Monday, December 28, 2009

Just be happy you got a healthy baby!

Often times when a mother feels cheated, hurt, disappointed, angry, or dare I say traumatized by her birthing experienced, her feelings are countered with the argument that she should just be happy she got a healthy baby. After all, that is the only thing that matters right? Sometimes her feelings are dismissed, ignored, or worse, met with resentment and hostility. She should count herself lucky and stop complaining. It never ceases to amaze me how cold, contemptuous, and lacking in compassion some people can be. They feel it's their duty to point out that she got a healthy baby as if she is somehow ignorant or ungrateful of that fact. They make a woman feel that by expressing any of the feelings and emotions listed above, she is not being a good mother, and quite frankly should just get over it.

I would like to take a little time to look at this situation from a different angle. I am quite fond of using analogies and thought of one I believe will help us garner a better understanding of why statements such as the ones above are wrong!
A woman has been planning her wedding for nine months with the help a Wedding planner she hired. The Wedding Planner was in charge of a great many details, two of which were very important to the bride: Acting as liaison between the bride and venue staff, and procuring a capable,professional, wedding photographer. On the day of her wedding, a great many things did not go as planned. The bride was prepared for unforeseen things to go wrong, like an unruly flower girl or bad weather, but not the negligence of the person she hired and entrusted with management of her special day. The Wedding Planner had failed to iron out all the details of the ceremony and reception start time with the venue and therefore, the wedding before the brides overlapped. Her guests were forced to stand around and wait 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony. The Wedding planner hired a very incompetent photographer in an effort to cut costs and so all of the services the bride wanted were not offered. Very few pictures were taken, and the photographer took very few candid shots as the bride requested, because he was more comfortable with posed shots. The communication between the florist and the wedding planner was minimal, as the planner, overbooked that month with other brides, had very little time for meetings. As a result, the decor was not as the bride wanted.

As the bride took stock of her wedding, looking at her poorly produced wedding photos and all recounting all the poor management, she grew angry and disappointed. The vision of how her wedding would be was destroyed and not because of some uncontrollable set of circumstances, but because of what her planner did or did not do. She complained to her bridesmaids, her friends, and family, who agreed that all of this could have been avoided had she hired a better, more competent wedding planner. Of course she had the right to complain, after all the planning and hard work, the person she paid to help her, ruined it. They joined her in her anger and offered their support and a listening ear. Not once did one person say to her; Get over it and just be happy you got a husband.

21 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. i thought id moved past my tears over my nearly 2yo daughters birth. apparently not.

    after a horrible birth exp that involved hemmorhaging, hands shoved into my uterus, a trip to OR, more hands in my uterus, being knocked out, an almost 2 day seperation from baby, dissmissive docs and nurses over my bf concerns, and a bbae use4d to far more milk than my post hemmorhage body could supply, i was a mess. emotionally fragile i cried daily and often.

    i cried every 2 hours for nearly an hour when i hooked myself up to my single breast pump (i couldnt afford hospital grade double), i cried everytime i put baby to breat and she howled and arched her back in frustration.

    i have been told to be happy that it was me and not baby, to be happy i could pump for 13 months. i am thankful for both but neither were ideal and both could have been avoided. i would not have been surprised at bum;s in the road, but i didnt expect the whole car to be derailed.

    thank you for acknowledging this. we as a society need to allow women the space to grieve the loss of their ideal birth exp.

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  3. What an excellent analogy, I couldn't have said it better my self. It's so sad to hear women tell me that they had an awful birth expierence and only to have the medical staff say well you had a healthy baby and that's all that matters. I must say I am truly disgusted with the medical community and the way they push are feelings as women to the wayside, when it comes to birth it should be an empowering expierence. Yet some many women are run over, thrown under the bus and or treated like just a piece of chattel.

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  4. anon, too true. in my case my team of docs and wannabe docs (i was on medicaid and had far too many students "learning" from my case)not only used the healthy baby line but also continually informed me that they considered my experience to be a success because not only did i survive but they didnt have to perform a hysterectomy.

    right. success. not exactly the way i would have described it and certainly not hours after experiencing such a tragic turn of events.

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  5. uhm..i apparently cant think today or spell or use the right words. i meant traumatic turn of events. i suppose it could be called tragic but not really the concept i was going for.

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  6. rlynnbaker, I am sorry to hear that. Yet again another shining example of why we don't need goverment health care for everyone in the nation. Second and thrid rate doctors and students practicing on us and if we don't like we... we are well you know. Too bad, so sad. The government pays for healthcare and we decide how well you are treated.

    What I am talking about they do it now, it would only get worse.

    I am again so sorry, that they use you as a ginue pig and put you though such a terrible ordeal. I hope that you will someday find that you have more peace,and now that you are armed with information you can stand your ground and put the medical community in their place in the future. You go girl!

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  7. Thanks for this post. I am still not over my son's birth. I still suffer from PTSD. I literally cry every single day....over 3 YEARS after my son was born.

