Confession of a Childbirth Heretic

I’m going to admit something that will make me look unprofessional as a doula, but it needs to be said. I guess you could say I’m in an odd mood because over the past few weeks, or maybe months, I’ve been seeing the future of our birth culture in a more cynical light. It just seems that no matter what I do, or what I hope to do, I can’t possibly make a dent in the childbirth problems our society faces. I know that is not true, because every woman I help no doubt is a good thing, but you see, that is part of the issue I have. Let me explain.

When someone who is in my care, or someone else who I know, begins to vary from the textbook description of pregnancy and birth, I get this overwhelming feeling of doom (for lack of a better word) in the pit of my stomach. Although I am able to hide it and continue providing care that my clients later reassure was just what they needed, the feeling of doom remains until the whole thing is over and I can look at it retrospectively. And what is that feeling of doom? It is anxiety, fear, hopelessness… that once the individual loses faith, or once her medical careprovider offers her an intervention that she accepts, that she is officially on the road to what natural childbirth activists call “the cascade of interventions”.

I realize that even the “worst case scenario” is not usually that bad, physically, and that even the worst of outcomes can usually be healed from. Yet I also know that birth does have a significant impact on many people’s hearts. Even those who will never give birth pass on a fear of birth to others who will bear children.

I feel like I lose hope at that point, when something is first suggested to be wrong. And I hope that it does not keep me from thinking objectively, but honestly, the only thing on my mind right then is to pull the plug on the whole deal. “Let’s just call it a day, we’ll all go home and try this again in the morning, shall we?”

Why do I reach that point? I should be asking, why do I get to that point so frequently, but in reality, I shouldn’t ever reach that point of hopelessness. “Every birth is different”, we say. Yet the system is still the same d*** system whether it be a black woman, white woman, short woman, tall woman, fat or skinny, healthy or sick, married or single or lesbian or child. I’ve just seen and heard too much! I can’t take it anymore!! I’m sick and tired of the same old bull, and I want to get past that doom and do something useful for once!

Is it fear that drives me here? Fear that women will all be treated as sick patients to be removed of their burdens? Fear that I won’t be able to stop something bad from happening? Or is it pride, that if they don’t give birth how they wanted (or how I believed they were able) that I’m somehow in the wrong? Or is it simply the hopelessness that the career I’ve got such a passion for is so stuck in a mire of s*** that I am in way over my head? I still don’t know.

Tonight, as I prepared to go to bed, I flipped the page on my daily calendar of friendship quotes, and tomorrow’s quote was from Isaiah 30:15 – “For the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, said, In quiet and rest is your salvation: peace and hope are your strength: but you would not have it so.” In another translation the same verse says: “This is what the Almighty LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. But you don’t want that.” After reading that I realized the obvious truth: there is no hope beyond God. I cannot make a noticeable difference unless I shut up, stop being fearful and proud, trust in God, and take it one step at a time. I can’t think objectivelly, in the moment, unless I’ve got a peaceful and quiet mind.

Why do I tell you all this? What good is it to you except to scare you away from me, which I may have done ;0) For a few reasons. 1) This is my blog and I need to express myself 2) I want to give you a better idea of where I am coming from, and perhaps your care provider as well, and 3) There will probably come a time in your life when you feel just as overwhelmed, maybe for the same reason, or maybe in your marriage, parenting, work, or personal passion like birth is to me. Whatever it is, I hope that my confession and realization of truth will encourage you and inspire you to take the bull by the horns.

Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.

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  1. Kimberly, thank you! I know it is true, but after putting so much time and energy into women’s lives, it does get discouraging when you don’t see more change.

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