Saturday, February 23, 2008

Exhibitionism at it's best...

Sam has become obsessed with bellys (bellies?). His, mine, Tubbs's (Tubbs'?)

(Man this post is testing my High School English skills)

A belly on TV is HUGE hit. And if you want to see the baby belly? All you have to do is ask.

He is very proud of it. Can you tell?

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Business of Being 2 cents

The buzz surrounding "The Business of Being Born" had been building around the mama circles, so when the University offered a showing and a panel discussion, some fellow mamas and I left the babes with Daddy and headed out.

First, I want to say that I think the movie was very well done. It opened my eyes and gave me some insight into the reasons why women make some of the choices they do. I particularly enjoyed the portions that followed a Certified Nurse Midwife through Manhattan. As the filmmakers interview her clients, discuss their views and decisions, and eventually film the births themselves, it really solidifies home birth as a valid choice. Home birth is a topic that can cause visceral reactions in some people. Most often, those are the people who know next to nothing about it. I think the film could be very useful in educating those groups who are obsessed with the idea of potential tragedy and “unnecessary risk” in association with the term “home birth.”This film does a wonderful job showing why people choose a home birth, what preparations are made and how any complications are addressed.

Being that the vast majority of the movie is filmed in New York City it was kinda hard, as a Vermonter, trying to relate to some of views and culture around birth in New York City. There is some talk of the “Too Posh to Push” phenomenon, which has lead to the increase in elective C-Sections…something we don’t hear much about around here. On the contrary, the area in which I live in is very pro-natural childbirth, pro-breastfeeding (pro-extended breastfeeding for that matter), lots of people co-sleep, cloth diaper, ect. So in our case , the movie was kinda preaching to the choir.

As a result, the issues I had with the movie are primarily the same issues I often have with the birth culture in Vermont, which was evident in the discussion that took place after the film. The panel was comprised of a couple of midwives (including Burlington’s only homebirth midwife), Lactation Consultant from LaLeche, a birth educator and doula, an OB GYN (from the practice that delivered Sam) and someone else I must be forgetting? The discussion that took place was interesting, though there was little diversity in the opinions or reactions to the film. There was a lot of discussion about Vermont culture. The panel often brought up how lucky we are to birth in a culture like Vermont. Though I wholeheartedly agree, there is also the flip side. When women have trouble following the natural path, due to personal choice, medical intervention or complications, or cannot follow post natal recommendations (in particular, breastfeeding), there is judgement. Women often have to justify their actions, or are at least are made to feel as though they have to. There were a few women who expressed this concern, (one of which was one of my Mama friends) and mentioned that this movie may serve to reinforce those feelings of inadequacy or a “less-than-perfect” birth experience. When one way of birthing is held up as an ideal, and you fall short of that, whether by choice or circumstance, it’s difficult not to have a sense of failure. Not that home birth shouldn’t be portrayed as the wonderful experience it is. I must admit, after watching the beautiful, calm (for the most part, these are not superwomen after all), intimate, and private births I wish I was a candidate for a home birth. But since my last birth resulted in an unplanned C-section, it’s best I birth my next one in a hospital.

And I’m ok with that. And I’ve always been Ok with Sam’s birth. Sure, not what I had envisioned, but perfect nonetheless. I had been someone who wanted to try for no drugs. I had the big tub, ready to labor and hopefully give birth in water. Pretty much the opposite happened. I was lucky that I didn’t mourn my ideal birth, like some people do. I was able to own my birth experience and embrace it. While watching this movie I, for the first time, felt bad about Sam’s birth. ‘Felt bad’ isnt’ really a good way to describe the feeling. Sad, maybe? Then angry? Defensive? Let me explain….

The issues that came up for me with the movie revolved around a few things. Minorly, I just felt bad for doctors. They kinda grouped all Obs together. Depicting them all as having the same mindset of trying to keep something bad from happening, as opposed to letting something beautiful take place. And also obsessed with the bottom line. Like people who want to just cut you open, get the baby out so they can hurry up and fill the bed with another laboring mom. Though I have no doubt there aspects of that mindset, especially in metropolitan areas, I wish they had shown some Mds who do things differently. Because I know they exist.

Now, the MAJOR issue I had with the movie was the emphasis they put on attachment following birth. In one portion of the movie they talk about the love cocktail of hormones the mother and baby share after birth. They talk about how this promotes attachment and that C-section mothers are missing out on this. That alone, wasn’t enough to make me feel too bad, after all I knew I missed out on some Oxytocin, but then it went on to say….that when Chimpanzees give birth via C-section they reject the baby and will not nurture or take care of it.

Excuse me? What are you implying? How the hell is that relevant?

They really should be careful. In their effort to empower women to make an informed choice, they are devaluing the experiences of those who, whether by choice or not, have done differently. I believe every woman has the right to give birth how she sees fit, in a way she feels safe, and has the right to feel good about it. It is the moment we meet our children for the first time. The pure love and joy should never be tainted by guilt, shame or regret. In order to insure that, education and knowledge is vital, and I think this movie does a good job at providing important information, shedding light on many misconceptions about midwives and homebirth, and challenging the existing medical establishment. But as a consequence, though most likely unintended, they are diminishing the c-section mothers experience and setting up future mothers for disappointment and feelings of failure. And in particular, to question the capability of a woman to be a good mother, simply due to the manner in which she gives birth. Which I found personally offensive.

In the end, I found The Business of Being Born empowering and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of having a baby. Just take it with a grain of salt. I think they did a really good job shedding light on the expertise of midwives in contrast to Obs. That Certified Nurse Midwives are specialized in the female process of giving birth, while Obs are surgeons. I think many people in this country view midwives as someone who took a correspondence course, or is one step up from a massage therapist. In some states it is even illegal to have a midwife deliver your baby. The movie illuminates midwives as the skillful and knowledgeable professionals they truly are, helping to shatter many myths and misconceptions. Ricky and the other filmmakers hearts are in the right place, they just need to look outside themselves a little. And it’s important to know that more often than not, your birth does not go how you imagined.

And it's still perfect.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

hello stranger...

So, I bought A New Earth. It seems that I don't mind being told what to do by Oprah to the degree as previously stated. I've figure the key is to read the book before there are 3 follow up shows on how it changed the life of throngs of Oprah viewers. Then the book won't be ruined for me by preconceptions and expectations. Or, I suppose I could stop watching Oprah...hmm.

So I'll let you know what I think. If I ever finish it. I'm on page 17, and I've had it for a week. But J left this morning for Montana, so I can read before going to bed. Normally, he moans and whines if I want to do this, because the light bothers him. Maybe I can even finish it before he gets back! And not only will I have finished a non-parenting/pregancy book, I'll be "awakened to my life's purpose"... he'll be so pleased.

I wanted to write about a documentary I just saw, but I'm having trouble collecting my thoughts on it. There was a special screening of "The Business of Being Born" at UVM. There are many, many things to say about it, but it's all swirling around in my head. I will say now, that it was good. I enjoyed it. There is a bias, but that bias does not change the validity of the facts and realities the movie depicts. But some of it offended me. Not deeply, but irked me, you know? I will think on it more and see what I come up with. But if you have a chance, and are interested in such things, definitely see it.

As I sit here, Sam is in his room bouncing and grunting. I'm thinking the afternoon nap is becoming a thing of the past. But he's soooooo grumpy! He's been rolling around in his crib for 15 minutes. He's not crying, but he's clearly not napping. And he seems a little annoyed. I'm not ready for one nap a day. But it's not about me, is it?