Pain To Passion: Healing Birth Trauma
Here at Global Sisterhood, we are honored to occasionally share about exceptional women that are a part of the movement. Today, we chose to feature Sarah Picken, an incredible healer and a member of our monthly membership program, HerRISING. This is the extraordinary story about how she transformed her trauma into purpose, in her own words. We hope you enjoy, and comment or reach out to her if you feel called.
I’m a holistic therapist, mama to two amazing little souls, wife to an incredible partner, Goddess, and founder/creator of Sacred Healing, my soul-led business! I live in Canada, out in the country, and grew up on a small island in Northwestern Ontario where I was home schooled with my sister until grade six. Our days were spent learning science outside at the swamp, having gym class skiing through the bush, or swimming, depending on the season. Because of this, my love of nature, water and animals started from the very beginning. Now, as an adult, whenever I need grounding and healing I still find my way back to nature as a way to reset and rejuvenate myself.
Professionally, I started working in the social services field twenty years ago and always knew this is where I was meant to be in some capacity. Helping others at a core level was always something I was passionate about. As I moved around in the field, I began to notice that although what I was doing felt meaningful and was helpful to my clients there was something missing from the way I had been working and living; a spiritual side, a holistic element. As I was becoming more consciously awakened in my own life, I became certified in Reiki, certified as an Angelic Realm Practitioner and certified as a ThetaHealer. My more mainstream training consists of my Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy which was a wonderful program that taught me best practices for how to work in a trauma informed way. SO, tie that all together and I now intuitively use my skills as a marriage and family therapist combined with my love of energy healing to help clients reach new levels of consciousness and achieve healing.
But let’s back up a little… why birth trauma?
I am especially passionate about working with all kinds of trauma due to my personal experiences in dealing with sudden loss of immediate family members and being a survivor of sexual assault at a young age. I have learned a lot because of these events, not only through my extensive education but through alternative healing modalities that I have used for myself as well. At the time, those traumas were earth shattering for me and led to years of trying to heal.
There were times when things were incredibly hard and I really struggled to keep my head above water, especially when everything that had happened compounded into a diagnosis of PTSD. I had spent many years using only traditional talk therapy so I was shocked and thrilled to experience what felt like instantaneous healing when I went for my first energy healing session. As I mentioned earlier, this was the missing piece! Working from a holistic model of care, to heal not only the mind but the body and spirit as well, was the key!
I knew trauma would be my specialty but birth trauma and pregnancy loss wasn’t even on my radar until I became a mom for the first time. My partner and I were one of those lucky couples who got pregnant on the first try, so when we had a miscarriage, I was absolutely shocked and devastated. When we conceived again I desperately tried to relax into trusting things would be ok this time. Like so many other moms, I was excited for birth and researched and prepared for every last detail. Then, the day came and labour started. I had actually planned to birth at home, unassisted, because during my year of childbirth research I sadly realized the potential for an undisturbed birth in the hospital would be rare.
After a week of prodromal labour, I was disappointed but also a little bit grateful that I would go to the hospital where they could hopefully make the whole process easier for me. I won’t get into the details because they will be triggering for many of you, but my experience was incredibly hard. I was treated horribly and told over and over that my body didn’t know what it was doing and that I needed to listen to the medical professionals. They tried to instill fear and did things without my consent and I experienced what it felt like to not have a voice. My body was not respected and I felt like it was not my own *again*. I remember having to consciously choose to disconnect from my body and the experience of birth so I could try to manage the crushing disappointment and shame I felt after I realized no one was listening to me and I had very little control over the process.
Upon delivery, our baby was taken from me for unnecessary medical interventions and we spent hours apart which led to issues with nursing and bonding. I spent the first couple of months after labour battling back depression as well as shock, anger and shame. Luckily, I had an amazing support system with my mom and my partner and a lot of knowledge about how to heal trauma which gave me the time and tools that I needed to process the experience and to release it.
Three years and a surprise pregnancy later, it was time to birth again! I struggled throughout the pregnancy with making the “right” choices in regards to having the birth I wanted this time. I knew what I wanted but it truly wasn’t until the night before labour started that I actually finalized who would be with me for this birth. I ended up discontinuing care with a wonderful midwife and two doulas because in my heart of hearts I knew they were not meant to be with me on this journey for various reasons. In the end, I ended up having a water birth at home with my two best friends, my partner, my mom and my son. This birth was intense and incredibly hard but it was also incredibly healing.
So, in a nutshell, I had two very different birth experiences. One was incredibly traumatic and the other was incredibly healing. Neither of the births were the zen experiences I was hoping for, but they were exactly the births that I needed in order to be in this place today. It is because of ALL of these experiences that I am ready to help guide women through the following processes:
- Consciously conceiving (exploring blocks that may be preventing conception)
- Having an empowered pregnancy and birth
- Processing loss
- Healing from a traumatic birth experience
My journey back to trusting birth and my body was long and sometimes challenging, but I really believe my experiences happened for this exact reason: to bring me to this place today, here with you.
In my experience, choosing a healing modality that only addresses one aspect of our existence, whether it be body, mind or spirit, is not the most effective way to release and heal trauma. Learning how to heal mind, body and spirit means integrating our experience so that we can achieve overall health. I believe there are always lessons and growth that come from healing trauma as well as wonderful insight into what our journey and learnings are supposed to be in this lifetime. I see a traumatic event as a way to grow and expand our consciousness to new levels that would never have been possible before experiencing the trauma. This is one of my favorite quotes on the subject, that very much resonates with my experiences:
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” -Rumi
If after reading all of the above, you feel moved to contact Sarah, visit her website at www.sacredhealing.org
Sarah offers her services both in person and online.