“BOBB” and Ricki Lake on Ellen

I was browsing one of my Google alerts today, and look what I discovered:

She had an extremely popular daytime talk show for 11 seasons and has just produced the new documentary, “The Business Of Being Born.” Wednesday, RICKI LAKE will join me to talk about her incredible documentary that examines childbirth. I’ll ask her how it feels to have a film of her giving birth in a bathtub, in theaters across America, why she thinks a homebirth with a midwife might be safer than in a hospital and how her new single life is going.

Ricki Lake will be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, December 19 if you’re interested in watching it!  Click here to find out when the show airs in your area.

Now if only we could get OPRAH interested in these sorts of topics . . .

Gearing up for BOBB

ICAN of Greater Missoula is 6 days out from a benefit screening of THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN.  I fully admit that I am nervous.  We are a new non-profit in town and the first Montana chapter of ICAN!  I’ve never done this sort of work before . . . advocacy is a neat idea and always went into the “should do” pile that never quite got done.  I meant to ride my bike to the University this fall in order to decrease my carbon footprint.  I’m concerned about local wilderness issues.  I’m worried about global warming.  I wish there was something I could do to decrease the number of women around the world who are raped every day.

Ya know . . . little things.

So how has this evolved?  I’m sure I’m not the first activist to say . . . “Well, it just happened.”  Moreover it has to happen in this town at this time.  I don’t need to know why – I just need to see it through.

I’ve read a number of reviews about BOBB.  Today I came across a post about “twilight sleep” and childbirth.  The blogger writes:

On the ride home [from seeing the Business of Being Born], Rachel and I were talking about why childbirth isn’t more of a feminist issue.  In the movie, they talked about how we have almost third-world levels of mother and infant mortality and how that’s directly tied to how we do birth in this country, the medicines that are administered during labor, and the rush to c-section a woman just because she’s not progressing fast enough to suit the doctor.

I think it’s tough.  It is a feminist issue, of course.  Women getting dicked around by the system is always a feminist issue.

Childbirth and reproductive health issues should be at the forefront of feminist work.  It is shocking that the more powerful feminist groups aren’t giving American childbirth practices more attention.  The fact that 1 of 3 women are having babies taken out of them via major abdominal surgery isn’t interesting or relevant enough for most people to sneeze at?

Yes, often the most highly subverted populations and subversive issues have the most trouble breaking out of old cycles.  Look at other disasters that happen here and abroad.  Look at things like the Iraq war or the lack of Congressional and Presidential support for CHIP or Darfur or immigration issues and tell me, honestly, if you are surprised that nothing is changing.  Our President fully admits that he’s no longer concerned about bin Laden.  Hmm . . .

Here are a couple of things that are on my burner with regard to childbirth and feminism:

  • abjection and natural childbirth vs the sterility of cesarean “birth”
  • musical representations of Eve (as in the biblical Eve)
  • why miscarriage is so “hush hush”

Cross Post about Business of Being Born

I just LOVE the True Face of Birth blog.  There’s always a gem of a post there that makes me smile, or think, or cry.  I’m not a huge fan of regurgitating other bloggers’ posts, but I’d at least like to draw a few things out of a particular post that really spoke to me.  My comments are sprinkled throughout.

A family practice doctor was in the audience of a “BOBB” screening.  She sent an e-mail to Rixa sharing her thoughts on the movie:

I loved that the births were shown to unfold in their own time and that the mamas looked free to move on their own and birthed upright. I love that upright birth center birth where the mama is so joyous right after.

I cried at every one of those births. Don’t know what was up with that! My little dd even kept asking me if I was okay. (I cry a fair amount of the time at actual births, though, too–you’d think I’d get over it.) I think if people watched this movie and the only thing they took away was visions of women pushing their babies out standing, squatting, in the water, whatever, that would at least be a start. [bold emphasis mine]

I was disappointed in the ending. I don’t think they explained enough what was happening, and I was disappointed that the final interview blew off any benefits of homebirth and implied that it’s all nice if you can have it, but thank God we had this cesarean and saved my baby. I actually think in her particular case transferring for a breech, growth-restricted baby was probably a good idea–but there had to have been a better way to wrap up that movie than Abby saying “Oh well, at least I got a healthy baby” you know?

I wish they’d wrapped up with some kind of activism information–like talking about CIMS, or ICAN. Here’s where you can start to change the world kind of info.  [Thanks for the plug, Doc!!!]

It was also discouraging, though, to hear how people struggle to get the birth they want. I am pretty disappointed in this whole VBAC thing, and disappointed especially that so many “low-risk” providers are just giving up VBACs and verbalizing that it’s just too bad, so sad for the women involved, but nothing we can do.  [You and me both.  I feel abandoned and betrayed by the medical community at large.]

I actually think all of medicine needs to be reworked.[emphasis mine] Something I was trying to say, and may not have got it out coherently at the panel discusson, is that having doctors in charge of medical care and responsible for the outcomes doesn’t benefit anybody.  [Whoa!  Again, this is coming from a DOCTOR.  Wow!!  I wonder how many other practitioners feel like that.]

