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.

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