Rape-Related Pregnancy and Pregnancy Loss

Pregnancy and Parenthood After Rape or Abuse

Perhaps another pregnancy is a long way from your thoughts!  But, even if you don't want to have another child any time soon, this information might help reassure you that it's possible.

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

My husband and I got married just over a year ago now (you'll just have to imagine my big beaming grin!).  We'd like to have kids in the next couple of years.  I see some challenges ahead because of the abuse I've experienced.  I know that pregnancy, birth and parenting are topics too big to cover adequately here!  But I thought sharing my thoughts and the information I've found might help you too.

 

Photo by Rgbspace, Dreamstime

I hope we'll have fun trying to get pregnant!  These resources about sexual recovery after sexual abuse or assault could help.  (The books listed on this page, or other similar books, might be available from your local library):
Sexual Healing from Surviving to Thriving
Reclaiming Your Sexuality After Rape and Abuse
Recovering From Rape: Healing Your Sexuality

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse (by Wendy Maltz)
Sex, Intimacy and Sexual Violence Survivors - A Chat with Wendy Maltz

Incest and Sexuality: A Guide to Understanding and Healing
Women's Sexuality After Childhood Incest
Ghosts in the Bedroom: A Guide for the Partners of Incest Survivors
Lovers and Survivors: A Partner's Guide to Living With and Loving a Sexual Abuse Survivor

These pages specifically about pregnancy after rape or sexual abuse could also help:
When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women
Notes from a Talk About "When Survivors Give Birth"
Survivor Moms: Women's Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing After Sexual Abuse 
Extra Stories from "Survivor Moms"
Pregnancy to Parenting: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder After Childbirth -  Pregnancy to Parenting: A Guide for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
A Safe Passage - A website for women survivors in the childbearing years.
Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parenting After Rape
 
Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parenting as a Survivor

Birthing Ghosts: Sexual Abuse and Pregnancy
Healing the Trauma: Entering Motherhood with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Photos from Free Stock Photos

My physical health is an issue for us - it's been badly affected by trauma.  So I'm working on getting as fit and healthy as I can.  If you're doing that too, you might find these pages useful:
The Royal Women's Hospital Victoria - Preparing for Pregnancy - Your Health  
Planning Pregnancy - Body Awareness 
Getting Your Body Ready for Pregnancy
  
Getting Healthy - for Mums and Dads to Be  
Pre-Pregnancy Checklist - Preparing for Pregnancy  
Web MD Preparing for Pregnancy  
Preparing for Pregnancy  
Baby Fit: Health Babies Start With Healthy Mothers - web-based personalized healthy pregnancy planner
CalorieKing.com.au - Australian online diet and weight-loss club

If you're overweight, like me, these pages might help too:
Plus Size Pregnancy 
Your Plus Size Pregnancy

For more information about exercising during pregnancy, eating disorders and body image issues in pregnancy, please see the Pregnancy Developing page here.

I've had a lot to do, mentally and physically, to get to where I am now!  If you're considering pregnancy later than you otherwise might have, these pages could be useful to you too:
Mothers 35 Plus
- information, resources and message boards for older mothers, mothers-to-be and would-be mothers
Motherhood Later ... Than Sooner
- an online community for those parenting later in life
How Age Affects Pregnancy
 
Women's Health Pregnancy After 35  
Older Women Giving Birth 
Mothers Over 40
Late Babies: Having a Baby After 35
Pregnancy and Parenting After 35: Mid Life, New Life
But I Don't Feel Too Old to Be A Mommy 
Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood After 35

Photo by Tiholm, Dreamstime

I don't know how I'll react psychologically to being pregnant again.  Will it bring back lots of traumatic memories and emotions? Will it sharpen the grief I feel over the loss of my other little ones? 

I wonder how many other mums who've lost a child, at any stage, feel hesitant to have another because it seems like trying to replace them.  Somehow the phrase, "trying again" makes me feel disloyal (and wince because I've never "tried").  The individual things I've done to remember and honour them give me something to hold onto here.  They won't be forgotten.  They'll always have their own places in my heart.  I think they'd rejoice to see a little half-brother or sister finally make it, safe and complete, into this world. 

Some mothers find it very healing and empowering to give birth after rape or abuse.  The Chapter on Children and Parenting in The Courage to Heal has some encouraging (and still realistic) quotes from women who've become parents after childhood sexual abuse.  It's well worth reading.  Cassandra's story talks about how childbirth and becoming a mother can be healing and empowering.  This page tells another success story. There are some of the same themes in the Feelings and Thoughts section at the bottom of this page.

But what if something goes wrong this time too?  There's always the possibility of losing another child.  If you've experienced pregnancy loss or complications, you may feel particularly anxious about this.  The section about fear on the Pregnancy Developing page here might help.  There's more about anxiety and parenting later on this page.  For information about various types of pregnancy and early neo-natal loss, go to the Loss page here.  It's best to discuss your own situation and individual risks with a medical professional, but these pages could give you somewhere to start:

Staying Positive When You're Pregnant Again After a Loss

Pregnancy After Stillbirth, Miscarriage or Infant Loss
Hope With A Heartbeat - Pregnancy After a Loss
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Stillbirth, Miscarriage of Infant Loss - Ann Douglas

Pregnancy After Miscarriage
Fertility After Early Miscarriage
Does Having One Miscarriage Mean I'm Likely to Miscarry Again? 

Safety of Pregnancy After Ectopic Pregnancy
Pregnancy After Ectopic Pregnancy
Can I Have a Successful Pregnancy After Having an Ectopic One?

Pregnancy After Prematurity
Thinking About Pregnancy After Prematurity

Pregnancy After Stillbirth/Infant Loss - message board for parents who've experienced stillbirth, late miscarriage or infant loss and are now pregnant
Giving Birth After A Previous Stillbirth

Subsequent Children After Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS - Another Baby?

 

Photo from Wellcome Library, London, Wellcome Images

If your baby has a disability or special needs there's information, support and resources on coping emotionally in the A Child With Special Needs section on the Loss page here.  You might also find this practical advice and information helpful:
First Five Things to Do After Your Child is Diagnosed 
Special Needs Parenting Articles and Resources   
Disability Resources: Just for Parents (and Service Providers) - favourite sites for parents of children with disabilities 
Which Service Should I Contact When - My Child Has a Disability - Australian information.  If you're not taken directly to the right page, click on Services, then Parenting Services Directory, then My Child Has a Disability.
Carer's Australia 
Children's Disabilities Information - articles and resources empowering parents of children with disabilities and special needs, international
Special Needs Children Site 
Earth's Kids: Special Needs 
Special Needs Parenting Resource List
Child Welfare League of America: Children's Voice Article on Children with Disabilities
  Interviewing Caregivers for Your Child 
Explaining Down Syndrome to Children
 
Parenting and Child Health: Disabilities and Brothers and Sisters 
The Other Kid: A Draw-it-Out Guidebook for Kids Dealing with a Special Needs Sibling 
Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister Who Has Special Needs 
Becoming a Resilient Family: Child Disability and the Family System 
Help Guide: Parenting Children with Learning Disabilities - Tips for Helping Your Child  
Amazon.com's Book List for "Parenting Child Disability"
You can find more information by searching the internet with the name of your child's diagnosis.

If you had a traumatic birth experience last time (and it's hard for me to imagine it not being traumatic, however mixed your experience was, if you were pregnant through rape), these pages might help:

Trauma and Birth Stress
Solace for Mothers: Healing After Traumatic Childbirth
- resources and online communities
The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
Rebounding from Childbirth
Birthing from Within

If you gave birth by Caesarian section last time and would like to give birth vaginally this time you might be interested in these pages:
The Decision to Have a Vaginal Birth After a Caesarian (VBAC)
Mayo Clinic Vaginal Birth After Caesarian (VBAC) Guide
VBAC Pages UK

VBAC or Repeat C-Section?
Vaginal Birth After Caesarian - What to Expect

Photo by Yorgos Nikas, Wellcome Images

What if my husband and I find we can't have children?  Discovering whether or not we can have children won't be immediate.  These pages might come in handy:
When is the Best Time to Have Sex to Get Pregnant?

