Birth · Change

Check Your Expectations

I heard a new-to-me program the other day called Invisibilia, from NPR. There are some seriously good episodes on there that I highly recommend, but one caught my attention called, How to Become Batman. This show¬†doesn’t actually have anything to do with pregnancy, birth, parenting, or breastfeeding, yet there’s a section that’s universal to all those topics, and to the rest of life too. To really know what I’m talking about, please go listen to the first 6 min of the program because I don’t want to spoil the experiment results for you (the whole program is definitely worth a listen – podcasts and audiobooks are how I agree to do the dishes).

Okay, I gotta spoil it a little otherwise that would be the end of the post –

“As you go through the world, the expectations of other people are constantly acting on you, literally making you stronger or weaker, smarter or dumber, faster or slower.”

Think about that. The expectations of other people are affecting how you live your life right now. Those expectations are making it easier for you get the things you want, be who you want to be, have the experiences you want to have, or, harder to do all of that. We all know the examples of this in issues of race, gender, and sexuality, but what about with pregnancy, birth, and parenting?

Let’s just focus on birth for a second. If everyone around you expected you to have a difficult birth because you are older/hypertensive/have a bigger baby/previously had a hard birth/depressed/lack support/complain about pain etc. will you have a difficult birth? Maybe for reasons that are out of everyone’s control – birth’s like that sometimes – but maybe the people who should have been helpful subconsciously changed their behavior towards you in ways that lowered your chances of getting what you wanted. Have I done that to a client? I hope not, and I hope I never do.

When I was a really new doula, volunteering at a local hospital, the nurses brought me to a woman in labor who had had an anterior lip for hours (basically she was 9.5cm out of 10cm, frustratingly close). I don’t know why they didn’t bring me to her earlier because she had been without support for a while and had given up on the idea of things working out. I suggested new positions for her to try, and tried to get the help of a nurse with ice in a sterile glove, but everyone’s minds were already set on a Cesarean. When she actually voiced her agreement to a Cesarean she began crying and told me, “my mom told me I wouldn’t have a vaginal birth.” I never saw this woman again but I always hoped that she would have a different experience with a different set of expectations of her in her future.

While I can’t really help what other people are subconsciously doing, I will try to always check my own expectations of others.

Wait, if I set the expectation that my little guy will sleep through the night tonight, will he be able to do it? Sleep baby, sleep!

Now I’m going to find a couple of snails, name one Speedy and the other Slow Poke, and have my girls race them. They seem to love all snails so I wonder how this experiment will turn out – I’ll report back. If you have no idea why I’m bringing this up, listen to the first 6 min of the podcast!

Of course snail racing is a real thing!
Of course snail racing is a real thing!