To Each His Or Her Own Journey

Now that Halloween is over, I have been seeing a certain video being shared on my Facebook newsfeed. You may already be familiar with it, the latest video by Jimmy Kimmel showing the reactions of children who have been told their hard earned Halloween candy has been given away. On the opposite spectrum, I’ve also seen lots of posts in various parenting groups I’m a part of regarding the disbelief and disgust that such a video was made, let alone shared on social media. I can empathize with both sides of the story though, because I have actually been on both sides.

As a mother who follows RIE parenting principles, which is based on respect and trust, I am also now disheartened every time I see a video that exploits children in such a way. I admit however, that I didn’t always feel this way. I am completely guilty of watching Jimmy’s first video, laughing, and <gasp> even sharing it. Yup. That was a time when I was still living in NYC, not yet pregnant, and childless. I hadn’t yet begun my research into peaceful parenting, so like the majority of American culture, I didn’t understand the depth behind a child’s intense feelings and emotions. So I get it, and can empathize with the urge to laugh and share such videos. Some of the children’s surprisingly mature responses I still find endearing today.

If you’re a bit confused as to why this video is up for debate, let me briefly explain. Candy to a child, who has worked so hard for by dressing up, going door-to-door, reciting “trick-or-treat” for two hours, and staying up past his or her bedtime, is a very, very valuable commodity. Being told it was given away without their permission by the people they trust most, their parents, is the same as if your own parents came to your house and told you they gave away your most prized possession that you worked so hard for, like your week’s paycheck that you worked overtime for. On top of that, they filmed your reaction and put it on the internet for the world to see, laugh at, and share. Does that seem very nice? Not really.

Parents are often quick to ask a child who does something undesirable, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” Us parents should be the ones asking that question to ourselves when we say, share, or post embarrassing situations of our children to the public. It takes years, 18 to be exact, to be considered an adult, so why do we expect children to have and understand adult emotions and feelings? Most adults still can’t properly process their own emotions and feelings. I see it all over social media on a daily basis when people post overly-emotional information regarding their personal life.

This happens in all aspects of life though. For example, I happen to choose to eat organic food whenever possible. I, again, didn’t always think this way though. As a child, I was the pickiest eater who refused to eat any cooked vegetables; except maybe corn. They had to be raw, and they had to have ranch. If someone would have told me that within a decade, I would eat pretty much anything and be rather health conscious, I would have scoffed at you and rolled my eyes like a hormonal teenage girl is often known to do; and continued eating my fast food, fountain soda, and candy bar.

Once I “saw the light” and began eating healthier and learning more about the poison that can be put in our food, I wanted to tell the whole world and thought everyone should know and follow. I began preaching to my friends and family, causing some of them to either scoff at me or feel bad about their own choices. Well, that wasn’t very nice of me was it? I would also get really upset that some people couldn’t grasp or understand how important it is to choose a healthier lifestyle.

I finally learned, however, that we never truly grow up. Just like toddlers, if you force someone to do or hear something one isn’t prepared for, he or she will more often than not, reject it. Adults are just like children, in this aspect. If you push too hard, we push back. We have to be ready to accept change. I am still realizing that if I just focus on my own life, and simply live by example, people who are interested in hearing what I have to say about a certain subject, will eventually inquire about it. Once a person is open to and interested in an idea, he or she will always seek out more information.

Hindsight is always 20/20; or at least it should be. But it’s so easy to judge a person or get upset by someone who has not yet received that hindsight. It’s not worth our time and energy to get upset about things or people we cannot change, or who are not yet open to that change. It’s also way too easy to get upset or defensive when we find out something we personally did or thought, wasn’t the best decision or correct way of thinking. This is something I have personally always struggled with. I get very easily embarrassed, and have an extremely hard time earning up to my own truth.

If you’re reading this and feeling guilty about your reaction to the videos, please don’t beat yourself up about it. I was there once too. We all are on this journey to see the light, and some are further along than others in different aspects of life. Find empathy and compassion in your heart for those who are still learning, even when it’s yourself. Remember, when we know better, we do better.

Baby with ball of light

My Birth Story Part I: My Journey to Home Birth

Month by Month Pregnancy Photo

Well, here we are, one year from the week I gave birth to my first child. This past year has been so surreal, I honestly can’t wrap my head around it. The fact that I now officially have a one-year-old blows my mind. This year went so incredible fast, I completely understand why some people choose to have several children! They are only so small and sweet for just a short time. Heck, just the newborn phase goes way too fast! When Big Guy was just a newborn someone asked my chiropractor (who has 5 children) what baby stage was his favorite, and he pointed at my baby and said something along the lines of “I’m a sucker for newborn snuggles.” And it is so true. As much as I tried, I didn’t fully understand nor appreciate how precious those first few months were until they were gone forever. Now, I officially am the mother of a toddler and it’s frightening!

