Amy Tuteur and I Would Probably Agree that Crunchy Mama is a Beast

I used to pop in about once a month to read the now defunct Homebirth Debate blog. There was no RSS feed for it, so it was usually when I was reminded by a link on someone’s blog or when I saw the author, Amy, comment elsewhere. Reading the blog gave me a similar feeling to taking that second look at road kill to determine if the tan-colored carcass on the road belonged to a squirrel or a rabbit. Wading through the epithets, accusations and selective skepticism was occasionally worth it because sometimes the posts contained interesting stats and a point of view that I don’t get to read often. I also enjoyed the posts and comments on Amy’s Open Salon blog.

Those of you who have been reading birth blogs for years are probably far, far more well-versed in that which was the HBD blog. I read some of the 2006 posts one day and most of 2008’s as well. The WaybackMachine shows that she originally linked to Navelgazing Midwife, Ronnie Falçao, Citizens for Midwifery and others in her sidebar.

It appears that, at some point, Amy must have tired of trying to debate birth-related issues with people that she considered unworthy and unqualified and moved onto catering to her readers’ desire to play “Mommy Wars”. For awhile, the caricatures of “natural” or “homebirth” types were somewhat lost on me. While I sort of enjoyed the satire and subversive humor, I wasn’t totally getting it. The majority of the people I have met in the last few years gave birth with midwives. Most are very environmentally conscious. I stand in awe of their compost piles. They taught me the ins and outs of cloth diapering. They are mostly women who feel that normalcy in birth, breastfeeding, maternity leave and the environment are worth fighting for, but not worth fighting EACH OTHER for. The pod of women that I hang out with believes that women need to make the decisions that feel right to them. Giving birth at home after a previous cesarean? Love you, here’s a casserole for your freezer, want me to watch your three year old? Going for in an elective repeat cesarean? Love you, here’s a casserole for your freezer, want me to watch your three year old?

While watching people blindly shift all personal responsibility to any health care practitioner makes my heart nervously skip a beat, I don’t believe that there are blind decisions. For awhile, I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t be at least a little skeptical about threats of dead or permanently injured babies in the absence of any risk factors. Now, after months of having listened and discussed and kept an open mind, I don’t consider it to be any of my business. If you tell me a cesarean saved your baby or your life, I say, “Thank God!” Love you, here’s a casserole for your freezer, want me to watch your three year old?

I did some soul-searching to explore if I was being mean in my advocacy and I came up empty… almost. This might sound surprising coming from someone with a web site called The Unnecesarean, but I am far more committed to women making decisions about their health care that they feel good about than I am to them having a vaginal birth. While I could probably sell you six ways until Sunday on why I love “natural” (or whatever we’re all calling it these days) birth, I don’t presume that Jane Q. Reader necessarily will. I can tell you the reasons why I knew that I was not a good candidate for an epidural, but it makes no difference to me if you seek pain relief in labor. I figure that if someone happens upon this site and starts reading how to avoid an unnecesarean, it’s because they have already encountered opposition to their plans to give birth vaginally and are looking for evidence and anecdotes to support them in the fight they have ahead.

Just as Amy farcically lumped all “homebirth advocates” into one homogenous group on her blog, I am guilty of lumping all doctors into one group rather that differentiating between good doctors who support women’s health and struggle with their role in a difficult health care system and those who are totally complacent about cesareans, pompously manage every birth, promote cesareans as an equally healthy alternative to vaginal birth, bully women into unnecessary procedures at the expense of their bodily integrity and participate willingly in a system that increases maternal morbidity and mortality to gain immunity from liability in the case of a bad outcome.

