Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ramblings of a bored Veterinarian

Funny the things I can figure out when its actually not the middle of the night (which is usually when I have time to even contemplate writing). I figured out how to make the screens smaller with the embedded youtube videos. Yay! So I now have 2 videos prominently displayed on my sidebar....and links to several others that I hope you will check out.

I also added a bunch of blogs and websites to my lists...there's a lot of action right now. We'll see if it lasts. Everyone is all excited about Ricki Lake's movie...I haven't seen it yet, though I'd like to. But honestly....how many women are actually going to see it? Who aren't at least halfway in our choir anyway? And how many women are actually going to make the jump OUT of the hospital....no, they'll just persist in believing that a good birth plan and a doula will guarantee the birth they want...and sadly, in many (most?) cases, hospital staff are very good at getting around both those things.

I try really hard not to get too depressed about the state of things. I think I must be in a "down" phase right now....it seems like its the same old thing over and over and over....I want to have a VBAC but...my hospital banned them....my OB won't do them....my husband doesn't want me to....there are no midwives in my area....we can't afford a homebirth....or....I planned a VBAC but....my OB told me it isn't as safe as we thought....the baby looked big and they wouldn't induce me....I went to 42 weeks and the baby had to come out.....the ultrasound showed my placenta was getting old....my fluid getting low....I didn't want another cesarean but.....

Which leads to a fairly controversial topic, I suppose. The "godly submissive wife". I don't know enough about other faiths to know for sure if this bit of doctrine exists elsewhere -- I suspect it does in some form or another in both Islam and Judaism but I'm familiar with it as an expression of Christian belief. It is a wildly debated topic, since the Bible actually doesn't define it very well....and certainly doesn't define it in terms of modern society and culture. First, the disclosure -- I am an evangelical Christian (by a more traditional and non-political definition -- you can't call me fundamentalist or right wing) and I do believe that a wife should be properly "submitted" to her husband (of course, all believers are to be submitted to each other, too. And, it always pays to remember that the same scripture that urges wives to submit to their husbands instructs husbands to *die* for their wives. Personally, I think I got the better end of that deal). Anyway, the rub is "properly". There are some groups that believe this means the wife has to get her husband's permission for any decision of import. There are some groups that mean this gives a husband complete veto power over any choice his wife might make. There are some groups that believe this means a wife has to do anything her husband demands of her. And I suppose, if a husband were also properly laying his life down for his wife, all the potential abuses inherent in this sort of extreme interpretation probably wouldn't be an issue. But, guess what....humans pretty much will screw anything up. And so, we screw this one up. I have heard too many times "I'm a (Godly/Biblically) submissive wife and my husband doesn't want me to have a VBAC. (or home birth. or midwife. or something of that sort) Unless God changes his mind, I have to have another cesarean because I'm submitted to him." My response to that is "if your husband said any of the following, would you do it? 'I want you to watch porn with me.' 'I think car seats aren't that important and I'm not going to pay for one, you can drive without one.' 'I want you to sign this tax form, even though I haven't been honest on it.' 'I want you to tell your mother we are busy this Thanksgiving.' 'I don't want you talking to your sister, I think she's a bad influence on you.' 'I don't want you going to that Bible study, you need to be home.' 'I want you to have a boob job/tummy tuck/other elective surgery so that you are more sexually attractive to me.'" The fact is, the Bible *never* provides justification for immoral behavior. Lying, cheating, sexual sin, withholding oneself from the body of Christ, endangering children, frivolously endangering oneself....there's never a good reason for any of those things. It doesn't matter if the husband "thinks" any of those things are ok. If I know that what my husband is demanding of me is contrary to God's plan and purpose...I'm not obligated to do it. I'd say I'm obligated to NOT do it, rather the issue is my attitude toward my husband as I choose to obey God. What does this have to do with birth? Well....if a woman truly believes that a given choice is the safest one for her baby, then I'd argue is it immoral to then choose to do otherwise. The fact that the overall risk of something bad happening to mom or the baby is small regardless of the actual choice doesn't matter. The fact that most people might disagree with the conclusion a woman comes to doesn't matter (after all, most people would probably disagree with the overbearing interpretation of submission but she chooses to live that way). A husband has no right to demand immoral behavior from his wife, even if it is "his child too". But, you say, its different. Is it? Is how our children enter this world not that important? If that's what you truly believe, then why are you bemoaning the fact that your husband says you have to have a repeat cesarean. If it isn't important then it really shouldn't matter. (For the record, in my marriage, wifely submission means that in a situation where we disagree on the path we should take, as long as both choices are morally acceptable choices, he gets to choose. IF we absolutely can not come to an agreement. We never rush to this conclusion. This has happened exactly 2 times in over 16 years.)

