No, Attachment Parenting Isn’t Some Evil Plot

7 04 2016

I saw this reddit-based propaganda piece written by a man (Jesse Singal) on the wicked, wicked ploy of evil people to guilt mothers into using attachment parenting methods in order to keep them locked away in their woman dungeons for all eternity. It is entitled “Is Attachment Parenting a Plot to Force Women Back Into the Home?”– lol. And who would know better than this man, and the infamous Dr. Amy?– otherwise known as “she who shall not be named” in internet mothering communities– because holy shit, if you say her name three times, like Beetlejuice (or Bloody Mary), she appears, along with her flying monkeys of Oz (her devotees), so badly so that modding internet mothering communities is a troll-infested nightmare. Not to digress too far, but let’s face it– Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and childbirth/motherhood has no shortage of women who are suffering (whether they know it or not) from PTSD and understandable accompanying rage which could be directed any which way by heady narcissists of the internet age. So, I started to respond to the piece and found my words quite lengthy, not at all appropriate for a tweet or even a series of tweets. Which brings us to this post.

(For those who don’t know, “attachment parenting” is just a fancy new way of labeling natural and instinctive mothering and parenting techniques, usually with the gentlest methods. It means picking up a baby when it cries, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, natural birthing, etc. There is nothing truly new or invented about it. And no two mothers do it exactly alike or even necessarily adhere to all of the components. Mothers often stay at home to fill this role. And make no mistake, language matters; naming these methods using only new buzzwords like “attachment parenting”  without further understanding is a clever psychological reversal that disguises the fact that woman is being separated from that which would have come naturally, to be replaced with reliance on “expert advice” to the contrary, stemming ultimately from patriarchal institutions. Creating doubt in a woman’s self and instincts is often packaged and sold to us as “equality”, and any feminist can attest to.)

Before I get into that, I just want to say that this is going to be just another case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for women. No matter what women choose, it will be vilified, in case any of you needed reminding. Nothing is woman enough or feminist enough, unless it comes from a man or his institution, of course (and then it’s job well done). And so, pitting woman against woman is a divide and conquer strategy from those who want women to forget how amazing and strong and worthy they are of love and also basic human rights, and who truly do have ultimate mothering and parenting authority in the natural world. It’s a way of keeping us perpetually down. Now on with my response.

Dr. T is a horrible person who rallies angry, traumatized women together to attack and troll women who do things differently and those who have lost children. There have been numerous private groups of hers and her followers, some of which you were actually forced to show your ID in order to be accepted (I am not joking), so the worst of the worst is not visible to the general public. The scathing violent tendencies, the plotting to destroy lives, etc. However, what IS published is typically bad enough. (Yes It Is Your Fault That Your Baby Died At Your Homebirth. — and she has the nerve to pontificate on “social control of a woman”?) And I know about these deeds because I was one of the tormented (my crime: planning an unassisted birth and talking about the subject of freebirth publicly with other women). My friends were other targets of hers (some of these include mothers of stillborn children. I can think of at least 4 of these women off the top of my head– I know them in part because our shared antagonism by this woman brought us together over the years). She also believes single mothers, lesbians, and mothers who leave an abusive spouse are selfish.

amy

 

Will the Real Dr. Amy Please Stand Up?

And attachment parenting is just parenting. It’s just natural, instinctive parenting. There is no plot. It’s just what happens when mothers prioritize mothering over other forms of modern existence, as much as is in their comfort level. Many are religious and traditional but many are feminist and radical.

If Dr. T is so keen on staying in the work force, why did she spend all that effort to go to medical school and barely practice herself as a doctor only to become a stay at home mom to her own children? Then she took up internet doctoring and was charging people for answers, and is now writing books demonizing women who choose natural mothering choices, despite the fact that she did barely practice and is out of practice in her profession by at least two decades?

How feminist is Dr. Tuteur?
She is using a lot of feminist-seeming arguments about women in the work force and the societal guilting of women in motherhood, but she laughs at phrases like ‘birth rape’, insists all Cesareans are good if not all completely necessary, and flat out denies the abuses women endure under current obstetric rule in childbirth today. In her views of modern medicine and specifically obstetrics, patriarchy is suspiciously absent. That women seemed traumatized by their hospital births seems to be something Amy is really confused about the existence of, having no comprehension of the connection between serious bodily injury, detachment from baby and hormonal flow, and psychological harm to the mother or child. Her two-dimensional understanding of childbirth sounds very masculine: ‘you got a healthy baby, and that’s all that matters, so what are you whining about, selfish women?’ In her book, Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting, one of her many stabs at midwives indicates that they are “merely replacing the patriarchy with the matriarchy”, outing herself as not actually very feminist, at all.

