Yesterday when I was at church an older woman asked to speak to me after the meeting. She had asked me last week to play my violin in church, so I assumed she wanted to talk more about what music I had picked out. Although I’ve been attending this congregation for a little over a year and know most of the people, I have never spoken with this particular woman until last week. I don’t even know her name.
After church she brought me into an empty classroom, sat me down, and said, “You probably have no idea why I wanted to talk to you.” Nope. She looked at me and said, “I want you to tell me why you are not seeing a doctor or going to a hospital for your birth.” She then proceeded to tell me several horror stories about things going wrong at the last minute during birth. Her daughter bled a lot after having her baby and “had to be sedated” because she started panicking when she saw all the people in the room and asked what was going on. (This daughter also had one kidney and "half a uterus," whatever that means). She knows of another woman who bled to death after giving birth in the hospital. Yeah—great advertisement for hospital birth! She told me that she’s been worried sick about me ever since she learned that I am not planning on seeing a doctor or going to a hospital, and that I should really reconsider my plans.
I calmly explained my choices to her (statistics of home vs. hospital birth for healthy women, the importance of not disturbing a natural process, and how many routine hospital procedures can often cause complications to occur). I talked about how I’ve been researching birth for close to 4 years now, and that I’ve made this decision with a lot of thought and prayer. I then told her: “Frankly, you should never say those kind of things to a pregnant woman, especially to someone so close to giving birth.”
The whole conversation took about half an hour, most of it with her talking.
On the way home from church, I told my husband about this strange experience. He became very upset that a woman I don’t even know had the nerve to pry into my life and tell me what to do. He said “you are the one who has done years of research into birth, not her!”
The more I have thought about this conversation, the more it bothers me. It’s one thing for a close friend to ask me what my birth plans are, because they care for me and want to know what I will be doing. But for a virtual stranger to demand that I justify a very personal decision to her and then to try and scare me into doing what SHE feels more comfortable with—that is completely unacceptable.
I wish I had known what she was about to ask when she sat me down. I should have ended the conversation right then by saying, “This is a very personal decision between me, my husband, and God. And it is none of your business.”
Thanks Ellen for the pep talk last night! I felt much better afterwards.