Tristan, my oldest, healed from a devastating break-up last year, met a girl! I asked if she knew about his crazy family. He said:
"Mom, before the bread's on the table, I tell her about my lesbian mother, my transman step-mother, let her know she has to attempt a natural birth with a midwife and breastfeed for years. If she's cool with all of that, we have dinner."
I laughed my butt off.
And so started the thread on my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page. Initially, people laughed and thought it was great, but it deteriorated into an Us vs. Them commentary that disturbed me on several levels.
First came the whose business is it of mine how my future daughter-in-law birth… the most obnoxious comment seen here:
“Sad that how a women feeds her own children or birth her own children matters to ANYONE....I honestly hope you future Daughter in law formula feeds and has hospital birth...maybe then you would be more open minded...and realize what is really important in being a mother!!!”
Then came the thoughts that Tristan having any beliefs about how his wife delivers being any business of his were completely ridiculous.
“If any dude I had just met had made such a joke to me, I probably would have shot back – ‘Just so long as you get that vasectomy without pain relief after that last kid, because that's how you get in good with MY mom.’"
It bothers me enough that so many people are humorless, but can only assume the majority don’t have a clue who I am and wouldn’t know that I, of all people, am not going to command how another woman has her babies or feeds them. While I might have preferences, they are mine. I do have extra education and skill in natural birth and nursing, but that doesn’t mean I’m a birth nazi.
And then, after thinking about this thread all evening, I got more and more disturbed by how hospital birth and formula feeding were being held as a punishment for a natural birth and breastfeeding comment. I find that incredibly offensive… to hospital birthing and formula feeding mothers! To wish a hospital birth on a midwife is no different than telling a woman who knows she wants an epidural you hope she has a precipitous labor and can’t get anything for pain. How freakin’ rude!
(And I haven’t even mentioned in the thread my daughter did have a planned hospital birth and I supported it 100%.)
I find myself going ‘round and ‘round here, knowing there’s something more to what I’m hearing but unable to put all the words to it yet.
Turning my head a little, I wonder… is it a bad thing to have wishes for your children when it comes to birth? Is it wrong to want my future daughter-in-law to have a (what I consider to be a pretty) great birth? Is it wrong to hope she nurses her babies? Is it wrong to hope they don’t circumcise? Are there aspects I can wish for that aren’t intrusive on her choices? Can’t I be a resource for my children without seeming to try to brainwash them? Wasn’t watching moms labor at home “brainwashing” enough? Wasn’t seeing happy nursing toddlers a lesson on its own?
Meghann had a hospital birth-turned-cesarean. She struggled with nursing for a few weeks… a nasty case of thrush and then oversupply that mangled her nipples. And while she took some of what I knew, she needed help from outsiders because I didn’t have all the information she needed. On her own, she has found Babywearing and clean eating and La Leche League… and now, it seems, cloth diapers (something I did briefly and hated). She is following in her mother’s footsteps without my saying a word. Is that bad?
So, how much influence would I have on a daughter-in-law? Probably not a lot beyond what my son already knows is important to him.
When Tristan was telling me the above quip, he said to me that he really wants kids sooner than later. “I love kids, mom. You made me that way.”
That’s when my heart melted and everything all those cranky pants are saying just vanishes.
My kids have taken some of my beliefs on as their own. There is no prouder moment.