What vision can teach us about natural childbirth and breastfeeding

Natural vision

Vision. It’s arguably the most important of our 5 senses.

It allows us to see a grain of salt, a mountain in the distance and everything in between. It is the key to game hunting, to precision manufacturing, to hitting a home run. It is 100% natural. All human beings are “designed” to see.

Curiously, despite the centrality of vision to our existence and despite the fact that it is natural, the incidence of poor vision is extraordinarily high. Approximately 30% of Americans are nearsighted; approximately 30% of Americans are farsighted; an equal proportion of Americans suffer from astigmatism. These impairments of vision can occur alone and in combination. Indeed, there are many people over age 40 who are both nearsighted, farsighted and have astigmatism.

Is a touchdown by a quarterback wearing contact lenses not really a touchdown?

What does that tell us?

It tells us that even critical natural functions don’t work properly a large proportion of the time.

Now consider vision correction. Over 60% of Americans use glasses for vision correction. Nearly 20% use contact lenses for vision correction.

Are people who need vision correction abnormal or unnatural? Of course not.

Are people who use glasses or contact lenses “giving in” to the inconvenience of not being able to see? That’s absurd.

Does a book written by someone wearing reading glasses have less merit than one written by someone with 20/20 vision? No.

Is a touchdown pass drilled to the receiver by a quarterback wearing contact lenses not really a touchdown? No.

If a nearsighted climber summits Mount Everest wearing glasses, is it a lesser achievement than if she had done the same thing without glasses? Absolutely not.

Why not? Because we judge achievements by the outcome, not the process. It makes no difference if someone needs vision correction to complete their activities or daily living or to fulfill their wildest dreams. The achievement is not marred by the need for vision correct.

And, critically, not needing vision correction is not, in and of itself, an achievement.

Now consider childbirth.

It is critical to our existence, and women are “designed” to give birth. Curiously, despite the centrality of childbirth to our existence, and despite the fact that it is natural, the natural incidence of perinatal and maternal death is relatively high. It’s only a fraction as high as the incidence of faulty vision, but the death rates are far from trivial.

What does that tell us?

It tells us that even critical natural functions don’t work properly a large proportion of the time, and the obstetricians who point that out are not “pathologizing” birth, they’re simply stating a fact. Many women will need interventions (childbirth “correction,” if you will) to survive childbirth and for the baby to survive birth alive and healthy.

Are the births of women who need childbirth interventions abnormal or unnatural? Of course not.

Are women who choose pain relief in childbirth “giving in” to the pain? That’s absurd.

Is a baby born by C-section less intelligent, talented or valuable than a baby born by unmedicated vaginal delivery? No.

If a woman gives birth with every intervention known to man, is the result an “unnatural” or abnormal baby? No.

Is the birth of that baby any less joyous or worthy of celebration than the birth of a baby born by unmedicated vaginal birth? No.

Is the birth of that baby any less an achievement than the birth of a baby by unmedicated childbirth? Absolutely not.

Why not? Because we judge achievements by the outcome, not the process. It makes no difference whether a woman needs childbirth interventions. It is the baby that is the achievement, not the presence of absence of interventions.

The same arguments can be made about breastfeeding. Yes, it’s natural. Yes, women are “designed” to breastfeed. Nonetheless a substantial proportion of women and babies will have difficulty with breastfeeding.

Are women who don’t breastfeed abnormal or unnatural? No.

Are woman who choose to formula feed “giving in” to the difficulties. No.

Are babies nourished with formula any less intelligent, talented or valuable than babies nourished with breastmilk? Of course not.

Is raising that baby into a healthy happy child with formula any less of an achievement than doing the same with breastmilk? That’s absurd. The achievement is the healthy, happy baby, not the breastfeeding.

The bottom line is that a home run with vision correction is better than a strikeout without it. A healthy baby born with the assistance of a myriad of interventions is better than a sick or dead baby born without them. A healthy formula fed toddler is better than a stunted toddler who is breastfed.

I understand that there are women who want to view unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding as achievements, but that says more about them and their fragile self-esteem than it says about childbirth or breastfeeding.

It is the outcome that counts. A great outcome is infinitely more important than a natural process!

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    You realize that it’s only going to get worse. Eyes are an immunologically protected site so virally delivered gene therapy works particularly well for (genetic) eye problems. Which means that we’ll have more and more people running around with genetically modified eyes! And you thought eating GMOs was bad…

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Indeed, there are many people over age 40 who are both nearsighted, farsighted and have astigmatism.

    Um…hi there.

    I want someone to make me some lenses with adaptive optics. How hard could it be?

    • Spamamander

      I’m thoroughly enjoying reading glasses on top of my contacts.

  • Cartman36

    Thank you for all you do Dr. Amy. This is another great post.

  • Amazed

    It’s easy to thump yourself in the chest for not giving in when everything went well. Funny how I don’t know anyone who was close to an adverse outcome who prides themselves of it. Just yesterday, we were talking about my nephew-to-be-born (Yay! His mom is actually 1 kg on! She might actually make up for the 9 she lost in the first trimester!) And my mom said how scared she was in that moment when she opened her eyes and saw how scared doctors were that she’d die. I guess in their narrative “a real wombyn and mom” would have fought her way back to health despite them ebil docs. Instead, my mom gave in and quietly slipped into unconsciousness as they scrambled to take her blood pressure or pulse and found none. About my grandmother and her eclampsia, I don’t think I even want to know. But I’d like to watch a Brewer diet believer explain it to my grandmother how she brought it upon herself by not eating right. It’ll be a sight… and mind you, what my grandmother grows in her garden and the domestic animals that have provided the meat until recently, a Brewer diet chick can only dream of.

    I think something is very wrong with people who take their self-esteem by comparing themselves to those less fortunate and smugly explaining what those less fortunate did wrong. But I think that by women who chose the other model, they feel threatened. After all, what good is it to boast about achieving something no one else wants?