She also doesn’t believe in intuition or any concept of “women’s wisdom”, and thinks those are essentially myths. To my mind, this is woman-hating. In her world, the only true thing is listening to your doctor. And you’re only smart and worthy of being left alone if you do exactly what he or she says. Amy doesn’t see her own hypocrisy and instead decides it’s the open breastfeeders (for example) who sing the virtue of the practice who are doing the bad deeds, because these actions somehow shame other mothers who don’t breastfeed and this makes them feel bad. For all the bashing of the romanticization of primitive/natural living/parenting, her allegiance seems to be to technology as this infallible lifesaving thing, despite the fact that it frequently stands in direct opposition to the natural world and is in fact responsible for numerous atrocities, and void of the recognition that the rape of the natural world and of women and mothers is more aggressive and harmful than *women who make other women feelz bad by doing*. Most radical feminist will understand me when I say that “biophobia” is deeply patriarchal.

I’ve been dealing with her for years after being targeted, and from knowing her story and watching her strategize, I am aware that she projects her bitterness and regrets onto others to make a name for herself and feel better about her own choices, both professionally and personally, as a former doctor and as a mother. She is relentless and vicious. She has Google alerts plus voluntary scouts seeking out baby loss stories and she goes at mothers immediately fresh in grief with her minions, armchair diagnosing whether or not they “killed” their babies when tragedy strikes. She’s like Westboro Baptist for natural parenting, birth, and baby loss. ( <— this mother is a radical feminist btw. Imagine losing a baby and having some internet psycho “doctor” sic her hundreds or thousands of rabid fans after you to harass you and potentially dox or harm you and your family? All because she disagreed with how you gave birth, how you parent, and because she crowned herself the long distance expert in your child’s cause of death?) She and others have believed women like me shouldn’t be published, don’t have a right to voice our opinions or stories… I think we’ve all seen how no-platforming affects our freedoms as women. And when they can’t get women like me censored, they come en masse to try to hurt us in the reviews.

If I try to separate myself from what I know are her motives and try to focus just on the argument, I could see how aspects of attachment parenting CAN be used as a method of guilting women into staying at home.

That said, these parenting methods are not a fad, they are (many of them) primal and predate our modern conventions and senses of what now constitutes “normal”.

I’m tired of her representing Dick-Read as a eugenicist, too. I’ve READ Childbirth Without Fear, has she? I doubt dickreadJesse Singal has read it either while he allows her to defame the author, not that Singal cares or has any reason to care, has any close personal connection to its contents or why it matters. It’s a great book and has helped generations of women have painless natural childbirth, liberating them from sadistic medical cycles that were stopping women from even wanting children (like after I had my 2nd born). Grantly Dick-Read’s critique is on civilization. White “civilized” women have been convinced they are not animals, which is a lie which has caused them undue torment in childbirth. Other “less civilized” women were having more ease. The man toured the globe. He was a doctor who reported what he witnessed. If anything, it is more damning of racism and classism and Western civilization. But Amy will twist that to whatever suits her warped agenda.

Grantly Dick-Read admired women and spoke highly of them and wanted to see them freed from pain. His reverence was so poetic it brought tears to my eyes on repeated occasions. Amy speaks ill of women constantly and seems to find glee is personally causing them pain. Their contributions to the world in terms of pain and suffering and disdain versus liberation and honoring is starkly felt. Hearing their words is the difference between love and hate.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
I hesitate to embrace the message of Singal’s piece. Because even without the people Amy is trying to shit talk (which is like, 90% of her notoriety– gaining fame by attempting to defame others including some blatant lying on her part), these methods of parenting are instinctive and time honored. If modern women choose otherwise, fine. But Amy cares nothing for you, what she does is preys upon women’s feelings of pain, “mommy wars”, having felt guilted, inadequacy, the sense of being pit against each other unjustly, and uses it to her own personal advantage. She’s a really disturbed individual with more issues than Time, so taking anything she says seriously is a folly you choose at your own risk, and it’s anything but woman-loving. She doesn’t have scruples, she has personally invested grudges to legitimize the back story of her life to herself, the likes of which in its fullness may be a nut we never truly crack.

If only men and those who cater to male rule would stop interfering and let women do their work, in peace.





“Improving Birth” Concerns Include Midwifery Regulation

5 09 2013

The Improving Birth rallies started last year. I attended one then. I believe in the concept of “improving birth”, passionately. Some, like the wonderful Carla Hartley, will argue that birth itself is not something that needs improvement. That may be true, but the phrasing is not a sticking point for me. I think the idea is improving the current climate of birth, which is birth as we are presenting it to women. It is for this that I joined the rally last year and participated in my own special way this year. There are other sticking points for me, however. I’ll explain.

I was informed by a group of friends that Improving Birth had been involved in pushing for legislation regarding midwifery.

I do somewhat remember these events they say were somehow related to that goal, such as last year’s rally follow-ups: “write-in”, “walk in”, etc.– which actually inspired me to write letters I would never send to my former health care providers. (It was a good catharsis for me, and I didn’t feel it would be beneficial in my particular case to confront these people directly.) There was apparently some outcry within the community and no proof remained of this on the Improving Birth website. The website has gone through several changes since (in the past year), with no mention of any of this, and no official response. If you talk to anyone with Improving Birth, they maintain that there is no agenda regarding midwifery regulation.

