legs wide open and everyone telling her to push. Then the head came out and the baby looked blue. I was convinced it was dead.
“Kate kept shouting, ‘I’m tearing, I’m tearing.’ They managed to get the baby out and straight to the recovery machine. I looked and just saw this gaping hole where it had come from, all bloody and torn, like raw meat. The doctor was talking about stitches and all I could think about was the area all sewn up.
“Those early days and months seemed like the aftermath of a car crash. I felt shaken, but didn’t make the connection with what had happened during labour — maybe because I was so thrilled about our baby. Something had shifted between Kate and me, though. I didn’t know why. In the early days, we were both so sleep-deprived that sex was the last thing on our minds. But even as time went on, I was too frightened to go near her, afraid I might hurt her.
“Initially, I had felt relieved that Kate and the baby were okay, but after about six weeks, Kate wanted to have sex. Then, I realised I couldn’t do it. I felt sick. All I could think about was that night at the hospital. I found it hard to get aroused, and the thought of penetrating her left me cold.
“It has caused arguments about me not loving — or fancying — her any more. I think Kate is a lovely mum, great fun and very loyal. I want back what we had, but the closeness isn’t there. The bottom line is, I am frightened of her getting pregnant again.”
Boy oh boy, did he not love the childbirth experience. This story is one of such stark contrast compared to the vast majority of people who have mentioned it being amazing, life changing, positive, though at times a bit ‘yucky’ … Bu that is usually as extreme as it gets.
Is it because of the intense emotion involved compounding the experience I wonder? Or maybe the environment and a range of other things made the hypnotic effect a very negative one? Maybe the man in question just filtered out all the good, all the beauty of life creation with his pre-framed expectation and dislike of hospitals?
Interesting how such an experience can have such a dramatically negative hypnotic effect on some yet seem so perfect, wonderful and beautiful to others…