The Beginning of the End of the Beginning

I am sad (and relieved) to announce that ICAN of Greater Missoula is officially closed.  I really don’t understand why it wasn’t sustainable in this community.  Here are a couple of thoughts . . .

1.  The homebirthers and homebirth midwives are doing their part for sure, but unless you know someone personally who has birthed at home or who has used a midwife or is a midwife, you just won’t know much about how that works here in the greater Missoula area.

2.  The traditional birth culture prescribed by the medical community does not want to change.  Sure they built a “birth center” at the hospital, but all that really means is that women now have private bathrooms, tubs (I wonder if women are even allowed to use them?), and nicer accommodations.  I don’t think anything has fundamentally changed to make birthing healthier for women and babies at our hospital.  If I’m wrong, I’m happy to update this post at any time.  Our docs participate in a town-wide on call group.  What this means is that if you don’t birth your baby during office hours or during your doctor’s on call duty, you’re not likely to have your doctor help you birth your baby.  There are a few doctors that this does not apply to, and the key is to be with one of them.  Our medical community “killed” the birth center established by Dr. Montgomery, but kudos to Jeanne Hebl, CNM for establishing a successful homey birth center after Dr. Montgomery’s untimely death.  By November 15, 2011 Hebl’s birth center had assisted with 100 births.

3.  Women (families) in this town don’t know that they are “allowed” to have an opinion about birth much less how to have the birth experience that best suits their needs and wishes.  This is where I feel like I failed.  For example, when I was planning my HBA2C I ran into an acquaintance whose wife was getting ready for her 3rd cesarean.  They were told they weren’t allowed to do a VBA2C in Missoula.  I didn’t birth my baby at home, much to my surprise and chagrin, but I did have a most unlikely and uncommon VBA2C at the local hospital with a very good OB who did his best to scare the shit out of me during my appointments.  However, when push came to shove (literally) – HE WAS THERE.

Support for women and families in this community will always be there.  I hope families continue to seek out the best birth experiences that fit their needs and their dreams.  I will continue to offer support when and where I can.  And VBAC/CBAC support in Missoula does have a Facebook presence.  Click here to reach our page.

Here’s a recent picture of my amazing VBA2C baby:

My precious VBA2C baby at age 23 months

Warning: FDA May Inspect and Destroy Your Bathtub!

I find it interesting, perplexing, ridiculous, and absurd that the FDA seized a shipment of birth tubs from a Portland, OR dock, claiming that they’ve been ordered to “inspect and destroy” them.  According to Barbara Harper, the founder of Waterbirth International, “They claim they are unregistered medical equipment, but they are not providing a way or means to get them registered. In other words, if the medical authorities can’t stop waterbirth, then just have the FDA take away the birth pools.” [emphasis mine]

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What’s more, the FDA believes this to be their jurisdiction because childbirth is . . . an . . . ILLNESS.  Yes, that’s right . . . I’m ill; ill with child.  VERY ill with child actually.  So ILL with child, that I might just any day now crawl into my bathtub for relief, medical relief of course, from my nearly 10 month ILLNESS.  Harper was told: “Pregnancy is an illness and birth is a medical event. Therefore, a pool that a woman gives birth in should be classified as medical equipment.”  Now, I will say that the FDA isn’t the only institution that believes pregnancy and birth to be an illness, but that’s another story for another day.

So, when I say that the FDA may want to come into your home and inspect your bathtub, hot tub, pool, pond, toilet, sink, whatever . . . hopefully you can see that I’m not really that far off the mark for these are all things water containers that women may use to facilitate childbirth.

More info can be found on this blog as well as Barbara Harper’s Facebook notes.  Please spread the news and watch for news of a petition that Harper may be starting on Change.org.

Today’s Notable Reads

Today is a banner day on my Facebook news feed.  Here are some things that piqued my interest.

