Relieving a mother's major guilt around her son's difficult birth

By Zoe Zimmermann

"Angela" (not her real name) came to me because she had been unable to let go of guilt around her baby's health difficulties immediately after he was born. He was premature, and she had a Caesarean section and somehow that was connected in her mind with his difficulties. She believed that, if she had held off in the middle of the birth and tried longer to have a "natural" birth, he would have been in utero a while longer, would have had longer to mature, and thus wouldn't have had the health problems he developed immediately following his birth. Her son was now 3 years old, and for three years, she hadn't been able to think about or talk about the birth without breaking down in sobs.

It took a lot of persistence during the first session. Various emotions came up and, although their intensity always decreased, it never went to zero, until we finally came up with the thing that suddenly cleared it up.

We started with the Tearless Trauma technique because, when I asked her to begin describing the birth, she exhibited some signs of overwhelm: her vision became foggy and she felt kind of dizzy.

After a while with the Tearless Trauma technique, she finally got to a level of intensity of 1 on a scale of 0 to 10, but it wouldn't budge below that. I felt that there was a belief behind that and we tried,

Even though I believe that if I let this go, it makes what happened ok...

Even though I can't forgive myself...

Even though I went along with the doctor's decision to do a C-section... I forgive myself for not standing up for what I believe, and I forgive my husband for not standing up for me.

After this, the intensity for the general event was down to a 0. Then we started on the specifics of the event. She determined there were 4 or 5 "crescendos" of intensity, each one at a level of at least 9 and probably mostly 10 out of 10. We began with the worst one: when the doctor determined that the baby was in breech position. She felt that they could just wait until he moved again, but the doctor was adamant that a C-section was necessary. She felt huge disappointment and a feeling of "I knew that if I had the baby in a hospital, it would end up being a C-section!"

We tapped on her huge disappointment, her feeling of inevitability, not forgiving herself for not standing up for her son and herself and...

Even though I could have left the hospital in the middle of the birth, I consider the possibility that this could have been dangerous to me and to my son and that I did the best thing for both of us ... I forgive myself for whatever I did to cause my son's suffering; I forgive my husband; I forgive the doctors and nurses-they were probably doing what they had been trained to do-to keep both of us alive.

This all took quite a while. Each round, the intensity went down one or two points, and then maybe up again, and then down again. After the above, it was a 3. I had the intuition that the inability to get to a 0 might have to do with an event in her childhood. Through surrogate muscle testing, I "got" that something might have happened when she was around 5 years old. She said that her sister was born when she was 5, and that she was born by C-section (as were all the children of her mother). We tapped on:

Even though my sister being born and all the emotions connected with that could have something to do with not forgiving myself, I accept myself and forgive myself back then and I forgive my sister.

Surprisingly, after this round, the intensity was completely gone, and she felt good. She said "Now I can actually talk about the delivery, and I can even talk about it with no tears."

At this point, we were out of time in the session. When she came back, all the crescendos that would previously have been at a level of 10 were now very low - around 2 or 3. We went through each of them very quickly. Each time, the intensity went to a 0 almost immediately.

One thing that came up was her empathy for her son's suffering after the birth. I thought there might be two parts: one, her own feelings and, two, the experience of her son right after his birth. We decided to do a third session where she put herself into her son's place and we did surrogate tapping with the various experiences he went through.

Not surprisingly (I've seen this many times), when she put herself in his place, she physically as well as emotionally went through what he probably went through. For instance, at one point, we were working on something near the end of the experience, and she felt a strange feeling in her throat. I remembered that she had told me he had been intubated for a while. Once we tapped on that, and the feeling of having something alien in his throat, the feeling in her body went away. Here are parts of that session:

When a machine was pushing air into her baby's lungs:

Even though I was scared and the air was so strong pushing into me, and I couldn't stop it...

After a couple of rounds, she felt that the air wasn't so strong, and that it must have been more the fear than the actual force of the air that was disturbing. He was under strong sedation for a while:

Even though I didn't know what was happening; sometimes I felt really alive and here and sometimes I felt not really alive and here...

Even though I was confused, I didn't know what was happening, there were suddenly loud noises; even though I was scared and confused and I couldn't do anything to stop it, I know my mom and dad love me. I forgive my Mom and Dad for whatever they did to contribute to all of this. I forgive the hospital, that's how they do things. I consider the possibility that they were trying their best to keep me alive-even if it was uncomfortable and scary-so that I could have a happy and healthy life on the earth."

About feeling alone and not supported when he was out of his mother and suddenly nothing was around him except air:

Even though I was suddenly all alone and I wasn't inside my Mom anymore...

Even though I was surrounded by her and I was taken out too early, I forgive Mom, Dad, and the hospital-they were probably just doing the best they could to keep me alive so that I could have a healthy and happy life on the earth.

Even though I'm really angry...

Even though I couldn't stop what was going on and I didn't like it. Why didn't they tell me what was going on?...

Going through this was an enlightening experience for both of us. I really began to see what it must be like for babies when they're born and they don't know what's going on and nobody's explaining it to them. It made me think it would be great if somebody was there talking to the baby during their birth experience, describing and explaining and reassuring.

Angela could see that some of her son's behaviors in the present are probably related to his birth experiences-he wants to be held a lot; he's quite clingy; he likes others to do things for him that he can do for himself. It'll be interesting to see if doing the surrogate tapping session changes any of this.

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