Many of us regularly deliver tongue-lashings to “doctors” via our blogs and comments on the Internet. We are angry and frustrated and seek cultural change that requires profound adjustments in behavior and attitudes from doctors. What if you’re one of the many good doctors and you read the essays, rants and manifestos of angry families affected by arrogance in obstetrics? Some will read with an open mind and try to understand how their actions and fear mongering could be impacting their patients. Others lash back with narcissistic sounding tirades that include blaming women, calling them idiots, pathologizing their discontent, dismissing and mocking their feelings and making every attempt to put them in their place. They pop up on comment threads regularly to scoff at any non-medico who exhibits skepticism over their fellow doctors’ practice. The fallacies fly, like the popular Appeal to Common Practice, and they expose their own fears of the medical profession as a whole losing credibility, authority and esteem. It would be totally unfair of me to assume that these angry people represent the good doctors, too.

If the accounts I encountered on the HBD blog and the Treat Me With Respect blog are true, Amy was one of the good ones when she practiced. She had a low c-section rate, supported VBACs, had “the highest respect for the natural process of birth” and found great joy in being a part of the beauty of birth. If I had risk factors that required me to see an OB during pregnancy and someone told me about a natural-birth respecting believer in the “tincture of time” with a great sense of humor and a love of parody, I’d ask how soon I could get an appointment.

Over the last six months, I have read a few blog posts and comment threads that started bringing Amy’s caricature of the obnoxious, sanctimonious parent to life. She is a rare breed, like a cloth-diapering Sasquatch. Her superiority complex is unparalleled and I fear her pseudonymous nastiness. It brings me great pain that I could be categorized as “one of those people.”

With no further ado, grab your barf bags and enjoy Crunchy Mama the übertroll and her sock-puppet, Sam, on various Babble.com Strollerderby threads.

 

On epidurals:

Crunchy Mama said:

Women who get epidurals are cowards. Yes, having a baby hurts. Deal with it. In the process, you might discover that you can actually deal with just about anything. A good skill for a mother to have.

Yes, I know whereof I speak. I had all three of my children without taking so much as a Tylenol, and I had them at home, to boot.

Facing danger and emerging triumphant is character building, and character is something this country could use a little more of. Whiners, boo-hoo’ers, victims, wimps… we have plenty of those.

Obviously, I am not referring to anyone with a life threatening complication. Giving birth can and does kill mothers and babies. But as far as I know being a candyass doesn’t qualify as a life threatening medical emergency.

 

On feeding babies and her own general awesomeness:

Crunchy Mama said:

“People hardly ever feel guilty about doing the right thing” - 88 year old Grammy

If you feel guilty about your choices, they’re probably wrong, for YOU, for YOUR family.

If you feel guilty every time you turn on the tube/feed your kid sugar/use disposable diapers/leave them sobbing at daycare, then don’t do it. Make a better choice. It might not be the easier choice, but that’s life.

Guilt is a good indicator that you’re doing something wrong. Who cares what other people feel. How do YOU feel?

May 30, 2009 12:23 PM

 

 

Crunchy Mama said:

I think mothers have been the center of the family for slightly longer than 150 years, Shannon. And again, I object to your efforts to shove off responsibility for your feelings and by extension, your actions onto something other than yourself (the culture made me do it!).

Every family is different, and had different needs, to be sure. But if you fail to meet the needs of your family, then YOU failed. Blaming culture is such a pathetic cop-out.

Do I strive to be a good parent, a good person every day? Of course! If I yell at my kids, I feel guilty. I SHOULD feel guilty. But it’s how I feel that matters. What someone else feels about how I behave is irrelevant.

There are no pedestals. Just solid ground. And my own two feet.

May 30, 2009 1:13 PM

 

 

Crunchy Mama said:

There’s a difference between feeling bad and feeling guilty. If your child had cancer and needed chemo, you’d probably feel bad, but you wouldn’t feel guilty. Unless you smoked a pack a day inside with them, fed them on processed crap foods and lived next door to the nuclear plant because the housing was really cheap. In which case, your choices may have had some impact on their cancer.

Which is precisely my point. If you feel guilty, it’s because you know you can make better choices. So make them. Who cares if someone thinks you’re a good mommy/bad mommy?

And failing to agree with the liberal feminist bullshit let’s all farm our kids out to institutions for substandard care my own personal satisfaction is all that matters school of thought does not make one a troll.

