Monday, August 6, 2007

It would be so easy for me to butt out...but I can't

Would you let your pet bunny hop into an eagle's cage?

Would you set your puppy out in the middle of an interstate?

Would you lock your baby sister naked into a known child molester's basement lair?

When we do nothing and say nothing as our sisters and friends walk so ignorantly, so innocently, so mindlessly into the world of the hospital birth-machinery, are we not doing the same thing? When we downplay the horrors of what can happen, when we downplay our own homebirth stories and when we "bite our toungues", are we not doing the same thing?

I would like you all to go check out the thought provoking coments section to an innocent and I believe sincere question posted on the Sisterhood Six website. Go read all this and then I will be working on my own bit. Im too overwhelmed and exhausted by the idea of responding on that page. I think the other women said it beautifully, all of them.
http://www.sisterhoodsix.com/2007/07/the_mysterious_allure_of_a_hom/

I also wanted say that I watched alot of hospital birth on Television via the likes of A Baby Story, Maternity Ward, and other types of shows.
Then I watched alot of homebirths. Some on A Baby Story. Some on video. I read and read and read in things like Compleat Mother magazine, Mothering Magazine. Spiritual Midwifery. Our Bodies, Ourselves. Hip Mama. Websites.

The two events, hospital birth and homebirth were like comparing apples to oranges. The nastiest rapey sex in the trunk of a car with a scuzzy stinky stranger to tantric golden mind blowing lovemaking. Or better yet, heaven to hell. Humiliation, degradation, infantilizing terror to...I dunno...life altering empowering gloriously ecstatic spiritual blossoming most important Rite of Passage?

I'll write more soon.
Meantime ask yourself this: How many birth stories have you been compiling? Watching? Witnessing? How many of your friends tell you about their hospital births and say "it went well" and then the real stories trickle out....How many of your friends tell you about their homebirths?
What do they say?

Do you internalize these stories? Do you believe them? If not, do you contemplate why you think these mothers are lying? What do they stand to gain from twisting their tales? Are they scrounging for a tiny piece of their autonomy back? Do you ever notice the hospital birthing Mamas stories changing depending on who they are talking to? Do you hear a change as time takes them further away from the birth?

12 comments:

kris said...

hey thanx for your comment and encouragement;)

i read that allure of homebirths, but only made it through about 10 of the comments b4 becomming overwhelmed and quitting..it was just too much to keep reading, such a passionate subject(!)

emjaybee said...

Heh, I left a comment there a while back.

Some of why moms with medicalized births don't tell the truth is that no one wants to hear it. When I was honest about my birth (and even two years later, talking about it in any detail brings me to the point of tears) people got uncomfortable, and frankly, I was pretty low-key about it. People just want you to say you're fine and your baby is wonderful. I usually feel compelled to be honest in case another potential mom may be listening.

Angi said...

Wow-amazing how passionate we become about how other women choose to have their babies. I've had four children, three with midwives in the hospital and one with a O.B in the hospital. The midwife births were all wonderful even though I was in the hospital because I was informed and my midwives advocated for me. I do have to say that the birth with the OB was not good, the nurse was horrible and the only reason I went with him was because the small town I lived in had no midwives. It was in a way traumatic, but I wouldn't say it was even close to enduring stinky rape or sticking my little sister in a room with a pedophile.

Housefairy said...

Angi- hello! Thank you for finding my blog.

The analogy I used about sticking my little sister in a room with a pedophile was meant to be a metaphor for knowingly putting someone innocent whom you care deeply for, IN HARMS WAY. I used this imagery for how I feel when I see my pregnant loved ones walking into the medical system, and how helpless I feel and how much I want to help them, and how I feel that if I personally cannot save them, then I might as well have been the one to personally throw them in the proverbial LIONS DEN.

The analogy that I used about stinky rape was clearly juxtaposed against, I believe I said something like golden tantric sex. I was using simile that time, expounding on the theme of comparing my hospital births and my homebirth being like comparing "apples to Oranges" but even more extreme, (seeing as, to me, at least, both apples and oranges are very pleasant fruits, both quite wholesome and similar)

I hope nobody else thinks that I was saying that their hospital birth was a rape or a dangerous, negative scenario with hig possibility of violation....hmmm actually it doesnt really sound all that off base when I put it that way!

BUT,
the true message I was trying to convey was that I feel personally helpless in my desire to help the women in my life who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant to know what I know, to see what I have seen, and my resultant frustration and feelings of impotence.