How Soon Can I Expect to Get Pregnant?
When to Ask for Help in Getting Pregnant
Stress and Getting Pregnant

How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex and Infertility

If being abused contributes to being unable to have kids, I'll be very angry with the people whose deliberate cruelty took that opportunity from me (the tips about anger on the Pregnancy Developing page here might help)  Of course, we mightn't be able to have children for other reasons.  Whatever the cause, I'm sure I'll feel a big sense of loss and disappointment.  These resources might help:
About.com Infertility
NIH Information About Infertility - US government site
About Infertility
Infertility Help and Support
Pandora's Aquarium: Pregnancy Loss, Relinquishment, Termination and Infertility Forum 
Coping with Infertility 
RESOLVE.org: The Emotions of Infertility
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association - US site, with links to local HelpLine numbers in the US
Infertility Online Support Group
Daily Strength: Infertility Online Support Group
The Australian Infertility Support Group
The Australian Infertility Support Group Links to Australian Support Groups, Australian Clinics, International Links and International Support Groups
Pregnancy MDs List of International Infertility Support Groups 
Conquering Infertility: Dr Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility
Infertility Sucks: Keeping it Together When Egg and Sperm Stubbornly Remain Apart
I Am More Than My Infertility 
Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility

If we're in this position we might consider assisted reproductive technologies (ART), adoption or fostering.  These pages could be a place to start:
VIC Better Health Channel - Infertility - Female
VIC Better Health Channel - Infertility Treatments - Female
VIC Better Health Channel - Infertility - Male
VIC Better Health Channel - Infertility Treatments - Male 
Assisted Reproductive Technologies from Wikipedia
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Reproduction 2005 ART Report FAQs

For me, the involvement of extra people and the medical context of ART might be too hard to deal with.  If we do go down that route, I'll need a lot of support and space to work through my feelings.  I'll also need to use grounding and self-soothing techniques, such as those described on the Problems in Pregnancy page here and later on this page.

In a weird way my abuse made me a better parent. Because I was a child when it happened, it made me know what children need in order to be happy and healthy I made sure my children grew up abuse free and I would have thrown anyone out of my life that abused me or my kids. If they had been abused I WOULD BELIEVE THEM.

I was happy to be pregnant and giving life. I knew I was going to be the best Mom ever. I did not like having my legs open and everyone looking at me though. I forbid any pictures or videotape. Too triggering.

My advice on having kids: it's a very personal decision. I would like to say when things get tough, I keep on going for my kids. They can be my reason for living when I can't think of anything else.
Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

If we're considering adoption, we might find useful information on the Deciding What to Do page and at:
VIC Better Health Channel - Adoption Explained
Deciding to Adopt
Deciding to Adopt - www.oursbychoice.com
Deciding to Adopt: The Reluctant Spouse

Australians Caring for Children
Adoption Support for Families and Children WA

Adoptive Families Association ACT
Adopting.com Internet Adoption Resources
Adoptive Families Links
Raising Children Network - Parents and Families
Relationships Australia Post-Adoption Support Services

If we're considering fostering, we might find useful information on the Deciding What to Do page here and at:
VIC Better Health Channel - Foster Care

Australian Foster Care Association
VIC Better Health Channel - Permanent Care Issues to Consider
VIC Better Health Channel - Permanent Care Can Be Challenging
Mercy Foster Care Australia - Becoming A Foster Carer
SA Department for Families and Communities - Steps to Become A Foster Carer
 

The adoption process and foster care system are complex.  If you're considering adoption or fostering you'll need detailed, local advice.  Get in touch with your local community services department to start the conversation.

I admit I giving birth to our own child seems daunting, let alone adoption or fostering.  It would be good to use what I've learned to help a traumatized child.  But for us to parent a traumatized child ourselves mightn't be the best way to do that.  I'm not sure my husband would be keen to add another traumatized member to the family, and I'm not sure how well I'd cope.  So there are lots of things to think about before deciding to adopt or be foster parents.  We'll meet that challenge if we come to it!

If I do get pregnant, it's going to involve medical experiences.  Those are never easy for me.  I know they're hard for many people, especially people who've been assaulted.  I've found the tips about dealing with medical checks on the Problems in Pregnancy page here, self-soothing, relaxation and grounding exercises help. I also hope to have my husband with me. 

I find it very difficult to ask for help, but I know our family and friends will want to be involved.  I'm sure they'll be very supportive.  Balancing our needs for support and independence will be interesting!  I think that's a challenge for many young families.

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

What if you don't have supportive family and friends?  Where can you find help and friendship?  For links to pregnancy support services see the Deciding What to Do page here might help.  For more information about pregnancy and support online see the fear section of Pregnancy Developing page here and the Pregnancy Support Services entry on the N-Q Links page here.  Many of the pregnancy support services also offer parenting skills courses and support for new parents.  This page on how to build your own support network and this page on support strategies for new parents might help too.  If you've newly arrived in Australia these pages could help VIC Better Health Channel Childbirth - Help for Women from Overseas and Multicultural Mental Health Australia - Support for New Mums and Dads.  If you need help with breastfeeding, or general support with your newborn, you might find from the Australian Breastfeeding Association - Helpline and Volunteering Info.  You could make new friends and get your body back in shape by doing post-natal exercise classes, such as those offered by Active Mums or JumpStart Outdoor Training in Sydney.  There's a directory of exercise groups for pregnant or new mothers at Kidspot.

Kidspot also has links to new mothers support groups.  You can also search for a local mothers group at Mothers Group Australia.  You might want to join a playgroup.  Playgroup Australia lets you search for playgroups in your local area.  They also provide information about starting your own playgroup.  Some playgroups are associated with community service departments, for example Families NSW Supported Playgroups.  Community service departments have programs to support parents, for example NSW Family Support Services Directory.  Charitable organisations also have support services for new parents:
Boystown QLD - Glugor House
07 3203 0235 4 Airlie Ave, Deception Bay, QLD 4508, fax: 07 3204 1985, email: services@boystown.com.au
Salvation Army Community and Family Support Australia
Marymead Family Support Parenting Network Australia
 
Aboriginal Family Support Services Australia
 
Mission Australia - Pathways to Strong Families and Happy Healthy Children

If you're not in Australia these pages might help you find some local support:
Parenting and Family Meetup Groups - US and International search function
Kidspot NZ

Kidsguide - UK
Family Support Services and Respite Care, Crisis Nurseries etc. - US

You might also be interested in these pages on:
New Fathers Adjusting to Fatherhood: Information for Dads About Parenting, Post-Partum Depression, Preemie Babies, Single Fathering, Gay Fathers, Depression in Fathers, Infertility, Fathers and Breastfeeding etc. 
Pregnancy and Birth Information for Expectant Dads
 
Pre-Natal Services for New Dads-to-Be   
New Fathers Meet-Up Groups Around the World 
Support for Stay-at-Home Dads 
Online Support for New Dads 
Pub Workshops for Learner Dads from DadSquad.
There's some more information for fathers later on this page.

If you need support because you or your partner are depressed or worried about your mental state, please have a look at the Post-Natal Depression, Post-Natal Psychosis and Post-Natal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder information on the After Birth page here

.

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Depending on our circumstances, we might need to arrange childcare.  Here are some pages which could help:
Who's Watching the Kids?
 
The Anxious Parent's Guide to Quality Childcare
Care for Kids - Australian Online Childcare Information  
Childcare.net.au Australian Childcare Directory 
Australian Government Childcare Information 
Childcare Associations Australia 
Information about Different Kinds of Childcare in Australia  
Which Childcare - includes information about childcare benefits in Australia
Choosing Childcare
 
Childcare - How to Choose 
Childcare Arrangements
Childcare Information - UK
Paying for Childcare - UK
Choosing Quality Childcare
- Canada
How to Choose the Best Childcare Provider for Your Child

Child Care Aware - US
Earth's Kids Issues in Childcare
- US
Is My Child Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?

