Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In My Own Defense

I have spent over a week writing this blog. Most of my blogs take about 30-60 minutes (possibly spread over several days – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there – I AM a mom lol) so that tells you how much time I spent, comparatively, on this. I wrote it, rewrote it, and rewrote it again. I added, deleted, saved it and came back later only to chop it up again. I say this just so you know, I put A LOT of thought into this and how to properly address the issue that I want to address.

It has come to my attention that some of those who call themselves my friends think that I am opinionated and put down anyone who does not think exactly the same as I do, or who has interventions during childbirth – even if it was a situation beyond their control. I will not mention names as I do not wish to ridicule anyone or draw negative attention to them. (I have not mentioned this situation, with names, to anyone except for my husband to ask for his advice on what I should do about it.) However, since I do not know the names of all involved in order to resolve this privately, I have chosen to make a blog post open to anyone to read in the hopes that it reaches these people. I don’t think I need to know or even want to know who all is involved in this; I just want to get this out there.

I have so many issues with this accusation that I hardly know where to start.

Speak for yourself. If others have issues with it also, let them speak up too. Saying, “This is what I think and everyone else agrees with me” implies that either 1. You’re exaggerating or 2. You’re gossiping (or both.) Neither is very flattering and definitely will not add credibility to your argument. YOU are important and your opinion is perfectly valid on its own - so own it and express it and let others express theirs (or not, their choice). (That doesn’t mean I’m obligated to agree with you, I’m entitled to my own opinion as well.)

Speak to me, not others, if you have a problem with me. Noone likes a gossip (unless they themselves are a gossip and are hoping to hear a juicy tidbit…) If you follow the Christian faith, consider what the Bible says:

Romans 1:29–32 “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Wow! Evil? Deserve to die? Sounds pretty serious! Remember, these are not my words, nor am *I* judging you. These are God’s words.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother." I see nowhere in there where God allows you to first go to others and justify to them your position of being offended at me. Only if we are unable to resolve things privately does it then allow you to take one or two people with you to confront the person (Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’). Never does it permit for you to say nothing to the person that you are offended at and spread your negative opinion of them to others. I like this article about gossip and try to ask myself the questions suggested before discussing things with others.

If you’re going to make a judgment about a blog or article, at least read the whole thing before doing so. The very thing that you’re so angry at them for having “left out” may be mentioned towards the end.

I was accused of never showing the other side of things. This is completely untrue (as you would know if you read my blog on a regular basis), however, it is redundant to mention the same thing every single time. I do try to mention, however briefly, other circumstances that may exist, but there’s a point when it’s just ridiculous to keep saying the same thing over and over again. And, being that extraordinary circumstances should be the exception rather than the rule, I try to focus on more positive things and how birth really can be. I don’t want to spend so much time on everything that could go wrong that I miss the whole point of my blog. (There’s already a book out there about all the negative things that you can expect to experience if you’re looking for them to happen. If you want to sit and dwell on what can go wrong and work yourself into a tizzy about it, go for it. I won’t even mention the title as I think it is terrible and if you receive it as a baby shower gift, you should immediately return it or throw it away).

If you don’t like it, DON’T READ IT! I am not holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read it. If you know that the topic will trigger negative feelings or emotions in you, maybe you shouldn’t read it. There was a time after I birthed my second child that I could not read any birth stories. I had to come to terms with his birth and the things that happened that I did not like. I didn’t go out and seek positive birth stories/articles and blast the author for their supposed ignorance of the variances of birth just because in that one blog or article they did not mention your specific circumstances. It was only when I could look back at it and, rather than be just angry at what happened, look at it and ask, “What can I take away from this? What can I do differently next time?” that I was able to read birth stories, blogs, and articles again.

Don’t assume that just because I do something differently from you that I am judging you for it. Yes, if you are getting drunk while caring for your kids, or beating them to a pulp, or withholding the necessities of life, then I do think I am a better parent than you. However, just because you had pitocin or an epidural or a cesarean, does not mean anything in that regard. EVEN IF IT WAS PREVENTABLE, you are not a worse parent for having had it. Chances are, there are areas where I do things that you would not even think of doing (such as going to bed with dishes in the sink – sorry Mom, it’s a blue moon that I have an empty sink at the end of the day). I’m going to ignore the discussion that interventions are sometimes necessary, duh. I think we all know that. I’m talking about when you have a choice and you choose to have the interventions anyways. So what if natural childbirth is not your strength or something that is very important to you to achieve? We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. I do not go to someone who is a fitness guru and runs 5 miles a day and say, “STOP THAT! You’re making me look bad when I put a movie on for the kids and veg on the couch all morning.” To each her own. It’s not MY interest, but I don’t seek out fitness blogs and ridicule them for their interests just because they are not mine. And for the record, I have yet to have a totally natural, non-interfered with birth!!!!! So saying that I think I’m better than you because I’ve had a natural childbirth and you haven’t is a totally baseless accusation.