    :(

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  8. You are so welcome Stephanie, and thank you for comment. I am hoping other women read your comment and the other ladies comments above and realize they are not the only ones and grieving the lost of control in birth, or the birth experience you hoped for is okay. Feeling and owning a traumatic experience in birth is normal and okay, and quite frankly I don't know if there ever really is a way to get over it, so I don't it's an idea we should be selling to women. I thinking learning to cope is much more realistic.

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  9. I agree....I don't think I will ever get over it. But I know I can heal from it....I just need to find a husband so I can have another baby/VBAC! ;)

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  10. Stephanie QuackenbushJanuary 4, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I thought I was the only one who was displeased with her baby's birth! I specifically said I DID _NOT_ want to be in lithiotomy position, and I DID _NOT_ want Pictocin AT ANY POINT! but the doctor came in and insisted I got on the table, and someone (with loaded syring in hand) asked if I wanted the Pictocin (I _KNOW_ I said _NO!!!_ but I got wheedled and whined at and then they just stuck me)

    All in all my birth experience was good, but I went to the hospital WAY too early (they DON'T let you leave if your water is broken....) you know, no one is going to be shooting anything up in there...it's not like your uterus INHALES when you are almost ready to have your baby....Hospitals need to RELAX!!!

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  11. Great post! My step-mother, a L & D nurse for over 20 years read my blog. I posted my son's cesarean birth story and decided to be a voice for the feelings of traumatic c-sections. My step-mother said to me, "I can't believe you are unhappy with your birth experience. You have 2 healthy children! Do you know how lucky you are?" We have not spoken since.
    I went on to have a VBAC with my second child, and I'd hoped it would heal my feelings from my son's birth, but it made it worse. Having a vaginal birth with my daughter just made me feel like I cheated my son from the birth he deserved. I cannot see a cesarean birth on TV without crying.

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  12. I could not agree more. I think much of what happens in our hospitals during labor and birth is very similar to rape. If a woman was raped and ended up with a baby, would you tell her to be glad because she had a healthy baby?! No!!! And when our medical establishment "rapes" women and puts them and their babies at risk, we similarly should raise up our voices and cry for something to be done. Too many women swallow their pain and suffering. We need to expose what is going on in the hospitals.

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  13. A birth not going to plan would be difficult. Your analogy, however, does not make sense. The alternative in the birthing process can be death of your baby, not just a bad wedding day. You seem to have an attitude that it should all be about you. What about your precious baby?

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  14. i think in many women's cases a birth not going to plan is a bit more than just difficult, its downright traumatic and women should be allowed to work through those feelings rather than be forced to hide them because people feel that these sad feelings are signs of being ungrateful. just because i am saddened that i had to go through a horrible experience of almost bleeding to death because a doctor was impatient and tugged on the cord rather than wait for my body to deliver it on its own due time...they gave me a COUPLE of minutes by the way not 40 not even 10. does this in any way impact that i am happy for the fact that my daughter was born healthy. no. but i am allowed to be angry that my birth experience was certainly less than ideal because of doctor interference. thankfully, i had a very understanding friend and husband who listened and let me process my grief. they didn't try to guilt me or shut me up...and because of that i was able to make peace.

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  15. @ Anonymous you said: "The alternative in the birthing process can be death of your baby, not just a bad wedding day. You seem to have an attitude that it should all be about you. What about your precious baby?"

    I think perhaps you have missed the point of my analogy. The scenario is simply one in which a mother births her baby (who is alive and healthy), but experiences a trauma (perhaps an emergent or unnecessary cesarean surgery). She of course already has the best outcome in a healthy baby, but still feels emotional over the birth.

    You mentioned that it's as if It should be all about me. Of course I don't feel that way. In my analogy the mother doesn't feel that way either. I would ask if you really understood the point I was making and if you did, are you of the mind too that when a mother has a traumatic experience during birth, she should just get over it?

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  16. @ Anonymous, the alternative bridal situation I always tell people is that on the way to the altar, the groom gets in a car wreck. He is conscious, but hospitalized. The officiant, the groom and bride's parents, and the couple gather in the hospital room. They get married. The bride and groom are so thankful that he survived his accident. Yet, she mourns the loss of the wedding she had planned. Eventually, she accepts the wedding story she has... yet there is always a sense of loss at the wedding she had hoped for. Is that so wrong of her? Can she not be thankful that he survived AND sad about her wedding?

    Unfortunately, in today's medical system, it is often as though instead of a car wreck, the officiant had shot the groom in the leg.

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  17. It certainly is all about the women! Her birth experience carries into motherhood! The analogy was just fine and the point is, that women are not given permission to be disappointed about their births.

    It has nothing to do with not caring about the baby for pete's sake! Let women feel what they feel, it is a process and not a time to pile more negative energy and guilt onto them!!

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  18. "The vision of how her wedding would be was destroyed and not because of some uncontrollable set of circumstances, but because of what her planner did or did not do."

    This is the best way of putting it.

    And to Anonomous, you are just proving the point Patrice is trying to make. In most cases a traumatic birth vs dead baby aren't the only possible outcomes. Even if the interventions a mom endures truly are necessary, I think she has the right to be sad about her birth experience.

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  19. Well expectations are too high today. They need to learn to be more flexible.

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