Please Don’t Label Me


This week I had the fun experience of going for my annual exam. Like millions of women in this world, I dread it and despise it. It’s a weird situation, with your goods all spread in the air and a doctor trying to have a conversation with you. Um, no thank you!

My appointment went well and after the exam we went in her office to talk about life in general and about “that day. ” That’s how I refer to my daughters delivery, when I hemorrhaged, tore so badly I couldn’t walk, saw a doctor get kicked out of the delivery room because of his fear of, what felt like, gallons of blood pouring out of me and my doctor yelling, “book an O.R.”). Fun times, right? Well, it’s taken over two years to be able to talk about it without feeling like I’m going to cry and pass out. It really has been a healing journey for me, trying to process what happened, why it happened, without a warning. It was the scariest moment of my life, one I never, ever want to relieve again.

So of course, my doctor thought it would be a brilliant idea to talk about it again. I know she means well, as she reminds me how well I pushed (which I know I kicked some major ass during labor,) but still, I wasn’t in the mood to rehash.

When we were just about finished talking, she told me, “If you decide to have another, I am going to monitor you closer for post-partum depression.” I gave her the most confused look and said, “Why would you do that? I had no signs of it, care to explain?.”

She told me that after I delivered, for even a year later, I would call her to ask her why I hemorrhaged, how bad was it, and what would happen if I didn’t stop bleeding. She kept saying, “Melissa, you kept rehashing the trauma and you called me crying when you got home from the hospital, I was worried about you.” Wait a minute, worried. She was worried about me having PPD, because I cried when I got home? That sounds completely absurd to me. And right after that moment, I did something I typically don’t do, I validated myself, I validated my feelings and said to her, “Your right, I cried a bunch of times, because I spent the first few nights stuck on a couch, while my husband cared for our baby, because I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs.” “Your right, I cried, because I thought I was going to bleed to death, because I was so scared.” “Wow, I didn’t know that crying, processing a horrible birth trauma, would make me have PPD.” “Please, whatever you do, don’t label me, I label myself enough, what I went through those first two months, was a normal, predictable, emotional response from a first time mother, who was so scared of her birth trauma.” “So whatever you do, do not label me.”

After I said those rambling sentences, I looked up at her and she said, “Ok, I won’t, I didn’t mean it like that.”

What I took away from that appointment was profound. I learned that I could actually defend my feelings and respect how I felt during that traumatic time, without having one regret about the way I handled myself. Wow, that was so powerful. I felt like I validated myself, something I tend not to do.

So ladies, remember, when you go through something horrible, scary and traumatic, and when someone, anyone, dares to try and label you, tell them to walk in your shoes, during that exact same moment and see how they would feel. Labeling is so quick to do, and it really achieves nothing.

**damn, felt good writing this post.**

3 comments on “Please Don’t Label Me”

  1. Wow. I’m sorry you went through all of that. I remember switching OB-GYN docs at 36 weeks because she labeled me crying during one visit “hysterical.” I think we just freak out so easily over any emotion around us that we label it… so we can package it and ship it away to a mysterious somewhere. It speaks to our own discomfort as a culture with emotion. It’s so ironic that folks are so quick to label when our hormones are going through the most dramatic builds and dumps of a lifetime. Concern and seeking to understand is so much more valuable than labels and checklists.

  2. I cannot imagine how difficult and traumatic your birth experience must have been for you. In a way, I see where your doctor is coming from. I think it is right for women who have been through a birth trauma to be monitored closely for health AND mental health problems, but I can also understand that slapping a potential PPD label on you could be really hurtful and invalidating. I completely agree with you – it is so normal in that situation to cry, rehash, and have a million questions. A related story: I went in to see my OB once while I was having difficulty breastfeeding, and I started to cry in the office because I felt like I wasn’t being heard. The doctor pulled out a PPD screener, and I was so insulted. I appreciated her concern, but it was misdirected. She needed to look at her own medical practices, NOT my emotional state. Good for you for standing up for yourself! I just slunk out of the office.

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