Updated: Apr 11, 2019
When I was giving birth to my first son, in the hospital, I really wanted a natural birth. This was before the days of google, before midwifery was legal in California, before any of my friends had babies and consequently heard the birth stories of my peers. I was young. I was naive. I was hopeful that my expressed desire for a natural birth would be honored.
It was not honored. And in many ways, it felt like a violation. An unwanted IV, an unwanted induction, an unwanted episiotomy, an unwanted sexist comment from the doctor, an unwanted condescending comment from the nurse as I tried to cope with the intensity of the fake pitocin contractions. My autonomy, my womanhood and the wishes I had expressed my entire pregnancy were either forgotten or ignored.
It took me several years to process this experience, especially the parts where my self determination was undermined. Giving birth to my second son, at home, with the loving support of a bad ass midwife, provided me the opportunity to re-experience childbirth with autonomy. I was able to transform into the vessel of the Divine Feminine that allowed one of humanity's souls to pass through it. What a sacred and holy experience. What a profoundly healing experience.
But this begs the question, why didn't I report?
Truth be told, I was very hyper-focused on new motherhood, my healing body and the incredible visceral pain of hearing my new baby cry. Taking time to reflect on my experience took years. And it took midwifery training to help me understand my experience in the context of our society's expectations, limitations and projections about birth and a woman's capacity. 25 years later, I could accurately report to that hospital my experience and its direct and lasting effect on me. 25 years later.
#WhyIDidntReport is our current expression of violation women and men have experienced. Often it is men who are the perpetrators of this violation. In birth, it is the patriarchal medical model that is the perpetrator. Control. Dominate. Manipulate. Coerce. Threaten. These are the tactics routinely used by perpetrators to get their victims to cede their will.
At this moment, I think it is important to point out that I am not talking about individual people. I have met many fine doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who are working hard, have good intentions and genuinely want to help. I really liked my nurse who made the condescending remark. I trust that the hospital I bring my clients to acts out of sincerity and wants the best outcome for my clients.
AND this medical industrial complex is a system built out of patriarchal thinking.
Some of the qualities of patriarchal thinking are, a belief that one group has power over another. One group is the authority and the other is generally seeking something from that authority. It is expressed through control, strength, forcefulness and rationality. Decisions are based on statistics and avoiding an adverse outcome that is statistically possible, but not probable. Often in patriarchal interactions, one person positions their self as the hero, adding to the power dynamic where the "saved" must express their gratitude for being saved.
These qualities are alive and well in our society. And they are alive and well in the medical model of birth.
I think it is important to note that I am not suggesting a world where women are in charge. This is also an unbalanced dynamic. I am talking about a society where a woman's worth, contribution, style and capacity is honored and revered.
Women touch into the soul, emotions and mystery of humanity. Birth is full of mystery. And many, many birth and pregnancy experiences are not rational, forceful or able to be controlled. How many women have found themselves crying for absolutely no "rational" reason during pregnancy? It was countless times for me alone!
#Birth is the ultimate Divine Feminine experience. In order to assist with it, participate in it, witness it, one must tap into their #DivineFeminine. The Divine Feminine taps us into our highest creative potential...and creating a human being is the ultimate of Divine Creation. The Divine Feminine calls on collaboration, intuition, sensuality and community. (Extremely important note, this is not referring to an individual's gender identity).
The Midwifery Model of Care is a style of care based on the midwife and the client working TOGETHER towards the birth of the baby. Intuition is an essential component of decision making. The senses experienced during pregnancy are honored as an seminal part of pregnancy and it is recognized that a child is born into a community/family of loving support. This is a very different approach to providing "medical" care.
To circle back around, when a woman is controlled in the hands of any patriarchal system, many things result. One, she does not flow in the most optimal way - and birth is all about flow. Two, she falls into the societal expectations of accept your experience, because that was what was best for you. We gave you the statistically best outcome we could provide. How you FEEL about it is not our problem or concern. So then why report how your birth experience was a disappointment because you had an IV? It sounds absurd when heard through the ears of the patriarchy. But when heard through the ears of the Divine Feminine, great compassion and understanding becomes the healing balm.
I have spent my life learning how to negotiate the patriarchy while allowing the Divine Feminine within to develop to its fullest potential. My life is not over yet, so the development continues. But I am content with the mystery and unknown with birth. I am content with the profoundly sensual experience I witness repeatedly for my clients and experienced myself. I draw on the community support of my sister midwives, friends and yes, from time to time, the medical community. And that intuitive voice, the quiet, but steady voice, finds its expression regularly.
I want to offer a prayer for all of the people of #WhyIDidntReport - From the Words of St. Theresa:
People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Peaceful birthing to you all....