Be True to Yourself– no matter fucking what.

30 06 2011

Trolls People have tried to warn me about my strong personality somehow getting in the way of my goals as an author. Like, what, I’m supposed to deliver some watered down version of myself because I’m trying to be “marketable”? Think again. No, that’s just what they’d like because it would make their jobs of trolling easier if they can stifle any of the strong voices.  Sure I want to sell books, but I’m still in favor of being upfront about who the fuck I am. I’m not hiding behind personas like WeepyDog/MJones25/RedShoes/dadawalk/teenage cancer patient/”Lauren”/”Elizabeth Ann”. [names edited to protect the guilty.]

They call it being “professional”.

Ron Burgundy: Big deal. I am very professional.

I’ve had jobs before that required me to be as such, and I have also had to represent myself in such a manner out in the real world. I’m told I’m pretty good at it. In person, I’ve been called regal or even snobby. I have an air I guess of being or feeling somehow above things, is how I take it. Sometimes it’s advantageous (“professional”), sometimes not (“personable”). There is a time and a place for being professional, and it doesn’t necessarily mean not ever standing up against attacks, falsehoods, or criticisms. I guess I have a certain amount of casual professionalism on Facebook. I want our fan page for the book to be comfortable and welcoming for people genuinely interested in the topics discussed in the book. (We even have a new discussions section– check it out.)

But, there is a place for total honesty, where I don’t have to hold my tongue quite as much– this blog. I’m not made of stone, and I’m not a robot. This is MY space.

Being yourself and saying what you have to say, and doing what you have to do, is what brought me here in the first place– to authorship, to natural childbirth advocacy, to unassisted childbirth. While I want my message to be accessible,  I am not in the business of making friends. The truth is often alienating! I’ve never been even close to a good salesperson. It feels too dirty. I don’t like the idea of “selling myself”. I don’t do what I’m told, and I don’t smile on command. I’ve tried in the past but I’m just not extroverted enough to swing it. I’m better at just being me. That’s all I have to offer, and that’s all that I can do, and I’m sure that will be good enough for and championed by the people who need me most in the world. It is them who I hope to serve.

I am in the business of telling you what I see with my own eyes. I see a lot of people regurgitating nonsense and re-feeding it to one another (ew), and I am not interested in joining a club or a clique where I am expected to roll with a pack mentality. Either you like me or you don’t. If you don’t like me, I think you’re probably a prejudiced asshole. To truly know me IS to love me, unless you’re against all that is holy and good.

But in seriousness, UC is a controversial subject. I expect to offend people, especially people who go around looking to be offended, of which there are plenty. Likewise there are also people who are looking to offend, although I am not trying to offend anyone intentionally.

Now you’d be right in saying that some of THE largest UC proponents are religious and that perhaps I am alienating my religious base whenever I say anything freethinking, liberal, or anti-religious. Well, I can’t really help that. The close-minded ones can move right along, and the open-minded ones can either take from me just the birthing aspects of our dialogue to get something out of our time together, OR they may even open their minds to hear my thoughts and learn something new or find a common ground with me.

This post seems a little defensive, maybe. Maybe it seems a little mad. Good. It’s a reflection of how I feel. It’s how I respond to a sometimes hostile environment. Other people are so busy trying to be “professional”. Trying to be “civil”. They ignore antagonism. I only will up to a certain point. I’m willing to get down. I can easily hold a grudge, I’ll ask you “what did you say?”, and I am not one to just “let go” or “turn the other cheek” over anything heated or confrontational.  No, I’m down! You want to get down? UC needs an angry voice. I’m willing to fight dirty if it means natural childbirth has a strong impassioned angry motherfucker at bat. Yeah, I’ll be that guy. Bring it. God knows the other side has plenty of angry and nasty bitches fighting on their own behalf. They’re counting on us to be meek, silent, professional.

So yeah, readers… It won’t be the first time or the last time you see me pissed off. Peace is at the core of most of our principles and beliefs as UCers, regardless of faith. Peace is our friend. It centers us. But you know what? This is me, this is who I am. And now you know that I’m a real person.

No matter what, by being true to yourself, you ultimately win. And since I’m not a total pragmatist, here’s your magical thinking for the day– good always conquers evil. And yes, it is accompanied by plenty of rainbows and dolphins and sunshine, if you have to fucking know.



