Guilt— could anything be more damaging to the human psyche? Wise men and philosophers believe it is a useless emotion. Most of us claim to choose lives free from regret and fear. But, what do you do when the most precious thing in the world is gone, and you blame yourself?
Most of us will never know unless it happens to us.
As many of my readers are all too well-aware, there is a group of women out there who have many names who are at odds with natural birth in a serious and malicious way. I tend to call people by the names they first introduce themselves to me, so I call them Trolls. The trolls are made up of many, many women and their common bond is a hate and ridicule for women in the natural childbirth community. This comes in varying degrees as many of the women have had natural births themselves. However, the activities they partake in are the same. They are host and member to at least dozens of angry and mock sites on Facebook, blogs, and forums. This is all in the name of birth safety if you ask them, but when I watch them make fun of other people, their births, and their babies, it becomes clear that this is not all about keeping people safe… it’s about feeling okay with themselves.
Why does anyone ever make fun of anyone else? To feel better about themselves.
Why does anyone ever lash out at another for their opinions? To feel more right about their own.
Why does anyone ever gang up on someone, bully, or threaten them? To feel stronger about themselves.
And just like in school, you can guarantee that whenever a group of people get together to talk shit about somebody else, it’s to say to each other, “We’re okay for not being like that. In fact, we are better.” The word they use often, sanctimommy, is ridiculous to me… and no where is it more fitting than on those whose mouths and fingers it comes from.
But there’s something deeper going on here. Why are they so angry, and why do they need so desperately to feel better about themselves? Like most serious bullies, the lashing out comes from another pain they are dealing with (or running from).
Some of the so-called trolls are suffering from the loss of a child. This seems to give weight to their voice, and they are instantly influential and respected amongst those who listen. I listen to loss stories and I see their pictures and yes, I’ve cried. Who hasn’t? The worst part, for me, are the parts where they admit that they knew something wasn’t right but they did nothing. You know all that intuition you’re always telling people not to use? This was the time to use it. Hindsight is 20/20 and I would not be so heartless as to point this out if it weren’t for the fact that the trolls go after every single NCBer they come across like they are the enemy, but if you ask too many questions or give a differing view, you are automatically chastised and demeaned to be some horrible person. “You have no clue what you are talking about. She lost her baby.” “How dare you argue with her! She’s lost a baby, didn’t you know!” As if that explains anyone’s rightness in a discussion? Women who we already sympathize with, we are now expected to never contradict ever, even when they may be wrong or hurtful towards others, because to do so would be the height of insensitivity and equal to “spitting on her dead baby”. Today, one of the trolls in a Facebook discussion even said that life wasn’t fair, because if it were, one person who had shared a different opinion would be the one with a dead baby.
Most of us agreed this is not something we would wish even on our worst enemy, nevermind someone with a different view.
This is what I mean about guilt, and blame. If you don’t get the healing you need to keep living healthily, if you surround yourself with people who are also in pain and lashing out for whatever reason, you become destructive. Guilt is a destroyer. It’s a vicious cycle, with the same people feeding each other the emotions it takes to keep mocking, keep attacking, keep blaming. One of the loss moms keeps blaming me for a baby death that occurred back in Spring. The mother she had referenced, by the way, had never even spoken to me for advice. Every time I bring this up after being accused, it goes uncorrected, unchecked, and people go on as if I had never said it. For me, this casts doubt on every other label they are more than likely wrongly placing on others, just for the sake of being sensational. How can that be credible, or taken seriously? Like the boy who cried wolf, “Baby Killer” seems to be the favorite cry of those suffering intense rage/guilt, and although I feel for them in their time of pain, I and others attacked are not deserving of such negative attention.
I’m trying to save babies, I promise. If more people would listen to their instincts, more babies would survive. I don’t know about you, but if I suspect that something is wrong with my labor or my baby, I’m in the hospital or getting a second opinion, regardless of what my medical professional is telling me. That’s what autonomy is about, that’s what free will and choice is about, that’s what self-education is about, and that’s what instinct is about. No one is perfect, and even someone like me who feels confident about natural birth could one day meet with wrong choices, or tragedy. I’m aware of that. This is why I am not critical of people who make mistakes or experience tragedy. It’s also not my place to tell people where I think they erred. However, the time has come to shed light on this sensitive topic, because it’s getting out of hand. It’s people who only seek to shift blame in dramatic and hurtful ways that need to be spoken to about accountability.
Everyone keeps dodging that bullet, though, because it makes them feel bad and they get called out for it. Well, the time has come to be a little more open and honest about what guilt has wrought, because it ain’t pretty. I am not the bad guy, the evil midwife, and I’m not even sure the midwives are the evil midwives, to be honest. Mommy bloggers are not your midwives, and water birthers, homebirthers, and UCers are not crazy, dangerous people just killing babies left and right. It just isn’t true. This comes from deep places of insecurity and self-hate.
So, prepare yourselves, because I’m “going there”, but only because it needs to be said finally.
I’ve heard time and time again how not only the mother, but other witnesses present in loss stories knew something was wrong, and did nothing. I have asked some people point blank why they didn’t enter the hospital when they and others felt very deeply that there was a problem, and I receive no responses. Still, the common trait of these loss stories seems to be that “my midwife KILLED my baby”. Or, it might just be that your midwife, despite all her training, had an error in human judgment, as did all other adults involved. Sometimes this includes husbands, friends, doulas, paramedics… all participants, all with a voice, but none held accountable for their own choices and actions when the tragedy strikes. Only one fall guy, one scapegoat… that seems to be the midwife. I suspect that people know their role in this, and it eats them up inside, and that in order to simply get out of bed in the morning, they need a new target for their rage and their grief. This becomes the midwife, and natural birth, and anything or anyone else that seems somehow opposed to them. The alternative would be acceptance and healing, or one’s own demise. So, enter Bully & Mob mentality, and harassing absolute strangers on the internet as if it were a full time job.
I’d say “whatever helps you sleep at night…”, but a) I still don’t think such people are very happy with this way of existing. It is not healing them, it is not making them better, it is not taking the pain away, saving anybody, and it is NOT bringing their baby back, and b) you cannot get your rocks off at the expense of hurting other innocent people. Your pain is not a free pass to be cruel and tormenting to other people, especially just on the basis of not seeing eye to eye.
Now before you say, “Damn, Elizabeth! Are you really blaming loss mothers for their loss?” No, that’s not it, and that’s not what I’m advocating. I’m not advocating blame. I’m advocating right accountability and responsibility. Human beings are human beings. Forgive each other, and forgive yourselves.
To be continued…