  • Owen Wilson and his girlfriend welcomed their baby into the world at home!  I’m not providing a link – I figure you can go to your favorite celeb site if you’re curious.  ;)
  • Did you know that nearly 100% of us parents use car seats incorrectly.  Here’s a 5-minute video featuring “The Car Seat Lady.”
  • I haven’t read this yet, but check out this New Yorker article regarding the decline effect and the scientific method.
  • Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny is a great blog.  I first read Risk, homebirth, VBAC and am now on to her take on a BBC News article about “womb tearing.”  Next, I think I’ll read Blaming Women, because HELLO it happens all the stinkin’ time.
  • I’m also curious to read a new-to-me blog today, particularly the article on “No, Actually, You Did Not Turn Out Ok.”  We’ll see – I’m a fairly mainstream mama, so I don’t know how I’ll respond knowing that this is one of the blogger’s perspectives: “Where I Post . . . And Kick Your Lily White Arse For Making Your Baby Cry-It-Out.”  We ended up doing CIO with our oldest.  Is she ok – not completely.  Is it because of CIO – not necessarily.  Are we ok – no completely.  Is it because of CIO – not exactly.  But hey, let’s blame ourselves (see blaming women above) and each other (a favorite past-time for some on Facebook) for our kids becoming assholes or freaks as if THEY have nothing to do with it.
  • DEEP BREATH
  • My favorite spot on the internet for sound pregnancy & birth related advice – Childbirth Connection

Birth Story: Successful Birth Center VBAC

I am thrilled to offer this unedited birth story on my blog.  Many thanks to the fearless mama for sharing it with me and anyone else reading.  I am thankful that my community, and in particular this CNM, is making strides to reacquaint themselves with natural, normal birth. ~ labortrials

History: 2 1/2 years ago I had a scheduled c-section with Naomi. I had something called “placenta previa,” which is a “chance” thing that can happen in a pregnancy where the placenta covers the cervix, thus making labor dangerous and a normal vaginal delivery impossible. Because placentas move during pregnancy as the uterus grows, the doctors weren’t sure until we moved back to the U.S. that I had placenta previa. I was put on bed rest to prevent labor at 34 weeks and then advised to plan our c-section for the beginning of my 37th week. Naomi’s birth wasn’t traumatic for me, but I longed to be able to experience a “normal” birth…or at least be given the chance! Even though my c-section was absolutely necessary, I soon learned that many c-sections are not truly necessary, and that many doctors nowadays are absolutely mortified to attend to vaginal births after caesarians (VBACs), due mostly to fear of lawsuits if something goes wrong (the big one being a uterine rupture at the c-section scar). As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Elijah, I began reading everything I could about VBACs so I could do my best to prepare my body for birth and minimize any risk (which, by the way, is only .5% for a uterine rupture – much less than many other “normal” complications women have in first births!). In my research, I was shocked how unnecessary many routine interventions are done in hospitals and how this might affect any woman’s labor. I was determined to not have to go to the hospital, where I would automatically tethered to an I.V. and continuous fetal monitor. So I went the other way and found a CNM (certified nurse midwife) who had just opened a birth center in town and was willing to let me experience labor. If anything were to go wrong, the birth center is only a 5 minute (or less) drive to the hospital, so we felt very secure in our decision and Jeanne’s (my midwife, pronounced “Jean-ie) experience and expertise.

My Birth Story

I was putting Naomi to bed at 7:30 on Saturday night May 8th when all of a sudden I felt a little “pop” inside me. Pregnancy brings about all kinds of weird feelings, so I wasn’t sure what this was at first, but then when it felt like I had just peed my pants, I had an idea.

I freaked out. My due date was May 21st, so this was 13 days before my due date. Of course I was saying I was “ready” for this baby to be due…but was I really READY to do it now?! I checked the fluid – clear. Good sign. It kept coming. I called Jon (who was getting off work at 8). I called my midwife to find out if the fluid could be anything else at all. Nope. My water had broken 13 days before my due date and I had 24 hours to safely have my baby (more than that after the bag of water breaks and you have to start worrying about infection). Wow. This is crazy.

I had not felt a single contraction until this point in my pregnancy. Here we go!

I was told I could start contractions right away or not until much later, even Sunday afternoon – since we didn’t know what to expect, we called my mother-in-law and asked her to take Naomi for the night, just in case. She came by, her and two of my sisters-in-law prayed for me and baby before leaving (I was still in a bit of disbelief at this point), and they took Naomi to sleep at their house.

Jon and I started to watch a movie and relax and rest. I had a meal so I could have some energy if labor started. Light contractions started at 9:00, about 5 minutes apart. I went to bed at 9:30 so we could try and get some rest. Jon slept. I tried but didn’t do a very good job. Contractions stayed at 5 minutes apart but gradually got stronger and stronger. We called our doula Ali (whom we had only met with once before! Our next meeting was to be the following monday!) and midwife Jeanne around 11:45 after they moved to 4 minutes apart and I knew I was going to have to come in within hours. Jeanne told me to call again when contractions became 2-3 minutes apart. Okay. Around 3 A.M. I asked Jon to call Ali over and we called Jeanne. Jeanne told us to meet her at the Birth Center at 3:45.

