Monday, December 17, 2012

Immaculate Detachment

Unless you are living under a rock - and what are you doing reading me, then? - you are very much aware of the senseless tragedy that destroyed lives and sent 26 Heavenward last week when a gunman opened fire inside a school.

The news shook me to my core. I do not do well when I hear about harm to children. Whether it's children in this country or another country, it hurts my heart to think of them suffering in any way. Furthermore, I have a 6 year old son - the same age as many of the children who were ... killed. He goes to school, too. My mind has not been off of this tragedy for more than a few moments since it happened. So many things have floated in and out of my brainspace since then - sorrow, hatred, anger, fear, hope, compassion, empathy, more fear, shock, more sorrow, more sorrow and more sorrow. My heart grieves so much for all the lives lost and the families and friends who are missing their loved ones.

As usual, when you have a mass shooting - - - Wait...wait. Can I just say that it is completely FUCKED UP that I just wrote, "as usual, when you have a mass shooting?" Why is it usual? Stop the world, I want to jump off. - - - Anyway, when these tragedies happen, you can expect the usual reactions and debates over guns. Obviously, when crimes of this nature happen with guns, it's reasonable people are going engage in a discussion about them. That's not a surprise. That's something I expected. I also expected people to raise the issue of how we deal (or don't deal) with mental illness in this country. Of course we're going to talk about that.

But there is something I didn't expect from a source that really should know better.

It was Friday, just hours after the shooting. I had taken my son and daughter to a local mall with my mom to visit Santa and have a picture taken. Afterward, my kids played in a little play zone full of things to climb on and kids with germs to share. My mom wandered around, keeping an eye on my kids, while I played bad mom and sat on the corner of a cushioned bench and looked at my phone. I wasn't truly paying attention to my phone. I always have an eye on my kids. I was mindlessly letting my Facebook feed scroll on by, not really noticing the words on the screen. I fought back tears as I kept thinking of those children and the adults who tried to protect them. I went to my own Facebook page for this blog. The last thing I had posted was from the previous night when I advised people to run outside and check out the meteor shower. I thought of how I lifted my son from his slumber, bundled him up and took him outside where he saw 5 shooting stars slowly flash across the sky. I then wondered if any of the children who passed away had spent their last night alive doing the same thing...stay up late, bundling up to go outside and watch the skies. Not know that the Heaven they stared out would be waiting for them. I fought to keep more tears back as I watched both of my kids slide backwards on a slide in their fancy Santa picture clothes.

I needed something to take my mind someplace else, so I clicked back to my news feed, in search of some other news or maybe some silly cat meme.Instead, I found something to make me angry. It was from well-known natural childbirth advocate and educator, Suzanne Arms. She is the author of Immaculate Deception, which has been read by many birth advocates over the decades. That book was one of the first books I had ever read on the subject and it provided me with a little bit of inspiration when I was a teenage birth activist. She is currently working on some film project in which she wants to relate the experiences within the womb and the experience of birth to our psyches. In essence, she believes that your life as an unborn baby and the way you are born will have lasting effects on your mental state for the rest of your life. She also believes in the importance of the mother-child bond and that this can be altered by birth experience. Ok. I can get behind that somewhat. I sure do believe that birth is extremely important, which is why I believe it's essential to make sure we are respecting women during pregnancy and birth and that we empower them to make decisions regarding their pregnancy and birth. Of course I believe a strong bond between mom and child is important for a healthy mental state. Duh. However, I believe that these things make up a few pieces of a billion piece puzzle. I believe a good, gentle birth, breastfeeding and attachment type parenting are very important, but I know that other variables may come into play during a person's childhood that can alter their mental and emotional well-being. It's not exactly black and white. As it is, Suzanne Arms is focusing on how the pre-birth period and birth itself affects a person because that's her scope of interest. She has been working on getting her film funded and relies heavily on donations. What does any of this have to do with the horror that happened in Connecticut. Oh, I'll tell you.

Within hours after the shooting...before the sun set...Suzanne Arms posted twice to her Facebook page. And it's what she posted that caught my attention as I sat in that playzone trying to fight tears. Oh Suzanne, you helped me fight those tears, just not in the way I expected. She posted that a horrible tragedy unfolded in Connecticut and that it made her sad. Well, that's a reasonable response. She stated that the shooter had killed his own mother (she also incorrectly reported that the mother was teaching a room of kindergarteners) and that was tragic. Of course.  Her next sentence is where any sensibility that she possessed went to die. She said that this incident was "clearly" (her word) and example of the importance of that mother-child bond and attachment. She then spewed a little bit about the importance of a good womb environment and birth. Yes, folks, she actually made the leap from some soulless piece of shit slaughtering children and adults to the act being a clear example of what goes wrong when a mom isn't happy in pregnancy, doesn't have the perfect natural birth and doesn't establish the correct kind of bond with her child. Are you furious? Do you want to get more furious? Her next spewing of sentences was to tell us that THIS - this motherfucking senseless horror - was a perfect reason to DONATE to her motherfucking film! And then she went on and on about what amount you can donate.

Let's sum this up. All in one status up, Suzanne Arms briefly mentioned the school shooting was sad. She then hitched the shooting to her theory that bad pregnancies and births lead to psycho killers. She then asked people to donate to her so she can continue to make her film about this theory.

