Monday, January 2, 2012

Guest Post: Mama Birth's Banned From Baby Showers Moments -- Does She Keep Her Mouth Shut?

Don't worry.  You've stopped by the right blog.  It's still me, Donna.  I thought it would be fun to have Sarah -- AKA Mama Birth in the birth world-- post for me this week about her Banned From Baby Showers moments.  Her response totally surprised me, and probably you too.

Before going on, I want you to know that I met Sarah when we were in the same ward together (our LDS readers understand the lingo).  It just means we went to church together.  She had just gotten married and she was our son's Sunday School teacher when he was 4-years-old.  It was the year 2000. 
She has always been outspoken.  Long before she was pregnant with her first baby, Sarah knew she'd give birth without medication, unlike myself.  I wanted the drugs and was scared to death of childbirth with my first baby.  
Because of my experiences -- having a fear-based epidural and not wanting to be informed, followed by 3 unmedicated births and 2 homebirths -- my perspective is different when talking to people who want the epidural.  I understand the fear.  It's not a good place to be.  I have a hard time not wanting to give information.  In case you missed the most recent explanation of my blog title, here it is

Anyway, I think the world of Sarah.  She knows who she is.  She loves birth.  She tells it like it is.  I know she is a fabulous teacher (even my son said so!).  But regardless of what she tries to tell you, she is the most sarcastic person on the planet.  Love ya Sarah!  Thanks for stepping in this week.
 Donna is a dear friend of mine. 


I met her before I ever had kids and despite what others said, I never thought she was crazy. 
(She thinks I am sarcastic.  Can you believe that?!)

So, when I found myself pregnant, I took her class.  She was teaching natural birth classes by then and we signed up.  I think Donna said, "You are signing up for my class," and so I did.  She can be quite forceful you know. 

Miss Donna is very busy these days and she asked me to write a little post on my OWN banned from baby shower moments.  You know, those moments where you have to leave because you are going to open your big mouth, or conversely, you want to leave because everybody is opening their big mouth and offending you. 

Here is the thing though.  I don't really have many. 

I know.  Let me explain. 

I think people assume that because I am Mormon and in what is considered a "conservative" religion that I must get a lot of flack about birthing at home and breastfeeding and all that jazz.  But I don't.

Sure, I have had family members e-mail me articles about how my kids and the entire neighborhood are all going to burst into flames because they (my children) have not been vaccinated.  I had somebody sew me a nursing cover so that I could cover up when nursing.  I know that some people probably say things about me behind my back, but stuff I don't know is said about me tends to not hurt my feelings. 

These little instances I guess COULD offend me, but they don't because I know that all those people are well meaning (even the gossips just worry that I will bleed out at home).  They come form people who love me and genuinely don't want my kids to be hurt because they aren't vaccinated.  I have family member's who remember people getting Polio.  It doesn't bother me that they worry about my kids.  It doesn't even bother me that people try to help me cover when  I nurse.  I don't want everybody to see my nipples either.

 The truth is this- I am probably both pretty lucky with the people who surround me and also pretty oblivious to those around me even when they DO offend me. 

Lucky?  How am I lucky?

Well, growing up I remember my mom talking about the benefits of gravity in birth and the invention of the birth stool.  I knew that I was born c-section- but only AFTER my mother was risked out of a home birth because I was persistently breech and then in the hospital only AFTER a  generous trial of labor. 

When my son was born my brother said to me, "Are you going to circumcise him?  Because when I look at mine, I think, 'That HAD to hurt'- you shouldn't do that."

When I got pregnant with my third baby I had not one but TWO family members hint that maybe I should consider just doing the birth with my husband and me. "It would be cheaper!" said my mom.

Then, when I had my fourth baby at home unassisted (on accident) my parents came back to bring the kids and discovered me and my husband with a baby and no midwives, and nobody freaked out.  "You had the baby!  That was fast!" was about it. 

