It is your wedding day. You have been planning this day since you got engaged nine months ago. You are happy, excited, and a little nervous. When you get to the church, you are told that it is necessary to switch your wedding to the courthouse instead—it is disappointing, but the minister’s assistant reminds you that the courthouse is probably a safer location for your wedding because there are more people on staff there to handle any problems that might arise. When you arrive, you are told that your minister isn’t going to be there for the ceremony after all, but there is a perfectly good justice of the peace available instead.
You ask when the ceremony can begin and the clerk tells you not until your fiancé’s heart rate has been monitored for twenty minutes—“We need a baseline strip on him, hon. After all, you do want a healthy husband out of all this, don’t you?!” she says.
You are asked to change out of your wedding gown and into a blue robe. When you express your dismay, you are reminded that your dress could get messy during the wedding and also, “Why does it really matter what you’re wearing? In the end you’ll have your husband and you’ll be married and that’s really what counts.”
Next, the clerk starts an IV in your hand because, as she explains, you might get dehydrated while you wait for your fiancé.
“I have my favorite juice here, I’ll drink that instead,” you reply.
“No, no dear. No juice. You could aspirate it and die if you end up needing surgery.”
“SURGERY!” you exclaim, “Why would I need surgery? I’m just getting married!”
The clerk gives you a knowing glance, “Honey, about forty percent of women who get married here need surgery before their marriages are finalized. This is an excellent courthouse! We do everything possible to make sure you have a healthy husband when you leave here. Isn’t that what you want?”
“Yes,” you reply weakly.
Finally, the other clerk signals that your fiancé is ready. You turn to look at him and see that he has a monitor strapped to his chest to monitor his heart rate and that he has an electrode on his scalp. You smile at him and prepare to say your vows—you’ve waited for this moment for so long! But, as you begin to speak, the clerk tells you to stop making so much noise. You start to cry in confusion and embarrassment and she tells you that you really need to get control over yourself.
She calls over several other clerks who stand near you and they all begin chanting loudly, “Say I DO! Say I DO!”
“Wait,” you protest, “What about our vows?”
“No time for that—you’ve got to get married as quickly as possible. Husbands can only bear to stand at the altar for a short time before they start showing signs of distress—you wouldn’t want anything to happen to your husband would you? Now, say ‘I DO,’ say ‘I DO’!!”
So, you say the words, feeling a sense of dismay at it not being like you had planned, but excited to finally be married to your beloved. You turn to your new husband and reach out for him eager for your first married kiss, but the clerk grabs his arm and tugs him away after her.
“Wait!” you call, “I want to see my husband!”
“Sorry,” is the reply, “He needs to be taken to the new husbands’ lounge for observation.”
“Observation of what?”
“Weddings are stressful for husbands; we need to make sure he is all right. Now wait here, while the other clerk brings you a wheelchair to take you to your waiting room.”
Instead of leaving for your honeymoon, you end up staying at the courthouse for three days. You keep asking to see your husband, but the clerk tells you he needs to gain some weight before he can leave and that he also needs some more blood drawn. She also lets you know that he has finally stopped complaining about his spinal tap.
Spinal tap?! Your dismay shows on your face and she tells you, “Come on! You’ll be married for the rest of your life! A few hours of separation isn’t going to hurt either one of you. You’ll have plenty of time with him after you get home and will probably just get fed up with him then! What really matters now is that your husband is healthy.”
“Yes, of course…”
Finally, you get to go home, but you feel distant and sad. Your wedding was nothing like you’d dreamed of and you feel disappointed and betrayed. You enjoy being married and snuggling with your new husband, but you keep thinking about your wedding day and all of your ruined plans to make it special. When you try to tell your mother how you feel, she tells you that you should be grateful, at least your husband is nice and healthy.
When you tell your best friend about your disappointment, she tells you it is time to get over it—“Your wedding is just one day of your entire life. It is the marriage that really matters in the end. You only get married once, but in the end, you’re married and you’ve got a healthy husband and that’s really what counts, not how you get there!”
You tell another friend about your ruined plans and she reminds you that you are lucky your husband is healthy and that it is selfish of you to keep thinking about your wedding. It is over and you’ve got your nice healthy husband to keep you busy now.
“Yes, but I feel like I missed out,” you venture.
“On what? Weddings are SO overrated. It isn’t like you get a medal for having a beautiful wedding or anything. People have weddings every day.”