What about the trust issues in having someone else look after our child?  I suspect I'll find it very difficult to leave any children we have with someone else.  I intend to leave them only with trusted family and friends or licensed childcare centres that "feel good" to us.  But I also don't want to deny them the learning opportunities, extra interactions and input they might have being looked after by someone else.  I want to protect our children, but not stifle them.  I'm sure if we have kids we'll need someone else to look after them from time to time and I think that regular childcare might also help me to be a better parent.  My nephews and friends' kids have learnt a lot, and so have their parents, from the qualified early childhood teachers at their childcare.  I've been really impressed.  I'm also sure that having a break can help re-charge you.  So, like all issues of safety, this will be about finding a balance that feels right to us.  Together with the information above, these resources could help:
How to Deal With Separation Anxiety - Yours!
Helping Your Child With Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety 
Dr Spock on Separation Anxiety 
Bye-Bye Time
Separation Anxiety
Mother Who? - information for working mums
Monitoring Your Childcare Arrangements.

In looking for childcare, the main message seems to be - pay attention to your child's reactions, listen to your own instincts, and do your research.  There's more information on anxiety and parenting and how to protect your child from abuse later on this page.
Photo by Sgame, Dreamstime 
 
Relationships with your family of origin or your extended family can be complicated after abuse. Problems in your family may have left you more vulnerable to abuse, parents or guardians may have failed to protect you, you may have felt hurt, angry and abandoned, family members may have downplayed the abuse or said insensitive, unkind things to you, and the person who abused you might be a member of your family.  All these things affect family dynamics when you have a child.  I think having a child might raise some of these issues for me.  I'm very lucky to have a family that's sensitive and willing to work through them with me.  If you find yourself dealing with issues like this, these resources might help:
Family Dynamics from Strong Bonds - Building Family Connections - Jesuit Social Services    Tips and Advice on Building a Healthy Parent-Grandparent Relationships
Emotional Boundaries in Relationships 
Understanding Family Structures and Dynamics
 
Dysfunctional Families  
Understanding Abusive Families: An Ecological Approach to Theory and Practice
Adult Children of Abusive Parents 
Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families 
Birth Order and Family Dynamics  
The Betrayal Bond Breaking Free from Exploitative Relationships    
Parenting From the Inside Out 
How to Explain Estranged Family to A Child After Child Abuse 
Healing from Family Rifts - doesn't assume all rifts should be mended, and gives advice on how to recover from any outcome

This is a time when you really want a supportive mum yourself!  If you're missing your mother's support, these resources might help:
Motherless Daughters Online 
Missing Mothers and the Emotional Freedom Technique
When You and Your Mother Can't Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life
Motherless Mothers: How Losing A Mother Shapes the Parent You Become 
Motherless Mamas
A Mother Loss Workbook: Healing Exercises for Daughters

If you're missing the support of your father:
Longing for Dad: Father Loss and Its Impact 
Where Were You When I Needed You, Dad?  A Guide for Healing Your Father Wound

Like most women, I wonder how I'll cope with giving birth.  I'm sure it won't be as hard as my previous experiences.  But there may be special issues for me because I was abused.  These pages could help me understand and deal with them:
Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Effect on Childbirth 
Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Impact on Labor and Birth 
Remembering Childhood Sexual Abuse in Labour 

 

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

I'm not sure if early baby care and breastfeeding will be harder for me because I was abused.  But I expect to find useful information in the links on the After Birth page here.

I think it's possible I'll still need medication.  Will that be safe for our baby?  There's some information about medication and pregnancy on the Pregnancy Developing page here.

I worry about how my childhood experiences and PTSD might affect me as a parent.  Will I be able to look after our children properly?  Will I be able to give them a home environment that feels calm and secure?  Will I be able to teach them the right things, especially about self-esteem and safety?  Will I be a good parent?

These pages might help me plan:
Parenting With a Disability 
Parenting With a Mental Illness
Children of Parents With Mental Illness (COPMI)
Children of Mentally Ill Consumers (COMIC) 
Serious Mental Illness and Parenting 
12 Parents With Mental Illnesses Share Their Experiences 
The Needs of Children of Parents Affected By Mental Illness 
When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change

These pages could be especially relevant: 
PTSD and Parenting

The Effect of PTSD on Family

PTSD and Family 
PTSD and Your Family
How Does PTSD Affect Families
 
When a Parent Has PTSD 
Children of Veterans and Adults with PTSD 
PTSD May Affect Health of Offspring

If I have flashbacks while I'm looking after our baby, how will I deal with them?  I don't want to hurt, neglect or frighten our child.  Grounding, containment and other coping techniques might help:
Grounding and Stabilizing Techniques After Flashbacks
 
Grounding Techniques 
Containment
Containment from Pandora's Aquarium
 
Coping Skills for Trauma 
Coping Resources Pages from Pandora's Aquarium

A psychiatric nurse once described to me the process of healing from sexual abuse and learning to deal with flashbacks as like learning to surf - a combination of reading the waves and learning to balance yourself.  I am getting better at "surfing" all the time.  Nowadays I more often sense when I'm becoming unstable, I communicate betther throughout the experience, and I have techniques for getting myself physically "unstuck". 

I think maybe I can trust myself more than I do.  I've spent almost all my life containing my reactions to sexual abuse.  My skills in doing that are surely honed by now!  I have noticed that when there's an emergency I react differently.  My husband once got sick while I was flashbacking and I was able to bring myself out of it long enough to get him some medicine at a nearby pharmacy and make sure he was OK.  My psychiatrist has also reminded me that even when I was a child I was able to be kind and responsive to a baby and do a lot of what's involved in basic care.

Hm.  I need to keep working on this!  I want to be sure I've done all I can to keep our children safe and minimize any psychological or developmental impact for them.  It will be important to arrange backup and to make some time where I can process things that come up.  I might resent the energy and time it takes, but regular therapy sessions seem like a good idea while I'm adjusting to motherhood.

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

How might my emotional state affect our kids?
Depression in Pregnant Women and Mothers: How Children are Affected

The Effects of Parental Depression on Children

Depression in Children: Treat the Mother, Treat the Child

Parental Depression and Children's Development Outcomes: The Mediating Influence of Parenting Behaviour
 
Hand-Me-Down Blues: How to Stop Depression From Spreading in Families
COPMI Resources for Young Children, Older Children, Teenagers and Parents 
The Anxious Parent
 
Raising Children Network: Feeling Anxious

Parents - What Can We Do? How to Handle Anger
 
VIC Better Health: Anger - How it Affects People
Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
 
The Dance of Anger 
Raising Children Network: Feeling Angry

Here are some resources to help children understand emotions and their parent's emotional reactions:
Wishing Wellness: A Workbook for Children of Parents With Mental Illness 
A Terrible Thing Happened: A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Trauma or Violence 
Why Are You So Sad? A Child's Book About Parental Depression 
Why is Mommy Sad?  A Child's Guide to Parental Depression 
Mommy Stayed in Bed This Morning: Helping Children Understand Depression 
Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry
Explaining Anxiety to Kids - you might be able to use some of these techniques to explain your own anxiety too
When Fuzzy Was Afraid of Big and Loud Things
 
Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children's Book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and its Treatment 
Parenting Programs for Pre-Schoolers and Anxious Parents   
Sea Otter Cove: A Relaxation Story Introducing Deep Breathing to Decrease Stress and Anger While Promoting Peaceful Sleep 
Bubble Riding: A Relaxation Story Designed to Help Children Increase Creativity While Lowering Stress and Anxiety Levels  
When My Worries Get Too Big!  A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live With Anxiety 
What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids  
When I'm Feeling Scared 
A Volcano in My Tummy: Helping Children to Handle Anger 
Anger Management Games for Children 
Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story, Introducing Active Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Deep Breathing
Many other books by Lori Lite for helping children relax and learn to manage their emotions
Drawing Together to Learn about Feelings
and other Drawing Together books by Marge Eaton Heegaard