Anyway, trying to further regulate (and thus, medicalize) birth alarms a lot of us interested in improving birth because legislation aimed towards midwifery has been harming women’s births. Specifically, my circle of friends linked Improving Birth with The Big Push for Midwives campaign, which they asserted did have to do directly with the cause of midwifery licensure. Now, I had no idea of any of these connections or goals within the organizations– it was all news to me.

A word on laws regarding birth. Why is midwifery legality such an issue? It removes choice. It varies state by state in terms of who women can hire for their births. This in turn affects what type of births women are “allowed”. In some states, homebirth midwifery is illegal. In other states, you have to have a very specific (medical) certification to legally practice as a midwife. In certain states, you can hire anyone as your midwife, regardless of their credentials or qualifications.

I brought up Improving Birth on my page in this thread, expressing my newfound reservations towards the movement. I didn’t want to outright connect Improving Birth with The Big Push or midwifery regulation– I had no proof. I hoped that others could offer their perspectives to shed light on the topic.

Truthfully, before my friends even alerted me to the connection possibly existing between those organizations mentioned, I felt wary. Something didn’t feel right.

signsThe rally of the previous year felt almost ineffective to me. I felt good making my signs and saying what was on my mind, standing on the sidewalk in front of a hospital… but I wondered, did this matter? Was I getting through? Cars watched us and passed. A local news reporter briefly came and spoke to us (it seemed like maybe a couple dozen of us were there). A story ran in the paper. We were all proud to be a part of this, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe other cities felt differently, with booths, and huge turnouts. Maybe this was a regional issue, I thought. I felt like we were just a bunch of nice ladies holding signs.

This year looked like it could be the same, or worse. Days before the event, they still didn’t have a location. It appeared that only something like 10 people had committed to attending the event.

Other things that irked me that year creeped up again this year as the rally approached.

The idea that “this is not a protest”. Why is that so important? If someone accidentally calls it a protest (and not a “rally”), we’re afraid of all being seen as militant? Is protesting something mean, naughty, or has it ever done some good in this world? Okay, maybe that’s just me.

The idea that midwives deserve all the love and it’s the bad OBs we are questioning. In my state (Florida) in particular, what midwives are “allowed” to do is highly regulated and under the watch of the state and the medical establishment. In essence, they play by the same rules. Midwives need to have relationships with doctors and hospitals– in case of transfer, they say. And transfer is very likely. Even when transfer does not occur, you are subjected to the many of the same birth routines and interventions as in a hospital. I chose midwives to escape medical trappings, and instead found myself in a new style of snare. I feel personally irresponsible suggesting to women that hiring a midwife would solve all her birth troubles. Yet, this philosophy seems like a large part of this movement.

“Know Your Rights” (a great, popular Improving Birth sign) doesn’t save you if your midwife is telling you they can no longer legally serve you if you don’t submit to XYZ. That’s about the law, rules and regulations, and care not based on scientific evidence nor humane childbirth rights. That’s not at all about respecting or being with woman.

The idea that our main dilemma is C-sections. I think the C-section is the ultimate intervention when we think of medical birth, that’s true. The numbers are outrageous. Many are unnecessary, that’s true. I’ve never had a c/s and I care, and I talk about this and how to avoid surgical birth all the time. Still, I get the strong sense that we are trying to tell women to merely avoid a c-section and their births will be better (and perhaps by merely hiring a midwife). There are other points women make on their signs about informed consent, or questioning their inductions, etc.– but I get the impression that this, too, is specifically to influence an avoidance of the dreaded C-section (and not as much because the induction in itself is unnecessary and harmful, for example).  These are just the impressions that I’m getting.

Now for the new things this year that gave me pause, even prior to hearing the supposed connection of Improving Birth and The Big Push.

signs

“… we are not advocating FOR or AGAINST any one thing…”

Signs should be from this pre-approved list. The same sign suggestions as last year were provided, only this time, there was an extra sense of “stick to the program”. It was discouraged to stray from this short list. This turned me off. Why?

One, I am highly driven by my own passion to speak for myself.
Two, I don’t like being told what to do (this is about Improving Birth… <<<this should make sense!).

Three, the signs they encourage you to use, while often empowering in nature, are vague. “Know Your Options” (doesn’t everyone think they do? I know I did. Wrong!). “VBAC” (Yay, vbac! What about it?). “Evidence Based Care!” (yes, we’re all for this… even doctors say they are. Do they know they’re not giving evidence based care? Do women know exactly how they aren’t receiving it?). “Birth Matters” (yes, yes it does. Who would argue that?). Most people walk away from that feeling not-offended (<goal achieved) and automatically supportive of and even a member of this movement. But, what has changed? You may have people on “your side”, but that’s easy to accomplish when you won’t choose sides.

The reason given by Improving Birth was that “our” message will be more heard if we aren’t all saying different things. They also didn’t want us to sound “angry”. What about my message? My message is part of our message. If birth needs so much improvement, why wouldn’t we be a little angry? I want to improve birth, too. I have great, specific things to say. I want to make people think. I want to change the way they look at birth and present their actual options, through provocative ideas and lesser known facts. So, I made my own list.


