The Birth Culture

0 Posted by - February 20, 2013 - Life, Mexico

AF_nothingtoprove

One of my favorite things about being a parent that travels and lives overseas is that I can avoid almost all the drama of living in the States. I avoid discussions about homeschooling or free range children or whether kids should be “allowed” in restaurants. Sometimes I read the NY Times parenting blog, but not often, the Mommy wars just get me riled up, and I want to take everyone into a big room and say:

“Listen, just by the fact that your kid was born to you, a parent who cares enough to fight online about whether you should breastfeed or formula feed, your kids are going to be just fine. You care. You have the time, education and resources to go online and argue with people. It really doesn’t matter, sweeties, because you love your kids. Everything else is just cake.”

Even extremely poor families take pretty good care of their kids, from what I’ve seen, because we all love our children and even if you’re yelling at them (like they do in some cultures, but in a paternal way) or if you’re hovering and praising everything they do (like they seemingly do in others) ultimately, my theory is at least, we end up raising kids who act quite a bit like us. The Egyptian kids yell at each other and gesture wildly like their parents, and the Chinese kids play silently in the park with their very quiet parents. I hear a lot of parenting myths when I travel, like don’t give pregnant ladies ice water (Bali) or babies should wear six layers in 90 degree weather (Colombia), but despite all of our interfering, as an outsider it’s easy to see how much kids just pick up the culture around them, regardless.

Whatever, it’s all good.

So I found out this week that I have at least until Friday to stay pregnant because my blood work came back and it looked good. I would like to avoid a c-section or induction, but if I develop full-blown pre-eclampsia, like last time, there’s no avoiding it.

Here, in Mexico, there is no birth culture that glorifies not using a doctor when you’re pregnant. Midwives are available but are much more common in rural areas. In Thailand going to a private hospital is a privilege. In Beirut, my OB had a line out the door of women who were thrilled to see her.

I don’t have a problem with natural childbirth — that was the plan with my first, I used a midwife in Oregon — but this time around it’s not an option for me, at best I’m having a VBAC, which means I’m no longer low risk, so I’ve opted to have a hospital birth with an OB.

It’s pretty common, right? But there’s this judgey earthy crunchy element (not all, obviously) that likes to cluck at women like me, to encourage us to fight for our natural births. It’s so frustrating to me, because of course I want that too, but I’m not willing to take the chance.

Question: don’t I get to make this call without suffering the faux sympathies of women who took different paths?

Yet, every once in a while, this segment of US birth culture finds me, even though I don’t read birth boards or ask for advice from friends back home, it still sometimes slams me upside the head. I should know better than to be happy about avoiding a c-section for one more week, because the next thing I know I’m getting sent advice from a well meaning person on how to naturally treat my condition through diet and herbs. Essentially how I could avoid medical intervention if I just ate better (juicing) or soaked in epsom salts or took some homeopathic meds. Implying my looming medical interventions were unnecessary because I just hadn’t taken the steps to nurture my body correctly.

The advice? It made me cry.

I wish it was that easy. I have no doubt they intended it as helpful, but it stung. I had my defenses down, I had been candid about the fact I would happily get a repeat c-section if needed, and I hadn’t cloaked my language in any naturalistic terms. I was simply going for a healthy mama and healthy baby, not trying to set myself emotionally by focusing too much on the method. And this woman gave her advice and literally laughed at me in her message, for what, I don’t know, for not “getting” birth and not “trusting” my body and baby “to know when it’s time”.

Bite me. If my blood pressure spikes, the baby comes out. Period. It’s time.

Yet here I was crying because it does make me sad that I may never have a natural birth. I know that a second c-section means that the doorway to experiencing birth, that Ricki Lake, Business of Being Born, empowered-woman-catching-her-own-baby-as-she-gloriously-embraces-her-strength-as-a-woman version would be closed to me forever. I’ve never had a contraction, been in labor, felt any of those things. It’s secondary, of course, but yes, part of me wants that too. I cried because I felt terrible, a little sorry for myself and I knew no matter what I said I’d come off looking defensive. I do wish my body handled pregnancy better. I would like to experience all of it. I just don’t know how to do that and not put myself or child at risk.

This is what drives me crazy about parenting and making babies in the US. It’s so competitive. It’s kind of hurtful. And no matter what we do, we’re doing something wrong according to someone.

