*Disclaimer – this post is a rant about birth stories, parenting labels and how women can’t seem to live up to the expectations imposed on them when they become mothers. It is my point of view and is not intended to offend anyone. Comments are always welcome.
You guys know that I’m about as open-minded as they come when it comes to this whole parenting thing. Breastfeeding, cloth diapering, discipline…whatever. I truly don’t care what you do, and you shouldn’t care what I do. Period. End of story. Right?
I’m not a “natural mama,” I’m not an “attached parent,” or any of those labels (why do we have labels?), I’m just a parent; a regular old parent who does her own thing and hopes my kids turn out pretty good. I fumble through the motions of parenting most days, and I’m happy to plunk my butt down on the couch at the end of the day and give myself a big pat on the back for surviving the cyclone that tore through my house that day. It’s not pretty, in fact, it’s downright ugly. Sometimes, Ken and I have conversations at the end of the day that go something like this:
“When’s the last time Griffin had a bath?”
“I don’t know… did you feed the dog?”
“uh… I thought you did… Did you have anything to eat?”
“Nope, I’ll get something later. I think I should mow the grass right now”
“Don’t worry about it…want to order some donairs?”
Yes, this really happens. A lot. It’s reality. It’s what we signed up for. It won’t always be like this, but right now it is.
So, I read this article the other day because the title grabbed me – How I Gave Birth In My Backyard, it really sent my brain into overdrive. It was fascinating. It was fascinating in the WTF? sense. I found myself feeling many different emotions as I read through, from “seriously?” to “OMG” back to “seriously?” In the end, this article (it’s actually a celebrity blog post) made me feel a little, um…inadequate.
See, birth stories are extra trendy these days. Women have been sharing their stories with each other for ever, but now, with blogging, internet and magazines, we’re just hearing them more. Everyone’s got one, and for some reason, we feel like we need to have the best one, be it the most difficult or longest labour known to mankind, or the most beautiful, natural birth in the history of the planet. Are we, as women, really in such desperate need to be loved and admired, that we now need to have an awesome birth story? Do we need to be the best at something, even if that something is giving birth??
As a member of the blogging world, I stumble upon many, many parenting/mommy blogs. Literally, there are millions. They run the gamut, from the “Martha Stewart” types to the “Slacker Mom” types, all fighting to be the best, the most unique (of course). Blogging is an outlet; I understand that. I actually love reading most of them. But I don’t love reading other women’s birth stories, and here’s why.
There are a lot of women on the earth. And a lot of them end up having babies. The whole childbirth thing has been going on for a pretty long time, it’s nothing new. The science behind creating a baby is fascinating. Yes, it is a miracle (although I kinda hate that word), and delivering a baby into the world is something that deserves celebration. It’s a lot of work for Mommy to get that baby out, and it’s stressful for her partner standing beside her.
It is not a spectator sport, and it’s not a competition.
That’s why paragraphs like this drive me crazy (full article here):
Soon I was sitting in a blow-up kiddie swimming pool in my backyard with my midwives, family, and friends gathered around. My dear husband was in the pool with me, encouraging me, telling me that I was powerful, capable and beautiful
Really? During both of my deliveries, my dear husband was hoping I didn’t break his hand and punch him in the face. He certainly was encouraging… he was encouraging me NOT to hurt him and to stop screaming profanities at the nurses. Midwives? Family? Friend gathered around? I think not. That room looked like a murder scene by the time I was done. I looked like I had been hit by a truck. Who wants to come watch? Anyone? Anyone??
Then there’s this gem from the same article:
While my daughters’ births were very different — Rumi was born in 14 hours under a jasmine vine, while Indi was born in four hours under a honeysuckle bush — each was a truly magical experience. I brought my girls out of my body and into nature, and I hope this early experience inspires them to remember their ties to the earth.
My poor kids were born under florescent lights and sterile conditions of a hospital room – boo hoo. I’m sure they won’t grow up feeling traumatized that I didn’t bring in a honeysuckle bush for the occasion.
So what’s my point?
My point is that women have to stop writing things like this, because us “normal” people can’t keep up. It’s hard enough just making it through the day; we don’t need to worry about if we’re doing it right, or if we’re doing it good enough. It’s not a competition, whether this was the intent of the article or not.
Plus, who really cares?
Reading about your beautiful, perfect childbirth just makes me feel like mine weren’t. I know that bringing children in the world is pretty awesome. It’s not pretty, but the end result is pretty cool – you made a person. But deep down, waaaaay down, there’s part of me that wonders, could I (should I) have done it differently? Did I do it well enough?
I have a good friend who sent me this article recently. It’s me. It was her too. Should we feel guilty about feeling the same way as this author? (This is a very good article, whether you agree with the author or not)
Thoughts? Why do we feel like we need to stand out, or be the best at the whole childbirth thing?