Open Letter in Response to ‘One Lost Sheep’ from Stillbirthday

31 01 2012

I re-read this, this time carefully. I softened. I felt through you for a minute, and for a minute believed that this really was good, as were our “enemies”, as were you… until I got to the end. The end where you still speak of slander, and where you dare to forgive my friend for her normal reaction to sudden and unexpected opposition. It came across as condescending. When we haven’t slandered, we don’t need forgiveness. When all loss moms are angry and have suffered and want a voice, why are some allowed to express anything about anyone, while others are expected to hold their tongues even while being assaulted? Why are we playing by different rules? Why are some given a free pass on anything, but not my friend? Who approves who we may speak ill of? Is there a list?

Sometimes "lost sheep" are just "black sheep".

The things you said, about her friends, and propaganda… I have a hard time thinking you truly believe that. DO you truly believe that? It really just… simply, blows my mind. My first instinct was that you were twisting and turning it all, using what you know are our feelings and making them your own, so that the roles appear reversed to the reader… a manipulation. But, could you truly feel that this was accurate? Maybe you do. I am trying to remain open to the idea that somewhere inside you actually believe we are allowing our friend’s story to become “lost” in our agenda (which happens to be her belief [system– in reference to the “agenda”], btw, and has been her belief system all along– it was not rocked or challenged by loss.).

We each have “propaganda”, by the other’s standards. Make no mistakes. And we each have friends who help us share our story, so we can tell our truth as we see it. We were drawn to our friend not because we saw someone to mold, but because we saw someone who was grounded and admirable, graceful under tragedy, and we wanted others to listen. We’ve had no effect on her message or her voice other than accessibility. We did not, as some of you have, taken her in fresh grief and impressed upon her our feelings about one birth method being any better than another.

You sit there and tell this woman that she, in her former and her usual peace, is not truly healed… while recommending that she eventually see “the truth”… the truth as your friends have seen it, your truth which from our eyes only held anger and blame in a blanketing sweep. The angry truth. Is that better for her? Because my friend had her head on straight and was mad at no one until she was provoked. The pain she feels now is from whatever is inflicted on her by the blamers, the rage-addicts. In other words, she was fine until you all got to her to intentionally wound her. But she remains the villain in your story. As do I. I could assure you our noble intent, our heart, our truth, goodness and fairness in judgment… but I don’t think you could agree. Regardless, I would challenge you to reexamine, in humility, that none of you are fit to judge this woman, her calm method of accepting The Creator’s plan, nor are any of you properly trained or equipped to, from a distance, tell her who and what was responsible for her loss. An acknowledgment of these things would be nice, but we will not wait or expect.

So who, in this analogy, needs to repent? Repent what? Repent homebirth? Repent defending oneself against new, self-appointed enemies? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I know lost sheep when I see them, and my dear friends and I… I have never seen such strong, stable, gracious, compassionate, loving, spiritual, in-tune and intuitive wise women in my life. Women who would cry over anyone’s heartbreak, mock no one’s pain, attempt to wound no stranger nor sister, and who attempt to regain balance and healing when life knocks us down. We stand on our own, and maybe we are lucky for that… we are not in any circle trying desperately to fit in, as we have moved past that. I say “lucky” because perhaps different life circumstances would have had us taking a beating and coming back for more, looking for stability and kinship from those who greet us with abuse. So, we are lucky that we have the luxury to have the ability to choose to be tough and say we find this unacceptable. We are, in my eyes, not lost at all. We are found.

Or are your friends the lost sheep, and you are Jesus going back for them?

Perhaps you find the virtue in coming back again, and again, and again after being kicked and slapped. There is some patience in it, but for us, it is masochism. We do not insist on belonging to people who have shown us their hate for us. In fact, we never asked to know of their hate, so we take even that knowledge as an offense. There are places where you will find love and togetherness without sacrificing your happiness or self worth.

I want to go back to sympathizing, to seeing you as real women with hearts, with feelings… but that can never be easy so long as you all are held up here, on some pedestal of your own design… cast as victims and good people who are allowed any transgression with excuses and forgiveness endlessly, while your sisters sit on the other side, scorned, even when they’ve spoken nothing false. You’re cutting the line there. I am thankful for it, because if it’s how you really feel, we need to see that. I wouldn’t want it hidden from sight. It just sucks because, I feel like… we were so close. So close to feeling each other, understanding each other. We were almost there.