No Ordering A La Carte on the Health Care Menu!

27 06 2011

Medicine and health is a business, of which we are all consumers. Yet medical professionals hold this god-like status in our society, and we are expected to heed and listen without question while forking over massive amounts of dough (don’t even get me started on health insurance in our nation… will not go there).  Seems like they’ve got a pretty good gig, no? I mean, sign me up! Someone will absolutely take my word for something or be berated into compliance while I get paid huge amounts of cash?

The only problem is, I don’t believe in hurting people. I guess you could say I have an… oath. Yes. I have this personal oath where I do not wish to inflict harm on others. Okay, I’ll admit, sometimes I would like to. But, I don’t. Like I told a recent commenter on the “Mommy Wars” post, I at the very least do not draw first blood. But I digress.

I think our health care providers, as smart and educated as they may be, need to come back down to earth a little. I think they need more humility. Maybe a bit more compassion for the patient. I think they need to realize that WE are the ones in power, WE have the say, and WE get to choose what does and doesn’t happen to our bodies. Or, we should, if we were truly free, which I have my doubts about.

It is not wanting to be ordered around and subjected to unnecessary things or things which we do not agree with which has driven so many women to unassisted childbirth AND unassisted pregnancy (the latter of which I am almost forced into considering for my next one, due to the circumstances– see my book).

If I had my way, I would say no to certain tests and yes to others in pregnancy without anyone batting an eye. I would say no to vaginal exams unless I felt it might be worth it– maybe once to check it out, or if we suspect anything unusual. I would say yes to please keep giving me prenatal care on my terms, but no to tending me during labor and delivery (hands off, please). I would say yes to checking out me and baby post-delivery and giving me your expert opinion on our state, while cleaning us up and caring for us in any way we may need. Instead, I have to take all or nothing. It’s their way or the highway. Doesn’t that seem a little backwards to you?

Sometimes I feel this is just the legality of situations, be they in-hospital or at-home, docs or midwives. Sometimes I feel they could be on our side, fudge it a little, vouch for us, look out for us, give us what we want, what we need… but they don’t. In that case, it’s either they’re too comfortable and don’t want to rock the boat for us, or it’s that they truly believe in everything they are doing and have been doing, more so than they care about or believe in the wants and needs of the woman.

Naturally across the board (not just for pregnancy and birth), I think health care should be a la carte, like a menu. I drive down the road in my region and see a big billboard that reads the name of the hospital, and adds “Now doing heart transplants!” (or something along those lines) I find it humorous, but in a cynical way. Is this something we are shopping around for? Is this elective now? It’s just the way it is phrased, mind you, that troubles me (I otherwise *get* it)… by taking something emergency-natured and making it sound like an option or a choice, like buying a new car. So we have this, and we have elective c-sections, and we have plastic surgery. These are the types of things on the “menu”? And they’ll willingly fill your plate.

Under the care of these health standards, if drugs were calories, we’d all need heart transplants. (Hell, if drugs were drugs, we’d all need heart transplants, I suppose! *Lawl*) Either way, whatever literal or analogical, the health care industry sees dollar signs… some doubly so. All you have to do is show up.

What I’m asking for are a bunch of sides on this health care menu. This is flat out denied, or strongly discouraged, depending on what day you go in, which location you select, and which “waiter” you receive. I want to pick and choose what I need and what is done to or for me– what I “eat”, or consume.  As a consumer of their services, we are being told we have to take the whole meal cooked their way or leave. They obviously don’t care if we’re going hungry, they just want to tell us what to eat. And, they believe they are going to get our money anyway, one way or another. I’ve found the loophole–  I’ll stay at home. In fact, I can thank them for their attitudes in a way– if they had all been more accommodating, I may still be laboring with the pros instead of understanding truths about the human need to be alone in labor. So I guess in their own way, they’ve done me (and you?) a favor in that department.

So, thank you medical professionals, for your stringent rules and sometimes condescension. I am a better woman because of you. Everything I needed, I already got. It’s at home. I’ll come to you if I’m still hungry… that is, if you don’t close your doors to me.

