I recently read an article cleverly titled “You should get an epidural” (I know, I know I should have stopped there) that told a story about some “natural birther” who was rude to the writer in a grocery store. Apparently she asked the writer – WHILST STANDING IN A CHECKOUT LINE – how she planned on giving birth then shamed her for wanting an epidural. This is almost unbelievable in its fucked-upedness (yeah that’s a word).
Who the hell would do that? I’d like some stranger to ask me when I was visibly pregnant “how I planned on giving birth.” I’d be like, “On your face, asshole,” and leave.
But that’s irrelevant. The point here is that in response to her outrage at being told how she should give birth, she wrote an article telling women how they should give birth.
Because this is how we do in the interwebz.
Why god WHY?
She implies that women who want unmedicated birth are trying to “win” something and attempts to discredit the real and valid reasons people opt for unmedicated births by bolstering the benefits of epidural and invalidating the “science” stating that epidurals “slow down labor” with the words “but I’ve talked to a few doctors who say it speeds it up!”
Can we all please stop making shit up at random and calling it “evidence?”
Yes, that includes you, lady on the internet who declared that not leaving the placenta attached until it falls off on its own is an act of “violence.”
Yes, I read that. I read an actual human writing those actual words. I can only imagine how fun she is at dinner parties:
Non-Violent Placenta lady: “Oh! You just had a baby. What, pray tell, did you do with the placenta?”
Normal person: “Well I cut the cord and the doctor like, took it away.”
Aghast and appalled, Non-Violent Placenta Lady breaks down weeping right there next to the triple-cream brie.
I have an idea: Somewhere between one must let the placenta fall off untouched in soft moonlight and a choir of angels and FUCK THESE ANTI-EPIDURAL MARTYRDOM WANNABE HEROES is the land of Not Being a Dick.
Also known as, informing yourself and doing what is best for you and your baby and body and family.
Also known as, not caring how strangers birth their babies.
Also known as: Not being a dick.
Always, we’re back there. It’s like Oz. All roads lead to it.
This seems so reasonable, and yet, the nonsense prevails. We pick and choose data and statistics and studies. And we all know how I feel about those. We strategically ignore and omit and focus on this information over that information to prove our points and back our game.
There are valid and real and intelligent reasons to opt FOR and AGAINST epidurals.
And yet, rather than treating both options as sound decisions, there are actual people CRUSADING for and against the use of epidurals. Straight up ON A MISSION. People arguing that all women should have medication. People arguing that all women should have homebirths. To me, they’re all missing the fucking point.
Everybody keeps talking about women’s empowerment by demanding women do things THEIR way.
Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
Look, I gave birth four times, each time without an epidural and twice at home. Yes, I wanted a birth without an epidural, and yes, I wanted that adamantly, for myself. Not for you. I truly could not care less how you have your baby. In fact I can’t really think of anything that affects me less than how strangers have their babies.
I wanted births without epidurals because I am a control freak and wanted as much power over my body as physically possible. I wanted to move freely and birth how I wanted. I was MORE afraid of losing that power than I was of the pain of childbirth. Of course I do not looooooooove the pain, and I certainly didn’t “dance my baby out” (some hippie suggested I do that), and I may or may not have wanted to kick (gently! I love you!) my midwife on account of her infinitely soothing voice, but I was not really concerned about the pain.
Not because I am a martyr. Not because I believe Eve must be punished for her sins. Not because I’m anti-feminist and not because I hate doctors and not because I think YOU should do it. That’s just my preference.
Wait. Seriously, stop calling me a fucking martyr. I am not a martyr. Martyrs are heroes. I am not a hero. What am I fighting for? WOMEN ACROSS THE LAND?
Stop. There is nothing “heroic” about my choice. I was not particularly brave and I was not impressive and I was not trying to “prove a point” and I am not anti-epidural.
Which brings me to my next point: Having an epidural is not cowardly, unnatural, or un-“womanly” (whatever the fuck that means). In the past, I have used the term “natural” to describe “unmedicated.” I don’t do that anymore. It’s a loaded term. I apologize for not realizing that sooner. (On that, the writer of the article and I agree.)
To me, we’re all brave. And I don’t mean that in some cute woo-woo way. I mean it truthfully: We face a thing we are a little (or a lot) afraid of. All of us have grown up in a culture of fear surrounding childbirth. How that manifests in each of us will be unique, but universally, we face the unknown. Whether through surgery or birth at home or in a hospital, we face something infinitely new, with stakes higher than anything we’ve ever faced. And we have no choice. We walk in. We handle it.
That is bravery.
I felt safest with the littlest intervention as possible.
We get to define that for ourselves.
All this shit-slinging about choices is nothing more than self-righteousness masquerading as “helpfulness.” It’s not about other women. It’s not about new moms. It’s about THEMSELVES. It’s about their own damn choices. It’s about pretentiousness and insecurity.
Fun fact: People secure in their choices do not feel compelled to run around screaming how other people should be like them.
Oh, and BTW. If you’ve never had a child: Shut the hell up with your demands on my vagina/uterus/offspring. No, really. Shut the actual fuck up. Nobody cares.
I see people who made choices like mine treating women who get epidurals or planned caesareans as some sort of strange subspecies that barely loves their children let alone possesses the spiritual depth necessary to raise them. They act as if Ina May Gaskin is THE GODDESS of motherhood and we all must embrace her or die alone in parental wasteland.
Perhaps I’m overshooting the mark a tiny bit, but seriously.
You know what? Yes. I believe our maternal healthcare system is pretty fucked, and I believe it needs to change. But that will not happen by running around spewing orgasmic birth as The Only Way.
We have one job. We know what it is.
You know what I want? Women to have equal access to information and education to make informed choices that work for them. I want women to have doctors and midwives who explain the pros and cons of choices openly and honestly, treating women like they have brains in addition to vaginas. (I know, revolutionary.) I want women to be treated like humans, not cute little pets. I want women to be respected, validated, and heard. I want women to be the central player in the birth of their babies.
I want women to have POWER, however they define it.
We’re all warriors here. We can own that.