I was driving along, listening to NPR as I often do around 11 am. Here in Oklahoma City I can listen to a great program called "The Story" in which different people are asked to tell their stories. Sometimes it's about current events, historical connections, accidental meeting of celebrities or just interesting things that have happened.
I was fortunate enough to have a long drive ahead of me all by myself. That means i wouldn't be interrupted by the request to sing "Victory in Jesus" or questioned about every piece of machinery that we passed, so I could really pay attention to the story that was being told.
The story just so happened to be about a man named Ted Marmor who worked with the Nixon administration during the establishment of Medicare. His was a short career in politics, but it was a job he always wanted to come back to, and that he felt quite passionate about. It was nice to listen to him talk about the motivations he had in the beginning- that they all had.
I should stop here and mention that I do not usually talk about politics on this blog- or really at all. I get stirred up and my beliefs are often not able to be put into a clear category (Republican, Democrat, Independent???) even by myself. However, there are things that I believe wholeheartedly about women's healthcare. This week I've been especially keyed up about them because of a recent NIH conference on the topic of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC.) The problem is that the panel refused to take a position on whether a pregnant woman has the same constitutional right to informed refusal as any other adult in the U.S. That means that a doctor could essentially take legal action to force a woman to have a C-Section even if she were well-informed on the benefits and risks of a VBAC. This basically drives me up a wall. I can abort my baby but even if I am highly informed, I can't deliver it in the way I want? I could go on and on about this for a while so I'll just move on.
I was pleasantly surprised, as I was listening to Ted tell the story of how he became passionate about healthcare, to find that it started with the birth of his oldest child. He talked about the healthcare that his wife was given and described it as nurturing. He said that the nurses helped him and his wife figure out what they were doing because they were in a foreign country and they didn't have any family nearby. The healthcare was free, but it was also caring and comprehensive. Isn't that what we all want in our healthcare? To be cared for? It seemed very interesting to me that what made that experience of becoming a parent so good to him was to be "mothered" as his wife became a mother.
In another part of Ted's story he talks about being in a situation where he was asked to speak to someone about a difficult issue. The other politician tried to intimidate him and Ted simply would not cow. He wasn't rude- in fact he was extremely professional- but he didn't back down. He said that it was a situation in which he later realized that he could have participated in an "inappropriate deference to authority." I couldn't get that phrase, or the idea of what he had done, out of my head.
I am a pregnant woman. So far I've been very lucky and my pregnancy has been rather uneventful (except for the fact that I'm taking the 3 hr. glucose test right now). I'm extremely well-informed and I have chosen an excellent Midwife. But I am a woman and many times we have a tendency to try to please others, and to accept whatever authority sets before us without questioning it. And yet, as a mother, my job is to BE the authority. To lead and to protect. How can I be expected to do that if it all begins with being intimidated into an inappropriate deference to an authority figure?
Is this somehow a new barrier to transformation that women are having to face? It makes me wonder what kind of fairy tale we should be telling ourselves right now. Where is the story of the woman who does not defer to inappropriate authority? I'm going to be looking for it.
On a slightly different note- and yet completely related- I received a Hypnobabies Home Study Course in the mail on Tuesday. After Jonah's birth I realized that much of what I did during labor was self-hypnosis and I wanted to learn more about how to relax my body and trust it to do it's job. In reading the first lesson I realized that much of what I was embarking on was a step into the collective unconscious. When I listened to the first CD track to create my "special place" (Think "Happy Gilmore") I was in a deep dark wood, crossing a bridge to step onto a moss covered island where no one could come without my permission. How Jungian can you get?
I'm looking for stories right now. Stories to tell myself, or maybe even other women, to help remind us that we are powerful and we should claim that power, and not let other people intimidate us out of claiming that authority over our children and our bodies and transforming into mothers.