Monday, 12 October 2009

My Apology to the Universe

I had one of those awesome awkward moments tonight, when I completely and utterly embarassed myself. Thank you mama, for inadvertently pointing out how hard I fell on my face not so very long ago. (And I mean that honestly, it was something I'd not thought of in a long while or how much I've changed since then.) Barb was witness to my uncomfortable side-stepping and back-tracking as I awkwardly tried to make myself look like a little less of a dumbass, it probably didn't work so well. Lol.

Anyways, enough with being cryptic. At dinner tonight when I mentioned an old friend of mine (and I've mentioned her on here numerous times I'm sad to say, my neighbor in Spain that had her baby a week after we had Ray) that, looking back, I'm surprised stayed friends with us. We were all reasonably close, as couples go, had quite a bit in common as we all liked to play World of Warcraft, weren't really big on the local social scene (lots of bar-hopping), ended up having our first children around the same time. But man, in secret we were so harsh on them. We talked alot of shit, that I'm really not proud of. Compared ourselves to them frequently over all kinds of things, and getting pregnant just made it worse.

I see now that we were starting at such opposite ends of the spectrum just to begin with. On top of being, DUH, totally different people in different circumstances, everything was different from the start. We got pregnant on purpose. They went off birth control, but were surprised. I was super thrilled, she was unsure how to feel at the start, in spite of being my elder by a few years. I had a breezy, chipper first trimester that involved an obscene amount of food consumption and sleep, she could barely keep food down and didn't want to leave the house. And it just went downhill from there. Once I got over my initial fears of learning about birth I started devouring all the information I could get my hands on. She reluctantly borrowed Dr Sears The Birth Book from me much later in the pregnancy, but did end up reading it and feeling a bit better about what was to come.

I never really thought before tonight about how much she's taught me about myself, and oh it has not been pretty. I never really embraced our differences, I stuck my nose up privately and consulted my Bad Mother measuring stick. It really strikes hard when I consider how I held her up to my Bad Birth measuring stick. Her birth was my first chance to use it, and I did. I see now even before I realized I was at all unhappy with my own birth, I was sneering at hers. Back then, by george she'd had it EASY. She'd been induced (gah, "just like me!" again!) and had quickly progressed. By quickly I mean it didn't take two days. She'd gone in for a normal appointment on an empty stomach, was found to have low fluid and rushed off to be induced. After laboring (and starving) all day, she got the same half-assed epidural I did the week before, and before they even had time to fix it (as they had for me) she was pushing. Or rather, the nurse was pushing with her, on the top of her belly. Her little girl was born vaginally but still had a bit of fluid in her lungs. Something happened postpartum with bleeding or the placenta, I'm not sure, but the poor woman was so weak she could scarcely hold her baby until they got home. Little girl spent days hacking up fluid with an IV splinted in her arm.

Before tonight I'd not thought about her birth in, well, a very long time. I wonder now that I ever saw that as easy or better for ANYone. I wonder what awful, callous things I said to her when I was lost in my own confusion and hurt in the following months. I know some of the awful things I thought of her, as I shared them on here and with other friends/family. (Not so much about her birth, I think, but her parenting in general got sized up frequently as we really had no other new parents in our circle of friends to splash our judgement upon)

Please don't take it wrong here, I cannot blame the shitty friendship I offered her on my birth experience, as I know we were doing it long before Ray came into our lives. I'm starting to think it's no wonder they preferred to hang around on base (rather than go explore Spain) with people like us offering our companionship.

To take this in a slightly different direction now, I'm getting a handle on my pride. I don't think I fully understood how darned full of myself I was. (And AM, as long as I'm attempting honesty here) I thought, before my first ICAN meeting a few months ago, that I was doing pretty darn good on my path to recovering emotionally from the birth. At the beginning of this year I had a wake up call on my attitude that lead to me being able to be happy for another woman for her birth. To empathize with her over things not going as she'd planned, even though for ME it would seem like an ideal birth, I could understand that for her it wasn't. That HER experience of it was what mattered, and not my very biased judgement of it.

