When I originally wrote yesterday's post, I had this at the bottom, but decided against it in order to keep comments from getting off-topic. This is a rant I've been keeping in my head for a long, long time (over a year? almost 2?)- I've ranted a bit about it on Twitter recently and eventually decided I'd just post it. I keep trying to go back and clarify things and re-arrange things, but hey, it's a rant. I'll probably clarify things in the comments if I feel like it.
I'm a firm believer that the owner of the vagina gets to decide what is done to the vagina and who is allowed to be near it in all circumstances: birthing room, bedroom, everywhere. McKay is not allowed to do anything to my vagina (or my body for that matter) without my full "ok". That's how it is- anything else would be sexual assualt or marital rape. If he had "put his foot down" and said that I had to give birth in a way he was comfortable with I would have definitely taken this as an attack on my body and autonomy and self. That's my vagina he would be controlling.
Maybe I can say this so easily because I never had to choose between marital harmony and bodily autonomy, but I really can't see how a husband can get to "not allow" a woman to birth the way she wants to. For me, giving birth where I was most comfortable was very important. If the choice is between a place where dad is stressed versus place where mom is stressed, I'd choose the place where dad is stressed. Stress affects mom's hormones and the ability for contractions to be effective, the ability to relax, the ability to stretch and open. As for dad's stress, well, he doesn't even need to be at the birth- you can just tell him to go away if his presence is too much. If he's not on-board, then he's not on-site.
If McKay had been really pushy about how I gave birth, then I probably would have just gone off and given birth without him. Lucky for him by the beginning of the third trimester, he was ok with and even supportive of the birth plans (this is why you're pregnant for 9 months, ladies!). Perhaps I'm selfish, but for me, bodily autonomy isn't something that I would compromise about, particularly when it involves something as dramatic as birth- which can permanently change the way your body feels and moves.
And perhaps I was just really lucky with husband choices; even when I mentioned a particular haircut the other day he said, "Well, you know how I like it, but it's your hair." I am so grateful that he respects my decisions about my body.
Now I know it might sound very "my way or the highway" and it pretty much is, but I did listen to his concerns. I did lots of research and shared with him the parts I thought he worried most about. In the end, he trusted me fully. He was in school and couldn't devote much time to birth research and told me he trusted my research and my feelings about it.
For women who feel this is a point of conflict in their relationship, a doula friend of mine told me once that a lot of the time the husband just doesn't know a lot about the choices. If you give him time to question the mom/midwife/OB, his concerns of "what happens if..." can be put to rest. McKay and I went over many "If this happens we do need to go to the hospital" and "If that happens, I should try this" scenarios. He saw the amount of time and thought I put into the birth and I answered his concerns to the point where he didn't have those concerns anymore. That worked for McKay and will probably work with some other husbands out there.
Related, but not transitioned well enough because, hey, it's a rant:
I can understand where women would use the term "birthrape" to describe an experience. I know some people think that's too harsh a term and that rape is sexual and what happens in a birthing room is not. However, it is my understanding that rape is not sexual: it's about power and control. And if in birth a woman feels that her power and control is taken from her and decisions are made about her body without her involvement and things are done to her without her consent, then I don't think "birthrape" is too harsh a term for her to use.