Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conversation in a Bar

The other night we held my Big Wish Birthday Bash at the Uptown Vault. My actual birthday isn't until the 17th but because of scheduling and all, we decided to celebrate on the 11th. The reason for the Big Wish tag is because if you're one of us who makes a wish at 11:11, you get a BIG wish on 11/11 at 11:11. Combine that with making a birthday wish and you can't get much bigger! My wish was for Hope Harbour to have all the funding and supplies that they need for the coming year. It's a great organization and you should totally check them out.

Now that we have established WHY I was in a bar, let's get on with the conversation. This guy came in who had seen the info for the event on Facebook. (Before Jamie gets all stressed out about me having a stalker I need to point out that it is a very public place and all were welcomed!) We sat there and talked for a while and he told me his opinion on population control. He brought it up because of our discussion about what I do for a living. And I really think that even though he's put a lot of thought into his plan, that there were some serious flaws in his reasoning.

I won't go into details about what he thought but I would like to tell you a little bit about my opinion. I know that a lot of people think that I'm a bleeding heart liberal for believing that we as a society are responsible for each other. I believe that how we treat the least among us says a lot about how we are as a people.

I think that an overlooked step in resolving a lot of our social problems is to find ways to help people take responsibility for themselves and their families. That doesn't mean cutting them off from resources, but the opposite. Give them the tools they need to make wise decisions.

Since my main focus in life is on pregnancy and birth, I have concerns over how the birth industry is run in this country. I think that our "system" makes it too easy for people to hand over responsibility for our families and in some cases, those choices are downright taken away from us. Women aren't able to fully participate in their healthcare decisions because they are fed misinformation by the very people that they hire to take care of them.

Of course I'm an advocate for unmedicated births but not because I want to see women suffer. I think there is a misconception that when I say teen moms for example, should go unmedicated that it is because I think that they should be made to "pay" for what they have done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When a mom is given full disclosure during her pregnancy and is armed with FACTS, she is able to surround herself with a support team who can help her to achieve a birth in which she is able to fully participate and not just be a bystander while procedures are performed on her body.

That mom is more likely to breastfeed and take more responsibility for her child. Because she is breastfeeding, she becomes the primary caregiver instead of a well-meaning family member who has further stripped her of responsibility and reinforced her self-doubt. Armed with hormones that she is biologically entitled to as a breastfeeding mom, she begins to see herself as a strong woman who is capable of much more than her peers who walk away from serious life choices.

Sadly, it is not only teen moms who make decisions based on misinformation and half-truths. Well educated women are probably even easier for doctors to dupe into medically-managed births based on their fears of what "might" happen. And those women are robbed of the first experience of motherhood on a daily basis.

How do we fix this though? That's the sort of thing that keeps ME up at night. We have to, as a society, demystify childbirth and, yes I'll say it, sex. Open, honest, TRUTHFUL dialog about it so that the stigmas attached to the topics fall away. When our daughters hear us talking about it, let them hear good stories and not horror stories designed to frighten them away from it. Heck when our sons hear stories, let them be good ones so that they will be able to support their partners in childbirth one day!

The couples that I work with are great. They have educated themselves, gone to classes, read books...they are dedicated to achieving positive birth experiences. Our biggest obstacle as a birth team is never the hospital or the care providers. It is always the family members. The fear they bring with them into the room. The myths that they have accepted as facts for generations. The mistrust that they have in the process.

So to the guy I was talking to, and you know who you are, I was not ignoring you or blowing you off. I do have an opinion and a lot of experience to back it up. I may not have been able to articulate what I needed to say to you that evening but I hope that after you read this, you'll understand why it was not something I could shout to you above the din of the karaoke or the smoke from your ciggarettes. And thanks for coming to my party!!

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