Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stay Tuned

Sorry I've been MIA. I haven't had a computer for awhile (getting one for Christmas!) and I've been VERY ill. I was in the hospital last week for 4 days. I suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. I've lost a lot of weight already, but hopefully everything is under control now. I'll be back and blogging very, very soon.

I have a LOT to say!

Merry Christmas :)


P.S., for those who asksed questions:
1. midwives in FL can attend home vbacs. I believe they have to have a "back up doctor" to sign off on it. No big deal, really, but I've heard it's very hard to find doctors to do this.

2. My midwife asked me if I'd like to be tested for AIDS. I said no, signed a form saying that I declined, and that was that. I believe the law is that the midwife has to ASK if you want to be tested.









Tuesday, October 28, 2008

VBAC IS PREGNANT!

Woo hoo! I'm pregnant! Somewhere between five and seven weeks. I figure baby'll come in mid to late June. It's a nice time to have a baby :) I'll be moving back down to Florida so I can have a homebirth. There's just OBs and "underground" midwives here. The OBs want to cut me and the midwives won't touch me because I've had two "SGA" babies. Doesn't bother me though. I like Florida. It's home :) I'll actually be giving birth in my MIL's house. Odd situation, don't you think?

I'm SO... FREAKING... EXCITED! This baby was very unexpected. After my VBAC I wanted to have another baby RIGHT then. Obviously, that didn't happen. I did become pregnant unexpectedly when my baby was 4 months old but miscarried at 8 weeks. Now my vbac baby (Little Man) is 23 months old and we're all ready, willing and waiting! My nearly 4yo (Little Miss) can't wait. She asks, "Mommy can I kiss the baby?" I say yes. Then she lifts my shirt and says, "now remind me again where she is?" (she's dearly wishing for a sister). She also keeps smelling my head and saying, "MMMM! I LOVE that baby smell!"

Here was our recent conversation about how the baby will come out:

me: do you remember where the baby will come out?
4yo: yes, from your v*.
me: that's right.
4yo: can I help you push her out?
me: well, I have to do all the work but you can hold my hand
4yo: but I WANT TO HELP YOU PUSH HER OUT!
me: well, it's not really something you can help me with. I'll be pushing kinda like when you have a hard time going to the bathroom.
4yo: oh, so you're pooping the baby out of your v*?
me: well, kinda.

Too funny! She's going to be hilarious at the birth. She'll be 4 1/2 when the big day arrives.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Own Words

This is from my c-section poem




This is from my vbac poem








siggy


On Laundry and Birthin'

Leslie made a comment on Robyn's blog this afternoon. The comment itself is about hand-washing laundry, but as I was reading I was amazed by how perfectly the same comment could have been written about unmedicated and home birthing. Take out the words laundry and clothes and insert birth and birthing, and you have a beautiful commentary on birth the way it can be.

Increased consciousness, properly managed, leads to increased gratitude. Increased gratitude, clearly seen and properly attributed, leads to God. It is a grave mistake to assume that the so-called modern way of doing things is necessarily the better way. Deeper analysis, observation and mostly honest to goodness personal experience is required to really assess even these seemingly simple activities.

It is all in the subtleties."







siggy

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's a "Womb Pod"?

Someone asked me today, "what is a womb pod"? Have you heard of BirthTrack? It's fascinating new technology! You can read all about it here. See the picture? That, dear mama, is a "womb pod".



siggy

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When they came for me, there was no one left





CONTACT: Steff Hedenkamp, (816) 506-4630, steff@thebigpushformidwives.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 1, 2008

Number Two With a Bullet

Critical Women’s Health Issues Neglected as Physician Group Yet Again Sets its Sites on Midwives


WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 1, 2008)—In the newest phase of its ongoing effort to deny women the right to choose their maternity care providers and birth settings, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has announced that eliminating access to midwives who specialize in out-of-hospital birth is now the second most important issue on its state legislative agenda. This move puts restricting access to trained midwives ahead of such critical issues as contraceptive equity, ensuring access to emergency contraception, and the prevention and treatment of perinatal HIV/AIDS.


“ACOG claims to be an advocate of women’s health and choice, but when it comes to the right to choose to deliver your baby in the privacy of your own home with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who is specifically trained to provide the safest care possible, ACOG’s paternalistic colors bleed through,” said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for the Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “It is astonishing that an organization that purports to be a champion of women’s healthcare would put a petty turf battle that affects less than one percent of the nation’s childbearing women ahead of pressing issues that have an impact on nearly every woman in this country. If this is not dereliction of duty, I can’t imagine what is.”


In recent years, ACOG has led a well-financed campaign to fight legislative reforms that would license and regulate CPMs and has now teamed up with the American Medical Association (AMA) to promote legislation that would prevent families from choosing to give birth at home. Despite these joint efforts, the groups have not been successful in defeating the groundswell of grassroots activism in support of full access to a comprehensive range of maternity care options that meet the needs of all families.


“Wisconsin is a good example of what ACOG and the AMA are up against,” said Jane Crawford Peterson, CPM, Advocacy Trainer for The Big Push. “Our bipartisan grassroots coalition of everyday people from across the state managed to defeat the most powerful and well-financed special interest groups in Wisconsin, all on an expenses-only budget of $3000 during a legislative session in which $47 million was spent on lobbying. When you try to deny women the fundamental and very personal right to choose where and how to give birth, they will get organized and they will let their elected officials know that restrictions on those rights cannot stand.”

Noting these successes, ACOG has recently launched its own grassroots organizing effort, calling on member physicians to recruit their patients to participate in its “Who Will Deliver My Baby?” medical liability reform campaign.