You stop sharing your feelings, but you can’t shake the memories. What you expected to be a beautiful day filled with love and celebration was not and you feel a real sense of grief at the loss of your dreams. You know you shouldn’t feel this way. You know that what really matters is your healthy, happy husband, but you keep wondering if your wedding really had to be that way. Yes, you love your husband and you are so happy that he is healthy, but you also wonder if that really is all that matters. Don’t you matter too? Doesn’t your relationship matter? What about respect, dignity, love, and self worth? Don’t those matter too? Wasn’t this a special life transition for your family? Wasn’t it the beginning of a special relationship together and couldn’t that relationship have been celebrated, honored, and treated as worthy of care and respect?
Notes: I originally wrote this essay in 2007. It was retained for publication by Mothering magazine, but did not end up making it in before the print publication ceased. It was then retained for publication by Midwifery Today, but has not yet appeared. I decided it is FINALLY time for it to see the light of day!
I was inspired to write this essay after reflecting upon the similarities between weddings and births—both mark the beginning of a new form of relationship and a change to the family structure and to individual roles in society. Yet, in our culture, one of these transitions is celebrated as a milestone of adult life and the value of honoring the first steps in life as new partners in a relationship is a given. The other is institutionalized and mechanized and the partners’ individuality is minimized or ignored. Much preparation, energy, time, and finances are invested in planning a lavish wedding and you are expected to expect things to go beautifully, perfectly, and as planned. If they didn’t and your wedding was ruined, most people would say, “It is awful that your wedding was ruined! Wow!” and not call into question your love of your husband or your commitment to your new role as his wife. The wedding ceremony is respected as having value in its own right. This is not true of birth, which is widely viewed as unimportant in terms of how it happens, as long as the result is a “healthy baby.”
Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE is a certified birth educator, writer, and activist. She is a breastfeeding counselor, editor of the Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter, and a professor of Human Services. Molly has two wonderful sons and one delightful daughter and lives in central Missouri. She blogs about birth, motherhood, and women’s issues at http://talkbirth.me and is the author of the miscarriage memoir Footprints on My Heart.
I *love* this essay!
Thanks for this.
What is the mortality rate of wives and husbands in weddings?
This isn’t supposed to be about mortality rates, it is about respecting and honoring new relationships.
Though, that said, it is fully possible, reasonable, and desirable to both respect the rite of passage of birth AND support evidence-based care and healthy, safe birth.
I bet it is darn near 100%. So if we put the same value and celebration into our births maybe it would be the same
That really resonates, thank you. My obs asked how I felt about my delivery and was really surprised when I told her I didn’t think it went well. I imagine a lot of people feel this way. Cleverly written. 🙂
I cried reading this, because I went through a birth trauma. Yes, I got a beautiful, healthy, thriving baby girl (who turned 5 a couple days ago) but I also got PTSD, PPD, and panic attacks when I became pregnant with my second. The second birth went better, though he was rushed to the special care nursery for breathing issues. Yes, there is more danger during birth, but not nearly as much as most people think. And, even with a high risk pregnancy/delivery, the mother should have some say and not be treated like an incubator.
Love it, I also use the analogy of “at least having a healthy husband” after a disastrous wedding when discussing how much birth does matter for mothers and all family members involved. Very well written.
“Your wedding is just one day of your entire life. It is the marriage that really matters in the end. You only get married once, but in the end, you’re married and you’ve got a healthy husband and that’s really what counts, not how you get there!”
Too bad I agree with the “evil” best friend here. A wedding is just a party; a marriage is a lifetime. Women who get too caught up in the day are just doing themselves and their husbands a disservice. Same with women who insist that a birth has to be exactly right in order for their relationship with their baby to be OK.
I totally agree.
I pity you two when the day comes and it happens to you 😦 either both of you haven’t had children, got lucky and had experiences you assume are ok and normal or are completely in denial about your experiences
You clearly have never given birth or have not chosen to educate yourself well on the topic of birthing, delivery or motherhood. This author uses a common cultural rite of passage to create a metaphor about birth to display how both events are based on very intimate relationships. It is unfortunate that you missed the point.
I actually did have a wedding where everything went wrong. Everything from the florist forgetting to make centerpieces and putting the wrong colors in my bouquet to no one being able to hear the ceremony due to thousands of people cheering at a sporting event a couple yards away that the venue promised would not be happening at the same time as the wedding, and there being no music at the reception. None of the photos turned out, very few of my friends ended up being able to make it at all, and the food was awful. I hated it.
