I'm pretty sure we've established that birth trauma and obstetric violence are real. And yet, the vast majority of people I encounter are adamant they'd prefer to pretend it's not happening.
Ignorance is bliss! No wonder nobody wants to hear about my horrible birth experiences. I understand. Itís uncomfortable. Youíll protect your bliss at any cost. You donít know what to say, and if you know me well enoughÖ. Youíre probably terrified of accidentally uttering one of the top two insensitive phrases Iím so tired of hearing.
All that matters is a healthy baby.
At least youíre alive and both ok.
Unfortunately, most of the time, the only people who actually know what to say to a woman in the throes of grief, shock, post traumatic stress and outrage- are the ones who carry similar scars. Why? Nobody wants to hear it, thatís why. Sometimes, not even your husband wants to hear it.
Who wants a nice big serve of injury with a side of insult? Mmm. Delicious.
The thing is, if everybody just minded their own uterus, everyone would be a lot happier. You heard me! I recently wrote about backlash, and the assumption that the speaker should censor or filter her story, in case somebody gets offended. I had no idea Iíd be writing about this again so soon.
If a birth story describing a motherís feelings of violation and degradation offends you, thatís your problem. She, nor I, nor anybody else is responsible for your reactions or feelings. You own them, you carry them, okay? Iíve got enough stuff to drag around in my own baggage. If itís so confronting that it makes you recoil in horror, and want to scream at her to shut up- thatís because what happened was so far from acceptable, itís not even funny.
She doesnít deserve to be criticized, scrutinized, demonizedÖ You see where Iím going with this. You know Iím upset if Iím busting out the rhymes.
I witness it every single day. A woman will add something to a discussion, expressing her dissatisfaction and residual feelings of sadness in regards to her experience. There are a few types of haters out there. I call them haters, because honestlyÖ itís pretty hateful to shame and silence someone in distress.
Make no mistake though, they will rise up against you, erode your confidence, and rarely will they stop until youíve been completely chewed up and spat out.
It's enough to make me want to curl up in the foetal position, too. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons
Donít hate me. Hate what happened to me. Hate the fact that Iím now sitting here at 11pm, with my eyeballs practically hanging out of my head, furiously tapping away trying to purge the rage that so often builds to critical mass and sends me into a spin. Hate the fact that you canít bear to hear my story because itís just so intense and confronting. Hate the fact that things like this even happen to modern women (people).
The first type of criticism received is usually from the personal discomfort militia. You know the drill.
ďIím offended, therefore I have the right to overrule you and dismiss your truth. I will label you with all types of negative titles, accuse you of trying to upset others, and basically de-rail the entire conversation in the name of restoring my own personal bubble of comfort. I will demand that you defend your position, and distract you from your actual goal - breaking your silence and finding peace and purpose in your pain.Ē
The second type youíre likely to encounter is the empathetically deceased. The accusatory, and vicious ones. Theyíre so out of touch with themselves, that they couldnít possibly catch your drift or understand your perspective. They're ice cold in their interactions with you.
ďI didnít feel that way, therefore your feelings are invalid. Now Iím going to attack your worth as a mother and question the love and devotion you have for your child, because you dared challenge the assumption that mothers are merely vessels.Ē This type of hater is especially brutal. They deal swift blows, and are often quick to isolate and alienate those courageous enough to speak out.
The third, and final most common type of hater you might encounter, is of course, the nit pickers. How could I not mention those perplexing individuals? Thatíd be a crime, people. But nothing is worse than the crime of improper grammatical application, apparently.
ďI hear what youíre saying. Iím so sorry you experienced that. But you might upset or offend people! You should swap this word for that word. No donít say it like that. Youíre not being sensitive enough! Rules! Regulations! Restrictions! You must be bound by them as I am! Iím going to miss the point entirely, and focus on the way you arrange your words, until youíre so frustrated that you give up.Ē Although annoying, this is my favourite type of adversary.
Theyíre the most reasonable, sane ones of the whole bunch.
Thereís another thing though. Not everybody realizes theyíre even doing this. We go so blindly through our lives, that the majority of us rarely stop to ask ourselves if we're being true to our real beliefs, or just parroting and regurgitating what's fed to us all our lives.
So go gently. No matter how much outrage youíre met with, maintain your grace. Theyíre in the matrix still, and they know not what they do. They just go through the motions, retorting with knee-jerk reactions and defending their ignorant stance. If you meet your opponents with unrestrained anger though, youíll miss the opportunity to find and connect with your kindred spirits.
Every single time Iím engaged in one of these Ďlively exchangesí, at least one person will take my hand and stand with me. Sometimes I spot them in the crowd, desperately trying to raise their voice- and I stand to support them. Either way, Iíve bonded with some truly awesome people as a result of my persistence, and patience. (or perhaps, foolish disregard for my own sanity.)
My message is this:
Fight the good fight. Fight it fairly but fiercely. Never back down, and never doubt the validity of your own truth. If we could all just stop judging and shaming each other, weíd all feel better. My birth choices and experiences belong to me, the same as my uterus does. Just as yours belongs to you.
Sure, I might have an opinion on the way you feel or the things you choose. But NEVER will I ever impose my personal limitations upon you, attempt to silence you, or blame you for the way our culture has shaped you.
Did you know that the uterine muscle is the strongest and most resilient muscle in the human body? Only women are blessed with this strength and power. Thatís pretty awesome and a huge honour. So how about you just mind yours, and Iíll mind mine.