Seven Everyday Slings Review & Giveaway

26 01 2012

Win a Seven Everyday Sling, Sling Size 4 (M-L, ~D cup), in design Caramel Latte, worth $48 full price– enter the easy Rafflecopter Giveaway here!

I received this sling in this design and tried it on once, with my baby Sage, who was (at that time) 9 months old.

It is from Seven Everyday Slings.

Seen here in Caramel Latte, currently being sold for $39 plus shipping. How cute is this! And who wouldn't want to be THIS mom, right?

“Cut from a different cloth”, our bold and unique fabrics are perfect for moms that don’t want typical gear.

97% Cotton 3% Lycra – making it comfortable to wear for both you and your baby- not losing shape over time.

Infants to toddlers (35 lbs or less). Machine washable.

Making moms around the world even hotter with every purchase so… get some! 

I received size 4, which is designed for women who wear sizes M-L in shirts and in general. It supposedly fits women from 5’2″ to 6’1″, who are between 151 to 191 pounds. I am in the middle of both of those. It says it’s best for cup size D or E. Now, I claim to be a C, so I thought maybe this would afford me more room. Truthfully, these days I must admit that maybe I really am borderline D. Maybe it’s from breastfeeding, or leftover pregnancy weight.

See more about their sizing here.

Anyway, I followed the instructions and found it was a very snug fit. Uncomfortably so. My clothing and Sage’s clothing were snagging on it, so I was trying to pull my shirt down and pull his pant legs down so we wouldn’t be exposed or chilly. However, when I tug on Sage’s pant legs, his legs want to come out of the seat/pouch the sling created (in the hold for older, sitting babies). So, it undoes all the tricky work from folding it the right way (PITA), squeezing me and my 20 pound baby into it, and finding the right position. Ugh!

Then, I couldn’t wear it for longer than 20 minutes. The pressure on my shoulder and back was tremendous! I found myself always trying to shift the weight, and Sage looked like he wanted to fall off me sideways (even though he was stuck pretty good).  I wore this so I could keep him close to me where he wants to be while doing practical things. I chose laundry. It killed. I was aching to take it off and new I would not wear it again.

Full disclosure: I am a novice baby wearer. I have worn precious few slings and don’t have experience with variety or extended wear. I have a bad back.

The verdict:  I would only recommend this for smaller babies under 15 pounds, especially if they can be carried in the cradle hold as seen here, for simplicity’s sake. This makes it equal with a lot of the other newborn-only sleeper carriers you can get at Babies R Us… the only other sort I have experience with. If you’re a mom of a newborn or lightweight baby, your back will probably take this alright. I also think this would be ideal for people on the smaller end of this spectrum. If you are under 5’5″, a C cup, and weigh less than 165, this might be the sling for you. Me? I’m probably better off suited for a Moby or Ergo, from what I’ve heard. A fan on my page informed me that her opinion was, these particular slings made by Seven are cheaply made. I don’t know enough about slings to concur, I just know that my experience was not smooth. It is essentially just a piece of fabric, however.

Want this sling? Maybe you’ll have better luck than me. It is new. It was tried on once. Use it for yourself or give it away to a friend. Make sure to refer to the site for wear instructions.

Win a Seven Everyday Sling, Sling Size 4 (M-L, D cup), in design Caramel Latte, worth $48 full price– enter the easy Rafflecopter Giveaway here!

~ Contest runs January 26th – February 7th. ~





Have You Gotten Your FREE ‘In Search of the Perfect Birth’ Yet?

25 01 2012

That’s right. Starting yesterday, and for a VERY limited time, you can get In Search of the Perfect Birth (Kindle Edition) FREE on Amazon.

US link: ISOtPB on Kindle
UK link:  ISOtPB on Kindle

Don’t have a Kindle? Neither do I– you can still get the book. Most of our readers are getting theirs via phone or PC. If you haven’t already, join the hundreds of other people who’ve grabbed it, and make sure you tell people about this. It’ll be over soon.

I have been so, so happy at the amazing response we’ve received. So many pages have graciously shared us, and people have been messaging and commenting wonderful things. I hope you will enjoy the book as much as they have. Thank you to the following pages who have so far shared this free book news with their awesome communities.  Stop by and visit them and see if you like what they have to offer. So many people have been helpful, so I might be forgetting someone– if I have, please, let me know!

