Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

Hi. I'm Danielle. I'm the owner and only writer of this blog. Thanks for stopping by to read what I have to share. I'm a thirty-something mother of two and wife to my one-and-only. Here's us:

But this is actually more like it:

I'm also a daughter, sister, friend and a few other things.

For my work outside of my home, I'm a certified birth doula and certified childbirth educator. I love witnessing, discussing, teaching and learning about childbirth. I believe I have learned quite a bit but don't consider myself to be an expert by any means. My views of birth have evolved from once being quite extreme to now being more middle-of-the-road.

Your comments are welcome on my blog - I don't moderate or delete them, but I do ask that you keep them appropriate. I read each of them even if I don't respond. If you ask me any questions directly via comments, I try my hardest to respond. If you have a note or story to share that you don't feel comfortable leaving in the comments, you can email me at douladani1 at gmail dot com.

There were several reasons why I decided to write my original post and to start this blog.

More than anything (much, much more), it's been cathartic for me to write - it's been a way for me to process certain things. I went from someone who desperately wanted a home birth and thoroughly believed in it and it's safety down to my core; to someone who no longer felt it was the safest option for me and questioned the safety of home birth as a whole in our country. It was a huge change of heart and mind... and there was definitely some pride that had to be swallowed... and writing it out really helped me understand why things changed so drastically for me. A lot of people find comfort in writing - it has always been something that works for me (my husband and friends/family can attest to this as they have all been on the receiving end of one of my many long-winded emails or letters!).

But this blog has also helped me shed some guilt I had (and still have) about certain things.

I have to to say that there was a certain amount of selfishness in my desire to have a home birth. Please note - I am not saying that every or any woman who has a home birth shares these same feelings or desires. I'm truly only speaking for myself. 

Of course my selfish desires were not major factors in my decision to have a home birth - I had read so much literature and I was truly and absolutely convinced home birth was the safest option for me and my baby. My little selfish desires were more just the icing on the cake or the cherry on the sundae, if you will. But they were still there... and I have guilt about that... guilt that those desires even existed to a point that they were a part of my driving force, even if they were a very small part of it. Had it worked out for our first birth to take place at home as I was hoping, if anything would have happened to my baby, even as small as those desires were, I know that they would have haunted me forever.

My former attitude that I had regarding childbirth in general - and parenthood, too - affected several aspects of my life... and it greatly affected my perception of my hospital birth experience.

After giving birth at our hospital, I knew that the experience was good for the most part (for example, our nurse was so phenomenal that I brought her chocolates at work a couple weeks later) - but I still had some things to complain about. It took me a while to realize it but I went into that birth at the hospital wanting to hate it so badly. So man, did I pick it apart afterwards. I overlooked all the positives and went right for the negatives - and there weren't very many negatives, but I sure clung on to them. My attitude was just bad. I'm honestly surprised that my OB continued to be as friendly as she was and is to me!

It wasn't until I started to learn more about childbirth and attend more births - specifically home births - that I started to realize how nice my experience was after all. I realized that certain aspects of my birth would have been handled in relatively the same way regardless if I were at home or at the hospital. What was I so bent out of shape about? I'll be honest, certain complaints were due to downright ignorance. I'm too embarrassed now to admit some of the things I found to complain about....

As months went by I started to process my birth more and more.... and I felt very guilty for the person I was around that time in my life. Several months ago I remember sitting and crying to two of my friends over the guilt I felt for painting such a horrible picture of my birth experience at our hospital.... I couldn't help but wonder if anything I had said or so foolishly complained about made other women fear giving birth in a hospital.

It's amazing how much our attitude can affect our perception of things.

It wasn't just my birth experience that my attitude affected. It started to mold and take shape of a pretty judgmental and know-it-all person. Who was I becoming? I had an opinion about everything childbirth-related and boy did I sure think that everyone cared about it! I found myself pitying moms so often, "poor thing, she just doesn't know how bad her birth experience was / how wrong it is to do this or that / etc."

I never stopped to think.... why the heck does it matter to me how other women choose to give birth? Who cares what "parenting method" other parents choose to utilize or if they use any "method" at all? Who cares if other moms breastfeed? The list goes on......

But while I'm at it.... breastfeeding is another perfect example. I feel passionately about breastfeeding, I do. But for me to judge other women for not breastfeeding is not right. I have no idea what their journey has been like. I have no idea the reasons they have for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. I have no idea if there is a physical problem that makes breastfeeding not an option. I have no idea if they desperately wanted to breastfeed but didn't have the money or resources to get passed certain obstacles they may have faced. I didn't know if they needed to be on certain medications that aren't compatible with breastfeeding. Hey, I didn't know if someone just didn't want to breastfeed - it's as much a woman's choice to breastfeed as it is her choice to decide where to give birth, right? I didn't know any of those things but it didn't keep me from judging women if I saw them bottle feeding. Why?

Why I didn't I ever stop to think, "this doesn't affect me or my family, so who cares?" So much wasted energy on caring too much about things that were none of my business.

What was with my attitude? Why did this "stuff" consume me so much? Why did I feel so.... superior?

I know part of it is b/c I felt it validated me, sadly enough. It made me feel like I was doing it "the right way" when I knew other moms who did things the way I was doing them. Parenting is a big deal... it's the biggest deal.... you are raising another human being and you are their guardian and protector and how the heck are we supposed to know if we're doing a good job? We don't have a boss to praise us or a promotion to get when we are excelling.... how do we know if we're not messing up?! So it's a nice feeling of "ok good, they do this or that and they are smart and nice people, so it must be a good thing what we're doing this or that, too!"