I find the analogy interesting because I have compared my awful wedding to the birth of my first child. I had planned for things to go quite differently, and ended up with an unexpected and unpleasant journey instead. But in both cases, I chose to focus on the end result. I married the right guy, and I have an amazing child. The wedding was only one day. My labor was ‘only’ three days. But being a wife and a mother is the rest of my life.
I do think birth matters and that there is plenty of room for improvement in how birth is handled, but for me, this story just doesn’t do it. It highlights all the reasons it DOESN’T matter to me as much as it could. Because it’s just like my crappy wedding.
I agree with Eve N., I had a section and am hoping for a VBAC this time. I have also had a miscarriage and I know I would have rather had the most terrible birth experience than to have lost that child… My miscarriage has changed a lot of my views on birth. Also reading this made me very glad I live in Canada where midwives are free and hospital births aren’t rushed needlessly.
I know most people commenting are just passing through and can’t be expected to know my history or my other writings. I have had two miscarriages, including a second trimester loss. They happened after I wrote this piece and I’ve written in other posts about how the miscarriages opened my eyes to how/why some people can say all that matters is a healthy baby–I spent my next pregnancy desperately wishing for LIVE as the end result of that pregnancy. Beautifully, I did end up with a precious living baby girl! My perspectives on birth and pregnancy were fundamentally transformed by the potent, grief-drenched experience of birthing my tiny, non-living son.
I do still believe, even after loss, that there is room in the equation for BOTH–healthy baby AND invigorated, empowered, elated, happy mother. The two go hand in hand, with the very things that support a “good birth experience” ALSO supporting a healthy baby. It isn’t an either-or proposition.
I get where this article is coming from but I do actually only care that my baby is alive and healthy. I would like the birth to go well and how I’d like it but I would really rather know my baby is healthy. I also had my wedding at a courthouse because it is the marriage that counts!
And if it was even remotely common that the bride might start hemorrhaging and the groom might stop breathing I think we would probably be getting married in hospitals too.
You shouldn’t have to choose between the two! Mothers deserve healthy babies AND good births 🙂
Yeah I get this. I think its supposed to make people think. I can imagine a lot of people that would say the birth doesnt matter but they would go troppo if the flowers were wrong at their wedding.
When a woman gets married people say “this is your day honey” and she’s meant to feel like a Princess and blah blah blah.
This is the way we should approach birth – every woman should feel like a goddess – even if she needs surgery in the end or things dont go to plan.
And when someone is disappointed with their wedding, we wouldnt say, “Oh well shut up and be grateful at least you have a husband” – we would say “oh no, thats terrible, I’m so sorry” and listen or offer support – so why can’t we do that with birth?
Wow Molly, methinks the trolls have visited you. I think this analogy is important, because people who think either a birth or a wedding is “just a day” fail to recognize that a healthy start sets a foundation for a healthy future.
I’m with you– we ALL want a healthy baby. Why can’t we have both? We are not choosing to have UNhealthy babies by choosing less than desirable birthing methods. There isn’t a trade off here. You can have a great, healthy birth AND a great, healthy baby. It’s a beautiful thing. This is challenging in our society, unfortunately. Some people have a very hard time accepting these things. I think it’s an effort to make excuses for the appalling state of medical birth today… if we think it is necessary in order to have a healthy baby, wouldn’t we all gladly stand in line? It’s just easier to deny that there’s another way, a healthy way, because it makes what is happening to us okay. For the sake of all women and babies, we need to stop pretending that our birth traumas were okay.
Thanks, Elizabeth! That is my main point–perfectly appropriate to expect, want, and deserve a good birth and healthy baby! 🙂
I very much agree with this analysis. I fully believe that it is not so much the actual events that take place during a birth that color the experience, but how that mother is treated by those caring for her.
Well said, Amber. Feelings and emotions play a big part too.
People miss the point when they state that a baby born after an overly-rushed, medicated and/or surgical birth are just as “healthy” as babies born peacefully and naturally into their parent’s arms (and then allowed to stay there). My guess is that birth and the moments immediately after have a lasting impact on a baby’s health and wellness.
I agree so much! People have such a narrow view of “health.” To me, health isn’t the absence of disease/injury, but the presence of overall wellness, which is so often missing from the birth experience in which a baby is alive and not in respiratory distress, has no infections, etc., but won’t latch, won’t sleep, can’t be comforted, etc.