“ACOG itself admits that we’re facing a critical shortage of maternity care providers,” said Steff Hedenkamp, Communications Coordinator for the Big Push. “They certainly realize that medical liability reform is nothing more than a band aid and that increasing access to midwives and birth settings is critical to fixing our maternity care system and ensuring that rural, low-income and uninsured women don’t fall through the cracks. Midwives represent an essential growth segment of the U.S. pool of maternity care providers, but instead of putting the healthcare needs of women first, ACOG would rather devote its considerable lobbying budget to a last-ditch attempt to protect its own bottom line. This is not a happy Labor Day for our nation’s mothers and babies.”


The Big Push for Midwives (http://www.TheBigPushforMidwives.org) is a nationally coordinated campaign organized to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to deny American families access to safe and legal midwifery care. The campaign plays a critical role in building a new model of U.S. maternity care delivery at the local and regional levels, at the heart of which is the Midwives Model of Care, based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. Media inquiries: Steff Hedenkamp (816) 506-4630, steff@thebigpushformidwives.org.


#####




The Big Push for Midwives Campaign is fiscally sponsored by Sustainable Markets Foundation, a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). The mission of the Big Push for Midwives is to build winning, state-level advocacy campaigns towards successful regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Visit the Big Push for Midwives Campaign on the Web at www.TheBigPushforMidwives.org.

Sustainable Markets Foundation | 80 Broad Street, Suite 1600 | New York, NY 10004-2248

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign | 2300 M Street, N.W., Suite 800 | Washington, D.C. 20037-1434



Friday, August 29, 2008

And Then There Were Three. . .













vbacwarrior, January 2005

Sister A, July 2008

Sister H, August 2008


Three blind mice
Three blind mice
See how they run
See how they run
They all ran after the farmer's wife
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife
Did you ever see such a thing in your life

As three blind mice?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

VBAC IS BACK!

I'm sorry I haven't been around. We moved to a different state, and then. . .

my two sisters had c-sections. *sob* TWO! TWO sisters each had a c-section!! Four weeks apart, exactly. Same hospital, different doctors. Different reasons. I'm not ashamed to say that it PISSES me off. I'm fuming...FUMING!!! I am raging freaking mad.

The first one, I'll call her sister A, suffered from an infection at her incision site. Her son has been re-hospitalized for illness and infections, as well. Surprise, surprise. My second sister, sister H, is now battling deep depression and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. Again, surprise, surprise! All KNOWN possible side-effects of a section.

Unbelievable. Un-be-freaking-lievable! There are five of us sisters. Three have now had c-sections. 3 out of 5. How are those statistics for you?

I love my sisters. I love them dearly. I'm not mad at them. I'm mad that they fell victim to a system that chews up mothers and babies and spits out dollar bills. They're my sisters, but to our maternity "care" system, they're just money and liabilities. My sisters were cut because two doctors had to put food on the table for their children. They care more about their own families than other people's. What kind of messed up system do we have that makes doctors, so-called "care providers", choose between the health and safety of their families and the health and safety of others?

What I want to know is WHO is responsible for the United States maternity care system? Who gave control of it to malpractice insurance companies? You know who you are. . . and listen. Listen to me. You've pissed off one mama too many. There are more mothers in this country than there are of 'you', and you're going down.

I have a sword of knowledge.
I have a shield of courage.
I have armour of compassion.

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What doctors have to say for themselves

from this article

my comments are in blue

• I was told in school to put a patient in a gown when he isn't listening or cooperating. It casts him in a position of subservience.
--Chiropractor, Atlanta

(is this why pregnant moms are put into gowns?)

• The most unsettling thing for a physician is when the patient doesn't trust you or believe you.
--Obstetrician-gynecologist, New York City

(and yet... you continue to lie to your patients...)

• Taking psychiatric drugs affects your insurability. If you take Prozac, it may be harder and more expensive for you to get life insurance, health insurance, or long-term-care insurance.
--Daniel Amen, MD, psychiatrist, Newport Beach, California

(but doctors are VERY anxious to prescribe them, especially postpartum mothers)

• Avoid Friday afternoon surgery. The day after surgery is when most problems happen. If the next day is Saturday, you're flying by yourself without a safety net, because the units are understaffed and ERs are overwhelmed because doctors' offices are closed.
--Heart surgeon, New York City

(so better think twice when you're scheduling your c-section. All the more reason to take a closer look at the catastrophically high section rate in this country!)


• Not a day goes by when I don't think about the potential for being sued. It makes me give patients a lot of unnecessary tests that are potentially harmful, just so I don't miss an injury or problem that comes back to haunt me in the form of a lawsuit.
--ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado

(and THIS, ladies, is why you get so many tests when you're pregnant. NOT because they're necessary and save so many lives.)

• It's pretty common for doctors to talk about their patients and make judgments, particularly about their appearance.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

(WOW! Really makes ya wanna plop your wide butt onto that table and open your legs now, doesn't it?)

• In most branches of medicine, we deal more commonly with old people. So we become much more enthusiastic when a young person comes along. We have more in common with and are more attracted to him or her. Doctors have a limited amount of time, so the younger and more attractive you are, the more likely you are to get more of our time.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

(just in case you wanted another reason to hate growing older!)

• At least a third of what doctors decide is fairly arbitrary.
--Heart surgeon, New York City

("your pelvis is too small, your baby is too big, your baby is too little, you're overdue, you've gained too much weight, you need to be induced, you need a c-section, it's dangerous not to have an iv...)

60% of doctors don't follow hand-washing guidelines.
Source: CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

96% of doctors agree they should report impaired or incompetent colleagues or those who make serious mistakes, but ...

46% of them admit to having turned a blind eye at least once.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

94% of doctors have accepted some kind of freebie from a drug company.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chat with me!

If anyone is interested, I now have an AIM screen name: vbacwarrior.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hubris: A Master Class

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently issued a resolution that clearly shows their intent to legislate women out of home birth. The resolution reads, in part,

"RESOLVED, That our AMA develop model legislation in support of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex, that meets standards jointly outlined by the AAP and ACOG, or in a freestanding birthing center that meets the standards of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, The Joint Commission, or the American Association of Birth Centers.” (Directive to Take Action)"

and can be found here (click on Resolution 205)



Earlier this year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a "Statement on Home Births" that reads, in part,

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reiterates its long-standing opposition to home births. While childbirth is a normal physiologic process that most women experience without problems, monitoring of both the woman and the fetus during labor and delivery in a hospital or accredited birthing center is essential because complications can arise with little or no warning even among women with low-risk pregnancies.
ACOG acknowledges a woman's right to make informed decisions regarding her delivery and to have a choice in choosing her health care provider, but ACOG does not support programs that advocate for, or individuals who provide, home births. Nor does ACOG support the provision of care by midwives who are not certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) or the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). "




I can (theoretically) understand obstetric and other medical organizations not being fully supportive of home birth. Could you imagine the blow to hospital revenue if even 50% of low-risk women chose home birth with a midwife as opposed to hospital birth with an OB?

What is absolutely outrageous to me is the hubris of these organizations! In their statement, ACOG says that they "acknowledge a woman's right to make informed decisions regarding her delivery and to have a choice in choosing her health care provider". Apparently, though, part of our "right to make informed decisions" does *not* include the right to choose home birth with a midwife.


BRAVO, AMA and ACOG for so condescendingly joining "Big Brother" and "Father Knows Best" !


I've heard so many women say, "they'll never do that" or "that will never happen" (passing legislation making home birth illegal). Don't you see, though, that it IS happening? These powerful organizations are joining forces and if they try hard enough, and women continue to sit on their "they'll never do it" duffs, it's GOING to happen.

I don't agree with "hospital birth for the masses", but I believe in the right to choose. Even if you don't think home birth is right for you, don't you agree that each mother should be free to choose for herself?

Two things I would ask that you consider doing are:

1. Contact your representative


2. Write to ACOG Government Relations at
Government Relations Staff
Mailing Address:
PO Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog

This post will be pretty off-topic, but I love my city so I wanted to share this.

Four hundred fifty days before its 450th birthday, Pensacola will begin the celebration.

The public is invited to the kick-off event to "Celebrate Pensacola" at 5 p.m. Friday at the Escambia County Courthouse. The culmination of the celebration will come on Aug. 15, 2009, with a big birthday party.

Don Tristan de Luna and his band of Spanish explorers sloshed ashore somewhere along Pensacola Bay in 1559. Two years later, the settlement was gone, besieged by a hurricane and other problems.


As for my personal part in the festivities and celebration, I have followed this template and written my "where I'm from" poem. Enjoy!

Where I’m From
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I am from a hot sidewalk on tanned bare feet, from Cool Whip and melting grape Popsicles and sounds like Pepsi Cola.

I am from the house with seventeen pine trees and two banana trees, a yard filled with children, a grill that always smells like last night’s barbecue and a cracked concrete patio stained with muddy foot (and paw) prints.


I am from palm trees and orange blossom, azaleas and sand-spurs, seaweed and the gritty ocean breeze, from sand in your hair and in your toes and everywhere in between.


I am from vowells and dabbs, with a Half but no Steps, Granddad’s hidden candy bars, Mary’s back rubs and money, both old and new.


From “wait ‘til your daddy gets home,” Stille Nacht and don’t wake the baby (there was always a baby).

I am from three-to-a-tub, mom’s home at five and the great Blue Birds flyin’ in that hot Florida sky.

I am from faithful church-hopping, endless summertime VBS and always, always Hopkins wax paper-covered, fat-filled absolutely the most delicious Southern fare this side of anywhere.


I’m from Spanish lore and conquistadors, quests for gold, Five Flags and forts of old.


From the time Great Uncle I forget who nearly chopped his foot off cutting wood and had it wrapped in turpentine and rags because there was no hospital and mama and daddy honeymooning on a beach they didn’t know was topless.

I am from the backs of closets, lining the walls. From baskets and under beds and in old backpacks and all those nightgowns mama got for each birth (there were seven). From seven birth certificates, first-day-of-school shoes, three sets of bunk beds, and from knowing five different ways to get anywhere I want to go.


From survives hurricanes and supports troops, from trains pilots and tans visitors. From hopefully not many shark attacks and knowing that horrible secret that takes the yee-ow from a jellyfish sting. From knowing a red light means stop and a red flag means don’t go in the water.


And knowing in my heart that Dorothy Gail had it right, except that maybe there’s no place like home and the people who make it so.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The legacy my mother leaves

I am the oldest of seven children. There are five girls and two boys. The boys are right in the middle: girl, girl, girl, boy, boy, girl, girl. Seven singletons. No twins (and, because we were often asked: no, we’re not Catholic).

My mother had three vaginal births, then a c-section, then three VBACs. Her VBACs were in the late 80s, early 90s.

All seven of my mother’s births were epidural-free hospital births. For her cesarean she had general anesthesia because it was an emergency situation and there was no time for an epidural or spinal.

I am 27 years old and my youngest sibling will be 16 in June.

This is the birth legacy my mother left to her children:

Birth is usually safe.

Judicious use of life-saving medical technology is imperative.

A mother’s pain or discomfort should not trump her child’s well-being.

Babies should be born vaginally if at all possible.

Cesareans should be considered carefully, and should only be performed when the life of the mother or child is in immediate danger.


This is the legacy I hope to leave my children as well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

At da doctor in case your house is on fire

This is my daughter discussing what she has been taught about birth. When asked, she says babies come out of the "fer-gina", but if for some reason the baby can't come out of the vagina, the "doctor cuts a hole" for the baby to come out. She also says that we have our babies at home, unless there is an emergency. In her mind, an "emergency" is your house being on fire. So she says, "you have your baby at da doctor in case your house is on fire"


Monday, May 5, 2008

International Midwives Day

Happy Midwives Day! To celebrate, I am going to show the blogosphere what my midwife did for me.

This is a picture of my son and me leaving the hospital. I'm smiling and laughing because I'm so happy to be leaving the hospital with my gut intact. My midwife did that!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


This is the photo montage of Caleb's birth. What a wonderful gift a midwife is!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On this night

On this night, a dear friend of mine is laboring with her second child. She has carried this baby for just over 44 weeks. She has been patient and loving with this baby. We don't know if baby is a boy or girl.

With her permission, I will post her birth story after it's written.

We love you, V!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

VBACwarrior's birthday

Following is the story of my birth, told by the woman who did it!

April 21, 1981 at 9:00 am I walked into the Conerstone Clinic for women only one day before my due date of April 22, 1981. Dr. Smith came into the room and asked "how are you today?" My reply was "ready to have this baby." I had no idea what I was having but I wanted a girl very much. After examining me he estimated another 2 weeks or so. I thought to myself you are crazy I can't wait another 2 weeks! After all I had gained 30 pounds already. I was not thinning and not dilated at all. I was very upset and went on to work.

I worked for 5 doctors who were also anxious to hear my news. After telling them the news, the
older doctor pulled me aside and told me to jump rope during my breaks and lunch break. I thought it was worth a try! I got off work at 5:00 that evening and went home and fixed dinner, cleaned up a bit around the house(nesting) and ate dinner while watching TV. At about 8:00 I had my first contraction. I believed that this would be like any other night of Braxton Hicks but they kept on coming doing the traditional longer, stronger and closer together. By 9:30 I called my labor coach and best friend who was at work as a labor and delivery nurse in Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. She wanted me to be checked before she went home. I went in carrying my pillows and bag just in case. To my surprise I was 2-3 centimeters and I believe about 50 percent effaced.Wow progress since this morning. They monitored me for a few minutes and decided I was a keeper.

The worst part of the whole labor was the soap sud enema. They actually cleaned me out with soap suds. How humiliating could it get!!! After that, I walked the halls and stopped to breathe during the contractions. By about 4 am I was wearing thin and decided to rest a while in bed. Longer, stronger and closer together they came. The hee hees were becoming harder and harder to do. The music I was listening to irritated the heck out of me! The nurse insisted by 5:30 that I try a little Demerol because they thought maybe they could break my water and make it go a little faster for me. Bam water broke and transition began!!! Oh that nasty Demerol I just wanted this to be over now. When my water was broken there was meconium in the water. It was about 7:45am and they said the lucky number finally... 10!Now you can push and I said NO NO NO I am afraid they said push now or we will have to cut you then I said OK. Three pushes later a beautiful olive complected blonde daughter was born, Rebecca, at 8:17 am weighing 6lbs 6 1/2 oz.






My mom would go on to have six more children. Her fourth child was born via (true) emergency c-section because of a placental abruption. After that, she had three unmedicated hospital VBACs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Birthing Freedom Advocacy Campaign- I need your help!

I am attempting to begin a cesarean awareness campaign via this blog.

I need a "slogan" for the campaign. It's going to be "one if by ___, two if by ___" (a play on the Paul Revere "one if by land, two if by sea" story) and I need ideas as to what to fill in the blanks with. Some ideas already suggested are

cut/push

scalpel/design

above/below

The idea is to have women (and their daughters, friends, mothers, aunts, midwives, etc) from all over the United States (and the world) submit pictures to the blog. Everyone in the pictures should be holding up two fingers (like a "peace" sign). This symbolizes several things:

1. it's the "peace" sign (as in, advocating birthing with gentleness and not violence)

2. It's two fingers, meaning they choose the second choice (two if by____ )

3. It's a "V" for vaginal birth

4. It's a "V" for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)


Also, I'd love to get a birthing freedom version of THIS POEM going. I have stanzas 1 and 13 covered. I just need stanzas 2-12. If you'd like to take a stanza, please send me a messege letting me know which one, and then send it to me when you're done with it (along with the number stanza you "re-wrote") Here's an example of a re-written first stanza:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight birth of sweet baby dear

On the fourth of July, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a woman is now alive

Who remembers that’s how babies get here



Please send me your ideas in the comments section. Thanks for your help, birthin' mamas!!

Birthing Freedom Advocacy Campaign- I need your help!

I am attempting to begin a cesarean awareness campaign via this blog.

I need a "slogan" for the campaign. It's going to be "one if by ___, two if by ___" (a play on the Paul Revere "one if by land, two if by sea" story) and I need ideas as to what to fill in the blanks with. Some ideas already suggested are

cut/push

scalpel/design

above/below

The idea is to have women (and their daughters, friends, mothers, aunts, midwives, etc) from all over the United States (and the world) submit pictures to the blog. Everyone in the pictures should be holding up two fingers (like a "peace" sign). This symbolizes several things:

1. it's the "peace" sign (as in, advocating birthing with gentleness and not violence)

2. It's two fingers, meaning they choose the second choice (two if by____ )

3. It's a "V" for vaginal birth

4. It's a "V" for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)


Also, I'd love to get a birthing freedom version of THIS POEM going. I have stanzas 1 and 13 covered. I just need stanzas 2-12. If you'd like to take a stanza, please send me a messege letting me know which one, and then send it to me when you're done with it (along with the number stanza you "re-wrote") Here's an example of a re-written first stanza:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight birth of sweet baby dear

On the fourth of July, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a woman is now alive

Who remembers that’s how babies get here



Please send me your ideas in the comments section. Thanks for your help, birthin' mamas!!

Stay "tuned" for Tuesday!

Coming Tuesday:

The story of my birth, written by the woman who did it! You'll find it in my journal post on Tuesday (my birthday!)

It was 27 years ago, in the year 1981. I was the first of what would later be seven children for my mother. She was 23 years old. She labored flat on her back while making herself hyperventilate (Lamaze hee-hee-hoo breathing) and try as she might, looking at a picture of a flower didn't make laboring on her back any easier.

Stay "tuned" for the rest of the story on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I don't deal in statistics

I watched the ABC story tonight about Randy Pausch, who is dying of terminal cancer. Something he said really spoke to me when I thought about Cesarean Awareness Month. He said not to tell people how to live their lives. “Tell them stories,” he said. They’ll figure out how your story applies to their lives.

Just tell me your story. Tell an OB your story. Tell another mother your story. Or a nurse. Or your blog readers. Or your colleagues. Tell your daughter.

Leave the statistics, for now, to the scientists. They’ll spin statistics any which way they want to anyway.

A cesarean is more than an unnecessary or a life-saving surgery. It’s more than a mother strapped to a table or seeing your baby over that screen for the first time. It’s more than life or death. It’s more than right or wrong. A cesarean is a story that begins a life, and whether we like it or not, a mother who makes a decision to have a cesarean is choosing what she believes to be the safest birth for her baby.

If we want to reach mothers and really impact positive change, we need to tell our stories. If I tell a mother that statistics show women are less likely to have more children after a cesarean, she’ll just tell me that she had five children and five c-sections and she’s “just fine.” So what you need to say instead is that you had a c-section and experienced secondary infertility, or that you labored with Pitocin, had a ruptured uterus and a hysterectomy and now you can’t have more children. Or simply say you had a cesarean and now you’re scared to do it again, so you don’t have any more children.


There are so many choices to make each time you begin the journey to motherhood. Many of the choices aren’t easy ones to make. I think one of our goals should be to help mothers make these choices out of love, instead of fear. A mother should not be scared into a cesarean by words such as, “your baby is too big”, “your uterus will explode,” or “your baby is overdue”. Our children, and their children, are counting on us to protect normal, healthy birth. Nothing in life is without risks. Even with a cesarean, there are risks. Sometimes a c-section is the only way (placenta previa, for example). Sometimes it is necessary but preventable (induction on due date, epidural, mom immobilized, baby’s heart rate crashes). Sometimes, it’s just plain unnecessary (unreliable 38 week ultrasound says baby is over 8lbs so a section is scheduled for 39 weeks, and baby is born weighing just 7lbs).

Should I need to see an OB for a future pregnancy, I would ask her to hear my stories. I would tell her that I had a c-section and it made me cry. I’d tell her that it hurt my feelings that she and her colleagues talked over my naked body like I wasn’t there. I would tell her that she was a good surgeon and my physical scar healed nicely, but that inside I still hurt. I would tell her that more than anything, what I want from my pregnancy and labor care provider is to be listened to, loved and treated with respect.




Don’t let your voice fade or your story be forgotten.

for more information about cesareans, cesarean awareness, or VBACs please visit ICAN

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In Honor of Cesarean Awareness Month

A terrible injustice was done to my daughter three years ago. She was prematurely, surgically sliced from my abdomen on an unusually warm January night.

I can’t change the fact that she was taken from my womb. That she now faces future problems such as asthma, IBS, and who knows what else! I can’t take that back and I can’t make it right.

But I’m standing up for my daughter now. I will not allow an insurance company, a hospital, a doctor, her majesty AABC, the almighty ACOG, lawyers with tied hands, nay not even the Supreme Court to tell me how, when, why, where or with whom I birth my future babies, or your future babies, or my daughter’s future babies.

These entities work for us, ladies! We hire them. I don’t tell Dr. Knifewielder how to pleasure his wife and I’m not going to let him tell me how I must birth my baby.

To these ends I hereby declare that I, vbacwarrior and United States Birthing Mother, revoke all current and future support of any individual, institution or governing body that does not support mother-baby friendly birth choices and practices.

What does this mean? It means that except in the case of a dire emergency,

I will not go to a hospital with a skyrocketing c-section rate.

I will also not go to a hospital that currently has a vbac ban, defacto or otherwise.

If I require medical attention, I will not seek care from a physician whose c-section rate is higher than 15% (I will drive to another city or out of state, if necessary)

I will not participate in conversations about obstetricians who have cesarean rates higher than 15% unless it is to speak about the dangers of seeing such a physician for normal pregnancy care.

I will see a non-OB affiliated midwife for well-woman care.

I will write to my congressman each month, encouraging him to help pass legislation in favor of mother-baby friendly birth practices and midwifery.

If asked, I will never recommend an OB to a woman with a low-risk pregnancy.

I will write letters-to-the-editor each month (or more often if allowed) about the dangers of the current c-section rate in this country.

I will become a doula and support women in their pregnancies, births and postpartum.

I will raise my daughter to know and appreciate what normal birth is.


I am only one mother, one voice, one pocketbook. Won’t you join me, beginning today, in my quest to hit the Obstetric Machine in the money belt?



For more information on Cesarean Awareness Month, cesarean sections or vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) please visit www.ican-online.org


Monday, March 24, 2008

Why I do not support the March of Dimes

March of Dimes ignores abortion-prematurity link

"We're dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality." from the MOD website

According to www.afterabortion.info

"Latent post-abortion cervical damage may result in subsequent cervical incompetence, premature delivery, and complications of labor."

"Uterine damage may result in complications in later pregnancies "

"Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in later pregnancies" (many mothers with placenta previa have to deliver their babies prematurely)

"Women who had one, two, or more previous induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.66, or 2.03 times more likely to have a subsequent pre-term delivery, compared to women who carry to term."

Women seeking abortions should be given accurate information about all the risks (both immediate and in the future) of abortion.

I also believe that the March of Dimes should get off their hypocritical butts and start INFORMING the public about the link between abortion and prematurity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dear baby sister

This post will contain many Christian references. If that makes you uncomfortable I apologize, but my faith plays a significant part in my birthing philosophy. If my Savior can be born on a dusty floor among smelly livestock, then surely my children can be born in the comfort and safety of our home.

I’ve wanted to write this to you for a year now and just haven’t found the time. Or maybe I had the time and the words just wouldn’t come to me the way I hoped they would. I wanted you to know what an impact your pregnancy and the loss of your son have had on my life.

I’ve heard many times that when a teenage girl loses her baby, it must be “God’s punishment” for her being sexually active outside of marriage. I wholeheartedly disagree. First, “children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:3 KJV). He would never use a child to punish someone. Second, I believe that if any “punishment” is necessary, the trials of raising a child at 15 should serve as punishment enough.

There was an article in ParentLife magazine this month that really spoke to me when I thought about you and your son. The author writes, “He was ready for [him] to join Him in heaven, and He chose you to carry out [his] fate because He knew you’d be strong enough to handle it.” The Lord didn’t give you a son and then take him to punish you. A child is a blessing, whether you’re 15 or 40. I hope you don’t find this selfish on my part, but for me, Izaiah’s life and death helped me on my second pregnancy journey. After having had such a horrifying pregnancy and c-section with Sarah, my faith in God and faith in His creation of birth was severely shaken. Broken. I said I wanted to give birth to my son at home, and the way I was designed to give birth, but in my heart I didn’t really believe that would happen. I didn’t think I could do it and I didn’t think the Lord would help me.

If Izaiah’s death was not to punish you, then what was the purpose? What was the purpose of his short little life? It was no accident that mom wasn’t free to take you do the doctor the day you found out Izaiah had died. It wasn’t an accident that I was a stay-at-home-mom and everyone else in the family either worked or was at school that morning. The Lord purposed for my hand to be the one holding yours when the doctor walked in to tell us. Then to see you laboring that night, and all the next day for a baby who would never see your face, spoke to my soul. The Lord protected you through a terrible day and a half pitocin-induced labor. He gave you grace and peace. Before you got the epidural, and you were feeling your body painfully hug your sweet departed son, you never yelled out to anyone, “just take this dead baby out of me!” No one would have blamed you if you had. Labor can be painful even when the mother knows there is a sweet reward waiting just on the other side. For only sadness and pain to be awaiting you, everyone would have understood.

Then two months later, my son was conceived. A son, just like yours. How could I not have faith after witnessing your trial? Could I honestly say that the Lord protected a 15 year old girl through trying pregnancy and death of her son, but would not protect me as I birthed my son at home after having had a cesarean? I did worry during my pregnancy. I worried that my son would die before I saw his face. But then I would think about you and Izaiah, and I would trust the Lord. I would think about your love for your son, and the Father’s love for you, and I would trust Him.

I pray that I will never truly know your loss, and I pray that the Lord will continually teach you and draw you closer to him through it. I thank the Lord often for Izaiah’s life and death. Izaiah’s death and Caleb’s birth have taken me to a place in my relationship with the Lord that would not have been possible otherwise. I hope, I hope… that this can bring some comfort to you sister.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Between a knife and a lonely place

My husband has gotten a wonderful new job. In most ways, it’s going to be a very good thing for our little family. We will be able to (finally!) be out of debt. Absolutely, 100% out of debt. We’re going to be renting a home instead of buying, so we won’t even have a mortgage debt. I can’t begin to describe how free and liberated and, dare I say, autonomous, that makes this 26 year old mama feel!

And yet, this change is also a sense-of-self-shattering experience. We will be moving from Florida to Georgia. Here in Florida I had a wonderful midwife to attend my planned homebirth, even though it was only my second birth and my first was a c-section. I had absolutely no trouble finding this midwife. She has incredible experience, great compassion, deep dark knowledge of what birth can be and what it sometimes is, and an amazing relationship with a local perinatologist, making hospital transports seamless for the mother. In Georgia, I will have to fight. I will have to earn (if I haven’t already) the warrior in vbacwarrior. I have spoken with several midwives already. Most won’t attend a birth with me because I have a scar on my uterus. The ones I found who attend vbacs (secondary vbacs, only) either won’t attend a birth with me because we’ll live more than an hour from them, or they’re “uncomfortable” with me because I’ve had two SGA babies.

Where does this leave me? It makes me feel very small and insignificant, indeed. Trapped between a knife and a lonely place. I’ve had to ask myself, for the first time: what am I prepared to do to have what my head and my heart both feel is a “safe birth” for my future tiny blessing? Because I must take into consideration my husband’s feelings, UC is not an option. I must have a birth attendant, so whom do I choose? If I could find a CNM in Georgia who would attend a secondary vbac, what good would it do me? She will be under an OB’s thumb, leaving me no better off than having an OB him/herself. Then there’s the hospital. I absolutely refuse to go to a hospital for a normal pregnancy, labor and birth. What other choice do I have though? We’re only moving about four hours from where we are now, so the possibility exists that I may be able to move back down here for a few months. Then I could have my midwife and homebirth too. Even with this option, how will I get my prenatal care? Will a homebirth midwife provide this care for me, knowing that I will be leaving for the actual birth? If I choose a CNM or an OB for prenatal care, will I have to offer up my body to the barrage of tests inflicted upon pregnant women?

Navelgazing Midwife, Kneeling Woman… what say you? What is a woman in my position supposed to do? We are being sliced by OB’s and abandoned by midwives. Can you look me in the face (or in the blog, as it were) and say that you are happily willing to sacrifice me for the “greater good”? What about my baby? Most women today don’t want midwives. WHY do you insist upon “marketing” yourselves to these women, when you have women, mothers like me who are begging, pleading for a midwife? A safe birth. Are you really content transitioning to a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

What happened to “with woman”?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What my first OB did to my daughter

This is Sarah on January 12, 2005. She was born at 37 weeks, 1 day. She weighed 3 lbs, 10oz and was 16 inches long. The OB who performed the surgery was not the OB who let me starve.







Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why are you anthropomorphizing the scar so much?

Susanne (I’d link to her blog here, but I don’t know if she has one) asked me this question

“Wow, Becky. What's the big deal of "So mama can begin life with The Scar"? Why are you anthropomorphizing the scar so much? What's the big deal about having one? What does it stop you from doing, and why does it bear any relevance whatsoever in your life the moment it heals?”

Anthropomorphizing basically means to place human characteristics upon that which is not human. In literature, we call it personification. Until you asked your question, I hadn’t thought about it. After looking back at some of what I’ve written, I think it’s because if I give the Scar a life and character of it’s own, I can detach from it. The Scar is not me; the Scar is the Scar. It’s an ugly scar and I don’t like to think of it as part of my body. My body was “fearfully and wonderfully made” and this Scar surely was not.

What does the Scar stop me from doing? Why does it bear any relevance in my life? Because I have this scar I cannot give birth in a birth center. Because I have this scar, many midwives are legally not allowed to attend my births. Because I have this scar, there is a very large number of hospitals around this country that will not “allow” me to give birth as I was created to. Because of this scar, there is a dwindling number of doctors who would attend my subsequent vaginal births. Because of this scar, I will be forced to drive long distances to find a willing care provider. Because of this scar, I have to hear comments from ignorant strangers and family members, “but aren’t you afraid your uterus will explode?!”

Because of this Scar.

My chicken pox scars don’t prevent me from doing anything. No one worries about my old pimple scars. OBs don’t mind if you have old scars from a broken wrist.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hush little baby

Hush Little Baby
(The American birth experience version)

Hush little baby don’t say a word

Mama’s got the best doctor in the world


And if he says to stay in bed

mama won’t worry her little head


And if he says here take this drug

mama’s gonna trust his lyin’ mug


And when they strap her belly tight

Mama tries to hold still with all her might


And when some food would sure taste nice

Mama has to beg for chips of ice


And if that baby just won’t come

Mama’s just fine, she’s almost numb


And then they’ll wheel her to the OR

So mama can begin life with The Scar


Now mama’s high and gutted good

And baby’s choking down fake nursery food


But it’s okay, baby don’t you fear

The only thing that matters is that you’re here

Friday, February 15, 2008

We are the damaged, but not the broken

Even SHE can see

I posted this picture several weeks ago, but I wanted to revisit it. My daughter was looking at the original drawing last night and began asking questions about it.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She asked why the "happy ladies" (the purple pregnant women) weren't looking at the green lady. She pointed to the green lady at the bottom of the stairs and said "she's happy". Then she pointed to the next green lady and said "she's a little happy". Then she said, "all the other green ladies are sad". I asked her why they were sad. "I don't know". I asked her about the ladies drawn in black. "I don't like them." I asked her why. "They're different. They're not right." Then she pointed to the "black pit" and said, "I don't like that either. I can't see the lady."

My daughter, this sweet 3-year-old little girl who was cut from my womb, asked all the right questions.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleeep

Two years ago, my family suffered a deep loss. On December 28, 2005 my then 15 year old sister was 38 weeks pregnant with her first child, Izaiah. We all had a wonderful Christmas together. I still cherish the photos I have of my then 11 month old daughter sitting on L's very pregnant belly.

The morning of the 28th my mother called to ask me if I could take L to the doctor because she said she hadn't felt Izaiah move in about a day. No one thought it was a big deal... at 38 weeks there's just not a whole lot of room for the baby to move. I left my daughter at home with my husband's mother and took my sister to the doctor.

We had to wait a long time in the waiting room and L began to complain about the wait. I leaned over and said to her, "Well this is good. If they thought something was really wrong with Izaiah they would have taken you back by now". Every time I think of what I said, it makes me ill. Of course I couldn't have known what was about to happen, but I just can't get over it.

So we get back into the exam room and the doctor comes in and does an internal exam. Everything looks good. He pulls out this little rinky-dink ultrasound machine and takes a quick look. Then he sends us across the hall to the "real" ultrasound machine. The technician puts the wand on L's belly and looks at Izaiah. I noticed right away that there wasn't any movement, but I thought maybe she had frozen the frame for a measurement or something. Then she lays the want down, turns the machine off and tells us the doctor will be right in and leaves the room.

That's when I knew that Izaiah was gone. I got up and stood by L and took her hand. I didn't tell her what I knew, and instead we just chatted for awhile about who she thought he would look like and how big we thought he might be. To this day I still wonder if I should have been the one to tell L that Izaiah's little soul had passed. It seemed so utterly cruel to stand there, holding her hand and listening as she made plans for his life, when in my mind I was wondering how to help her grieve his death.

Then the doctor comes into the room and tells us what I already knew. Izaiah was gone. L cradled her belly in her arms and cried, "but we were so close!!" I have many bones to pick with this particular OB (and I'm glad he's no longer practicing), but at that moment I couldn't imagine being in his shoes and having to tell a 15 year old girl that her baby, due in just 2 weeks, had died.

Mercifully, he allowed us to go out the back exit, so L wouldn't have to walk past all those round bellies still glowing with live babies. This didn't save L from the pitying stares of the office staff and nurses who were clearly thinking, "Well, it's for the best. She was too young to have a baby anyway."

On the drive home, L and I discussed what she would like to do. She could go home and wait for labor to begin on its own (while monitoring for signs of infection) or she could go to the hospital and have her labor induced. She decided on induction. We didn't know how long Izaiah had been gone and she wanted him to look as much like "himself" as possible when he was born, and (understandably) she just wanted to get the inevitable over with.

It was a tough labor. She was in immense pain and it was terrible to watch a young mother suffer so much for a baby who had already passed. I couldn't imagine carrying something dead in my body, but as we would learn later that evening, L didn't consider Izaiah to be dead. She held hope in her heart that he was alive. She refused an epidural until the pain was so bad she didn't have it in her to say no. When I think about it now, I'm sure she relished the physical pain as the only way to dull her emotional pain. At just 4cm, she began to have contractions one right on top of another, and had to cope for about an hour of that before she was able to get an epidural.

Izaiah was born at 10:27 p.m. (the same time my daughter was). She actually had a cord prolapse, but it wasn't such an emergency since there wasn't a live baby. The doctor placed Izaiah's precious, lifeless body on L's chest, she cradled him close to her chest, leaned her head back and wailed. I've never heard a sound like that and I imagine it's the sound only a grieving mother can make for her lost child. I pray that a similar sound never moves past my lips, but if I could have reversed her situation with mine I would have.

He was 8lbs. Even though she suffered HG like I did, even though she was just 15 (14 when she conceived)... she took good care of him and he was a big, healthy looking boy. She was gracious enough to allow each of her sisters to hold her son. He was so soft and limp. And handsome.

The photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep took so many beautiful pictures for L. She was a blessing to our family.


In the days following there were many (well-meaning) people who tried to tell L that it was "for the best." But she was still a mother who lost her child and I know that given the choice she'd rather be a struggling teen mother than a mother of a stillborn baby.


We don't know why Izaiah died. L declined an autopsy. It's just as well though. Would knowing why he died bring him back?

And then, just 8 weeks later... my son was conceived. Though L never said anything to me about it, sometimes I sensed that she felt the Lord had taken her son away from her and given him to me. I felt that way sometimes, too.

If you have a strong heart, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to see pictures of L and Izaiah.









L and my daughter, just two days before Izaiah died













This photo needs no words

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Et tu, Brute?

If you don’t believe that “normal birth” and birth options in this country are at risk, watch this:

1. In 2006, the cesarean rate in the United States was 31.1%. That is approximately 1 in 3 babies being surgically removed from their mothers' bodies.

2. So, now we have hundreds of thousands of childbearing women with scars on their uteri. What are their choices for subsequent births?

3. (a) hospital repeat cesarean
(b) hospital vbac
(c) home vbac (with midwife)
(d) birth center vbac (with midwife)
(e) UC (unassisted childbirth, though I’m including in this category births attended at home by unlicensed or “illegal” midwives)

5. Looking at the list, it would seem that there are many birth options in the United States for women with a previous cesarean surgery. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a statement this month that condemns home birth as a safe and viable option for any childbearing mother, let alone mothers with a history of cesarean surgery. So, this is going to lead to an increase in obstetricians who are unwilling to provide back-up services to homebirth midwives. In many states, a homebirth midwife cannot accept a vbac client unless she has a back-up obstetrician. We can scratch (c) off the list.

6. Also this month, the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) released a statement saying that because of the minute risks involved in vbac, they can no longer support vbacs being attended in birth centers. We can scratch (d) off the list.

7. All across this country, hospitals are “banning” vbacs and obstetricians are refusing to attend vbacs. As this trend gains popularity (meaning: if women don’t fight against it), there will eventually be no hospital or obstetrician in this country who supports vbac. We can scratch (b) off the list.

8. Now, mothers with cesarean scars have two choices: undergo a repeat cesarean surgery at a hospital or have an unattended birth at home. Cesarean surgery presents the mother with many of the same risks as vaginal childbirth and compounds those risks with the added risks of major abdominal surgery.

I do not mean here to portray UC as a dangerous or reckless choice for the childbearing woman. To the contrary, it can be a safe, fulfilling and joyous experience for a woman who chooses UC. However, if a mother is stripped of all her other rights and choices and is forced into a UC (or otherwise face unnecessary surgery), this is not the mother’s choice. Just because UC may not be “right” for a woman doesn’t mean that another cesarean is right for her.



So, it would seem as if we don’t have as many options as we think we do.
What are you going to do about it?

Friday, February 8, 2008

ACOG's "strategic plan"

From ACOG’s “strategic plan”

http://www.acog.org/from_home/ACOGStrategicPlan.pdf

ACOG will advocate for women’s health by promoting:

• Patient safety and confidentiality initiatives, including integration of IM/IT

‘Patient safety’? Really? So you’re promoting major abdominal surgery as a means to ‘patient safety’?

• Access to medical care

As long as the patient agrees to the type/kind/duration of medical care you push on her though, right?

• Women’s reproductive rights

Except the right to choose type of care provider (midwife, OB, self), place of birth (home, birth center, hospital) or method of birth (vaginal or vbac… of course we are always free to choose a c-section for any ol’ reason).

• Equity, nondiscrimination and cultural sensitivity

Is that why the cesarean rate in minority communities is growing at such a rapid rate?

• Partnerships and alliances with women, women’s groups, and others interested in women’s health

Midwives are “women’s groups” and I am a woman and an “other” interested in women’s health. Yet instead of partnering with us you mock us and call us fools for seeking the kind of care we feel is safe and appropriate for our needs and our families.

• Advocacy education and training

Exactly what does this “education and training” consist of? Do you offer classes and pamphlets on “How to Bully a Patient into a Cesarean” and “Top 5 most proven ways to make a mother feel that she’s going to kill her baby”?

• Research, research funding, and evidence-based practice

First of all, you skew the findings in your “research” and second, if you truly practiced “evidence-based” care the cesarean rate in this country would not be over 30%.

• Patient and public education

Education? I think the word you’re looking for is “indoctrination”. Or perhaps brainwashing.

• Public health and global outreach

Oh, no! We need to save the world from ACOG’s “global outreach”. If we don’t, they’ll be slicing women from here to Timbuktu!