I cried when i read this…

luke.jpg So much of this story is like my Luke’s story. He was dx’d with autism spectrum disorder at 20 months of age. “Early” the pdeiatrician said, and I had to fight like you-know-what to even get a referral for a developmental pediatrician then. I knew something was wrong a few months earlier, after his 15 month set of shots. I enrolled him in the Missouri “First Steps” program where he had numerous visits form physical, occupational and speech therapists weekly. I nearly forgot I had other children during that first year while I fought for him. Insurance. Assistive devices. Diet changes. Filtering through autism studies and “cures”. Trying to get him to sleep through the night. He once went 4 days straight without sleeping. I bought a little pop-up play tent and put a crib mattress inside. He slept for 20 hours straight in there, and most nights afterwards. He had sensory integration disorder and the open space that was his bed kept him on “high-alert”. The occupational therapis likened it to the feeling we have when we trip and are about to fall backwards.

For months no one would take me seriously. I switched pediatricians. She listened. She didn’t see it but she heard me and gave me a referral for services. I didn’t know what was wrong exactly but I knew something was. When I was pregannt with him I had a dream that there was something wrong with his eyes, and his feet. These were metaphores for what would happen to him. He walks a different path, he sees the world differently than we do. He is autistic.

When I first heard that vaccine might be causing autism, I stopped giving my children vaccines until I could make an informed decision one way or the other.  Recently they all went to public school for the first time in their lives (while I’m back in college, adjusting to single-again life and trying to make ends meet). The vaccine issue came front and center immediately. I was told they could not attend school unless they were fully immunized. Rather than fighting a battle I would not win on physical-harm grounds, I got religious excemption forms instead. And I do have a religious belief that precludes me from harming my child: Immunizations DO harm children. Maybe not all the time, but it’s a risk I have chosen not to take.

Here is an article and the entire court document, ver batum, by David Kirby, where the court found that vaccines cause significant harm to a child and the parents were awarded an undisclosed amount of compensation. Compensation. How much money does it take, I wonder, to compensate for the loss of a normal, healthy child?

ANALYSIS

Medical personnel at the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) have reviewed the facts of this case, as presented by the petition, medical records, and affidavits. After a thorough review, DVIC has concluded that compensation is appropriate in this case.In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, respondent recommends that compensation be awarded to petitioners in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-11(c)(1)(C)(ii).
 

Every parent in the nation should read this story, and contemplate whether or not there is a reason to question the enormous amounts of vaccines our children receive. HERE is the article, in it’s entirety. I find it keeps moving, so if it comes up as “File Not Found” then search for articles written by David Kirby.

ACOG Official Position on Homebirth

 You can read the release in it’s entirety HERE. Basically more of the same. Homebirths are risky, hospitals are better, blah blah blah. No statistics, no data, just more of the same. It makes me sick. The patronizing tone that accompanies these statements infer, “Be a good little girl and do what your doctor tells you.” God forbid you think for yourself, ask questions, read, educate, listen, HEAR, make choices for yourself. Oh no. We can’t have that. Ugh. Can you hear me screaming?

I recently came across Britain’s Royal College of Obstetrician’s and Gynaecologist’s statement on homebirths. It was released in April of 2007. The overall tone is one of a deep respect for childbirth choices and a woman’s right to choose where and with whom she gives birth. The high spots are as follows:

“There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women with low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families.”

“The review of the diverse evidence available on home birth practice and service provision demonstrates that home birth is a safe option for many women.”

“The observational data available show lower intervention rates and higher maternal satisfaction with planned home birth compared with hospital birth.”

“It is aknowledged that there are no known risk assessment tools which have an effective predictive value concerning outcomes in the antenatal period and labour.”

“UK maternity policies recognise that, for the majority of women, pregnancy and childbirth are normal life events and that promoting women’s experience of having choice and control in childbirth can have a significant effect on children’s healthy development.”

“There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman’s likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby.”

Contrast this with the ACOG’s statement and you’re probably left scratching your head. Me too. Add that to the fact that in 2005, shortly after the major study linking better outcomes with CPM’s and homebirths, the OB.GYN.News put out a very favorable article. The title? “Planned Homebirths Safe, Study Suggests“.  AOG’s article on safety of homebirth  Makes ya go “Hmmm… ” doesn’t it???

Well Said Mr. Jefferson!

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves;                                                   and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion,                                      the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”    ~Thomas Jefferson

Well said. Very well said. The ACOG could use a bit of this advice. Constantly trying to “save” women from themselves, it absolutely enrages me that many will perform abortions under the argument of “It’s your body.” but will refuse VBAC’s, natural labors, laboring without intervention, denying women their birthing rights. And they do this in such a sneaky way. It’s unlawful for them, speaking broadly, to outright deny you services. You have rights you know. But if your decision/wishes conflict with the OB, then by golly, you can take your “rights” elsewhere. They simply write you a letter and dismiss you from their care. This is how they monopolize the childbirth experience and make it about their decisions and not ours.

