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.
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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”

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!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What do I think about ACOG's homebirth statement?

" Shoo fly, don't bother me! "

ICAN's response to ACOG and AABC

*For Immediate Release *


*ICAN's Response to ACOG AND AABC Statements on VBAC and Homebirth*

*Redondo Beach, CA, February 7, 2008:* The International Cesarean Awareness
Network (**) would like to publicly condemn both the AABC
and the ACOG for their statements* this week that limit not only women's
choices in birth but imply that birth is a fashion rather than a safety

Since VBAC is the biological normal outcome of a pregnancy after cesarean,
ICAN encourages women to get all of the facts about vaginal birth and
elective cesarean before making a choice. This decision should not include
weighing the choices of your doctor's malpractice payments but only be a
concern of the mother and her support system.

Since some mothers will make the choice to give birth outside of the
hospital, we encourage the AABC to not cave into ACOG's demands that all
women give birth in a hospital facility with a surgical specialist, but
instead allow women to make their own choices about care providers, birth
settings and risk factors. ICAN respects the intelligence of modern women
and accepts that the amount of information available about VBAC and elective
cesarean should serve as informed consent.

ICAN further encourages the governments of individual states to look closely
at their cesarean rates (31.1% national cesarean rate as of 2006) and the
informed consent laws that apply and help women to reach a standard of care
that lowers the risks of major surgery and the risks of elective or coerced
induction without medical indication. Women and children should not bear the
brunt of malpractice risks being conveyed into physical, mental, emotional
and spiritual health risks in order to protect their physicians.

*Mission statement: ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to
improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through
education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal
birth after cesarean. There are more than 94 ICAN Chapters across North
America, which hold educational and support meetings for people interested
in cesarean prevention and recovery.*

* AABC statement: *

ACOG statement: **

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm a Formula 409 Woman

Has anybody ever wondered about this?

So for years in our country there has been an assault on breastfeeding practices. People think it’s “disgusting” to do in public, it isn’t encouraged in hospitals and the result has been that very few babies are breastfed past six weeks of age, if at all.

Also, birth has been moved from the woman-centered care of homebirth and midwives to the male-centered “business” of hospitals. This has led to a decrease in vaginal birth and a huge increase in abdominal surgical birth.

Then, we have several different birth control pills that “allow” women to have only a few to absolutely no periods.

So, since we aren’t using our breasts for feeding our babies, or our vaginas for menstruation or birth… what are we supposed to do with them?

OH! That’s right… our bodies are to now only serve the sexual desires of men.

My body serves more than one function and if (the collective) you don’t like it then you can buy a blow-up vagina.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Don't you want a doctor?

This was not written by me. I wish I could claim it. My heart claims it though.

This essay was written by Marcela Valle and was posted to the ICAN yahoo group 5/19/07. It was written after she'd had a conversation in which she explained why she was choosing a midwife for her second birth.
It is reprinted here with her permission

Don't you want a doctor?...

It is a question I have been asked, "Don't you want someone who can handle *anything*?" When I heard this question, so many feelings boiled inside me so fast that my answer constituted: "No, because I don't want someone waiting for the slightest opportunity to cut me open again." And, while that holds true, there's so much more than that and it deserves to be put into words…

I don't want a doctor because I believe in my ability to birth. I believe that Mother Nature/Creation/ God(s)-or whomever you revere- have given us the ability and the opportunity to birth, and to go through that passage for a reason. Over the years in North American culture, we have lost sight of such experience and its purpose. It has been said before, that "A child is born, and so is a mother."

I don't want a doctor because they are experts in many things, but not normal birth.

I don't want a doctor because I want a birth attendant who believes in me. An attendant who will empower me, and support me, and tell me to get it together and birth this baby. I choose someone who will encourage me to be educated and make decisions with me, not for me.

I don't want a doctor because I am not making decisions based on fear. I make decisions based on research, and logic and, all the while, I also follow my heart.

I don't want a doctor because, despite widely held beliefs, birth in a hospital is not as safe as birth outside a hospital. Birth with a midwife, at home, is a rational choice.