We will not be going in front of hospitals this year. Why the hell not? (I don’t know, something from the higher-ups.) We have to obey an entity? That seems familiar. Well, okay…  Where are we supposed to go instead? (I don’t know, some public place… Permits and fines are something we have to think about. I’ll let you know the morning of the rally.) …  o.O

I listened to Birth: Revolution Style’s radio show (scroll to the 90 minute mark) discussing the issue, where an Improving Birth coordinator (Heather Kimble) tried to answer some of these questions. She expressed that one factor influencing location is the wonderful medical professionals– doctors, nurses, etc.– who wanted to be involved in our rallies but could not, for fear of repercussions of doing so in front of a/their hospital.
My problem with that is, they are doing a huge disservice to our cause if we bend to accommodate them so that they don’t get in trouble. The hospital is the most relevant place for this event. Our message stands to be lost or obscured elsewhere. If docs and nurses really want to help, maybe they’d be serving us better in the actual line of duty. That is where we need their support the most.

Truthfully, it sounds like another way we are bending or bowing to the medical establishment.

I want everyone to be able to have whatever birth they choose– the one they feel healthiest and safest with. That can’t happen if midwives are bound by certain medical regulations and standards. There was some talk on my page about legal vs. illegal. I said that I wanted all options to be “legal”. After listening to Magdalena on my page and the male caller from the radio show, I see that the terminology gets confusing. “Legal” implies there is also an “illegal” side to the coin, which means there is something to regulate. “Alegal”, or “lawful”, something which is not hindered by legislation, is perhaps a more correctly labeled goal.

I can’t be worried about certain things, though, such as pleasing medical professionals and working with them on their requests or demands. That’s what is hurting us in our births, after all. I won’t worry about trying to keep my message bland or neutral. I believe it creates positive feelings amongst people, but that this inspires contentedness rather than change.

An example of one of my signs this year.

Something is still unclear about Improving Birth. Did they, do they, or don’t they have anything to do with The Big Push and/or midwifery legislation?

Heather Kimble with Improving Birth was unsure during the radio show (linked above), but answering as best she could from what she had gathered, her feeling seemed to be that at one time IB had aligned with said cause(s), but is no longer after the reaction they’d received. If this is the case and Improving Birth is trying to distance itself from such goals and campaigns, I really think the best choice would be to publicly express this in an open way.  It would really clear the air.

I still believe in women uniting in any way they can to improve the climate of birth. I don’t count it out that I could attend future rallies in person, again.  I think we need to know more about where Improving Birth stands, though. We also would be more powerful and meaningful as a movement if we were free to be ourselves. We were controlled in the delivery room… do we need to be controlled in the rally, too? When can we be trusted as women to lead our own way?

If we’re all on the same team here, it’s okay if we disagree on the best way to spread the message, as long as we are out there doing something about it. I held a virtual rally on my page where I posted my past signs from last year, new ones I made this year, and ones from fans. I was heard, it resonated with people, and it felt nice/productive. The material had lots of shares and lots of positive feedback. Maybe someone learned something or felt more empowered, too. I’m happy to participate and do my part.





How Prevalent is Childbirth Trauma?

13 05 2013

Trauma in childbirth doesn’t necessarily have to be felt psychologically. It can be something the body experiences physically. When it’s classified as “normal”, it is not accepted as “trauma”, but it still is. This is how someone could feel totally satisfied mentally about their birth, but still undergo a level of trauma.

Obviously, the reverse is true too. You could feel trauma on a psychological or other level, even though it may not be apparent physically to some.

Now, because the brain and body work closely together (wink), where there is one type of trauma, there is often the other. If your body feels traumatized on a level you are not conscious of, you may still feel unexplainable psychological effects. When you confuse the body, the brain may follow. And vice versa.

The mammalian needs in labor/birth to have a true safe, physiological experience (as described by people such as Michel Odent) requires an undisturbed birth that honors darkness, silence, warmth, and (relative) solitude (or non-observation/interference).  Human beings are mammals, but we tend to give other animals more respect in birth than we give to ourselves and each other.

Plenty of women who have become mothers have unresolved issues or feel a level of imbalance and cannot trace the source. Trauma in childbirth is one reasonable leap regarding most. Most human beings have a plethora of “issues”, but childbirth and the ramifications of being traumatized during or as a result of is a colossal one– unmatched and practically universal amongst modern mothers. Not only can manifestations from trauma be traced to this one life-altering experience, but we also use motherhood as a way of identifying and defining ourselves. All of these provide for the perfect opportunity and cocktail for depression, emotional breakdown, mommy wars (reasons why women can’t just understand each other and be friends, constant comparison and cattiness), etc. If we felt no level of violence or trauma, and if we felt psychologically sound (in terms of being at peace with our choices, less defensiveness), we wouldn’t feel so threatened by others and so much of a need to fight against people who choose (non-abusive) different birth or parenting paths. Secure, well people do not fly off the handle in order to compete or attack with no provocation. Those who suffer from this would do well to receive assistance and support for healthy management of whatever issues or imbalances lie beneath the surface.

