By Jill Arnold
I was invited to be a delegate at the Home Birth Consensus Summit. I confirmed that I am attending, but I’m going to have to ask for your help as a community. But then I started wondering who comprises our community. I can tell you what the Facebook page demographics look like, but not all 500,000 unique visitors a year are from Facebook. Why don’t I go ahead and try to define our readership in fancy italics?
Patients, a subset of pregnant women who hate being called “patients”, feminists, public health professionals, public health wannabes, obstetricians, an ex-boyfriend (*sniff*), fart joke enthusiasts (*sniff?*), people searching for “lisa masterson husband” and “did kourtney kardashian have an epidural”, probably your Aunt Diane, nurses, educators, lawyers, med students, med students who are also fart joke enthusiasts, activists and advocates, anti-activists and anti-advocates, goat farmers, midwives, doulas, sherpas, a freak who left a speculum on my pillow and whose name I can’t say but her initials are Amy Romano, hippies with computers, people who like the word vaginal, Canadians, Canadians with attitude, a few more suspicious Canadians (with excellent health care) whom I haven’t figured out yet, stalkers, people with a neurotic obsession with unwarranted practice variation (or is that just me?), parents and all of the rest of you.
And we all totally agree on home birth issues, right?
One way to tell me who you are or simply what your interest in the home birth climate in the U.S. is would be to fill out the form linked below. I am interested in hearing what you would personally share if you were in attendance.
Amid many other aspects worthy of exploration, I personally find myself drawn to discussing how opportunities for vaginal birth—just plain old vaginal birth as well as VBAC—are waning in hospitals and more women are presumably going to be looking for alternatives. I was that woman four and a half years ago and I was blessed to live in a population-dense, health-oriented corner of the country with a relatively diverse range of options, all of which I could include in my decision process because of good insurance, the savings that I used to have, and the privilege of good health and not having had that first cesarean that would have precluded use of the freestanding birth center, which was where I ultimately decided to drop that little Thanksgiving turkey that ended up almost being a giant Christmas ham. Some women choose home birth right from the start and seem to know right where to go to access care, but I was lost in my out-of-hospital search process. I feel drawn to looking out for women who never would have left the hospital had they not experienced the bizarreness of the whole current medical clusterfiesta—over-the-top communication of risk, the seeming aversion to vaginal birth, the episodic and inconsistent care within a large HMO and so on and so forth. When she goes looking for alternatives, how can she be sure to locate qualified midwives and that the process will be as safe as possible?
The dilemma presented here is how a single mom on the other side of the country gets to Virginia to lend a consumer voice to this forum. I think that’s where you come in. Truth be told, I really never got shit when I put out the tip jar. I got tips from three people. One had me on some kind of random interval behavior shaping program by dropping by with twenty bucks when she liked a post or felt inspired. The unpredictability of the reinforcement left me in a constant state of mental chaos… will she like this one? Is today’s the one? I’d better keep the quality and frequency up because I just never know when she’ll stop by with a monkey biscuit. I mean, twenty dollars. Ironically (and I don’t know if it’s really irony because I always misuse the word “irony”), the only real ad income this blog has ever received came from an OB-GYN. Thanks, Birthrisk.com. Go check out his site while you’re at it. Gus is good people.
Your tip isn’t a write-off or contribution to a non-profit or anything fancy. It’s going directly to me so I can buy a plane ticket. I’m certainly not flying first class and am pretty used to layovers and such, so if you all could help me offset the bulk of the cost of the flight, that would be great. It’s an honor to be invited to have a seat at the table, but I need to get me a seat on the airplane first. Anything over that can go into a fund to buy the ACOG folks a conciliatory beer for that whole first year of pure assholery on this blog.
Thanks in advance for any help you’re willing to give.
Get Jill on a plane:
UPDATE 10/01/2011, 6:45 a.m.— I am all set. Thank you all for getting me there. -Jill
Share your thoughts about home birth in the U.S. here (link opens new window).
These comments were left on another thread because this one was deliberately left closed to encourage people to send responses to me directly. Now memorialized here…
You left no room to comment on your post requesting contributions to get to the Home Birth Consensus Summit.
