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Taking Things Personally

What do we say when others blame us for their sadness, their hard times or their difficult births?

Do we accept their pain and wear it (as I have done so often in the past, but am not going to do anymore in the present or future) or do we allow them to toss it over us and let it slide down into the swamp drain around our feet?

Heard today:

In a childbirth class, a birth video was shown... not one most of you would know, but one that is beautiful and a nice homebirth... a woman spoke with the teacher afterwards and said that she was "traumatized" by the video. She said that she is able to watch horror movies and see people being flayed (she actually used more graphic terms, I am toning it down here) without any trouble and now, after watching that horrible video, the teacher has forever traumatized her regarding birth. She is definitely going to have an epidural now... no question about that. And it is all the teacher's fault.

The instructor, happily, is quite evolved and didn't grab ahold of her pile o'crap and munch on it like I might have not long ago, but instead told her that an epidural wasn't going to change where the baby was coming out and that whether she knew it or not, that was how birth happened before she saw the video. She smiled and hinted that she might be thankful to not have seen a REAL hospital birth (with vacuum, episiotomy, forceps, cesarean, etc. thrown in for good measure) video lest she truly discover the word "traumatized."

Are we who work in birth scapegoats for some women? Do we make it easy for them to abdicate responsibility for their own work towards the birth they want/need/will eventually own?

I find it an interesting concept, this "I have to blame someone" thing. It mostly is "me," but often enough is "you" or "her" that it bears discussing. I know that my introspection from all this "Secret" and "Law of Attraction" stuff has a huge bearing on my thought process, too.

If one person is thinking: I don't want to hurt her or anyone.

And the other person is thinking: I don't want to be hurt by her or anyone.

Is the reason she ends up being hurt by the first person because the Law of Attraction brought it on by both of them? I'd say, why yes!

(For those still learning about this, the reason is the Universe doesn't hear the "don't" part, it just hears the "I want to hurt her or anyone" and "I want to be hurt by her or anyone" so the pact was fulfilled by our constant visualization and repetition of our desire. This is the reason ALL wishes/dreams/mantras/thoughts/sentences/affirmations/etc. MUST be in the affirmative.)

Did the woman speak to the teacher the way she did because the teacher secretly feared a woman would someday tell her she was traumatizing her with birth videos? Interestingly, I asked that question and she said she never in a million years thought that would ever happen!

So, apparently, sometimes, women do come up with their own ideas and thoughts to hoist around for awhile. I suspect I have a ton or three m'self.

In The Four Agreements, it says "Don't Take Things Personally." This is a perfect example of that. I'm writing a long, long post about The Four Agreements and its relevency to my changing world right now, but this is exactly when it comes to dance on my head, 'round and 'round like one of those ballerinas in a jewelry box, pointy toes on my hairline at my forehead telling me "Don't Take Things Personally."

If I didn't take things personally, I could avoid so many emotionally charged arrows that come my way. I'd be a great dodger! I would shrug and look at people blankly and wonder why they were staring at me waiting for me to cry or scream or have a hissy fit. It would be so nice to not have knots in my stomach, not have my intestines rumble so angrily, not have my brows furrow with worry. It would be nice to be able to wear regular make-up, not have to worry about it blurring off with tears or smearing with the Kleenex.

If you didn't take things personally, how would things be different in your life?

I'm going to tell you how things are different in my life because of this new thought pattern.

I know it will go far, far beyond the make-up aisle.

Reader Comments (10)

I don't think any woman, prior to her first birth, has any real understanding of what it means to give birth. In my experience, those most fervently advocating un-medicated birth have had exceptionally easy births, and those most fervently claiming that every woman can breastfeed easily have never had the slightest problem feeding their own children. I think the teacher was very wrong to make the comment about hospital births being "more traumatic". That would only increase the woman's apprehensions--and it isn't even true.

April 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAntigonos

I feel sorry for that woman. *boggle* It says something about today's society that she feels natural birth more traumatizing than guts and gore of the horror kind. I like the CBE's response.

Char [Who can comment now that Blogger's using an audio word verification.]

April 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChar

Antigonos: Perhaps you misunderstood the meaning of "hinted." She did not out and out *say* that a hospital birth WAS traumatic, but that another video might have been much more traumatic than the video she had viewed. *I* am the one that added the commentary. The teacher is not an idiot. I wouldn't have been so evolved. Call me the idiot.

