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.