Lottery of Guilt

I didn’t think much of it when I called to get on the list for the second time in my life for the midwives. Un-like the first time, the second time the lady on the phone was lovely. She helped with all my questions and went over the process with me.  She explained that although I wanted a home birth it was too far for the midwives to come to my town (an hour away), that I would have to borrow a room form a friend or rent something as some women did in Saskatoon.

Two parts of this were strange to me: first, that it was acceptable for me, a pregnant woman, to travel the hour to birth and second, that if I was to give birth in the hospital in my home town, if they thought they couldn’t “manage” my birth, they would put me in an ambulance and drive me to Saskatoon anyway. She also advised that even though I had just found out I was pregnant that week, there were 42 other women on the list for midwives and that they only had 24 spots for January babies. She spoke of the positions and how the midwives would make sure it was “fair” one new mom here, one second birth, maybe a vbac at the hospital (and only at the hospital).

I took the information and thought nothing of it. Not only is it pretty unlikely that I should get this midwife–the dreamed of care for 42 other women who just peed on sticks–but I want to give birth at home, MY home. Immediately I started planning on reneging my spot should I get the call. I was voicing these thoughts to a very good friend of mine when she blurted out “screw that guilt!”  Surprised to say the least I asked her to elaborate. She talked of all the guilt that women have because of the system– mom guilt from the time of conception, like: “How dare you win the birth lottery and in doing so deny another woman the superior care of a midwife and then not take that seriously!”  “how dare you refuse care.” “how dare you choose the birth that fits you best”.

I asked myself these questions and let them swirl around. I am happy with my birth and I made informed decisions, I consider myself a challenge for people who just want to gloss over details and say things like “well that’s the way we have always done it”. It struck me. For all of this information and knowledge and ability I was part of the cycle of mom guilt.

I am entitled equal care. So is the woman down the street or the mother in northern Saskatchewan or right inside the city. There should be no different ways to view these people. If we all want the same care that is what we should be provided. Why should some “blessed lottery” give me my expected care and in doing so deprive another mother? What kind of system pits women against each other like that? I was saddened by this and bewildered at my own response to the feelings I was having. I shouldn’t feel guilty, having a midwife is truly what I want but maybe a registered midwife isn’t the best choice for me. 42 other women seem to think it is the choice for them and I’m sure many other women that don’t even bother to make the call and get on the list. How sad that only 24 women be “accepted” into the program, leaving so many others to find their own way or be corralled into “approved care”.

How sad that should I get a midwife I would feel guilty. How sad that there are no options for other traditional birth attendants. How sad it is to be a mother or a women in 2017 in Canada. How sad to have to play this lottery of guilt against women I want to see succeed.

A. Charles

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