Monday, July 12, 2010

Birth in the Family: a Response to midwives and Individuals opposing hospital birth in all contexts.

I've stated before that as a Midwifery Student and later midwife, (while I am passionate about natural childbirth and the option for home birth,) I do not wish to ever alienate women who have made a different choice. I have a very specific reason for this. The last person in my family to be delivered at home was born in 1940, My Grandfather, now deceased.
My mother is one of eight children. My generation has 19, and the one following more than 20. My grandmother is about to become a great-great-grandmother for the first time. My Grammy had five sons with her first husband, AC, between 1947 and 1960, the peak of the Twilight era. She jokes that she was too poor to “get the good stuff” and is able to recall, though not in detail, each one of her births. in 1966 she met my grandfather and divorced AC. She was pregnant with my Aunt K before the divorce was final- when the judge asked, Grammy was told to tell him that Aunt K was a hernia. My grandparents were married two days after Aunt K was born at a Portland hospital.
Three years later, she had my mother. Although she had never carried twins before, my grandmother was adamant that she was having twins, despite the Doctor's assurances that she wasn't. Luckily, Papa was the kind of man more likely to believe his wife when it came to her body that some strange man, and they were prepared. Wasn't that Doctor surprised when my mother was followed five minutes later by my Aunt S!

Now in my family, the ladies seem to have a pattern going. Grammy was 17 when she had Uncle B in 1947. When Aunt K was 18, she had Cousin KT. I don't know much about the pregnancy and birth experience K had with KT, but she was born in the hospital, like the rest of us.
Three and a half years later, my mother, at 19, had me. This is a birth story I know intimately. My mother was due with me on Dec 5, and like clockwork, I began my journey into the outside world around noon time. Maybe I was prompt, or maybe, it was just from my mother's insistence that I arrive on time, since she regularly arrives extraordinarily early. My mother labored with me for 36 hours, six of those spent pushing in the lithotic position. I went into fetal distress and we were wheeled into the operating room where I was born to a mother under general anesthesia. A glance by the doctor at her chart the next day told him something he should have read the day before: my mother had a tilted pelvis that prevented me, or my brothers later, from being delivered naturally.
10 months later, My Aunt S had my cousin SG at the age of 20. SG's birth is the kind of thing you see in movies, full of anecdotes that became the stuff of family legend. At one point my mother offered her twin her hand. Aunt S bit it. “You bit me!” exclaimed my mother. “I'm sorry!” Aunt S literally cried. The doctor decided to assist Aunt S with a vacuum extractor (or as told in the story, a suction cup. like on “baby on board” Signs). He broke 3 or 4 of them. The family legend has it that all of these broken cups were blue. “Maybe it's a girl and we need to use pink.” the doctor suggested. The doctor braced his feet on the bed, and pulled with the pink extractor. Out came SG, and Snap went Aunt S's tail bone.
For nearly 20 years, Aunt S hadn't an idea as to why her tailbone had broken. It wasn't until she discussed SG's birth with me that I understood and told her She'd had a fused tailbone, the same as Aunt K and My mother (part of the problem that prevents her from natural birth).
Only a month Later, Aunt K ended her pregnancy with my cousin A3. She had been very sick throughout, developing a condition she has yet to rid herself of completely called Alopecia Ariata Totalis, in which someone loses all the hair all over their body, not just that on the head with Alopecia. She had been prescribed Ice Cream to help her put on weight.
In between A3's birth and the birth of his sister's first child 17 years later, Aunt S had my cousin RG in a routine hospital birth and my mother had my brothers, BD & KD via scheduled Cesareans.
KT was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes at the age of 12. When she was 21 (the next number in the pattern) she found out she was pregnant. KT's birth story terrifies me.
KT was given two options by her 34th week of pregnancy- a schedule C-Section because of Hypertension, frank and to prevent Macrosomia, or die and take her baby with her. KT had no problem with the C-Section... it was the epidural she had trouble with. KT was told she wouldn't receive treatment at all unless she signed a release for an Epidural weeks before her son was born. When she cried and refused, the Doctor attempted to rope her husband into convincing (Read:manipulating) her to be complacent. KT's treatment after the birth of her son resulting in the reporting of 2 nurses, 1 for refusing to help her access the bathroom so she didn't bump her Incision and the other for refusing to change her bed pad after being asked, resulting in severe bedsores.

KT didn't have the option for an out of hospital birth, because of her diabetes. If my mother had decided to attempt to birth me at her then-home, at the point that I went into fetal distress, it's likely we wouldn't have made it.
I do not agree that if you “buy the Ticket” you have to “Take the ride”. There are women who have no choice because of location or extreme high-risk status. It is these women who must make the fight of their lives... We shouldn't be condemning them, we should be helping them... and that's exactly what I plan to do.I am an advocate of birth, the way the mother wants, the way she deserves, whenever safe.
KT has an annual exam next week, and she plans to lay everything I've included here and more out on the table. She knows for a fact that she's a victim of Birth Trauma, and she doesn't want it to happen again. For the last 2.5 years, she's had nightmares of birth, and she's on a journey to take it back... unlike others, she can't go home from the hospital... But KT has decided to bring home TO the hospital. While I do not plan on stepping on anyone's toes via examination, I do plan to advocate and help KT stick as closely to her birth plan as possible without causing harm to herself or her child. I'd do this for ANY high-risk woman or ANY woman who chooses a hospital birth. We need change, and we need it now- being complacent about “The Ride” we paid for isn't going to change a damn thing.

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