I feel like everytime I nod and smile when another first time mama talks to me about "Doctor so and so wants to induce me at 39 weeks because he is going on vacation", I might as well be throwing them in the lions cage.

Do I alienate them with my talks of the "cavalcade and snowball effects of pitocin induction" or do I smile my weka fake smile and prepare to help them after their C-Section?
I am so happy to see new people reading my blog. Maybe what I have written here will help clarify for others, as well.

kris said...

"wow amazing how passionate we get about how other women choose to have their babies"-that made me pause and ponder. and i think she's right in what she said.

but i think that i get joys side too. the problem comes when women THINK they're going to the hospital for a nice, normal birth (b/c that is what they chose, an OB and a hospital) and they get there and are clueless as to how the "system" works, they end up being highly managed and comeout having been sectioned with their heads spinning by the blindingly fast rate that everything happened.
this is where it's hard to decide what to say and how to say it, or even should we say it...maybe all they need to hear is "know your options & speak up for yourself"..great discussion..

Housefairy said...

I was the first pregnant person out of my whole friends and family network, in 1997. I thought "what to expect" was the book to read, and I thought remembering maxi pads and toothpaste and writing out "birth plans" were what being prepared meant.

In a way, it would be easy for me to say who cares what other people choose for their lives. But to me, the word CHOICE implies that the woman or family is fully knowledgable about their choices.

When we live in a culture that silences women, that poo-poo's all of our voices and stories; when we live in a culture where we don't even know whats going to "happen to us" when we show up at the hospital; When we live in a culture that still for the large part doesn't even know that there are midwives and that Homebirth is a definate option, let alone how immensley different it is from hospital birth, then we do not live in a culture of TRUE "Choice".

So.
I wish true and full disclosure to be a birthright to all girls and women. Access to the world of hospital and homebirth.

Then
assuming they are "low risk" etc etc etc

If the woman chooses one or the other, then it would be fully a choice.

I want to see homebirth get to a place of normalcy like it is in many parts of Europe and the world over. Just like breastfeeding. If you know about it and you hear about it and you are used to the idea of it, then you might be able to see where all us "hippies" are coming from, KWIM?

I have a real life friend who hated the idea of homebirth, knew all about it, wanted as much medication and intervention in her births as possible and was happy with her results. She really did know what she was getting into, and is a strong spoken woman. Who am I to say what is right for someone?

All I want is for information to be truly accessable, and I am not holding my breath for the entire "system" to change while my sistas keep getting their hearts broken. So all I have are my stories and my hopes that they will do research.

Angi said...

Hello again everyone-I actually agree with you all in your sentiments about the hospital medicalization of birth which should be a natural and beautiful thing. As a sling-wearing, breast-feeding, attachment parenting, homeschooling, midwife adoring mom of four I want everyone to know how wonderful it feels to give birth and parent the way I do. The only thing is I think they get put off by what can come across as angry passion, not just passion. I have no problem speaking up for all of the above mentioned parenting choices that I have made and I am so thankful that I found them but my friends and sisters, the majority, are happy with the things they are choosing too. I think we begin by first teaching our daughters and and our sisters and friends and also by doing blogs and getting our messages out :) As women we have a right and obligation to speak out for each other. I do think though, that we have to be careful in our characterization of other choices. There is so much information out there that anyone who wants to be informed can be informed. No one has to be in the dark anymore. Thanks for all your comments! Much Love

Christine said...

Housefairy,
I so agree. I am so passionate about wanting women to be informed about birth. They can make their own choices, but information is powerful! I sometimes get comments on my blog that all I talk about is birth, but it really is my passion.I think I am so passionate because my first two children were born in hospitals. The first birth was traumatic, the second was mediocre. My third birth was a homebirth, last month and it was wonderful. Blessings!

Housefairy said...

I feel better in what I have said now.

I just want to spread the good word. Really, really badly.

Thanks for keeping this dialog going, everyone!

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "The two events, hospital birth and homebirth were like comparing apples to oranges. The nastiest rapey sex in the trunk of a car with a scuzzy stinky stranger to tantric golden mind blowing lovemaking. Or better yet, heaven to hell. Humiliation, degradation, infantilizing terror to...I dunno...life altering what empowering gloriously ecstatic spiritual blossoming most important Rite of Passage?"

If you overall goal is informed consent and not scaring women, you aren't doing a very good job and are not a good example to the rest of the homebirthing mamas out there. If you want women who are pregnant to explore the possibilities and make informed choices, you need to be peaceful and kind and present your argument in a truly informative way without anger and fear.