May 30, 2009 9:29 PM

 

 

Sam said:

Crunchy Mama said:

“People hardly ever feel guilty about doing the right thing” - 88 year old Grammy

If you feel guilty about your choices, they’re probably wrong, for YOU, for YOUR family.

If you feel guilty every time you turn on the tube/feed your kid sugar/use disposable diapers/leave them sobbing at daycare, then don’t do it. Make a better choice. It might not be the easier choice, but that’s life.

Guilt is a good indicator that you’re doing something wrong. Who cares what other people feel. How do YOU feel?”

I think you are so right. If you are feeling guilty about something it is because you could have made a different choice. If you are feeling bad about something, like have to work and having to send your kids to daycare, that is different than feeling guilty. Guilt comes from making the wrong choice. When you are a kid and you shoplift some gum, you feel guilty. I think grammy is spot on here, you don’t feel guilt when you are doing what is right for you. It’s semantics, and I think people overuse the word guilt and try to apply to things where maybe shame, or bad, or awkward would have worked better.

“my baby food post exhorting those of who thought it was more work than we cared to do to “get a grip”—yeah, they deserve it. 

Amy, you have taken what this commenter said out of context. She was telling mom’s who were stressing too much over making baby food to get a grip, it doesn’t have to be that complicated, just mash up an avocado; and I totally agreed with her. It should be that much work, and if you find that it is then you are putting way too much effort into it. I think you are a little out of line with this.

Annabelle, you call everyone a troll and you haven’t even been a regular poster. Let’s be civilized here. Crunchy Mama posts a lot, she is not a troll. If you want to find trolls, go find a little troll bridge, but grow up and stop bashing people about this ridiculousness.

May 31, 2009 8:48 PM

 

 

Sam said:

Seriously…you people are up in arms over what crunchy mama said about guilt? Jesus, you people are completely insane. If you are reading judgment into it, then that is your own problem. Some people can come on here with very reasonable opinions and you act like they just told you you are the worst parent in history,and you act totally ridiculous about it. A discussion does not need to just incorporate your views, and if it does not that is not an attack on you, and further more if you can’t take the heat, get out of the damn kitchen! I am not crunchy mama, I don’t agree with everything she or anyone says, but I happen to this time. I hope you all find some internal peace and learn to respect other peoples opinions and thoughts and also learn some very much needed reading comprehension. You read something, take it completely out of context and then act like an angry mob marching through town with your torches yelling “judgment”, when all one person is doing is expressing their opinion, and you are the one’s judging, only you are too blind to see it. And Annabelle, I have said before and I’ll say it again: www.youtube.com/watch, you troll.

June 1, 2009 1:30 PM

 

 

Sam said:

“Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes - whether justified or not - that he or she has violated a moral standard, and is responsible for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.

In psychology, as well as in ordinary language, guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done).”

So yes, odds are that if you feel guilty you have done something you should not have done, it is the nature of guilt and there is a reason why we feel it. You can argue, deny, and make excuses all you want but there is a reason for guilt. If you were honest with yourself you would acknowledge that.

June 1, 2009 1:35 PM

 

 

On feminism:

I think this was a fantastic piece; I couldn’t agree more with your point about feminism and biology. Second wave feminism all but forgot motherhood. We need to rethink how our biology can be a part of lives, not just toss it out or pretend it doesn’t exist. Rosin and Judith Warner are dragging us back to a second wave feminist model that is really uninspired. Woman may not ONLY be womb, but she certainly does have one. And it does define quite a bit of her life. Let’s make that work.

posted by : cm on 4/21/2009 at 10:58 AM

 

 

 

Summary:

You are a candyass that is ignoring your biological imperative to mother your child. I will keep screaming that you’re doing it all wrong and if you feel bad about it, it’s really just your fault because you know you’re ignoring your biological requisites. I don’t have the power to make you feel bad, you whiny hag. NOW GO BREASTFEED YOUR CHILDREN! And don’t let me find out that you gave birth in a hospital with drugs then went back to work or I’ll give you something to really feel guilty about!

 

 

All of this natural maternal love is making me want to go rinse off in the shower.

 

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