Only if…

“It’s a numbers thing,” says Dr. Shelley Binkley, an ob-gyn in private practice in Colorado Springs who stopped offering VBACs in 2003. “You don’t get sued for doing a C-section. You get sued for not doing a C-section.”

I’ve seen this quote before, but it never quite made me as angry as it did this morning when I was reading it in the context of THIS TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE. This California mom has to drive 100 miles to have the chance for a VBAC. Give me a break!

I understand liability, I truly do, and I understand that to continue offering care for the majority of patients, one must sometimes eliminate care for the minority. But hey. This is ridiculous. As a VBAC mom myself, I would have to drive at least 100 miles and then only have “permission” for a “trial of labor” within a very small window of opportunity. “Only if” my incision was of type A, “Only if “ my bag of waters hadn’t been broken more than 12 hours, “Only if” the baby was in a perfect position (by obstetrical definitions), “Only if” the labor didn’t last more than X number of hours, “Only” if it progresses well, “Only” if I would have continuous fetal monitoring, “Only if………”

By the time all of the restrictions had been placed on me I’d have a better chance of delivering my baby vaginally in a snow storm in the middle of April. Yeah, it happens, but rarely. Birth was not meant to be a 3-ring circus with planned events and bright lights.

This mom, in the Time article, said her biggest fear was the drive and that she might not make it to the hospital.

If only… she gets that lucky. It might be her best chance at a natural birth.

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Ok, so I cry alot lately…

Get over it. 🙂 This post about mothering made me cry. And cry and cry. We mothers give the best of ourselves to our children, and then still wonder if it’s good enough, all the while fighting the urge to be like “some moms” who put their own desires first and their children’s needs last. Fighting guilt that it would even enter our minds to do such a thing.

I was at a 2 day birth as doula and got back home yesterday. By the time it was all said and done I’d been gone from home for 36 hours. My husband is awesome and came home early to cook supper for them, and see them off to school the next day. I am blessed. Yet the entire time I was gone I was missing HOME. Missing cooking and thinking of laundry, and thinking to myself, “This is for the birds. I’m going to get my RN license and go to work in an OB department, have regular hours and MAKE SOME MONEY.”

I got home before the kids did from school and quickly perused the local college’s nursing department website. I was serious. Then the kids got home, happy to see me, and wanted to know all about the birth.

The baby was born gray. Like-a-gravel-road gray. I got him up and out of the water, did some basic life-support, suctioned him to get him ticked off enough to cry. He did. He pinked up later, with some blow-by oxygen and stimulation. It was an Amish family, with Amish midwives and they weren’t really sure what do do outside of pray and talk to the baby to “Come home baby, stay with us baby.” It is part of their belief system to trust birth. 🙂 No stones. They LIVE what they believe, everyday, whether I or you agree with the chances they take or not. That’s something I admire. They also admired me for knowing what to do for the baby. But I’m no hero. I haven’t even taken my official NRP course yet. I just did what I’d read needed done. (That’s on my list now, you can believe.)

So the baby pinks up, I listen for several more hours to him and watch respirations. They do not wish to transport him. He is good today, though I’ll check in several more times over the next few days. They trust me, so I might be able to pursuade them to take him in if he worsens. Right now he is fine.

And as I related this story to my family, I ended with, “But he’s ok and I’m sorry I was gone for so long. I missed you all so much. I’m not sure I’m going to keep doing this.” Boy, did THAT get an unsuspected reaction!

“But mom!!!! What if you weren’t there! What would have happened to that baby?”

“But mom! You don’t have to worry about us, that’s important work. We’re big enough.”

“Honey, it sounds like you were meant to be there. Sounds like you were doing exactly what you are meant to do.”

So I cried, loved on my family and ate Hamburger Helper that my son cooked while I napped, all tucked in my husbands arms. And felt a little better, though relieved that I don’t have another birth until after this baby comes.

And I think of “baby”. By the time that poor first time mom was done I also thought, “Geesh. I’m gonna go to the hospital, have an epidural and secretly sip cappicinno while I’m in labor like all the other moms.” And I thought again of “baby”. I can’t do it.