And hospital births, almost always... 95% of the time... are MUCH more traumatic looking than a homebirth. Just the doctor pulling on the baby and placenta is enough to make someone sick to their stomach. How many hospital births have you attended?

April 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Char, I think you need to go back and comment on all the posts you've want to comment on from the beginning! HA HA!!! So glad you are here now!

Much love, girl!


April 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Barb, I stumbled on your blog by accident - it's turned out to be a very happy one! Keep up the great work.

I wanted to ask if you've ever come across a woman who's had a symphysiotomy. I used to work for a carers association and I met a lady who'd been subjected - without her knowledge and consent - to this barbaric procedure. Thirty years later - yes, you read that correctly - she had trouble with walking and continence. Unsurprisingly, the psychological scars were just as severe. She was deeply depressed and rarely left her house. I can honestly say that her life was ruined by this.
Her story has haunted me but I tried to tell myself that would never happen nowadays. Horror of horrors, a friend emailed me to let me know that she'd read that some obstetrics professor in Sweden was suggesting that this brutality could be a viable alternative to Caesareans in some cases.
This can't be allowed to happen.

April 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

I'm really glad you've been sharing the "don't take things personally" message. It resonates with me and I am trying to implement it in my own life. Thanks :)

Also wanted to say that my SIL had a deep fear of birth and was grossed out from it, having been traumatized by seeing an emerging baby head out of a hairy vulva on TV as a young child. She opted for ceserean :( but not before I suggested that she watch a video and learn about what a surgical birth entails. With all the sucking, burning smells and the obvious carnage, it is certainly not a good alternative to "gross". Probably not the best method of help although I did it with the best of intentions of preparing her for the experience.

I'd be interested on what you would have to say about how to deal with patients who have a true fear/gross-out factor in regards to childbirth?

April 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkristina

I came across your blog on a midwifery site, and love it. i too am a midwife, and a writer... though not yet a blogger! Anyway, I just wanted to say, I think you may be right about the need to blame... It is always easier to blame someone else, too!

April 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTrin RM


I have never met any woman that I knew who has had a symphysiotomy. My dad, born in Cuba, weighed 13+ pounds and my grandmother *possibly* had one, but I didn't speak Spanish then, so wasn't ever able to ask. I do know she didn't walk for over a year and then limped the rest of her life. It actually never even dawned on me until your post that that might have been what happened! (The entire family is rife with out-of-control Type II diabetics). Before this moment of clarity, it was just lore that my dad was so big, he was stuck and the doctor had to wrestle him out.

Of course, I can't even imagine any doctor in our country doing this, but I do know that in other countries, where cesareans are not as readily available, the symphysiotomy might be necessary to keep the baby alive in the case of a shoulder dystocia. In fact, I found, in searching Google, a post by a doctor discussing the benefits of how quickly the procedure could be done and how it really was great for doctors or midwives in the middle of nowhere to know how to do it.

I, for one, am glad I am not in the middle of nowhere.

Be careful condemning something blanketly! Someone can ALWAYS find a beneficial reason for its use!

April 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Hi Barb, I forgot to add that this lady gave birth in hospital, where I assume she could've had a Caesarean. She gave birth in the 70s so I imagine C-sections would've meant more risk than they do today but I still can't understand why one was carried out, she never mentioned anything about shoulder dystocia or any other complications.
As for the fear/gross out factor, I vividly remember seeing a woman give birth on TV years ago in a hospital:legs in stirrups, screaming for it to be over, gowned and masked staff not offering a word of comfort, trays of equipment in plain sight,etc. It took me years to get over it - no joking.

April 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Antigonos is evil:


(View May archives)

And just for the record to respond to the evil one's comments, I had a 44-hour unmedicated labor that ended with an emergency c-section for failure to descend, it turned out baby had triple nuchal cord and never got past -2 station. I was at a birth center and had a superb midwife who knew when to get me to the hospital. I would still recommend unmedicated birth. It hurts, but that's life. I plan to birth at home for my next child, maybe even unassisted.

I also had a very very VERY hard time with lactation due to the surgery, it took me jamming every supplement I could find down my throat and pumping every two hours around the clock for almost two months to succeed, but I did it. My son nursed until he was 2-1/2. I believe that nearly every woman CAN breastfeed if she feels strongly enough to do it. My son has almost never been sick, and is smart as the dickens. Just looking at him makes it all worth it.

Ugh, I'm just so disgusted with Sarah Meir, I apologize for venting in your space.


May 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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