Why “I don’t care” hurts

My sister-in-law’s birth experience came up in discussion this week when we were home visiting.  We knew at the time of her cesarean that the baby was likely premature – even at 41+ weeks – because of the thick coating of vernix on her when she was extracted from my SIL’s body and based on her mother’s gestational pattern.  Her OB of course recommends repeat cesarean for future childbirth.  Perhaps some of the reasoning is valid, but personally, I think she’s being misinformed and discriminated against.

My husband asked her if she was interested in a VBAC or would go with the OB’s recommendation, and she said “I don’t care.”  She doesn’t care?  How can that be?  How can she say that in front of me knowing damned well that I DO CARE!

Because I do care!

Telling a woman like me that you don’t care is offensive.  I do care.  I care that my baby likely was unnecessarily removed via major abdominal surgery.  I care that the physical and emotional effects of this surgery may not be seen in and by my daughter until later in life.  I have just this year (at age 34) begun to learn about and remedy some of the ill effects of my own cesarean birth.  I also care that my brother’s wife was subject to interventions that lead to cesarean birth.  I really care that she was subjected to a surgery that could have prematurely ended her own life.  Stories of maternal death during or shortly following cesarean surgery are working their way into the mainstream media.

We know that this is not the best way for babies to be born unless it is an emergency situation.  We know that babies who are born via cesarean section risk breathing issues, spinal issues, being accidentally cut, being seperated at birth from his/her mother, needing NICU support, as well as emotional and chemical problems in the future.

Because of what “I don’t care” implies

She said she doesn’t care to my husband and me knowing full well that we do care.  She knows about my work with ICAN.  By saying “I don’t care”, she made me feel like she doesn’t believe in the work I am doing or honor my birth philosophy.  Instead of saying “I don’t care” so bluntly, she could have said something much more tactful.  Try “I’m not sure which path I will take, but given my reproductive health history I will likely do as my doctor recommends and schedule a repeat section.”

My whole being in invested in two very important personal issues: (1) cesarean awareness and advocacy through ICAN; (2) miscarriage – cause, prevention, “treatment”.  By saying “I don’t care”, I am left feeling like she doesn’t care about me.  (Now, I recognize this as a bit extreme.  I know she does care about me, but she didn’t care to think about how this statement would hurt me.  This happened days ago and I still hurt.)

Because of who says it

I’d imagine that you or I are more likely to hear something along these lines from someone we care about – a close friend or family member.  This makes it all the more painful.  If some idiot woman I don’t know or like said this to me, it would roll right off.  But the horrible things our family members and friends say to us are really tough to forgive and forget.  I know that I must forgive and forget, and that’s partially why I am writing this post. 

Because she should care

I recognize that I have no power over another person’s decision to care about health care decisions made for them.  However, does that mean that I back off and let a family member be led to medical decisions that could adversely affect her family?  This is tricky for sure.  I have no desire to badger her and don’t want to negatively impact my relationship with her and my brother, but it is really hard to stay silent when your family chooses to stick its head in the sand.  They’d just rather I stick my head in there with them than have to endure one of my “rants”, as I am sure they see it.

I don’t want to negate anyone’s birth experience.  I don’t want to tell another woman how she should plan childbirth.  However, I believe it is my Calling to advocate, support, and educate women (and their families) with regard to safe and ethical health care decisions specific to prenatal, childbirth, and postnatal care.

What is so offensive about that?  Why should my caring be taken so poorly or treated as trivial?

‘Tis the Season to be Reminded Why My Family Drives Me Nuts . . .
Fa la la la la!

Homebirth Christmas Style in a Barn

Clip clop, clip clop, clip clop sound the donkey’s hooves.  Mary & Joseph and the baby in her womb are on a long journey.

“Joseph, would you please stop for a moment.”

“What’s going on, Mary?”

“Uhh . . . ohhh . . . . .

Ow!”

“Joseph, I think this baby wants out.  I’m in labor, dear.”

“Criminy, Mary!  We’re in the middle of nowhere.  Let’s try to make it to Bethlehem at the very least.”

Mary focuses on her deep breathing and uses the rhythmic motion of the donkey’s stride to her advantage as she labors.  She notices that the sky is a deep blue color and the stars are out.  The evening is quiet and warm.  Her trusty steed plods along patiently.  Her steadfast husband who guides the donkey looks back often to check on his laboring bride.

