The Best Laid (Birth) Plans
I was never really planning to blog about my birth experiences here. Not that I take issue with the concept, just that I figured I would have so many other things to talk about – children’s television, larcenous elves and gender politics are much more my bag.
And really, I’m not going to tell you much about the birth of my children now. Suffice to say, I had two pregnancies and two c-sections.
I’ve deleted about 10 different explanations of the how and the why and the wherefores – I wanted a VBAC with my second, REALLY! I was pre-e with my first and there were issues with his heart rate and the first section was technically classified an emergency, REALLY! I was miserable and not progressing and there were issues and, etc, etc, etc…REALLY!
But you know what? Fuck that. I don’t owe anyone an explanation about why the birth of my children proceeded in the way that it did. We are all healthy, happy, content. Alive.
I tend to back off of sharing these experiences for a variety of reasons – not caring all that much about the means to the end (in this case, getting those beloved alien beings out of me) is certainly part of it. Being in mothering groups can make a gal who really truly didn’t care about birthing feel like she has two heads. And in my day to day life there are maybe two people who care about childbirth as an issue and everyone else just wants cute kid pics (that’s what they tell me anyway). The internet can give a warped impression of what people care about because the people sharing their stories are the ones who care about things. Those of who don’t care that much about the overall birth experience just do our thing and don’t talk about it much. Which, I guess, is part of why I do try to talk about it once in a while. Or at least stick my hand up to be counted as a data point in the question of how women approach birthing, at least online.
For people who are new to the online parenting scene, though, it can be hard to understand, I think, just how controversial c-sections can be, even in skeptical, science friendly, evidence based circles. C-section moms are constantly asked to justify our birth experiences. We are told that we didn’t really give birth because we didn’t push a baby out of our birth canal. We are told that having a c-section is why our children have [insert perceived issue here]. We are told we are not really mothers. We are told we are lazy or inadequate as women. We are told we’re not really feminist, even. We can get a pass if we have a significantly emergent emergency, but not if we schedule a c-section “for convenience”, and there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room in between those definitions for some people.
I feel truly bad for my fellow GP blogger, Chris, for accidentally triggering the landmine that is birthing politics when he was just relating his personal experience in navigating the waters of birth with a partner who really did care passionately about her experience, as is her right. As he correctly points out, there are doctors who will pressure women into interventions they don’t want, whether it’s because they don’t know any better and are following a flawed protocol, or because they want to try to keep some care consistency within the confines of hospital scheduling, or because they want to go get a cup of coffee, or for other reasons I can’t begin to fathom. But this idea that doctors and/or women spuriously push/request c-sections for no “good” reason is regularly used to demean women who have c-sections for whatever reason they choose. And the reality is also that women who want fewer, even no interventions, get no end of grief as well – people question the qualifications of their birth attendants, they dismiss home birth as too dangerous, too weird, too freaky and deride well researched non-intervention-based birthplans as being based on woo and ignorance.
So we need people talking about that side too. And what we really really need is to stop asking for other people to justify their personal choices. The people who give me the most grief when I fail to appropriately (in their mind) justify my birth experiences tend to be some of the same people who pat themselves on the back for fighting for the birth experience they wanted and who feel personally invested in getting other women to make similar choices. That’s part of what choice is – letting go of what we think is right for us and recognizing that it might not be right for other people. I would never tell another woman that she should have a c-section, because it is major surgery and it isn’t a walk in the park. But neither would I tell her that she shouldn’t, even if the reason was for something totally not medical that is…wait for it…none of my business in the first place.
Featured Image via Flickr user Nep.