It also makes me furious. I mean when did natural birth become the holy grail of motherhood? Listen, having a c-section is equally awesome. Outcomes matter. Healthy baby = winning. You want to talk about motherhood achievements, talk to a woman who planned for nine months to have an all-natural birth but when presented with complications, didn’t flinch, she did what was needed to be safe.

This was me, three years ago: Is there a risk to my baby? Then take me instead. Cut my body open, take this baby out and let’s get this done. I will be sore for a few weeks. I’ll have a scar. I’ll breastfeed that child laying on my back with an IV in my arm and a blood pressure cuff on the other and a machine that beeps every 15 minutes throughout the first night. I will do this happily and without ever knowing for sure what would have happened otherwise. I’ll live with the uncertainty. Sometimes I’ll cry about it because some other women will make me feel like I failed, but if presented with the option a second time, I will still take the same path. I’m not giving in, I’m fighting back. I’m not doing too little, I’m doing everything I can.

ROAR!

Or something like that. Then I remind myself not to talk to people online about birth or babies or pretty much anything controversial pretty much ever. Like gun control. Holy crap, when did the US lose it’s mind? (By the way, I still don’t know how this second baby will come into the world, but we’re working closely with our OB).

 

  • http://thefutureisred.com Leigh

    I’ve also had my share of, ahem, discussions about birth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and I rarely have them anymore. Really, what’s the point?

    Too many people are judgey blamey. Everyone has advice. Not enough people are willing to give benefit of the doubt and realize that the mom, the pregnant woman has the best instincts when it comes to knowing what is best for herself and her baby.

    Healthy mom. Healthy baby. These are the only two important things. How you get there is entirely unimportant, and what is best for me, isn’t always going to be best for someone else.

    But I am very happy for you. Babies are amazing and so are moms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ksukel Kayt Sukel

    I had Chet in Germany. My water broke at 19 weeks. I kept him in for two more weeks. I gave birth naturally–dry–while being rooted on by a Polish nurse and a non-English speaking doctor that looked young enough to go to prom. Forceps were involved because he got stuck. And I can’t tell you how many people commented on those stupid forceps when I was just so happy to have a live breathing baby on the outside.
    People need to STFU about things that aren’t coming out of their own vagina/abdomen.

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Exactly! THIS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ksukel Kayt Sukel

    I may still feel a little bitter about all of this.

  • Carmel

    (Disclaimer: I have no children yet, but have plenty of friends who are new parents and have been getting a lot of unsolicited advice) Women sure do get the shit end of the stick a lot. And we do it to each other! I agree that the outcome is ultimately the most important part of the whole thing. I am all for natural births, midwives, and everything…but does that mean I have ANY right at all to tell someone else how to do it because that’s what I believe? No flipping way. It’s funny how so many people will go on and on about freedom of choice in having a baby, but once you make your choice to have one, suddenly there’s right and wrong. Natural birth over c-section. Again, in an ideal world, I want to go natural and have the experience, but ultimately, I just want a healthy baby.

    I wish you a happy, healthy baby.

  • Ann Woodward

    totally agree with you – what truly matters is a healthy baby & mom

  • http://travelsintriplicate.com Emma

    I am so angry on your behalf. A healthy baby and mummy is the only outcome that matters. As for trusting your body to know when it’s time, who ever sent you that email has obviously never been overdue and had to be induced. I was 2 weeks over and my baby was not coming naturally, my body had no idea it was ‘time’.. The medical induction lead to a horrific ‘natural’ birth which still brings me to tears when I think about it. As long as you feel positive about the outcome that is all that matters. Good luck!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      This is the thing, right, sometimes natural isn’t better. Last time, I had signs of pre-e and my midwife gave me primrose oil to put on my cervix to help me get ready for labor. Well, if I had a doctor, he would have probably induced me with some serious drugs that would have worked (the primrose oil did nothing, I had an unfavorable cervix at 40.5 weeks). So when my BP spiked, induction wasn’t an option and I had a kind of scary c-section that I wasn’t ready for mentally.

  • Julie

    I don’t have kids but the first round of my friends have started “popping” them out and I have witnessed a few ‘mommy smackdown’ battles you described over pregnancies, birth stories, breast feeding, etc. Just watching the competitions has put me off the maternity until further notice.

    Wishing you a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and low blood pressure!

