I’m a strong believer in choosing my own path in life, regardless of convention, and for many who know me, it’s quite obvious that applies to pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I mean, come on, I write an entire blog about being free to make my own choices!
But the thing that really, really gets to me, every time, is when my choices are not respected or people feel the need to attack those choices.
Look, I get it, you had a bad experience in your birth, or something happened and you had to go against your ideals, or you just didn’t KNOW you had other options and are now secretly pissed because it’s too late to change anything. Fine, it’s okay to be upset. It’s even okay to silently shake your head and think that what I’M doing is wrong.
What’s NOT okay is when you outright challenge me in what I’m choosing to do.
First of all, there are just some things you should never say to people. At least not when it has absolutely nothing at all to do with you!
My pregnancy, choice of birth, and parenting are all those things that don’t apply to anyone except me, my child, possibly my husband, and…well, actually that’s it. That’s everyone my choices should truly be affecting.
Maybe my husband has SOME input in my decisions. Maybe.
My child, if old enough to say “mom, this isn’t really working for me and I propose a solution we can all live with” (which I’m guessing, with my level of spiritedness, will be when he/she is in the third grade) might get some input in how I choose to parent.
But in the end, the decision is MINE!
I made the mistake with my first pregnancy of thinking that if I just trusted my midwives to handle everything that they’d have my best interests in mind and give me the kind of birth I wanted.
Instead I went against my instincts when that one midwife in the practice told me that my son had a growth restriction. I ignored all the information that told me (from how often he was kicking, how well the non stress tests were going, the fact he was only 35 weeks and had several more weeks of growing to do, the fact that if there REALLY was an issue they would have pushed an emergency induction while I was right there in the hospital having the ultrasounds, the fact that I just had this feeling that everything was actually okay) to question what I was told.
I let her convince me that first time mothers ALWAYS transfer to the hospital. I let her convince me that the non stress tests I was doing twice a week couldn’t possibly predict how well my son would tolerate actual labor. I basically let her take my power from me.
I GAVE UP MY POWER!
Jules tried to get me to take it back. I didn’t listen. My doula tried to get me to take it back. I didn’t listen.
I let fear be my guide. And FEAR led me to make the biggest mistake of all; I let myself be helpless.
I lay there passively for three hours, struggling to birth my son, knowing the position I was in was not helping with my ability to get him out, and fearing being cut the whole time, but not having the guts to say NO, this is NOT the position I want to be in and protocol be damned!
I got on the bed when they told me to get on it, even though I didn’t WANT to be on it. I lay in the position they told me to be in, even though I should have been on my hands and knees as my body had been telling me.
I let my voice be silenced by my fear, and my inability to take back my power.
And I was traumatized.
I had a straightforward vaginal birth with no complications and I was STILL traumatized.
So now I’m doing things MY way. 100% MY way. I informed myself of what the tests were in this pregnancy and I choose NOT to blindly go along with the routine of things. I am an active decision maker in my pregnancy.
The very moment I got that positive test result I contacted my doula. I applied to every midwife practice out here. I interviewed the three out of four practices to find the right fit for me instead of just taking the first one that accepted me.
And I feel GOOD about my choices this time around. I’m not scared. Hell, I’m not even the least bit worried. I KNOW my body can do this and I KNOW I’m going to rock this home birth.
Yep, that’s right! HOME BIRTH! I’m doing this, people. I’m totally having this baby at home, and I may even catch my own baby! It’s entirely MY choice this time. I’ve read countless books, done my homework the past two years, and I am READY!
I’m 11 weeks pregnant and I’m already psyched about the birth! I’m psyched about the next several months. I know it’s going to be awesome, even with morning sickness that hit at 4 weeks and hasn’t gone away yet, I still feel good about this pregnancy.
Because this is MY body, MY baby, and MY birth, and it’s MY way!
I declined the initial blood tests. You all know I hate needles, but it’s more than that. It’s about informed consent AND refusal. And I know from last time that THIS time a blood test isn’t necessary. I know my blood type. I know I’m not RH negative. I know my immunity status for Rubella. I know I have no STIs because I’m with the same partner and he’s not stepping out on me. So why take a test to tell me I don’t have a STI infection?
And as for the iron levels, I’m taking my prenatal vitamins and once I hit the second trimester I’ll be taking my iron supplement just to boost my energy. I am in NO danger of becoming anemic. And besides that, the treatment for anemia IS an iron supplement! So really, I’m already treating a condition I probably don’t have, on the whole basis that I just feel BETTER when I have taken an iron supplement during pregnancy and when I’m nursing.
I never took the Gestational Diabetes screening, so there’s no reason to take it this time either. Basically, I’m free to decline any and all bloodwork and it’s AWESOME! I don’t need that extra stress anyway!
But you know, there are people that just don’t GET that this is MY body, MY baby, MY birth, and MY choice. They actually seem to get ANGRY with me, as if my choice somehow affects them (and it really doesn’t).
The things I hear most often are often quite irritating and insulting to my intelligence. And I just itch to respond back, but they never hear a word I say anyway.
Still, I will respond here, because there is likely a mother out there somewhere who is looking for the perfect response to these comments and I’m happy to provide it. So here are the common things I hear from people in my life who can’t just let me do what I will with this pregnancy or the one before it.
