Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is ignorance really bliss?

I LOVED my first birth. I don't really have anything that I would change about it. Sure my episiotomy sucked, but it wasn't bad considering what could have happened. My  incredible SIL started a "doula blog" (wow. She has come a long way since then.) and asked me to share my birth story. Being a bit (yes I'll admit it) ignorant and defensive, and knowing this was going on a "hippy birth" blog, I wrote everything as though I knew exactly what was going on in my birth and was in complete control the whole time. It's defensive and a bit self righteous but if you must, you can read my birth story here.

Having reread my birth story over a year later (Lou is 2 &1/2 but my birth story was only written a year ago), I realize that there are a lot of things I wasn't in control of. It was the perfect birth because I was the perfect patient. I wasn't an active part in it at all. Yes. Technically I was the one who approved the decisions that were made. I certainly felt I was informed in those decisions and I honestly feel that my doctor and nurses didn't intentionally hold anything back. I think they really felt all the interventions were safe and that I knew what I needed to know before proceeding. I don't have any negative feelings about the doctor or nurses. I think they are a bit ignorant themselves, but I don't believe they meant any harm. I am still glad I was able to have Dr. Hansen deliver my baby. Like I said before, I wouldn't change anything. But I also wouldn't repeat it.

Sure. I was happy in my ignorance. Yes. I was lucky everything went smoothly. But what if it hadn't? Would my ignorance be bliss if it involved sitting next to an incubator watching my child have tubes and monitors put all over him? Would it be bliss if I had a scar on my abdomen where they had to cut my baby out? Would it be bliss not being able to hold my child, or breastfeed him? This sounds like more like a nightmare; one that many people I care about have had to experience. This the bliss that comes with being ignorant of your choices in birth. This is reality slapping you in the face. Forcing you to live with consequences of some choices that you may not have had control over; choices that doctors may have made for you. (Understand that I am not judging anyone over their choices and I am certainly not referring to a specific event. I am just talking about how I feel about potential outcomes from medical interventions.) The only thing blissful about ignorance is when things turn out well despite your poor choices. When out of sheer luck, you manage to walk into a dangerous scenario and come out unscathed.

So is knowledge what brings about bliss? I wish. Now that I know more about my choices and what could have gone wrong in my birth, I am more terrified than ever. I know I have reached the point of no return. I can't go back to the blind faith in doctors who may not have my best interest at heart. I can't go back to the hospital where medical interventions were routine and where the epidural was constantly mentioned. I can't go back to the ignorance that once held me back.

I can't go back, but I am not ready to go forward.


  1. This is an excellent post hun. I've been sitting here with the comment box open for what seems like forever trying to come up with the perfect thing to say.

    There comes a time when sometimes knowing things can be more of a hinderance than a help. Because of what *I* know, sometimes I am more scared to even try to get pregnant than birth.

    I once heard that red heads bleed more, and even though I know it is so completely untrue, I am terrified of hemhorrage. The noise it makes like a slow faucet gives me the chills. Knowing this, makes it scary to imagine it happening.

    I think the one thing that helps, is just letting go of everything. Clearing your mind, and just being. Birth, especially after a birth you loved, can seem so much more complicated. And the thing is, birth isn't really that complicated at all. Women in other countries still go in fields and do what they need to do. We have made it so much more fearful and complicated than it should be.

    But know, regardless of what you feel, your baby will be born. Regardless of where you birth or how, your baby will be born. Sometimes the control over the process and trying so hard to figure out what you want can inhibit your true emotions.

    You will figure it out :). And your next birth will be wonderful, regardless of where or when or how.

  2. Great post! I feel the same way about my dd's birth and it was a natural birth in a birthing center. I am completely content with her birth but at the same time I wouldn't repeat EVERYTHING, there is so much I want to do different next time.

  3. I think we are told to be content with our births as its a way of moving on, yet there are things that we do not always control and that is hard.... I am lucky I have had pretty good births, quick pain relief free for 3 of them, but there were the downsides too... the two visits to neonatal icu, the huge pph, the mastitis.... we need to accept what happened but we do not need to think it was the best thing, or that we liked it

  4. Great post! I read it earlier but didn't comment. You've actually sorta inspired me to put my thoughts down about this maybe later this week. I've been too scared of judgements to say what I'm REALLY feeling.

    I kind of think bliss is a choice... Of course we can always strive to make situations better the next time, that can go with how we study for a test, or how we have a birth. But I think the bliss part of it is choosing to see the positive side of what's done.

    I'm all about living life with no regrets and having met so many women lately who reget the way their birth went scares me to death. I'm worried that even though I know so much, somehow knowing so much will make my expectations higher and therefore make me regret how things turn out... Then in turn feel like I've let people down... Who? Oh, random women online who have been feeding me birth information my entire pregnancy.

    My wedding day wasn't perfect, sure there are things I'd do over if I could do it again, but I didn't let the setbacks take away from the point, and real reason of the day. Maybe that's what's important? Maybe that's what's bliss?

    Who knows!

    Regardless, I know you and I will both do wonderfully and have beautiful births! :D

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts :)