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Sigh. I had a whole long rant written out about how freaking pissed off I am about this local hospital’s policy about separating mamas and babies for two days if mom shows signs of having H1n1, but I deleted it. I realized that there is no way I can write about this without offending a whole lot of people, and it’s just not in me right now.
I understand that this policy is supposed to protect babe from a scary, admittedly, virus, but to completely negate the – in my not even humble opinion – crucial factors that make those first few days irreparably important just makes me sad. These mamas need those hours for endorphin release. For milk production. For bonding. The thought of little babies in plastic cubes away from the one person whose smell and sound is the only thing they’ve ever known is barbarous to me.
I’m fully aware that many people think I’m a nutjob for my natural-leaning opinions, but I don’t see how there could be any mother who could have a healthy birth – of any kind – and not think something is just instinctively wrong when a member of the hospital staff walks away from you with your brand new miracle. I don’t care if you know that the colostrum that baby is missing out on has more antibody protection than the Fort Knox of quarantines, or that the hormones you might be missing out on could actually prolong your hospital stay if your uterus doesn’t contract well enough, or even that just having that baby at home – with full-on flu – is still statistically the safer choice, especially in relevant terms of nosocomial and iatrogenic infections. That really doesn’t matter. I’m just sad that we’ve gone so far from our instinctive biological histories that this is even an option. It’s just wrong.
I really don’t think I’m the nutjob. I just don’t.
We decided to extend our trip a couple days, so we’re still in Colorado (and I still may not ever return). Pictures to come. 8)
Beyond that, the main reason for this post is THIS! Hot damn this is progress! Anita was the midwife who caught Lo, and I’m so happy for her and everyone else in the homebirth community. Really – this is huge, huge news.
So that’s it; we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled nonsense in a few days. Have a good weekend!
Really. Other states do it juuuuuust fine.
Last week my (future OB) friend, Annie, called me from NY to talk about the morning she’d had. Up there for interviews, she’d met one of the main homebirth back-up doctors featured in Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business of Being Born. That morning they’d had a showing of the movie for the residents and attendings.
A large number of them booed and catcalled during most of the movie.
(Did I mention one of their bosses is featured prominently as an obvious supporter of natural childbirth?)
Annie and I discussed for a long time the inherent polarization of the (vast majority of the) medical community versus natural advocates. And what angered me most with her story was that their behavior was shamefully arrogant and narrow-minded, and it attested to the same kind of patronizing attitudes I’ve encountered in my own experiences as a pregnant mother or doula. That is ridiculous on too many conceivable counts, but I’m not going to get into why, because I think that’s probably obvious no matter where you stand.
So this morning on my local parenting board someone posted last week’s review of the doc featured in Slate. And here’s the thing, I don’t totally disagree with the writer that it’s propaganda. Personally, on one hand, I wish there could be even-handed media to present – in an effort to quell the skeptical bias people already have towards unconventional practices like homebirth. But on the other hand, I totally understand why the movie needs to be so far that direction, because it’s fighting a monstrously large and insipid medical mentality, and it’s the shock value that usually wakes people up and makes them think. (And maybe you’re thinking even my wording’s dramatic, but.. well.. it really is the truth.)
But then the writer gleefully mentions how the director’s eventual breech c-section is a ‘counter argument’ for the cause. And that’s a perfect example of missing the freaking point: Very few people – very few- would say that there is never a need for medical intervention. Obviously this mama and her midwife decided it was time to go to the hospital. ACOG calls for 30 minutes as a window to prepare for a normal section, and when a homebirther transfers, rarely is it the ambulance screeching drama you see in movies. Which is the whole thing, that it doesn’t need to be either/or. The best case scenario would be working in tandem.
Currently it’s (excuse me) a dick waving contest.
But that’s beside the point. I’m frustrated (and resigned) that the reviewer couldn’t really discuss the documentary without her own bias hypocritically shining through. She calls the team out for statistical inconsistencies (the quote about fetal homebirth death rates) yet doesn’t cite the studies. I think I know which one she’s referencing, and the key detail missing there is that all births outside of the hospital are included as a homebirth. So late-term miscarriages, side-of-the-road emergency situations – all are lumped into the category. And there is such an incredible difference between an emergency precipitous birth in the automotive section of Wal-Mart and a planned homebirth. Stating it the way she did is highly disingenuous – and not surprising.
