OK, I’ve gotten several comments from people about my last post telling me to chill and not get so worked up. And I love the women who left them and love that they are coming and commenting! Just to say it again, I am in no.way.offended or hurt by anything that was said there. But the comments pointed out to me what I wrote may have come across wrong.
Let me clarify:
I am not worried that I will have a similar horrific experience in my birth.
I am not up at night obsessing about all the things that could go wrong or how unjust what happened to those women is.
I am not reading every bad story or ridiculous MOBSW quote thinking it could happen to me.
I am not stressing about how I could have an extreme experience.
Really, the stories themselves don’t upset me (except in that hearing about something horrible done to another will upset me on their behalf, but it’s not the same personal upset that people seem to be assuming).
What upsets me is the common, constant stream of messages out there in our society, many of them subliminal, that women should sit down, shut up, and trust their doctors. That going to midwives is wrong and borderline abuse of your child. That doctors never do anything wrong, but just do their job to protect you, and thus whatever they do is right.
I cannot insulate myself from that message. I have a lot of friends who are or recently have been pregnant. I hear their birth stories. And I hear their snide comments about these things, in person, on facebook, as they tell their stories, etc. It is the common view of our society, and it is so common and so basic that most people don’t even realize they hold that view.
For a long, long time I have heard the response, “All that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby.” (To clarify quickly, I have one friend who told me that was basically her birth plan, above all else. In that situation I think it’s a totally appropriate thing to say, for yourself, if those are your feelings. When it bothers me is the following:) I have heard it constantly to negate or dismiss the negative feelings women are having or have had about something that happened during their birth. i.e. “You need a c-section, but don’t worry, all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby,” or “Yes I cut an unnecessary episiotomy that resulted in a third degree tear, but I can repair it and all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby,” or “Why are you upset they put pitocin in your IV line/swept your membranes/broke your water without telling you? It worked, and all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby.”
And for a long time, that felt wrong. Those words would come out of someone’s mouth, or off of someone’s fingers, and they just felt wrong.
And I couldn’t pinpoint why.
I mean, heck, how can you argue with the concept that a healthy outcome is most important?
But still, something felt wrong about it.
And there is nothing more annoying to me than feeling or knowing something without being able to articulate it.
The extreme stories I came across on MOBSW helped me to clarify for myself what felt wrong about them. It made things so extreme that it became clear to me how, in those cases, such a sentiment was wrong. And being able to see it in those extreme cases, I can now see the same thing applies to all cases. Each woman is entitled to her own sense of loss. Different women might feel loss or trauma or grief from different things and to different extents. But for whatever reason, I feel she is entitled to it. Because birth is more than an outcome.
I use similar techniques when trying to argue or explain things all the time. I’ll take it to an extreme and look at it there. If it holds up in the extreme case, it holds up in the moderate case. But often going to the extreme can make some things appear more clearly, even after you then scale back to everyday reality. It doesn’t mean you assume the extreme will happen, it is just a tool to examine a proposition. And I was aiming that piece at all the people (who don’t read my blog) who have scoffed at the idea of “birth rape,” or are sure in their view that there could never be anything violating that happens in a birth, at least that isn’t completely medically necessary.
And here’s the thing. Now that I can articulate it? That phrase doesn’t bother me as much. Because it’s not niggling at me, feeling wrong without me understanding why.
And if I were to have a traumatic birth experience? I would be able to process it better and faster now, because I would not spend a bunch of time feeling guilty for feeling bad when everyone was healthy. And then feeling angry for feeling guilty.
So that last post was not me getting upset and worrying myself into a tizzy.
It was me going AHA! I finally figured out what was eating at me! Look! I can name it! Let me take you to the extreme where it clicked for me, and see if it clicks for you there, too!
It was a giant expression of relief from something that has been niggling at me for a long time.
Because now that I understand it, I can be at peace with it.
I realize not everyone works that way. For some people, to think it out like that is to be obsessing, or worrying, or unable to let it go.
But for me it’s just processing. For me to process I have to talk and talk and talk things through, until they fall into place. And once they fall into place? I can leave them there.
So please don’t worry for me. I am not getting upset. I am not obsessing about all that could go wrong. Quite the opposite. Now that phrase is no longer rattling around in the back of my mind!
And the next time someone calls me a nutjob for wanting to go to a midwife to deliver out of hospital? I will feel that much more confident in responding to them. Because once I can name my feelings, I can own them.