I’m not sure how to make a change in modern obstetrics, but I think one factor is that women have to refuse to accept paternalistic, condescending care. I don’t care what kind of choices women make, but they need to insist on accurate information and fully informed decision making.OBs need to get out of the business of normal maternity care. We have put normal care into the hands of folks trained in the abnormal.   [I couldn’t agree more.  I wish obstetrics would accept its mandate as a surgical specialty.  Practitioners trained in normal birth need to attend and assist low-risk moms, and that includes low-risk VBAC.]

I am so inspired by this care provider’s perspective.  It gives me hope at a time when it is easy to despair given the challenges ahead for me in terms of maintaining a pregnancy and making L&D choices that will be best for me and my family.

Blessings to Rixa for her post and to this marvelous doctor.

Please visit Rixa’s blog and read the entire post!


For the first time since August 1, I feel awesome.  I feel “alive” and empowered.  I am hopeful.  I am excited.  Answering “The Call” can do that for you.

On August 1 I began miscarrying my second pregnancy.  There was nothing to be done, and we were gung ho to conceive again as soon as possible.  Once my menses returned we went for it and got pregnant again.  I guess I have no trouble becoming pregnant.  Unfortunately I began bleeding from an early first trimester subchorionic hematoma [level III research article] on October 7.  I was misdiagnosed with a blighted ovum and treated as though my body was not miscarrying correctly.  By the time I learned about the misdiagnosis, I had lost too much blood to save the pregnancy.  I lost the baby at about 7 weeks on October 14.

So how can I possibly be saying that I feel AWESOME less than a week following my miscarriage?  Let me count the ways:

  1. Officially started a local chapter (the first in Montana) of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)
  2. Scheduled a benefit screening of The Business of Being Born (BOBB) for December 8 at the Roxy Theater in Missoula, MT
  3. Was put in contact with some terrific natural birth advocates and caregivers thanks to the BOBB production team (thanks to them for facilitating awesomeness)
  4. Continue to receive excellent holistic care from my chiropractor
  5. Received a free half-hour massage with my amazing massage therapist thanks to my chiropractor and a few enthusiastic students
  6. Was able to space out my schedule a bit better and alleviate some work distress
  7. Receive regular positive feedback about my maternal-child heath advocacy efforts
  8. Had an AWESOME time at the Farmers Market hanging out with my new friends and meeting other people passionate about childbirth issues

I’d like to describe my day to you.  First, let me say that I have never done anything like this before in my life.  Generally speaking, I am a selfish and protective person; I can be quite stingy with my time.  I like “me me me” time a whole lot. 

I’ve logged a number of late nights lately.  I’ve been collecting information and putting together materials for today’s event.  I started working with a new to me program called Scribus, an open source program that aspires to “compete” with Adobe Pagemaker.  It’s a bit quirky, but it’s not like I read any “how to” for using it.  Getting ready to advertise takes a lot of time and effort.  And it made me very nervous . . .

Yesterday (not a moment too soon) I was ready to print my materials.  I created a bookmark that people could take away.  (It’ll also make a good book-stuffing library project.)  I quickly made a chapter pamphlet geared towards explaining who ICAN of Greater Missoula is and what services we will provide.  I also created the 1/4 page flyer about the movie that we handed out at the market.  I went to bed around 1am this morning.

Today I woke up around 7am, worrying about what time to arrive at the market.  I was afraid of getting there much past 8am, but since it is cold and sprinkly, I decided to stay home until my friends planned to arrive at the market to help.  By about 8:45am I was set up and already (nervously) handing out flyers.  One of our city council candidates set his stuff up across the sidewalk from me, and it was good to talk to him about public issues in Missoula.

My friends arrived with all kinds of fancy materials from the Birth Center.  I was glad to have a couple of people there to boost my confidence.  (Those people who are pushy with flyers around town really annoy me, so I wasn’t sure how to approach the whole flyer distribution technique!)  The Birth Center representative brought out these really cool “Jelly Babies” (wish I could find a link to a picture), but I think they were scaring “the straights”, so we had her put them away.  Interesting how suspicious people can be.  Some people were afraid we were some pro-choice group or some pro-life group when actually we’re a pro-“life choice” group of sorts.  Plus, come on, who’s right to life are we fighting for here – not only the baby but also the MOTHER.  Oh yeah, her.

I found that I had better success with the flyers when I was over at the food area getting coffee and after I took the table down and was shopping at the market myself.  (I hope that’s a helpful bit of info for anyone planning to advertize on foot.)  I ran into a few University colleagues, and those interactions were good for me, I do believe.  One of the men I talked with works with my Dean.  (Score!)  Another guy I talked to is the MOST popular instructor on campus, it seems.  He’s going to hook me up with another professor and see how BOBB can fit into the context of a current human sexuality course.  I met other doulas, a CNM from out of town, other moms and dads, other people connected with naturopathy (is that even a word or did I just invent it?).  I was invited to speak about birth complications and cesarean awareness at a Birth Center class on Monday night.