  • http://www.wildernessfound.com Susan

    I’m with Julie on this. I’m not a mom, but as my friends are starting their first round of “popping” as well, it’s been crazy to see the growth of competition and anxiety among them. True fact: reading your birth, pregnancy and parenthood posts has greatly increased my desire NOT to have a baby in the US – you always seem so sensible and grounded and like you’re just doing an awesome job. Kudos to you. Hugs for the tears. Prayers and best wishes for the next several weeks as you prepare to greet your little Miss. Thanks for being so open and letting us follow along!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Ha! Well I think it depends on what country you’re in! But yes, I’ve really enjoyed this pregnancy and the medical care I’ve gotten.

  • http://www.ramblingtart.com/ Krista

    You absolutely rock. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written and even though I don’t know you I feel so darn proud of you. :-) So happy you’re choosing what is best for you, your baby, your family, your life. It is good. XO

  • http://twitter.com/kaytsukel/status/304365668386603008/ @kaytsukel

    So, @almostfearless has gotten me all cranky about “well-meaning” ppl & pregnancy again: http://t.co/wDdrsKVMdN

  • http://peaceinatincan.blogspot.com Kiki Dunigan

    You go girl! Why is it that we women live with so much guilt? After 25 years of advice I never took on how to raise my kids, I’m letting the guilt go. All 3 of my kids are awesome, so I did something right, eh? You go right ahead and do what’s best for you and your baby, because despite what others may say, only you know what’s best for you and your baby.

    Best wishes to you for a healthy birth!

  • Stacy Carpenter

    Greetings,

    I don’t have children as I wanted to have the resources to raise them before I had them. Enter a 5 year deep recession and a business starting to go where I hoped it would. Now, at 36, I am coming to terms that I probability that I won’t have children. Some days it is hard. Some days, not. Nearly all of my friends now have two or three kids. Their experiences with other moms and mom media terrify me and sadden me. Every move is up for judgement as if they were in the Mommy Olympics and trying to stick a landing. It’s like high school passive aggressive bullying.

    Never mind the mothers that lost their babies through miscarriage or silent birth and are internally shamed by families for it being “their fault”.

    It all just makes me so angry. How can stressed out Moms contribute their best to a healthy family? I just don’t know.

    I have to agree with Emma. Healthy Mom. Healthy Baby. Loving Strong Family. That’s the whole world that matters right there and the only ones that need be the decision makers. The rest is chatter in the universe.

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      I hear similar things from my friends back home, which makes me so hesitant to go back when Cole’s school age. I really enjoy the laid back nature of other parents who travel (I think travel just attracts that kind of personality). I have zero desire to compete with anyone!

  • db

    Excellent, excellent post, says the mama who delivered by C-section and gave up breast-feeding/pumping efforts about three weeks after giving birth. You sound like a wonderful mom. Wishing you a healthy, happy birth and baby!

  • Lindsay Slack Nahabedian

    It’s your body, your baby, your business. Healthy mom + healthy baby = happiness. Here is my unsolicited advice, when you recognize that you’re receiving unsolicited advice, delete it without reading further. Have your happy family, and remember that people probably need to get a life and stay out of yours. You’re going to meet your baby soon! Woot!

  • http://www.zibbet.com/frenchkissed Trishia Jacobs

    Christine, Kinda on the subject…just wanna give you a little laugh:) Back in my journalism “apprentice” days, I was updating a community events/meetings list. This particular meeting was a support group for women who had had a C Section but were trying to have a natural birth with the second child. Everyone was invited. But that isn’t exactly how it came out in print. Seems I had a slight typo — “The pubic is invited.” :)
    In regard to the US, on birthing, guns and such — you don’t know the half of it. This country is so polarized. Families are divided. People can’t calmly talk about issues anymore. It’s terrible. I’d leave tomorrow if I could……we’re just waiting for when my hubby can take early retirement.

  • http://onedaycafe.me Katrina

    This is a great post. I’m not a parent, but I can totally relate as a lot of the issues you talk about are part of the reason I’m in no rush to embrace motherhood. Aren’t we all just doing the best that we can? Why all this judgment and competitiveness as it relates to parenting, from the time you get pregnant to…infinity? I wish you and your family all the best for a safe and healthy delivery!

  • http://odysseusdrifts.blogspot.com Odysseus Drifts

    I don’t have any kids yet, and I rarely comment on blogs anymore, but I had to comment on this one because what you said — “Listen, just by the fact that your kid was born to you, a parent who cares enough to fight online about whether you should breastfeed or formula feed, your kids are going to be just fine. You care. You have the time, education and resources to go online and argue with people. It really doesn’t matter, sweeties, because you love your kids. Everything else is just cake.” — made me tear up a little.

    You’ve got it. You don’t need to read the parenting blogs or listen to birthing arguments; you already know what’s important. You’re putting the health of your baby first. That’s just how it should be, whichever way of birth is the outcome. The baby won’t remember the act of being born, anyway, but as she grows, she *will* remember all the moments of love and tenderness you give her throughout her life.

  • http://twitter.com/katrinacabrera/status/304379094106271744/ @katrinacabrera

    Motherhood as a competitive sport seems ridiculous from an outside perspective. The Birth Culture via @almostfearless http://t.co/VVp7AyS4mE

  • anne

    I really appreciated your post. I am also 38 weeks pregnant and hoping to have a VBAC this time after an emergency c-section last time. After a number of complications (breech, cord around neck), it seems we’re on track for now…. but as you say healthy mama, healthy baby = good! If it’s another c-section, whatever, as long as we’re both healthy then everything is good.

    Hopefully you get your vbac and that regardless your recovery is relatively fast and healthy!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you! And good luck on your VBAC too! We’re almost lined up perfectly on due dates… let me know how it goes! :)

  • Kirsten

    Great post. I’m so happy you wrote it. As a mom who had to have 2 c-sections, I can so relate on being upset about not having the “natural birth” but am so happy that my babies and myself are alive as without a c-section, I would have died and I have no idea if my baby would’ve survived either. Most of the time its a choice that is made for us as much as we will the outcome to be different.

    I hope the rest of your pregnancy and your delivery – whichever way it happens – are easy, drama free and miraculous.

    And FWIW, recovery from the 2nd c-section is sooooo much easier!

  • Ellen

    You are completely right about Americans being competitive. We are also loud, opinionated and often self-righteous. You provide a space online that is none of those things, a place that is open and beautiful and inspiring. It is hard when someone (or someones) abuse the vulnerability that you choose to share with the world but know that there are legions of us who appreciate what you share and believe that you represent what us GOOD about Americans: openness, inquisitiveness and trust.

  • Lucy

    I take it you don’t want this year’s “it” series, Downton Abbey?

    ********SPOILER ALERT********

    You just tell anyone who questions your birthing style, “I don’t want to end up like Sybil”, and leave it at that!

    One thing about travel is you learn that children can be brought into this world in all kinds of different ways and places. They all seem to turn into humans.

  • Sheralyn

    Great post! I agree with you 100%… you’ve gotta do what is best for you and your baby based on your individual circumstances that only YOU know. Your circumstances are unique and how dare some busybody try to tell you what to do or guilt you for doing what you know is best – they ought to be ashamed of themselves… they seriously need to get a life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Melissa.A.Keith Melissa Keith

    Very well said!

  • http://www.the1bigthing.com Karen

    This post gave me a glimpse of a world I didn’t even know existed!

    At 35 I’m still trying to figure out if I do want a baby and I’ve had to battle hard against all the pressure of well meaning friends. I didn’t realise there would be whole new battles to fight if I did get pregnant.

    It never ceases to amaze me that we live in a world run by shoulds. We make each other wrong for not doing what we think they should do. We make them cry for it, heck sometimes we even kill them.

    Take more time to understand instead of judging – that’s what we should do. Ooops there I go perpetuating the problem.

    Christine I wish you an easy birth and a healthy baby.

    • Nadine

      Karen, I’ll join you in the club “35 and no kids yet, and it’s getting even harder to decide with every year” ;)

  • http://avenue-reine-mathilde.over-blog.com Tiphanya

    In regards to the birth of my daughter, I don’t ready anything about birth but I’m reading you, each time a new post come out.
    Because you are not saying it’s the most beautiful thing if you just listen your body, your baby…
    Because you don’t complain about the c-section.
    I feel you do your best by being involved, being ready for different situations, ready to fight (already fighting ?) to have the best for your baby.
    I would have love to read you before the birth of my daughter. Keep going the way you are.

  • http://www.ramblingabout.com Jennifer

    This was a great post, and resonated particularly for me as it is so much my own experience (pre eclampsia and c-section with two babies). As my doctor said to me, you can talk about probabilities all you like, but whatever happens is 100% for you. There isn’t a risk free way of giving birth to a baby, and every woman and baby is different.

  • Nadine

    Christine – just relax. Crying helps sometimes, but there are so many things we want to control but can’t, and it’s just no use to get too upset about it. I for one could wind myself up on the fact that I will never have the chance to discuss birthing with my mom, because I couldn’t make up my mind about having a baby before she died. I think the scary thing about these elemental events in life, like birth and death, is knowing we can’t control them. We were raised in a privilleged world in the belief that we can, no MUST control everything. But when it comes to these elemental things, we are all united in the fact that we are a part of nature, and nature can not be controlled, and that scares us, and some people fight when they are scared. Breathe, relax, let it go. We’re all just animals on two legs! I hope this helps ;) Good luck!

  • http://Www.forgeover.com Victoria

    I happened to have awesome births with both of my children in America, but my best parenting decision to date was to leave! We spent five months in Mexico (mostly La Cruz) and it was the first time that I felt that children were valued and parenting was culturally important. We left Mexico and sailed to Australia last year and at each stop along the way we were welcomed, including, and maybe especially, our children! Our kids were what we had in common with everyone we met. There was no need to be divisive about our choices.
    I hope you have a safe and comfortable birth to your little Mexican baby!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      I love it!

  • Lauren

    Two c-sections here. Did my best but my babies didn’t want to come out.
    I like to bring up obstetric fistulas when people start talking about the superiority of “natural” childbirth. It seems to shut them up.

  • http://my-profilephoto.com/ viviensaura

    ..and it all boils down to “mom’s love their kids so much” I got the natural way, i think the baby hears that we are financially incapable of having a C-section(he is overdue by 8 days already) that is why he comes out on the 18 which is the day of my scheduled OR.

  • http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com Patricia Sands

    “Healthy baby = winning.” Say. No. More. You know what is right for you and your baby and that’s all that counts.

  • Valarie

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda…blah, blah, blah. I started out all natural, midwife, homeopathic, yadda, yadda, yadda. Ended up with an emergency c-section for reasons similiar to yours. And he didn’t breathe when he came out…a little resuscitation needed. 19 years later he is 6’1″, and healthy. So am I! And we are both alive. WINNING…

    Yes, yes, out bodies have been doing this for thousands of years. This is true. But mothers and babies DIED…at birth, in childbed, because they didn’t have the interventions we have now. The mortality rate was high.

    I’ll take my son’s birth the way it happened.

    Godspeed Christine…all will be well. Looking forward to your post about your baby girl.

  • http://www.sarahsomewhere.com Sarah

    Oh people can suck, especially us women. TOTALLY different, but my boyfriend is trying to quit smoking using medication and people are writing and telling him to go cold turkey. What the?! He would if he could! Wishing you and bub all the best, and seriously, what other heavily pregnant woman could be forming honest, intelligent prose like this?! Who?! You :)

  • http://Onourownpath.com Bessie

    So glad you wrote this post, for you and for people like you, that end up in situations they don’t expect or that they hadn’t planned for. Whether child birth or elsewhere in life, there are often these scenarios of unsolicited advice and having to stay true to what we know, and screw you to the people that think they know better than us.

    There should be an acronym for “I know you mean well, but you just crossed a line, leave me alone.” IKUMWBUJCALLME. Haa, says call me.

  • http://twitter.com/camorose/status/304601176161275905/ @camorose

    Reading: The Birth Culture http://t.co/6b8JZRN3Y0 via @almostfearless

  • Dave

    Great post, as a soon to be 1st time Dad I’m really protective of my wife, particularly when it comes to other people making judgements or criticising choices/behaviour about pregnancy or childbirth (whether thats who your doctor is to method of delivery). We hope to have a natural birth but have discussed it and if Mum or Bubs health or wellbeing is at risk, wouldn’t hesitate to have a C-Section. I have seen her go through enough over the past 35 weeks & just hate the idea of anonymous or thoughless comments upsetting her or increasing her stress for no good reason. All the best!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Congrats and good luck with your baby! :)

  • Kat

    Three cheers! I agree completely. I am six months pregnant and unfortunately am in the thick of this birth culture you speak of- southern California. Egads! What?! you dont have a doula? You plan on a *shudder* hospital birth? What?! you bought a crib?! heads shaking… I have had to just steel myself to all the criticism because I frankly am not interested in a natural birth experience. The worst pain of my life is something I would gladly do without. Is that so crazy? Yes, I believe I could do it- but I just don’t want to- why would I? Modern medicine is a benefit of our society and I don’t see a logical reason to say ‘no thanks’ at the most critical medical moment of my life so far. Im giving birth for my baby, not for some kind of personal enrichment (that is what world travel is for!). Anyway, thank you for this honest post. I will think of your words as I gladly ask the nurse for an epidural. And hope to teach my daughter from her first day that she too has “nothing to prove” and to follow her own path!