Yes, I do think that what I do is the best thing, for me and my kids. Why on earth would I do something that I did NOT believe wholeheartedly was the best thing? This is not a judgment on you for doing what YOU believe is the best thing for you and your kids. I see it this way: it is like me wearing a red shirt and you wearing a blue shirt. My choice to wear a red shirt in no way judges you for your choice to wear a blue shirt. It would take a very insecure person to take offense at that and say, “You didn’t wear a blue shirt, you must be saying that I have an inferior fashion sense because you did not choose the same colour as I did.” Just because I birth at home, breastfeed, extended rear-face, extended-harness, don’t vaccinate, circ or don’t circ, DOES NOT MEAN that I cannot respect your decision to do the opposite.

Yes, I will put the information out there and yes, it feels nice when someone says, “Thanks, that was really helpful! I never thought of it that way before.” Or “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?” I’ve heard these and similar responses countless times from women. BUT, if you say, “That’s just not for me.” FINE! I am still friends with many people who do not do the exact same thing as me! We still get along just fine as long as we respect each other's decisions. What I never want to hear from a friend is, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Information is power. The truth will set you free. I refuse to withhold the truth just because it might offend someone. I did not see ONCE when my Lord did this so why should I?

I’m not saying I’m perfect in this area. I still deal with fear and intimidation and sometimes do not share information because I am afraid of how people will respond. I’m just saying that this is what I aspire to, to always speak the truth. I never once see recorded where Jesus said, “I wanted to correct this person, but was afraid that it might offend them so I said nothing.” He offended people frequently, yet, knew who He was and knew what the truth was, and knew that their offense was THEIR problem, and not His. Not that He didn’t try to address their concerns when they came to Him with them (as I have done here), but He did not allow that to keep Him from speaking up. As far as I know, most religions have a person that they are founded on that is similar in boldness and desire to spread the truth. No one who spends their life living under a rock and never speaking up for truth will ever make a difference in the world (except, perhaps, for being an example of what not to do to people who know them!)

I write all of this not to humiliate or chastize anybody, but because I love you, my friends, and do not want these offenses and misunderstandings to continue. I hope that this blog brings some peace to you.

I saw this blog today that is very timely and expresses very similar thoughts to mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My own birth

I started out writing why I chose homebirth, but decided instead to write about my own birth first since it is important.

Why does my own birth story matter? Well, the first conscious memory that I have of birth was probably of my mom coming home from a birth as she used to go and help women in the church who would call her during labour. Sometimes they’d been stalled for several hours and the doctor was threatening cesarean. She’d go in, introduce herself as the mom’s pastor, and ask everyone to clear the room so they could pray. Then they’d pray or get out of bed and get upright or sip red raspberry leaf tea or Evergreen WheatGrass Juice. I remember one who was so tired after a long labour and was ready to have the cesarean. My mom (who has had 2 vaginal births and a cesarean) said, “You’re going to hate me for the next couple of hours, but you’ll thank me after. Now get out of bed.” She got her up and walking and that baby was born in less than an hour. Other times their own moms lived far away or were estranged so they’d call her to be there for them. I LOVED hearing these stories and seeing pictures of the new babies and families. I loved going with when she visited with them prenatally and postpartum.

But before all of that, was my own birth. I was there, I was present, and I’ve heard the story over and over, even if I don’t consciously have a memory of it. I DO believe that how a person is born matters and can affect their life (beyond just the immediate health issues that I talk about a lot on this blog.) How a mother tells her child’s birth story to them also matters. This is not to say that a difficult birth will inevitably scar them for the rest of their life, but I’ve heard mothers say – in front of that child – “It’s the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.” “I thought I was going to die” or “I wanted to die.” “I never want to go through that again.” All of these are perfectly valid and it is good to process the birth, but please do it away from that child’s earshot. They don’t need to hear things that they won’t understand and may take responsibility for. Ie. “Wow. *I* caused my mother the most pain she’s ever experienced. *I* made my mom wish she were dead.” I digress…

My mother’s first birth was in the hospital. My older brother was born 2 weeks past his guess date. She arrived at the hospital with my father and my Aunt Karen, who is a registered nurse. My mom’s doctor had said she would be allowed in but the hospital said one support person only and no switching. So my mom refused to go in and sat in the family waiting room where my aunt helped her until she had to leave for work. She had an epidural after 24 hours of labour. The nurses changed shift and before going off shift, her first nurse gave her a dose of epidural but did not write it down. The next nurse came in and proceeded to get ready to give her another dose. She told her, “Um, excuse me, the last nurse just did that.” The nurse replied, “Well, it’s not written down,” and gave her another dose. Not surprisingly, my mother could not feel at all to push. So she got a terrible episiotomy (which later got infected).