And this is just surmised through the observation of people who can articulate their thoughts. This says nothing for what the babies of traumatic birth feel and carry with them. Their first moments have lasting physical and psychological impacts, it would be logical to assume. Of course sometimes it manifests in an obvious physical way, but even more often it does not.

Looking around at the landscape in the parenting in birth worlds, I can answer my own question– it’s pretty damn prevalent. Looking around at the decay of society, which is the result in part to disconnect between women and children, overwhelming depression, economic and educational lapses, unwanted pregnancies, etc. … is it any wonder we see craziness everywhere we look? Healing the world is awfully hard when we’ve done all that we can to disrupt the natural hormonal and physiological beginnings of almost every new life entering this world.

Modern life and modern conveniences are not foolproof. We’ve made a trade-off when we’ve attempted to mechanize birth in lieu of comprehending birth mechanics.

There’s a reason for the phrase “peace on Earth begins with birth”. I take it quite literally. Helping others to understand it from this angle is my little part in trying to illuminate a pathway to more healing on this planet.





The Skeptical Mother Retires

29 04 2013

I was on vacation this weekend but got several messages, posts, etc. (on my page and privately), of people asking me what happened with The Skeptical Mother. Her Facebook page was apparently no more. I had no idea what was going on when I first started getting these questions. People knew I was her friend and inquired why she was gone, and then I even started to catch some of the blame for it (from anonymous trolls, not legitimate people… so eh). I just wanted to put up a quick post to set the record straight. (Our skeptical mom’s blog remains up, for those who still enjoy reading her old posts.)

The reason The Skeptical Mother has chosen to end her page is because some other page was copying her content. This entailed stealing pictures (including fan shares), as well as using her exact captions word-for-word as Sammy (TSM) herself had written them. I imagine how silly and discouraging this could be. When you run a page, it’s something you do as a hobby as it is. You aren’t getting paid, and it often takes hours of your volunteering per week just to maintain. To not get credit for the effort and have someone duplicate you for their own popularity can be pretty frustrating. It feels like someone cheating off of you during a test you worked hard studying for, or someone copying a song or piece of art you put together and calling it their own (and getting the credit for it). She and I have had copies and shares before from other pages (including big name, popular birth pages), but nothing so blatant and shameless as this. In the end, the whole thing just seems so petty and not worth it anymore. You can’t copyright Facebook posts (?) and it doesn’t seem to count as plagiarism per se… it’s this unimportant gray area, unless you’re the one devoting the hours and it happens to you.

funny-dogs01
I don’t want to tell you the name of the page because they don’t deserve any more publicity, but I want to tell you they are quite large in terms of “likes”– at least twice the size of The Skeptical Mother, maybe even approaching three times as big as her page was. The reason they are so big is obviously due to ripping off of numerous popular pages all at once, as I have noticed now they also copy verbatim other very popular birth blog pages. They were essentially a content copier, an accumulation of the beloved and favorite giants in the birth/motherhood Facebook world.

She had just recently become the most popular Facebook birth page (that I know of), with well over 100,000 likes. I was so happy for her.

I hope that sets the record straight. The page had given Sammy a lot of trouble since she started, and I think she always felt it wouldn’t last forever. This was just the last straw. I’m sad to see her go but also happy for her if it gives her added peace. She is my friend and I want whatever is best for her. If you’re feeling sad or angry that one of your favorite pages is now retired, I totally understand, but I hope that you can also be happy for her because this just might be a return to increased serenity for her.





To the Birth Activist Who’s Really a Birth Passivist

25 04 2013

All births are not created equal. I think you probably know that.

Yet, you have the soft spine to falter under societal pressure, to pat every woman on the head, and tell her well enough is well enough. “Hey babe, however you say you feel, is how you feel! And that’s all that matters!

But that’s not all that matters. No, not by a long shot.

Because with women… there are things we don’t say. There are things we tell ourselves which are not true. There are things we don’t know because no one had the balls to tell us. And maybe once, a long ways back, when you were fresh in your pain and knowledge, you told someone the truth. You waved goodbye to that the moment you chose to try to please the majority of women. Trying to be all-inclusive reduces what is potent in your message.

Women… we’re strong, we carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders. We cry in silent pain, we have a tortured collective consciousness. We have a lot of messages we are met with daily that gives us vague encouragements to keep on keepin’ on. Of course those have a place, have some value. We need sisterhood, right? We need support, right?

Right.

What is sisterhood? What is support? What are they, actually?

Is it the moment I tell you that if you want your abusive relationship, that’s all that matters? Is it if I make you comfortable for one fleeting instant, when I help encourage your complacency so you can resist change, or is it when I help you pack your bag to leave?

Is it when I speak as generally as possible, to avoid offending a larger crowd? Or is it when I tell you that when I was in the same position, the only thing that healed was to walk away from the crowd?

So, to the Birth Activist who is really more of a Birth Passivist… women don’t need to hear what you think they want to hear. We are inundated with positive, bland messages… the sort of feelgood shtick that sometimes keeps us trapped indefinitely. Women don’t need limbo.

