The position of aunty is a defense position

Guest post by AuntyC

AuntyC's nephew #2, Tim The Amazing and his family.
AuntyC's nephew #2, Tim The Amazing, shown here with his ecstatic family.
August was a big month for me, as my partner and I hung by the phone waiting for “the news.”

Both of us come from tiny families, and both our brothers became dads within three weeks of each other.

I am still adjusting to my new role as an aunty, especially as I have no little ones of my own (yet). While I thought it would all be about occasional nappy changing, Chrissie presents and backyard cricket (I’m Australian and they’re both nephews) it turns out it’s just as much taking care of the grown-ups as the little ones – and that the position of Aunty is a defense position.

My brother and his partner did all the supposedly right things. She was in amazing shape, and they planned a completely natural childbirth with their midwife. They even considered home birth and water birthing options. The birth plan was very specific about not being hooked up and knocked out come the big event.

After nearly a fortnight overdue, the baby had to be induced. It seems that this usually goes one of two ways – very quickly, or everything simply stops. For her, it was the latter.

She simply couldn’t keep going because everything was too constricted and swollen for the baby to get out, and he was starting to have some serious trouble. The result was a C-section.

Two weeks later, nephew number two arrived – also by emergency Caesarean. It was then I found the worst comments and assumptions came from within the family.

“Why couldn’t she just keep going? I didn’t give up after only 30 hours.” “Why can’t women just have babies like they did in our day? It’s what women are designed for.” “Her sister just had her babies, none of this surgery rubbish.” These women are being made to feel as though they were weak, didn’t prepare properly, and that they won’t have the same bond with their children.

So, I strapped on the shin guards, strapped my helmet on, and let my mother-in-law know that, even if her grandson came into the world through a portal in the time-space continuum, she should have more respect for her son’s wife and their parenting decisions.

I don’t believe vaginal birth makes a mother. I believe it’s about making decisions that are the best for your child, even if they sometimes go against your own personal preferences. New moms need love and support, not judgment or disdain.

Comments on The position of aunty is a defense position

  1. AWESOME POST. My sister-in-law had her baby this past Tuesday. I was there for some of her labor, and saw how much she struggled through the process. When she decided to get an epidural (which she hadn't wanted to do initially, and put that decision off until the last minute), we cheered her on and supported that decision. Because the mamas need our support, not our criticism!

    Thanks for posting!!

  2. Great post! A dear friend just had to be induced and C-sectioned Friday/Saturday. My husband hadn't heard the news and when I told him his response was "The kid shouldn't need surgery to get out." He's always been a proponent of doing things "the old fashioned way" which in general I don't mind but in this instance was just an idiot thing to say. Luckily it was just the two of us when he said that, but people really don't realize how hurtful/demeaning their offhand comments can be.

  3. My sister had the opposite problem: she had a C-section for her first baby, and nobody understood why she didn't want the schedule the birth of her second child. Even when the little girl needed to come out two weeks early, my sister chose to be induced with Pitocin for two days instead of going into surgery. I supported her decision from the start and defended it against dissenters. We aunties are very important people.

  4. Great post! Way to support the team! I can totally understand the c-section. My sister had to get induced and then was in labour for 40 hours or something ridiculous. She delivered vaginally but ended up hemorraging which left her very weak. She bled for almost a month and was so anemic that she barely could look after her baby. Vaginal births certainly aren't the end all and be all!!

    I love hanging out with my niece and getting to know her as she grows up but I do think that equally important is supporting my sister when she needs help.

  5. I hear you!
    I'm horribly vicious towards anyone who says anything even slightly bad towards my sister, her approach to being a mom, or my nephews. Grrr! RARRR.

  6. Good job, aunty (or in our family, we say titi!). I think people don't realize or conveniently forget that in "the old days," women and/or babies died when there was no surgical intervention in an emergency situation. You can bet that people would be saying "oh, she should've had the c-section," if something happened to mother or baby.

  7. Hey Nancy – that is exactly what I was thinking! It makes me really mad when everyone else thinks they have the right to comment on women's bodies and our choices around them, and surely the best result is a healthy mother and child, achieved in the safest way possible? Good on you Aunty C for supporting!

  8. Well done aunty for being such great support to your family and especially your SILs. It's funny how people always think they know best for a situation they weren't near and couldn't possibly know the details of. But we're all right, right? I hope all are doing well and enjoying healthy little boys.

  9. I'm stunned that anyone would complain about a birth! Who cares how it happened? Why can't we be thankful to have the technology to make sure the infant mortality rate keeps getting smaller?

  10. Good for you supporting your SILs and the choices they had to make! When my mum had me she had to have her labour induced following a difficult pregnancy and a rather unhappy-in-utero baby (me). As you may know, induction can be excruciatingly painful (as any labour can) and many ladies opt for an epidural. My maternal grandmother was entirely unsupportive of my mother's decision to have an epi, and made it quite clear she felt my mother was weak and selfish and would harm her baby. Thank goodness for my supportive dad! People have no right to judge others about the childbirth choices they make and its up to those of us who support rather than judge our pregnant relatives/friends to defend them as necessary. Good for you!

  11. This is a surprise for me (one of the reasons why I love this site, expand my brain). The opposite trend is true here, where having a baby 'the old-fashioned why" is considered irresponsible. The doctors almost always push for planned births at the least. When my cousin was having her first, she talking with the doctor about what to do he was pushing for a planned Caesearan. No medical reason, just because, and the man actually said, and I quote, "The whole vagina thing is overrated."


  12. My sister had her first child almost two years ago, and it was a similar story. Induction, baby got stuck and after 26 hours of labor she had a c-section and the most beautiful little boy came into the world. Although our family and my brother-in-law's family was very supportive of every thing that happened, it's my sister who spends the most time beating up on herself. She and her husband are planning on working on another child in the next year and she keeps putting all this pressure on herself about having a better birth this time, hoping to have a vaginal birth and be able to breast feed (which she was not able to do the first time). I just want her to relax and make that choices that are best for her and her family and stop being so hard on herself.

    Sometimes the aunty's role is to help the mom to be a little nicer to herself.

  13. This post brought me to tears but in a good way. I had to have an emergency c-section and all those comments have been so hurtful as well as the sadness I have on my own from it. Your comments helped me feel a lot better about the situation.

  14. Comments like that always get my ire up-like giving birth is not a major medical moment. Women may have been giving birth for thousands of years without a c-section–but women have also been dying in child birth for thousands of years.

    It seems like the birth of your child should be safe–not a statement of tradition or toughness. So silly!

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