PS– this is my video as seen on another blog post I did recently. I’m posting it in case you missed it, because I discuss the independence of assessing your own condition and the importance of weighing and considering everything to make a choice, rather than letting the medical establishment make choices FOR you.


Song Saturdays- Drive, Penitentiary Philosophy

25 06 2011

So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine and hold my own and drive?
It’s driven me before
And it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around
But lately I’m beginning to find that
When I drive myself my light is found

Girl Power on this one.

Here’s my philosophy:  we’re living in a penitentiary.  You can’t win when your will is weak, when you’re knocked on the ground. Oh why, world, why world, do you want me to be so mad? Evil, don’t you test me. Evil, you won’t win.

Why Unassisted Birth is NOT “The Secret”

23 06 2011

Trust Birth. Listen to your intuition. Your body knows how to do this. These are the kinds of beliefs that get me labeled as “quackery” on Amazon.

It’s true that generally speaking, these ARE concepts I believe in and uphold. But, what falls on deaf ears of my critics is when I try to explain that this is not in exclusion to intellect, reality, or practical logic. And while I do believe you could wish upon a star and have your dream come true, or even use the power of your will to manifest your hopes into reality, I do not tell my readers that this is the only thing they have to do and it will all work out totally according to plan.  This is why manifesting your reality a la “The Secret” (The “Law of Attraction”) is not foolproof:

1) People who buy into these beliefs lose touch with reality – and as we know, reality bites. More to the point reality will bite you hard and deep if you just ignore her – and she has big teeth, and you bleed real blood. Period.

2) We live in a world where multiple factors influence the course of our lives: sociopolitical, economic, genetic, psychological – and those gosh-darned other people who intersect with our trajectories, each with their own goals, agendas, biases and intentions that they are seeking to “manifest” as well, right?

3) The big problem of blaming the victim. A unintentional side effect of magical thinking is that it creates the bizarrely inaccurate, psychologically damaging and spiritually un-compassionate perception that victims of oppression, violent crime, poverty, incest, catastrophic illness etc are entirely to blame for their own plight, because they have at some level “created this reality” through the “power of their intention” and the “Law of Attraction.”

via Blood On The Hands of “The Secret” | elephant journal.

This was taken from an article posted today which detailed how one of the people behind the film based off the book The Secret is now being held accountable for the deaths of people who spent a lot of money under his care, taking his advice.  While I’ve been called dangerous or a baby killer for my beliefs by some very misguided individuals, believing in Unassisted Birth is nothing like The Secret.

It doesn’t require you to not think or prepare. In fact, I advise that everyone read and research and plan. I think knowing as much as possible is vital to deprogramming yourself from society’s insane mental conditioning and for gaining the confidence necessary to perform the task at hand. Where people may get lost is when I say things like “it’s surprisingly simple”, “you need a lot less than you think”, “don’t dwell on the negative”, “believe in yourself– almost anyone can do this”. It is true that I think you can know not a thing and be totally unprepared and still have an unassisted birth. This happens every day and has happened since well before the printing press, on into the dawn of Man. Birth will just happen, so needing surprisingly little is also the truth. Not dwelling on the negative means not worrying about every possible little outcome that could result; be aware, be practical, but don’t expect bad stuff to happen, and if something springs up on you, don’t flip out. Plan for the worst and then put it completely out of your mind. These pieces of advice have little to do with The Secret and more to do with keeping a situation calm and all parties clear-headed and capable in any scenario. “Clearing your mind” scares people. They think of amnesia, or forgetfulness, or unlearning. What it really is more akin to is meditation. When minds and bodies are relaxed and calm, you’ll find that a) very little goes wrong in a birth and b) the people involved are able to take it on better. Simple, practical.

A quote from the Buddha that is true, and yet open to misinterpretation by many.

