Thursday, June 23, 2011


Today, something is off.  Somewhere inside my head, my brain, my hypothalamus, something is OFF.  I noticed yesterday that I was feeling weird about the other parents at school.  This is often an indicator that I need to increase how much fish oil I'm taking, because its a common *thing* I start to notice when my mood is going off kilter towards anxiety.  By 'weird' I mean I start thinking conspiracy theories about them: they all think I'm dorky.  They all think I dress like a freak.  They all think I'm fat and frumpy and have too many kids.  None of them would ever want to be friends with me.  Which makes me think, well, that makes them materialistic snobs, because they are all the same with their two kids and two SUVs and homes worth $800,000 so they don't like me because I'm different from them.
See?  Conspiracy theory.
It's not true at ALL.  In fact, they are all decent folks with nice kids (yes, a lot of their lives look the same in many ways but isn't that true of anyone who lives in community?) who will talk to me if I talk to them.  I generally am shy so I don't often talk to other parents at school.
Anyways yesterday I was feeling weird about one parent in particular, whom I like a lot, and with whom I have several things in common.  Six year old sons who like to climb rather than read, larger than average families (she has three kids), and midwives at our births.  I started thinking she was avoiding me and my dorky clothes and my frumpy hair during the kids' concert yesterday and part of me thought,
I'm being irrational.
And part of me thought,
No I'm not!  She totally hates me.
I didn't have much time to pay attention to this little warning signal and as a result, today happened.

I rushed around herding the kids to school on time in order to meet up with Ayden's class parent to pay her for the group gift for his teachers.  Today was the LAST CHANCE, so I tried really hard but I got to the parking lot just as the bell rang so she left before I had an opportunity to give her our contribution.  I bawled my eyes out, got out my phone, and sent her an email blubbering about missing the boat and screwing up and trying hard but having four kids and it was totally ridiculous.  TOTALLY RIDICULOUS.  I think she may be questioning my sanity, and WOULDN'T SHE BE CLOSE TO THE MARK?!

Hey if you're crazy and you know it, at least poke fun at yourself~it really is quite hilarious to be crazy.  I find it funny, as well as difficult.  Irony is not always lost on me.

Then I went to meet an acquaintance for coffee~this is a woman I met at church, and we have spoken on the phone twice and this is the first time we have gotten together (and maybe after today, also the last).  She's cool, and I like her, and I kind of wanted to be nice and give a good first impression.  Most of our visit was great, except an hour into it, I mentioned in passing something about contemplating a homebirth.  I didn't ever HAVE a homebirth and she knows that, but I mentioned entertaining the idea and she said,

Wow, you're brave!  I could never have a homebirth!

I'm generally pretty diplomatic in situations like this, but today I side stepped out of character and bit her head off.  BITE.  CHEW.  BITE.  CHEW.  SPIT.  I tossed statistics at her, the illogic of proximity = access (as in, proximity to the operating room means immediate access in an emergency: it DOESN'T), the truth that yes, sometimes babies die as a result of homebirth and also sometimes babies die as a result of hospital birth (I gave examples), and I even pulled out emotional weaponry when I said,

It is offensive to me when people say "You're so brave to have a homebirth" because it implies that the choice to give birth at home is an unsafe one, as if I would compromise the safety of myself or my baby for anything.  Inherent in that statement is criticism of me as a parent, when I would never choose something that wasn't safe.  Homebirth isn't unsafe.  It's safe, if you read the research comparing homebirth to hospital birth in BC, no higher number of babies die at home versus hospital, and way fewer women have cesareans, episiotomies, vacuum extractions, forceps, and other interventions if they have homebirths.  I get so offended when people SAY THAT!

Picture me waving my arms around and my voice getting louder and louder.  Gah, this poor girl.  It doesn't sound that bad when I type it out but its not like me, to get all up in someone's face for a simple comment that has nothing to do with the conversation at hand.  We were actually talking about the weather, not birth!
I apologized over and over, I totally went over the top, I felt really bad.  It's true, I get offended by that comment, but she didn't mean it offensively and she doesn't know the weight of years of research and rhetoric and fighting against a lack of awareness regarding what the research says regarding midwifery care and giving birth at home.

Also behind my words is the weight of my sense of loss from giving birth in the hospital three times and never having the opportunity to experience a home delivery despite my deep desire to do so.  And my belief that it is safer and more emotionally natural to give birth at home, relatively unobserved and undisturbed.

It wasn't so much verbal diarrhea as emotional diarrhea.  It felt kind of gross, since I obviously made her feel bad and bit her head off for nothing.  For being normal and having a normal reaction to the concept of homebirth.  It might not be accurate, but its normal.

Oops.  Better go take some extra fish oils and a chill pill.  Jeepers.
Good thing God invented GRACE.


Anonymous said...

Just had to give a virtual(hug). The four month slump hit me like a ton of bricks - one day I noticed my hair falling out, next day I was crazy :). I'm still slowly crawling out. This too shall pass. And yes, God's grace is enough. Happy Thursday.

amy frances said...

Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

Oh, Mel. Hugs to you.

I do want to say that when I hear the "you are so brave" comment, I have typically found this to be in regards to pain management options and NOT in regards to safety. Some people may be saying it that, but that hasn't been my experience. The "you are so brave" comments I have gotten are always followed with "You didn't have ANY medication? And no options if you needed it? Bravery!" and I take that as a compliment. People would probably say the same thing of you if they knew you had a natural birth: brave mama. And you are. :)


melissa said...

Thanks guys. Marie, you're right: my hair started falling out last week in big handfuls! Gar. Its not nearly as bad as when Riley was born, and I'm thankful for that! But it is still something big to grapple with.

And Rachel, I hear you on the pain management thing, although (a) things are different culturally here, surrounding birth; most women in my town aim for drug free (75% of them don't achieve that, however) and hospital isn't sononymous with epidural to the degree that it seems it can be elsewhere (read: Eastern Canada as well as some parts of the U.S.), and (b) she actually said 'You're brave, I wanted to be in the hospital in case something went wrong.' So in this case, it was the safety thing.
Thanks for saying I'm brave. Sometimes I feel like I don't *fit* exactly in the birth world because of my hospital instead of home births.
The medication thing seems funny to me. It never occurred to me to want medication. Not once, in either labour. It didn't hurt THAT bad! And I was just in a zone. It wasn't ever anything I couldn't handle, which doesn't make me amazing, it just makes our cultural approach to birth a bit more frightening than it needs to be. Some births are painful enough to need medication; these are usually induced/augmented, or involve a nuchal hand or a persistent posterior baby. If you're suffering, bring on the pain medication!!! I just never experienced anything close to the concept of suffering. Thank heaven for water, hypnobirthing, and midwife support. And my mom.
[my grandma said to me on the weekend: "How can you LIKE giving birth?! What's to LIKE about it?!" Where do you even start? I'm addicted to it. Birth addicts anonymous, anyone?!? I feel like asking, "How can you WANT to be anesthetized from birth?!" It was intense, but as much positive as negative.

Anyways. There you have it.

Jen said...

I feel for you babe. Sucks to feel like that - to have that inner conflicting dialogue and not really sure which side is the voice of truth. I've been there. No real advice here, just want to send support and love.