As all my nearest and dearest know, birth has been an obsessive topic of research of mine for ... well, since the people I paid to handle my first pregnancy and birth let me down, landing me with a cesarean (I refuse to capitalize it) for iatrogenic difficulties resulting from caregiver (ha!) impatience. They had the degrees, the training, the background, that I did not have. I trusted them, they let me down, and I have this scar on my belly to show for it.
That was four years ago. In the meantime, I researched birth. Obsessively. Learning about what happened to me was my path out of the PPD/PTSD darkness the whole experience landed me in. I read. I studied. I performed more biostatistical analyses on other people's research than I did in four solid years of graduate studies. I learned, I learned, I learned.
At this stage of things, I can sling obstetrical lingo like a pro. In fact, better than some pros. I know an astonishing amount about the natural state of a pregnant body, about the variations on normal, about birth as it's meant to happen, without the mediarchy meddling in it. My command of the relevant research is nearly encyclopedic. My knowledge of the trade journals, the insurance regulations, the governmental statutes, is exhaustive. I know, because to me, fighting for the plain old normal birth of my second child, every single data point mattered.
And the final exam? My glorious homebirth VBAC. We, all of us, my family, we passed.
So here we are. Rowan's four now. And I'm beginning to look into schooling.
It isn't pretty. I could go on some about the state of public, private, institutionalized, education in this country. But suffice it to say, it's not for us. We're looking at unschooling; the radical idea that children are learning machines, if you don't strangle the delight out of it for them. That if you give them building blocks for wings, they will assemble them (in their own unique ways), and they will soar.
Terrifying, beautiful thought, that. I feel like I've bonded with Daedalus, somehow.
As usual, when you're going offroad with something parenting, you ask yourself whether or not it "works". I suppose by "works", what you mean, generally, is, "will this form of education result in a child who is centered, intelligent, well-rounded, and able to attain the goals they set for themselves?"
As usual, I've been fretting. Will it? Will this be the right thing to have done?
The shelves of birth-related books and research are gradually being supplanted with the shelves of education-related books and research. I'm on the yahoogroups. I'm reading the bulletin boards. I'm joining the associations. I'm reading, dear lordy, everything I can get my hands on. I'm learning the terminology that the initiated use to describe the inner workings of the child mind. I am becoming conversant in the theoretical modalities of education.
And as another friend grilled me about some aspect or other of pregnancy, and I tossed off an answer as casually as could be, it hit me. I do not have a degree. I am not a medical graduate.
But I am unschooled, in birth.
And if can work for me, like this, then am I not, by modeling this compulsive researching behavior, proving both to my kids and to the Doubting Thomases of my culture, that it does most thoroughly work this way?
Yes, I am. So forward we all go. Because it does, it does, it does work this way.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveller, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason and her sons Rowan and Kestrel. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds
forth her opinions on that in her blog, The Elemental Mom.