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Tuesday, September 26, 2006



I'm kind of at a loss here.

My intent in posting my reflections about my birth experiences was to open the door to ANY woman who was changed by the process of birth. It was never an attempt to make anyone feel inferior or to sing the praises of a particular method of giving birth. I thought that was very clear, especially in my second post.

So, when you refer me to Moxie's post, I am happy to report that you are preaching to the choir. I whole-heartedly agree with everything she says there. I'm not sure what it was I said that spoke a different message.

And it pains me to think that someone feels I'm so self-involved that they need to give me a lesson in perspective. Has it really come to this? I really need to preface everything I write with "I would die for my children. They mean more to me than anything else in this life." Is that what I get for being uppity enough to claim ownership over my own experiences?

I acknowledge that being an able-bodied woman with healthy children in an industrialized country gives me a lot of privilege that I don't really deserve. I have never denied that, and I spend a lot of time and energy working on behalf of women who don't possess that privilege. What I do not understand is how discussing my own experiences in an honest way, and defending the rights of other women to discuss their experiences without shame, somehow makes me lacking in perspective.


Oh dear, I give up. You all have totally lost it if you think my statements are misogynystic. So typical of the women's movement to label something as "woman hating" when they don't want to hear it.


Don't bother responding, you've scared me away with your one-sided views. Congratulations. :)

Kate, thanks. Nice to see someone has some common sense.


Rach was perhaps impolitic but her story matters too. It is absolutely appropriate for her to feel grateful to traditional medicine for saving her child's life and, consequently, to question the importance placed on childbirth as discrete experience. I didn't get contempt from her posts. I didn't think she was saying YOU complain too much, but rather that WE do have the luxury of complaining, of grieving, and of choosing. It is a luxury, a hard won and incredibly valuable one that I cherish as a feminist. But damn there is still a long way to go.

I was lucky, I had the birth I wanted. But there are those who will shake their finger at me because I wanted and got a medicated hospital birth. There is plenty of judgement from both sides. Plenty of asshole doctors (see: Dr. Famous) and some asshole midwives too.


It's so frustrating to read this exchange... because fundamentally... I don't really think anyone is disagreeing with one another. But somehow... this seems to be getting lost.

I think that Rach is feeling that her feelings about her loss and resulting views aren't getting heard... and I think that everyone else is feeling judged for expressing different views.

Rach... this is a rather crass example... but it's sort of the only thing I can think of at the moment. While you may not have MEANT to sound dismissive, because you are coming from a totally different place than most of the other commenters here... I do believe it FELT dismissive. Here's the example, if I went to your blog let's say... and said the following;
""I think we have too much time to sit around and complain about how it should have been different. At least these women KNOW they can have babies! I'd give ANYTHING to know that I'm not sentenced to a barren future and that I'm still capable of bearing more children."

Now... I know this example isn't perfect by any means... but... whereas this comment might not cause much of a ruckus on a blog for infertile women... it would seem a right smack in the face if it were posted on the blog of someone who had lost a child. Do you kind of see what I mean? I think that's where a lot of this 'debate' is coming from.

I honestly don't think anyone here doesn't think that what you've lived through is horrid. I also don't think anyone would question WHY natural child birth wouldn't be a big priority to you. I think the only question comes from the fact that it seemed that your response to other women with DIFFERENT experiences (just as valid as yours... just different) was, "Oh whatever... who cares... at least you HAVE a kid." I'm not saying that's how you meant it to sound... but in context and emotion of the other thoughts expressed here... that's how easily these things can get blown out of proportion.

Is that making any sense?


I'm afraid my comment will get lost in all the bickering, but here goes anyway... Hopefully I'm not fanning the flames.

In the past few years I was at first surprised - then fascinated - with the number of stories I've read online of women who had disappointing birth experiences. I never knew such feelings existed, since I had never felt them myself and had heard such things from anyone I knew in real life. It opened my eyes to ideas I had never considered.

Prior to my first pregnancy, I had no expectations for birth, other than a deep and profound fear of THE PAIN I heard so much about from other mothers. When my pregnancy became high risk at 7 months, I had even less in terms of expectations, other than "get us both out of this alive".

My oldest son's birth was an emergency c-section for which I was put to sleep. It was a complete failure as far as an ideal birth is concerned. But that never crossed my mind as we dealt with his many medical issues. So in a small way, I can see what Rach was saying. Many women with sick children get angry when they hear people complaining about a less than ideal birth. I know I've thought more than once, "Well at least their child is healthy! If they spent a day in my shoes, they'd stop whining."

HOWEVER, that is a snap reaction driven by personal pain and loss. It plays into those "pain olympics" for which there are no winners. On the days I whine about dealing with a disabled child, someone else out there is saying I should suck it up, because at least my child *lived*.

I've come to accept that -yes, DUH - everyone is different. I'm not a dog lover, but I can feel for my friend when her pet passes away. I never wanted a big promotion at work, but I can sympathize when a friend is disapointed that hers fell through. I may not be able to relate to someone else's feelings directly, but the least I can do is respect them.

The real question is: why does that seem so hard for women to do?


"why does that seem so hard for women to do?"

There seems to be a huge need for external validation for mothers in general, I think. Given the enormous media attention given to different ways of mothering and attempts to pit them against each other, I'm not surprised to find that we've all sort of squared off into camps: working mom vs. non-employed, organics vs. cheetos, no-tv vs. all Spongebob all the time. If we individually feel that there is an assault on our choices, of course we're going to start peeing in circles around our turf and our experiences. And, unfortunately, the more we've invested in the camps in which we hope to reside, the more painful not moving in becomes. Hence, the many websites and blogs devoted to support of infertility, breastfeeding failure, births gone "wrong" and, yes, even disappointing weddings. Those of us on the outside of any one kind of grief don't get it and, as mystifying as it might be, would probably do well just to let it alone.

For my part, I'm not all that interested in how a baby comes into the world, how its mom feels about the process or whether it drinks breastmilk or formula. I don't care if kids watch television or are sung epic poems by virgin elves for entertainment. Whatever. But I'm certainly not going to tell a grieving woman on her own blog that her particular investment in the camp she hoped to join is misplaced and to just get over it already. We all need to work these things out on our own time and in our own way and I think the best we can do as women is to just let it be. We are different, we want different things and we all are disappointed when those things don't happen no matter what other good stuff may have.

(BTW, I have a very close friend who was unable to have the epidural and monitoring she wanted for her birth. To this day - 10 years later - she feels cheated and bitter that she "had to have" a natural birth she did not want. She joined a support group and reported back that the other women in the group practically jumped her for dissing the birth she had that they wanted, but that she mourned about. She can at least laugh about the irony now but her story brings up a good point: sometimes we will meet women whose heart's desires are completely opposite of ours and their sense of loss is just as real and visceral and worthy of consideration.)


"sometimes we will meet women whose heart's desires are completely opposite of ours and their sense of loss is just as real and visceral and worthy of consideration."

BRAVA!!! That right there... seems to be sooo hard for people to grasp as they listen to other people's stories. If we could only all recognize this fact... it would be the beginning of mutual respect.

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