It's tough to be an introvert in an extrovert world, especially in an extrovert's profession, like teaching. Through this blog, I'd like to share my own and others' reflections on being an introvert in the classroom. This isn't a place for misanthropes or grumps, though; I hope to thoughtfully discuss the challenges that introverts face in schools and celebrate the gifts that introverted teachers and students bring to the educational environment. If you can relate, please join me!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Culture of Blame: Or, Why I Walked Around My House Dazed and Weepy After Childbirth Class

After being in teaching for over ten years, you think I'd be used to people heaping blame upon me for things that are out of my control. You'd also think I'd know better than to take it to heart so much, knowing now, thanks to my most recent two therapists, that I'm a "guardian" personality and tend to, erroneously and unnecessarily, take responsibility for everyone around me instead of just myself. But, we introverts are so prone to rumination and self-examination that it's very hard to not turn this into self-blame.

So that brings me to yesterday's childbirth preparation class. I knew that the culture of motherhood was even more a culture of blame than the culture of teaching. But information and planning makes me feel comforted because I feel I have some measure of control over my life, so I went in excited and forgot to put up my defenses against the guilt-tripping (from without and within) that I should have known would ensue. I started the morning optimistically annotating my book, getting all the information I could use to create the optimal birth. Hm, even in that sentence you can sense the shift: now it was my responsibility to direct my birth. Despite the kind and elderly teacher's constant reminders that you cannot plan and that the baby will do what it wants, there was the underlying and contradictory implication that, nevertheless, there were a lot of things I ought to be doing, or else. This is how I began to hear the rest of the information:

  • Do the right movements and exercises and be aware of the latest developments in yoga ball technology or you'll create more pain for yourself...but don't be that crazed suburban momzilla who materialistically buys too much baby gear.
  • Your body knows what to do...but get a doula or you'll be sorry you and your clueless partner will be all alone while the overworked nurses scurry about. 
  • "Birth is natural, not medical"...but so is death, so get to the hospital on time.
  • Pack the right things in your bag or you'll make yourself more uncomfortable...but don't clutter up the hospital room.
  • If you get an epidural, you might cause yourself and your baby these harmful side effects: yadda, yadda, scary yadda...but you'll be sorry if you wait to ask for it until it's too late. 
  • Don't strut in on your high horse with your immutable birth plan...but know your patient rights and fend off the knife-happy, C-section-loving medical establishment. 
  • You need to do whatever is best for the baby, but but know your patient rights and fend off the knife-happy, C-section-loving medical establishment. 
  • You're no less of a person if you need medical "interventions," but all these could increase your risk of...yes, you guessed it: your innards cut up by the knife-happy, C-section-loving medical establishment!

By the end, I felt like every choice I could make was wrong. And instead of saying, "Forget it, I'll do what I want," like a normal person, what did I do? I blamed myself for taking the one-day class and not spreading this out over a few sessions; after all, it was my fault for overwhelming myself.