*NB. Plug in just about any other parenting choice within the range of normal and non-abusive practices, and this entire rant applies. This just happens to be the topic that pushed itself forward today.
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Can we get something straight, moms?
Women who ask for epidurals and other pain relief during childbirth aren’t wimps or control freaks. They are individuals with their own experiences, priorities, and perspectives who are facing birth in the way that works for them. It isn’t about you.
Women who are able and who choose to birth without painkillers are not doing it for bragging rights or “looking for a medal.” They aren’t masochists, and choosing childbirth without an epidural isn’t like having surgery without anaesthesia. These moms are facing birth in the way that works for them. It isn’t about you.
Women who need C-sections or choose repeat C-sections rather than push through the risks and difficulty of a VBAC do give birth, even if their baby never passes through the birth canal. They are mothers who love their children and they are facing birth in the way that works for them (and their babies). It isn’t about you.
Women who jump through hoops and work and sacrifice to attempt a successful VBAC aren’t making a value judgment on C-section moms, nor are they prioritizing their experience over their baby’s well-being. They are facing birth in the way that works for them. It isn’t about you.
How other moms birth–even if they talk excitedly about it to anyone who listens, even if they can’t imagine choosing anything but what they actually did choose, even if they seem to have nothing in common with you, even if their stories make you feel vaguely uncomfortable, guilty, or self-conscious about your decisions and your story because of baggage you might have or the fears you have about what others might think of you….
It’s not really about you.
How other women birth IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
You can object to birth-shaming without shaming in return. You can be positive about your birth without putting down anyone elses choices or ideals. You can encourage women to make the choices that help them face birth without fear, whatever those individual choices happen to be.
Because their choices are not about you.
And your choices should certainly not be about them.
As long as we act like our understanding, our comfort zone, our experience, our expectations, our insecurities, our hopes and our fears are or should be universal, the Mommy Wars will never reach a ceasefire. As long as we respond to one another with defensiveness instead of openness, we will never reach understanding–or peace. Within ourselves, or with others.
Yes, there are some loud voices who actively shame others–generally rooted in some other shame or fear that we can’t see or don’t understand. Those voices suck and they shouldn’t be allowed to dominate our conversations. But whatever you feel you’ve been shamed for, in the category of “parenting choices,” you can be sure someone else has been shamed for the exact opposite. Guaranteed. There’s no one set of bullies–breastfeeding nazis or breastfeeding shamers, “granola cruncher” or “manhatten climber,” attachment fanatic or CIO proponent–there’s just all of us, hurting each other with our excitement, or our fears, or our insecurity, or our zeal, or just by existing and being happily, joyfully ourselves when so many are confused and unsure.
And none of it, none of it, is really about you and your choices. Not really.
Face parenting–face life–in the best way you know how, the way that works for you, the way that brings love and mercy and warmth into your life and the lives of those around you. Judge it against your ideals and fit it to your needs, strengths, and weaknessness.
Be confident, and be at peace.
And all of us? Let’s do a better job having each other’s backs. This stuff is hard. We’re all working in the dark. None of us have all the answers. But we can love each other through the answers we find, even if they are different ones.