Guilt is a Destroyer, Part 2

12 10 2011

I see the problem here as guilt and denial. One feels guilt in incredible ways, and then lives in a state of denial about how all these other things are at fault. The denial is also, therefore, a denial that they had the primary role in their own life events. Rather than accepting that something just occurred and everyone was there and had a choice, there is a need to blame. Rather than blame oneself and admit the guilt that is plaguing oneself, one then opts to direct all or primary responsibility onto somebody else. It’s a coping mechanism. It goes a little something like…

Natural birth is at fault– it’s not that great, medical advancements are far better, what’s so great about vaginal drug free birth anyway, you aren’t winning a medal for it, it’s killing women and babies and is archaic and stupid.

Midwives are at fault— they aren’t educated, aren’t properly licensed, mine should have known I was in trouble.

The NCB community is at faultthey indoctrinate people, it’s like a cult, they all believe in BS and not in science, they guilt mothers into making wrong choices.  ETC.

It’s never up to the woman. Do you see? You can never “blame the mother”, or use “blame the mother mentality”… which is cried if anyone tries to further examine the mother’s choices in the event in light of tragedy. If blame is going to be placed at all, these are the questions that we need to be asking. Sorry.  It’s never her choice, her responsibility, her consequences. It’s always somebody else.  She is automatically innocent (and how dare you, btw), and somebody else is most definitely guilty. You see, I’m not just saying question the “guilt” of everyone… I’m saying consider that everyone is innocent.  Blame usually doesn’t have to take place at all, but if you are pointing the finger at me or damaging other people, someone has to step in and point out the accountability here. It’s gone too far, too long. There are worse things than blaming the mother. You could be blaming people who are just as accountable, less accountable, or not accountable at all.

For example, when a practitioner does their best to provide the service you have hired them for, that’s all you can ask of them. The rest is up to you.

IF you are present at a birth and you feel something is not right, it is your duty to yourself and child and all involved to act accordingly. IF something goes wrong, and you always had the final say, you must own up to your part in things. It is an admission of the truth and the first step to moving forward in a healthy way. As I see it, all normal-intelligence adults available are responsible in a time of need. This does not all rest on the shoulders of one. When you hire a midwife as your naturally-minded caregiver, it is not so she can take the fall in the event of misfortune. If one feels that way, one should not hire a midwife. If they have committed an indisputable count of negligence or abuse, obviously I think they deserve blame. However, if you still had a choice and didn’t make it or take it, you shoulder some of that responsibility. You have a voice.

[Recently I heard a troll say that the reason midwives should be properly licensed and insured is so that if a tragedy occurs, a lawyer would be willing to take the case because there would actually be money worthwhile to come of it. Ah, I see… So, everyone, get an OB so that if your child dies, you can properly get a lawyer and sue and at least get some $$$ from it. ] Good reason to change your birth plan, natural childbirthers.

So no, I am NOT advocating blame, but when I see projections and misdirections of anger, rage, hate, and guilt, I think we need a reality check. Midwives are trained professionals, but they DON’T know everything. Neither do OBs for that matter. The most important piece they are missing is YOU and your intuition. People, no matter how educated, make mistakes. It’s not all homicide, bloodshed, and manslaughter. Sometimes no matter how much it is KILLING you inside, these mistakes are completely innocent. You are ALL accountable for your choices. No ONE single person takes the fall, and no one always has to take the blame, automatically. A death should not automatically be assumed as the fault of anyone. Investigate, ask questions, but accept reality and live in it rather than create a false one where you are less accountable. Sooner or later, no matter how skilled a person is, they are going to witness a tragedy. Sometimes, these things just happen. You hate to hear it? Yeah, it sucks, but it’s true.

No, don’t blame yourself, don’t beat yourself up, but don’t do those things to ME either. Be brave, face your problems head on. It’s cowardly to direct the hurt you feel you deserve to instead hurt others.  I would never tell a mother how accountable she was in her child’s own death… until she starts pointing the finger at others. Those who believe it’s always the other guy’s fault, those who believe that with their pain comes a sense of entitlement, those are the only folks who need a reminder that they were also an adult in that room and also capable of making a choice. It’s something that could and should go without saying most of the time, unless you keep shoving it in the world’s face in order to create suffering and remove your own accountability in the process. My theory: you don’t hate me, you hate yourself for not making the choice you knew was right. I wish I could magically take away your pain, but I can’t. You need to get serious professional help if you are trolling the internet and calling it “helping others”.