“You hangin’ in there, Mary?”

“Uh huh.  OOOOWWWWW!” she groans.

“We’ll be there soon.  Look, I can see the outline of town ahead on the horizon.”

Soon they arrive in Bethlehem.  It is quite late, and it is clear that their entrance into town was an imposition.  They request lodging and are turned away several times.  Finally, they are at least offered a spot in the barn.  Mary & Joseph are weary and happy to have any shelter in which to rest.  Mary is able to rest between her contractions, and even Joseph catches a bit of shut eye.  They are lulled by the sounds of cows, horses, and chickens in the stable.

“Joseph.  JOSEPH!  I think it’s nearly time!!”  Mary cries out.  Joseph is startled awake.  He rubs his face and gets ready for the birth of his child. 

He encourages her.  “Mary, I am seeing his dark hair.”  And soon there after he exclaims, “You almost have him out!”  Joseph is so proud of Mary.  He can hardly fathom how she instinctually knows what to do. 

“Can I do anything for you, Mary?”

“Please hold my hair off of my neck and out of my face.”

“Ah much better, dear.  Thank you!”

Mary continues to push with Joseph assisting in any way he can.  After what seemed like an eternity (but was more likely two or so hours), Mary birthed a son.

Mary & Joseph’s son was to be called Jesus.  He is the Son of God.  Shepherds and wise men alike knew of his birth and were guided to his birthplace by the brightest star in the sky.  They brought him gifts and honored his parents, especially Mary who was brave and faithful enough to endure the physical and social burden of carrying this particular precious child.

“Behold!  A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. 
And shall call his name Immanuel.  God with Us.”

Thankful for this ICAN video

Last week a fellow ICAN leader posted a video of numerous women who had been previously diagnosed with CPD (cephalo-pelvic disproportion).  CPD is a fancy way for a care provider to say that your baby was too big for your pelvis or that your pelvis was too small to birth your baby vaginally.  Most of the time, that’s simply NOT TRUE.  True CPD is quite rare, actually, and usually results from a deformation or injury.

Resources 

And here is how ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) “explodes” the diagnosis of CPD that so many women receive.

  

Click here to subscribe to ICANvoices.  I’m sure there will be more videos added regularly!  If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, I highly recommend you subscribe.

Forced Motherhood

What in the world do I mean by “forced motherhood”.  This isn’t something I gave much thought to until more recently.  It’s been nearly three years since my cesarean, and yet I find new ways to process that experience.  I simply mean that motherhood doesn’t always come naturally to women who have undergone cesarean surgery.  Some days we have to force ourselves to trudge onward.

I was able to force myself to mother my son when my mind kept telling me he wasn’t really mine. On a very animal level, I felt no connection.

The quote above (used with permission) from a real live mother friend of mine, and it’s quite a profound statement in my opinion.  I’ve questioned my own disconnect from my daughter and still feel like I’m missing an important link to her somehow.  On days like today, this really breaks my heart

I was told that I would crave my baby after she was born.  I didn’t have that strong “mothering instinct” after my cesarean, and I felt like my baby girl was a foreigner.  Huh.  Wow, I feel like crying just for even writing this.  Oh God, how horrible and tragic is that.

I had a quick and easy physical recovery from the cesarean . . . not the norm, I know.  I still felt like I had done the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER by having a child and caring for her.  But it didn’t feel natural.  I wasn’t viscerally connected to her when she came to exist outside of my body.

I was able to send her to the hospital nursery with only a bit of guilt (more because I felt like I was supposed to feel guilty not because it was too hard to be separated from her).  She took well to breastfeeding, no problem.  On the other hand, I didn’t have trouble letting her feed from a bottle either.  I didn’t feel weird about leaving her with her dad or grandparents or trusted friends.  Even now, nearly 3 years later, I can travel for a few days without my husband and my daughter and enjoy myself.  Am I that cold stone bitch?  Am I an animal who rejects her young?  Maybe.  I don’t think so.  But many nights after my husband & I get home and get her from daycare we just can’t WAIT for her to go to bed.  We only get to be with her for 2 or 3 hours a day during the week, and all I want to do sometimes is put her to bed.  Am I that stone cold bitch?  Am I that animal who has rejected her young?  Yes, I feel incredibly selfish and I hate it.  So then I have to ask . . . am I damaged and is my relationship with my daughter damaged from “cesarean  disconnect”???