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      That’s one of the things that bothers me.. it’s should be about empowering women, but it’s often not. NCB is like running a marathon. Not everyone wants or needs to run a marathon and thank god for that. Sometimes you just want to get in your car and drive 26.2 miles to your destination and save your energy for other battles.

  • http://www.grammietravels.wordpress.com Vivian Murray

    Excellente’ post (that reminds me of Dora the Explorer and Diego being fun ways for kids to learn some Spanish) which reminds me how guilty I still feel when my daughter brings up how she had “morning-noon-night sickness” and I would suggest vitamins (which made her sicker) and other natural remedies (moms just want their kids to be OK, and sometimes grasp at anything just to make their ‘boo-boos’ better, even when their children are adults). While some of us mean well, it’s often best to just shut our mouths and keep our opinions to ourselves. Giving love and support up the yin-yang to the mom, who already has a lot on her plate, is the only way to express that you care. As Dame Julian of Norwich would say, “All shall be well.”

  • http://www.oursonnylife.com Chelsea

    I am so sorry that you had to cry tears of hurt at this time, that broke my heart. I had pre-eclampsia with all 3 of our boys, so I understand the frustration of not being in control of your body. I know this birth will be perfect just like Cole’s was:) enjoy! xoxo, Chelsea

  • Sarah

    Good luck, Christine!

    I hope you and baby to be are both healthy and did whatever was best for the both of you. I know it’s hard to ignore other people’s opinions, so I’ll send my “just ignore them” energy your way. Thanks for writing, I get such a rise out of your blog.

  • Gini R

    And this post made me cry!
    Am I pregnant, too? haha

  • http://www.GreenEyeWire.com Heather

    I just wanted to say: I don’t care if you induce, cut this baby out or push this baby out of your Righteous Vag.

    Because I think you’re awesome no matter WHAT!

  • http://www.globalchitchat.com Lee Ann

    healthy baby is the best outcome. i’m sorry that made you cry Christine. I think most women’s intention in sharing their opinion is well-meaning but often skewed towards sharing their own birth experiences as the best option. I had an emergency c-section with my little girl in Singapore. I didn’t really give thought to ‘losing’ out on the birth experience at the time. Mainly because the priority was my little girl arriving safe and healthy. I was actually proud of myself that i went through major surgery to make that happen. Of course, if i’m lucky enough to have number 2 (it took me 5 long years to get preggers with no 1), i’d love to do it au natural, but either way, i know i’m going to do what’s best for baby and my body.
    it wasn’t until i was visiting bali a few months back and i was chatting with another mummy (she’s french, i’m british) who had a boy the same age as my daughter and she asked about my birth. Not used to discussing it, I mentioned that i had an emergency c-section and she quickly looked at my daughter with a ‘poor thing’ glance and said to me ‘but she looks so normal’. that really made me laugh …

  • http://www.GreenEyeWire.com Heather

    You know. A few years ago, I had a brain scan to determine what meds to take for depression. I get told all the time that I should “Get off the meds, meds are bad, etc etc.”

    And truth be told, I was once that way as well. I was very anti-meds. But after having my life change so much for the better, I don’t care if I have to be on meds the rest of my life. Because I *feel* so completely better.

    I’ve never had a kid. Probably never will. But I can understand the frustration of well-meaning people trying to force you into believing that “natural is best” when you just don’t want to deal with it.

    Do what you need to do. And don’t feel bad about it.

  • http://www.ecotravellerguide.com Linda @EcoTraveller

    God, it drives me insane how judgey other people are when it comes to giving birth. The best ones are the ones who’ve never even had a baby. The US does sound bad, but here in Australia they verge on being fundamental with their pregnancy rules and regulations… and woe betide the women who doesn’t breast fed for at least a year! I swear, even complete strangers feel they can comment. I almost palm-faced a probably lovely elderly Greek woman one day when she said I shouldn’t be out having coffee with my 4 week old baby! Your body, your baby, your rules. Best of luck with it all :)

  • Maggie

    So it seems like everything in these comments relates to these choices as if they are equal but there is science involved here. The science is that babies benefit from passing through the birth canal. Similarly, they benefit from having mothers go into labor rather than being scheduled because that means they spent every possible moment in the womb developing. No question, there is a lot of stupid advice out there and herbs are NOT part of the science. But don’t dismiss an entire body of research which is working toward having the healthiest mother and baby possible just because you have some friends who are not that helpful.