“A midwife is not properly trained to be giving you advice on (insert whatever aspect of care in pregnancy you are choosing/not choosing here)”
Actually, they ARE. They have to go to school for it and they are governed by a COLLEGE OF MIDWIVES. They are regulated here in Canada, and they know just as much as a doctor and MORE about natural birth than most OBs who deal in pathology, not physiological birth without intervention.
“YOU’RE not a doctor. You aren’t qualified to make that decision!”
No, you’re right. I didn’t go to medical school. But I don’t HAVE to go to medical school to access pertinent information; it’s all out there on the internet in the form of statistics, university and medical studies, articles published by actual doctors and midwives, and many organizations who are regulated and have to adhere to strict standards of the type of and accuracy of information they publish and distribute. I’m also a woman who is capable of making her own decisions. It’s MY body. Who is anyone to tell ME what I do with it or how I choose to birth my children. And if *I* have done my research and *I* feel it’s right for me, then IT IS! Why would I allow anyone else to make decisions FOR me, that directly affect me, when only *I* know what’s actually best for me and what I’M comfortable with?
“Babies die! You’re taking a huge risk!”
Am I? Because all the evidence states that home birth is just as safe as a hospital birth in a low risk pregnancy, and reduces the chances of unnecessary medical intervention, which as I’ve already pointed out several times I DO NOT WANT. I want a non-medical birth. I want to birth where I feel safe because ALL mammals have an easier time laboring and birthing when they feel safe and supported and not threatened in any way. It’s basic biology here! And we are NO different from other mammals. The chances of me dying or my baby dying are SO low that I’m pretty sure that I’d have a HIGHER chance of complications if I was in the hospital where they were trying to interfere with a natural process by putting a timeline on it and pumping me full of drugs until my baby got so distressed that I “needed” a cesarean. I think I’ll take my chances at home before I ever trust anyone in a hospital not to interfere with my labor! Hell, even declining the cervical checks was a battle with their idea of protocol. If Jules hadn’t been the midwife on call I doubt I would have gotten away with half the stuff I did, from declining the routine blood draw on admission to refusing all “checks” for dilation after the initial first one at admission and one at suspected transition.
The fact is that I’m just NOT comfortable with being in the hospital, where these unnecessary routines are often pushed on women as “policy” and very few question or challenge it. Well, I don’t feel like CHALLENGING things when I’m in labor; I feel like just going with my own body and instincts and to hell with protocol or timeframes or any of it! I’m doing this, and I’m doing it MY way.
“You’re just being stubborn and selfish!”
Stubborn, definitely. You bet your ass I’m stubborn! I’m stubbornly going to do what is in MY best interests and what I feel is best for MY child. I’m stubbornly going to read everything I can get my hands on about the kind of birth *I* want, because it’s MY birth and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. And I want that day to be one of happiness, not one of regret. So if I’m stubborn then it’s because I KNOW what I want, and what I want is a normal birth and that’s what I’m going to have. I am NOT going to medicalize a process that doesn’t NEED to be medicalized. There are NO complications, so therefore there is NO need to see a specialized doctor instead of a midwife. And as for selfish, well, maybe to you it’s selfish but I think that it’s far from selfish to want to give my baby the chance to be born in a peaceful environment free from any fear or anxiety. To have the chance that the first hands that touch him/her will be those of the mother who carried and birthed them. That they will sleep in their mother’s arms, undisturbed. Never be transfered to a sterile plastic box for their first night. I hardly think that’s selfish.
“So You’re Saying All Women Should Just Risk Their Lives for the “Experience”?
Nope, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that I’m not concerned about MY pregnancy and I’m fully prepared for MY birth of MY baby. And I’m saying that it’s MY body and MY decision, and I’m deciding on a course that it right FOR ME! It might not be right for you. It might not be right for someone else. But that doesn’t matter because this baby isn’t being born to you or anyone else but ME! It’s MY baby! So how about you just be happy for me and if you can’t be supportive of my choice, at least shut up about it already! I don’t need to hear your “opinion” on midwives. It’s not really based on any real facts and it’s ridiculous to hear the same thing over and over when you refuse to actually BE EDUCATED on what a midwife actually does. It’s annoying when every choice I make is punctuated by your cry of YOU’RE NOT A DOCTOR! You think I don’t know what’s best for me just because I didn’t get a fancy degree? How little you must think of my ability to gather my own information. I’m sorry (not sorry) that I won’t just blindly follow an “expert” and that I ask my own questions and get a second and third opinion before I do something that I don’t really WANT to do. If I hadn’t been SO stubborn I would have just had that cesarean section at 35 weeks that the OB that midwife consulted with had suggested. But that would have caused my son to be born premature, and he didn’t NEED to be born early or surgically, as I proved at 41 weeks when I had him without ANY medical intervention. No drugs, no cutting, not even a single stitch needed. So really, my choices resulted in NOT being another statistic in the already too-high cesarean rate, and I’m damn happy about that!
If you can’t be happy, then that’s on you. But if that’s the case then I’m also NOT going to stick around to listen to you insult my intelligence and my choices. I don’t need that kind of negativity; I’m having a baby and I need to stay positive and focus on the awesome birth I’m going to have. At home. With a midwife I trust. With or without anyone else’s approval!