Then I went to ICAN. And look at me! Look at how well I'm recovering! Look at how at peace I am! I could barely get through a cliffs notes version of Rays story without breaking down. Insert screeching tire sounds here! What was all this emotion still hanging around about? My pride plodded on though, oh it was just being able to talk about it openly. Yes that was it. I'm not still harboring bitterness and negativity, right? His birth brought me to where I am today! I LIKE it here!

Last month I went to the BOLD Red Tent Event (which is fantastic, mind you). I didn't share. I heard stories similar to mine, and not. I laughed, I cried, I fought with myself about whether or not I would share. I knew it would probably be a good idea. I didn't do it. After it was over, I talked to a few ladies I knew, and jokingly said that maybe I'd share at the October event, when I had a story worth sharing.

Worth sharing.

I'm crying even typing it out. Because my god, even with all the negativity, it IS worth sharing, right? But quietly, at that event, my measuring stick came back out, and it was held against myself. I even got into a bit of a spat on facebook recently over this very thing, and didn't even realize it was the very same thing, because I was applying it to myself. We hear so often in birth culture about women educating themselves as though it will cure all birth ills in our society, and that has come around to bite me. Because I felt (and still feel, I suppose) that I really did. Sure, I didn't know everything, but I thought I'd read a whole damn lot. Enough to know that what I agreed to was a Bad Idea. How could I possibly share when I'm still so ashamed of the choices I made?

I talked about it again with Shanna recently, and she told me that maybe I need to forgive myself already. This honestly surprised me, and I see now that it shouldn't have. Another of my ICAN friends mentioned how she believes she needed her first birth to go the way it did so that she could let go the choke hold on control and running the show that she had. I just realized...that's me too. I don't really blame the hospital staff/doctors, for the most part they were very nice, and did the best they could within the scope of what they know to do. It's ME that I hold a flame over. Because I knew SO much, right? But then I wonder if I'd really, truly known better, maybe I wouldn't have made all the same decisions I did.

Can I ever let it go? How do I walk the line between acknowledging the part I played in his birth, and chalking up alot of mistakes to naivete? Where does self-awareness end and overblown pride begin? *laughs* Can those two co-exist at all? Does it make me feel better somehow to grasp at that little dangling string of control, to say that I really had a say in all that went on? To pretend that I was truly given a choice at every turn? Is this some kind of fucked up coping mechanism?

How do I forgive myself? I really, really don't know where to begin. But I'd like to.

Edit: Aha! Entitlement. I think that's alot of what it came down to. I felt that somehow, because I knew more, I was entitled to better. Not to be confused with just being deserving of better to begin with, because we ALL are. Analogy time. One woman spends months and months researching a product she wants to buy. She finally settles on a store online, buys it, and everything goes to hell. The company ships the wrong item, loses her order invoice and won't take a return or refund her money. Another woman buys the same item, minus the research, and has the same issues in receiving it. Because she didn't do all that self-educating, is she more deserving of being screwed over, lied to, or otherwise taken advantage of?

No.

And yes, there are many reasons, GOOD reasons, I agreed to do things the way I did. And I know this, I'm just working on accepting it. Off to bed with me. :)

1 comment:

Shanna said...

This comment comes a little late - but I maintain that what is meant to be will come to be! Had you not experienced Ray's birth the way you did, you probably would not have become so educated for round 2. Stassja, you're an incredible advocate for women in your community. How many other women have benefited from your story, your research, your empathy as a result? Even now, I am in awe of your strength and fortitude. It inspires and empowers me to take charge of my own destiny, even outside of birthing. Things are what they are, and there is no going back. Insert cliche phrases about living in the now, learning from your mistakes, and making lemonade here. I'm so proud of you for writing this blog. I can't wait to read the "Post-Dorian" one :D