My eldest son is three years old today. He has brought nothing but joy and delight into my life. Even-tempered, curious and cute beyond words, he is a gift every single day. Naturally on his birthday, I am reflective about his actual birth. And birth always gets me thinking about women, medicine and power.
Recently, my good friend Debra Bingham DrPH, RN, wrote about this issue on one of my favorite sites, Dare to Dream. Debra will also be gracing my blog as a guest next month on a related topic. I think you’ll be interested in what she has to say.
Commenting on Debra’s post late last night brought many thoughts together. Having birthed once with unnecessary medical intervention and also completely naturally three times, I feel the gift of both perspectives. I’ve had great pre-natal care (love my OB) but he wasn’t there at pivotal points in the birthing process. With my first child, I did not realize my power and certainly lost my voice at the crucial moment. With the subsequent deliveries, I fought with the medical establishment every time. The crux – not being believed that I knew what was happening, that I understood my body’s patterns.
My son (my third child) was born in the corner of an emergency room whilst I was standing up, behind a curtain, squeezed against the wall, alone. This because the attending physicians would not listen to anything I had said from the moment I arrived in the hospital until five minutes after he was born. My husband on the other hand, knew exactly my rhythms and absolutely trusted my understanding of my body. He had run out to get help after we had been repeatedly ignored. So in a bittersweet moment, I was able to “catch” our son and for a few seconds, revel in all that we and God had been able to accomplish together.
Pregnancy and birth have been relatively easy for me for which I am deeply grateful. I am also appreciative of medical advances, good care-providers who enable mothers and babies to survive who might not otherwise. However in parallel with these developments, women have been taught to fear and misunderstand their bodies. There has never been a time when I have felt more powerful than that incredible moment of delivering a child. It’s time women took our bodies back.
What does this have to do with notions of work-life balance? Everything. Until we ask for what we want, share our rich insights, trust our selves, irrespective of gender or parental status, we will never receive what we need and want, and what is right for our lives and careers.
Think of a time when you felt powerful. And remember that feeling when you go into your next round of negotiations over what really matters to you.
P.S. Happy Birthday my lovely Mr. G. Cannot imagine the world without you.
Photo: Andi Pitcher http://independencekids.blogspot.com/