  • ladyloki

    What would the NCB folks have to say about us who had LASIK?

    • If you were a real Eyesight Warrior, you’d just squint a lot and crochet with your toes instead of your hands. Don’t capitulate to the Eyesight Interventionists! Just think how empowered you’ll be when you finish that tea cozy! Oh, it was meant to be a yarmulke? Never mind, it’s the intention that matters.

    • antigone23

      Unnecessary surgery! For shame! Don’t you know surgery has RISKS?

  • Anna

    Fragile self-esteem. Exactly. This is the only motive that guides a human being trying to prove they are somehow superior to others. And then fighting with evil doctors over not having an epidural and breasfeeding for years is acually viewed as an accomplishment. And a major one. And just how double-standard all this is. We in the 21st century said no to racism, homophobia, women are considered equal to men etc. And at the same time so many feel free to judge a woman by the capacity of her womb to give birth and her breast to produce milk.

    • Chi

      It’s more than that though. It’s not just about making themselves feel good about the choice they made, it’s also about making others who chose something different from them to feel BAD about that choice.

      Hence why they attack women who have epidurals when they themselves went unmedicated.

      Why they attack c-sections and episiotomies when they pushed till they tore.

      Why they attack formula feeders when they breastfed through cracked and bleeding nipples and the pumping schedule from hell, when they consumed supplements and medications to up supply and basically got used to having a baby attached to them 40 out of every 60 minutes of the day.

      That’s why they try convince women who had ‘unnecessary’ (in their eyes) interventions that they were ‘raped’ by the system and that they didn’t get the birth experience they deserved.

      Because truly, the only way they can make themselves feel good, is to tout their choices as the only ‘true’ choices and bully and belittle anyone who DARES to choose something different (or something easier) for themselves as it is their RIGHT to do.

      To them, I say that I am DONE. I will no longer allow you to question my choices for my child. I will not be fodder for your fragile ego. Because honey? If you truly feel the need to attack other mothers for the choices they made because they don’t mirror yours? Well you’ve got bigger problems than whether or not you pushed a child out of your snatch or breastfed them till they were 5.

      And your problem ISN’T with me. It’s with yourself.

      • Anna

        Yeah, I always wonder how someone that immature and self-conscious is going to raise a child? Your reply is great!

        • Chi

          Thank you. I just get so SICK of being told my natural vaginal birth wasn’t natural because I availed myself of nos during the process and was in a hospital.

          I’m sick of being told I poisoned my child and have destroyed her health because I had to supplement with formula and eventually moved fully to formula.

          But then, while I am white, I am FAR from privileged. I am lucky to have a partner who has a generous enough income to support me as a stay at home mother.

          So these women who ARE white and who ARE privileged and use their children as status symbols to show how wonderful and special they themselves are, really tick me off. Because children are NOT status symbols, they are little people and they are a gift and should be treated as such.

          But then, I’m not really all that surprised by their attitudes because these are the same women who believe that autistic children are ‘broken’.

          • Anna

            These folks blame doctors for pathologizing birth from a medical point of view, when what they actually do is pathologize birth from a psychological point of view. Like, every woman whose birth was short of perfect is condemned to years of depression and psychological trauma. But we are far not so fragile as human beings and nobody is going to break down for years because there was no aromatherapy and music in the delivery room. This is just ONE day and only total psychos would want to contemplate on it for the rest of their lives.

          • Chi

            And come on, let’s be at least a little realistic. What is ‘perfect’ when it comes to birth? The process of giving birth is bloody, brutal, and speaking from experience, excruciatingly painful.

            Anyone who tries to pretend otherwise is completely deluded.

          • Anna

            Yes, until the 21st century noone has gone so far as to state that giving birth HAS to be a pleasing experience. It might be tolerable… at best.

          • Chi

            Especially since, if you go back, hell only 50-odd years or so, the best you could hope for was you AND your baby SURVIVING birth. Never mind unwanted or wanted interventions.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Well, unless you go the planned C-section route. Which was probably bloody, but I didn’t have to see it, and was definitely neither brutal or excruciating.
            When you know better, you do better! 😀
            *ducks flying tomatoes*

          • Daleth

            *Terrorist fist bump*

          • Chi

            Exactly, and that’s why the NB crowd poo-poo C-sections. BECAUSE they don’t force you to suffer as an initiation into mummy martyrdom.

            For my next one I’m actually considering an elective c-section. Or at the very least the epidural.

    • SporkParade

      We don’t judge people by their race, class, or gender anymore. We’ve progressed to judging them according to proxies for race, class and gender!

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Yay us! (/sarcasm)

      • Roadstergal

        Perfectly put.

  • YesYesNoNo

    OT- Reading Dr. Amy for most my pregnancy. FTM due 10/5. This Thursday I will decide whether to have a CS. Baby is big, I am built like a 14 yr old boy… Anyway I am definitely leaning towards CS. I am not looking for some magical mystical birthing experience. I couldn’t care less. I want a healthy baby boy…
    Thanks Dr. Amy and to you regular posters for letting me know I am not alone or a weirdo!

    • demodocus

      Good luck and early congratulations!

      • YesYesNoNo

        Thank You!

    • Sarah

      The drugs they give you are pretty magical, tbh. I was absolutely off my tits, it was marvellous. Best of luck.

      • YesYesNoNo

        Another plus!

    • Cartman36

      Good luck with whatever you decide. I had an emergency CS with #1 and am looking forward to a RCS with #2. I recommend the book epidural without guilt by Dr. Gilbert Grant. He does an excellent job of explaining the different types of pain relief and I was a lot less scared of getting my epidural after I read it.

      • YesYesNoNo

        Thank you for your suggestion.
        Thank you all for your well wishes! I will know more this Thursday.