Because my husband is almost always gone on Sunday and because I have three other kids that would make a ruckus, I nurse my baby, without a cover (she would push it away) EVERY week, front and center in the middle of church.  Maybe people stare, but I don't make eye contact when I nurse!  (Except for with the baby.)
So, in all honesty I feel that the people in my life are kind and loving towards me.  Maybe it is because I am from Northern California where I am really pretty conservative compared to many.  Maybe they think I am crazy- but maybe they just expect that from me and so they don't say anything?  (I did have a friend from high school say, "You WOULD do that!" when she found out I birthed at home.) I don't know what it is, but people around me are very kind and supportive. 

"But, don't you ever say the wrong thing?  Don't you ever have to ban yourself from female functions because you are so offensive?" you ask. 
What makes you think I am offensive?!  Have you been reading my blog?

I did once tell a woman that she didn't need her c-section.  Not my proudest moment, I will admit. 

I am, by nature, oblivious to my impact on those around me.  I am pretty sure this is a family trait.  I could be offending people left and right and they are just too nice to tell me what a witch I am.  

In truth though- even though I don't agree with everybody I meet on their choices, I know they don't always approve of mine, so I figure live and let live.  These people are all kind enough to let me birth and nurse in peace so I probably owe them the same privilege. 

Even women I know who do things I don't- like circumcise or spank or even occasionally cry it out are...well, FRIENDS.  And when I look at the way they parent or the choices they make- I get it.  People in real life don't just birth in the hospital because they are "uneducated" or get induced because they are "selfish" - in real life they usually have good reasons for that.  

Plus- when I pay attention, I realize how much I have to learn from them.  Maybe I do some things right- but even the mothers I have met with whom I disagree the most, do plenty better than I do. 

Let me give you an example.  

I WAS at a baby shower once where I wanted to jump up and slap my hand over the mouth of another mother.  She had one child, and we were celebrating the upcoming birth of a friend's first baby.  The "mom" I wanted to stop from speaking first discussed how awful birth was.  Then she went on to discuss the horrors of breastfeeding.  

You know what- I have probably never met anybody with whom I have disagreed so strongly on parenting and birthing choices.  I did have a hard time being around her.  

You know what else?  I really think she had been damaged by her birth.  She was told she could never birth vaginally and that her body could handle 10 c-sections.  She went from thinking about a VBAC to planning c-sections, probably to avoid what surely would just be another c-section anyway.  

Did I hate that she had been screwed like that by the medical machine?    Umm- YES!

Did I disagree with her views on breastfeeding?  Yes again.
Her attitudes towards her babies I frankly found disturbing.  She was one who let her newborns cry it out so she could get her "needed" 10 hours a night.  (For the record she is the ONE AND ONLY mom I have ever met whose approach to cry it out was so early and so harsh.)

But she had reasons for her opinions, just like I had reasons for mine.  She had been told by those she trusted (medical doctors, her mother, other loved ones) that this was the way to do things.  Those choices worked well for her personality.  Did I worry about her kids?  Yes, I did.  

Guess what- she probably worried about mine because of my "reckless" choices.  

For the record I did try to explain to her why her supply of milk dropped when her newborn was sleeping ten hours a night.  She asked, but then she didn't want to hear it.  And I made DANG sure that I helped that poor mama at the baby shower get on her way nursing her newborn.  I also filled her with stories and tips on having a natural birth.  I did what I could to fix that negativity- but I don't get to pick how other people parent or birth their babies.  
That is not up to me.  And lucky for me, how I birth and nurture mine, isn't up to them.  

I feel blessed to have people in my life who are kind and who care about me.  I feel honored to be surrounded by so many wonderful mothers who I can learn from and who keep their mouths shut when I judge them before I understand where they are coming from.  

Life is good- and I still go to baby showers, even though my friend Donna won't be there!


Heidi said...

This is an excellent blog post. I am somewhat crunchy in the way I roll, but I vaccinate my son. It bothers me that to most people who are anti vax (or whatever other parenting choice we all make) that it's assumed the person uninformed (as Donna says about several concepts). It's not that I'm uninformed about any parenting decision, it's that I have done my research and simply come to a different conclusion. I don't judge other parents, I think we are all just doing the best we can. I parent by following the spirit because my family and my kids' needs are different than anyone else's we meet.

