Let me start off by saying that little curse word - IF - is OK. That question, "What if?" is OK. There is NOTHING wrong with doubt. There is NOTHING wrong with curiosity, questioning, and fear.
If you are one of those individuals out there that wants to make a family feel ashamed for their doubt - you're only further increasing their fear. If you aren't supporting those that aren't making the same decisions as you, then you are a part of the problem. If you believe you know everything - you've learned so little. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. YOU are also on a journey, and that is OK too - but let these words be a stepping stone for you also that might help to move you into another stages of cultural change.
..............................................my soap box.
Why ARE we asking that question, "What if?" I could sit here and list all sorts of questions, like:
- What if you were among the majority? The majority of women that don't have complications...
- What if your birth was average? You meet your baby, take your baby home, and dodn't have many issues...
- What if you birthed in a way that was empowering? Empowered you to be fiercely protective of this little new human...
- What if you rocked it?
Right... I could list all those situations that are *more* likely to happen than any of the ones you're concerned about, couldn't I? But that's not helpful right now, is it? It's not, because while you may feel positive - if you're not able to talk through your fears, they still have the potential of controlling you. They are likely there for a reason. What might they be? What are you thinking? What IF:
- my baby dies?
- I die?
- it hurts?
- my baby gets hurt?
- my baby is born sleeping?
And, those are the common ones, right? Those are what almost every parent thinks at one point... especially in most modern-western cultures. We'll get to that in a minute... but lets list a few more...
- What IF - *I* make a choice that is different than most other parents and any one of the above scenarios happen?
- What IF - someone blames ME instead of a surgeon for anything that seems "off" in a home birth? (As if someone *should* be blamed at all).
- What IF - I could have done more?
I would bet, those last three are the REAL what if questions you're thinking. What if I look like a "bad" parent? What do I know, they have birthed more kids than I? What do I know, I'm not a surgeon (the midwife's not a surgeon)? [Let me interject your thoughts here and say, no, a midwife isn't - but they ARE the specialist in normal physiological birth...] What if I look "wrong?" What if someone ELSE thinks a different choice would have made a difference?
I talk a lot about ways to prevent these situations from happening - from birth environment to nutrition and lifestyle - in my series classes and mentoring sessions. I talk a lot about modern birth practices that increase these risks like hospital practices - when someone else actually thinks its a better practice... even when current recommendations go against that practice. However, I'm not going to talk about that right now. If you're interested in prevention - look me up, we can chat worldwide online through real-time classes or you can sign up for a local series or mentoring session. But, what about all those cases where prevention doesn't change a thing? Those are rare indeed - but, you're thinking about them, so let's explore.
The thing is, our CULTURE doesn't talk about death. We're scared of it. Mothers are told "just be happy baby is 'healthy?'" It doesn't matter what the provider did to you or how you feel, the most important thing is they are alive and you are alive. Except, that's not true... and if you think that's true - let's chat about that.
Are we that intimidated by this thing that happens to EVERYONE on the planet? Why is that?
We can butcher a mom and cause lifelong complications within the family, just to "save" someone? Don't get me wrong - I get it. I get that feeling of thinking this, right here, is better. But until we embrace all that happens in life - we not only can't get past our fears - WE CAN'T HELP THOSE ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING THIS. We can't help them with the BEST prevention... and we can't help them experience these parts of life with healthy support and awareness. We will keep feeling awkward around anyone that has had a miscarriage, had a still birth, experienced SIDS, lost a child, lost a mother, lost a grandmother, or had to deal with a complication. Advocates will keep saying things like, "If you only would have _________, that wouldn't have happened." Oh my gosh, really? So, NOT OK for a hospital provider to say, "If you only had your baby in a hospital, ______ wouldn't have happened." But totally OK to say, "If you would have had a home birth _______ wouldn't have happened."
Oh... I've been there - I know how easy it is to default to that response. Years ago in my birth advocacy infancy (as it so often happens) - I believed that - but eventually you have to wake up. If you stop learning (even when what you learn isn't what you would do) - you stop helping others.
Let me tell you something, though... there is not one blanket statement or gesture that will cover the comfort bases for everyone hurting in this world. Not at all. We can give all these lists of "what not to do/say to someone who is _______" - and that's just so general. I've hurt before, so much. Was it your hurt? Maybe not... maybe... Everyone has deep hurts in their life and everyone experiences sadness. What we need to do is acknowledge they exist and stop tiptoeing around scared we're not going to be PC. When someone hurts, there isn't too much anyone can do other than be available and over life help. The closest friends and family are not only the ones that person wants to be comforted by and will open up to - but also some of the only ones that just know the person well enough to be "forgiven" if they say the "wrong" thing.
So, mothers - if you are someone that has these strong fears of "what if" - especially when that involves others judgement on you for a choice you want to make.... or your personal judgement... that is a great place to start exploring. Talk to other parents that *have* experienced this part of life. Sit in support groups. Find your support group and open up to them - and if they aren't to a place where they (no matter what their choice would be) can't support YOU with whatever choice you make - then they aren't a good part of your support group.
We don't HAVE to agree. We don't HAVE to support each others' choices. We DO need to support each other. We need to STOP believing we know it all. Knowledge can be all kinds of "evil" - humans are so stuck on thinking when they know a lot (or a little) about a subject, they couldn't possibly learn anything new. It is oh so common and widespread in this generation, too. Its that same fear - "what if I have to tell someone I thought I knew when there was actually another way?"
But, was there? Because I can bet you THIS right now, THIS is what you ARE supposed to be experiencing. This way is the way it was supposed to be. You're on a spiritual journey, and that's OK. Take what you learn and apply it (as a parent and as an advocate) and chug along until you learn something else... then apply it however it fits into your life. Embrace that it is OK and sometimes we just CAN'T know what "could" have been.
Be a shoulder to cry on to those providing info., and those needing info. Be someone to hug. Be that person that brings a family a meal without asking when they need help. Be someone that just sits there so the family isn't alone. Be that positive light in their life.
Tell someone you're scared and hurting. Tell someone your "irrational" fears and thoughts. That's half the battle. Then surround yourself with those that uplift you and nurture you and provide wisdom.
YOU can handle ANYTHING. You can. Find the people that love you - truly love you - in this life, and keep them close to you in some way - and when you need them, they'll arrive.