Really, I could get more steps for my soapbox and give a lengthy diatribe about egos interfering with the supposed main goal of healthy baby and mother blahblahblah, but I won’t. First because I don’t have the energy to get too fired up today, but mostly because I believe that if you are educated, you will make the best decision for your family, whether it’s in a hospital or on the moon. So if this snarky reviewer (and everyone who feels the same way) wants to dismiss the valid points made in the documentary out-of-hand simply because they are different – I mean ‘crockpot’ – well, go for it sister.
It is easier to float along when you choose not to muddle your life with critical thinking.
So news came out this week that involves a tragic homebirth from last year, and I’ve been hesitant to post my thoughts on it. Mostly because the homebirth community in the KC metro area is small and closely guarded; it’s still a felony in MO so it’s a veritable witch hunt and most people have to practice ‘underground’, if you will. I don’t want to harm anyone I know by writing an incriminating post that could be googled. (Really, I’m not being dramatic, we got emails this week telling us to lay low based on this news. I shouldn’t post the word homebirth technically. It’s fucking ridiculous.) But I decided to go ahead because the case was dropped, so those I know can’t be pulled into anything. Still, I’m going to try and be vague because there could still be a civil suit.
The story is that a local couple decided to have a UC (unassisted childbirth) and based on their religion, wouldn’t seek medical help, despite that the baby was breech and ended up stillborn, and the mother developed sepsis and died a month later. The latest news is that there will be no prosecution.
When I was first told of this thing, as it was unfolding, I was repulsed. Apparently the religion they follow is their own, and many of the tenets disturbed me (e.g., they believed if the woman submitted to her husband faithfully, God wouldn’t give them a breech baby – which makes no sense to me whatsoever). I was furious they wouldn’t seek help, even when it became very obvious things were dangerous. Since they were blatantly refusing intervention, I (and others, I’m sure) suggested someone call 911 and turn it over to the state to handle – thus more-or-less exonerating anyone personally from legal involvement. Now, I don’t remember specifically whether 911 was called, but I feel like they came to the door but were turned away – which is wholly within the couple’s civil rights. Also, if you look at the link, you may notice the man’s profession, and I’m curious if/how that complicated things – though I’m in no way insinuating anything.
And really, this whole thing splits me. My instinct is to rip out a vitriolic post because on a personal level I’m horrified. But intellectually, I have to respect their decisions, and that’s hard to separate. I respect that they chose to believe in their idea of God, and thought that God would provide intervention or miracles. I respect their choice to have a homebirth. They were a Bradley couple, so I know they were educated. I’m not always comfortable with UCs, but that’s more personal than philosophical – I still respect that they made the decision they felt was best for them.
But (one of) my main issue(s) with this is their self-righteous moral cherry-picking of technological intervention. If I simplify it, I would proffer that their reason for no medical intervention is because God made us and wouldn’t approve of the current idea of medical advancement interfering with God’s inherent design. Make sense? Fine. But I would also think by that logic that God wouldn’t be kosher with, oh, cars. Or telephones. Or electricity. Yet they were fine with all of that. They recognized how these advancements changed their lives from how they were inherently designed – for better or worse – and still chose them.
And I’m not saying that to follow religion you can’t decide what you believe is a priority. This type of religious hypocrisy (if it’s completely fair to call it that) is everywhere. I just personally have such a hard time believing that God would have wanted that to happen like that. I think it’s kind of illogical to decide what we think God is in control of. It sort of takes away from the idea of omniscience if you think you know for sure what he has a hand in. I guess I think if you’re so dogmatic that you’d let people die when there was so much time to save them, you should be all out and go live in the wilderness. But that’s probably my anger clouding my objectivity.
And this is also where my moderate view of medicine comes in. I’ve been called a hypocrite myself for cherry-picking my standards of needing medical intervention, so I realize that I can’t honestly judge them for their decisions if I want to carry the same rights.
It just sucks. The stain it leaves on all choices involved just sucks. And I have no real profound thoughts here, it’s just something that after a year of being gagged, still makes me sad.
A female judge nullified a recent provision that would have allowed certified MO midwives to attend homebirths.
Missouri is so bassackwards about birth I can’t even articulate it properly.