I hereby offer to pay for your entire plane ticket, hotel room and meals IF you get me into the Summit as one of the participants.
I’m not holding my breath, of course, since the “consensus” has been agreed upon in advance and participants have been extensively vetted to make sure that no one who might dare disagree is allowed across the threshold.
September 29, 2011 | Amy Tuteur, MD
Dude - I will NOT be able to front the cost of your plane ticket, et al. as above, but I will totally promise to improve the quality of my biscuits. From now on, all ingredients will be USDA-approved as fit for human consumption. o_0
September 29, 2011 | Monkey Biscuit
Monkey Biscuit, I am salivating and I don’t know why. I read your comment and I can’t stop drooling.
September 29, 2011 | Jill
Amy, I got my invitation on the later end, I think. I might have only been second or third tier (after cancellations)— don’t overestimate my clout. I don’t know that I can sneak you in in my jacket, either.
That’s a seriously generous offer. Thank you so much. Have you already e-mailed Saraswathi or Holly to see if they’ll include you? Let me know here or by e-mail what you’ve already done to try to get an invitation if you’d like and I can always send an email.
September 29, 2011 | Jill
I’m not sure if you realize it, Jill, but only those vetted for agreement with the predetermined outcome of the Summit are allowed to attend.
“The invitation selection process has been an iterative process with many rounds of vetting, internally and externally. Many individuals were nominated … Short lists were created by multidisciplinary subcommittees chaired by the Vision Team members who were most familiar with representatives of certain stakeholder groups. Each subcommittee went through a detailed vetting and weighing process and considered the balance of perspectives, ethnicities, gender, age, geography and other factors… We also prioritized those who were likely to respect the process by fully engaging in open-minded dialogue.”
So the only participants can be those who were invited and you can only be invited if the “Vision Team” knows you, knows what you are going to say and and knows that you won’t bring up any issues that the team would prefer to hide.
It’s pretty clever when you think about it. The “Vision Team” wants to hold a meeting about homebirth without mentioning the safety of homebirth (“The point is not to debate the “rightness or wrongness” of homebirth. “). Since safety is the single most important issue, that is quite a challenge. The only way to make sure that it provides the predetermined “consensus” is to have only invited participants who are undergo “many rounds of vetting” to be absolutely, positively sure that they won’t provide any information isn’t pre approved, any perspective that isn’t pre approved, and above all else, any of that pesky data that homebirth advocates don’t want women to see.
I really, really would foot the bill for you to attend if I could attend, too, but we both know that Holly and Saraswathi would never allow that to happen. That’s the difference between scientific conferences and homebirth conferences. At real scientific conferences, everyone is allowed to attend and no one is “vetted” in advance to be sure that they won’t say anything awkward. The opposite is true for this summit, which means, unfortunately, that it is a farce even before it begins.
September 29, 2011 | Amy Tuteur, MD
Dr. Amy have you looked at the most recent list of delegates who have accepted their invite?
(from the HBCS website)
Home Birth Consumers (mothers and fathers from a variety of perspectives)
Consumer Advocates (including doulas, childbirth educators, childbirth and women’s health care activists)
Home Birth Midwives (CPM, CNM, LM, Amish, traditional, etc.)
Maternal-Child Health Collaborating Providers (including paediatrics, labor and delivery nursing, neonatal providers, CNMs who facilitate access for hospital admission or consultation)
Obstetricians and OB Family Practice Doctors
Health Care Models, Systems, and Administrators
Health and Liability Insurers and Payors
Health Policy, Legislators, Regulators, and Ethicists
Public Health, Research, and Education
I don’t think this is going to be the home birth hug fest you think it is.
September 29, 2011 | Jen Holloman
Goddess Gaia tells me that the Home Birth Consensus Summit will indeed be a hug-fest. Jenifer, please come pick up the matching ceramic yoni charm bracelets you had me make for Drs. Waldman and Lawrence before you go. The three of you will hug for three days straight. Blessed be!
September 29, 2011 | Jen Holloman’s Aunt Diane