Facebook:

The Skeptical Mother  I hope to expose the truth and dispel the lies that are often spread by opponents of homebirth and natural childbirth.
Lactastic Mommy- Your BFF (Best Breastfeeding Friend) [she shared it, twice!] This page is devoted to helping moms and dads with all things breastfeeding in an open, nonjudgmental forum.
Unassisted Childbirth/Freebirth  Unassisted birth also called Freebirth, is giving birth without the assistance of a professional birth attendant.
Undisturbed Birth  Birthing in Freedom
The Mom: Informed  We provide information and web links for parents.
Natural Pregnancy & Childbirth  Pregnancy, Natural Childbirth, Waterbirth, Homebirth, Breastfeeding and more.
Funky Little EarthChild  The gentle and not-so-gentle ramblings of a voice for those who cannot speak.
Know Better, Do Better Birth Services   Birth Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Services
Freebirth Australia  A website about freebirth, for freebirthers, by a freebirther!

Twitter:

@esalibirth  Esali Birth: We believe providing knowledge to our students allows them to be removed of cultural stigmas and fear tactics placed on many of us by society.

 

We are #1 at Amazon Kindle in the Pregnancy/Childbirth category. ♥ In the UK, we are currently ranked #18 in Personal Health on Kindle.

If you haven’t helped us spread the word, you’re missing out on being a part of an extremely great group of people. If you haven’t read it yet, join the hundreds of mothers, activists, doulas, and midwives currently reading the book. The positive feedback has been tremendous… I am truly blown away.

Be on the lookout for another giveaway starting tomorrow. Our book will still be available for free, so this will be something running simultaneously, and it is baby related (of course). Are you curious what it is?





bumGenius Elemental One-Size All-in-One Cloth Diaper Review

23 01 2012

NOW Family provided me with two brand new bumGenius Elemental snap cloth diapers in Clementine and Moonbeam. It’s organic. These babies retail for in the $20 and $30s a piece.

Baby Sage was the winner of their Santa Baby photo contest; these would be used for him!

Now,  Sage already had several of the older bumGenius diapers, in the touch-tape, velcro-like attachments. We got them secondhand and they quickly became Dad’s favorite cloth diaper, so I was very excited to try the new version.

The old version is a pocket diaper, but the outer layer is waterproof and the inner layer is so thick and absorbent (yet, fit is always trim) that you really don’t have to use inserts or liners at all. I never have to use diaper covers with bumGenius, either.

This new version had a different set-up. At first I thought it was an odd configuration, but then I realized it still allowed for liners to be used if preferred (slip between the slots– but, not necessary!).

So, we put Sage in the first diaper and confidently went out shopping. We’re a family of five and live in a rural area, so shopping excursions with our child, toddler, and infant can take awhile.

Five hours later…

Um, doesn’t Sage need a dipe? Yes…

Daddy lovingly checked it out for me and replaced with a clean diaper. But, what you need to know is, there was NO leakage or problems of any kind, whatsoever. And yes, that was after being in the diaper for about 5 hours! Sage was nine months old at the time, breastfed and trying solid foods. Sage was very content the entire time in his diaper, and his bum’s in good shape.

Batman Sage dons "Clementine"-- bumGenius Elemental.

So, needless to say, Mommy and Daddy both love the new version of bumGenius cloth diapers. Thanks to NOW Family for giving us a wonderful prize, and the opportunity regularly for people to win awesome stuff like this!

I think this diaper would be great for:  newbies who want to see how convenient modern cloth diapering actually is, as well as seasoned vets who appreciate the best dipes on the market. So, pretty much any cloth diaperer. Also great for the bedtime dipe– baby stays content all night, everybody wakes up dry.

Want to win some bumGenius? Head over to NOW Family, who will be sharing details very soon on how you can win some from the new Elemental line.

 

****If you have a product or service you would like to see reviewed here, contact info@theperfectbirth.com to inquire. ****





Getting Qualified Care: Attempted Interview with Stillbirthday

19 01 2012

Michelle and I had noted concerns about Stillbirthday, a fledgling organization set up to mentor grieving parents of infant loss which is headed by very active members in an angry anti natural birth movement– so rather than asking rhetorical questions that could be mostly agreed upon by objective readers, I decided it was only fair to allow the founder (self-described Christian doula Adalheid “Heidi” Faith) to speak for herself in defense of her organization.

She declined to comment.

Then this happened at the blog of a would-be mentor for Stillbirthday. In it she stated:

The bolded bottom text is my commentary.