How can I talk to our children about my own childhood experiences and PTSD?  The resources above might help and so might these:
Talking With Children About Difficult History

How to Discuss Estranged Family with a Child After Child Abuse
Not in Front of the Children: How to Talk to Your Child About Tough Family Matters
How to Talk to Your Kids About Really Important Things: Specific Questions and Answers and Useful Things to Say 
How to Talk to Teens About Really Important Things: Specific Questions and Answers and Useful Things to Say
Someone close to me's done a brilliant job with her son, who's 4.  She's explained that some bad people hurt her and her sister when she was little, that they've gone now and everyone's safe, but that sometimes she gets angry or sad because of what they did.  Her little boy understands the concept of good guys and bad guys - it's actually much easier for him to think in those categories than it is for us!  Someone being a bad person explains their actions to him.  So he knows what happened and why, without any distressing details.  He knows who was responsible and understands that it wasn't him or mummy - that it's outside their relationship.  He know that all the people he loves are safe now, and he's reassured by that.  He understands why mummy's sometimes angry or sad.  He can even offer her some comfort now.  That kind of model, adapted to the age of your child, seems a good one to me.

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

How will I help develop our children's self-esteem?  Many people who've been abused, especially as children, don't know how to encourage self-esteem and confidence in their children.  Our own lack of self-esteem can make this harder.  I hope these resources will help:
Parent Guides: Children's Mental Health   
Parent Guides: Self-Esteem
 
Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities From the Very Start
  The Secure Child: Helping Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World  
Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents' Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience
   Raising a Responsible Child: How to Avoid Indulging Too Much and Rescuing Too Often   
Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children - For Life  Embrace The Future Resiliency Resource Centre: Self-Esteem  
501 Ways to Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem 
Building Self-Confidence in Children with Self-Esteem Activities

Affirmation Weaver: A Believe in Yourself Story, Designed to Help Children Boost Self-Esteem While Decreasing Stress and Anxiety 
Self-Esteem Games: 300 Fun Activities That Make Children Feel Good About Themselves 
Spirit Games: 300 Fun Activities That Bring Children Comfort and Joy
I Want Your Moo: a Story for Children about Self-Esteem
 
The Confident Child: Raising Children to Believe in Themselves
Our Children's Body Image and Self-Esteem
Boost Kids: Building Self-Esteem and Confidence in Children in Today's Society

Kids' Health: Body Image
 
Cultivating a Healthy Body Image in Kids 
VIC Better Health Channel: Body Image - Tips for Parents 
Raising and Praising Girls 
Raising and Praising Boys 
Raising Strong Girls

The Five Love Languages of Children

Some more self-esteem materials for adults:
More-self-esteem.com  
The Self-Esteem Guided Journal: A Ten Week Program

The Self-Esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Your Personal Strengths 
Self-Esteem Workshop Notes 
Health for Women: Improving Self-Esteem 
The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem
The Woman's Book of Confidence: Meditations for Strength and Inspiration
 
Recovery of Your Self-Esteem: A Guide for Women 
The Self-Esteem Workbook

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

How will I keep our children safe without being over-anxious and over-protective?  I hope I'll remember our kids have some safety advantages I didn't have. I'm more aware and better informed about abuse than my parents were.  (I also have the huge advantage that my grandfather's now dead! - one dangerous person out of our lives).  I expect I'll have more attention for each child because we won't have as many. I'll also have the model of my parents' care for me to build on.  Your children will benefit from your awareness and willingness to educate yourself, your attention and the changes in your circumstances.  I suspect we'll all still find it hard to let go of our anxiety (and that's very natural!).  But these resources might help:
The Pregnancy and Post-Partum Anxiety Workbook: Practical Skills to Help You Overcome Anxiety, Worry, Panic Attacks, Obessions and Compulsions 
Becoming a Calm Mom: How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood 
The Safe Child Book: A Commonsense Approach to Protecting Children and Teaching Children to Protect Themselves 
Kidsafe Australia: 10 Most Common Injuries to Australian Children - and how to prevent them
Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence
 
Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe 
Child Safety Awareness 
Parent Guides: Child Abuse and Neglect 
Parent Guides: Protect Your Child from Paedophiles 
Parent Guides: Children's Sexual Behaviour - will help you understand what's "normal"
Sexual Development of Children

What is Normal Sexuality Curiosity and Behaviour?
 
Everything You Should Know About Your Child's Sexual Behaviour
Planned Parenthood Human Sexuality: What Children Need to Know and When

Planned Parenthood How to Talk With Your Children About Sex 
VIC Better Health Channel: Sex Education for Pre-schoolers  
How to Talk With Your Child About Sex: It's Best to Start Early, But It's Never Too Late - A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents 
Pandora's Project: Protecting Children from Child Sexual Abuse
What Can I Do to Prevent My Child From Being Sexually Abused? 
Prevent Child Abuse Workshops for Parents 
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse 
Teaching Children Appropriate Touch 
Boundaries of Touch: Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy 
I Don't Want to Go to Justin's House Anymore 
What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Tricky and Sticky Situations
The Right Touch: A Read Aloud Book to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse 
It's My Body
NoNo the Little Seal
 
Rosy and Jack
Uncle Willy's Tickles: A Child's Right to Say No

 

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

I'm very lucky that I have many good role models for parenting.  But it's common for people who've been abused not to have seen or experienced good parenting.  If you're not sure how to be a good parent, these pages might be good first step to learning more:
Crisis Links
page here for Parenting Helplines
The TurnAround Mom: How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Cycle for Her Family - and How You Can Too 
Parenting One Day at a Time: Using the Tools of Recovery to Become Better Parents and Raise Better Kids - a parenting skills book for parents in recovery from addiction (a common problem for people who've experienced sexual violence)
PTSD and Parenting
 
Raising Children Network 
Daily Strength: Children's Health and Parenting Online Support Group 
Parenting Skills Resources in Australia 
Parenting Club Articles on Parenting and Online Community 
Relationships Australia Family Skills/Parenting Courses 
Parenting Book Reviews 
More Parenting and Childbirth Books - new and preloved books in Australia.
The Five Love Languages of Children
A Little Book of Parenting Skills 
How to Be a Great Mum
How to Be a Great Working Mum
 
How to Be a Great Dad 
GreatDad.com
Kid Wrangling
Toddler Taming: the Guide to Your Child From One to Four
 
Your Toddler Month by Month 
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
Boundaries with Kids 
How to Set Boundaries for Your Children 
Unconditional Parenting
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

The No-Cry Series of Books on Discipline, Bedtime and Sleep and Potty-Training

104 Activities that Build: Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger Management, Self-Discovery, Coping Skills 
Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start  
What Dads Need to Know About Daughters/What Moms Need to Know About Sons   
How to Play Safely With Your Baby 
How to Play With Baby as They Grow
How to Play With Your Kids 
eHow to Play With Your Kids 
Fun Things for Kids to Do Instead of TV
Teach Kids How
 
Nursery Rhyme and Game Corner 
Baby Play (Gymboree)
The Rookie Mom's Handbook: 250 Activities to Do With (and Without!) Your Baby

These pages might help if you're parenting in, or trying to start again after, an abusive relationship:
Breaking Free, Starting Over: Parenting in the Aftermath of Family Violence
Mothering Through Domestic Violence
Talking to My Mum: A Picture Workbook for Workers, Mothers and Children Affected by Domestic Abuse
 
Talking About Domestic Abuse: A Photo Activity Workbook to Develop Communication Between Mothers and Young People  
Information on Developing Child-Specific Safety Plans for Your Kids 
Domestic Violence: Effects on Children
When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse

Squeaky Speaks: A Coloring and Activity Book for Children Surviving Domestic Violence
 
A Terrible Thing Happened - A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma

Here are some resources for single parents:
Single Parenting Tips
 
Creating a Support Network as a Single Parent
How to Carve Out "Me Time" As a Single Parent
Avoid Single Parent Burnout: 30 Self-Care Strategies for Single Parents 
Parenting Solo  
Before You Choose a Single Parent Support Group
Parents Without Partners - US and Canada
Single Parents: Peer Support for Single Parents Online
Successful Single Parenting 
Raising Great Kids on Your Own: A Guide and Companion for Every Single Parent 
Chicken Soup for the Single Parents Soul: Stories of Hope, Healing and Humor
The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Situations
The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting Without a Partner
Complete Single Father: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Situations  
Positive Discipline for Single Parents: Nurturing Cooperation, Respect and Joy in Your Single-Parent Family

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Have I considered the extra gifts I bring to motherhood because of what I've been through?  No, not really - I'm too busying worrying!  Perhaps I should!  I have a good friend who really impresses me as a mum.  We were out at a cafe together one day and her daughter, about 5, was spinning round in her fairy costume (so cute).  Suddenly she hit herself on a table.  She started to cry and then she and her mum went into what was obviously a familiar routine. 