Describing a hospital birth as some kind of "stinky rape" makes you no better than an OB describing a homebirth as just a ticket to the ER with horrible consequences for baby and mama, which we know, is not true.

Do you truly believe mamas who had hospital births are lying about having a pleasant experience just because you didn't? Are you truly "open minded" about birthing as long as everyone agrees with you and your ways? Is it possible these hospital birthing mamas are changing their stories around YOU specifically because you are so passionately against it and maybe they don't want to offend YOU?

I am all for spreading the word and having more mamas (all mamas!!) give birth at home in a peaceful, loving, real environment, but I am not into spreading hate and fear and guilt if they choose some other route.

In fact, before my homebirths, the very first homebirth story I ever heard was of the mama almost bleeding to death and then having to have her doula reach into her and scrape her placenta out by hand--yet after reading and studying I decided homebirth was still the route to go for my three children. My husband thought I was crazy (at first) but after truly doing our research and making a truly informed decision, we chose what was best for us at home, and couldn't be happier. However, we do not try to scare our hospital birth mama friends and families into thinking their experience was a rape or horrible or uninformed just because we chose a different route for our children and births!!!

If you really want to go after someone, go after the insurance companies, the HMOs, and the lawyers first. If insurance companies would pay for midwives and doulas and homebirth, (some do, but not enough) it would be a great leap for the homebirthing community. Then when the OBs see more and more of their business being sucked away to the choice of birthing at home, and maybe if the burden of malpractise insurance was lessoned, would they then listen more to what the mamas want and not worrying about some ridiculous lawsuit.

Peace and Love, not anger, fear or hate. Mamas need a break not additional guilt from someone who thinks they are helping, but really wanting to judge when people aren't just like them. Mamas and births come in all shapes and sizes. If you want more to join this mission, spread peace not fear.

Myjobismamato3

Housefairy said...

Hello, Anonymous

Since you took the time to write, I hope you will be able to come back sometime and read my responses to the things you have said and brought up.

"Describing a hospital birth as some kind of "stinky rape" makes you no better than an OB describing a homebirth as just a ticket to the ER with horrible consequences for baby and mama, which we know, is not true."

I never DESCRIBED Hospital birth. My very misinterpreted simile (a comparison between two or more things using Like or As)continues. I think alot of people would have understood my post had I left it at Apples To Oranges. I chose to continue that simile using stronger language, as those who know me, know that I am apt to do. I could have said "Like comparing Creme Brule to Dog Chow". But then there would be comment saying I "think their hospital birth was Dog Chow". You didnt get my simile. Oh well.

You have used a little generalization in your own way with saying that "we all know" that homebirth is not a ticket to the ER. Nothing is guaranteed. Some homebirths do end up the ER. Perhaps you will see that it is indeed harder to write the perfectly disspassionate and PC and universally pleasing and non offensive blog entry than you or I realized. Somewhere in there there might be opinions, and somehwere in there there might be strong ones.

Anyways...you went on to ask:
"Do you truly believe mamas who had hospital births are lying about having a pleasant experience just because you didn't? Are you truly "open minded" about birthing as long as everyone agrees with you and your ways? Is it possible these hospital birthing mamas are changing their stories around YOU specifically because you are so passionately against it and maybe they don't want to offend YOU?"

I put an open ended question out there. I NEVER ever said all the mamas are lying. I was referring to repeat experiences that I have had where I have been able to hear women's stories change OVER THE YEARS. At family gatherings, at social events, both switching from "it sucked" to "it was awesome" and vise versa. I found it interesting, puzzling, telling. I have heard my friends tell people that their birth was great, and then secretly email me some letter they typed just a few days postpartum reliving traumas, degradation, shame, even post traumatic stress disorder. Suicidal thoughts. Needs for anti depressants, feelings of despair and anxiety that haunted them for years. Not one woman, four to be exact. I was there for them when they said it all went smoothly and I was there for them when they chose to share some not so good stuff with me. I never ever said "you shoulda had a midwife" because it is irrelevant and rude and not a guarantee of anything. I also wrote a recent post about the same thing going on with Mamas who tried really really hard to breastfeed, and I was there when they were in hell with all that, and then being there for them when they didnt try to nurse the next baby and being neutral, and then later wondering if i sold them short. Where do we draw the line? What about my friend who told me I was the only reason she made it through mastitis with her one week old whom she went on to nurse for 13 months? What if I had bitten my toungue then? Was it just a matter of "shrug its her choice" to put a one week old on formula or did she need me there with cabbage leaves and LLL phone numbers? Is it ok to risk possibly offending smeone when you could possibly save something precious for them? What about my duty to the babies? It's the BABY's birth, what is the cost of us not talking about homebirth, of us not talking about avoiding narcotics and anesthesias, pitocins and surgeries? What price do the babies pay when Mom is sliced in half and nobody can help her take care of him? What are the drops in breastfeeding in the c-sec moms? What price do the babies pay when all their mom might have needed was another Mama who was rooting for her, instead of a similac coupon and a disgusted mother in law? How many of Women's life changing rites of passge can we honestly keep throwing in the "its none of my business/its their choice" pile, when we keep hearing so many tales of regret regret regret?

