I haven't quoted from a dictionary in a piece of writing since my middle school days. I hate it and, yet, I'm about to do it. I'm doing it because I think a couple of dictionary quotes are relevant to this post. I've been thinking about privacy verses being alone. My google search for "privacy definition" yielded the following : the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people. When I did the same for "alone definition": having no one else present; on one's own.
These are sometimes used interchangeably. And in some cases, they are. But, at least for me, there are important differences behind each word. When I think of privacy, I also think of respect, support, dignity, and safety. When I reflect on aloneness, sometimes abandoned and unimportant come along. So does powerlessness or and lack of assistance. No one else is around-whether you need them or not. To my mind, privacy and aloneness have more to do with the way you feel you are being treated than with the number of people in the room with you.
During my first birth, I wanted privacy with my husband. I thought the way to get that was to have as few people in the space as possible. We did not hire a doula, in part because we wanted a private birth. We thought introducing a stranger would make us feel exposed. We wanted keep the number of people as small as possible. During the birth, I'd say we had quite a bit of privacy although there was no shortage of strangers. Nurses we didn't know, anesthesiologists we'd never met. Even an anesthesiologist in training that I didn't know had entered the room until I heard my anesthesiologist talking to him. But there came a point where loneliness set in. After the epidural was administered and my pain was relieved, everyone left and my husband went to sleep. And even though the nurse was checking on me regularly, the feeling of being alone was palpable. When I think back to those moments it was like being left in a corner until it was time to push. I know this wasn't intended by the staff at the hospital. And I now know this was where the doula was supposed to be.
Every couple has a right to privacy. Feeling safe and secure assists the birth process, but feeling alone and abandoned does not. In today's birthing world, it's very unusual to give birth without anyone else there. Sometimes there are a lot of people there. But it can be very common to give birth feeling alone in a sea of people. Music therapists/doulas understand this. Even when we are not suggesting birth positions, using essential oils, explaining the birth process, or giving massages, we are doing important work. We are staying by your side holding space for privacy while keeping loneliness away.