If you want to make some waves, it’s okay to rock the boat. It isn’t empowering to placate, to condescend. The truth is offensive. If you want to put power back in the hands of your sisters, you can count on offending a hell of a lot of people who aren’t ready for that kind of responsibility for which you advocate.

And if YOU aren’t ready for that kind of responsibility, don’t pretend to be something you are not. Birth Activist!? You’re not a birth activist if you approve of just about anything. You see… not all births are equal. And yes… I am sure you must know that, which is why you bother talking about birth at all. Not every woman needs that head-pat and smile you’ve started dishing out, to be praised up and down just for being special, just for breathing, just for modestly trying. We have enough of the “you’re good enough” in society. We have friends for that. We have posters of cats for that.

What we need you for is to give women that jolt of energy, that kick in the ass, to know they can do better. They aren’t getting that from their neighbor down the street, their sister-in-law, or the dentist. Their bff since high school doesn’t understand about “birth freedom” or why her friend still cries about an induction. If you tell her there’s nothing wrong with these norms, what good are you? Do your fucking job. Birth Activist, you are not everyone’s girlfriend.

And, you do not achieve the kind of change you say you’re about by kindly implying that maybe women ask for some power, ask a few questions of medical staff as they meekly submit a soon-to-be-ignored birth plan, or bargain birth needs with their husbands. You achieve that by telling them exactly what they are capable of and how to avoid the same god damn mistakes that got you where you were, or where I was, when we were in pain. You might be their only lifesaver, so fucking act like it.

As a birth activist, the goal should be to end suffering. Not perpetuate it. Not condone it. Not look at a shiny coat of paint slapped on a tragedy and mirror the smiles.

If you want women to be brave and face their births with courage and strength, and dignity, quit convincing them that anything that happens to them is okay. It’s not. It’s not okay. And just because they feel their junked up birth was necessary today… doesn’t mean they can keep pretending they feel okay about it tomorrow. And, when they awaken from that dream, guess who they’re going to remember telling them how amazing the status quo was? You.

Every baby is wonderful. If we get a good outcome for the child, we all celebrate. This much is true.

No, not every birth is special, magical, good. Not all births are equal. Not at all.





Approaching Baby Loss Topics With Conscience

10 02 2013

Recently my friend Sammy at The Skeptical Mother opened her Wall to baby loss photos from grieving parents. The topic began when she noticed a controversial post done by Dr. Amy which only showed pictures of babies who had passed away, and their parents grieving over them. For those who know Amy, I do not have to tell you that this was not done in memorial, it was done as a propaganda piece meant to convey “Homebirth Kills Babies”.

Sammy asked the question to her fans– how do you feel about this manner of sharing? The answers were mixed but the majority was very uncomfortable with being shown– without warning– photos of babies that had died, and nothing else (no accompanying backstory, etc.). If I recall correctly, Sammy did not even expose the fact that it was a post by Dr. Amy she was referencing. It seemed a hypothetical, and still received this fairly negative response. Then she decided to delete the thread because it had turned sour for so many. She found a happy medium– she invited fans to post their baby loss photos and stories on the Wall, and gave readers the choice of whether they wanted to view and offer their support.

I want you to know something about The Skeptical Mother. She did this knowing that loss mothers felt left out. She did this under much criticism by Dr. Amy trolls. They told her she would never do something like this, having not the slightest clue what was in her heart (and their common claim, against any natural birth pages, whom they are mad only post “positive” stuff).  Her  concern was to strike a balance that is sensitive to everyone but without becoming a puppet for anyone else’s sick agenda. Sammy’s choice was carefully considered in an effort to be fair to everyone… from the mother who just miscarried whose heart could not bear to see images which reminded her, to the grieving mother who wanted the world to look at and remember her stillborn baby. She thought of women who had never lost but were terrified of the prospect and felt unready to view these images, as well as new mothers who openly said they would be more than ready to share in the memories while loss moms provided pictures. TSM’s motives are pure in an internet climate full of politics and ulterior motives.

The Wall is a place where users can submit anything they want, and the only way to view it is to go to the Wall yourself and see. This is different from Sammy directly sharing on the page herself, which becomes visible to all 40,000+ of her followers in their newsfeeds (many of whom were very sensitive and planning upcoming births, some of whom let her know they would have to unlike the page if her positive content started shifting to the shocking or the devastating). So, by opening her Wall to this, Sammy was able to accommodate a very real need for loss parents to not feel neglected, have their children acknowledged, while at the same time honoring the wants and needs of the majority who do not come to her page for such emotionally taxing photos.

Even a word such as “shocking”, used above, some would take offense to, but please remember that any image of death (regardless of who it is of and who that person was to you) is troubling to most people. “Those are not shocking, it is our sweet little baby, our only memory of her,” they might say, offended. Yes, but it is also true the picture of your baby has a sadness and heaviness that most baby pictures do not. You still deserve to celebrate, and we know that.  We still have to recognize how different it will be for those who don’t share your intense emotions. And how could they? You’ve gone through one of the worst things ever, and maybe they have not. Or, maybe they have, but they deal with their pain in a totally different way than you. Therefore, we need to take extra special care with your pictures.