Thanks for this post, I loved it.

Amy said...

I really enjoyed your post. I love reading all the good things you have to say on your blog and facebook page. Like Heidi above, I also cringe when people tell me I am 'uniformed' because I don't parent the way they do. I am a highly educated nurse, who reads my way through research like the back of my hand. I am informed. Just because my decisions are not the same as somebody elses does not make their, or my, decisions any better. Its something I struggle with in the natural birth community. I know plenty of people who birth in the hospital, and would never judge a woman for birthing at home. But the sentiment doesn't seem to often be returned. I wish more people could be like you - full of grace and understanding about the fact that we will all make decisions best for us and when it comes to birth and parenting there is no one 'right way'. I think its sad someone couldn't go to baby showers because they would offend everyone. Why can't we become better communicators, and that our words are spoken with mercy, love, grace and understanding?

youngsjess said...

Indeed, this is a wonderful post.

I too hear the "You WOULD do that!" type of comments often LOL. So I also feel that part of the reason I don't get hassled alot of because peple just expect me to forge a different pth. That's who I am. No one would expect any less from me.

But I DO often find myself in the company of other women who tell stories or share opinons that leave me wanting to run from the room before I break down and say something alienating LOL. That's a fairly common occurence for me. Sometimes I run, sometimes I don't. I'm slowly learning to tolerate the talk and find subtle ways of inserting constructive commentary without starting an argument. It's a very delicate art.

And I hear hoebirth moms gets up in arms about being "judged" so often (I hate that word), then go on to make assertations about what KIND of people would electively induce, etc. I despise the idea of elective inductions. I do. It makes my stomach turn upside down when I hear that someone is about to do it. I can't stand it. Bt I have a VERY old friend who did it. She had very complex reasons for making that choice. I'm not sure I would have done what she done. In fact, I'm fairly confident I WOULDN'T have. Pretty sure, actually. Almost positive. Any induction terrifies me, and the thought of doing it when there is ANY other option is hard for me to imagine, no matter what sacrifices it involves.

But is she a selfish, uneducated person? No, she is not. I wish she didn't do it (it ended in a c-section, for which she was given the usual explanations that I have serious doubts about....several hours of pitocin, but it was a wrapped cord that caused decels? That's ALWAYS highly suspect.) But hey, it wasn't my choice, it was hers. And she made it with the same loving heart that I made my choices. And that's why we're friends. Because even though we are VERY different in a lot of ways, our heats are the same. We have to remember that sometimes.

Samantha said...

Haha, it's most certainly is a two way street. It's hard to restrain myself in moments like that. Í'm going to say this here because I know I can: There are times when I KNOW I'm right. And it's so irritating that I can't help other people be 'right' too. So, I can understand how hard it is to keep your mouth shut and move on!

leigh said...


Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

As always, love it! I seem to offend total strangers on my blog on a fairly regular basis. Apparently they don't like my strong opinions on natural childbirth and how I wish everyone would treat their babies. The catch is....I don't spout these opinions in real life. Like you, I an surrounded by people who love and respect me and my thoughts on vaccines and epidurals and vbacs don't matter. And I am respectful of other's decisions even if they are the polar opposite of mine.

The Quinns said...

This will happen to me eventually, I feel sure it will! I am your typical uneducated unnecessaeran after 'failure to progress' after a pushed induction bc the 'baby was looking kinda big'. Ugh. I find myself telling expectant moms DON'T GET INDUCED! DON'T BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY SAY THE BABY IS TOO BIG! And the worst is - Did they tell you you were failing to progress just in time for c-section before supper? I'm getting better but my loud mouth is propelled by an undoubtably over-inflated confidence in the fact that I know better bc I let it happen to me bc I didn't know any better at the time so I should just give her a heads up so she has a better chance than me! Hope all you much better educated mamas will keep educating others in whatever form you find works best for you, bc somebody needs to tell them and I might start running out of friends soon!!