Friday, May 22, 2009

The unbelivevable...

I just returned from a few days at a conference, Part.ners in Perinatal Hea.lth. I had an exhibit table there with literature, suggestions, examples, gorgeous photography, and a couple of down-home bereaved moms to talk to. I was delighted at the response we had from the nurses, midwives, childbirth educators and doulas who attended the conference.
Now speaking at this conference was the ever-so-renowned Ms. In.a Mae Gas.kin, and if you are not familiar with her very incredible life story and her quite compelling writing about women and birth and breasts etc, it is worth a look. But it is easiest to sum up that she is of the school, which I also once belonged to, that it is silly to imagine a baby born anywhere other than at home, and she is also of the school (which I did not really belong to) that believes that insurance companies run everything, doctors and nurses are out to put you in stirrups and inject you with all array of toxic substances, and that hospitals are mostly just bad. So listening to her speak, I did listen through a filter, knowing that as a babylost mother I would never take the risk of being away from the things that might save my baby, but also knowing as a birthing mother that I do believe women are made to give birth and can do so easily and with joy when the circumstances allow it.
I could, and may, go on for several posts worth of reactions to Ms. G's talk, but for now I will just relay one story which made my blood boil. This followed a series of pie charts touting her "farm's" success with 0% maternal deaths in their first 400 births, to which I wondered, but what about the babies?
So the story goes like this, she relays it, it is early in the life of her delivering babies, and a mother comes to her with a long and difficult labor, and the baby eventually emerges with the cord wrapped tightly three times around its neck, blue. While efforts are being made to resuscitate the baby, the mother begins to hemorrhage. Ultimately, the baby is resuscitated and the mother's bleeding slows down to a normal rate. Ina explains that everything did end up fine, because she knew what to do. Our friend Ina, in recalling the story, asks, "Who writes this stuff?" Like as if it's just this kind of cool war story to tell, with a happy ending that had nothing to do with really unbelivable timing and luck.

So here's another story. (It's mine) There is a healthy mother. She goes into normal labor, and delivers a healthy baby. The cord is not wrapped around the baby's neck tightly. The labor had not been difficult. The mother does not hemorrhage. The baby is dead anyway. Nobody knew what to do.

Who writes that?

(green, green, green. I know. I am green with envy. I want a cool war story, too)

13 comments:

caitsmom said...

Your story is tragic. I didn't hear envy in your telling of the other "war" story, though. I hear sadness and maybe anger? It makes no sense why your precious child died. I'm so sorry. I think it's perfectly normal to want a live child when we hear the "happy ending" stories, and for me that doesn't always translate into envy. Well, I guess if it does feel like envy that should be OK. I say this because I hope you are being gentle with yourself. (OK, I just reread your post, and clearly my response is about me, but I'll leave it anyway, because your post helped me think about envy a bit more.) Thank you.

I was curious . . . is it possible this Ms. G has never witnessed the death of mother or child? Because, I think she might have told the story differently. Peace.

erica said...

I was so taken with I.M.G's books when I was pregnant and hopeful and happy. Now that I know so many things I wish I didn't know, that story makes my blood boil, too.

And here's my thing: the outcome for my son may have been no different, ultimately, if I'd gone to a birthing center or birthed at home, but one of the things that allows me to survive and stay (mostly? partly?) sane is knowing we did everything we could. The hospital and NICU gave me that much at least.

THAT GIRL said...

as a l&d nurse in a hospital... i catch a lot of slack about "medicalizing" birth. i talk to women who are ashamed of their c-section scar.
though i completely appreciate natural birth... though I love what a women's body can do...
i also want my mother to LIVE... and i want my baby to LIVE.
i have recently placed a dying mother on a helicopter to a big city hospital... she LIVED. i promise you... she would not have lived in a maternity center or at a home birth.
i have saved babies... i have lost babies...
and once you have experienced a baby pass or born still... you will never be the same.
i am a firm believer that a great birth is wonderful... but a horrible birth with an ALIVE baby is wonderful, too.
some moms go home and will never fathom the miracle of the pink and breathing baby they hold.

Jen said...

Carol, I am always glad that you are telling YOUR story and encouraging others to tell their stories of loss. I have such a huge problem with the rhetoric of the home birth movement. I look forward to hearing more of your reflections on IMG's talk.

And I am so grateful to see That Girl's comment that "a horrible birth with an ALIVE baby is wonderful too." Hear, hear.

Hope's Mama said...

There is a fascinating discussion at Glow in the Woods at the moment about this sort of thing. I agree with everything you say Carol. And I am green with you.

Cara said...

Curious: did she state any stillbirth stats on the farm? I mean, she might not have wrote it...but it happens, even there - I'm sure.

Meg said...

you know, i wonder also if she just has never actually seen something go so terribly wrong. when i was a new driver, i could not even imagine how people got into accidents. i just thought, "why wouldn't you just turn the wheel at the last second? what is wrong with people? there is no reason why anyone should get into an accident."
i wonder if she just can't believe that she couldn't save a mother or baby? maybe my example isn't that good.
I think you have every right to be upset at her remarks. they are crass.

mama said...

Oh girl you know that MY BLOOD IS A BOILING! You also know how I am sinking my teeth into something so grand when I comes to Ina May!

I wish that I was there while she was talking statistics, and I wish I could have waved my arm and asked the question....

"Have you ever had a stillbirth loss on the farm?"

I wonder if, in front of all those people if she would have answered honestly, or if she would have sugar coated and hid the truth to save face.

Charlotte's Mama said...

I mean let's face it people, there is NO WAY that no baby has ever been lost on the farm. There have been thousands of babies born there by now and we all know the stats. 1/100, or more. So babies have died there, and she knows it, but it would not support her agenda. And I too don't necessarily believe that a hospital, had I been so fortunate to have been there at the time, could have 100% saved my daughter who died while I laboured at home, but I would have felt better if I had been there and known that for certain. There will be more on this, there will be more.

charmedgirl said...

oh goodness.
ina mae was one of the first i read back in college. i was obsessed with midwifery and homebirth. now that paige is dead and the midwife in huge trouble and i am completely confused about my beliefs about birth (not that i need those anymore)...i just wonder how she (and so many others) can be SO SURE.

it angers me, yet it's just like any other topic people think they *know* anything about.

isn't it you, carol, that said the sun just keeps on rising and setting? the earth keeps turning? that's all i know.

mommymichael said...

my midwife told me "if a midwife hasn't seen a baby or mother die from birth... she hasn't been practicing long enough".
because tragic things do happen, no matter how hard we try to prevent them..

while i love ina may. i want to doubt that she hasn't seen anything other than perfect endings...

pinky said...

I wish they invited Dr. Amy to this partners in perinatol gig. It sound so medical. It should be advertised as "Yay natural childbirth." I agree 100% with That Girl. A healthy baby who went through hell to get here is still a beautiful birth. And I cannot put crunchy feely ways in front of pure safety.

Dalene said...

My story is the same as your story. Healthy mom, healthy baby, no reason for baby's death. I read Ina May when I was pregnant and won't go near her teachings now. I was confident that everything would work out fine and then it didn't. I would have been squirming, too.