The Human Rights in Childbirth Conference ended yesterday. My advice? Go sign up to watch the webinar so you can witness this piece of history. The array of people that came together from all over the world—not just those who took the stage but the audience members as well—was impressive to say the least. I had no phone service and no internet connection for a few days, so I haven’t been able to post updates on anything.
The conference was organized into eight panels. The first four panels on Day 1 covered international topics, saving Netherlands-specific panels for the second day.
There is really no way to put this in a nutshell, but here is the gist of things. The maternity care system in the Netherlands is falling prey to market conditions, particularly influenced by the health insurance industry. Monopolies are formed, profit is valued above all else and off they go in creating a McHealthCareSystem. For those who have watched this phenomenon happen before, observing it happen all around them a little bit every day can be troubling to some. When you watch the webinar, see if this is the overriding theme that you pick up on, too.
I was asked to speak as the mother on the panel and, as I told the audience, it was strange to speak about myself and my story in front of people. I am not used to talking about personal experiences and feelings as such in front of an audience, so that was a little weird. I got rolling, then took a little more comfort in looking at my papers than I had anticipated.
If you want to read what I guarantee will be a quality summary of the conference, Rixa will have something up. I know it will be good because I watched her note-taking skills in action and they are remarkable, in contrast to my notes which included “don’t forget to pay mortgage” and “when’s lunch?”
As with any conference, it was wonderful to see friends in person and to meet new people. It was very strange to be disconnected for so long from electronic tethers, particularly while traveling alone. When you can text people, you’re not technically traveling alone and I found myself stuck with my own inner monologue and observations for almost two days. I think I might be a little more selective about the crap that I text to people now, as I am not so sure that exteriorizing my special thought nuggets is really quite the treat for others that I have thought it was. There was one exception, however. I saw a van with the word “DOUCHEWAGEN” on it. When then ask me at customs if I have anything to declare, I will tell them that I am taking the word douchewagen home with me and that they should worry because I am known to trademark words.
This douchewagen can’t figure out this camera, so please enjoy the pictures on the Human Rights in Childbirth Conference Facebook page in the meanwhile.