And how am I going to feel if I fail to VBAC in the future?  How will I forgive myself if I fail at a hospital VBAC?  Will I beat myself up and especially my husband for not going the HBAC route?  If I choose a HBAC and have to transfer or have an emergency, will I be able to forgive myself for failing?  I won’t have a hospital or medical care provider to blame . . .  only myself.  If I die or if my baby dies, will my husband forgive me and how will we/he move on???

Oh, today is a sad day, a low day in my motherhood journey.

Movies address concerns over hospital birth

In a recent post I mentioned Ricki Lake’s movie, The Business of Being Born, which will be hitting select theaters across the country this Fall.  I was pleased to hear back from the film’s managing group, so I am currently looking into scheduling a viewing of this movie in Missoula.  The Wilma would be a great location for such a film, but since the theater is in the middle of being sold . . . it might not be a possibility.

I just found out about another movie on this topic, Pregnant in America by Steve Buonaugurio.  I don’t think WordPress allows embedded code, but please click here to view the movie trailer!  Here is a bit of information from the “about” page:

Pregnant in America examines the betrayal of humanity’s greatest gift–birth–by the greed of U.S. corporations. Hospitals, insurance companies and other members of the healthcare industry have all pushed aside the best care of our infants and mothers to play the power game of raking in huge profits.

His wife pregnant, first-time filmmaker Steve Buonaugurio set out to create a film that will expose the underside of the U.S. childbirth industry and help end its neglectful exploitation of pregnancy and birth with help from producers Betsy Chasse and Straw Weisman.

One of the people interviewed in the movie claims that 66% of all hospital revenue is from childbirth!  So you can see why hospitals are interested in making sure that women come to the hospital for birth and that they are willing to pay for equipment, drugs, procedures, and surgeries that take place in hospitals.  And hopefully, then, you can see why doctors and hospitals have an interest in keeping birth away from midwives, especially “lay” midwives.

It doesn’t look like they are ready to say WHEN and WHERE this movie will be released.  That’s terribly frustrating!  But do keep your eyes peeled for it!

Previously Denied (and FIRED) Woman Has Successful VBAC!

On August 14 I became aware that a woman in Maryland was dropped by her OB at 8 months pregnant.  She was abandoned by the practice (Simmonds and Simmonds in
Frederick) because she challenged protocols that do not necessarily improve the outcomes for women and children in childbirth.  You can read the news story here.

Good news came today via Barbara Stratton, Baltimore’s ICAN Chapter Leader.  The family decided to have their baby at Holy Cross Hospital (DC area), and their daughter was born via VBAC.  The attending staff doula, Marialuz Castro-Johnson, received special recognition for her part in helping the family with their goal of avoiding another cesarean birth.

We live in a culture of fear that resides closer to home than most people realize.  Women’s health care has been hijacked and abused for nonsensical purposes.  In this case, a woman with a reasonable and prudent desire (to avoid an unnecessary repeat cesarean) was dropped by her provider for “unreasonable demands”.  The idea is that if you threaten a woman late in pregnancy when emotions are high, that she’ll inevitably succumb to pressure and do what she’s told to do.  It might be her body and her baby growing inside, but she has no right to demand anything with regard to how the baby will exit her body.  (Plus what does it matter as long as the baby – and mother – are healthy.  Does it really matter if it’s a vaginal birth or a cesarean?  Bet your a$$ it does.)

I hope there will be many more stories about courageous women who demand humane care.  I applaud this family for their courage and perseverance.  Late pregnancy is a stressful enough time without the added aggravation from people who should be there to help you and advocate for your needs.  But it’s often not that way.  We the consumers are at the bottom of the healthcare foodchain.  Our desires are brushed aside, ignored, and overlooked.  And we foot the bill.  We spend more money than just about anyone for health care, and yet our outcomes (at least with regard to childbirth) are not better. 

And then what about the LAW?  The Your4State article states: “According to an opinion issued in July by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, a doctor cannot force a woman to have a c-section against her will unless the baby’s health is in jeopardy, and ultimately the decision lies in the hands of the patient.”  I encourage us all to find out what the law says in our home state.  The VBAC path is not always easy, and we must all arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible.

Congrats to the Ecker family and thank you for sharing your story.  Yours will give many women hope!