Thank you for this post!! Birth Matters!! I love how literally some people are taking this post lol…as if you are saying that it doesn’t matter whether or not the baby is healthy. Many moms deal with real disappointment over their l&d, and they shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling that way even though their baby is healthy,
I know. My main point is only actually that it is okay to FEEL upset if things don’t go the way you hoped/planned for!
Oh my gosh, I laughed out loud through most of your post. Absolutely AWESOME! So cleverly done. I loved it!
So very beautiful could not have said it better myself. I am happy to say that although my first two births went just like the above post that my last three went exactly like planned. I went through a midwife and she completely helped make my dreams reality.
I didn’t really like it.
I have birth trauma, and feel that people are just going to look at this and not understand the sentiment.
A wedding is nothing like a birth, a person does NOT develop PTSD from a few delays and disruptions on a wedding day, a woman goes through much more during labour and birth than anyone ever could on a wedding. A woman getting married is not scared into procedures through lies and deceit by people she is meant to be able to trust who use manipulation and threats that the woman is killing or harming her husband. I just don’t think that this is a good analogy at all, I think people are going to read this and it is just going to continue their idea that birth doesn’t matter, they won’t understand it, they won’t respect birth/
I much prefer the “Birth as a bowel movement” analogy.
Analogies don’t work for everyone! I really dislike the bowel movement one myself, because I see birth as a celebration of relationship (like a wedding), rather than as a mundane physical process and I think the reduction of birth to a “routine” physical process rather than a biopsychosocial process is part of what contributes to the widespread devaluing of birth trauma. The emotional stuff matters.
I’m sorry you experienced birth trauma. I wish all women could emerge from their birth journeys triumphant and empowered. I work to make this vision a norm, rather than just a wish.
Best wishes for your continued healing!
You should get to wear what you want to wear as long as it is clean! I hated giving birth in that ugly gown from the military and civilian hospital! The same goes with home birth as long as a room, is set aside and cleaned then sealed till the birth what is the big deal? They cleaned and set aside rooms centuries ago or set aside clean sheets for the bed if the room couldn’t be sealed off. We need to go back to the beginning of the last century. If you are healthy, your baby is healthy and you have a decent ambulance service what is the problem?
Great essay, clearly some of the readers are missing the point! I wish that more mama’s would spend as much time and energy learning and planning for their birth as they do their weddings.
I think the medical stuff could have been replaced with “Well, I know you wanted roses, but some husbands have allergies, so instead, you’re going to have carnations.” Similar stuff, and the surgery bit was a stretch, but it makes a good point.
I effing hate that line, “A healthy baby is all that matters.” No, it’s not. Because of my iatrogenic cesarean, my baby was put at unnecessary risk and I couldn’t properly care for her for weeks while I healed. That’s not good for baby. Eff everyone who drops that dookie.
Birth isn’t just a day and a bad day could have lasting impacts for mother and child. Do NOT tell a woman her grief over a poorly managed birth is unnecessary.
This is a brilliant analogy and I am happy to have read it! Thanks!
We should demand respect of all people in hospitals. People are so vulnerable and should not be treated as dummies or incubators. There is nothing wrong with folks asking to be respected. After all…we DO PAY a VERY HIGH PRICE for healthcare. A healthy baby does not equal a non-fail, mother’s are a huge part of the equation. And I’m sorry, but someone suffering from post-traumatic stress is able to perform at their best nor is that healthy for the body. The only way to improve is to ask for it. A woman is a person too!
We should demand respect of all people in hospitals. People are so vulnerable and should not be treated as dummies or incubators. There is nothing wrong with folks asking to be respected. After all…we DO PAY a VERY HIGH PRICE for healthcare. A healthy baby does not equal a non-fail, mother’s are a huge part of the equation. And I’m sorry, but someone suffering from post-traumatic stress is not able to perform at their best nor is that healthy for the body. The only way to improve healthcare is to ask for it. A woman is a person too!
Very cool analogy. I think it’s hard for people outside of the situation to “get it”. I will definitely be sharing this.
Thanks for this, I really appreciated it. Makes some of the “necessary” medical interventions seem completely ludicrous and unnecessary after-the-fact.