I think you have dreamed up some crew of happy hospital birthing mamas who are afraid to say it was lovely around me because I am this over the top, closed minded homebirth freak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Besides on my blog, which has helped me to really gain some "voice", even if it is just typing, I have been quite silent in my own real life, only now sharing my opinions with a few close, close friends. Noone even really read this blog until a week or two ago when I got a lucky link from SageFemme. So all of these strong ansd passionate opinions (that have apparantly crossed some imaginary line of tactful-neutral-ladylike-opnionlessness with you, anonymous,) are only the things that I type.
My own sister is pregnant with her third baby, and we dont even discuss homebirth. She is of the opinion of "Im really happy for you but NO THANKS" and we laugh and thats it.
My good friend is "trying" for her first baby, and I gave her a few phone numbers to midwives and then heard her say "thats not for me" and we havent discussed it since. If and when she chooses an OB then I will be there for her.
My family hardly goes around with Proud Homebirth Grandpa t-shirts on, and to honest, I think most people I know never even think abut that fact that I did have one homebirth, in 2003.

moving on. You also said:
"If you overall goal is informed consent and not scaring women, you aren't doing a very good job and are not a good example to the rest of the homebirthing mamas out there. If you want women who are pregnant to explore the possibilities and make informed choices, you need to be peaceful and kind and present your argument in a truly informative way without anger and fear."

Excuse me? I am not a good example to the rest of the homebirthing mams out there? What does this even mean? Is this a typo? I havent been told I wasnt a good example since elemaentary school, so I justr dont know what you were trying to say. I never, ever purported to be a GOOD EXAMPLE OF anything besides, I dunno, an thinking, concerned woman, typing in her living room, getting her thoughts about birth and life down in a blog?
I "NEED TO" what? I do not need to do anything of the sort. I do not NEED to be PEACEFUL and KIND, nor do I necessarily have an actual argument to present, nor do I NEED to remove anger and fear from anything.
I have BOATLOADS of anger. OCEANS of it. Im so angry at what is happening to women I could explode into a trillion pieces. "Well-behaved women rarely make history", surely youve seen that bumper sticker? "I think, therefore Im dangerous", have you seen that one?
You'd better believe I am angry. And you better believe that I have fear. Right back to the opening lines of this very post that we are discussing, I feel as much fear when I see my fellow women go uninformed and unknowing into the hospital as I would if say...well its all there already typed for all the world to see.
I never said ALL or EVERY woman is uninformed. Why would I? I was taliing about the women who are, and my struggle with what to do, if anything, to help them.
But where I think the confusion lays, is that you are (? maybe ?) thinking that I come at preganant women with horror stories and giant posters of sliced up bellies and sutured perenuims and ppd statistics. I do not. I never could, I never would. And thus lies my conundrum (which was what the post was about, really, MY PERSONAL FEELINGS of worry and impotence and grey zones of proper conduct and where does support become endorsement, etc etc etc) Like setting my bunny in an eagles cage. Its hard to do. Because I love my bunny and I worry. Because I have been in that eagles cage, three times. How many hospital births would you like me to have before I am fit to discuss how it was for me?

I really dont think I have ever purported to be 100% "open minded about birthing", but i dont really understand this one. The whole idea of being "opne minded" is a really popular one in todays society, where individualism comes to clash with the fears of offending, and the impossible to acheive dream of being "open minded" in regards to something we feel very polarized about, something that is a topic that has strong or deep personal connotations or health implications may not be possible to be truely neutral about. I am not neutral about how I feel about the way that the hospitals frequently treat birthing women. Perhaps you are. Perhaps you can write a neutral blog about it and people can leave you comments saying how nice your blog is, how universally appealing, and how smooth and easy it reads.