Ali arrived at our house around 3:15 and immediately started helping Jon and I through my contractions. By this time they had become strong enough for me to need to focus intently through each one. I had started moaning through them to help with  the pain, too. I had read in several books that this was a good thing to do during labor because of the relaxing, opening  effect that open, low tones have on the body. What I later found interesting was that I didn’t really think about doing this as I was doing it…it just seemed like something that was natural and that I should do! And I definitely believe it helped.

We left for the birth center around 3:45. We live a mile away from this so I was VERY grateful not to have to be in a car too long. I had one contraction in the car and did not find it very fun.  Anyway, we got settled in to the room in the Birth Center room. I was so worried that I would only be at 5 cm dilated or another low number and have quite a way to go. Jeanne checked me. 7 cm. dilated! YES! We’re getting close and I’m almost to transition! Okay, I can do this!

I got in the jacuzzi tub next and this felt SO GOOD! With Ali on one side and Jon behind me, I spent an hour in there, where things really became intense. Jeanne had been quietly preparing this whole time, candles were lit, the room was so calm and peaceful. Jeanne also checked the baby’s heart rate every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure baby was doing well (a sudden drop could mean a uterine rupture or other complication). Heart rate was perfect every time. Awesome. I had brought a bag of snacks and drinks to eat/sip during labor and then, ironically, all I wanted was ice cubes throughout the hardest part of this labor! They were heaven in my mouth – truly. After about an hour, Ali suggested I get out for a little bit to change positions again. At the same time I felt it was a good idea, I went through another contraction and OH! TIME TO PUSH! I had spent my entire transition (dilating from 8-10 cm) in the tub. Perfect! We slowly made it over to the bed, Jeanne checked me to confirm we were there (at least I think she did…things kind of got fuzzy around now). Okay, it’s go time.

Pushing was hard, and since this was my first birth, it was definitely 2 steps forward one step back. I was holding on to Ali and Jon’s hands really hard. Pushing was the most intuitive thing I have probably ever experienced. My body was working, doing what it needed to do, and it didn’t seem as if there was any other option than to just let it push. It wasn’t my decision – it was simply time to push! No stopping this train!

I’m not exactly sure how long I pushed – 45 minutes to an hour, possibly. I had no concept of time at this point. At times Jenny the nurse would put a mirror down so we could see Elijah’s head as he slowly emerged. I didn’t want to look at first but it ended up really helping me focus. My baby was coming, and I was ready to meet him! Elijah David King was born at 6:29 in the morning. Jeanne immediately put him on my chest; he started crying and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. We had done it! I had had no drugs whatsoever, felt every sensation, and was constantly in the moment, aware of my baby and the sheer power of my body doing what God intended it to do. Elijah was messy, beautiful and alert. Just amazing! I can’t describe it. Nothing had gone wrong and I feel so extremely blessed. I got my VBAC! I trusted my body and our first son was born without complication with him or me (or Jonathan’s hand…poor guy, I was gripping so hard there at the end).

I pushed out the placenta (piece of cake!) then Jeanne spent some time stitching me up (I had a 2nd degree tear…not too bad. Still a little sore as I write this, though). Jonathan, Elijah, and I laid there in the bed for quite a while, bonding and admiring each other (me still in a little bit of disbelief that I had pushed that head out of me…so amazing what the human body can do!). At least 30 minutes later, we were ready for them to clean up Elijah, so Jenny took him and weighed him (8 lbs even!) and cleaned him off and gave him back to us. We tried nursing and he immediately latched on – I had so many problems nursing Naomi so this was such a relief. I got some ibuprofen to help with my sore bottom and the strong uterine contractions (still having those a few days later as it takes 2 weeks for the uterus to return to normal size). My mother-in-law, Naomi, and a few of my sisters-in-law came and visited us a little later, bringing blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fruit. It was wonderful. Jon took a nap (figures…wimp!) but I couldn’t sleep yet. Jonathan and Ali were amazing – they supported me and cheered me on through the entire labor, moaning with me, breathing with me, telling me I was doing a good job, etc. It seems so simple, but helps so incredibly much. Who knows how much longer my labor might have been without the wonderful positive support!

We left the Birth Center around 11:45 in the morning to go home, only five hours after Elijah was born. I walked to my car, feeling sore but wonderful, still on a natural high from giving birth naturally! Elijah’s birth was the very first VBAC at this birth center!

