Archive for November, 2011

November 10, 2011

Why is Everything So Controversial?


As I watched (and stayed out of) the conversations on several birthing communities yesterday about The Duggars, I came to the realization that nothing will ever be perfect for everyone. It’s impossible. And that’s okay. But I also realized that we are an incredibly judgmental people even when we claim to be open minded.

You may well be open minded about some things. You may stray from the beaten path over things you feel make you totally progressive, but we all still have our hang ups. We still judge when we face something we cannot wrap our brains around. We still get up in arms when we don’t understand someone else’s choices.

When I originally learned about The Duggars, I was shocked. Dare I say it, a little bit disgusted. Yes, disgusted. I thought about overpopulation, their carbon footprint, why have that many children, what is she doing to her body, how do the kids cope with all that chaos, how can they possibly give each child what he or she needs, how are they helping them each grow individually, WHY would they choose this???? I had so many questions. I had zero answers. And I had zero understanding.

Typically when I don’t understand someone’s choices, if it is not harming anyone, I try to accept it. With The Duggars constantly in the media though, I could not just accept and move on. They were there all the time, flaunting their giant family, showing off their perfect children, announcing yet another pregnancy and I became annoyed.

Then they became pregnant with #19, Josie. This pregnancy Michelle became pre-eclamptic with, the innocent baby was born at 25 weeks, the family spent months in the NICU with Josie, praying over her and hoping she’d survive.

They had to be done now. Right? Her body was clearly saying it was done. God was obviously showing her she needed to stop. He was telling them both it was time to move forward in life, focus on their 19 children, and enjoy watching them grow and have their own families. Surely after such a traumatic time and obviously very blessed, they would finally stop having children.

And then they didn’t. Yesterday they announced the pregnancy of what will be their 20th child. Mothers everywhere went crazy.

For the first time, I didn’t join in on the conversation. How could I? Instead of pointing fingers and being outraged over someone else’s choices and life, I instead looked at my own. I thought about what it feels like when I tell people we are expecting our 5th child. How it felt when we were expecting our 4th. We were really, really excited, but our excitement was met with silence and eyes to the floor when we spilled the news. It hurt. Even perfect strangers reactions hurt. It hurts a little now looking back.

We see on television and in movies everyone is always overjoyed at the announcement of a pregnancy, a baby, a new life. How wonderful! Everybody is so happy. They smile from ear to ear, gasp with joyful surprise and yelp with excitement. Their eyes light up.

I’ve never gotten a truly joyful reaction to one of my pregnancies. Ever. I’ve always gotten sad eyes, pursed lips, silence, and disappointment. And it always felt like I wasn’t allowed to be happy because everyone else was so down about it. I know why. Our happy surprises were also always met with bad timing. We never had a pregnancy when things were settled. With The Twins we were teenagers and homeless. With The Monkey, my husband had just made a huge job transition and things were very uncertain for us. With Doodle, we were still dealing with the uncertainty of that transition. And this time, well..I guess this being baby #5 is reason enough for people to dislike it.

I know what it’s like to be judged. I know how shitty it feels to experience others upset for my choices. I know what it feels like to have someone I love glare at me and say rude things for doing something they don’t agree with.

I bet you do too. Please remember that the next time you want to jump on someone for their decisions and their life. Remember the hurt and shock of people judging you for living your life the way you feel is best. We all share so much in common, but we will never be the same. I think that is a beautiful part of God’s amazing creation and we are lesser for questioning it, judging it, and fearing it.

I have had some of the best conversations with people whose perspective is the complete opposite of mine. When I allow myself to accept and wonder about their choices, I open myself up to an entirely new way of thinking. Often times, this does not change my personal preference on the subject, but it is so magnificent to look a person in the eye who I disagree with and know we somehow understand and respect one another despite our differences.

We can all have this about all subjects, but we have to be open to it. You do not lose part of yourself by letting other opinions and thoughts in. In fact, I believe over the years doing this has only strengthened my resolve in some of my beliefs and made me more interested in learning further about other thoughts and ideas that I have. It has only been a good thing.

Let us embrace our differences, enjoy our uniqueness, and love one another regardless of what we believe is best for our own lives. We may not always understand another’s decision, but we can do ourselves, our friends, and even perfect strangers a favor by accepting that it’s not our choice to make.

November 1, 2011

I Needed to UC

This is the first guest post I’ve had on this blog. I am honored that Elizabeth McKeown agreed to write about her experiences with birth and how she ultimately figured out what she needed to do to have her perfect birth.