When will we, birthing women with daughters who will be birthing women someday, stand up and LEARN the truth about birth and begin telling others about it? As usual, an educated mind is a healthy one and the future of birth depends on what we do TODAY to impact the birth culture.

Some Thoughts on Trust

A friend of mine wrote this into an email group I’m a part of. I thought her musings were worthy of a bigger audience. What questions must we struggle with while the medical establishment continues to refuse evidence-based care to VBAC women?? And how much more profitable would this time be if spent on labor preparation, healthy eating, exercise, emotional/psychological prep for birth? Family? NOT a fun thing to be grappling with during the last few weeks of pregnancy yet this post could have been written by SO many women in similar situations. Concerning…  

Posted by: “Lori” ~ Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:56 pm (PST)

…. Or perhaps, just pointless rambling by a very pregnant woman. You be the judge. ;)I recently had a conversation with my OB that left me feeling betrayed, deceived and angry. At my 36 week appointment, she informed me that if I reached 40 weeks without going into labor, we would have to have a discussion about RCS [repeat cesarean section]. Early in the pregnancy, I had asked her “What happens if I reach 40 weeks without going into labor?” I don’t remember what she actually said at that point, but for sure it didn’t include RCS! So I’ve been bitterly complaining about it to anyone who’ll listen, feeling outraged and declaring I couldn’t trust her anymore.Then it finally occurred to me that *of course* I couldn’t trust her – our relationship was already built on deception, and I have to take the blame for that.

Very early in this pregnancy, I was invited to ICAN and this list, and it didn’t take long for me to do the research and do the math: My best chance for VBAC is homebirth, homebirth is at least as safe a choice as hospital birth, therefore I will find a homebirth midwife and plan a HBAC.

I considered dropping my OB, but after discussions with my mw’s and some consideration, it seemed best to continue seeing her, to maintain the relationship in case I need to transfer during labor, or in case something were to come up before then that the mw’s weren’t equipped to handle. But I chose not to let my OB in on this plan. I was (and still am!) positive that she would never support my HBAC plans; at the same time, she appears to be one of the very few and perhaps one of the best options for a hospital VBAC in my area. And I find it difficult to conceive of finding an OB who would support HBAC – has anyone encountered such a creature recently, I wonder?

I think there are a lot of women in this neck of the woods in my situation, who do the very same thing. And I don’t really feel *guilty* about deceiving her – although I can’t say I’m thrilled about it. But it finally occurred to me tonight that it’s pretty silly of me to feel so outraged at her seemingly underhanded last-minute whammy. Every interaction with her is necessarily colored by mistrust. Is it possible to really trust someone whom you yourself are betraying in some way? It’s certainly a rotten basis for a healthy relationship of any kind.

I find I am a lot less angry with my OB after thinking about the situation this way. I still don’t trust her – and I can’t say I’m happy about how late in the pregnancy this RCS thing came up – but I don’t really blame her so much, because I can’t know how much of my reaction is because of the situation itself.

I am (once again) saddened and frustrated by the state of affairs of childbirth in the U.S. that forces many women into these suboptimal choices. If only VBAC weren’t such a hot potato… if only the OB’s and hospitals weren’t driven more by fear of litigation or their bottom line than by concern for their patients… if only the childbirth climate or culture in the U.S. were more enlightened….

Well, if anyone has made it through my navel-gazing, I’d be glad to have your thoughts on the subject. :)

~Lori

 Indeed Lori: “If only . . .”

Activism

I like that word. Makes me feel like I’m doing something important. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Recently I’ve felt as though I’m doing precious little about the birthing world I live in. I’m writing this book about VBAC’s. Great. We will all feel nice and warm and fuzzy and mom’s who were onthe edge of jumping towards one will dive in head first…

into an empty pool.

I’m just royally ticked off. What can I do? I’ve written this book, this little pasty paperback that will likely do some good, somewhere, somehow. But I want to CHANGE things. I want to put the “ACTIVE” in “ACTIVISM”.

Ugh. I want to give every mom their best birth. But this, inherently, is why I can’t. I can’t give someone something that is theirs already. It’s why doula work is so exhausting for me. It’s why I **think** I want to be a midwife.

I read a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With Wolves about a year ago. The basic principle of the book, or at least it strikes me as such, is that verbal traditions are what create lasting change and empowerment for cultures. And especially for women. I guess that’s the driving force for this book: the idea that through hearing other’s stories we will be changed, empowered, healed… and that’s ultimately the greatest thing that could happen to birthing women. To take back BIRTH.

