28.5.09

Freedom, Responsibility, and Leaving the Dominant Paradigm

A little over a year ago, I wrote about being in the first trimester of an unassisted pregnancy (UP), leading towards an unassisted birth, or UC (unassisted childbirth; also known as freebirth).

I wrote, in part,

"I wish I could be dumb. Ignorant. Unquestioning. Willing to worship at the altar of modern Western medicine.

A friend of mine said that her mother, when talking about birth, made the statement "...that is faith. You were willing to stand under, even when you did not understand."

And 99.9% of the time, I am content to have faith in pregnancy, faith in the process, faith in evolution. Yes, I realize the last is particularly ironic. But in those moments of doubt that come to all, every one else has something upon which to fall back. The early ultrasound, the heartbeat they heard on Doppler, the later ultrasounds, whatever.

All I have is myself. All I have to fall back upon is my own faith, and to a lesser extent, the faith in the process that is shared by Sam and by a handful of people in this world, in that I can look to their confidence and say, No, I am not insane to trust.

I don't have any particular doubts at the moment. It's just that I have the awareness that I am it. I am all that is standing, that is holding this space. It's an awareness that I will not leave this process the same person that began it. It's one thing to step outside the main paradigm for birthing, but this - this is somehow different. It's all on me.

It's scary... and it's extremely liberating and empowering."

Yes, it was and is scary. Yes, it is and was liberating and empowering. What I did not anticipate was the exhilaration.

My UP/UC baby turned six months old just over a week ago. The process of unassisted pregnancy and birth was scary at times, because I had to accept not just part of the responsibility, but rather, all of the responsibility. Taking on all responsibility is especially nerve-wracking in our society because it encourages the exact opposite action - to take on no responsibility for one's actions or the outcomes that result. In taking on the ultimate responsibility, though, I think there is immense freedom to be found.

Many times women will talk about wanting to refuse this prenatal screen or that procedure, and will ask for advice about how best to approach their provider with their desires. Many times, women find themselves compromising, and some are angry about this. However, the reason that they do not have this freedom is because they do not want to take the ultimate responsibility.

I'm not saying this as a condemnation. There are a variety of reasons that a woman may choose to have an attended birth, or may variously need an attendant at her birth, because of outstanding health issues. However, women need to understand that freedom and responsibility are joined. When an outside attendant becomes willing to take some of the responsibility, she (or he) necessarily has an investment in seeing that certain protocols are followed, those that best make she (or he) comfortable with the assumption of responsibility.

This is not a wholesale call for unassisted birthing. I don't feel that unassisted birthing should be a default state, and I definitely think that there are people that should not birth unassisted. In this, I find definite parallels between homeschooling and freebirth. Both require the parent or parents to take all responsibility for actions and outcomes. Beyond that, however, I certainly feel that both are decisions that need to be carefully made, and should not be made for the "wrong" reasons. There are many people who should never freebirth or homeschool. Quite apart from physical, mental, or emotional health, or intellectual ability, there is an inner willingness to assume all responsibility that must be present.

I found great joy in my decision to freebirth. It was a gift I was given, in exchange for the responsibility that I embraced.
This website was designed by Sam Rushing

"A little rebellion every now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson