Thursday, January 24, 2008

It doesn't matter how we die?

+bradycardia +neonatal

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scarring on womb after c section

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what are we doing? The above phrases are search terms people were Googling when they found my blog.

Why does it matter how a baby is born? Shouldn’t the only thing that matters be that the mother and the baby are healthy? Shouldn’t we ‘just be grateful’? If it doesn’t matter how we’re born then I’ll argue that it doesn’t matter how we die.

There’s peaceful death and traumatic death. There’s death that’s peaceful for the dying and traumatic for those left behind. There’s death that no one saw coming and death that is long drawn out.

But isn’t death just…death? Why should it matter how someone dies just so long as they die? If it doesn’t matter how we die then why don’t we just stick the dying in a wood box and get it over with? We could shove them in. We could stick a needle in their heads and monitor them so we’d know when they were dead. With our great technological advances there are many things we can now offer to help them along. They’re not qualified to die on their own, something might go wrong. They need intervention. They should always be alone when they die, too. We can’t have too many people crowding the room. Besides, they’re just dying. They don’t know who’s in the room and who’s not. Oh, and by “room” I mean hospital room, not nice comfortable room at home. Because it would be much too dangerous to die at home. No. That wouldn’t do at all. Best to leave birth and death to the professionals.

Oh. That struck a nerve didn’t it? Because it does matter how we die. As a society we strive to give the dying the most love, the most compassionate care. We grieve for those who had especially traumatic deaths. We support and love those who lost loved ones. Why does a sick preschooler deserve more compassion than a baby being born? Why is a critical stroke patient loved more gently? Why does a great-grandmother get to have generations surround her bedside in her last moments, but a newborn doesn’t get siblings to welcome his first moments?


Doulala said...

I like the way you think. Very powerful!

Anonymous said...

Exactly! It *does* make a difference, and I'm so glad you used this analogy so that more people can understand it. Thank you!

Sheridan said...

This is SO true. Of course it matters!

Aidan's mom said...

I am not saying it doesn't matter. I guess my perspective is just different on this. I really *am* grateful that my son is here. I don't mourn the loss of the birth experience I wanted any more. As I have gone through counseling about my near death and my premature son's near death during delivery, I have come to peace. I didn't get the birth I wanted but I got the baby I wanted. Without the birth I "didn't want" the baby I desperately wanted and love would not be here. He would likely have been born stillborn if I had even made it through the delivery.

I realize I am an unusual case. Not everybody has a clotting disorder, suffers HELLP syndrome, and must deliver her 1.5lb baby at 28 weeks. But it did happen. And he survived. I survived.

I am not trying to minimize anybody's grief. Just trying to give you another perspective.


chris said...

I am very sorry you had such a traumatic experience. I am a labor nurse and worry that woman are being traumatized by birth. What suggestions to make it better do you have?

Jill said...

Ouch, good analogy there. I'm fond of painfully true metaphors. ;)

Anonymous said...

Having experienced both the birth and the death of my darling daughter in a hospital, I can say that the experiences were basically the same. We were allowed only a certain time period with my daughter (who died of sudden cardiac death) after she was pronounced dead because hey, they needed to get her body down to the morgue for an autopsy. The doc was waiting for it, and it had already been an hour since she died. As birth is the first time that you see and hold your child, this was my last time, and even then someone else assumed their time was more valuable then mine.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I've always wanted to say, but hadn't.
After I experienced the beautiful, loving, hospice (not hospital) death of my grandmother, I began to understand how important the dignity of death is. This was way before I had babies. And yet, even then, I also understood the delicate link and connectedness of birth and death and that both deserve love, respect, time, patience, caring...
In fact, my grandmother's death felt much like waiting for a baby to be born. So powerful.
I feel that, if possible, we should all be so lucky to be born at home and die at home.
Thank you for sharing this, warriormama.