      • Captain Obvious

        Have your doctor use Exparel anesthetic in the parietal peritoneum , fascia and skin. It lasts 2-4 days. Have your rectus reapproxiamated with a girdle stitch to prevent a post op diastasis rectus.

    • Megan

      I will probably also have a repeat section with this baby and I am planning on using it as an experience to help my teaching residency that I work for. We have a “family centered OB care” office as part of our residency and I am hoping I can be their guinea pig to try out incorporating the “family-centered csection” into our practice as a family-friendly option for moms who want it and need a scheduled csection for whatever reason. My first csection was not planned and happened after a protracted failed induction and I had a large PPH. I’m hoping my recovery from an ERCS will be easier than that was. The common trope that a csection cannot be a beautiful “birth experience” is BS. (As many on this site can attest to.)

      • YesYesNoNo

        Thanks, I am happy to have found this sight, you all offer great help, unlike baby center. All sorts of disturbing garbage on there. I had no idea about this natural is better/hatred of modern medicine until I became pregnant and joined baby center.

        • Sue

          Best wishes for the birth – whichever way you choose. There are good and bad vaginal birth experiences, good and bad cesarean experiences, but these occur over a few hours before a lifetime of parenthood.

          IF you have no ideology or unrealistic expectations setting you up for emotional distress, it;s likely things will go well for you – whatever way your baby exits!

        • Megan

          Yes. Personally, I would stay far away from baby center. 🙂

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Words to live by, right there.

        • Some people find having surgery — of any sort — a really threatening experience. Others don’t. The better informed you are prior to surgery, I think the more positive your attitude.
          I knew, for instance, that the first 24 to 48 hours after my hip replacement might be fairly miserable. In the pre-op lecture a group of us attended, we were shown the patient-controlled medication system, and immediately a number of those also anticipating hip and knee replacements felt less anxious. In point of fact, the nurses were surprised I used up little of the available medication, and I’m not a high threshold person.
          The recovery from an elective C/S is different than one done as an emergency after long hours of labor. A primary C/S recovery is often a bit longer than a repeat C/S [again, I think that, second time round you are more prepared]. Everyone reacts differently. The main thing is to keep focussing on the positive [if today isn’t so great, tomorrow will be better, or this stiffness is going to be temporary, etc.]
          You are doing the best thing, for yourself and your baby, since the goal is healthy mother, healthy child –and mazal tov in advance!

        • Dr Kitty

          I had a planned CS two weeks ago.
          I spent 5 hours yesterday in town shopping with my husband- lots of walking (we even braved IKEA) without any issues.
          At this point I have more discomfort from cracked nipples and a strong let down reflex than from the surgery.
          Don’t believe that recovery necessarily has to be agonising and protracted.

      • FEDUP MD

        I had a similar experience with my first, down to the PPH (only thing that saved me from transfusion was that my pre birth crit was 44, so even a 50% drop wasn’t too bad). My second was elective c-section and it was night and day easier. Less pain, more mobility, and a much faster recovery.

        • Megan

          I hope that is the case. I did need a transfusion for my PPH because my crit was borderline throughout pregnancy, just good enough to not really “need” iron. I’m taking it anyway this pregnancy because my pregnancies were only 9-10 months apart. I’m hoping that my experience post ERCS would be very different than my primary CS. I’m leaning more and more towards a ERCS instead of trying VBAC. The only reason I was considering VBAC at all is that I may want more children and I worry about the risk of abnormal placentation (previa, accreta, etc). But I think my risk of VBAC probably outweigh that since my deliveries are only going to be 18 months apart and my incision to get my daughter out was quite large (extending all the way to my uterine arteries). So the risk of rupture scares me too.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        “The common trope that a csection cannot be a beautiful “birth experience” is BS. (As many on this site can attest to.)”
        I’m one of them. DD’s CS was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and not just because I had her, though that alone would have ranked it pretty darn high. The staff was lovely (I never felt ignored, someone was talking to me and telling me what was going on the whole time), they put her on my chest as soon as she was checked out so that she could nurse (even if I don’t BF next time, I want to do that because the snuggles were so nice), they were the kindest, most supportive people you could imagine. Heck, I could have even picked the music playing over the OR sound system, if I’d wanted! I almost hope for a RCS next time just because everything associated with DD’s birth was so wonderful.

        • Megan

          That sounds a lot like the “family-centered csection” I’m trying to help implement in our practice. They put the ECG electrodes on the back to facilitate skin to skin contact and breastfeeding in the OR if mom desires, play music in the OR if mom wants, leave arms free so mom can hold baby immediately, lower the drape (or use a clear drape) for the birth of the baby so mom and dad (or whomever is support person) can see, and have Dad (or other support person) cut cord and announce the sex if they wish. My last csection this would not have been possible due to my PPH (and my uterus actually inverted when they removed DD because of atony from lots and lots of pit) but would be possible for an ERCS barring any unforeseen problems with me or baby. I am hoping my delivery might help our program to make all planned CS deliveries a good experience for families. I am happy to be a guinea pig in this case!

    • Taysha

      If you choose to have a c-section DO THE BREATHING EXERCISES AFTERWARDS! =) Take them seriously or you can get some alarming chest pain (specially if you have a spinal block).

      And good luck =)

      • YesYesNoNo

        Thanks

    • Mathi Bear

      Mine was footling breech when my water broke, so I had a CS. The needle in the back was a little scary to me (it was my first time ever admitted in a hospital). Past that everything with really well. Way better than the prolonged labor my mom and sister had. Way better recovery.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      My random recommendations if you get a c-section, for what they’re worth:

      1. Get an epidural. A c-section isn’t rainbows and dolphins, but it is the birth of your baby and well worth being awake for.
      2. Get someone to take pictures. See above.
      3. Don’t assume you’re going to have a lot of post-op pain. I actually had very little and one of my few regrets about how the birth went is that I took some narcs afterwards because I was afraid I’d have bad pain (I never did) and got dehydrated and constipated. Everyone is different and if you need serious pain meds, don’t hesitate to take them, but don’t assume that you will inevitably need them.
      4. I agree about the breathing exercises. Incentive spirometers are your friends, though you may have a hard time believing that while you’re using one.
      5. Best of luck and congratulations!

