4.13.2008

The Slippery Slope of Expectations

I planned and prepared for a marathon. I practiced daily, ate correctly, and trained my body and mind for 9 whole months.

At the start of the marathon, I ran well, I ran fast, and I paced myself wonderfully. My body was a fluid machine that worked perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, the leg cramp came.

It came hard and fast.

I tried, oh how I tried, to run through it. Soon, though, my calf had seized and I was done. So, I sat in the dust and hailed my cab.

I took a cab to the finish line.

I took a CAB to the finish line.

I should have hailed that cab a long time ago. It was so much easier. Anyone who tries to run a marathon is crazy. Why go through all of that if you don't have to?

Next time I enter a marathon I will go into it with no expectations except to cross the finish line. It doesn't matter to me how I get there, just that I do. I don't care if it is on foot, on bed, in a taxi or upside down. Preparation for the event is obviously a waste of time, as is diet and training.


Does that make any sense at all? And yet, many women who 'fail' during birth end up with this mentality. Others try to make it 'better' by rubbing their shoulders and giving them platitudes. Now, I am NOT advocating making someone feel bad for their birth experience. But I ascertain this:

Disappointment is healthy.

There is NOTHING wrong with feeling disappointment at falling short of a goal. Without a goal, without a vision, without expectations, we have nothing.

Motivation comes from expectation.

Rather than stoke their indifference with empty platitudes and unhealthy acceptance of their dismissal of their disappointment, perhaps we should validate their feelings, offer encouragement through helping them redefine their priorities and expectations, and give them a safe place to grieve and feel disappointment in a healthy environment where they know that it is ok and normal?


On the flip side...

I planned and prepared for a marathon. I practiced daily, ate correctly, and trained my body and mind for 9 whole months.

At the start of the marathon, I ran well, I ran fast, and I paced myself wonderfully. My body was a fluid machine that worked perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, the leg cramp came.

It came hard and fast.

I tried, oh how I tried, to run through it. Soon, though, my calf had seized and I was done. I sat down in defeat and hailed a cab.

I took a cab to the finish line.

I took a CAB to the finish line.

I felt like an utter failure! My body betrayed me, I was too weak, my trainer didn't help me enough...


This is equally as unhealthy. Women who negate from their birth plans (not talking about your pieces of paper) and feel this type of birth guilt are suffering from birth trauma. Their sense of worth came from the way that they birthed, whereas their sense of worth should come from the power that they exerted while they were in labor and made the OBVIOUSLY hard choices to take a different path than what they had planned.

Acknowledging disappointment and offering understanding while also enabling a woman to see that she was still in control of her birth through the choices that she made, regardless if they were in line with her original plans or not. There is great strength in being able to make adjustments when issues or situations arise.

A recent birth story had me responding to a horribly harsh ridicule from another person. My response read:

a true warrior is one who, when adversary presents itself, or the journey takes you into uncharted territory, you can gracefully, powerfully, and wholly confidently make the necessary adjustments, PERSONAL decisions, and tough choices necessary to traverse the plains.

A FOOL does not recognize the need to deviate from plan when her instinct or her body is telling her to.

In my book, ****** is a lovely birth WARRIOR who went to the depths of labor land, released her inhibitions and came up out of that foreign land as a warrior - with a respect for her body, a confident awareness of her birth experience, and strength in her choices - even though they took her a different path than she ever thought.

Oi, the slippery slope of expectations. We need to find a balance, a thin line to walk with these women as they find their own path while advocating for their choices and best interest.

3 comments:

one smarmy mama said...

omg, this is amazing. just amazing.

kris said...

well said

CappuccinoLife said...

Thanks for putting that into words!

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