But don’t you think seeing healthy babies all day can hurt, too?”
Maybe. But, people who feel that way probably didn’t “like” The Skeptical Mother. People “like” her page because they like her content, not because it causes them great anguish and they want her desperately to change her ways.

People can be especially averse to seeing babies in such a way, since they are our most precious and treasured ones. It is the ultimate human tragedy. People don’t turn away as a disrespect to your babies… they turn away because their empathy is actually much too great to bear it. I would be more concerned for the folks who weren’t stirred in the slightest at loss photos than the people who are moved too much to even look.

Babies dying is a sad topic (be it miscarriage, stillbirth, or something else entirely). It’s a reality that happens, true, and there is no woman alive who doesn’t realize this. Putting her in a position where she is forced to view one of the saddest events a human being could experience will not change this, and asking a stranger to look at a photo they feel would cause them any emotional disturbance is an ill-fitting memorial to any of our loved ones. You will not get the desired reaction, you can’t force the desired reaction, and that is nobody’s fault.

I don’t think most loss mothers would expect this, but there were many disturbed Dr. Amy fans who felt strongly that this was not anyone’s problem but the person averse to looking. I say, everything in it’s right time and place. Appropriateness is paramount. Just as you would not walk into a Lamaze class and start shoving photos in the faces of people without a word, there is a manner in which we as humans interact and share that is healthy and fair for everyone. “Appropriate” may sound like a cold word to someone feeling intense grief, but their reality is not everyone’s reality, so “normal” to them versus the outside world can change significantly. If Amy fans expect everyone to change with that to the point that the Lamaze scenario above would be the new normal, I don’t think that’s a realistic or even sane goal. No, “appropriate” is in this case just another word for being considerate to everyone at the same time. It can be done. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s about respecting the needs of everyone and trying to find how to fill those without being a knife in the heart of the other party. I feel Sammy succeeded with that.

Many demanded all people be made to look, regardless of their sensitivities or feelings, because they contended to not was a disrespect to all baby loss victims everywhere. Some said to feel uneasy about it was the same as spitting in the baby’s face. Some openly said that their feelings were the only ones that counted, and they mocked the delicate feelings of mothers-to-be. “Think of how the loss mothers feel” got repeated a lot by Amy trolls and just other women in general, but I don’t think our sorrow for anyone can negate the human emotion of wanting to avoid subjects that are painful on purpose. Nor, a human being’s right to tell you what their tolerance level is (personally) for tragedy. Our readiness towards anything is a personal matter and depends on where we are in life. If we can’t respect that, it’s the same as saying everyone else is just a player in the story of your life. If it were that easy, you could write the script yourself and give everyone the correct emotions to feel. It’s not that simple. Humans are complex and have their own stories, and we can’t force ours on others.

*** Here is the part where I tell you that we all want stories and photos shared, but we warn “with discretion” because we understand that the way a grieving mother sees her photo versus a member of the general public are very different things. This can be very hurtful to loss mothers to hear, but I implore them not to take it as society’s rejection of you or baby, but rather a reflection of our fears. Let’s face it– no one wants their baby to die, or anyone’s to die (unless you’re an Amy troll, in which case, you want mine to die).  We are not in the habit of regularly viewing things we would never want to go through ourselves. Any image of death is usually upsetting to most people. Many have called for the changing of this taboo, and it is a separate argument entirely to discuss if it is our taboo to change. People come from all different walks of life with different philosophies and customs, and I think understanding that is very important. Where you may see your little angel, others may not, and instead be triggered into a traumatic memory, for example. Some will frankly only see death. On a cheerful and positive birth page, it would seem obvious that this content would not be typical.  Sometimes this explanation still fails to suffice for a mother so deep in her own emotions. TO BE CLEAR, Sammy and I both agree with sharing things which are accompanied by WARNINGS (to alert the sensitive) or stories (so that the picture itself is not just exploited for shock value, but contains a message, or something poignant and meaningful). ***

I want you to know that even after she decided to open her Facebook page’s Wall to this, she was accused of not really meaning it, not being genuine, not doing enough (by the Amy trolls). That’s right– first they said she would never do this at all, but when that was obviously not the case, they found something new to complain about. They make it a mission to be offended unless you not only jump when they say, but ask “how high” first. I told her this would happen but she did it anyway because her heart meant it.  She was accused of doing it just for extra likes (even though she did it knowing she could actually LOSE fans). In light of this, I have watched shady loss organizations (associated with/ran by Dr. Amy fans) disregard her intentions and vilify her. I was made privy how another major birth page made posts and statements about how *they* always have a place for loss mothers, as they attempt to constantly one-up her on her every post since TSM’s popularity spiked. Loss should NOT be a platform for competition.

This outrage is a violation far worse than taking into consideration the feelings of people averse to death scenarios. It doesn’t take the topic seriously, it only seeks to gain from it.

