This post was prompted by another blog I read several days ago, in which the blogger said that we were. Although I have no intention of linking to said blog, you can take my word for it that this woman is well-known to natural-birth circles as being among the meanest anti-homebirth people out there, so this coming from her made me laugh.

But it got me to thinking. Undoubtedly, there are some mean pro-natural or pro-homebirth people — those who would demean the choices of women who choose to give birth in the hospital or to have drugs. But there are very many people who demean the choices of women to give birth at home or who refuse drugs. As a natural-birth advocate and a home-birth advocate, I am acutely aware of this kind of person, having had to explain myself and my choices numerous times to people who severely disagree with me.

This antagonism is not good. For either side. And it tends to exacerbate the differences until they seem to be huge and insurmountable, and indeed to make women who agree about a great many things into some sort of enemies, and to become super-sensitive to statements, when they ought not be. An example — on my own blog, one of my readers took exception to something I said about “not understanding why” a woman would choose an unnecessary Cesarean. She took it to mean, somehow, that I was saying that women who chose a C-section when they didn’t have to were somehow bad mothers. I meant nothing of the sort, and was just talking about practical, concrete matters like having a recovery of several weeks as opposed to several days, etc. Absolutely nothing about “motherhood”… but she read that into it. After my explanation, she commented again, thanking me for explaining my position and said she was sensitive on the subject, because of some harsh criticism she had endured in the past for her choice.

I know some people find that every difference in opinion or action must mean that they’re doing something either better or worse than someone else. But thinking about this further, let me take this to a ridiculous extreme. I had chicken enchiladas last night, did you? I’m planning on making pizza tomorrow night, are you? Do you feel like you made a bad decision to have tacos or spaghetti, or to go out to eat last night, now that you know that I made chicken enchiladas? I sure hope not! Do you think that I would have done better to have made what you had for supper last night? If you do, I beg to differ! I hope you’re at least smiling now. The point is, just because somebody does something different, it doesn’t always mean that we think we’re the best and you’re the worst because we’ve done it differently.

In our group of Independent Childbirth Educators, we have a several commonalities among us, but that doesn’t mean we’re all cookie-cutters in everything. Take diapering as an example. (It doesn’t come up much, so I don’t know for sure how many people do total cloth vs. total disposables, or are like me and do some of each, but I do remember at least one woman saying that after her emergency C-section, her baby was brought to her “in a disposable diaper, of all things!”) Why do some people use cloth diapers for their babies? Cost for one. (Does that mean that you’re a horrid spendthrift if you use disposables? No! That simply may not be a factor for you, although it might be for others.) Environmental concerns is another reason. (But that doesn’t mean that we think you’re “raping our beautiful planet” by using disposables.) Cloth diapers may possibly healthier for the baby — in terms of diaper rash (my sister-in-law’s son was horribly allergic to all disposables), or the chemicals used in making disposables being right on their skin 24/7. (But that doesn’t mean that we think you’re a dangerous mother for putting your baby in disposables.)

The point is, “different” doesn’t mean “bad”, and saying why we’ve chosen different things doesn’t mean that we’re “mean.” For one thing, our reasons for choosing the things we did may not be reasons for you. For another thing, we might be wrong in our conclusions, though based on the best research we could find at the time. And finally, in these types of choices, in the final analysis, it often just comes down to pure opinion. Just because you’ve chosen differently from me (and believe me, there are a lot of differences among the women of this group), it doesn’t mean that I think you’re a horrible person. And although I have reasons why I do the things I do, just because your conclusion is different, doesn’t mean your reasoning is faulty or your decision is wrong. Just different. And that’s okay.