It does not revolve around manifesting your reality. I fully acknowledge that separate energies, entities, lives, and incidents intersect with one another and that even the best laid plans can go awry. In her book Unassisted Childbirth, author Laura Shanley does speak highly of manifesting your reality and seems to believe very strongly in it. As smart as she is and as much as I respect her, I do feel she gives too much credit to this way of thinking. If you read the story of her child who passed away after an unassisted birth, it becomes clear to the reader that even the author herself was not in complete mastery of the skill of manifesting our realities. While I do give some credit to the thought that we can use our beliefs and minds to shape the world around us, I don’t believe that we are each a singular God capable of executing our will on a whim. There are too many of us around with opposing wants and needs for this to make sense.  I do, however, feel that panic breeds more tension and panic and chaos, while calm and positive anticipation breeds relaxation and calm and good outcomes in general. There is some validity to actualizing through thinking in terms of “I can do this”, “Can I do this?”, and “I can’t do this.” On a spiritual level, I do think our wills and consciousness do have some say. Just how much exactly at any given moment, I cannot pretend to know.

It does not blame the victim. It is true that if you start off with little to no faith in yourself or your body in birth, bad things can happen. It is true that both at home and in hospital, being fearful can create a series of events that winds up in needless interventions and birth traumas of all sorts. These would be explanations for events, not “blame”, per se. This isn’t just mystical, magical thinking– it’s biology and physiology, like Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s “white uterus” fight/flight descriptions. However, there is still room for forgiveness. If someone is relaxed and calm and doing everything within their power to create the best setup and still something goes wrong, no one is to blame. It’s not because they didn’t wish hard enough or have enough vision of their own fabricated reality. If something unforeseeable occurs, it is completely understood that this happens sometimes in life (both in the hospital attended and at home unattended). If we are unfortunate enough that losing a child may be inevitable regardless of birth method, there are those of us who would rather lose that child at home in our arms than hooked up to tubes in the hospital, separated by glass. Yes, we’ve thought that far ahead, and we accept these terms. So, we place blame where blame is due. If someone is harmful or negligent, they receive the blame. We don’t blame one another for being bad dreamers if a UC doesn’t quite work out perfectly.

So, listen. It is what it is. I do believe in magic, I do believe in the Universe, I do believe in mysticism and intuition and that this world is a very mysterious place. I believe we all have all the answers and at the same time, know next to nothing. This world is a paradox. I also believe in books, and reading, and science, and that all of these things are not mutually exclusive. Not everything is dualistic and at odds. There is a harmony at work here, and when we accept our place in nature and harness our own power in it, nature stops seeming like the cruel beast who just tosses us about carelessly and malevolently.  There may actually be a rhythm, an order, a plan. We start to realize that She is Us and We are Her, too. All of us, drops in the same ocean. We do have say and control, but maybe not the full say or total control 100% of the time. That’s what I want my readers to know. It’s all about balance.

an end to suffering, Elizabeth

“Mommy Wars”?

22 06 2011

Most little girls dream one day of when they will become mothers. We get together with some of our other friends and play with dolls or play house. Then we grow up, and start having to face the realities and intricacies of what it means to become a responsible woman and mother.

Then, we sometimes witness many camps divide.

Let’s look at me, for example, for just a moment. I’m a loner. I keep to myself. As a child and teen I had my moments of being a dork as well as my moments of being popular. But, I got married and started a family young. I made that my life. Other friends went to college. Some stuck to the work force. Some decided to spend their 20’s partying. Different strokes. But, since I’ve been keeping so much to myself, I’ve more or less sheltered myself from the outside world in the best possible sense. I’ve been innocently unaware of something which is apparently pretty widespread– the concept of “mommy wars”.

Who knew that grown women would have pissing matches to compare one another against all mommies, in an effort to see who the best Mommy is? What kind of catty nonsense is that? Do you think Dads do that? (God, I hope not.)

This was lost on me, but then again, I’ve never been in a Mean Girls clique, or been fond of keeping a brood of female friends. I think part of what makes me not fit in anywhere and why I’m “so different’ from other females is I don’t feel the need to lean on other women for support or to feel good/better about me. I am a woman and a mother, with or without their validation.

I only recently found out about this Mommy Wars idea accidentally, through finding my way to my best birth. It was through that channel that I went down the rabbit hole into the internet cesspool and discovered that birth was measured, being “crunchy” was measured (a new term to me, as well), etc.

Then I discovered that some of the biggest people to bitch about Mommy Wars are perpetrators/instigators themselves. They talk incessantly of how unfair it is to be compared, all the while laughing at and ridiculing others for their choices. Go figure. Now I’ve even seen it in the realm of internet bullying. I told some friends recently that my high school experience had more maturity, and I wasn’t lying. What I left out is that it had more class, too.