Guilt, you see… it’s a destroyer. It will change your whole world. Friends become enemies, demons become friends. Things you used to believe in become false. You lose faith in whatever God you may have previously claimed. Activities that harm others become the norm. They do things which cause more pain for themselves and those who come into contact with them.  Others who love you feel put out or neglected by you. You are withdrawn, putting on a fake face to be acceptable in society while inside you feel you are someone else. You don’t have to suffer alone, and you don’t have to live with this intense pain your whole life. Your children, living and deceased, would not want that for you. You all deserve better in life.


People reject healing when they think the hurt seems insurmountable, or they are undeserving. This comes from self-loathing. A partly aware admission of accountability which translates as guilt says, “how could I let this have happened to my baby?”, and hate and beating yourself up follows. Guilt is a real bitch, but you had it coming, or so the logic goes. So, one resigns to a life of pain and guilt and blame, because they don’t see any other path clearly. They even think it would be disrespectful to the memory of their baby to NOT feel this way. I suggest that the worse disrespect is the mistreatment of other women, mothers, and babies in the process of your rage and guilt. Even the very midwife deemed the culprit is probably not so worthy of hate. Granted, it would take a lot of forgiveness to ever feel that way. Baby steps.

I’m telling you, people, there’s an imbalance here, and it’s not healthy and it’s not right. It’s toxic– to your mind, probably your body, and your soul, and it’s affecting others. You want consideration for your feelings and it’s been given to a fault, but even through the pain, you need to offer your consideration to your fellow (wo)man, because we all have pain, and you aren’t the only one (and this includes infant loss). It does NOT have to be this way, so ugly and nasty and cruel.

In any case, hate (which guilt has produced) is not productive or conducive to goodness or healing for you, or anyone. Some think healing from baby loss is impossible– so why bother, right?  If healing is impossible, why try to “help” anyone who has lost? I hear that a lot, about reaching out to others who have lost, as if that means anything. “I’m here for you.” What comfort is that with a dead baby? If nothing can fix it, why the community? Because you are looking for understanding and looking for something to feel even a tiny ounce better than the loneliness of your grief. You are living with the unreasonable burden of guilt. And let’s be real, here– it’d needn’t be. Other women have gone through losses and not reached the same conclusions. It is possible, but you have to want it. Your pain is not reality, it’s just your reality. There are other truths out there to explore if you would only let yourself. If you can accept this as true, you can also begin to see how other realities of other people– loss moms and other moms– are their truths. The healing stories, the stories of love and overcoming pain, are the ones that are going to be of service to people. We need to spread those, promote those, give hope, and help people get better. Instead of resisting those, maybe you could listen to those and when you are ready, believe in yourself once again and your ability to let go of guilt and have peace.

Quit letting your guilt destroy you, who you were, what you want to be for your family, and who you have become. Break the chains and ties that keep you part of a destructive lifestyle. Live and let live. Find the path to end bitterness and guilt now so that when you are an old lady and preparing to leave this life, you can look back with fondness and gratitude rather than wrath, and you will be surrounded by children and grandchildren and more, who lovingly embrace who you are and their time with you. You cannot get a dead baby back, but you cannot get back lost time, either. Every hour you’ve spent persecuting strangers on the internet is lost time. Pain is an addiction, an obsession. Find the road to recovery. I may never know your pain and I hope to never have to, but I do care about your well being and want you to find peace and joy. If I were in your shoes, I’d want someone to do the same thing for me.

Guilt is a Destroyer

12 10 2011

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…

We Are All Accountable.

6 07 2011

POWER can be uncomfortable, but it’s yours,

whether you like it or not.

Meet my kids.



Each one of them, born differently.



She was a hospital birth. I had a birth plan and wishes for natural delivery, but with an OB/GYN. Things happened in that birth that I will forever question myself on, and things with my daughter’s health as a result. If only I had just spoken up, if only I hadn’t just taken the doctor’s word for it, if I only had chosen differently.

That is my burden, but in context of my life and my personal evolution, I made the choices then that were most fitting of me, and given my awareness of my own naivete and ignorance, I have forgiven myself. In other words, I did the best I could at that time with what I had.