So, as stated in my above bold text, I felt it would be necessary to share the entire exchange of e-mails between Heidi and myself, and was prepared to do so, and I informed Heidi. I wanted to prove my innocence and hopefully discredit the libel and defamation occurring. Heidi, however, asked me not to, claiming it would breach a sense of confidentiality (although I started off everything by informing her this was “on the record”). I had false information being spread about me and people were now visiting my page and accusing me of threatening Stillbirthday, so someone was going to have to clean up the mess. I informed Heidi that I still intended to publish a post discussing Stillbirthday, but that I would reconsider showing our e-mail exchange if she could manage to stop the lies.

While no further response from Heidi has yet been received, the blog which accused me has been removed. True to my word, I will not post the e-mail exchange between Heidi and myself.

As an aside, I have been sharing this video clip for about a year now. Each time I did and shared the advice given within it, I was criticized by this group for being dangerous and giving dangerous advice. Oddly enough, Stillbirthday uses the same clip, and approves...


I will, however, share the questions below that I intended to ask her, which she did not feel comfortable answering on the record. She felt my questions should be addressed privately, and that I had too much of a slant to my interview.  I still wait to see if she will answer my questions privately, off the record.

Hi Heidi. This is on the record. I wanted to ask you a few questions, if I could, about Stillbirthday, and I do plan to use it on an upcoming post where I address receiving qualified care. If you are okay with that, would you please respond to these? First of all, I had Michelle send this for me as a favor. She is helping me compose this and she may also add some of her own questions in here to mine. Okay, now– Could you discuss a little about what exactly a Mentor’s role is at Stillbirthday?

Stillbirthday describes their mentor requirements.

What do you think qualifies these women to be in that role? I understand these are women and mothers who have experience with loss themselves. Do they have a backgrounds, training, or degrees in psychology? Do you give psychological evaluations to any of your Mentors before they assist a grieving mother? Do you feel that these individuals are emotionally and psychologically sound enough to be in such a lofty and sensitive position?

More on what they require of their mentors.

Do you feel there are any potential dangers to someone who is still unresolved in their own issues of grief being placed in a position of trust and mentorship over someone new to grief?

I know that several of you sincerely dislike natural birth, or what you feel are tenets of a NCB community, to an extent of being quite angry or even voicing feelings of ridicule. Do you feel this would be a potential obstacle in offering good counsel or compassion to someone grieving (particularly someone who has utilized natural or home birth as a method, and whom does not feel this was to blame for their loss, and would do it again that way for future children)?

Do you feel that healing from loss is possible, and how do you support others in their quest to get there (if so)?

Do you think it’s offensive to suggest that healing can happen after this level of pain? Do you encourage or discourage joining any particular *groups* after someone has suffered a loss? I’m remembering Margarita in this and how quickly your group took

A ray of hope: Margarita “likes” the comment that says licensing does not promise positive outcomes, after being taken under the wings of the anti NCB crowd swiftly after she announced the death of her son.

her under their wings when she announced the passing of her son. I can’t help but wonder if that didn’t have an effect on the way viewed her loss.

How do you see yourself handling women who are grieving but not in agreement with any of you in the birth department? What do you anticipate being the response of one of your mentors to one of their former clients, were they to “meet” again in the online birthing communities which often butt heads?

Given the “secret groups”, the rage we’ve seen, the label of “trolls” given– how do you plan on ensuring that women who innocently enter your program looking for help can be and feel safe with their mentors?

If there is anything else about the groups you are a part of, and their relation to Stillbirthday, or anything at all else to share with readers, what would that be?

Thanks so much for your time, Heidi.

An example of Bambi's online presence. Her anti natural childbirth group, she claims, is not out to get anyone and she doesn't want people to be paranoid, but their activities include screencapping people to mock amongst themselves; she admits she even does this to family.

This is the reaction of a loss mother to Bambi's online methods of expressing her grief. As you can see, Michelle has had a strong reaction to Bambi's declarations against natural birth and Michelle's loss that Michelle felt compelled to be blunt towards Bambi re: regularly blaming and accusing others. Since Michelle is a calm person, I can't help but wonder what other reactions mentor Bambi would get.

Their group doing the usual. Also worth noting-- I'm pretty sure that Carlos Mencia reference is regarding retardation.

Sammy, aka. The Skeptical Mother, battling "trolls". She is referring to something Lisa had done, seen below.

Lisa's blog makes fun of natural birth using an alter-ego, describing it as "parody". This time, she has chosen the photo of a mother and newborn to make fun of. You'll recognize the title consists of lyrics from the song "Zombie" by The Cranberries.