I cannot do this and would quickly lose all enthusiasm for a project of that sort.

BUT
I believe you are extrapolating the vision of me as judgemental and fear mongering, attacking people for their choices, judging them and scolding them, when again, ask anyone I know in real life, I have never ever done this, even when I maybe should have. I have a freidn of a friend who had the most unnecessary IN MY OPINION c-section that there is. I knew knew knew in my gut that this was gonna happen and it did. She had that OB on her by 32 weeks talking about inducing and the baby might be big and I said nothing. I bit my toungue and now she gets to live her life as it is. Yay? Boo? Im still working on that, here on MY BLOG.

I have helped some women explore some possibilities. I have told my sister that pitocin induction is much much different than going into labor on your own (which I leanred the haaaaaard way with my first baby). She then was free to do a little internet research if she so chose, and came back to me saying "I dont think I want to do that now" and I was happy for her. I gave her some info and maybe a little bit of "voice" and now it is dropped. She is only 37 weeks now, so who knows what she will really do. But I felt like I wanted to tell her some information. You have imagined that I was scary but I was not. I might write really strong minded blogs but I dont go around attacking people.

I have certainly been the first of my real life friends to have a baby at home, as I have been the first and only of my friends to do alot of the things that I do. Perhaps I have done more to inspire some couples to look into some alternatives than I know. But I doubt it. Like I said, my homebirth was back in 2003 and noone really flipped out. When my second homebirth ended up in a c section, noone seemed to grasp even a minute speck of what that did to me inside, (literally and figuratively) and the gemeral response was along the lines of "good thing you went to the hospital", which was about as easy for me and my husband to swallow politely as a broken glass boulder. (oh no! there i go again with the strong similies! I am saying my friends are broken glass boulders!)

sigh

what else...oh, ok you also said:
"Peace and Love, not anger, fear or hate. Mamas need a break not additional guilt from someone who thinks they are helping, but really wanting to judge when people aren't just like them. Mamas and births come in all shapes and sizes. If you want more to join this mission, spread peace not fear."

My blog is not written as something to 'give Mamas a break'. If I have inadvertantly given someone "additional guilt" then that sucks. If you read this blog and what you conclude of me is that I am "Someone who thinks they are helping, but really wanting to judge people who are not just like me" then there is nothing I can do for you.

This kind of off base personal assumption makes me wonder if you stumbled across my blog and dropped all this or if you read anything else i wrote over the last 8 months. HOW ABOUT MY SIDEBAR, AT LEAST???
Mamas and births come in all shapes and sizes? Gee, thank you for telling me that. Otherwise I wouldnt have known.
As a twice sectioned, one awesome HBAC-havin', twice induced, 4th degree episiotomy which required plasic surgery havin', homeschooling, tandem nursing mother of four with blue hair, youre right, I know NOTHING of Mamas who are Different.

and ps
What mission have I been denied the right to join? The blogosphere itself?

I AM on a mission, now that you mention it, and some of it is peace and some of it is love and some of it is raw and scary and ugly and covered in disfiguring scars and recurring nightmares and diffused crippling nerve damage.
You say that me telling my stories is 'spreading fear' but what it is is spreading opinion and experience and reasearch and opportunities for TRUE CHOICE--and I say pass the butta knife, Im gonna spread on and on.

a person said...

Maybe it's because our press has this sort faux idea that all news should be impartial and cover both sides of an issue or problem equally and fairly.

Maybe that is what causes people to have this idea that all opinions are equally correct just different.

I say that's all BS, sometimes, in fact most of the time one side is wrong. Plain and simple. There seems to be this new sentiment that we have to "respect everyone's opinion" CRAP. You should respect the rights of others to have an opinion but, respect it you must not. In fact I think it's quite all right to run it through the dirt, string it up for all the world to see and flog it to death. Make a mockery of it if you wish. it is after all only someone's opinion. We have somehow lost our ability to just simply say "well you're clearly wrong" and move on with our lives. This is something that you feel very strongly about, say what you want about it on yr. blog. Don't let other people attack you for yr. opinions. They are only opinions after all. What you are doing is right and good, and as for the women who have had good OB experiences, that is awesome for you all. That does not however detract from or invalidate the experiences that you have had. They are more than welcome to go and write a blog entry about it, maybe they would like to advocate OB hospital births.