Monday, October 24, 2011

Addressing the Issue of Blame and Guilt

Blame and Guilt:

Since my second c-section I have always been a huge advocate for self-empowerment, seeking the truth yourself and not relying on others to give it to you, and advocating for ways to avoid the first c-section. So in a lot of ways when the news spread that my baby died during my homebirth many people (even family members) had this attitude of "see I told you". It was almost as if some of them took a little bit of pleasure in seeing the woman who says "birth is as safe as life gets" on her knees in grief. ** I want to give a shout out here to some of the best women I have ever known in my life who without knowing me for very long were the only people who took time to send me flowers and gifts to let me know they cared. I love all of you at Earthy Mommies.**

Throughout the last 6 years I have been pretty vague about my homebirth loss due to that negativity that I experienced right after.  I cannot tell you how many people didn't hesitate to blame my baby's death on the fact that I had a homebirth and were quite mean about it too. I was still very fresh in my grief and one stage of grief is guilt. This is for every single person that has ever lost a loved one. There is always a moment of "What if I ____?" or " I wish I could have...." This happens regardless of whether you had any direct involvement in that loved ones death..For me it was too much to bear at the time and up until now I have been very quiet about my birth as a means to protect myself .

So for a long time I was afraid to talk about how I felt with most people. It seemed that no one in my real life really wanted to even acknowledge that he existed. I know that no one knew him when he was alive but he lived in me for 10 months. I felt him move. We grew as one together. I had a type of connection with him that no one else could understand, it was like a secret.

Forgiving Yourself:

One of the things I always see people say during homebirth debates on message boards, blogs, and facebook groups, is " I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened."  It infers that if you do forgive yourself then you are the bad guy. You are the mother that chose an experience over the baby. You are the mother who didn't care about her baby. You are the one worthy of bashing. In reality this could not be farther from the truth.

I have always looked at my homebirth loss with positivity. I am saddened that he died. I wish he was here but nothing that I do will bring him back. I chose to forgive myself and embrace his life and death for the beauty that it was. I have often been persecuted for being proud that I gave birth to him, proud that it was a natural childbirth, triumphant that what I had been told about my body was a lie (like I knew it was). I am not sure why people don't understand that you can have more than one emotion about one event. I could chose to dwell on the negative but I felt much more productive and driven to look at the positive. This doesn't mean I love him any less, or that the pain of not having him here is any less significant now than it was then. I loved him. I was heartbroken. But being heartbroken doesn't mean I have to be broken.

Which leads me to this. It is ok to forgive yourself.  It doesn't make you less of a mother. It doesn't mean you loved your baby less than that next woman. It means you loved yourself enough to forgive yourself and not let guilt and blame consume you. And in order for us to properly love our other children we have to first love ourselves.

**Oh and for the record my homebirth loss did not change a single thing about the way I look at birth. I still believe that birth is as safe as life gets.**