Gardening and Birth

This analogy popped into my mind as I was thinking about something a friend of mine once said. She was an L&D nurse at the time, and said she didn’t understand why in the world a woman would want to go through labor without an epidural if she didn’t have to. (She went on to complain about women who declined epidurals, specifically about the amount of noise they made while laboring and bringing forth their children without drugs. As if women declined epidurals just to make her job hard.)

Anyway, although she still has the same idea, Becca now knows personally why some women decline epidurals — her own epidural in her first birth gave her the dreaded “epidural headache” (one woman described it as if a helicopter were landing in her head every time she sat up, for a week), and she also ended up with a C-section. The baby’s head was stuck on her pelvic bone — she actually had a line on her forehead from it, when she was born. Since Becca was numb from her epidural, she could make no changes in position to help the baby move into a better position which would allow a vaginal birth. But, hey, she still is a fan of epidurals for laboring women. That’s fine — it’s her opinion.

But in answer to her rhetorical question of why a woman might refuse an epidural, in addition to the increased likelihood of fetal malpositioning and C-sections, as well as a little thing about a sudden drop in maternal blood pressure which leads to the baby “crashing”, etc., I will answer her question with a question — why have a garden, when you can just go to the store and get whatever vegetables you need?

You see, it often comes down to personal preference in many matters. Some people love to garden, while others hate it. (I have a black thumb, and like to have a garden full of vegetables, but don’t often get it.) There is no one “right” way, but only preference, based on a variety of things, including one’s personal opinion and tastes.

Some people hire others to clean their houses for them, because they’d rather spend money than time. Others live by “a penny saved is a penny earned” so will do things themselves rather than pay others to do it, even if it takes them twice as long and saves them only a meager amount. It depends on what your goals and preferences are. If your goal is to save as much money as possible, then it doesn’t matter if your “hourly rate” for gardening is 25 cents an hour, well that’s a quarter more than you would have had if you bought it at the store. (I think mine this year is even less than that, counting the cost of trying to mix good-quality soil and buying plants that ended up dying — from either too much water or not enough — I’m still not sure — I doubt I broke even with my handful of tomatoes and bell peppers. Sigh…)

This reminds me of a chart that was in one of my favorite books — The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn (I bought mine at a used book store for $5!). In this book, she talks about “hourly wage” (how long it takes her to do something, and how much money she theoretically “makes” per hour by being frugal), and why she does certain things — and it’s about balance. While her primary goal is saving money, she also had other reasons for doing things. For instance, it took a lot of time to refinish furniture, but it was something she truly enjoyed. Since I’m in the middle of stripping a dresser with at least 6 layers of paint, I fail to see the enjoyment in it, and wish I’d just painted it again. While I will like the end result (I hope!), I am not enjoying the process — but some people do, and that’s okay. So, even if she was “making” (or saving) a measly dollar per hour to refinish furniture, she enjoyed the process and the end result, so it was worth it to her, even if she could have made (saved) more money by doing other things. She spent a lot of time designing home-made cards, when she could have bought a card for a dollar or two, but she found a great amount of satisfaction in her craft.

For a lot of people, these frugal things just aren’t worth it — they’d rather earn money than save money. That’s fine, because on their “personal enjoyment” chart, their jobs may be rated 4 or 5 stars. Some people hate the jobs other people love. For instance, my husband is a teacher, but he wouldn’t want to teach kindergarten — the kids are just too immature. Most kindergarten teachers would shrink back with horror at teaching middle school (which is what my husband prefers).

When it comes to birth, you can’t let other people’s preferences and attitudes choose for you, any more than you would work at some job just because your sister or friend liked it. Would you marry your sister’s husband? I would hate to be married to either of my sisters’ husbands, and they’d hate to be married to my husband. I personally place a high emphasis on giving birth without taking drugs; most people place a higher emphasis on personal comfort than drug avoidance. Some might prefer to go without drugs, but when it comes right down to it, they’ll pick the drugs. That’s fine. I’ve had two births, one of which I thought a lot about having an epidural — if I’d been in the hospital, I daresay I would have had one, simply because it would have been available, and it wasn’t available at home.

So, when you tell someone that you want X, Y, or Z during your labor or birth, and she sneers (visually or audibly) and says, “Why?!” you can just say, “because I want to!”

2 Responses

  1. Or put it this way–Why have an epidural if you don’t want one? I certainly never did, not even during the most intense part of labor.

  2. Good analogy. I too would hate to be married to my BIL, but I am sure others would hate being married to my DH.

    It all comes down to respecting others choices. I have had 2 friends call me saying that their OBs wanted to induce them and what did I think. I bit my tongue and gave them a nice answer. They said, “NO, tell me what you REALLY think, I am calling you because you are my only friend who won’t tell me to get induced.” Mind you I hadn’t said get induced, but rather, “What do you think….”

    I am not sure how I got here. Except maybe to continue the analogy, it is great to have friends with different specialties to get support and advice. If I
    was planting a garden, I would love a friend to help me and share tips. But I would be bugged if a friend who loved to garden yelled at me because I didn’t.

    Which reinforces all you said!

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