    The story you tell about the birth that you have never been able to have is all too common in the US. And while some of these cases are unavoidable, some are completely avoidable and often the patient doesn’t know the difference because their providers are NOT giving them complete information. Whatever birth you choose to have is the RIGHT birth for you and it is yours and yours alone to be at peace with. But also be careful not confuse women who have had wonderful birth experiences and want to share the joy of that experience and the tools that got them there as being judgmental. If you have judgmental friends, ditch them for MANY reasons. But well-intentioned friends giving bad advice are a part of life, when it comes to childbirth (and our children in general) we are extra sensitive to it. I hope you get to have your VBAC because I hope you get to have the birth experience that YOU want to have with the best tools to do it (which means a supportive OB, a doula, a hospital or birth center that allows for that choice.) But that is only because it is an experience that you said YOU want to have, and it is possible for you. But if you don’t have it and you are ok, then everyone else needs to be ok, too.

    The empowerment part really does come from wanting mothers to know that they DO have options and some amount of control over this process. (And that some choices have science behind them.) Empowerment is choices. No one ever said that we wouldn’t be judged for the choices we make… it happens all the time. Breastfeed, don’t; work, don’t; homeschool, don’t. The birth is just the tip of that judgement iceburg… but real friends won’t judge, they will just be there to listen and support. And maybe give some bad advice from time to time…

    • http://www.almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Do you want women to make their own choices or just the choice you think they should? Reading your comment, I’m not so sure…

    • Maggie

      Hmm… your post said “VBAC is the best possible outcome” and that you would like to “avoid a c-section or induction.” I thought you meant that was your preferred choice. I don’t really have a choice I want you to make. But you can dismiss my comments if they aren’t helpful. I wasn’t trying to judge, just trying to offer up if thats what you want then I hope that is what happens for you. Evidence backs you up. But if I misread and thats not what you want, thats no one else’s concern! I hope you have the experience you want if at all possible, healthy baby and healthy mama is of course the most important outcome, but if you get to have the birth you want then all the better.

  • http://aspiring2b.me Samirah Tamimi

    We’ve got your back Christine. Roaring with you! The healthy baby, healthy mommy method gets my vote. Everything else is background once you’re holding your precious one.

  • Tim Newsome

    Live your life your way. You’re doing great.
    I enjoy reading about your travels, but you really shine when tackling social issues like this one.
    Best of luck with the delivery.

  • http://thisopenroad.wordpress.com/ Robyn

    Non-mama chiming in. I often tell my mom friends they are the bravest people I know. Anyone who gives birth is an absolute goddess imo. I read this post a few days ago and it has stayed with me… I’ve watched most of my gal friends navigate the birth/home-school-or-not culture and oh man. As if being a mama isn’t hard enough, then there is the am-I-doing-it-right and everybody giving their opinion. This is a good conversation for the non-mom friends to hear. There’s no way to understand completely what it’s like to be a parent if you’re not one, but it’s important for us on the non-parenting side to at least try to get a sense of the challenges our mom friends face. Thanks to all who posted for offering your insight.

  • http://www.seeknewtravel.com Kit Whelan

    I just finished reading Jessica Valenti great book “Why Have Kids?” and there are so many stories like this in there it makes me angry enough to never want kids. I finished it last night and there were at least 15 times I wanted to throw my Kindle at these well-meaning folks’ heads! Because I don’t think they’re that well-meaning… they just want you to validate the choice they made.

    You rock on with your level-headedness Christine! :)

  • Taryn

    In my naive childless way (surely I can’t be a real woman :P) I can’t help but think all this obsession about childbirth sounds a lot like the sort of women who obsess about the wedding more than whether the marriage will work.

    At the end of the day, if you and your child are healthy and safe, screw anyone else and their opinions, it’s got nothing to do with them. The problem with people is that those who know little like to talk as though they know a lot, and the more level headed, knowledgable and logical people stay silent most of the time.

    It’s easy to see a way out of a maze when you are high above it, but when you are standing in the middle all you’ll see is the high hedges. You’ll be fine xox

  • http://www.discovershareinspire.com Rachel Denning

    I was one of those “fear causes pain, trust your body, and you can have a beautiful, natural painless birth” dreamers. I had read all the books, and I tried to have that birth… four times I tried!! (And I do believe it is possible for some women to experience.)

