Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Peasant Feet










I usually get at least one or two phone calls a day from clients upset about the pregnancy comments and “war stories” that other women feel the need to share.

“I don’t want to hear it any more!” said a woman to me this morning.

Another client said she was literally trapped by a cousin at a family gathering...wedged in at the back of a table, locked in between a great-aunt and the story-telling cousin. “The baby’s head was SO BIG that they had to...(insert whatever horror story ending you like here).”

These comments, so freely given, can stick with you, and really hurt. Or they can turn what was a carefree pregnancy into a time of anxiety.

“Wow, you’re big!” or “Boy, you look small for your dates!” or “Make sure you get an epidural in the parking lot!” or “I’m just going to book a cesarean next time! You should, too!”

The endless combinations of horror stories and thoughtless comments are awe inspiring.

In our phone calls, I usually remind my client that it’s perfectly acceptable to say you’d rather not hear the stories...or just stick your fingers in your ears and go “LA LA LA LA!”
Protect yourself from these stories - using whatever means available!

Now, I’m not pregnant, but I was given a taste of how my clients feel just the other day. I was feeling pretty good. It was the long weekend, I’d been to a lovely birth overnight, I’d slept well, and knew that no babies would arrive on that day. As a treat I thought - I’ll look for some new sandals (I’m usually a no-nonsense “get in and get out” kind of shopper). I sat down with an array of pretty sandals to try on.

“What size?” asked the clerk. “Ten,” I answered.

She came back with a pile of boxes...then looked down at my feet. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “I should have had a look at your feet first! You have PEASANT FEET! Just like me! You won’t like those...you need something much, much wider.”

Then she proceeded to go to the back, returning with a clunky (ugly!) pair of servicable fish-net runners. Ugh! “Those are better for you.”

*sigh*

So, okay, people. Here’s a plea. Keep your comments to yourself. We’re happy to live in our own little worlds, with our own (perhaps misguided) ideas about our own bodies, our babies, our lives...whether we’re pregnant or not. We don’t need to hear your war stories, your “birth as rape” or “birth as prison” stories...or even how teenagers are going to ruin our lives. A positive outlook really doesn’t hurt anyone. I choose to think positively!

Personally, I like the fingers in the ears, “LA LA LA LA” approach. Now, I’m just going to shove my peasant feet into some nice flip flops...or, better yet, go barefoot to visit my next client.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula

1 comment:

Susan Fisher, CNM said...

I have a theory concerning this "birth as horror story" phenomenon. Birth is a profound rite of passage for a woman. The fact that our culture does not honor and celebrate this fact leaves women feeling unacknowledged and marginalized. After all, the focus of the pregnancy and the birth is often on the baby or on the attendant who "delivers" the baby. The birth attendant somehow becomes the popular hero or heroine rather than the woman herself. Recounting the difficulties of the birth is a way for a woman to say "Look what I did" "It was really difficult but I did it! I did it! I suffered but I survived." She is sadly looking for someone to acknowledge that she did something remarkable. I'm afraid that women will continue to tell these stories until we experience the paradigm shift in our culture which begins to validate women by acknowledging and honoring their beauty, power and strength during their sacred journey to motherhood.