I'll end with another potentially hot opinion. All of the excuses for why a woman can't have a VBAC or home birth or whatever are just that -- excuses. Women hide behind "my husband would never agree to it" or "we just don't have the money" or "neither of the hospitals in my town allow it" or "there aren't any midwives in my city" or "it's my husband's baby too" or "I don't want to ruin my marriage fighting about this" when in fact, the issue is that while they think they *should* plan a VBAC or home birth or whatever, they actually don't want to. Not really. I know this will be unpopular....but too often I've seen that where there is a will, a way is found, too often I've seen it to believe that a woman can't get what she wants for her baby if she really wants it.

I suppose I sound rather cynical right now. In some ways, I suppose I am. It just seems like we are going round and round and round in the very same circle while most women quietly run toward slaughter and then spend the rest of their lives telling themselves its ok.

2 comments:

labortrials said...

I agree with what you are saying about submission. And I'm surprised that more Christian women haven't figured out that unnecessary surgery goes against God's will for us. Talk about desecrating the temple . . .

Hmm, I hadn't really thought about whether or not a woman's decision not to proceed with HABC plans (or whatever) should be called an "excuse". I will say that it would be incredibly stressful and difficult if my husband were to disagree with my wishes for future birth. I know it's "my body" and all, but it's "our" relationship. Guess that works both ways, eh? I've had way too much turkey to think this one through... ;)

Gretchen said...

Maybe it would be better to say its a rationalization than an excuse. I think its basically the same problem as the whole submission thing -- the woman KNOWS what the best decision would be but rather than choosing to make a difficult or uncomfortable decision, she finds an external "reason" why she can't follow the path her heart/spirit is prompting her to walk. Effectively, she's refusing to deal with the deeper and more true reason for her choice (for many different reasons, some of which may be quite compelling. Doesn't make it "ok" though). The baby does "belong" (as much as any child can actually belong to us) to both parents...and yes, the marriage is (supposed) to be a give and take relationship of mutual love and respect, etc....but again...would it be right to allow one's spouse to dictate an unethical or immoral decision just to "preserve" the relationship? Is that a relationship that deserves preserving? I have a lot more respect for woman who says "look, I'm just not comfortable with the idea of a homebirth" because at least then I know she is being honest...and that's the first step toward facing and overcoming fears that keep us from doing things we ought to be doing.

I am VERY thankful that I didn't have to deal with a husband who was opposed to my plans...I know he was scared and we talked about that....but the fact that he trusted me to make the decision that I thought the safest really strengthened and deepened our marriage bond. I really feel sad for women who are in conflict with their spouses over birth plans....but when it comes down to it, I have to trust that in the end, God picked that particular woman for that particular child and in the end, if she's listening, she's the one who'll know what needs to happen. No one else is as intimate with that unborn child and no one has a higher stake in the outcome, for the child and the mother. Too often, I've seen women decide to "submit" in order to keep peace in the marriage, but the thing is, the struggle, the pain, the price HAS to be paid...you can fight for the safest birth or you can fight to regain trust/peace/love AFTER you get cut again...one way or another, the struggle has to be made...the tally of "biblically submissive wives" that end up divorced from just my own experience is depressingly high...

and hey, I didn't even have turkey today but I still feel like my brain is in slow motion :-)