Her mum called her over and sat her on her lap.  She said, "now, what do we do when we hurt?"  And her little girl said, "breathe deep and slow" and they both did it together.  Her mum told her what a great job she was doing and her sobs started to calm down.  When she was quieter she and her mum rubbed noses and her mum asked what had happened.  Her daughter told her and her mum said, "ooo, that must have hurt.  What a brave girl you are!"  I realised I was watching my friend, who has chronic pain, passing on self-soothing skills she'd learnt to deal with that to her little daughter.  What a great gift to give her! 

I've learnt a lot about relaxation and calming techniques.  I can give that to our children too!  I know what it's like to find it hard to identify your feelings and regulate your behaviour or emotions. That might help me understand my little ones better and teach them as they develop those skills.  I might be able to see things more easily from my child's point of view because the regression and flashbacks I've experienced mean I've recently spent time perceiving the world as if I was a child at different ages.  I think I can access that information and hopefully it will help me be a better parent. 

I've learnt a lot about managing unpredictability, solving problems, sensitive communication, developing secure attachments and building self-esteem.  I know how important these things are and, because they're not always easy and natural to me, I'm more aware of their mechanisms.  Being abused has really focused me on loving relationships and I'm more aware of my priorities.  Love is life to me.  I'll be so thankful if I can have a child, I think my love will light their world!  I certainly hope so.  I tend to appreciate things more because of what I've been through.  I hope I can pass the gift of appreciation on to my kids.  I'm not sure what motherhood will be like for me, but I think I might really have more to give (as well as challenges to face) because of my experience of abuse.

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

I might find it hard to look after myself and my husband as well as giving love and attention to our little one.  These resources could be useful:
Taking Care of the Me in Mommy: Realistic Tips for Becoming a Better Mom, Spirit, Body and Soul
New Mother Tips: Adapting to Your New Life
Survival Techniques for New Parents 
The New Mom's Survival Guide: How to Reclaim Your Body, Your Health, Your Sanity and Your Sex Life After Having a Baby 
Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping with Stress, Depression and Burnout
Baby-Proofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less and Communicate Better  
Nine Ways to Make Time for Your Mate After the Baby Arrives  
The Modern Mom's Guide to Dad: Ten Secrets Your Husband Won't Tell You
Depression Fallout: The Impact of Depression on Couples and How to Preserve the Bond
You and Your Partner 
Having Sex Again 
New Parents and Sex 
Let's Talk About Sex: After The Baby 
No Sex Please, We're Parents 
iVillage Forum Discussion on Breastfeeding and Sex 
Contraception, Intimacy and the Newborn Baby
Mother Me 
Adult Friendships: Maintaining Old Ones and Making New Ones

I've watched my siblings and friends and seen how things have changed for them as their kids go through different developmental stages.  I'll try to remind myself to hang in there - life keeps on changing and, if I have no time to myself now, there will still be opportunities in the future.
 
Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

The idea of having sex again once you're a mother or father might be especially difficult if you were sexually abused as a child.  You're not alone, as this article shows: Is There Sex After Motherhood.  Be kind and gentle with yourself about this, let your partner know how you're feeling and keep working on developing the happy, healthy sex life you deserve.  You may find some of the resources above useful.  You can also talk about how you feel with people who'll understand at places like the Sex and Intimacy Forum at Pandora's Aquarium or at the Sex and Intimacy Issues Supporter-Only Forum at Herodes' Cave.

 

Photo by N. Durrell McKenna, Wellcome Images

What about my husband?  I know he feels sad (as I do) that our first pregnancy and first child together won't be my first experience.  That's something we've lost and we comfort each other about it.  But I'm so looking forward to having his child, our child.  I wonder how that mix will turn out!  Here are some pages your partner might find useful:
Common Fears for Fathers 
Positive Things for Dads-to-Be 
From Here to Paternity: The Diary of a Pregnant Man
From Here to Paternity: A User's Manual for Early Fatherhood  
5 Ways You Can Help With Morning Sickness 
Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation Great Dads: Trust, Leadership and Self-Esteem 
Fathers Online
Advice for New Dads
  
New Dads Resources
Dad's Pregnant Too: Expectant Fathers, Expectant Mothers, New Dads and New Moms Share Advice Tips and Stories About All the Surprises, Questions and Joys Ahead 
Raising Children Network: For Fathers 
New Parenthood and Sleep Deprivation
 
AskBaby: Coping With Sleepless Nights 
Parental Leave International Information
BabyCenter: Paternity Leave - What Are The Options for Dads - US

If you're in a same-sex relationship you and your partner might find these resources helpful:
Raising Children Network: Parenting in a Same-Sex Relationship 
LGBT Parenting
 
Gay Dads Australia: A Resource for Gay Dads and Those Thinking of Becoming Dads 
Over-the-Rainbow: Becoming a Parent 
Gay Families Meetup Groups Around the World 
Gay Parents Meetup Groups Around the World 
Rainbow Families Council Australia 
The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Take Care of Yourself from Pre-conception through Birth 
The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth 
Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All 
The Lesbian Parenting Book: A Guide to Creating Families and Raising Children
The Complete Lesbian and Gay Parenting Guide
 
Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood 
Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay Dad  
Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell it Like it is

Being a parent is very rewarding and very challenging.  It's important to acknowledge and plan for the effects being abused has on this sphere of our lives.  But it's also important to understand that no parent is perfect.  Most of the time, though, near enough is good enough. Here are some resources for weathering the transition to motherhood:
The Six Stages of Parenthood 
Self-Help for Mums: Helping You Connect with the Woman Inside the Mum
Huggies: All About Mum: Mother Guilt
Guilt: The Carry-On Baggage of Motherhood 
Kidspot Australia: Sarah's Say - What Makes a Best Mum? 
Self-Help for Mums: Helping You Connect With the Woman Inside the Mum 
Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most and Raise Happier Kids  You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either): 14 Secrets to Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom 
Letting Go as Children Grow: The Benefits of Relaxed Parenting for You and Your Children   Motherhood Without Guilt 
I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood 
Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: How to Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting 
Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anyone and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting
The Self-Esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Your Personal Strengths 
Missing in Action: How Mothers Lose, Grieve and Retrieve Their Sense of Self 
The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Yourself 
Mommy Mantras: Affirmations and Insights to Keep You from Losing Your Mind 
Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood
Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent
 
Mojo Mom: Nurturing Yourself While Raising a Family 
The Working Mother's Guilt Guide: Whatever You're Doing, It Isn't Enough 
The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field Tested Strategies for Staying Smart, Sane and Connected While Caring for Your Kids
All Mothers Work: A Guilt-Free Guide for the Stay at Home Mom
 
From Full-Time Professional to Full-Time Parent 

For more information on returning to work or study when you have children go to the Study or Work page here.