The source of it all is insecurity. Even other women who do not knowingly partake in Mommy Wars have felt challenged by others who merely mention ways they are doing good for their families or themselves (like in birth). I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I promise you that if I am talking about how I’m doing and how great it is, it is not to make you feel bad about your own life.  Likewise, when I share the down moments in life, I hope it doesn’t make you feel superior. Make choices that make you honestly proud and then others won’t be able to shake your faith in yourself!

I never feel insecure about how “crunchy” or “uncrunchy” I am, because I never made anyone feel bad about it on purpose, and I never felt anyone had done this to me, either. I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve never become an active member of a playdate group? So yeah, I cloth diaper when I can. I give drug free, unassisted birth and advocate for going all natural. I also eat potato chips with my kids while they watch Spongebob. STFW? And you know, this is normal to me. I never stopped to question if this was normal to others “like me”, or if that even mattered. Which it doesn’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a contest and I’m not interested in a comparison. I’m only interested in doing the best I can for my family. I want me, you, and everyone to live life healthy and happy. That’s all I ever wanted, and even if the Mommy Grade you gave me in this Mommy War was an A+, I’d tell you to stick it up your ass look in the mirror before judging others. I give most people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing what they can for their families. Do yourself and everybody else a favor– do your best, let yourself off the hook, and then let everyone else off, too. (This is that forgiveness I keep talking about in the book!)

I’ll make every woman a deal– I won’t base my self worth as a mother around what I think you think of me if you do the same.

If we could do that for each other, we could be like we were when we were kids again, innocently playing dolls, being friends.

“… and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything!”

21 06 2011

When someone says, “My birth wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything!” I can’t help but think–

— because I would.

Usually their tale is one of imperfection (hey, isn’t that like us all!?), but the heavy note is that they survived and the baby was healthy. Is this why people wouldn’t change their births for anything? It’s as if they automatically assume that to change the birth, the outcome for baby would also change. But what if you could have changed your birth to make it better, and baby still would have been fine? Or finer? Would you change it then?

I’ve heard this sentiment quite a few times, from friends and enemies and strangers alike. From induced moms, c-section moms, moms who wished they could have gone natural but ended up with a plethora of interventions, etc.

There are so few situations which are so perfectly ideal that the mother would not change a thing. Even if you thought whatever happened was for the best. And let’s just for the sake of discussion put aside the “everything happens for a reason” reason (which truthfully I believe in, even if it sucks sometimes as a consolation). Honestly– who among us wouldn’t do something to change our births to make them better? If you tell me you were disappointed you had this or that happen, but you wouldn’t change it… well, refer to George (above).

Even my recent more “perfect birth” still had some setbacks which, looking back, I see plenty of ways in which I could allow myself a better birth. I may not have any real regrets, but I don’t feel bad about admitting how we can do better (next time?).

Note that I said a better birth. Not a better baby. Your birth is not your baby. Your birth is not your baby. Your birth is not your baby. Changing the birth does not mean you would change your baby. Wanting a more perfect birth experience for you does not mean it is all about you to the exclusion of the baby. What is good for you is more often than not what is good for the baby, so wanting birth to be the best and healthiest for you is not selfish.

I mean, let’s face it– most things in life (even very good things) have room for improvement. And it’s not ungrateful of you at all to want to look back on your experience and admit what you wished had been different. I think the desire to not live a life with regret and to look only joyfully on the birth of our children causes us to look the other way on issues that seriously deserve more attention.

So, I had three births, and if I could go back and change them each, I most definitely would. What would you change about your birth(s)?

Video Blog: “Why I Don’t Believe in the UC Elite”

20 06 2011

Women should really know what their options are in childbirth. All too often they will count themselves out for this or for that, because another woman discouraged them about it, or a doctor tried to dissuade them from it. There are often ulterior motives here at worst, or just gross misconceptions at best. I wanted to talk about it a little, particularly as it relates to UC. This also can be said of/translate to women who want merely a natural birth, a home birth, or a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). So, although the topic does center around unassisted birth, it has a much more universal appeal.

That sounds so silly to say. Does it get much more “universal” than unassisted? 🙂 Ask the universe.