Of course, most people responded to tell her she was an ass. That prompted her to write a follow up status update. Did she apologize for attempting to co-opt this tragedy to fund her film? No, because that's what people with hearts would do. She merely asked her fans if her words were upsetting and wanted to know if they agreed with her colleague who said she was out of line. She made no admittance of feeling the slightest bit guilty. Again, many people responded that she was, in fact, a cold-hearted opportunistic bitch idiot. There were a few people who defended her. Some even said that their FIRST thought was what kind of birth the killer's mother had. I shit you not. Their first thought wasn't about those slaughtered was whether or not his mother had a serene hypnobirth or an intervention cascade into a c-section. And we wonder why people think natural birth advocates are insane. Another person said we are "stupid" to not make the connection between birth trauma and mass murdering gunmen. And then we had the typical folks coming out of the woodwork to say, "see? This is what's wrong with all of you natural birth nuts. You people are the crazy ones." Suzanne Arms managed to offend to senses of reasonable people with her use of the tragedy to make a buck, she laid the blame of this on the feet of the killer's mother and she also helped to further isolate the natural birth movement and have all of us birth activists lumped into the same category of insanity. Thanks, Suzanne.

Now, I have to relay all of this to you based on my memory. I cannot provide links. Without a word, Suzanne removed those status updates. That was two days ago and she has not posted since. A compassionate person with some semblance of a heart would have issued an apology. Two days is too long for me and the small amount of respect I used to have for her has been flushed down the toilet. She is a thoughtless coward.

Does she realize the pressure she just put on mothers who didn't have her optimal kind of birth when she stated that this tragedy was a "clear example" of her theory? If you didn't give birth, orgasmically and in water under your backyard honeysuckle bush while some chickadees and robins serenaded you as you softly hummed your baby out of your vagina (which was previously anointed with unicorn breastmilk and fairy tears by your midwife as she sang ancient tribal hymns) then your baby will grow up to be a mass murderer. If you had the misfortune of having your birth plan ripped to shreds by the hospital staff and you end up with pitocin, and epidural and a c-section, then your baby will be a serial killer. If you stressed for one moment during your pregnancy and disturbed your unborn baby's daily yoga meditation because you had the audacity to worry about your creeping blood pressure....well, you might as well just hand that baby a gun and tell him to go to town right after birth because there's no hope. It's that kind of talk that helps widen the divide between mothers in this society. Rather working towards this common goal of empowering women and educating them so that we can improve birth experiences and outcomes, blind statements such as the ones made by Suzanne Arms end up placing blame on those mothers who didn't have the "perfect" experience and it turns people off to what could be a good message. Statements like that do more harm than good, no matter the intention.

But, above all, she did a terrible disservice to the victims of the shooting. Capitalizing on their deaths to further your own agenda for your birth film is despicable at best. I said on my Facebook page that I no not believe in the devil, but if I did I would say that he was with Suzanne when she decided to write those statuses within hours of children being shot to death. Other people mentioned and I agree - perhaps we should have a discussion with Suzanne about the way she came into the world. Was it her own birth that caused her to be so detached  and callous when speaking about this incident just hours after it happened? Perhaps her own mother didn't give birth the "right way," which has caused Suzanne to believe it is perfectly fine to mention murdered children as an afterthought when trying to get funding for an unrelated birth film. I am bothered by the notion that it's possible a family member of one of the slain could be a birth advocate who follows Suzanne on Facebook. What if she came across that status update and a knife pierced her heart as she viewed that opportunism?

I won't harp on Ms. Arms for much longer. I wanted to get this out there. I needed to vent about it. I'm not going to wish harm or failure to Ms. Arms for what she did, other than the natural consequences that occur when you make dumb statements ( i.e. people like me blogging about what an ass you are). I can say that I'll never recommend her works. I'll never promote her film. I'll leave this here to be seen and people can decide for themselves if it's something that bothers them. I'm releasing this energy and it's done.

Of course, now that I have your attention, I am going to ask you to do something before you "X" out of this little post. Just stay there for a moment and be silent. Pray. Do whatever it is that you do to put good energy out into the world. First, pray for the sweet souls of those who were killed. Then, pray for peace and comfort for their loved ones. Lastly, pray for peace for all of us - an end to this senseless violence would be a wonderful thing. Much love.


Anonymous said...

FYI - from Suzanne Arms

Dear Friends of Birth, near and far,

I want to apologize deeply for the posting I put up on my Facebook page regarding my horror at the mass murders of the children in Connecticut, USA, my connecting that with possible impaired bonding of the killer with his mother and then my including in that same post a request for people who cared about birth and bonding to support the completion of the documentary BIRTH (and the Indiegogo funding campaign that is underway).

I wrote that and sent those words within hours after hearing the news about Connecticut and should never have linked the film with that series of killings or with my personal speculation that his shooting his mother could have something to do with birth.

I am deeply sorry and hope that you will forgive my ill-thought-out and irresponsible behavior, sending that over the Internet. It came from me and me alone and my co-producer/director Chris Carson had nothing whatsoever to do with it and knew nothing about it. It also was done as a personal statement and had nothing to do with the nonprofit-charity that I run, Birthing The Future.

With sincere regret and wishing you well during these challenging times worldwide,

Suzanne Arms
Colorado USA

Funky Little Earthchild said...

Thank you for sharing that. :-)

Libby said...

I'm so unbelievably offended by this woman I can hardly find the words. As a mother who had a failed homebirth that ended in cesarean I have struggled with my sons birth tremendously. I have to remind myself that had I not made the decision to transfer and have surgery I may not have a son at all. But what I read on Suzanne Arms fb page gave the impression that I should not have done what I did because he'll probably just end up becoming a mass murderer. Yes, this is exactly what women dealing with debilitating ppd and ptsd need to hear from a "birth professional". She's done a disservice to all women by posting those words.

Funky Little Earthchild said...


I am so sorry that you had a difficult birth experience. It can be so traumatizing and I hope that you can find healing.

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