I gain so much insight from others experiences and that is why I wanted to share her story with you. I hope you can take something from it as I have.

As always, I need to clarify that I am not advocating unassisted childbirth. Part of this story is about unassisted childbirth, but that in no way means that is the point of Elizabeth’s story. What one woman chooses for herself should not dictate what you choose for yourself.

Thank you again, Elizabeth for writing for us.

When I got pregnant with my first, I was so excited. I read everything I could find on pregnancy and birth. I knew I wanted a natural birth, but at the young and naive age of 20, to me that simply meant no drugs. I got an OB/GYN (I still didn’t really think any other options legitimately existed, and I *knew* that to be safe, one *must* give birth in the hospital, just in case) who was very nice, and ended up getting an induction, followed by an epidural (which I gave into), and felt like a failure. The baby and I also had health issues surrounding the birth, although we were alive and mostly healthy. This was not at all what I envisioned. I concluded that labor is just really hard for me for some reason, because I knew I had a high pain tolerance so it wasn’t just that I was a wuss. I figured that maybe the induction (even though I said NO to Pitocin) must have made labor harder to deal with.

When I got pregnant with my second child several years later, I wanted to take a very different approach. With renewed faith in myself, feeling as though I were older, wiser, and maybe stronger, I tried for something much more natural. I hired home birth midwives, and thought it was so cool and forward thinking of me to do so. I knew that hospitals were over-medicalized now, and I *knew* that home birth midwives would uphold only the most natural and woman-respecting beliefs for me and my birth. Prone to going past my due dates and bound by legal standards for care, I was pressured into either getting an induction or being completely without care. Luckily, my body beat their ultimatum and I went into labor myself. Unluckily, it led to the worst day of my life– a traumatic afternoon of excruciating labor with meconium tainted waters and a nice ambulance ride after which I swiftly delivered in an emergency room. The midwives had to transfer me because of the color of that fluid, but it turned out that the baby was fine, after all. The pain and torment of this labor was indescribable.

How could I have been such a fool? How could I really think that I could give birth naturally? Didn’t I learn anything from the first birth? Who were all these other smug bitches who were doing it, and making it look easy? Why am I not the earth mother goddesses that they were? I was the most maternal hippie I knew! Why did my midwives never post about my birth, but bragged on all the other moms? Why had I been so different, and what had I done that was so wrong? Surely they were all lying, these people, and their peaceful empowering birth stories. Birth was torture, birth was pain. How could I ever give birth again? No, no women should ever give birth again. Next time– if there is a next time– I need to get into the hospital ASAP and get that epidural and just ride it out and be thankful the drugs take effect on me.

Some time passed before I considered getting pregnant again. When I finally discovered I was expecting again, the overwhelming feeling was not joy as it should have been– it was worry over how I was going to do this labor. I bounced back and forth from extremes. I wanted midwives for care, and maybe a home attempt at delivery. But this time, they needed to leave me alone. Why, why was that urge so strong? Then of course I considered that I just needed to be in the hospital and get as doped up as possible. At prenatal visits I would ask my midwives about pre-registering at the hospital of my choice, which was further away from the much worse emergency hospital. They had puzzled looks on their faces and wondered why I was interested in this. I explained that maybe just for recovery, it would be nice. They seemed confused. Well, I was, too.

So instead of staying scared and confused and angry, I had to find out why. I dove into research. I wanted to know everything about honest to God, scientific, natural labor– how the body reacts, ways to avoid fear and pain, how to handle emergencies, you name it. Why were my urges to be alone so strong, why had my previous labors gone the way they had but other women had a great time, WHY? So out of this curiosity I learned more and more about UC (unassisted childbirth). The more I learned, the more everything clicked. I felt major epiphanies occur, and it was an eye opener for me to say the least. Almost everything I thought I knew about birth and pregnancy seemed to be false. From the science and data and anecdotes of Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent, to the empowering experiences, sources, and facts of Laura Shanley, Lynn Griesemer, and Laurie Annis Morgan… I finally understood. This was fascinating and liberating– and healing. I read Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White and was amazed that even with that simple text, I better understood the dynamics of what had occurred to me in previous labors. I knew all the “errors” that had been done to me in the past. I saw clearly where everyone went wrong. I finally knew what I needed with the intellect… what my instinct and body had known all along. I needed to UC.

I had my baby this past March, I published my book “In Search of the Perfect Birth” in April, and I’ve been running the Facebook page In Search of the Perfect Birth since.