I just wish I could do something for them, something for all of us, that would give those leaps of faith a more cushioned landing. :-) Something … more.

Trains, Pains, and Stupid Laws

I spent the day at the capitol last week. As a single mom, taking a whole day, finding the money to get there . . . all of it was a sacrifice. I took the train as it was cheaper than gas, but still . . . the cost was a factor. (Note to self: there’s a reason the fare was so cheap. I arrived no less than 2 hours later than I should have.)

I left feeling incredibly frustrated. So much needs to change. Where to start???

Then I got home, spoke to my fiance on the telephone… spoke of the possibility of birthing together some day in the not-so-far-away future… and I thought of my options. Talk about frustration. On a very personal level. In my area of Missouri my birthing options include:

  • A repeat cesarean delivery with an OB/GYN (CNM’s can’t take me because of the supposed high-risk status VBAC places  me in.) at the local hospital.
  • A homebirth with a trained (but highly-illegal) midwife.
  • An unassisted homebirth.

The only option that appeals to me is the middle one. It is legal for me to have a homebirth here, but it is illegal for me to hire a trained midwife to attend me during the labor and birth. Absolutely assinine. The medical establishment screams “safety, safety, safety” yet they are primarily responsible for forcing either an unnecessary surgical birth on me or forcing me to birth alone. Both are risky propositions and both are out of the question for me.

This isn’t front page news here in Missouri. Birthing families who want a spiritual birth, an unhindered birth, a family-centered birth, an unmedicated and intervention-less birth… we all find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. But really – that’s small potatoes when we consider what the midwives are up against. Talk about frustration…

They love what they do. Obviously it is a “calling” to one degree or another. When we consider what they go through to serve women, it must be a deeply held conviction. None of these ladies are getting rich. Ha. They are barely covering expenses in some instances. The hours are horrible, the pay is a joke, and to top it all off, they live under the constant threat of litigation and jail time. Missouri midwives believe in healthcare freedom and reproductive/birthing CHOICE. This is no school-girl banner. They mean business and are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

In Missouri, serving a woman who chooses to birth at home (no matter how “low-risk” she is) is a FELONY. A felony, ladies and gentlemen. A FELONY. Absolutely ridiculous.  I have known this fact for years, yet each time I think about it I am appalled. I just can’t believe that my home state would allow this archaicly-restrictive law to remain on the books another year.

When I consider my frustrations, VBAC bans at all the local hospitals around me, a strong preference for highly-medicalized births by the doctors in those hospitals, trying to find a midwife who is willing to risk her entire life to serve me at a homebirth (which, incidentally, is like trying to find the Holy Grail), the risk of birthing unassisted… they pale in comparison to the frustration and sacrifices Missouri midwives live with on a daily basis.

My hat is off to you – thank you for your tremendous sacrifices. Thank you for risking so much to serve where no one else will. For now you are nameless. But one day you will not be and we will have a “Midwife Appreciation Day” and hand out plaques or trophies or something. :-)

In the meantime, I’ll keep calling my legislators. Making trips to Jefferson City on the “314 Ann Rutledge” and going home frustrated. And thanking you for being there – legal or not – when my time to birth comes again someday.

I Thought Questions Were Good!?

My personality type, and indeed my homeschooled childhood training, have predisposed me to having a very analytical mind. I do not take things for granted. I do not “assume” anything. I am optimistic about the value of humanity in general, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts of how things are done and WHY… I ask LOTS of questions. I have an insatiable desire to understand. For me, that understanding comes through research, analyzing, networking, and yep – you guessed it – asking questions.

Whether it is why “routine” is “routine” in prenatal care, why a medication does what it does, or how a particular piece of legislation will impact my life, I ask questions.

Sometimes these questions can seem afrontive – especially if they are asked of someone who has alot of emotional energy invested in a particular area. For instance, if I were to ask Louis Pasteur to explain to me why his methods of sterilization are better than anyone else’s, he might be offended. Or if I were to say to Albert Einstein that I think his theory of relativity might have a “hole” in it.. well… you get the point.

 Still, as all homeschoolers know,  intelligent questions often are the basis of new discoveries.  My parents taught me to ask questions. To strive to understand. And so I do. Sometimes at the expense of “PR”.  :) It’s who I am. Status Quo is not in my vocabulary.

I’ve been told that I expect too much of people. Frankly, I don’t expect much at all. Maybe not enough. Instead I ask my questions so I can make up my own mind about things. This mind-set strikes at the heart of midwifery and indeed all healthcare choices in general. I was told once that asking questions and seeking understanding – making the knowledge I acquire my very own will make me a good midwife someday. I hope they were right.

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