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I agree with all of the above. I had a planned CS w/ DD because she was breech. I did have one incident of bad pain about 36 hours after she was born: the spinal had worn off some time before, but I hadn’t felt any pain, so didn’t take any oral pain meds although they were offered. Then it All Hit all at once–it was like a switch flipped, and I could barely hold it together to punch the call button and say “I need my pain meds. Now, please. Yes, I’d say my pain’s about an 8 or 9.”
        That having been said, after taking Vicodin every 8 hours or so for just the next day, I didn’t even have to fill my prescription that my doc kindly wrote for me. And I’m no martyr; ibuprofen was plenty effective. It’ll vary from person to person, of course.
        One other thing about #3: take lots of stool softeners preemptively. Even if you don’t need much (or anything!) in the way of narcotics, you’re likely to spend a fair amount of time in bed over the next couple of days, and that won’t help–ahem–move things along under the best of circumstances. Plus, your abs will be GONE. Like (TMI, but hey, we’re talking about it anyway), you know how you kind of use your core to bear down when having a BM? Your core won’t BE there. Seriously weird sensation. It’ll come back, and that’s not the sole province of C-section moms; it’s that your abs are used to holding a nice 7-9 pound baby plus bag of waters/enlarged womb/etc there, and now that’s gone, so they’re just sort of floppy. If your doc offers any sort of PT, go for it! I plan on asking mine about it next time around.
        And now for my own question: I was never even talked to about breathing exercises post-CS; anyone want to enlighten me? I’m curious now…

        • Ash

          your healthcare provider may order respiratory therapy to come around and instruct you on incentive spirometry.

          https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_Your_Pre-Surgery_Visit_to_the_IMPACT_Center/hic-how-to-use-an-incentive-spirometer

        • YesYesNoNo

          My C-section has been scheduled for 9/30. I an excited, somewhat anxious, and a bit scared.
          Thank you all for your advice and tips, they are much appreciated. I wil still be reading Dr. Amy daily and keep you all updated.

          • Cobalt

            Best wishes for a safe delivery! The first is usually the “weirdest”, just because you’ve not done it before. Remember the rest of your team has years of experience doing exactly what you need done.

          • YesYesNoNo

            Thanks again, I just hope he stays put in there until the 30th.
            I have 2 more appointments with my OB before CS.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Do so! Best of luck to you and the squish!

          • YesYesNoNo

            Thank you for your kind words!

          • Megan

            Best wishes for an easy delivery and recovery!

          • YesYesNoNo

            Thanks, I will keep you all updated =)

        • Cobalt

          “Your core won’t BE there. Seriously weird sensation. It’ll come back, and that’s not the sole province of C-section moms”

          Mine were all vaginal deliveries, I was active throughout pregnancy (farm labor and livestock care), usually gained less than 15 pounds, and am generally fit.

          I had a shocking absence of core strength after each birth, regardless. That’s just pregnancy.

      • YesYesNoNo

        Thanks for all of your advice, I am now making a list for my OB of questions!

      • araikwao

        Meh. No evidence for incentive spirometry over and above deep breathing exercises alone (at least there wasn’t when I trained). And you’ll be out of bed pretty quickly post-op, because the act of being upright is the most important thing for maintaining good lung inflation.

    • Anna

      You are the ADEQUATE one, it’s those who want vaginal birth at all costs that are weirdos. And typically it is not the only psychological issue they are dealing with. Good luck!

  • Alexicographer

    Oh, the “trust eyes” folks are out there —

    http://visioneducators.com/

    http://www.naturalvisioncenter.com/

    • Zornorph

      I see that the ‘natural vision’ people use something called the ‘Bates method’. I was taught that Master Bates method would cause me to go blind.

      • Megan

        LOL…I just snorted while drinking my water…

        • Amazed

          Indeed. A warning, man, place a warning… Some of us are eating while we’re reading here…

      • Alexicographer

        Sounds like propaganda from Big Vision to me!

      • attitude devant

        This is why we miss you when you’re not here.

      • Sue

        Didn’t see that coming! (so to speak)

    • Azuran

      Apparently, when you work in ‘natural medicine’ the older your studies are, the better.
      Clearly this guy from 1920s knew everything there will ever be to know about eyes.

  • demodocus

    Sometimes, necessary is a bit in the eye of the beholder when it comes to ophthalmic surgery. I’m content with my glasses and have no interest in Lasik. Demodocus, of course, is in a different state, but he does look at every shiny new thing with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Even when it’s offered to him by a new ophthalmologist. His worse eye’s optic nerve is pretty bad, so really there’s not much they can do with it now. His “better” eye is holding stable so they don’t want to mess with it much for fear of him loosing all of what we graciously refer to as his sight.
    Sorry/not sorry about the puns, they just sort of happen in this house

  • Azuran

    When I had an open fracture after a car accident, nobody asked me if I wanted analgesia for my fracture reduction. Nobody I know who ever had a fracture was asked if they wanted analgesia for their fracture reduction. You just get it, same with wisdom tooth extraction or basically any other surgery. No one is going around bragging about having any kind of surgery or going through any kind of painful illness without analgesia.
    Childbirth is the only moment I know where, for some reason, treating pain is optional and somehow refusing analgesia is a praiseworthy achievement.

    • Zornorph

      Well, there was that Oprah author who bragged that he had them work on his teeth without drugs to as to not set off his drug addiction, but it was proved he was a total liar.

      • Sarah

        That was the…number guy, right? He sold a book and there was a number in the title? Or am I thinking of someone else?

        • Zornorph

          A Million Little Pieces, I think it was called.