The main message from the reading I've done and the people I've talked to is it's possible.  Three of the best mums I know were abused as kids.  If you want to have a child, be very gentle with yourself and don't let your experience with sexual violence stop you.  WE REALLY CAN DO IT - AND DO IT WELL!  

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Feelings and Thoughts:

A Burden to Share: A Personal Account of the Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Birth - Christine's story

Questions I asked:

1. If you're a parent and you've been raped or abused, how do you think it's affected you as a parent
a) in a good way?
b) in a bad way, and have you found anything that helps that?
2. If you had your child (or children) after you'd been raped or abused, did it affect your experience of pregnancy and childbirth, and how?
3. Do you have any advice for people like me who're thinking of having a child after rape or abuse - has anything helped you?
4. Do you have any comments about your experience of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting when you've been raped or abused?

Answers: 

I am not sure if I count on this survey...I did not raise my child. We were reunited 30 years later and also was blessed with a 3 year old grand-daughter. I have always loved children, but didn't feel I deserved them after the childhood sexual abuse and neglect.  Many years later after therapy and awareness now out there the blame was to be put in the right place...on the criminals.

Good way?
I can believe good things do happen.
Being called Mom(blows me away).
My child's parents(adoptive) so supportive.
Having them all so close(10 minutes away).
Being called Grammie.
I could go on and on!

Comments:
As a child I had an unsupportive mother and that taught me what not to do. I felt she just wanted to shut me up, so naturally I felt I had no voice and kept most things inside until I was much older. We are not close.

Advice:
We need to remember what has happened to us is not our fault.
We deserve blessings like everyone else.
Be only around our supportive circle.

Another experience: 

I have a 6 month old girl that was conceived from rape.
1a (a good way).  I'm not really sure about that. I had so many issues bonding with her. During my pregnancy I toyed with abortion, but couldn't actually do that. Then toyed with adoption, but couldn't go through with. I never actually really bonded with her when I was pregnant. We were 2 separate people stuck together through something I didn't really want to remember. Then my daughter was born and I still couldn't attach to her. I saw him in her every time I looked at her. She was HIS baby. And then, a couple months later, she went through a phase where only I could hold her and take care of her. That kind of forced me to bond with her since no one else could help me take care of her. It was me, and her. I then started seeing less of him, and more of me. It is hard sometimes when I think about it, and when that happens, I feel disconnected from her. But, I also view her as MY baby, and no one else's. Her birth helped me stop a drug addiction and to find God again. She made me want to become better and to be a better person. And, although it is hard sometimes, I think her birth saved my life from what it was. The rape led to a really bad drug and party addiction that, had she not been conceived, probably would've killed me. So, I guess it has affected my life in a good way. I am able to put her before myself, something I was too selfish to do before her.  I don't think that really answered that question.
1b (bad way, and have you found anything that helps).  Bonding. I had so many problems bonding with her. I wish I had talked to someone when I was pregnant, because maybe then it would've been easier. Also, sometimes it's hard to raise her. On days when I'm really down, it's hard to take care of her, and I get frustrated easily.  What helps is her giggles and smiles. Although I'm still stressed, it reminds me that she loves me, and her giggles are contagious.
2. (experience of pregnancy and childbirth)
I was in denial for months about being pregnant. I actually seriously hoped that I had cervical cancer over a baby and THAT caused me to not have a period. 3 months after her conception, I finally took a test, and seriously thought "it's going to be negative". It was the weirdest feeling in the world when they came back and said "you're about 11 weeks pregnant". I looked into late term abortion, but knew I couldn't do that. I looked into adoption, but my parents wanted to adopt her if I did, and I would still be forced to face her, but in a much more difficult way, since she would be my sister. So, I decided to keep her. I remember the first time I heard her heartbeat, I didn't even really react. I wasn't in love. I wasn't happy. All I had to say was "it sounds like horses running". The ultrasound came, and it was the same thing. I didn't feel overjoyed - just completely detached. We were 2 separate people stuck together for a short time. Then she was born, and I wasn't crying because I was happy. I truly wasn't happy. I was crying because it hurt. When I first held her, I didn't fall in love. I didn't think "this is my baby". I saw him. It felt like I was holding someone else's baby. I was detached. And it remained this way for a couple months. I tried to bond, but I couldn't, until SHE decided she only wanted me.  I feel SO bad about all that. I really regret not having bonded with her while pregnant. It was just so hard! I loved her, but I couldn't get close to her.
3. (advice) I think it's all situational. It depends on how the baby was conceived. I don't know what its like to have a baby with someone you WANT to have a baby with. All I know is what it's like to have a baby with someone you DON'T want to have one with.  In that situation, I would have to say to seek counseling RIGHT away. If you decide to keep the baby, it's important that you start counseling while pregnant. It will hopefully help you build a bond beforehand, and make it easier after the baby is born. Also, get support from friends and family. Raising a baby alone is hard, especially when it's tied to something so emotionally traumatizing. Don't try to do it alone.
4. (comments) Not really. I'm still trying to recover. Tomorrow I'm going to try to take the 1st big step towards moving forward, and telling my counselor. This is going to be a long journey, but I have the best thing in the entire world. My beautiful baby girl. :-)

I am a mother and I have been giving a lot of thought to this very subject lately. My son is now 24 (Oh My God) and now that he has grown up I've been reflecting on what I did right and what I wish I could do over. So, let me see if I can answer some of your questions.
1. If you're a parent and you've been raped or abused, how do you think it's affected you as a parent
a). in a good way? Yes, I think my main goal as a parent was making sure my son always knew he was loved unconditionally. The rape before my marriage and the abuse during my marriage taught me how precious unconditional love really was. It was instinctual and something I didn't even recognize completely until he was older. I also made sure that my son and I could always talk about anything (this made the teenage years interesting) but I couldn't speak to anyone after I was raped and it was the lonliest feeling. We talked, shared, laughed, cried together always.
b). in a bad way, and have you found anything that helps that?
also Yes, I had terrible social anxiety and would shut myself away sometimes. I always took care of what was needed, but I didn't play as much as I would have wanted and I didn't teach him to explore the world and be brave and fearless as I would have wanted. Sometimes I see my son, who is now a man and wish I could have overcome some of my "quiet" ways. I think we both missed out on a lot because of it.
2. If you had your child (or children) after you'd been raped or abused, did it affect your experience of pregnancy or childbirth, and how? Yes, but it was all good (scary, triggering etc) but so amazingly worth it. In the beginning of my pregnancy I was shut down, in denial, internally terrified but wouldn't/couldn't face it. But then the moments of wonder, of feeling him move, of the connection you feel but don't understand and everything was worth it, everything was possible, I was o.k. He came about 2 weeks early, just as I was beginning to freak out about giving birth. I know that all 1st time mom's are afraid of giving birth, but it is some much more frightening after you where raped. But, because he came early I only had a few days of complete meltdown anxiety to deal with. But I learned something during childbirth, it is the true opposite of rape. It is giving live instead of destroying it. It wiped away so many demons in just that one moment.
3. Do you have any advice for people like me who're thinking of having a child after rape or abuse - has anything helped you? I was 19 when my son was born, I had not faced my past and I was so young. So I can't give advice from experience, but if I where to have a child now here is what I would say. Feel all of it, face the fear, celebrate the joy, allow yourself to daydream about all the possibilities, speak your anxiety out loud, talk to your child from the moment you find out your pregnant, feel the connection grow.
4. Do you have any comments about your experience of pregnancy, childbirth or parenting when you've been raped and abused? Just that in many ways we are not different than 1st time mothers-to-be. This is a new, unknown experience for each of us. If you can, when you can, as often as you can, just be pregnant.

I've never had children myself....haven't been that lucky yet...
So I can't comment on the pregnancy part.
But I did raise my niece the first 6 months of her life, while her own mom went through baby blues something awful.
I won't lie and say it was easy....cause it was FAR from easy....more so cause my niece had colic...for almost 4 months straight.
But its in dealing with that, that I decided to change my "never having kids" to wanting them.
Because my main fear was that I wouldn't be able to handle it...that I wouldn't be a good mom.
But my niece proved to me I could, and that I would.
She's auntie's girl, even to this day(I only see her once every 2 months).
Some days were stressful as h*ll....thought I'd lose it.
But then she'd do her sweet little smile, and all my problems just seemed to melt away.
Then as she started to crawl, walk, and run(I hate this stage...laughing)....I got to be a kid all over again with her...to experience the innocence I never got to have myself....
I love her freedom...she's not scared of anything...she'll run up to people at her dad's work, demanding hugs (she's almost 3 now)....she'll argue with her dad (she saw the "Drive Ford" commercial....well her dad drives Dodge) so he'll be saying "No, drive Dodge" and she'll stubbornly state "Drive Ford"...laughing.
Same as on bad days my phone'll ring, I'll answer it, thinking my sister-in-law...only to hear my niece saying "Hi hi hi"...and I'll be like, "Hi Hannah"...and she goes "Hi auntie"...and then she'll talk a mile a minute, about something I can't understand, but I just go "wow" "cool" "no way" etc....then a few minutes into it, my sister-in-law will get on going "hello?" and then she'll explain my niece called me all on her own...then I'll tell my sister-in-law that we were talking, to please put her back on....then my niece'll hang up on me...laughing.
But it makes me smile the rest of the day....
So ya...Kids are trying, I won't lie, there are days I had wished I didn't have to do it (for my niece) but most of the time, I loved it.
Cause those are memories I wouldn't even change...even walking the floors at 4am, with a screaming baby, when I had to work at 8am....coming home from work, and seeing her smile when I walk in the door...being able to make her laugh right from her belly with simple silly movements (her fav was " ya ba da ba do" while I shook my body and head)...then now, its the big hugs,and cuddles I get when I see her...the new words I hear her say...etc.
Some days I'll admit I just don't want to deal with anything, cause I'm triggering and such....but when I see her, it just goes away....life becomes "good" again...
I don't know how to explain it...its like she's a partial cure...she makes me smile when I swore I wouldn't...she's made me laugh, when I haven't in weeks...etc.
But ya, don't know if that helps...but just thought I'd share it.

In a weird way my abuse made me a better parent. Because I was a child when it happened, it made me know what children need in order to be happy and healthy I made sure my children grew up abuse free and I would have thrown anyone out of my life that abused me or my kids. If they had been abused I WOULD BELIEVE THEM.  I was happy to be pregnant and giving life. I knew I was going to be the best Mom ever. I did not like having my legs open and everyone looking at me though. I forbid any pictures or videotape. Too triggering.  My advice on having kids: it's a very personal decision. I would like to say when things get tough, I keep on going for my kids. They can be my reason for living when I can't think of anything else
 
I think this is great and I really really wish I had had someone to talk with when I was pregnant, especially the first time. I had no clue what to do with myself and was so unprepared. The therapist I had at the time only said that many survivors had a difficult time. She didn't even call me a survivor. She called me a victim. Agggh.
1a). I am more aware of what affects kids emotionally. I am fiercely protective of my girls emotionally, not just physically and it's made me learn to protect myself more. I had to grow in order to be there for them. I had to face my own fears to be there for them. I tolerate less crap ie boundary crossing then some other parents not just among their palymates but between them. I am huge on respect and very vocal about it. I will use tv shows, the books they are reading, they things they say and do to each other as examples to teach them.
b). I am hyper-sensistive to boundary crossing and if it even looks like a line is being crossed I freak. Still working on that. Mostly I have some good people around I check in with and ask for perspective when I think I have lost mine.
2.  Oh my god yes! The simplest of exams could be physically triggering. My body image was so distorted that I had the hardest time with my body changing shape as the baby grew in inside me. I had a really hard time feeling out of control of my body and that something else was taking over. I also have ED and it triggered a lot of that. It made it very hard to relax and enjoy the baby growing. I did love to feel the baby's movements but that was about the only part I could enjoy. My therapist at the time was not a good fit, I was not married to the best of men and I had no close friends so the isolation played against me there too. My second pregnancy came with a lot problems as I was pregnant with twins and I was on forced bed-rest and ended up in labor 10 weeks early so that compounded a lot of those issues. However, I will say that during labor with my 1st child for the first time ever in my life I felt my body was doing what it was supposed to be and I felt powerful and complete and in charge. I had spent most of my life dissociated and that moment was the first time I was fully integrated. It was an amazing feeling. That helped me later learn to overcome the dissociative element of the PTSD when I found a really good therapist.
3.  Don't let the rape stop you from being a parent. The fear that something might happen to your child is always going to be there. It is something that comes with being a parent. It's supposed to be there because that's what makes parents keep their children safe but that fear or concern should not be so overwhelming that it keeps us from bringing a child in the world. I have watched my 3 girls grow up and there has been a lot of fear and anxiety but there has been a lot of joy. I have broken a lot of cycles with them. They have not had to go through the same things I did. They got to learn things in a normal way that I did not. They are happy, healthy and stronger than I ever was at the same age. They can be a pain in my ass, but they are also a lot of fun. No one else in my life can make me so angry over stupid stuff but no one else has ever made me happier over the smallest things. My house will never truly be clean again but when I watch them run after fireflies, I don't care. I would rather be broke buying them new shoes than making payments on a new car. Don't let your fears stops you, but do make sure you are in a good place in your recovery because I found that no matter how strong I thought I was, I found all those chinks in the armor as soon as I got pregnant.
4.  It's been triggery. It's been difficult. It's accelerated my recovery. It has at times felt like it's set me back but it really hasn't. Parenting has shown where I need to grow, what my strengths are, what my weak points are. I have had days where I wanted to trade the kids in for a chocolate bar but in reality I wouldn't trade this for anything. I am kinda glad I wasn't warned ahead of time what it would be like because I don't know if I would have done it. I probably would have let it scare me off but I would have missed the best part of my life.
 
Added to that:


I hope you get more replies because I think is so important. M friend was so triggered by her 3 pregnancies that she couldn't even deliver vaginally; they had to deliver all 3 by C-section. I was with her during the first delivery and I almost knocked out the OB for being so bloody insensitive to the Survivor issues even after me, her mom and her husband tried to explain what was happening. The OB began pushing at K to do things that she couldn't and she began dissociating. It was awful and unnecessary and I was sooo angry but there was only so much I could do without being thrown out which wasn't going to be helpful at all. It was such a relief when they finally did the C-section. Medical training in PTSD needs to come a long way.
And I would recommend that also...have a fellow Survivor or someone very familiar with your past as a coach or alternate coach to step in and be pushy when need be during appointments and during the actual delivery to protect you when things get triggery. You are allowed. It's in the Patient Bill Of Rights.
 
