Loving my Neighbor

Luke 10:27

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Recently in a friendly debate about the differences in what is acceptable to some demographics as opposed to others, I was told my ideas were dangerous.

My ideas are grounded in the bible verse that I’ve copied above.  But I feel like in our ultra political world I have to explain this verse, and how I interpret it, and how I believe that it was actually meant to be interpreted.

If I believe that peanut butter sandwiches are amazing and that I should eat one every day, then that is my belief about myself (truly it isn’t, though some of my children would love nothing more).

Some people would interpret this verse as saying that in my own love for peanut butter sandwiches I should give peanut butter sandwiches to everyone, but I challenge anyone who believes this interpretation. Simply because I love peanut butter sandwiches doesn’t mean everyone loves them, and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone should have one.  Some people have allergies and could die from my peanut butter sandwiches, so this can’t possibly be the meaning of the verse.

Instead, I believe the verse is saying that I should pay attention to the needs of others in the same way that I pay attention to my own needs.  If I love peanut butter sandwiches, and want to eat one every day, a loving act from someone else would be them giving me a peanut butter sandwich.  So if I love others, the way I love myself I would find something they love and offer that to them, not what I love, but rather what they love.

I should also then consider what is safe for others in the way that I consider what is safe for myself.  If I have an allergy I avoid that thing I am allergic to,  if I love you I will help you avoid what you are allergic to.  If I care about myself then I will research the things that can negatively change my health, if I care about you, I should share the knowledge I have gained that might negatively or positively change your health.

All of this applies to my work as a doula, and eventually a midwife… (because I do one day intend to be a midwife).  In this realm I need to be aware of the needs of my clients, they are my neighbors.  If I am serving a woman I need to know about her race, her history, her fears, her allergies, her passions, her hopes… and I need to treat her accordingly.

There is a problem in our country that pertains to black women being 4x’s more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and white women are slightly more likely than Mexican or Asian women, and somewhere between the white and black women the American Indian women fall into the line up.

I see so many articles posted on social media about this very thing, and many of my birth working friends and colleges are very concerned about this issue.  I however do not believe that this is a racial discrimination issue, but rather an issue of health, and choice.  I’m sure that I’m going to hear some backlash about posting this, but each of us have a responsibility to love ourselves, and in doing so we need to care for ourselves.  Part of caring for yourself is knowing your risk, and advocating for yourself, and you can do this in part by educating yourself, and by hiring a team of people who support you in the needs YOU have.

Whatever your demographic, you should know your personal risks.  Some of these risks that I’ve been looking into recently are specifically for black women.  Black women are more at risk of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), and thrombotic pulmonary embolism, than white women (these are just two of the many things we should be aware of when we consider the difference in women’s risks based on race).  We can’t ignore this, it would be dangerous, but what can we do?

We can love each other as ourselves, and in doing so we can advocate for each other in the areas of health that would help us all to be and remain safe during and after pregnancy.

This doesn’t have to be a racial discrimination conversation, it can be people, loving each other and understanding the risks that we each carry, while helping each other to achieve healthy pregnancies, births, and beyond.  And there is no fear in love.  No one, regardless of race should feel that they have to single themselves out or blend into the crowd in order to receive fair treatment from others.  Getting excellent health care should have no baring on the color of our skin, and most often probably doesn’t… however, we do need to see the differences that are inside of each other, the individual preferences, allergies, and risks that belong to us, that are a part of our personal story, that will have the power of life and death over us. These things should be recognized, and treated as important for each individual, because we love.

Personal story here; I was at risk of having a cord prolapse with my second child, everyone of my care providers knew this and they wanted to break my water anyway. In an effort to evaluate my risks I asked about my ‘personal’ risk, the answer that I received was inadequate to say the least.  The care I received during that pregnancy was disrespectful and void of love, the kind of love I’m asking anyone who reads this to desplay.  Find out your personal risk, and only let people who understand these risks and want to help, be around while you labor.  You have the power to choose people who will advocate for you, before anything adverse happens, and in the event that it does happen you will be prepared to deal with it, and have people in your corner who know your risks and desires.

As for me.  I promise to love, each of my clients, enough to look deeply at them and try the best I know how to serve them, selflessly, and joyfully.  I promise to hear their concerns and address them in an appropriate and caring manner.  I promise to look at their individual risks, and past experiences without bias to my own situations (though I may tell my stories along the way) and discuss options with my clients, allowing them full control over the care that they receive after hiring me.  I promise to love my clients the way I love myself, and take the time to get to know them, and their needs so that I can best serve my clients in them.

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