There are tons of places for loss and remembrance, and the good thing about those places (so long as they are healthy and not run by hate groups) is that they are already aware of the subject matter and prepared to respect and grieve with you. There are tons of natural birth pages and similar topics which occasionally share your losses in a tasteful and non-exploitative way. I assure you that just because your average birth or parenting site isn’t daily sharing photos of babies who have passed away, it is not due to not caring. It is simply not the usual subject matter of the page and not the voice they are projecting. That is all. For a parent to lose a child is a very specific facet of life and birth, and not every page is going to address it on a nonstop basis. Not every page is qualified to regularly address this with the sincerity the topic warrants. When people describe being “swept under the rug” (something we hear the Amy fans say a lot), I hope it is not for this reason anyone describes it as such.

I know I speak for most when I say “we still love you, even if your issue isn’t the one discussed the most”. I don’t talk about lots of (birth and parenting) things every day, such as adoption, or c-sections, or maternal/paternal death, but I still love all families for whom these are the big issues, as well. Every page has a unique voice and they are speaking from their own life experiences, so please don’t feel left out if the type of content doesn’t constantly address the issue dearest to your heart. And if a page isn’t speaking to your heart and needs, find other pages which do. Not everyone can be everything to everyone, but there is someone out there who understands you, and no one is ever truly alone. There is a place for all of us, it just isn’t always the same place.

Due to the outpouring of support and participation her Wall inspired that day, Sammy has decided that every 8th of every month will be The Skeptical Mother Loss Remembrance Day. Please feel free to participate if this is a subject you would like to take part in. Because it shouldn’t be about homebirth, or trolls, or popularity, or moneymaking… it should be about your babies.





You Might Not Be a Feminist If…

2 12 2012

… you think assimilation is the path to equality.

Much like midwives who become medwives, doing everything they can to become accepted by the medical establishment that they virtually become doctors themselves (thus losing the craft in the process), fear of persecution transforms people. Make sure in the fight for equality that you don’t merely blend in to those with whom you desired equality.

Besides, how equal can you be when you’ve eliminated all differences? That’s not equality, it’s removing diversity.

Men and women are equal, but they are not the same. Women have every right to be whoever they want to be, but their biological role containing the ability of creation, and the process through which that is carried out, is their own. An innate and maybe timeless ability that maybe escapes human knowledge and understanding in completion is at work and to be respected– not to be owned, or dominated, so turn a blind eye to a patriarchal system if you must, but do not label it “feminism”. That’s only misogyny with a vagina.

A recent comment I received on my post Feminism and Overcompensating:

(by “Seriously?”, who was too much of a coward to leave their real name and e-mail address)
Seriously? (02:13:23) :

As a feminist, I’m surprised to see other women calling themselves as such being so blatantly anti-science. The idea that there’s some mystical goddess being waiting to be released through extreme pain is pure fantasy – It’s biological essentialism and it takes some special rhetorical gymnastics to spin that as feminism. there’s nothing special or noble about labour pain.

Science is fact, whether you find it inconvenient or not. Science is not male, and implying that there’s some viable, magical alternative to it created by womym and squashed by the patriarchy is a huge insult to female scientists and feminists in general. Stop making us look like idiots – mainstream society already thinks that we are deluded and out of touch with reality.

This sort of thinking needs to be put down along with creationism, the people who think 9/11 was an inside job, and all the other conspiracy theories.

 

Right, because you don’t look like an idiot. *eyeroll*

My response:

You can label yourself a “feminist” all you want, but when you ignore the history of the medical field and specifically maternity, specifically in America, over the last couple of centuries, you aren’t doing women any favors. To you, feminist simply means holding the same jobs and wearing the same coats. I don’t care who can play a part. That’s for puppets. My idea of what feminist is transcends that.

If you want to think that there is nothing mystical in life, or that we don’t have any “magical” qualities, that is your CHOICE. Science fact is stranger than fiction, so I don’t need to fabricate or embellish. The truth is, we don’t know everything there is to know about science. What we DO know is the beginning of how the brain and body work together. Those things aren’t “magical”, they’re science. The primal mind during labor is science. Mammalian physiology is science. 2/3 of OB/GYN guidelines are NOT based on science… and you dare to align yourself with current authority in the name of Science? That’s science “blasphemy”.

Our nature in labor is what I am interested in others acknowledging. It calls back to something in our ancestral past, which is also history. You are an animal, I am an animal. Asking us to forsake that in lieu of man-made “science”, as if technology helped us rise above our own animal needs and nature… THAT is the magical thinking. You’d rather believe some shiny pill has everything you need to escape the condition you are in, rather than finding a way to cooperate with nature. It’s about ownership.

Real feminists have open minds. Real feminists know their power is beyond 21st century habits. In 200 years no one will give a shit that you were “just like them” (men) in whatever position, if that position was wrong. What you spout is closed, final, absolute, and thinks it is advanced. And it blindly follows. It ignores the animal science behind what we are and where we come from. That’s more akin to creationism than my beliefs. It’s denial. You can have religious denial, or you can have occupational/professional denial, or societal and cultural denial… but if you are ignoring history and science for status, it’s still Denial.

Feminists concerned with status over fact are sellouts.

Thanks to my husband; in conversation on the matter he used the word “assimilation”, which inspired me.

This is what a feminist looks like.

This is what a feminist looks like.