I'm not a parent yet either so hope it's OK me replying...
1a). I'm answering this in relation to my 'nephew', who's 4 in November. I met him when he was nearly 5 days old and have seen him almost fortnightly ever since - he's not a proper relative, I'm an honoury auntie...I'd say the biggest thing that's affected me in a positive way is trying to make sure he enjoys being little. I want him to be a child, to laugh, to play, to be fearless in the way only kids can be. I try to comfort him when he's upset and listen, to make it better when he falls down and hurts himself. I let him know he's loved and any emotion is allowed - anger, upset, happiness, sadness, fear etc - because my abuse stopped my ability to express emotions. The biggest thing is trying to see things from his point of view and respond on his level, rather than treating him like an adult on my level if that makes sense? (And yes, that did involve lots of crawling around when he was crawling, playing with cars, building towers when he went through a tower building-now-lets-knock-it-down phase...)
b). I'm always on the look-out for signs that he's being abused....when he's getting changed I find myself looking for bruises or redness, that sort of thing. It's hard sometimes to let him be a child, running around, inevitably falling over, and not wanting to wrap him up in cotton wool. I find it helps to take a step back and do a bit of cognitive therapy on myself - usually I find I've sort of replaced him with myself in my mind and it's my inner child I want to protect. When he has baths and I'm there I feel guilty/ashamed washing his genitals, looking at that area, touching it with the sponge. It feels like I'm being inappropriate, again because of my own abuse that sometimes happened in the bath. I try to tell myself the situations are completely different, it's me bathing a child I love and would die to protect. There's nothing inappropriate about it. Sometimes it's easier said than done though. I also look at him sometimes and think of myself at his age, which can be incredibly painful. It's one of the rare times I feel for my inner child, the little me who was hurt so badly. On really bad days I find it so hard to be around him because it hurts so much. Those times I probably go over the top making sure he knows he's precious, giving him cuddles and spoiling him, much to his parents' despair probably!!!!!!!
2.  *Sigh* this is a bit of a raw spot for me...again, I don't know how helpful my response will be so apologies if it's irrelevant...I became pregnant after being raped when I was 19. I did a test but knew even before the result that I was pregnant because I felt it somehow. I saw it as an invasion, a bunch of cells that was feeding off me. The morning sickness was a constant reminder, I hated it that this thing was controlling me. Whenever I thought about being pregnant I wanted to be sick because it reminded me of the rape, having something in me I didn't want and hadn't asked for. I hated it for that reason - I thought of it, I thought of the rape. There was no escape. I arranged an abortion. When I went, they did a scan and I saw it. It was the first time I saw it as a future life, thought of it as a baby. Instead of the first scan being an exciting, really special occasion, it made me cry without even registering I was crying. I knew if I let myself realise how much I loved it and wanted to keep it I wouldn't go through with the termination. I knew also that I couldn't bring a baby up at that time, I couldn't raise her at home while I was living with my perpetrator. I couldn't bring her into my world knowing that every time I saw her I'd think of her father. So I'd say the rape pretty much ruined that experience. To me, pregnancy is meant to be something shared with your partner, something to celebrate and look forward to, to be prepared for, to suffer through the morning sickness because you know it'll be worth it when your baby enters the world. I lost all of that and now if I have children in future, I'll always think of the very first scan I had and the baby I betrayed.
3.  All I can think of is treat your child how you wish you'd been treated. Let them know they're loved and wanted, keep them safe as best you can while letting them learn from their mistakes. Be there for them when they're hurting - even if they've brought the hurt on themselves. One warning I would give is sometimes it may be hard to separate the child you who was abused from your own child, to mix your emotions and their's and impose emotions on them - for example, assuming they're hurting more than they really are, or thinking they should be upset over something that may have triggered you but has no significance for them. At the same time don't be scared to set boundaries and discipline them. It's easy to want to spoil them and let them get away with everything but it's not helpful for you or the child. They need to learn limits, they need to know their own limits and they need to know your limits. At risk of sounding controversial, don't be scared if there are days you resent the child for being innocent, for having a childhood when yours was taken away. It's natural and doesn't mean you're a bad parent or don't deserve to have your child. It simply means you're human and you're still healing.
I couldn't think of anything for number 4, sorry.....I hope this has helped a little. If you want to ask more, you know where I am.
 
O.K. I am a survivor with two boys of her own.  I am often worried, that I am not showing them enough love.  I know that I have some attachment issues, I know I love my kids.  But often I feel I could go to my own little corner of the world, and be just fine.  Not having anyone.  I know that my kids would not,just like I wasn't and am still dealing with it all.  I worry that somehow I am harming them without knowing it.  They always have a safe home, plenty food, clothes and food.  My worry is that because of all I have been through, I am harming them in some way I can't see.
I hope not, I certainly try not... huh.gif
 
Hello dear! I think it's wonderful of you to write on this subject and am delighted to give you my input.  Now to the answers.
1. I am a mother of two: a healthy, strong and compassionate yet too curious for his own good 7 yr old. And a 2 yr old who thinks that b/c she's the baby and a girl I will let her throw her bite- myself-bang my head against the floor-kicking and screaming tantrums (but I don't).
1a. It has definitely changed me but I feel for the best. trigger.gif I was abused and eventually raped at the age of 10. After having told my mom, nothing getting done and then finding out now( thanks to my husband that they didn't believe me. Sucks huh finding out almost 14 yrs later.)   Because I vowed to never doubt my son on anything he told me unless proof and I mean physical proof was provided and even then I'd still believe him. I've learned that I did nothing wrong for my parents not doing a damn thing but also am learning to not commit the same mistake if it ever (hopefully never) presents itself. I have also learned to be more watchful, protective and defensive of my children b/c nowadays u can't really trust everyone like before. But most importantly it has taught me to let go of the ugliness and embrace the beauty,the reward and the unconditional love and acceptance I received from becoming a mother.
2a. I was or never had a child due to this experience and I hope this doesn't sound harsh but I'm kinda glad because in those times I was suicidal, having a baby in result to rape would have really sent me to do it. I was in a horrible place back then I really just wanted to die.
3a. My advice to you is to enjoy your pregnancy. Especially if it's your 1st. Because it'll be the most memorable. What helped me was thinking about the baby, wondering who the baby would look like. If a boy or girl and committing myself to forget that ugliness because after everything that &@$!?! took away from me the one thing I would not and I mean I adamantly refused to give him was the satisfaction of losing the wonderful experience of pregnancy, childbearing and motherhood. I was done being just the "victim" and decided that for my sake and the sake of my child I would be the survivor and the fighter.
4. My husband ( who became the best friend who saved me from falling into the nothingness that is oblivion and hell) has been my greatest support through the first and second pregnancies. He helped me when I was down, especially when on vary few occasionally I had flashbacks. He kept me healthy during both pregnancies ( I was scolded by my OB/GYN if I wanted to live w/diabetes the rest of my life, I was eating a medium combo pizza by myself. LOL ). But honestly I refused to let that ugliness touch those two beautiful moments. Because they were mine not his not the ugly pasts not the pain or guilt. You just have to be strong and don't fret because despite your experience you can and you will be a wonderful mother. God bless you hun and I hope my answers will help put a damper on your fears and congrats on becoming a mommy soon. It's the best paidless job in the world but I wouldn't change it for all the riches and treasures this world has to offer. Sending lots of gentle hugs if OK. hug.gif hug.gif hug.gif hug.gif

I am a survivor of all kinds of abuse from my childhood.  I was terrified of becoming a mother I was so scared I would be like my mom but I was determined to not be like her.  My baby is almost 3 months old and everyone says I have him spoiled, my mom has told me to let him cry, not to go pick him up or anything when he cries and she said this yesterday and I got so mad that I couldn't even say anything to her.  She said what do you think we did with you, and I was just like yeah we guessed that - me and my boyfriend had talked about that very thing the night before. I don't want my O feeling alone or scared.  I learned a lot - I know to always listen to what he has to say, to never say anything is stupid, always let him know I love him more than anything in the world, give him lots of hugs and play with him and just make sure he knows how important he is to me.  His life is going to be filled with love and light and warmth, he'll never know fear, or lonely or anything that I felt when I was a kid.  I was scared though that I wouldn't be able to do all this, but now almost 3 months into it and I have a hard time putting him down and I run to him every sound he makes, even when he starts his talking I run in to talk back to him, when he sleeps I check on him every 5 minutes. I don't even want anyone watching him for longer than an hour.

1. a). Yes...I have learned to be OK coping with mind shattering emotion in front of my child...we won't be surprised by too much in life.
b). I minimized the rape and prolonged getting help for myself.
2. I didn't have that loving support system in place..I was a superhero keeping it all together...now I am triggered because my friends are having babies surrounded by love...
3. My daughter has kept me alive...
4. Weaning was hard...I put up with too much biting because I was triggered at the same time.  It's a resource I didn't have - this board [Pandora's Aquarium]...ahead of time. I get frustrated because I used to be so good with kids and really able to communicate well.... I am hoping to find the thread where I can be myself ... it is hard to be in parenting groups where no one gets it ... I am a single parent ... most don't know what I cope with.