          • Sarah

            Thanks! It was nagging at me.

          • Cobalt

            It had sprinkles (the multicolored candy kind) the cover…I never understood that particular choice.

          • Zornorph

            Was that what it was supposed to be? I only ever glanced at it, but I somehow thought it was pills. Oprah and I have totally opposite taste in books – every time I have read a book she recommended, I have totally hated it. I avoid them all, now.

          • Cobalt

            I second your assessment of her taste in books.

            The little bits inside some capsulated medication might have been what they were going for, but sprinkles is what I see.

          • Who?

            Same here re Oprah-I see the sticker, I slide right past.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Used to be a bookseller. Believe me, we feel the same way, except rather more violently. 😉

          • Empliau

            In an Agatha Christie short story, the sprinkles are called Hundreds and Thousands. The poison was in them, so they’re memorable. From hundreds and thousands to a million?

      • Azuran

        I don’t really see how local anesthesia with lidocaine and Tylenol are doing to set off a drug addiction. But whatever sells your book I guess.

    • Liz Leyden

      My mother had her wisdom teeth extracted with local anesthesia shortly before her wedding in 1973. She was so traumatized she never got dental treatment again. She lived another 38 years with progressively worse teeth.

      I had two wisdom teeth extracted with local anesthesia, primarily for
      financial reasons. I was so traumatized I didn’t get any dental care for
      5 years. When I finally got the other 2 extracted, I told them to knock me out.

      • Azuran

        That sucks. I had all 4 removed with local anesthesia. I didn’t feel a thing. It was as positive an experience as having your wisdom teeth removed can be.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Ditto. From what my dentist said, it really depends on how they’re set in there. Mine were about two quick tugs away from coming out, and while I loathed the sensation of pressure/pulling, I didn’t feel any pain until hours later, at which point I got drugged to the eyeballs on Vicodin, ate some ice cream, and went to sleep. On the other hand, I’ve heard some ghastly horror stories about how those extractions *can* go, and wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.
          I should also add that I went to this dentist a total wuss because of a jackass of a dentist I was forced to go to as a teen, and that this dentist listened, understood, and said “I think I can get them out in two quick pulls, but if you want, I can give you nitrous now if you’re really worried. Alternately, I can give it after I try once. It’s up to you.” Radical idea I admit, listening to your patients and not wanting them to feel pain…

          • Who?

            I experience dentistry as an affront to my bodily autonomy. I’m not very big, and am very fussy about my personal space, and dentistry pushes all my buttons.

            That said, I went for years because my kids had to go and I wanted to set a good example, and now I’m used to it. We’ve had really good, responsive and respectful dentists for maybe 10 years which helps a lot. I’ve had a wisdom tooth extraction and two crowns in the chair over the last couple of years, all of which went really well. Feeling very mature 😉

            The kids take themselves for checkups, my daughter was very affronted this morning when she realised that when she starts work at the end of the year, her dental bills will be hers. I think she’s off for a checkup before then, just in case.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            “Good, responsive and respectful” caregivers in ANY area can make a massive difference in how the field itself is perceived. My prior dentist was the sort who a) wouldn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t totally numb, and then b) thought it was appropriate to pin me down in the chair while yanking that not-numb tooth. I was 15 or so. In retrospect, I wish I’d punched him in the crotch, but hindsight’s 20-20, and all that. (My mother thought the guy hung the moon, and wouldn’t hear any complaining about him. If someone tried that with DD…God have mercy on their soul, ’cause I wouldn’t.)

          • Dr Kitty

            I had a childhood dentist who was legitimately terrifying.
            So, when I needed teeth extracted for braces as a teen, I basically refused until my parents got me a new dentist, who was the most amazing person- absolutely everything you could want… And then he moved to the U.S. Because his son is some sort of tennis prodigy, and the first time I saw his colleague I got my first ever filling, with insufficient pain relief. Back to full on dental phobia.

            Then I needed all 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed. I got it done with Midazolam twilight sedation, and discovered a) I don’t get the amnesiac effect at low doses , so I remember EVERYTHING b) when they realised I wasn’t out of it and gave me a top up dose, I was out of it for much longer than I should have been, and freaked everyone out.
            Then I had a severe reaction to the antibiotics they gave me, with blistering of all my mucus membranes. I couldn’t talk for a week, or eat for two, and lost about 16lbs.
            Dental phobia now up to 11.

            Now I see a lovely female dentist, take Valium every single time, for even check ups, and she knows that any work I need done requires all the tricks in her bag for nervous patients. Thankfully, she hasn’t ever made a big deal out of it, she just accepted my weird quirks.

      • RMY

        Wow, I also got mine out with only local, but I thought the experience was great – I didn’t feel a thing and the dentist told me what he was doing. I liked knowing what was going on and at that point I was terrified of general anesthesia (I was 19 and had never had it before).

    • Angharad

      I once had a dentist who insisted I didn’t need pain medication while he drilled two cavities because they were small. It was nauseatingly painful and I didn’t go back to the dentist for about six years. I consider it less of an achievement to brag about and more a terrible experience.

      • Mishimoo

        I had a similar thing – “It’s only small, you don’t need anaesthetic.” and then they hit the nerve.

        (I’m resistant to local anaesthetic, but it still takes the edge off the pain, so I always ask for it when I might need it.)

        • That happened to me last year. My policy from here out is that if they’re doing anything deeper than flossing, I want painkillers.

  • Roadstergal

    I had ‘unnecessary surgery’ on my eyes. They gave me unnatural Valium beforehand to make sure I would be relaxed about the idea of getting frikkin’ lasers shot at me. And now my ‘lemon’ eyes are perfect!

    If I had foregone unnatural interventions, I’m sure I would have been empowered like Tiresias, though.

    • Zornorph

      I was born with infant glaucoma. I would be blind without interventions and ‘big pharma’.

