For the first ten days of my life, my mother was allowed to see me only every three hours, during the breastfeeding. When my child was born, it took two painful days until I could look at her for the first time. My scar reminds me of those days in the hospital; I was happy about the baby, but after all the “medical procedures” I somehow felt... raped. Later on I learnt I was just one of thousands of Slovak women suffering from post-traumatic stress after the “happiest day of female life”.
Almost the same traumatising as the birth itself was facing (un)supportive advices from people around:
You can do nothing but endure the birth.
The most important is that both of you are healthy.
We didn't make such a big issue of it when I was young.
Be happy that it didn't turn out worse.
I wasn't locked up in the hospital but still felt separated from outside world. Instead of enjoying the motherhood, I got stuck with my guilt and nightmares. I felt like I wasn't female enough to deliver my child. Not strong enough to fight cruelty of some medical staff. Too weak to walk to see my daughter.
When a mother is unhappy, everything falls apart.
The film Before I Met You was made to create a safe space for sharing the stories which our society doesn't want to hear. I believe the scars can heal when we are allowed to speak about our injuries.
The healthcare system which doesn't allow women to give birth in a respectful way can be changed only if we don't remain silent. Parents together with doctors, midwives and nurses must stand up together for better care in our hospitals. So everyone experiencing or assisting the miracle of birth can remain human.
Before I Met You was filmed as an invitation to a dialogue.
Working on this documentary project gives me hope that one day my daughter Ema will have a chance to bring her children to the world where, how and with whom she chooses. And keep them where they do belong – close to the heart.
Zuzana Límová, director