    But for me, each and every time, it was painful, exhausting, and I cried… a lot. Each birth seemed to get worse (my last being the most difficult.) Maybe I was trying to hard. I always felt disappointed that I never had that ‘perfect’ birth. But I think I’m learning now that they were all perfect. I have four beautiful, healthy kids (actually five, the the first was adopted). If I could have made the birth experience any ‘better’, I would have… but ultimately, I only did what was in my power to do at the time. And that’s all each of us can do… just what is in our power to do when that inevitable, ‘you can’t back out of this now’ moment arrives.

    Blessings for your birth, however it goes!

  • http://mommywithavison@wordpress.com Kate

    The only important thing is healthy baby and healthy momma, how you get there is just part of the journey and to think you have all the control is misguided.
    I have had two c sections. Just happy to have healthy, alive babies. I didnt want a c section but I have to have them to have have alive babies. Without them I would have died during both of my births

  • http://dubaifishingtrip.com John Martin

    Proud Mama.. ^ _ ^

  • http://www.bodeswell.com Angela

    You are spot on–at least on what I experienced first hand in California for the first 4 years of my kid’s life. Then, we took off– and I can’t imagine going back! For the last 3.5 years we’ve been out of the country traveling and only have to answer the schooling questions. That isn’t nearly as invasive as the diaper/circumcision/cry-it-out unsolicited advice you seem to get back in the U.S.!

  • http://twitter.com/jcedens/status/309512931396177921/ @jcedens

    This is the smartest thing I’ve ever read about American parenting. “The Birth Culture:” http://t.co/h3nKp0p5Pe

  • http://www.insidethetravellab.com Abi

    Oh, the kind of grief that you’re getting over this makes me so, SO angry.

    I’ll take the natural vs er non-natural “debate” seriously when I hear it applied to people other than women trying to do the best for the birth of their children. So, when we routinely criticise someone for

    - taking antibiotics so that they don’t die from septicaemia after getting a cut while gardening (Death = nature’s way)
    -using glaucoma drops to stop from going blind (blind = nature’s way)
    - having surgery rather than never walking again after breaking their ankle on a nature walk (permanent disability = nature’s way)
    - and so on and so on and so on

    In fact, why stop there! Why not lambast the fashion industry and heating industry because it’s not natural for us to wear clothes and have central heating!

    Pff.

    Nature isn’t good or bad it just is what it is. And we, some of us, are lucky enough that we can get to choose to change what happens sometimes.

    And when women choose not to die and not to let their children die in pursuit of a “natural” childbirth when an alternative is offered, the choice to live is, well, natural, isn’t it?!

  • Stephanie

    I’m brand new to your blog. Your family is very inspiring! My husband and I are actually considering taking this leap ourselves – leaving our desk jobs to pursue… something different. Anyway I happened upon this blog entry – and I can’t agree more with your assessment of people’s unsolicited advice on parenting.

    I had a similar experience just yesterday. I went to see my doctor to make sure I didn’t need antibiotics for a cough + congestion. During small-talk he finds out that my son (9 1/2 months) wakes up at midnight to nurse, then sleeps until morning. He proceeds to tell me that my son is supposed to be sleeping all through the night, and that I must not be teaching my son to self-sooth and that we should let him cry-it-out at night. As if there was no other choice in the matter.

    My husband and I have chosen to not use the cry-it-out method of sleep parenting for our son. We don’t begrudge any parent who chooses to do that, we have just decided it is not for us. I held back my words defending our decision – it wasn’t worth getting into a parenting discussion. It just made me feel so angry and sad.

    What I wish would have happened was: he told me, no antibiotics (yay!?), then congratulated me on my awesome little guy, then asked to see pictures. That would have left me feeling better despite still having my cough + congestion. Oh well.

  • http://yamkantravel.blogspot.com Dee

    Parenthood is a gift to humans. A baby is a precious thing and it is sometimes scary to think of caring for something that is so tiny, helpless, and fragile. I keep questioning myself when I will ever be ready for it, but I think the mommy instincts just kick in! I know of many people who never wanted to be moms and they aren’t doing a bad job at it.

    BTW, I just started a travel blog a few days ago – http://yamkantravel.blogspot.com/ . If you get the time, do take the time to visit and leave your feedback/suggestions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/itcheefeet Itchee Feet

    Great Piece. I’m the same. 2 c-sections… It shits me when the “I have given birth naturally in a salt water pool with a pod of dolphins” wave it around like a badge of honour. Where’s the bonds of sisterhood? Both my births were wonderful because my sons were/are gorgeous and healthy. But especially the 2nd birth because I was prepared for it (elective). It was joyous and profound, and no one can take that away from me.