      • demodocus

        My Demodocus was born with cataracts and got glaucoma as a result of the surgery (in 1976). He still has some useable vision (as we generously call it) for the same reasons.

      • Sarah

        I hope you were at least delivered vaginally.

    • D/

      I’m one those people who are profoundly near-sighted and far-sighted with astigmatism and am also extremely hard of hearing (with every likelihood of progression to eventual deafness). Without correcting my current natural abilities I can only determine if someone is in the room through their movement. No faces are even remotely recognizable until they are closer than arm’s reach, and everyone speaks in very faint Charlie-Brown-teacher-talk unless they are close enough for me to read their lips.

      I am reminded every day when suiting up in all my corrective devices that I won the luck of the draw lottery for both sight and hearing though … by simply coming along at a point in time and ending up in a space on the planet with the both ingenuity and resources to undo my defective natural state.

      On the other hand I imagine without all those interventions, my natural immunity to the siren song and petrifying abilities of any medusa-headed mermen that I might happen to run into will make me quite special too 😉

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I haven’t (yet) had surgery on my eyes, but I’ve seen cataract surgery being done on an awake patient. I was wondering how he managed to stay still with a knife coming at his eye. Yes, of course, he had pain meds but still a knife coming at your eye? It looked squicky, no matter how little pain you’d feel. I asked him later and he said that the drugs were so good that he just kind of sat there and thought, “Heh. Someone’s taking a knife to my eye. Whatever…Oh, hey, I can see clearly again! This is so cool! Do the other one!” So I guess the combination of good drugs and instant improvement in symptoms is enough to overcome the ick factor.

      • Who?

        I’d assume valium (lots of, that’s a technical dose) or the equivalent…

      • Megan

        As someone who had cataracts taken out of both eyes in her twenties, I can tell you that the light they shined in my eye was so bright that I couldnt even see the knife. The whole thing was done start to finish in 17 minutes (per eye) and my surgeon was slow!

  • Sarah

    For me, the two pictures would be more different. The one on the left would be mostly fuzz with a little bit of white and some peachish color that could be a human arm holding a ball or a large snake eating an egg. As similar as those things are, I’m glad for the interventions that allow me to walk without tripping and eating pavement. It’s a good thing I have corrected vision, because it’s unlikely my children would be here if I had been unable to discern my husband (who is very handsome but covered in hair) from a yeti from afar.

    ETA: I’m, of course, also glad for the medical interventions that have given me two very different and very happy kids. With my daughter, I was in labor off and on for two days. I was induced because of pre eclampsia, and they wanted to make sure I had a chance at a vaginal birth. I was only 36 weeks so I wasn’t progressing, and my body wasn’t cooperating. They took me off of the pitocin at night so I could eat and drink, but I was ridiculously exhausted regardless.

    I still feel guilty about the little bit of pain relief I took towards the end before we decided on a c-section. It’s hard to go from embracing woo to realizing how hokey it all is, but I still feel like I gave up and one of the symptoms was my accepting medication. I mostly know this isn’t true. I mostly know that most people would be exhausted and done had they been in my shoes, but it’s always nagged at me. Thinking about it like needing glasses really helps. And goodness knows, I really know what it’s like to need glasses. :p

    • Montserrat Blanco

      From a Fellow preeclampsia sufferer: you did very well staying alive and having a healthy baby. Believe me, mine was a close call. And do never ever think you “gave in”. Your placenta gave in producing substances that made you very sick. You did your best and had a very needed CS that got you and your daughter healthy and safe.

      At the end of my week with preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome I had a few very subtle contractions that I did not feel at all. My son was suffering during them with heart decelerations. A lot of babies whose mothers suffer preeclampsia do not tolerate labor well due to the lack of proper blood flow the placenta gets because of the hypertension. Chances are your daughter might have started having fetal suffering and you would have needed the CS anyway.

      • Sarah

        Thank you. It was such a weird ordeal. I had what I thought was a normal pregnancy and all of a sudden was in an emergency situation. I think that’s what I have such a strong aversion to people having “birth plans.” I probably would have dealt with my situation much better had I not had any preconceived notions of what I wanted.

        I do hope you and your son are doing well and had no lasting complications after delivery.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          Yes we are, thank you very much. He is developing normally so far.

          Yes, birth plans are from my point of view a source of endless disappointment. I did not write one, because I found the whole idea just plain silly. You can not plan a birth, the same as I am not able to plan my bowel movements or when my next asthma attack will be.

          • Sarah

            With two small kids running around, sometimes I do plan my next bathroom break. I mean, it’s not written down or anything, but it’s definitely “They’re not looking at me! Gotta run now!”

        • Angharad

          It is weird! I was perfectly fine one week, and the next they told me to drive directly to the hospital to be induced. Then it happened again – labor seemed to be going just great when suddenly my daughter’s heart rate was in the 80s and my OB rushed into my room and my daughter was born instrumentally, all within 4 contractions. I can see the value of telling your team what your preferences are, but I would advise everyone not to get too attached to anything in a birth plan because pregnancy and childbirth can change in a heartbeat.

    • Sarah

      The only thing you gave into was the inevitable. There’s often a lot to be said for doing that sooner rather than later! I would say this is one of those times.

  • Zornorph

    I’ve never understood women who brag that they ‘got’ their VBAC or something like that, like it was a prize that they won or like winning a triathlon. I really don’t think most people are interested in ‘birth stories’ so much as they want to see pictures of the baby and learn the size,sex, etc. I know I’m a guy, but that’s what I have always heard people asking when they hear about a new birth. I have literally never heard anybody ask if the baby was C-section or vaginal or if the mother used drugs or not. It would never have even occurred to me that such things mattered.

