Monday, January 30, 2012

Motherhood - Confusing passion for judgement?

I use cloth diapers, live a somewhat crunchy lifestyle and move in blogging circles that are geared more towards a holistic way of living. Yet, there are certain parenting decisions that I make that are contrary to those whom I’m blogging with. I’ve had it in my heart over the past few weeks to write about this topic probably because to a certain extent I feel insecure about my own choices. Mostly I’m writing about it because I really feel that as mothers we need to stand together in support rather than against one another
in judgment.

When I had my son, Buggie, in 2008 I made the decision to have an epidural. I didn’t want to go through with the pain nor did I want to practice helpful relaxation tips so that I could go through childbirth naturally. It seemed like the easier way to go and as a first time pregnant mom I needed to not be any more stressed than I already was. I had my epidural and the birth of Buggie went uncomplicated. After having a good experience with an epidural the first time, it only felt natural to have another epidural when I was pregnant with my daughter, Lady Bug. Her labor and delivery was extremely fast. I had to receive Pitocin; which, in hindsight, probably was not the best thing for her as it intensified my already fast moving labor. With the Pitocin I could feel the contractions more and for a second during my L&D I thought that if I were to get pregnant a third time maybe I would try for a natural birth. We’ll see what happens with the third but that’s not the point of why I’m writing this.

As a mother who has had an epidural I have to admit that I often hang my head in embarrassment around those who have not. Why do I feel this way? I think a large part of it is because most of us feel passionately about the choices we make as parents. While I do think (and I’m sure some of you will disagree but again, bear with me before you become upset) that my decision to have epidurals was a good choice for my births. I am not, however, passionate about those decisions. The moms I have come in contact with who have birthed naturally are very passionate about their decision. And why shouldn’t they be? It is a major feat to overcome with a wonderful reward on the other side. I have realized that their passion is excitement over the miracle that their bodies have just accomplished.

That passion, however, can sometimes feel judgmental. This goes for any parenting choice you make passionately. I know that as a cloth diaper mama I am passionate about using cloth diapers. My main reason for that passion is because I’m excited that I can cloth diaper and I want to encourage those around me that they can too. I’m certain, however, that my excitement and passion comes across as judgment on my friends who use disposable diapers. The same goes for my choice to breastfeed both of my children until they are at least a year old. I had a difficult time breastfeeding Buggie initially so there is a part of me that passionately believes that if I can do it anyone can. I think that whatever circle you move in, if you are not the “norm” then you, or should I say “I,” feel judged because of my own insecurity even when it’s not the intent of those around me.

I have a good friend who had an amazing non-medicated birth that lasted 24 hours. She is passionate about birthing naturally. I have felt judged by her in the past. Then I took a step back from myself and looked at her intentions. She’s not judging me. She’s excited and believes in the parenting decision she has made to birth naturally. She is not trying to say that I’m less than a mother or that I have screwed up my children because I chose to have a medicated birth. It is my own insecurity in that decision that causes me to feel

I’ve come to realize this insecurity of mine as I have been reading the birth stories that I feature on my blog for a segment called Telling Stories Tuesdays. The stories are amazing and the women that have shared show strength and courage in all of their births.  Some have had things go according to plan while others have not. These stories inspire me and, who knows, maybe I’ll feel like I can give birth naturally the time next around.

I have to say that I’m sorry to any of you formula feeding, disposable diaper using mamas who may have felt inadequate in your decisions as a parent because of the conversations you’ve had with me or the writings I have posted. I really hope that from now on what I portray as I talk about my love for cloth diapers, breastfeeding and natural living is an excitement about the possibilities rather than a passionate judgment.
I want for you to share in that excitement with me and see the possibilities. Let us stand together as moms, encouraging each other to be the best that we can and understand that that’s what drives our passion. I hope you’ll join me in lovingly encouraging each other.

Elizabeth (aka Bert) Anderson married her college sweetheart in 2005, and started her journey into motherhood in 2008 with the birth of her son.  She started blogging in 2009 as a way to keep track of her thoughts on being a first time mom, especially her struggle with postpartum depression, and as a way of reaching out to other moms who are struggling with the same things.  This June, Bert had another first in her motherhood travels - a little girl!  Even though she's newly a mother of two, Bert maintains that no matter how many children you have you will always be a "first time mom" because there's a first time for everything!  Visit her blog, at FTM. Bert is a contributor for She Thinks Media.


Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about others who have had plain old vaginal births, medicated or not, because I've tried my hardest to have three vaginal births and ended up with three cesarean deliveries. :(

They come across like they know what I should have done differently so I could deliver my kids on my own but don't know how hard I tried with each one, I feel judged very quickly in the "natural birth" world.

Jennifer said...

Bert, I sincerely love the way you write. I had an drug assisted birth, had to formula feed, and use pampers. Not once have I ever felt judged or spoken down to. I really enjoy your view and think moms can always learn and here from peers. There are so many different "right" ways to raise a child. No one method is better or less. I like learning and hearing. Thanks for sharing!

The FTM said...

Thanks Jenn!!!

Nell said...

This is really great! I just started a birth& parenting series at my blog for moms to share their birth stories in a nonjudgmental atmosphere. I'll totally check out your series on this as well! Thanks for being so open & honest.

Jena said...

I try very hard not to sound judgmental, but I worry that so many women (like many former students of mine) seem to rely only on what their doctors tell them & do no research on birthing on their own time. An epidural sounded horrible to me to begin with--I didn't want a needle that close to my spine!--but after reading about some of the other side effects reported--leaking from the injection site, horrible headaches, itching--I loathed the idea. I didn't even want a heplock after I read about that.

Also, a note about the breathing. I didn't practice my breathing outside of my Birthing from Within prenatal class. Just kept the moaning low--like a cow--and that was all I needed. Also, they worked on getting the right side of the brain active, and that helped a lot too; I visualized a lot of the artwork I did while I was in labor.

Lauren Stevens said...

Thank you for writing this, Bert. Births, just like babies, come in all shapes and sizes. Since when did women start judging others on how they birthed their children? I say, who cares how the baby got here, as long as s/he is safe!

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