Google+ Authentic Parenting: Authentic Parent, Inauthentic Birth?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Authentic Parent, Inauthentic Birth?

After having published my daughters birth story at her second birthday, a reader commented on Authentic Parenting's Facebook page that it was rather odd that I had an induction with AROM at a hospital. Even though that remark dates from almost a year ago, I think it would be a good thing to respond.

First of all, I haven't always been where I am right now. Parenting, to me, is pretty much a journey of self reflection and change. And inevitable on that journey, I have made mistakes, and have had to try again. That's precisely the reason why I call my daughter the trial and error child.
I have met inspiring people online who have changed my path, I have come to life-altering conclusions and I have read things that overthrew everything I believed before, like the idea of unschooling.
I am pretty much an entirely different person than who I was before I got pregnant. But of course the grain was there already.

I always wanted a natural birth for my daughter. Although at that time a homebirth was a bridge too far, I was thinking birth center. I never liked hospitals anyway and the image I had in my mind of a cold, steel and electronics filled room didn't suit me.
Being expats, we had no home of our own at the time of our daughters birth (we came to stay with our parents in Belgium when it was time to birth), so homebirth wasn't in my realm of options anyway (that I could think of). So my husband bullied me into having a hospital birth at the hospital where his mom works because it was 'so much easier'. I think it was mainly easier on his mind.  This ended up in me having an induction and having the stranded beetle.

This is painful and frustrating for me because I know all too much that I will never get to birth my daughter again.

Image: Lars Plougman
And it's so much worse because I knew... I knew all too well that I didn't want to birth in a hospital and that I didn't want to lay on my back. That I didn't want an induction. I cried throughout that pregnancy because they made me feel like shit and they said I had no other options. I allowed myself to be bullied by my husband, my family and my doctors. And in the end I just got a 'don't complain, you're baby is perfect'. Such a cliché.

Yes I did feel powerful after having birthed my child, and I loved her at once and I wanted to do it over and over again, despite all the things that didn't go my way... But the problem is that they shouldn't have gone that way. There were options.
I feel like I was this sheep being brought to the sacrifice beam...
And nobody stands up for me...

I told my husband everything I didn't want. Over and over again. Even before I was pregnant, but he says he was overwhelmed. He never reacted.

I took all this because I wasn't informed enough, I wasn't strong enough, I couldn't stand up for myself and I didn't have anyone to back me up. I seriously suffered from the good patient syndrome and I certainly liked the attention of a 'high risk' pregnancy. I know I am only partly to blame, and I have to forgive myself for it.

If anything, having gone through the process myself makes me understand that it is useless to judge people for making poor choices. There are so many things in play that sometimes bad choices are inevitable, especially when (you trick yourself into thinking you) have no choice at all.
I wished we lived in a world where we got the right guidance, where our options were clear and we were handed the tools to make those choices... so far, we are not there yet.



  1. This makes me so angry, and at the same time doesn't surprise me at all. Your story is repeated over and over and over across the country.

    It happened to me, too. I'm thoroughly convinced it is specifically BECAUSE of everything they forced me to do and bullied me into when my son was born that I died giving birth to him and they had to revive me. Had they listened to me, and believed my body (and if I'd had even a single advocate in that birthing room who cared about MY needs), it wouldn't have happened that way.

    I wish we lived in that same world, too.


  2. I'm so sorry for your experience (hugs) Are you on the Joyous Birth forums? Lots of women unpack their birth experiences there and it is the world's best resource for childbearing women. I wish you much love and strength.

  3. I can only imagine how difficult it is for a mom-to-be in labor without any support for the birth she wants.

    My son's hospital birth left me empowered, but I was 33 with a doula, a supportive husband, and a midwife. Even the nurse from hell wasn't enough to derail us. Us. That's the key. I had a team of support behind me.

    It's bad enough that so many women are ill-informed, if they are informed at all, about their birthing choices. I can only imagine that it's damn near impossible to fight for your rights as a birthing mother when no one is in your corner fighting with you.

  4. This is such a wonderful post, Laura. I also relate to quite a bit of it. My first birth was not the birth I wanted, not even close. And yes, I had "good patient syndrome", lapping up praise for my "perfect" weight gain (and later weight loss), feeling "grateful" for even ten minutes of the doctor's time. After a long, undignified, typical hospital birth (where by the skin of my teeth I avoided an epidural), I felt "grateful" to have my baby healthy and all that - or maybe, I was pressured to feel "grateful".

