Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
When I was a new mother, I let the pediatric industrial complex push me around like pawn.
My baby, for instance, spent most of her night in a "c" word -- yes, a crib. I naively thought she was "safe" behind those bars, and it never once occurred to me that, behind her happy squeals and contented gurgles, she sensed that she was imprisoned, caged like a lab rat.
I bought shoes for her feet, if you can imagine such a thing (hello, is this 12th-century China? Unreal). I used to put her in a bouncy chair when I wanted to do laundry. I might as well have come right out and told her, "Yes, you little parasite, mother cares more about clean clothes than she does about you. You see this shirt? I love this shirt. It goes safely in a little basket. You, on the other hand, can stay on the floor."
I'm only telling you this because I'm safely on the other side of this madness, and my therapist has assured me that, with a few more years of intensive work, my daughter may start to heal.
I'm telling you this so you don't make the same mistakes as I did.
I'm ready to say it now: I used to push my baby in a stroller. Yes, using technology chillingly similar to what a Republican executioner in Texas would use when binding an innocent convict to an electric chair, and I would strap her in, and away we would go. The child, mind you, was facing away from me -- facing away, looking at faces and things that were not me, and I would pushing her. With every step I took, I was sending this message: get away from me. Go. Be gone. Do not be with me. Push, push, push.
Well, after a few years of this, I became aware that my child's interests were not best served when she was encased in a hard, synthetic cocoon of baubles, buckles, plastic and chrome. And so, in a pathetic attempt to salvage our damaged mother-child bond, I began to carry my baby. . .
In a baby carrier.
I shake my head in disbelief now, but at the time, I felt like I was doing the right thing -- after all, the child was facing me all day long, bonding, staying as close as nature intended us to be. Oh, did we bond! Especially in humid weather.
I don't mean to judge. I really don't, because I know how many women are still undereducated, and simply don't realize what damage they're doing to their little ones. But really, looking back, I don't know how I didn't see what an adversarial relationship I still had with my child. For instance, every day, I would put clothes on her -- sometimes several layers! It was as if I was saying, "I can only tolerate you when there's a barrier between you and me."
Eventually we became clothes free, the two of us, and I felt that maybe I had salvaged things before it was too late.
Something still seemed wrong, though. Maybe it was all the kefir grains I kept in my armpits (they have to be stored at exactly the proper temperature, or else they feel rejected and refuse to ferment. Kefir is people, too, folks!), but I started to feel -- heavy. Weighed down. And this was despite the fact that I was on day 327 of my new wellness elimination diet, which showed real promise of delivering boatloads of positive energy and shakra cleansing. All you have to do is cut out dairy, grains, carbs, anything with eyes, anything with roots, anything with skin, or anything that is a color, such as green, brown, white, red, orange, yellow, or purple. Beyond that, sky's the limit! It's very freeing, and you get a lot of rest from passing out all the time).
So, as you can see, I was very much in tune with my body -- and more and more insistently, my body was begging, pleading with me: STOP BEING SUCH A VIOLENT MOTHER. Oh, you're not hitting anybody, my body said, but just take a look at your daily routine. What's the first thing you do in the morning? You change your baby's diaper. What do you suppose that signals to her? That what she produces -- what comes out of her own body -- is bad, is offensive, needs to be taken away.
So it was pretty clear that we needed to stop using diapers.
But even then I was not at peace. I didn't feel like I was giving peace. Luckily I still had my nose-blowing doula (the one who helps me feel empowered during allergy season) on speed dial, so I asked her what could be wrong. She was thrilled that I had called -- said she'd been waiting for the moment when I'd be ready to hear her message. She was starting a new movement, she said, and I could get in on the ground floor.
It's called Peaceful Unbirthing, and its premise is simple. We want our children to grow up as loving, non-violent beings. And yet the very first thing we do in the very first moment of their lives is to push them away! Think about it: what does a baby hear when s/he is being born? Push! Push! Push harder!
Welcome to the world, baby. Guess what? Your mother doesn't want you inside her anymore.
Well, I'm putting an end to it. No longer will I be a party to this barbaric, intrinsically antagonistic, adult-centric, probably somehow patriarchal philosophy of birthing. The next time I get pregnant, I'm going to stay pregnant.
Oh, it may be a little uncomfortable as the years go on and the little one turns into a bigger and bigger and bigger one. But isn't that what mothering is all about? It's about never, never, ever doing anything to your child.