    • Gene

      Anyone who hears about my son (“the beast”) who weighed 11lbs asks if I had a section. Women tend to talk about birth more. Anyone who is pregnant will be involved in (or subjected to) the birth stories of women around them. Total strangers will tell you about vaginal tears, pooping on the table, and a whole host of things about which Miss Manners and Emily Post would never approve.

      • Zornorph

        Geez, I didn’t even ask my own surrogate if she had a vaginal tear and I was right there in the room. I don’t think she did, actually, or if she did it would have been small, but that would just not be something I’d ever ask.

        • Gene

          I’ve been out with my kids when they were babies and total strangers would walk up to me in the shops and start telling me birth stories. I even had one woman tell me in a regretful way that she’d had a section and APOLOGIZE TO ME for the section. A total stranger! I looked her in the eye and told her to never apologize for how she became a mother. I hope it helped her…

          • Zornorph

            Good grief, I just can’t imagine. I have a 30 second version of how I became a parent that I’m practiced at giving but it certainly doesn’t include any apologies. I’ve never been anything but proud. I wonder how many people looked down their noses at that poor woman to make her feel the need to say sorry for not popping the baby out their preferred way.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I have a 30 second version of how I became a parent

            You’re lucky you have the surrogacy thing. If I said something like that, it would have a very different meaning…

            And not so flattering….

          • Zornorph

            Lol, I’m afraid it took me years rather than seconds. Though ‘that’ part of it – I didn’t time it, but that took at least a few minutes. (blush)

      • Michele

        I try to be very careful what I share with pregnant women now. Pretty much boils down to: 1) Go to the hospital, they have all the emergency stuff just in case you need it. 2) If you have a C-section, make sure you take the stool softeners.

        • Megan

          Yeah, after being subjected to lots of horror birth stories while pregnant, I make sure to never tell the details of my daughter’s birth. It was pretty traumatic and I wouldn’t want to hear it if I were the pregnant one listening. I usually just say, “Well things didn’t go as planned but she and I are here and healthy! You’re delivering at XYZ hospital? Glad to hear it! They know what they’re doing. You’re in good hands! Congrats! You look great! Hang in there the rest of pregnancy!” I don’t understand why women feel the need to tell you all the gory details of their deliveries. It’s like hazing. I also will neve get why it’s ok to tell a pregnant woman, “Whoa, you’re HUGE! Sure it’s not twins? (Wink wink)” I would never Ali up to an obese person and comment on their size. As a woman who carries “all belly” the comments get old.

          • demodocus

            I was already all belly; nobody realized I was pregnant unless they noticed me waddling around the last couple weeks. Has both compensations and irritations, that. Why yes, I *did* qualify for a seat near the front of the bus, even without blindy-boy. Note how when the bus got busy and *he* stood in front of me? Yeah, I’m not fibbing about the seriously pregnant part. *grumbles*

          • Megan

            That reminds me of the news story I heard a while back about a woman during her first trimester using a parking spot reserved for pregnant women because she had horrible morning sickness and felt like crap. Some other customer reported her to management because she “didn’t look pregnant.” I know for me I feel worst during early pregnancy so I could relate. I guess it’s just irritating in general how as soon as you become pregnant you are up for public comment. Last pregnancy, I had random patients where I worked urgent care ask me if I was going to breastfeed and proceed to lecture me (their treating physician!) about how “breast is best.” Even men did it! And I eventually started lying about my due date to avoid the comments on how huge I was. I vividly remember going to a jewelry store to get something for my mother’s birthday and the salesman would not stop going on and on about how big I was. He thought it was so funny (and apparently was oblivious to my husband’s death glares) so I finally just turned around and left. Not his best sales tactic… In general I would just love to know when it became ok to just say whatever pops into your head to pregnant women and moms. Drives me nuts! Where is people’s etiquette?

          • AirPlant

            When I was younger and stupider I assumed that pregnant woman were mostly thrilled to be pregnant and therefore wanted to talk about their being pregnant and since medical questions are off the table and “boy or girl” only takes up so much time size is pretty much all I could think of. It legitimately didn’t occur to me that a pregnant woman would be sensitive about her size because everyone knows that you get huge when you are pregnant. I could understand being sensitive during the “big lunch or preggo?” phase, but near the end size seemed pretty self evident and expected. Thankfully I didn’t know too many pregnant people during this portion of my life.
            Oddly enough, I have had two friends who carried in such a way that they never really showed and they were both pretty bummed that they didn’t get the obvious pregnant attention.

          • Megan

            Maybe some women do like the attention. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because I had struggled a lot with weight in the past and worked very hard to lose it before getting pregnant (only to helplessly watch the scale creep up up up during the pregnancy) but I think some of it was just the tedium of having the same conversation over and over again. I got so tired of it I started telling people I was due two months earlier just so I didnt have to spend 15 minutes on the “are you SURE it’s not twins” talk (yes, I’ve had 5 ultrasounds). It would’ve been nice if someone had instead said, “How are you feeling?” or just plain old “Congratulations”. I also tired of the horror stories about children. I had miscarrier twice and really wanted a child and it was annoying to hear “you’ll never have a life again” or “hope you don’t like sleeping!” as if they were clever. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but it taught me a lot about not butting in the business of pregnant women.

          • Amy M

            I actually do have twins, and toward the end of the pregnancy, I wasn’t gaining enough weight. My boys turned out fine, but my OB really wanted me to gain more, to get the babies as big as possible and hopefully avoid various health issues. I certainly was enormous and looked totally ridiculous (I’m a very petite 5ft tall)

          • AirPlant

            It is really easy to be blase about pregnancy body changes when it is not your body. We are all used to seeing pregnant women, but it is uniquely weird being the pregnant woman and knowing that your body is changing for a reason doesn’t make it any easier to shed a lifetime of cultural progamming.

          • demodocus

            The best one for me came 4 weeks after I had the boy. One old guy at church was surprised the boy is my biological child because “I thought you were beyond the age of childbearing” Dude! Don’t say that to women, even if they’re 90!