I did not choose to homebirth because it’s “in fashion” as some to eloquently assert. I do not choose to homebirth even for my comfort. Because we all know an epidural is usually as “comfortable” as one could get while in labor. I thought of why I chose to birth this baby and home and it’s because of “baby”. Epidurals can and do make baby’s heart rate drop dangerously low, doing who-knows-what to his future cognitive abilities. And then cause a “necessary” cesarean almost half of the time at my local hospital. Bright lights, strangers hands, rough towels and rubbings, suctioning even when it’s not needed, shots and stinging ointment put in baby’s eyes, feet stuck and bled within hours of birth, being jerked swleeping from the womb he knows and loves with no preparation… what does this do to BABY and his introduction to this world? Hurt him physically, I’m sure. But emotionally? Spiritually? What does this first environment TEACH him about our world?

I’m a midwifery student and fairly scientifically minded individual. I realize there are times when ALL of the above are NEEDED FOR THE BABY. But the majority of the time they aren’t. And unless indicated I don’t want to expose my baby to that sort of homecoming.

So I pluck a few feathers from my chest, line my nest with a bit more sacrifice and look forward to welcoming “baby” in late October when the winds are crispy and the leaves are falling. No epidural, no one to clean up the mess for us, no one to cook for us (except family), no one to heave the responsibility of this birth onto but ME. 🙂 For baby. All for baby.

Morning Musings

Sorry I haven’t been too great at blogging consistently these past couple of months. I’ve been trying to “gestate in peace” and just be a mom. The calling to birth and women won’t leave me be though, so I’ll try harder to get it in on a weekly basis. Thank you for reading. Pass it along if you are moved by any of it. Trash it if it’s luke-warm. Email me if it makes you mad. All emotional responses (and logical ones) are welcome. 🙂                  ~Kelly

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I’ll tell you, this advocacy stuff is rough. I get emails from women all over the country sharing their birth trauma stories (and sorry, this is TRAUMA we’re talking about here, not a “bad experience”). I cry alot. It’s hard to do this while I’m pregnant. The idea of facing a hospital to birth again makes me queasy. Yeah… that’s a generalization I know. Not all hospitals are bad, not all doctors are terrible selfish money-grubbers. I know this. But the stories… how can I not be impacted by the horror of a mom being “reprimanded” by her OB for not agreeing to an episiotomy, so when she was being stitched up SANS numbing agents (which the OB refused to use saying, “You said you wanted natural, this is natural.”) had to also hear, “This is what you get for not letting me cut you.” And for the mom who, upon transferring from homebirth because of thick meconium in the water (good heartones though) had to listen to the attending OB nurse comment, after a 3 hour wait, “Well if you were still home nothing would be getting done for your baby so what’s the hurry?” Or the mom who was promised a VBAC only to get to the hospital in labor and find out a cesarean had been written into her chart at 20 weeks. When she balked the doctor said, “Listen, you were never going to get a VBAC. It’s ok. You’ll have your baby in your arms in an hour.” She walked out (WARRIOR WOMAN!!!) and had her baby at home, vaginally, assisted by her husband that same day. 3 hours later.

It sounds like I’m reporting from a 3rd world country doesn’t it? But I’m not. No… if only it were that easy. This is US. This is the United States of America where FREEDOM is supposed to RING TRUE. But it doesn’t. Heck, HONESTY doesn’t even ring true anymore. My sister had so many adhesions from her first cesarean that she was onthe table with her 2nd for 6 hours getting cleaned out. Even after that she was never told why that happened, that it was likely to happen again, and that her cesarean was not medically necessary. Informed consent? That’s the stuff fairy tales are made of. And you’re more likely to get it at a car lot than in an OB department.

But being the eternal optimist that I am, I know that however our births turn out, whatever bumps we face along the way, wherever these roads take us… the fact that we are HERE, together, talking about birth means that we care about humanity and the future of birth in our culture. Yeah. Uh-huh. That’s us. The broken, the healing, the healed. We care, and we’re not going to give up until someone listens, until things change, until we see that normal birth is safe for our daughters and grand-daughters. 🙂

Missouri Stands for Freedom

In a 5-2 ruling yesterday, Missouri Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of a line in a 2007 law legalizing Certified Professional Midwives. Thank goodness.

A sigh of relief. After the ugly political tactics that I’m sure took place last session (I was only there twice but I saw enough…) I am relieved to see that justice did have it’s day afterall.

This issue isn’t about a handful of crunchy, granola eating, Burkenstock wearing women who want to birth their babies at home.