So much thought, prayer, research, anticipation, and consideration went into the process of getting and being pregnant, and then preparing for the birth. Growing up, the idea of natural birth scared the shit out of me. I was that person who heard all the horror stories, and believed birth was the most painful thing that could happen to you aside from getting tortured. I also have a fear of needles, especially large ones that go straight into your back, as well as pretty much anything doctor and hospital related. Since I can remember I have always wanted to adopt, so growing up I told myself that if I could not get pregnant, than I would be fine with adoption instead. I got married and while my husband fully supported the idea of adoption, he most definitely made sure I was on board with trying to have our own biological children first. That meant I would need to figure out this whole scary birth thing. I was scared of pain, I was scared of doctors and hospitals, and I was scared of needles. A simple internet search told me there were no birth centers, so that left me with only one option in the area we were hoping to raise a family in: home birth. At the time, I didn’t know a single person who had experienced one so I had a lot of research ahead of me!

So for a couple years while still living in NYC I read tons of positive birth stories, followed natural birth and parenting groups on Facebook, watched home births on YouTube, and discovered Hypnobabies. Four and a half years after being married, we moved back to Pennsylvania. Within that first year back, I finally felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready to get pregnant. For six months leading up to Big Guy’s conception, my husband and I even made and drank a green smoothie everyday to help detox our bodies, along with eating a mostly organic diet, and I had also read it may help deter morning sickness which I was also very scared of! I also learned a new friend of mine had home-birthed her two children, and the most recent one was with the same midwife I had found online years prior. It was such a relief to finally know someone who had gone through the experience I was hoping to have. After three very long months of trying, we finally got pregnant in November of 2012. Around the same time, that same girlfriend told me she was 3 months pregnant and using the same midwife as before! I immediately called that midwife to make sure she was available, and thankfully she was. We ended up waiting 8 weeks to tell a single soul other than our priest and midwife. I was in a private and protective state then, and honestly, kind of liked having such a big exciting secret all to ourselves for so long! If we’re ever blessed with another pregnancy, I plan to tell close friends and family much sooner. If anything bad would happen, I would definitely want their support and prayers. Plus, I often hear those who miscarry feel so alone and there is no reason for that when it happens to so many families! It is far too common not to be talked about more often and openly.

Anyways, I loved being pregnant and I didn’t have morning sickness as long as I ate pretty much every hour. I still eat just as ravenously now that I’m breast feeding as I did while pregnant! The only real pains I remember having were sciatica pain the last month, and these awful, awful shooting pains starting in my pelvic area going down my legs that would occur late at night when I laid in bed the last few days before birth. I believe Big Guy was trying to get into position but he just so happened to be pushing on very, very sensitive nerves! I do recall crying to my husband that if I couldn’t handle this, how was I supposed to handle the actual birth? Spoiler alert: I handled it. I had some other typical, expected pregnancy symptoms but they really didn’t compare when I remembered I was literally carrying creation inside of me.

The only person who knew our estimated due date (EDD) of July 25th was our midwife. We told everyone else “early August”. We did so for two reasons: 1) If I was “late”, I would be more mentally prepared as I myself believed my birthing time was “early August” and 2) I wouldn’t have everyone and their mother pestering me on my EDD or later, and worse, pressuring me to do something about it as if it was not normal to go past an EDD. Medical intervention is an amazing thing for medical emergencies, but shouldn’t be so loosely thrown around and abused in what is the most normal, natural human experience: reproduction.

Meeting monthly with our midwife, whether in our home, hers, or her office, was what I believe every pregnant woman deserves. We met for at least an hour each time, talked a lot, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. There were no scary stories. No pressure. No exams. No judgement. If I didn’t feel comfortable with something she brought up, then we didn’t do it. It was my choice. Now, I honestly miss my midwife. So much so, that I stopped procrastinating and called her to set up an appointment to have a pap smear done <gasp> since it has been a couple years. This isn’t uncommon either. Many women in the home birth world admit they miss their midwife, and are sad to not know when they will ever see her again, especially if they don’t plan on having more children or she is retiring or moving away. To build such a close and respectful relationship with the person who will share in the most intimate experience of your life should not be uncommon!

I will share the actual nitty, gritty details of Big Guy’s birth story in my next post. Just know that discovering the beauty of home birth and getting to experience it is something I will forever be grateful for. Whether you decide to birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, birth does not need to be scary, dangerous, or painful. It can be safe, beautiful, memorable, and even pleasurable! Stay tuned for the Big Day…