I made an egregious error this weekend.
And for once, it didn’t involve stuffing an alarming amount of carbohydrates inside a tube of pizza dough, or putting my cat between two slices of bread and slathering him with BBQ sauce.
I watched The Business of Being Born, a 2008 documentary which explores the contemporary experience of childbirth in the US. The film was produced by 90s talk show sweetheart Ricki Lake– yes, the Ricki Lake. You may remember her from such intellectual powerhouses as, “Weave Wars”, “I Find Fat People Gross”, and “I’m proud to be a prostitute”.
So what’s the big deal?
It’s just a documentary.
A documentary based on the US system, even. Surely, it’s different here in Canada.
Seems pretty harmless.
The film–which aside from instilling feelings of abject failure and inadequacy into already-terrified pregnant women–argues that present-day hospital-based options for childbirth are often unnecessary, neglectful, and potentially life-threatening. For women with uncomplicated pregnancies, it strongly advocates for natural and/or home births with midwives, versus medicalized hospital births with obstetricians.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, god damn it, Ricki Lake, you’ve ruined my life!
While some of the information was irrelevant due to the fact that I am blessed to live in a country with socialized medicine, since the movie, I’ve found myself lying awake at night, asking the following questions:
- Did I go about this all wrong?
- What if everything doesn’t go as outlined in my birth plan?
- Should I have gone with a midwife?
- Would a natural and/or home birth without any drugs have been that bad?
- Could I have at least chosen a hospital where the c-section rate wasn’t 1 in 3?
- Won’t somebody please bring me a cheeseburger?
What’s worse, I’m beginning to question whether or not I was too complacent from the start.
Did I research my options enough?
Am I doomed to suffer a terrible hospital experience, only to be cut open at the end so the OB can make it home in time for dinner?
I feel like I’ve been tricked–much like that time in high school where they told us that the only way we were ever going to achieve success was if we went to university.
The documentary–as biased as it is–actually made me realize a few things:
- I have more say in all of this than I think I do
- It’s okay to ask questions
- I have choices
- It’s important to be informed of my rights and options, and advocate for myself
- This is my body, my experience, and my baby
I guess you’re not so bad after all, Ricki.
Except for this unfortunate picture taken when you were on Dancing With The Stars
I was all set to hit publish, when a perfectly-timed conversation with a friend who recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl made me realize I’ve actually been missing the most important thing.
You can go in with a perfect plan in mind of how you want things to go, but sometimes, life just doesn’t give a shit about your plans.
After sharing with me what sounded like the most complicated, frustrating, and quite frankly, terrifying labour experience, she said something incredibly beautiful. It’s something I hope I will fully understand when this process is all said and done.
“I have had my days of tears mourning what I thought was the perfect delivery. The truth is, the perfect delivery is the one that ends with your little bean in your arms.”
Eat your heart out, Ricki Lake.