I do not want a doctor because I am more than a paycheck, a liability, or a 'difficult' patient.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to wait an hour in a waiting room to be seen for 5 minutes and by someone who needs to look at my chart to know my name. Instead, I want to be welcomed with a hug, offered water, a snack, and have an hour talking about my pregnancy, my feelings, and my birth plans.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to feel scared about being an inconvenience, or have questions, take too much time, be too "needy" or have too many expectations.

I don't want a doctor because I want to be regarded as a healthy birthing mother. I am not sick, I am not a patient. I am full with life.

I don't want a doctor because birth is NOT an emergency waiting to happen, it is NOT dangerous. A doctor makes you believe birth is unsafe and you need them. After all, they would not have a job otherwise. A midwife trusts the process and allows it to take its course without fitting it into a box or random standards.

I don't want a doctor because I want someone who can handle things without a knife and someone who knows how to help me get the baby into a better position and over a pubic bone, and whatever else, without slicing me open or using torture devices.

I don't want a doctor because my body works. And it works best if not surrounded by strangers poking, probing and interrupting my concentration.

I don't want a doctor because I know I WILL go into labor, my hips are NOT small, they're the perfect size. My baby is NOT too big, my body CAN dilate, I am NOT a failure to progress…I DO NOT need to be saved. By not having a doctor, I AM saving myself.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want him, or a calendar, or a clock to tell me when I HAVE to birth and how fast I need to dilate. My body knows it, my baby knows it. We'll do it when it's time for the baby to be born, and time for me to birth my child.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be offered an induction (or be cut open) because it's close to Christmas, Mother's Day, or Labor Day. I won't be hurried because there's a golf game, a cruise, or a date to be made, or it's just inconvenient for me to wake them up at night or to take too long.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be imprisoned in a bed "just in case" and I don't want to have to stay still so a machine can work properly and the nurse doesn't have time to come into my room.

I don't want a doctor because I do not need to ask for permission to use the rest room, move around, eat, or have an opinion. Nor, do I need scare tactics and a "dead baby" card when I opt out of a procedure done only to cover the doctor's legal butt.

I do not want a doctor because I appreciate being talked to respectfully, and acknowledged, and being taken into account. I DO WANT TO KNOW, AND I WILL worry my little head about it, after all, it is my birth, my child, and my responsibility to do so.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want an electronic monitor to tell someone how I'm doing or whether I am in pain or not, or if my baby hugs are adequate enough.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want someone to "manage" my birth, and "solve" things by using interventions, which may lead to more interventions, which would be solved with even more interventions

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be silent. I will groan, and moan, and sing if I want to, and my midwife may sing with me.

I don't want a doctor because* I *will birth my baby. My midwife will be present at my birth but nothing (besides food) will be *delivered*.

I do not want a doctor because I am not birthing on my back, or holding my breath or counting to 10.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want my child to be poked and prodded before we have a chance to hold each other. I want my baby to hear my voice first.

I don't want a doctor because I cannot bear another cut into my uterus and my heart, nor can I bear to watch another baby of mine born into blinding bright lights, deep suctioning, IV's and antibiotics.

I don't want a doctor because I have all it takes: wisdom, strength, courage, faith and a vagina.

I'm here

I'm here, just busy. Currently I'm working on a guest blog post for Nicole at Bellies and Babies

I would like to share with you a quote from War of the Worlds (watched it on tv last night!)

A child is talking with her father about a painful splinter in her hand. The father insists it must be removed right away lest it become infected. The child says, "no, when it's ready my body will push it out".

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Saw this in my local paper today:

Saturday, March 1st
[My City's] Largest Baby Shower
Local Junior College
For new and expecting parents
Lots of INFO and FREE STUFF!

So, I need ideas. What can I do? It's too late to apply for an actual booth to set up.

I do have two ideas, but I need more!

1. I have these little cards that are business card size. I got them from a local baby item store. I'm planning to litter the bathroom sink counters with them, place them on all the cozy couches that pregnant moms are sure to sit on, and put one on booth tables when I can.
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2. Wear a pro-homebirth t-shirt. I actually don't own one yet, so ideas on where to find a nice, affordable one would be wonderful!

So. . . what else can I do?