A reader was disturbed, and this was Lisa's response.

Lisa doing more parody, this time about natural miscarriage.

Lisa feeling comfortable with different belief systems (yes, even Buddhists).

This wasn’t done in any way to force any one mentor out of a program, nor to be a threat to anyone. No demands have been made on my part. I just want people to know who it is they are going to for care, before they give themselves over. That’s all. I’ve advocated this from the start– seeking to understand just what kind of person you are receiving treatment from, and even hardcore independence where possible. Just as you’d want to know your midwife or OB’s record before taking their care, and you’d want to know if you could really like and trust them, finding a qualified grief mentor who is stable, compassionate, and sympathetic (and perhaps even specially trained) only benefits you. In the end, though, just as in birth, I feel the choice should be yours. If you wanted to birth or be counseled by someone unlicensed, alternatively trained, or even inappropriate by mainstream standards, I support your decision. I strongly urge your educated and intuitive choice, however.

Places which may be a good resource if you are grieving & want to have healing & hope:
Elizabeth suggests: Mason’s Cause; Michelle adds: ICANhas a loss and recovery email list which deals with infant loss during a VBAC, c-section, or after birth. They also deal with loss of uterus as some have had uterine ruptures; a private group on Facebook (must contact Michelle for more info); for mental and emotional health though I would recommend a therapist who can help address some of the psychological effects of loss on not just the mother but the couple as a whole.

This concludes our current series on Getting Qualified Care. While we may do more in the future, we hope to (for the time being) return to somewhat more lighthearted, celebratory, less controversial posts for a while! Stay tuned for reviews, giveaways, and happier pieces. I love you.




Getting Qualified Care: After A Loss

18 01 2012

First, let’s consider what makes a person healthy or unhealthy in the grieving process.

If you suffered a loss, what kind of care would you seek? Does suffering a loss alone make one qualified to mentor another who has suffered a loss, too?

Mental health and emotional health are serious. If you are suffering a loss, it is very important to get help on a professional level, particularly if your grief is intense. At the minimum, you do want to make sure that the person you have helping you is in a healthy mental state. Even with the loosest interpretations of what makes one “qualified” to provide appropriate care, most of us can agree on this basic starting point. Please be careful whenever you are selecting any form of help or care.

Joining me again is Michelle, a pregnant mother of 4 who has experience with natural birth, home birth, and loss. I have watched Michelle come under fire by other loss moms in the anti natural birth groups for not automatically placing blame on her caregivers when her loss occurred.

Deb O'Connell is a CNM with Carrboro Midwifery in the area of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The same camp has taken offense to some of my writings about healing and trauma as well. The philosophy seems to be that nothing can heal you from the loss of a child.

I am reminded of one attacker in particular who told Michelle that she did not love her child not only because she had come to terms with it in peace, but mainly because she did not blame her midwives for her child’s stillbirth. In fact, what had begun as a peaceful conversation took a swift turn for the worse when the woman started in with obscenities and accusations, all a reaction to Michelle’s take on loss and the sharing of her own experiences.

Doulas ARE very natural childbirth-minded... most people don't find a need for doulas outside of that practice, because it would be too "woo". Most people giving birth in the mainstream don't feel so much of a need to have a doula; they have their doctors, nurses, significant others, and family members as their support.

This same woman wants to be a doula for women expecting a loss, and also has signed up to mentor loss parents through a program called Stillbirthday (featuring and run by people who are part of the anti natural birth movement). Are people with these philosophies in a good position to be offering qualified care to the bereaved?

Let’s start with a simple question:

How do you counsel the bereaved? What is best for them? What kind of guidance do they require?

Michelle says: Having been to a REAL therapist to deal with things like my loss, my childhood, and my abusive ex-husband, I have a somewhat good idea of what they do and why they do it that way. My therapist never projected anything on me. She listened to me and what I had to say and then ask questions which made me look at myself not anyone else. I think it is good for loss mothers to have a place to say how they feel and express some of the normal stages of grief ( and anger can be one of them). However, if what they are looking for is healing then I would recommend a professional who can deal with the psychological aspects of loss and its effects on people.

I do believe we are all entitled to enlist the help of those who we feel are best to serve us. To me, this goes beyond training and credentials and is a personal choice. I’ve made that quite clear. When it comes to birth, anti-NCBers cannot be more opposed to this philosophy, but do they extend the same strictness to mental health?