Validation wasn't all of it, though. I don't know what it was. Perhaps just the thrill of feeling like I was "right" and others were "wrong." Perhaps in feeling like I was doing things the more "challenging" way then it made it seem more rewarding. I don't know. But I'm ashamed of that person now. That's not the person I want to be the mother to my children.

There's a happy medium out there regarding childbirth and parenthood and the attitudes we have about them. I'm striving to get there.

I'm starting out with a simple yet rational realization: I... am not better... than anyone else.

Except for the fact that I'm a redhead. Obviously.


  1. Nice post! I used to be pretty judgmental too and then I had kids and that flew right out the window. I am doing things that I swore up and down as child that I would never do to my own children. My parents make a lot more sense right now.

    I was super thrilled that one of my kids has red hair, I was always envious of redheads.

  2. Funny how we know everything about parenting before we have any kids! I love how open you are about your change of heart regarding birth and feeding. I had pretty similar views before I started having kids, but since my husband wasn't comfortable with home birth I had our first in the hospital. The staff was great, not pushy, and I was treated very well.

    My hubby reconsidered home birth with our second, but soon after he said yes and I did more research I realized that I wasn't comfortable with that we just had number two in the hospital as well. Both births were peaceful, quiet and joyful. I realized this time around that I was willing to deal with any discomfort of being "hospitalized" in exchange for the peace of mind I had in regards to my baby's safety if anything went wrong. The odds were against anything bad happening, but I'm not a risk taker to begin with.

    My oldest is a redhead as well:)

  3. Very nice post.

    We found out early on that we were having twins. Instead of worrying about breastfeeding or who was going to cut the cord, I was afraid I would lose the pregnancy. Then, things went well for a while. Then, pre-term labor set in, with hospital bed rest. Ultimately, things worked out fine, the boys were born at 36wk, and didn't need NICU. But throughout the pregnancy, there was always a thread of fear. I had to acknowledge that apart from following the OB's instructions, I had absolutely no control over the situation. The complicated pregnancy was such a huge thing, that it overshadowed any concerns about parenting style and made them look very trivial.

  4. I love this post and relate in so many ways. Keep up the good work!

  5. Just read this post... I LOVE you! You are so inspiring. I think we all suffer from this elitism whether it's related to parenting or not... it's normal and human but good to keep it in check. I hope you're not still feeling any guilt. Your blog is doing so much good for so many women who deserve to know the truth. Women who will make wiser choices, women who will no longer suffer from false senses of guilt, women who will simply be empowered by knowledge. LOVE THIS!

  6. I'm a redhead too, by chance. Also by chance, I've run the same attitude course. Our first daughter was born in a freestanding birth center, because I don't like hospitals, and it was an option under our insurance then. Fortunately, nothing terribly awful happened, but a few not-so-great things did that had me resolved to just go to a hospital if we had another baby. Well, here we are, four years later, and the old hospital anxiety led to googling led to a three page birth plan draft, a very anxious husband about the ridiculous things I was asking for, and stress. Lots of stress. I don't remember exactly how I was blessed to find Dr. Amy's site, but I thank the gods that I did. It may have been when I started googling the Farm, because we're not that far from it - I do remember that the first thing I read of hers mentioned how Gaskin lost a son by refusing to transfer to the hospital - and thinking I so worried about the possible "cascade of interventions" at the hospital that I'm actually considering inadvertently sacrificing a child to the altar of dogma with these people? And then I couldn't stop reading her stuff, and all the comments, and that three-page ridiculous birth plan is forgotten.

    I love your blog, because I feel like it's the gentler version of the most important points. Personally, I love both of your writing styles - but, if I had a friend who was considering a birth center, or home birth, I'd send her to your site first. I appreciated Dr. Amy's harsh-reality wake up, but I know so many women feel hurt by it. Screw feelings - babies and women are dying preventable deaths over this. Over the last week, thanks to you and Dr. Amy, an ideal birth in my mind has changed from - well, read any given natural child birth site and run down the list - to a wonderful hospital birth in which, most likely, I won't need any interventions - but, if I do, I now trust the system. Luckily, we have a great OBGYN practice, and a great hospital, and everything is going to be great - especially since I won't be fighting them every step of the way any more.

    I loved your breakdown of BOBB, too - and, how funny that we both had a preexisting aversion to hospitals, and then saw that, and things cascaded from there. Thank goodness you didn't have a birth center to choose from under your insurance plan, because that's really a roll of the dice with PPH, as you've stated. I'm lucky that it didn't happen to me at that birth center. I did lose enough blood that any OB would have dosed me with pit, but they didn't. I Googled whether the "redheads bleed more" theory is true, and it seems to be only rhetorically so, but hey, going forward I'm fine trusting the OB, who's seen, you know, thousands of births, and, here in the American South, where there's a higher percentage of us to begin with. Versus the one study of under fifty people that compared bleeding after a dental procedure in redheads vs non-redheads of both genders that I was going to rely on to try to refuse the now-standard pit after delivery. How perfectly pastoral of me.

    Anyhow, much love, thanks for writing, and all the best to you and yours!

  7. Wonderful post. I know the pregnancy time is really a difficult stage and surly we need some extra help.There are trained doulas Oahu who offer postpartum for the new mommies.


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