    In my case, I was fortunate in that I ruminated on this birth quite a bit over the next two years (as I miscarried once, then carried my second child to full term). I kept reading and thinking and educating myself and finally (this was the smartest thing I ever did, and I just kind of lucked into it) I interviewed midwives. I won't bore readers with what a life-changing event it was, but I did end up having the birth of my dreams, not only incredible in its own right but very healing with regards to my first birth - although I will always feel sad.

    Like you I was not supported in woman-friendly birth practices, and like you some of it I have myself to blame. This blame is not unhappy, it just is truth. I feel so sad for so many women who are let down, in all countries of the world although some appear to have better records than others.

    Your post is very powerful, written from a position of strength and ownership. Thank you so much for writing it.

  5. Yes, a very powerful post.
    I was lucky/ballsy/ignored enough to have 3 home births the way I wanted, and with a great support team.
    But I did have friends who went through what you described. I truly felt hindered from helping them explore their options, though, lest I be seen as pushing my own "unsafe" or "granola" ideas on them. It got so that I didn't bother speaking at all. And when it was over, and the experience was horrible - but the babe was healthy - the last thing I wanted to say was "it didn't have to be that way".
    It's just as Kelly said, women are pressured to feel grateful. We are encouraged to take the path of least resistance.
    But every experience, good or bad, is a learning experience. More women need to share these experiences and more women need to read them. Thanks for sharing yours :)

  6. read your awesome post. Would you come on my blogtalkradio show to discuss it? MamaBaig On The Air.

    The discussion takes place over the phone to the States. The show is 1/2 hour long.


  7. I had exactly the same experience! Twice! 15 years apart. You would think that I could have been smarter, but no! That is two of the things I regret most in life, not being able to have the birthing experiences that I wanted... I would have loved to have home births in the most natural way possible! I blame Western medicine and that the people around you can't fathom another way to do these things, and you get swept up in it! Thanks for this post! It is good to know that others also have gone through the same *regrets*.

  8. Reading this makes me feel not so alone anymore. I was forced to have a c-section because I had GD and they estimated my son to be 10 lbs and told me there was no way I could vaginally deliver that big of a baby my first time. They told me it was "like forcing a square peg through a round hole". I very much regret not having him naturally as I wanted to, and most people I have told this to just seem to think I am silly for "being stuck" on that, and that I should just be grateful he was/is healthy, etc. I hope if I am able to get pregnant again (it took 3 years of fertility tx for my son) that I can have a VBAC and have a good experience. I know that things not going as I wanted had a lot to do with my bad postpartum depression!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and to Kelly for directing me over here. I feel like many of us need this long, slow journey of learning to stand up for ourselves. I was informed, and in my 30s, and planned a home birth, and I still ended up in the hospital, feeling ignored and discouraged. (You can read how I felt here.) Some people are forceful and manage to stand up to all the (many, many) pressures against them right from the start, and for others of us, it takes time to build on our own authenticity. I'm not speaking for you here, but for myself. Just planning a homebirth for me was an act of bravery and … well, weirdness, compared with what my family and friends understood and desired. When it didn't work out, very few of them comprehended or cared how much it grieved me. We're heading into birth number 2, and I sincerely hope I've learned something and gained some inner strength and determination since my first experience.

  10. I'm sorry that your birth was not what you wanted it to be. I hope that you get a chance to have that experience although I understand you can never do THIS birth again. I was very lucky to be able to birth the way I wanted for both my children. As a PP said, the most important thing was having a TEAM of support. My midwife and my husband were instrumental in facilitating both of my hospital hypnobirths (the second of which was in water). I had to fight tooth and nail both times to get there (as did they). The first time was with a stalled labor (both @1cm for 5+hrs. and @9.5cm for 3+ hrs.), and the second time was against one midwife, a nervous OB, and hospital policy regarding water birth for overweight mamas. I'm happy beyond words that we overcame those obstacles and I birthed both my babies with minimal intervention (in the interest of full disclosure I did accept an injection of Stadol very early in my first labor and AROM after stalling @5cm during the second labor). I doubt I would have changed much about either of them. My wish is that every woman be as happy with her labors, whatever her choices may be.

  11. It is a beautiful thing to see the healing that comes when women share their experiences! How incredible the similarities in our stories and the communities that are born from simply expressing our truth.
    I, too had a disappointing/ traumatic? birth after being a natural birth advocate for years. I know that I will be processing it a long time. I am trying to forgive myself and look for the gifts of that experience. Any hard time that has come in my life has also opened up rooms inside of me that I didn't know existed and has given me more flavor and more compassion. Surely, this must offer those gifts as well.
    Bless you all my sweet dear sisters! Namaste.

  12. This is exactly why I wrote this...
    Am going to link to this post from mine.

  13. I had a same experience.. You are not alone... I totally hear you!!


I love comments! Drop me a line