Wow, that was great! This is what I blogged in response to yours: http://unorthadoxmomma.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/wow-this-is-how-i-feel-exactly/
This is wonderfully written and I loved it! I think Murasaki said it best; if all these terrible things happened at a wedding, we’d feel sad for the bride, but when terrible things happen at a birth women are told “well at least you have a happy baby.” I did have a birth trauma, I think about it every single day, and I constantly feel guilt when I try to talk to people about it because I get the whole “well at least you had a healthy baby” comment. Both your birth and wedding are just one day in your lives, yes, but both are 1 day that you remember the rest of your life. The wedding day matters just like the birth day does!
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I just came across your blog… it’s wonderful! Love your writing!
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A healthy baby matters, yes. And ultimately, healthy baby and healthy mama are the most important thing to come out of birth. But it is not ALL that matters. The birth experience and how mother and baby are treated, while in the grand scheme of things are less important than a healthy baby/healthy mama, they are hugely important. If that makes sense?
Personally, I didn’t get a “dream” wedding. I got married really fast (2 months after meeting my husband) and we did get married at the court house. It wasn’t exactly how I always imagined my wedding to go. I’m actually quite sad that I didn’t get the wedding that I had always imagined I would get. Should I be happy that I got to marry the love of my life? Sure! We’ve been happily married for almost four and a half years and we have three beautiful children…but I didn’t get to wear a white wedding dress, carry a bouquet and walk down the aisle with all my friends and family supporting me and my husband. I think that’s less traumatic than a very negative birth experience, but it still makes me sad. We’ve talked about having another wedding, but I honestly don’t think it’ll ever happen and I’ve had to come to terms with that. I am happy though that I have been able to walk away from all three of my births with minor irritations and not trauma…I feel so bad for those mamas who have had traumatic births.
This is a wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing it! 🙂
It’s been 3 years and I still can’t get over the horror of my childbirth. I don’t ever want to do it again, and every time I hear “but it was worth it, at least you have a healthy baby”, I’m thinking, shut up, what one has to do with another and why there has to be either or. To me it’s more like, well, at least my body recovered well. Not that at least my baby is healthy. Of course it’s great that baby’s healthy, but why is it a reply to my horrible childbirth story?
I’m 35 weeks and planning a natural birth, in large part due to multiple drug and food allergies I have. I balked at some of the procedures hinted at in the essay – no way am I letting myself be talked into certain things – it’s just not worth it, especially if it doesn’t really affect the child. Fortunately many hospitals are moving away from some of the older accepted birthing methods and things like rooming in after delivery are much more common. I know birthing doesn’t go as expected, but unless it’s an actual emergency situation, every mom has options and choices she should be allowed to make with full disclosure of the risks and benefits, instead of just being pushed the medical direction b/c it’s what’s standard. At the very least, moms need to become informed about their rights and options so they know when to push back and take responsibility for birthing their child (or have someone with you who can be your voice.) While ultimately having a healthy child is the most important thing, the medical option isn’t necessarily the healthiest start to your child’s life, especially if it separates families and inhibits nursing.
Loved this! I had a bit of a cry while reading this. It just bought up so many emotions! I always felt so selfish for feeling so upset/traumatised about my sons birth, and especially so when people would say the dreaded “oh well you have a healthy baby, thats all that matters” OR “but the only thing that matters is you are both healthy”. I felt like screaming “I’m not healthy though – I’m emotionally broken!” Thankyou so much for putting it like this! I wish I could share this with every person who said those words to me!
I had a lot of mixed emotions reading this.
On one hand, the first part was horrifying to me. Imagine one of the most exciting days of your life, and you’re suddenly in a hospital room full of strangers, being intimidated into invasive procedures. And the person you love, who you expected to spend time with, is taken from you and poked and prodded. That’s like a horror movie.
However, I do think as far as a wedding goes, it is just a day. To freak out & get depressed over a party is ridiculous. To dwell over a problem with the flowers or the cake or the photographer is just petty and unnecessary. If you actually were abducted for days and subjected to unnecessary medical procedures on your wedding day, then you’re the exception 🙂
But birth is much different to me. It’s a physical, mental, emotional, chemical experience. We are programmed to be ferociously protective over our newborns, and many doctors use that against us by scaring us into consenting to unnecessary procedures. When you feel like you failed your newborn, it’s devastating, as well it should be, we must have the instincts to help them not just survive, but thrive.
Couple that with the hormonal fluctuations that happen after birth, and you have a recipe for disaster when you’ve been traumatized during your birth experience. PPD and a sense of being physically violated during birth is very real. And not to be compared to some wedding day snafu, IMO.