This issue isn’t about hating doctors, hospitals or the medical profession.

This issue isn’t about money, power or control.

This issue isn’t, TRULY, even about midwifery or homebirth at all.

This is is about personal choice and freedom. It is about having the right to exercise CHOICE over our bodies and how they are treated.

And I am glad that the Missouri Supreme Court heard the case for what it was. Doctors neither have the right to “represent patients” nor do they have the right to limit access to healthcare.

Whether or not you, or I,  agree with the philosophy behind homebirth is little more than a side dish in this debate. This issue is about freedom. I am relieved to see that the Missouri Supreme Court stands for those freedoms.

Cure Gum Disease = Cure Pre-Eclampsia

I read an interesting article a couple of days ago and it’s been bothering me ever since. In essence, this study is showing a link between a protein marker for inflammation and gum disease with pre-eclampsia. Ok. So ok. I can deal with that. Nutritionally speaking, if one is eating a diet low in protein and quality amino acids/vitamins/minerals/etc. then gum disease is likely to be present along with pre-eclampic symptoms. Ok. So far so good. But the last line just cracks me up. Then it ticks me off. Are they for real?

“What remains to be seen,” concluded Ruma, “is whether treatment of maternal periodontal disease can reduce the rate of preeclampsia.”  ~ Gum Disease, inflammation risky for pregnant women

Alrighty then. So we’re going to see if “treating gum disease” will prevent 30% of pre-eclampisa cases? Good grief. I mean, this group is actually WONDERING this!

Do any of the people who do these expensive studies on toxemia ever consider that MAYBE the midwifery community might be right in saying that dear Dr. Brewer was onto something when he claimed to cure and prevent 100% of eclampsia with dietary measures??? And that hey, I don’t know, but maybe gum disease is also a symptom of DIET issues and just happens to occur simultaneously with pre-eclamptic symptoms???

UGH. I’d think, after all of these years of turning up NOTHING, they’d be willing to dive into Dr. Brewers research and actually try to help women. But that’s the rub isn’t it? Helping women doesn’t seem to be the main focus of the medical community at large. Making them “feel” better… maybe, by delivery thier babies via surgical wounds. Yep. That “fixes” the problem doesn’t it? All better. Makes the joke “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” seem pretty fitting.

Lest I end this sour post on a sour note, here is some further reading on nutrition in pregnancy.

Modern Baby Books Full of Bad Advice

Brewer Diet FAQ’s

Toxemia Case Studies

Of course Brewer’s Diet could use a little “tweaking” but overall it jsut makes too much common sense to ignore completely. yes, it’s pretty calorie dense, and yes there are alot of fats in it. But for me, reading the research, case studies, and first-hand accounts (and the latter carry alot of weight for me)  makes it too good to just off-handedly set aside. I’ve seen first-hand, an increase in protein ALONE fix pre-eclamptic symtpoms. Within a week’s time blood pressure readings went down to normal that had been steadily climbing in this mon with a high-carb / low-protein diet (otherwise healthy eating habits). So – read the stuff, decide for yourself. But I believe it’s worth investigating.

 

Ok – so here we go…

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Wow. WOW. I am still in shock. 2 weeks ago I got a very pink line on a pregnancy test. So here we go again! As I’ve posted already, the local hospitals all have VBAC bans in place. Besides and regardless of that, (it just really still hacks me so I mention it every chance I get!) this will be my very first home birth.

It is exhilerating and just a tiny bit frightening to realize that I have total freedom this time around. My husband (I was recently married) is completely and 100% supportive of any decisions I make regarding place and method of delivery. His motto is, “You have to do it, you get to call the shots. Just tell me what you need and I’ll get it.” How very very refreshing. I wish he could buy a bus and go on tour convincing hospitals and doctors, husbands and in-laws that this position is the very best kind of support anyone can offer a birthing woman. Ahhh….

So at this point, I’ll be having a homebirth, my 4th VBAC, in the water if it works out that way, alone if at all possible (just my husband and I “catching”, with a midwife in attendance in case of an emergency. I’ll keep you all informed.

Should make another good book. 😉

“Advanced maternal age multipara, with history of gestational diabetes and “macrosomic” infants delivers at home despite a former diagnosis of cephalopelvic disportion and resulting surgical birth 15 years ago”