Now, two days later, I’m still getting reacquainted with nursing, still a little sore and tired, but feeling great. Elijah’s doing so well, too, and we are completely in love with our new baby. Naomi seems to be taking well to baby brother too! She likes to come kiss him and gets concerned when he cries or she thinks he doesn’t have enough blankets. I love our little family and we feel so blessed to welcome our new, incredible miracle.

On the Radar, 11/15/08

The weekend is an excellent time to catch up on the latest news. Here are some things rolling around the internet that piqued my interest.

I had to edit my post to include the latest cartoon by Hathor the Cow Goddess.  This one really resonates with me in a funny and sick way.  It’s so true . . . except that I never made it out of the hospital bed, unless you count changing beds to be wheeled into surgery . . .  If wishes were horses, I’d have followed my instincts and not left my house that night.  We were fine until the midwife broke my water. <sigh>

AMA Scope of Practice Initiative Advances – I get so focused on what ACOG and the AMA is trying to do to childbirth, that I forget the far reaching affects of their actions. This post was written by the American Optometric Association. I think it’s a good one to study to get another perspective on expanding SOPP. Plus, it makes me thing that we need to forge ties with other “secondary level” practitioners, hire our own marketing teams, and put together a real professional campaign against the AMA.

Can you give yourself a few minutes every day for the next 15 days to practice relaxation and yoga? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially since I’ve started reading Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. One of my students let me borrow it. While I’m at it, let me share one wonderful thing I’ve read from the book thus far:

Peace is all around us – in the world and in nature – and within us – in our bodies and our spirits. once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. (23-24)

It’s so hard for me to recognize peace around me, and, in a way, to embrace the healing and transformation that is promised by embracing peace. I keep being led to practicing mindfulness, peace, meditation, yoga, being present, but I keep resisting it. How about you? And will you also take mamascoffeetime’s challenge to practice yoga? If you have a little one at home, try the Animal Adventure!

I found a petition, “Practicing midwives Should Be Licensed and Carry Insurance.” I sighed in sadness and exasperation when I read it. It really stinks that this family lost their baby in this manner, but shouldn’t they have been aware through the interview process if their midwife was licensed and if she carried insurance? I’m not trying to point fingers back at this family, but these are such basic questions. For some homebirthers, it’s important that their midwives carry the proper credentials. Others recognize that midwives don’t always care about formal recognition for what they do. They help babies and their families at one of the most critical and beautiful times in their lives. A piece of paper doesn’t mean that they’re a good or bad midwife any more than a medical degree ensures that you have a good doctor. And to require midwives to carry insurance is to ask them (and us) to continue to support a system that is completely FUBAR! Anyone who has suffered from major medical problems – even if they have “good” insurance – can attest to that.

Choices in Childbirth Statement Encourages Options and Evidence in Maternity Care. What a concept, eh? Options for women and their babies? EVIDENCE when it comes to maternity care?? Here’s a taste, but please do read the whole thing! I wonder if ACOG or the AMA will respond?

The statement also calls for evidence-based practices in maternity care, and for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association “to strike those resolutions that deny childbearing women the autonomy and rights that medical professionals, educators, and women’s health advocates have historically endorsed.”

A wonderful post at BlogHer, It’s lonely out here: planning for a natural childbirth. Some great comments too!

CfM Grassroots Network: MEAC Needs Our Help! What they really need is our $$.

And last but not least . . . a new website and blog to which I will subscribe: The Unnecessarian which I found via CfM and Birth, Interrupted. Read the latest blog entry and you’ll see that they’re already holding the medical community’s feet to the fire.

Gross Oversight: Cytotec not on FDA’s warning list

The FDA released a list of drugs that they consider to have the potential for serious risks or drugs that have new safety information identified by adverse events. Since when is a cytotec (misoprostol) rupture not serious enough in terms of risk or adverse event to warrant being placed on a FDA-issued alert?

GROSS OVERSIGHT . . . or perhaps it’s safe to say that this information is being suppressed by the medical machine?

For those of you who may not know, Cytotec is an ulcer medication that is misused to induce labor. Women know to ask for it; doctors know to prescribe it – it’s so easy. However, it can cause overstimulation of the uterus leading to emergent cesarean delivery, uterine rupture, hysterectomy, and even death (of baby and/or mother). It is absolutely NOT appropriate to use this drug on a pregnant or laboring woman.

Here are a couple of links for your to peruse:

I am not seeing this on a previous AERS list. If it is there, please do let me know via comments. Regardless, it should remain on this list until its use on pregnant women ceases.

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