Posted by: Morgan | March 16, 2011

There has to be a revolution to be a revolutionary

Over the past week or so I’ve heard snippets referring to ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’. Seeing as we don’t have television channels I didn’t pursue finding out more about it on my own, despite the rave reviews. That is, until yesterday. During naptime, and between bouts of cleaning and throwing laundry around, I went over to hulu.com to see what I could mindlessly watch. The finale episode of the ‘Food Revolution’ was on the first page, so I decided to try it out from day one.

Ohmygoodness, online friends and strangers, it is amazing! Whether or not all of it is true reality or producer-induced situations, the core message is astounding and absolutely real. I would encourage anyone I know to watch the entire series (only 6 episodes long) and allow themselves to be challenged about the types of foods they eat. Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef from Great Britain who started what he calls the Food Revolution there in the past few years. He has revolutionized what British school-children eat during the day, and advocates a Pass It On mentality with recipes and learning to cook. He saw a statistic put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, an American governmental agency, in case you didn’t know) that stated Huntington, West Virginia, as the most unhealthy city in the world, and decided to start a Food Revolution in the United States, starting in Huntington. The show follows a few months of him introducing fresh foods into school cafeterias, working with families to fix their daily food intake to be healthier, and bringing the community at large to realize the problems with unhealthy eating.

Whether or not any of it is staged, you can see the true passion in his eyes and hear it in his voice as he talks about the people he’s trying to help. He doesn’t find it completely easy to integrate his ideas into the world of Huntington, and I found myself at the edge of tears several times. I was wondering about that yesterday when it suddenly occurred to me that I completely relate to him.

If you don’t have any desire to understand me, that is fine. At the same time, if you feel offended (for which I do apologize) or are angry with me, I will not try to tell you to not have those emotions. But, even with any of that, if you want to understand me, I would actually ask you to watch the first one or two episodes of ‘Food Revolution’.

While I feel I have never directly attacked anyone for choices they have made during pregnancy or birth, many women (many of them my friends) have felt offended or hurt by comments I have made about my own choices or beliefs about pregnancy and birthing.

I don’t ever want a woman to feel judged or belittled by me for any choices made during any previous pregnancies in her life. My heart hurts for every story I hear about pain, trauma, guilt, tearing, emergency intervention, and feelings of near-loss. I don’t want a woman to feel that she is wrong for what has happened. I want to help every woman I know redeem pregnancy and birth for herself.

In this culture I am slightly strange for the beliefs I have about pregnancy and birth. I believe that nearly every woman is capable of birthing her own children naturally and without medication. At the same time, I believe that with preparation and good support, those same women can have non-traumatic birth experiences. I don’t believe that birth is a scary, negatively painful event. I believe that a majority of emergency interventions are preventable.

If you watch the ‘Food Revolution’, you’ll see Jamie trying to introduce fresh food into school cafeterias. Why would anyone be upset about that? Why would someone object to giving a child fresh chicken as opposed to processed nuggets? Most people will watch this and find themselves cheering for Jamie as he tries to convince the people who have been doing it one way for years that his way will help the problems they are facing. They get angry at him. Perhaps they feel that if they accept his new way, they are admitting their way was wrong and bad. Perhaps they need someone they know better to tell them.

Women get angry at me when I talk about natural birthing or that most interventions are completely unnecessary. I’ve had friends crying, friends trying to tell me why I’m wrong and their baby would have died if they hadn’t had an epidural and emergency interventions, friends telling me to not talk to them about it ever again, friends telling me they hated their experience but there was no other way they could do it because their body wasn’t made to birth.

On one hand, I feel sad because so many of the people I know don’t seem to truly respect the information I give them. I do not just spout things because I woke up one morning and felt like that was what I wanted to do and, by golly, so should everyone else too! This is my passion; I’ve researched, talked to people, experienced it for myself, seen women try a different way and be amazed. And every time I see in a woman’s eyes that she owns her birth experience, I get even more excited to continue trying to touch more women’s lives.

……

The previous portion was written early last year. I just found it in my saved drafts and realized it still resonates with me. I am able to look back on this past year, though, and see how many experiences have taught me how to touch more lives with so much more compassion and empathy than I have before. I can only hope that future experiences bring even more compassion into my outlook on women, and not just the outcomes of their pregnancy or birth. Even so, I find moments when my words are brushed aside, either from an opinion of me being an extremist or from fear that I will judge decisions made.  I don’t say these things because I want to show people how they’re wrong. I say these things because I want people to see how good it can be.

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