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An Actual Introduction-Introduction by Emjaybee

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It occurred to me that instead of introducing myself properly in my last post, I skipped all the personal stuff and went straight to my (many!) gripes and obsessions about birth.  It will not surprise you that as a child, I consistently failed at following directions, many times making more (and harder) work for myself than if I’d just done the assignment.

So mark that post a big “Needs Improvement” and we’ll try this again.

I have no professional credentials in the medical or legal fields.  Currently, I’m a chronically underemployed editor, author of several middle-school textbooks on subjects ranging from rodeo sports to chemical weapons, sometime graphic designer and promoter for my spouse’s musical projects, and a cubicle jockey in a horribly boring research job that pays the bills.   

I have one child, a son; after going through a lovely uneventful pregnancy together, we had the misfortune to experience his birth in the care of a c-section-happy hospital in Brooklyn, New York.  Despite my naïve belief that having a midwife (CNM) was some sort of protection from Bad Things happening to us, it wasn’t.  I recorded the story of my traumatic c/section here at my old blog shortly after I got home, and I have not touched it since (and I don’t reread it very often either), but it was bad.  Very bad.  And it radicalized my naïve ass like nobody’s business.

Ever since, I’ve been doing my (very) small part in being a crazy birth-rights activist, educating myself as much as I could in an effort to understand how doing what I thought was a good deal of preparation for birth didn’t help me much more than if I’d wandered in clueless off the street.  I mean, I could have spent those nine months reading the National Enquirer for all the good the birth books did me.

The answer, of course, was that our medical system is monumentally bass-ackwards in its approach to birth, for reasons that have a lot to do with sexism, ignorance, greed, and indifference.  And that therefore a woman wanting good treatment during labor and birth is going to have to steel herself by a) knowing her rights and b) being willing to tell doctors and hospitals exactly what they can do with their unwanted interventions.  (And possibly c) being prepared for someone to get a court order confining her if she’s a troublemaker).

In terms of my personal approach to birth activism, for me it boils down to a) rights and b) science.  The way birth is handled now in most hospitals both violates women’s rights and ignores good science in favor of habit and convenience.  That’s a pretty toxic twofer.

After lurking around Jill’s blog and firing off ranty comments on a regular basis, she and I began to email each other, and then she invited me to write here. And so here we are.

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Reader Comments (5)

Rights and science. Totally, that's it.

I'm so very sorry for the experience that you had. I thought my CNM would be crunchy like me, too, but wasn't and we had a rough road too, but nothing like yours.

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterANaturalAdvocate

After reading your birth story I am reminded of the horrors and scarring (physically and emotionally) from my first birth, also a c-section. I am so glad there are women out there who are willing to stand up to these injustices and to speak out so that others will not go through the same thing. I had the added bonus of being a single teenage parent at the time, and I also was placing my child for adoption. Because of all of that it was like I was an outsider in my own care, from every corner came judgement and condemnation (as if the whole experience wasnt difficult enough without their input). So now in my second pregnancy, 7 years later I am still frightened and dreading that experience. I have had to fight for my VBAC, changing care providers and doing my own research because no matter where I turn in this medicalized world I get scare tactics and defensive policies shoved down my throat. I am outraged at the insensitive ways that I and my fellow laboring women have been treated, and I have felt powerless because of my lack of education and my lack of title. To know that there are others out there like me, simply fighting for the right to make decisions about our own bodies, is very empowering. Thank you for being one of the people to open my eyes once again.

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilRedMommy

What a heartbreaking birth story, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I look forward to reading about your activism.

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFertileFem

Thanks ya'll (I can say that as a native Texan, heh). LilRedMommy, do you have an ICAN group where you are? If not, the national group's mailing list can still be a good backup for you...they saved my life, honestly.

(oh did I mention my postpartum hemorrage 10 days later? Yeah. That was fun.)

But anyway, if you need any help with support and don't have anybody at your back...feel free to email me, I know lots of happy VBAC moms.

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

I did contact my local ICAN group when I started doing real research about VBAC in my area. I found a great doula through them and I also found a more supportive care provider and hospital. It was a hard transition to make at 32 weeks, but I am happy to have done it and I feel much more confident in my birth now. It was just so frustrating for that interim period when I was looking for a new care provider and still trying to reconcile my shattered views of my old OB. There are still some days when I feel trapped, because of state law I will still have alot of restrictions once I go into the hospital, and I cant choose a home birth because it is illegal in my state to attend the home birth of a VBAC patient (and I dont feel comfortable going unassisted). So my best defense is to stay home as long as I can and go into the hospital only when I am past the point of no return. Hopefully this will stop alot of the fight against interventions and also let me be comfortable longer. Too many people have thrown around the "big baby" card to me (my first was 10lb 11.5oz) and I am just trying to arm myself with as much research as I can so that I will not fall for scare tactics this time. Even with all of this, I find myself feeling like I am suiting up for battle every time I think about going into labor (which could happen anytime since I will be 37 weeks tomorrow). I just feel like I have been robbed of what should be a beautiful experience because now I am having to arm myself against people who may try to take this out of my hands.

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilRedMommy
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