05 February 2009

Drawing the line in Ricki Lake's bathtub

So I had heard recently from someone who hadn't actually watched the documentary about The Business of Being Born.  You can go to the website to check out what it's all about, but just to give a quick synopsis... it's subject matter covers American birth statistics as they relate to midwifery and the "introduction" of actually seeing a doctor and/or going to the hospital to have a baby in the early 20th century.  Apparently ex-talk-show host Ricki Lake wasn't happy with her hospital birthing experience, wanted to do a home birth the second time around, and decided to make a documentary all about the stuff she learned in what research she did on the whole she-bang.

AKA, several granola-munching hippies bashing everything to do with medical convention.

Now, I have to be honest... I didn't watch the whole thing.  I was already mildly irritated at the flippant attitude toward the idea that the pain of childbirth is a beautiful, transforming, and other-worldly phenomenon which should be embraced as a part of a woman's femininity and which has absolutely nothing to do with sin, particularly Adam and Eve's transgression in the Garden (because, hello, it's all right there in Genesis, not that granola-munching hippies are gonna put a lot of stock in Genesis).  I became a little more than mildly irritated when Ricki Lake described her initial reaction to early labor au natural as: "Get me the f*** outta here!" And then when the next clip showcased of a full-frontal of Miss Lake writhing in a bathtub, I decided to turn it off for the betterment of my corneas.

Let me just get this out there right now lest anyone reading this think that I am anti-natural-stuff or anything along those lines because I'm not.  I think that giving birth naturally is an awesome idea and I think that every single woman is strong enough to do it.  I personally think that Americans in general are over-drugged and I think that the number of women who have induced labors ON THEIR DUE DATE is ludicrous.  Furthermore, I love the idea of homebirthing with a midwife or hospital birthing with a doula.  

Personally, I was too big of a chicken to pursue these things on the off chance of "What if something happens that a midwife can't handle? What if my baby dies because of my choice to homebirth? What if my baby dies and it could have been avoided if I'd just gone to the hospital?" because I worry a little (a lot) from time to time and I lurve me a good guiltfest.  Besides all that, I ended up opting for a c-section when my doctor discovered my fluid level was depleted.  Although, I'm sure this groovy-looking midwife from the documentary would say that my doctor just told me that's what was going on so she could get me in and out and she could get home for supper and she would be under less legal risk than otherwise.

Here's my thing with it all... This whole documentary is focused on how doctors, hospitals, and the whole medical convention is telling women what to do with their bodies and then taking away the beautiful experience of childbirth by sticking a woman flat on her back, over-drugging her, and ultimately taking control away from the mothers and furthermore doctors don't care about you or your baby, just their wallets and covering their butts in the event of a lawsuit.  So they're saying, "Don't listen to doctors, don't go to the hospital, don't take the drugs, listen to what WE'RE saying, do it the way WE say you should do it!!!!" So... take charge and do with your own body what you think is best, but, just so you know, what's best is thus and so... oh, and if you choose to do it any other way, you're just following the masses because you want to be like Britney Spears and Posh Spice and are missing out on an integral part of what makes you a mother!

(I felt my ears get red at this implication, by the way)

Here's a phrase that I like: "To each her own."

If you want to have a natural home birth, fine.  If you want to give birth in a bathtub, fine.  If you want to give birth while balancing on an exercise ball, doing yoga, and eating organic carrots and hummus, FINE! But if you want to go to the hospital, get an epidural, and get some pitocin to get those contractions going... if you want to plan an elective c-section and tummy tuck for the same day, that's fine, too.

If I were going to encourage women to do anything, I would encourage each and every woman to get involved.  Make your own educated decisions and do what you feel is best for you, your child, and your family.  Don't follow your doctor or a midwife around blindly; ask questions, do research, PRAY PRAY PRAY, and then make your decision.

I feel very strongly that my son is alive and healthy today because of the advice my doctor gave me AND God's assistance in our decision to deliver via c-section.

And furthermore, I have never once looked at my child and thought, "Gee, I'd probably love you more if you'd come out of my birth canal..." Motherhood is about sacrificing your body for much longer than the time frame of labor and delivery.  Motherhood is about being peed and puked on.  Motherhood is about loving, protecting, nurturing, teaching, praying for, worrying about, and having your heart living outside of yourself.

And all of that has ZERO to do with how your baby gets here.