Then she had to fight just to get her baby. This was 1983 and they used to stay in the hospital a lot longer than they do now so she was still there when her milk came in. It came in so she went down to the nursery. She pointed out her baby (who was hungry and crying – a nurse was holding him with her finger in his mouth, trying to calm him) and asked for him. She was told it was visiting hours and she could have him in 4 hours as no babies were allowed on the floor during visiting hours. Understandably, she freaked. “That’s MY baby and he’s HUNGRY and my BOOBS ARE FULL!!! GIVE ME MY BABY!!!” The nurse refused but the head nurse heard her all the way down the hall and around the corner and came to see what was wrong. She said “Give her her baby”. She called my dad, sobbing and unable to speak. He thought something had happened to the baby so he came rushing to the hospital. When he heard what had happened, he said, “That’s it?” I can totally relate to her. I may have tried to break down the nursery door if someone had tried that on me.

She was also roomed with another woman who had a very numerous and very loud family. At one point, they lost count how many people were in the room and were having to shout in order to hear each other. My dad went out and got the nurse and she asked everyone to leave.

Despite my brother being exclusively breastfed, my mom became pregnant with me when he was 6 months old. She did not want a repeat of what she had gone through before. She called up the hospital and asked, “Do you still have the policy of only one support person and no switching?” They answered yes so she sought out a doctor that would do a homebirth. He was from Holland, where most babies are born at home. He was very laid back.

The house I was born in.

I was born 3 weeks past my guess date. My grandma’s birthday was the day before and my mom had spent the day doing gardening and going for long walks, trying to get labour to start. It worked, but I wasn’t born until 3:12 am the next day.

My mom, 41.5 weeks pregnant with me (1.5 weeks to go!)

My mom called her parents to come over and they brought my Aunt Sarah (around 14 years old) with them. My grandma T was dressed up in her Sunday best and my grandpa T, who is colour blind and normally has his clothes picked out by my grandma, was wearing 3 different colours of shirt, pants, and tie. As my mom puts it, Sarah was the only one dressed how she should be for a birth – jeans and a t-shirt.

My dad’s dear parents (Gma and Gpa M) are/were very medically minded and were terrified at the thought of me being born at home. They were out of the country when I arrived.

My grandma started boiling water. She didn’t know what it was for, that’s just what you do at births! The doctor explained that it’s for hot compresses to help the perineum stretch and prevent tearing.

I was born right on my parents’ bed. The doctor handed me right into my grandmother’s church shirt covered arms.

My mom's parents and I

My mom was shocked when he announced that it was a girl. She’d SO wanted a girl that time but convinced herself she was having another boy so that she wouldn’t be disappointed. Not that my brothers were a disappointment! She was thrilled to have them and thrilled to have a daughter too J

Dr. Barel, me, my dad and mom.
I was 9 lbs, 4 oz and my mom had barely a tear that required no stitches.

My dad, big brother, myself, and my mom.
My mom writes:
“Right after you were born we woke Josh up to meet you and he said " whaz zat " pointing at you meaning if course what's that.  He was pretty fascinated by you. A real living doll.”

My big brother and I
My other grandparents called when their plane landed a few hours later. My grandpa T answered the phone. They asked if the baby had arrived yet and he said, “Yes! Right here at home!” Grandma M said “WHAT!?!?!? We’ll be right over.”

My dad's parents and I
She came over and got to give me my first bath. She asked the doctor how she’d know if it was too hot or cold. He said, “Well, if she turns red, it’s too hot. If she turns blue, it’s too cold.”

Grandma M and I
I spent the first night in my parents’ bed while they discussed my name. My mom’s grandmother’s name was Anna, as was my dad’s aunt. My dad’s mom’s name was Grace. They both liked the name Christine. They couldn’t figure out which names to use and then decided I could handle all three so they named me Anna Grace Christine. Anna means “full of grace.” They said I would need a double dose of grace in my life (and boy, were they right).

My mom and I (1 day old)
My Grandma T brought over chicken the next night for dinner. My mom also brought chicken for us in the evening after I had my secondborn at home :)

I love to hear my birth story told, especially when she says, “It was the most wonderful birth, just perfect.”

My mom writes,

“What a wonderful story!  You were a dream birth.  If everyone’s births were like that, people would have more babies.

You were such a beautiful plump baby.  Those eyes and cheeks...

The sight of you made people want to have babies.”

It's a...