He was born in the hospital, although it wasn’t at all how I’d planned. By this point in my life I had grown stronger, more aware of our systems, more resistant, but I still wasn’t quite all the way there yet. My outrage at the positions I would be put in, at the things that were done to me without my consent and without respect for my feelings, would ultimately catapult me into learning the truth about birth that I carry with me today. The horror and disgust taught me some very hard lessons, and valuable ones.

Despite what others did from the outside, despite any chance at legalities I may or may not have had claim to for some actions, I was still an adult capable of making choices (although I wasn’t strong or smart enough yet to make the right ones). I was accountable.



Wrestling with my thoughts, trying to figure out what the medical industry had to offer me that I hadn’t yet tried, trying to figure out how to outsmart the system, find the secret formula of care I needed and how I could get people to agree to let me, I discovered their answer for me:  nothing. No one was going to save me. No one was going to speak for me. I had to save myself.  After going more than half the pregnancy not having a clear idea of what I needed to do, the dawning which occurred to me left me without any health care providers. I was both scared and liberated, emphasis on the liberated.

I had finally spoken up. I had finally said no. I had finally realized and  exercised my accountability. And now, under the birth which went only in a way that I had chosen, I had no one to thank nor to blame but myself, and it was good. I was healed, the birth was the healthiest of all of them, and I understood my own strength. The truth is, the power had been mine all along. I just hadn’t understood that.

I had forgiven myself of the past mistakes I had made, and did not place the blame solely on my care providers. While I still have my feelings about what should have been, I also realize that I had been an accountable adult all along. In fact, I had been THE primary accountable one. All my mistakes were my own, and anger and hurt feelings aside, the weight was not just to be placed on all the medical pros ever “responsible” for me.

There’s a strong anti-natural and anti-home birth movement out there. A favored evocative tool of that group is the anti-homebirth story, often wrought with tragedy. The end tone is usually that it was somebody else’s fault. I can’t help but think the whole time listening to these that there were other accountable adults there in these seemingly avoidable events. There were people with nagging intuition telling them something wasn’t right. They did nothing. There were uncomfortable mates wanting strongly to seek emergency help but doing nothing. There were quiet birth support friends shaking their heads in the corner, making meek suggestions while watching on, doing nothing. Sometimes there were even other experts giving their okays but then passing the buck. Are you seeing a trend here?

And somehow… it all comes down to the midwife– homebirth’s favorite extreme. Exalted wrongly as the hero as much as wrongly demonized as the villain.  When a bad outcome happens in a hospital, we take for granted that a doctor is educated and did all he could. Occasionally there is a lawsuit, but more often than not, there is respect and forgiveness and understanding. In a homebirth, the midwife gets the opposite of this– the opposite of the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because it’s easier to blame them? Because society takes them less seriously? Because in the backs of our minds, we doubted them and natural birth somehow, all along?

I am not saying that midwives or any medical professionals are not and should not be held accountable for their choices. No sir. But, they do not shoulder the blame alone. Wherever you could have a say, wherever you could have made a choice, so do you. We are all accountable.

I shoulder the blame for any time I did not exercise my right to say no and right to choose, and the med pros who saw me shoulder blame for anything they ever did which was against me. The times they did things against my knowledge or will, the times they would not give me what I wanted out of only policy-keeping, the times they acted in any way not like a friend, the times the information given to me was untrue, the times things were only done for their comfort or their convenience, etc. And, I forgive myself for my part in not calling out the BS, and made peace with that. Now that I know better, I will DO better. I make a promise to myself and I keep it. I will protect myself, because don’t be fooled– nobody else is looking out for you; nobody else has your best interests at heart. I can’t be mad at myself for who I was back then. I meant well. I thought I knew what was right. But, I lived and I learned and now I’m taking those lessons with me and moving ahead.

If you choose to place all the accountability and blame into someone else’s hands, that is an illusion. Even if you always allowed someone else to make those choices for you. If you had a voice to use and did not, you played a part in your experiences in life, whether you like that fact or not. Don’t assume that just because someone is a professional and has seen more birth than you that they know better than you. If you don’t agree with something, or something doesn’t feel right, it is your duty to yourself and your baby to act on that intuition.  Stand up and be accountable for your birth. Whether you make a choice or don’t make a choice, that is still a choice.

This is NOT advocating “blame the victim” mentality; it is advocating the cessation of setting yourself up to be the victim.

Once you accept your accountability, you can forgive yourself for your past choices and move on. At the end of the day, you really must be able to forgive yourself or you will not have peace and healing. Let yourself off the hook.