Right–and that is exactly why it is ridiculous that people dismiss birth as “no big deal” or “just one day,” but almost all of them would understand/validate disappointment over a ruined wedding!
Thanks for this post. After a traumatic birth just over 2 years ago, I emphatically agree. I still feel violated & grief at the horrendous start my baby had & I as a mother too. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I’ve always felt that I was being self-indulgent over-thinking it but lately I have realized that it was so important. It wasn’t that I had a bad experience, at all….it was more the way I was handled & disrespected. All turned out fine health-wise. I feel emotionally scarred. It’s such a shame that births are always viewed as traumatic & something medical & to be managed. Why not have these as back-up instead of first call? Why can’t women feel empowered instead of terrified. I was very uneducated about birth before I went through it but am learning a lot now. Sorry to hear about your losses. I agree that there’s no reason to want a healthy baby AND an empowering experience.
I am all about home births, natural all the way. My daughter just had our first grandchild this year. She, too, was all about as natural as possible. Though there was no one she could find in the area for home birth and no midwifery. She ended up with a doctor who respected her wishes , but had to deliver in the hospital.
She had so many complications, even if she was all natural with her mother in law who is a midwife with her, ( not delivering, just doula-ing) after 23 hours of hard and unproductive labor she had to have an emergency c-section. It broke her heart, but has accepted it for what it was. All to say, I get this, I love this, I am all about encouraging this, and will continue to believe in this first and foremost. But sometimes I am thankful for the other side of medicine.
I wrote a similar article for the ICAN blog. In my scenario, the bride gets in a car accident on her way to the church.
I’ll make sure to check it out!
I am a mama who has lived with PTSD from the birth of a live child.
I am also a mama who has suffered a stillbirth. I didn’t not suffer from his birth, his birth was amazing. I grieved for his death, but that is entirely different.
Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry about the death of your baby 😦
I experienced a second trimester loss and found his birth to be empowering and transformative. I also experienced profound and total grief over his death as well as emotional trauma when I sought aftercare in the hospital. His actual birth was very meaningful and powerful and truly changed my life.
Birth matters. And, like ICAN says though it is important that every mother define her own experience.
Here is the article I wrote which is similar but uses the analogy of grocery shopping instead of a wedding.
I like when you say: “Every women is grateful for the health of her baby. But a healthy baby is NOT all the matters. Mothers matter too! And just because YOU had a good birth in a hospital doesn’t mean that everyone has a good hospital birth.”
Yes! The other thing I always point out is that ALL mothers want a healthy baby. That’s a given. To suggest otherwise is degrading and insulting.
Meg also well writen!
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I love how this is writen, its is sooo true. I got those comments too often – “oh well, now you have to focus on being a mother” and do that job. But until you have experienced that terrible time, being a wedding or birth or what ever, then you just can’t shake why and how you let it happen, why it happend and why it had to happen!. My second birth was planned how I wanted it, again it ended in an unplanned c-sec but I was more in control of the choices made and I felt I was given a voice by having the carers of my choice around me to help me through, and give me the respect I needed in the hospital system. Its funny tho as soon as the event was over and my care team left, I was left in “that” system in the hospital for the vultures to get at me, where is the respect we deserve as grown WOMEN.
We as WOMEN need that empowerment. afterall men can’t do what we do, so why llet them or anyone else try to control it!
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I ended up having a c-section 23 hours after my water broke, running a fever and with a baby whose head size ended up to be well over 100th percentile in size, and I have to say that I was most upset at the people who had told me before that I was the one who had to be in charge and I shouldn’t let myself be railroaded into a c-section. The natural-birth advocates made me feel like I had failed, wanted to know why I had had the c-section and hadn’t the doctor considered x, y and z. The truth is that weddings are a lot more predictable than births, and the health risks aren’t the same. It took me some time to believe that my birth experience, while not what I expected, turned out to be exactly as it should have and I was happy with it, because all that mattered is that my baby was healthy. I think people fetishize their control over events like weddings and births and we ought to be better at accepting whatever comes our way.
For anyone thinking women are just trying to ‘control’ a situation that can’t be controlled such as birth and that we should just ‘go with the flow’ they might want to read the article below:
I think you’ll find that the opposite does not work either.
Women need to be informed, strong, with a belief in themselves and have a very good support network of people who believe in them and then they can achieve mostly anything.
In my first experience I struggled to find a single person in the medical system who believed in my ability to birth. The second time around I hired a midwife, got a birth support friend and got the birth I had grieved for, prior to this.