          • I am a very bad person. My bad back and arthritis make parking a long way from the supermarket entrance difficult for me, trying to get carts with gummed-up wheels from checkout to car, so I’ve taken to putting my granddaughter’s car seat in the back, and putting a “baby on board” sign on the rear window and parking in the spots reserved for cars with baby carriages [unless it’s the last spot free] because they are right by the exit.

          • Kelly

            Me too and my bellies have been quite small. People only notice about a week before I deliver.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Yeah, after being subjected to lots of horror birth stories while pregnant, I make sure to never tell the details of my daughter’s birth.

            There are certain aspects of birth stories that are interesting. For example, with our first, I got home from a business dinner at 9 pm the night before, and my wife tells me that the dog has been acting weird all day, following her around and just acting strange. She looks down at him and says (I’m not making this up), “What do you know that I don’t know?”

            Sure enough, at 1 am she wakes me and says she is leaking urine (um, no) and when I’m in the shower at 5:30 she says she been having contractions all night. We pack up and go to the hospital and yadda, yadda, yadda, our son is born that afternoon.

            Great birth story, and nothing about whether it was a natural delivery or an epidural or a c-section. Because that part is uninteresting.

            (I suspect she was leaking water all day, and the dog picked up on it so that’s why he was acting weird)

          • demodocus

            That’s the kind even the kid can generally live with. Mom just liked telling me how Dad wasn’t home yet and a howling blizzard was descending when she went into labor with me.

          • Michele

            I always liked the bit from my brother’s birth story where, on the way the hospital with my mom, my dad didn’t even stop at a tollbooth and just slowed down and threw money in the booth window. Pretty sure brother was also the birth where a nurse told my mom she couldn’t have the baby until they had the paperwork filled out and mom told her that it was too late for that.

          • Bugsy

            Heh – it’s the opposite of my husband. When I was in labour w/ #1, it was the middle of the night. Not only did my husband come to a complete stop for a right-on-red with no other cars around, but he insisted on waiting until the light turned green to proceed.

          • Kelly

            My husband decided to drive ten miles under the speed limit on a deserted road. I had to remind him to at least drive the speed limit.

          • Bugsy

            Lol…they’re two of a kind. 🙂

          • Charybdis

            I apparently was born at the halftime of a pro football game. The lounge had a color TV (yes, I’m old) and my mother asked if she could go down there and watch the game. Doc said “sure”, so down she went.. Johnny Unitas and YA Tiddle were the quarterbacks, I believe. At least I waited until the half:P

          • You ARE old.

          • Megan

            Those kinds of stories are fun and I would’ve enjoyed. That’s not really what I meant though. I mostly got complete strangers telling me about their fourth degree perineal tears, how they lost so much blood they almost died, etc. I suppose the stories would’ve prepared me for my own delivery, had I listened, but mostly just felt like hazing at the time. Your story is cute though and I would’ve found it entertaining.

          • Empliau

            He could make a good living as a doula. In my experience dogs are really good at holding space.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            As long as the dog didn’t try to eat the placenta before the midwife got a chance to capsulize it.

          • Michele

            They’re pretty terrible at knitting though.

          • Empliau

            Good. No threat of hats. Although they might lick off the birthy smells – (excuse me while I throw up a little. I hate the whole birthy smells lunacy.)

        • demodocus

          Even if you don’t have a section, you might need the softeners. Sigh

          • Sarah

            My first post-section poo was rather untraumatic. I think this is because I trusted turds. It’s your own fault for taking the drugs. In fact, I intend to develop a sideline in natural poo classes for pregnant women. The provisional name is La-khazi, but I’m not sure that translates across the pond…

          • I think I’d go for La Kaki myself.

          • Sarah

            That might work. On the one hand, it doesn’t rhyme with Lamaze. On the other hand, it works in English speaking countries other than the UK. Decisions decisions. Either way I feel certain it’ll be a great success.

    • Michele

      Makes me think of a participation medal. It wasn’t for anything special *they* did.

    • AirPlant

      I also like to hear the “Mom and baby are doing well” part. Not like with details, but it is nice to know that things went well or a simple “Things looked a little dogey and we had to do a C-Section but they are both recovering just fine”. I don’t need to know the degree of tearing but I like to know that my friends are not in a coma.

    • EllenL

      It’s possible that women have shared birth stories forever (usually along the lines of “Thank God we got through it!”).

      Bragging about birth IS new. I’ve been around long enough to notice the change. And it’s the natural birthers who do it.

      • Sarah

        I like to show off about how bloody awful both of mine were. People are especially impressed when I point out how hard DD2 tried to kill both of us on the way out. And they’re envious when I tell them about the wide array of narcotics I was able to enjoy during and after the EMCS.

      • There are only two kinds of birth stories, in my experience. One is the “never felt contractions, almost delivered on the rug, one push was all”, and the other is “I was in unbelievable agony for 2 weeks and no one believed me”. The moral in both is “what I went through!”

        Of course, the textbooks average the two together, but I’ve never yet seen anyone have a really “textbook” labor and birth.

        I have a firm belief that the most zealous of the NCB group and the lactivists have had short, relatively easy labors, and lots of milk and simply can’t believe it isn’t like that for everyone.

    • Amy M

      When I was pregnant, I was interested in the birth stories of friends and relatives, because I wanted an idea of what to expect. But, any birth story really, C section or vaginal birth. Now, I don’t care anymore, because I’ve been there and done that, but if a friend wants to tell me her birth story, I will listen.

    • Liz Leyden

      I was asked if my kids born vaginally vs. c-section in a non-medcial context once, at an informal gathering of new moms. Then again, my kids’ birth story involves MedFlight.

    • Erin

      For the first two months after the arrival of my son, pretty much every woman I met asked his weight and then said “You must have had an easy birth” (if only small babies equaled easy)… before launching into whatever went wrong for them.