Monday, October 16, 2006

The Nerve

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.


  1. Wow... that hurts... what a nerve!!!

    You seemed to have handled it great, I would hate to be put into that position...

  2. I am so sorry she said that to you. As with a lot, I can relate on some scope. The morning Zoe was born, she hadn't even been born for 30 minutes and Rob's mom's friend, a NICU nurse, a woman I HAVE NEVER MET OR TALKED TO, called our house...5:30 in the morning!!! She called to make sure we knew what we were doing and to tell Rob to "put a little traction" on the cord.

    I wish people would just mind their own business.

  3. Ugh. People are so nosy. I think I'd have said, "I'd like you to tell me why you believe I owe you an explanation." ;)

    My firstborn was a UC - the healthiest baby I've ever seen. Don't let anyone shake you; they're speaking with (VERY) partial information.

  4. "put a little traction on the cord."

    That seems like an invitation for PPH if you ask me! I just can't get over the fact that a near stranger felt she was doing me a service by essentially telling me my choices were dangerous and reckless. And the thing is, I am sure she thought she was doing me a great service. She even played the "I've been around for a while and so have seen things you haven't" card.

    I don't want to totally villainize her either, since at the end of the conversation she was much more understanding of my choices. But that doesn't negate the first 30 minutes of what she did!

  5. putting traction on the cord can make it into an emergency, as it can cause uncontrollable bleeding. what a dangerous advice to give to an homebirther!

  6. THat is what I told Rob, my husband. His immediate reaction to her was, "you mean yank it? um, no." That is what they did to me when I had Gracie in the hospital. They pulled it and I bled and bled and was horrible. all because her placenta didn't expell within the 15 minutes they wanted....

    Zoe's placenta came about 3 hours later all by its self. Imagine that....things work when you leave them alone.

  7. Rixa,

    I am astounded by this. It is amazing that some people feel the need to be so involved in other people's lives. The more I read on your site, the more I think about. Thanks.


  8. Don't let the ignoramuses get to you.

    I, too, very nearly bled to death after my birth..wanna know why? Because I WAS IN A HOSPITAL, and the quacks made me push for FOUR HOURS before they gave up and sliced me open. I tore my cervix and wound up hemoragging a week later. Fun stuff!

    Would that have happened at home? You bet your ass it wouldn't have. Why? Cuz I would not have been lying on my back, too doped up to move, praying that the medwife would quit barking at me to push even though I felt no urge to do so.

    You handled that lady with much panache. I probably would have just clocked her!


  9. If you were to do it again, would you just keep it a secret? I am wondering if I will be public about my UC plans or not. I get insecure easily and think it would be better for me not to have to deal with the opposition. So I'm just going to say we're having another homebirth. What do you think?

  10. You know, I got similar things from the wife of one of my husband's coworkers, only she kept badgering her husband to try to persuade my husband to convince me not to do it. When it comes to birth, I think that a lot of moms (not all) think that the way they did it was the best way. Fortunately for you and I we know that it is a personal choice and that we have to make the choice we are most comfortable with based on our RESEARCH and not the horror stories of others;-)

  11. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm 18 weeks and planning an UC. Just finding so much encouragement in your boldness :-)


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