I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Missoula is primed to gather around this issue – I just know it.  I feel confident that the Missoula Independent will support us somehow.  I have a former student who works for a local TV station so maybe I can get the story out through her.  So many ideas.  So many opportunities in the making.  So much to be done.

Still haven’t figured out why I feel awesome?  Well then you need “a lesson in awesomeness”.  (I love that saying.)

Business of Being Born Buzz

I was thrilled to read Navelgazing Midwife’s thoughts on The Business of Being Born.  I’m just getting so excited about bringing this to Missoula!

I’d like to pull a couple of points out of her post and subsequent article to pique your interest (if that’s even necessary)!

When someone goes in as a natural birth advocate, they come out a natural birth fanatic. I am not kidding. We’ve watched as pregnant woman after pregnant woman walked into the movie a hospital patient and walk out with a list of midwives in their hand or Dr. Wonderful’s card if they are still unsure about birthing outside of the hospital.

And families who were initially hesitant to support a midwifery-attended birth have become ardent supporters intent on converting their misunderstanding friends.

This is unfortunate:

I’m finding it challenging to get the press to either view the movie or to cover the importance of it in our community. It seems some people find natural birth not newsworthy… a big ol’ yawn.


Together, we can bring more people to know what we’ve known for far too long.


Completed Miscarriage

My ultrasound this afternoon confirmed what I already knew: that I lost the pregnancy yesterday and that I have a fibroid.  The ultrasound technician confirmed what I recently learned – that I was misdiagnosed last week with a blighted ovum.  Not only was it too early to diagnose a blighted ovum, but the presence of the yolk sac means that it was NOT a blighted ovum.  Likely the large subchorionic hematoma lead to the eventual miscarriage.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a week: threatened miscarriage, started a new chapter of ICAN, stayed in bed and hid from the world, put off all responsibilities onto other people’s shoulders, posted, researched, prayed, cried, hope, despair, loneliness, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, confused, trusting, untrusting, and the list goes on and on.

So what’s next for me?  A make-over?  I dunno.  I’ve consented to having the OB monitor my pregnancy hormone levels down to 0.  Then I will have more bloodwork done to see if there’s anything more serious wrong with me.  The fetal tissue will be sent for pathology analysis.  I’ll keep teaching.  I’ll get back to singing.  No choices there.

I’m putting a lot of time and energy into ICAN.  I feel good about that.  I’m in the process of planning a sneak preview of The Business of Being Born.  I’ve been getting a lot of great support from ICAN leaders for both the preview and the start of this new chapter.  And Barranca Productions put me in touch with a woman here in town who was looking to schedule a screening of The Business of Being Born.  Now she’s working with me to help me make it happen.  I’m so thankful to have connected with her and can’t wait to meet her!

What else?  Well, I have a big Halloween Party to attend next weekend.  I may also attend a public discourse conference in Bozeman.  This weekend we were invited to a brunch hosted by the President of the University and to the game, but instead I plan to be at the Farmers’ Market promoting ICAN of Greater Missoula and our inaugural event!

ICAN of Greater Missoula

It’s official.  There’s no turning back now.  I have succeeded in starting a local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.  I consider my area to include Missoula Valley, the Bitterroot Valley (at least to Hamilton), down the Hellgate Canyon (like to Clinton), and out to Arlee.  Really anyone who wants to get to a meeting that is in the area is welcome to attend!  We are the first and only chapter in Montana though I know that there are women in Helena and Billings working to start chapters too.

I wrote down a short list of goals the other day:

  1. Help women (and men) in my area know that there are choices to be made with regard to prenatal care and childbirth
  2. Raise awareness – the cesarean rate at Community Hospital is not good – 30+%; according to hospital sources, there were only 16 VBACs performed at Community last year
  3. Encourage pregnant women to seek out independent childbirth education; be a local facilitator for natural childbirth support
  4. Plant seeds at the University – it is never too early to become educated about the childbirth industry

I’ve started a website for ICAN of Greater Missoula.  There’s nothing there yet, but give me a few sleepless nights, and it’ll look great.  I love Terapad!  Anyone who is interested in knowing more about ICAN of Greater Missoula can e-mail ICANofMissoula ([at]) gmail [(dot)] com.

I’m currently planning a screening of The Business of Being Born, a documentary feature film directed by Abby Epstein (Ricki Lake, Executive Producer).  This will be the inaugural event and fundraiser for ICAN of Greater Missoula.  I’m so excited and nervous about all of this!  I still don’t have a date and venue secured (though one is available to me), and this all has to happen within the next 3 weeks or so.  Aaaah!  Eeeek!  But I know it’ll get done, and I’ve already been offered support and assistance.  Thank goodness for angels!

We will hold monthly meetings.  The first couple of meetings (November & December) will be informational and women can share birth stories and ask questions.  Then I will start a series (beginning in January) called Choices in Childbirth and bring in guest speakers from the community.  Topics I think we’ll start with include Prenatal Care, Selecting Care Providers, and Where to Birth.