I remember my GP putting his hand on my back as I burst into tears trying to talk about my first birth experience, as he ushered me out of his room, told me ‘at least my baby was fine’ and called the next person in, shutting the door on me…..
Tha facts are that people also don’t know how to deal with emotions and the healthy expression of them. They would much rather move the ’emotional’ person on for someone else to deal with, or they just don’t have time to deal with it. After 8 years of medical study I was not taught once how to deal with the emotional fall out of telling someone that they had lost their baby during an ultrasound examnination.
The price of emotional damage is only just now being realised as the soaring rates of PND and PTSD can not be ignored. And these poor women are trying to bring a new life into the world. We need to rally and support women as they say ‘Happy Mother, Happy Baby’!!
I really liked this. I hate hearing ‘at least you have a healthy baby’. I feel like I had to mourn my birth experience alone. No one really wanted to hear it. It was really hard for me until my son was about 6 months old and a friend of mine’s 4 month old died from heart defects. It did put things in prespective a bit but I still feel like I was ‘gipped’ and missed out on a truly powerful experience. I did everything ‘right’. Kept myself healthy and fit, did tons of research, took a Bradley class, saw midwives who didn’t bully me. I let my labor come on its own at 41 weeks, I stayed home for two days with contractions 10 minutes apart the whole time. When they got stronger and closer we went to the hospital and within 4 hours I was 10 cm and fully effaced! I was moving around, drinking juice, taking hot showers, etc. Unfortunately upon examination it was found my son was ‘posterior transverse’. In all my research I hadn’t even heard of this possiblity. He was head down but his head was turned to the side. they tried moving him manually, I hardly ever stayed laying down, I was doing sets of 20 squats between contractions! Nothing. They still gave us 12 hours to try every possible option to try to move him. But he wouldn’t decend. At the end I did have to go on the monitor, IV, got Pitocin and after pushing for over an hour on all fours (along with many other positions) I was on oxygen and he was internally monitored. Imagine my frustration after so much preparation and DAYS of pain to find myself in the exact position I had DREADED. Throughout this no one told me my son was in ‘danger’, it was more of a matter of how much longer could I go on? My boyfriend and I were falling asleep between contractions, we were so exhausted! I finally decided to go with a csection. I had to wait over an hour for an operating room to become available and when the surgeon told me so she offered an epi (though during all this time the nurses and midwives respected my birth plan of no drugs). I said no, and had to lay in bed with full-blown pushing contractions being told ‘DON’t PUSH’. eeek…I was able to hold out and got a spinal right before they cut me open. Even during the procedure, the surgeons were commenting on how I took too long, my bladder was smashed due to my son’s head being pressed on it during labor and they were the only ones that made me uncomfortable. My midwife came back to be by my side and they shut up. My son was born with a perfect APGAR score, needed no oxygen, nothing more than a quick cleanup. Once he was born though, because the labor floor was packed we had to wait for a post-partum room which meant I was seperated from my son for about 4 hours. I was desperate to nurse and bond since I’d missed out on the immediate skin to skin, but I was told No because there was nowhere for us to be. I couldn’t move my legs yet or I wouldve just ran to the nursery myself. All in all, when I was with my midwives things were great. But when I was with the surgeons and surgery nurses it was a different story. By the time I got my son it was late at night and visiting hours were over and no lactation consultants were around. Thankfully I had taken some classes so I winged it that first night. My son latched immediately and ate happily. I have a thriving, healthy 13 month old now. I know had I not been educated I would’ve had a much worse experience. I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids again but if I did I would opt for a home birth or birthing center. Though my midwives were amazing and respectful, we were still at a hospital. I will never know if I could’ve gotten him out on my own, I had a very knowledgeable midwife, but I will always wonder. We as women have to take control of our own births. This article shows how the same woman who will plan her wedding for a year not missing a single detail will just ‘wing it’ through her birth and go with whatever some doctor tells her, just assuming they have her best interest at heart, when that may not be the case. It is very infuriating!
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Exactly! I wanted the birth of our first child to be treated as a ceremony. That word is meaningful. I wanted quiet. Quiet was important. I wanted to avoid televisions, side conversations, technology sounds and impediments, and strangers intruding. I feel so lucky our home birth succeeded (but it wasn’t easy). I feel deep empathy for women who were traumatized by their experiences giving birth. I encourage my friends to talk, journal, honor and heal from their experiences.
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Thank you for this!
I’m so glad you liked it!
Thank you so much for posting this. After my own very traumatic birth experience I have felt guilty over the days of crying over my lost home birth. I can’t look back at my babies birthday without sadness.
You’re welcome! I’m glad it spoke to you. I’m so sorry that you had such a traumatic birth. And, it is okay to “hold” them both–your happiness with your baby and your grief over their birth. You can feel both simultaneously. One feeling does not invalidate the other.
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I started reading this and really enjoyed it, nodding my head the entire time. The only thing I would add to the end when she was talking to people about her experience is “Well mine would have died had we not been in the courthouse” or “They know what is best”
One of the comments was about having her wedding at the courthouse, we all make choices if you choose to get married at the court house there is no judgment, if you choose to have your baby at the hospital there is not judgment. Though it is all choice. I think that there is a big lack of informed consent. At the hospital we are given only enough information to make the choice that the hospital wants us to make and if we do not make that choice after the information is given they follow up with the bit about the baby being healthy or they will throw in there, in a very nice way, about you not being a good parent if you do not chose what they suggest.
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I just came across this and I bookmarked it. I will probably print it out and keep it in my wallet. My DD will be 21 months next week, and I am still trying to come to terms with my very unplanned, very traumatic birth experience. I wanted a natural birth at a local birth center, and instead ended up being induced, spent 45 hour in labor with everything from Pitocin to my water being broken to a balloon in my cervix, all to end up on the table of an OR getting cut open and honestly thinking I was going to die before seeing my daughter. My husband and I went to therapy and even my therapist told me to just focus on the end result, that it didn’t matter how my daughter got here. Just like several other comments said, “if a bride has a bad wedding day, everyone feels sorry for her. But if a mother has a bad birth experience, she gets told to just be grateful she has a healthy baby”. I must add though, if you have a bad wedding day, you only have your memories, which will fade. I will forever have the physical scar of when my body was cut open and my baby was surgically removed from me, a constant reminder of the physical and emotional pain I went through. I am glad that there are at least SOME mothers out there who understand my pain.
My name is Tami I am a mother of five wonderful children, but I have also had the heartbreak of six miscarriages in between them. I am a nurse that worked in L & D and the NICU for four years and critical care for another two before I had children. I am going to play the role of devils advocate for a moment. I don’t know how the trend came about that healthcare professionals are these mean-hearted, procedure happy, push meds, trying to ruin your experience type of people. I know that every patient I had, I tried my best to make the beautiful arrival of their children a happy time and one that they would remember fondly – even if the unexpected happen. As did the majority of my colleagues. My heart breaks for those that have memories of horror and pain and feelings of having failed at something. People have commented on this post that we should return to times of old and that trauma at birth is not common. I have been all over this world and I have been in countries where the mother/baby mortality rate is still well over 50%. The truth is birthing is a traumatic experience for a mom’s body and emotionally and seconds count when unfortunate problems arise. Many babies and moms are saved due to the quickness and education of the medical professionals. I am all for standing up for the type of medical care you want and for making plans to have a birthing experience that caters to your desires but I think we have to teach our moms that when things come up and we have to deviate from those carefully laid plans, it is OK, you haven’t failed at anything. If you have been educated in what can happen and what you can do in those moments where it seems you have absolutely no control, your expectations are a little more realistic and helps you get through those horror moments when it “all hits the fan”. They really have your best interest on their minds. Many times things just happen despite moms honest efforts. Its OK! That’s why the good Lord gave us people (family, friends, and healthcare providers) to help us surviive those moments and live to enjoy our lives together! Good luck to all expectant moms. Bringing children into this world is hard work in all aspects, but like they say the outcome is well worth the effort! Love all you moms and know that you are not alone!
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THANK YOU! This is a brilliant poem. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one shouting from the rooftops that a woman’s birth experience matters too!!! That a healthy baby is NOT all that matters. I just launched a new free e-book for moms that have had a disappointing or traumatic birth experience to acknowledge what happened to them and give them tools to heal. Within 2 weeks it was downloaded over 400x. I’m so grateful it’s being spread far and wide and would like to share a copy with you and your readers too ❤ http://prenatalcoach.com/release-painful-emotions-ebook
I'm going to share this post far and wide!
Oh my goodness! YES YES YES!! This is a perfect comparison and I don’t believe anyone could have written it better. You got me all fired up, punching my desk and crying fired up even! ❤️ Thank you
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