The importance and seriousness of good care does not end for the mother and child once the baby is born.

Most healthcare professionals could probably tell you that people become consumed by, addicted to, their grief. It’s a hard process and takes years of therapy for some to cope well. Surely nothing can be as devastating as the loss of a child, so it would be totally understandable to think that this could mentally and emotionally damage someone more than possibly anything. When a person is in pain, they are capable of inflicting pain on others, sometimes as a way of projecting their self-loathing. If a person is so deeply affected in a negative way by a crushing loss, are they in a position to help others in a truly healthy way to cope themselves?

To make a comparison, would we expect someone suffering from severe alcoholism– who admitted they saw no hope in sight for finding peace– to be an ideal mentor (or even “buddy”) to someone just entering Alcoholic Anonymous? When do two people suffering from the same disease no longer serve as a support system, and instead become the blind leading the blind?

Putting oneself in a position of sensitivity and responsibility to those in need when your own psychological needs are not being met and, in fact, one believes they cannot be met, may not be the quality of care the grieving deserve. However well meaning, if you were to fail at your responsibility, you are affecting lives and have the potential to do more harm than good. This would be like if a good midwife who means well were still not qualified enough to do her job. The results could be disastrous.

This is what I want to examine, and you’ll see that before I’ve even had a chance to get an answer to my questions, I am causing great offense for looking into this subject matter. But, in all earnestness, what could be more important than a mother’s mental well-being? You could have a dozen successful births of healthy children, but if the mother is unable to receive right care, everyone loses.

This is one of the anti natural birth pages, and the bottom comment is from the would-be doula and mentor for grieving mothers. She is seen here participating in the manner normal for her within these groups.

While we believe that you should be able to choose whomever you like for any form of your own care, regardless of title or degree, we do always urge that you exercise caution and common sense. Anti natural birth groups insist that certain classifications of midwife are unfit to practice, but they seem to feel that any laypeople in various stages of intense grief make good mentors to those who are just beginning their path. They do not seem to require any special qualifications– no degrees, no higher education, and not even psychological evaluations to conclude that said individuals are sound enough to be assisting the grieving.

In Search of the Perfect Birth and Michelle both ask,

Why the double standard?

To be continued…





Getting Qualified Care: Interview With a Stillbirth Mother

14 01 2012

Joining me is Michelle, a pregnant mother of 4 who has experience with natural birth, home birth, and loss. She brings a unique perspective to the concept of what is “qualified” care.

You can read more about Michelle and her story over at My Journey to Healing Birth.  But now, here was our exchange.

Elizabeth: What role do you feel your faith or philosophies, religious or otherwise, played in the grieving and acceptance of your loss?

Michelle:  For me my religion played a huge role in my grieving process as well as accepting it. I am a Muslim convert (meaning that I was not brought up as a Muslim). Prior to getting pregnant that time I ran across a story of the Prophet Muhammad that says:

“By the One in Whose hand is my soul, truly the miscarried child will certainly drag its mother with its umbilical cord to Paradise, provided one expects recompense [for sabr (patience)].”

One of the fundamentals of faith in my religion is acceptance of the decree of the Creator. This means accepting the good and the bad because He is the one who controls what happens to us all. If I were to take the route of being angry at what happened it would equate to me being angry that my Lord allowed it to happen.

I also recently ran across a different story of the Prophet which states:

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When a person’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’* They reply in the affirmative. He then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon he asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: ‘He has praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah (Paradise) and name it Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise).’”

 So yes my religion and my faith play a huge role in my acceptance and my ability to move forward from my loss. I see it as a blessing and as a mercy not as something worthy of anger.

And faith, in my opinion, is not knowing everything will always be good. It is knowing that no matter what happens everything will be ok.

Elizabeth:  How do you feel this differs from others who have lashed out at you in relation to your own loss?

Michelle:   I think that if you have reached a level of peace within yourself you will not find it necessary to tear down those that are at peace. I think in some ways they are still in pain over what happened to them. It could be their perspectives are different from mine. It could be that those around them have encouraged anger rather than forgiveness. I know from my own experience many in my family wanted me to be mad and if I was easily influenced by them I could have easily gone down that road instead.

Elizabeth:  Do you feel these individuals are fit to help counsel others?

Michelle:  I think it is always comforting to have people that can relate to you in terms of what it is like to lose your baby. So on one hand I think it is necessary. On the other hand there has to be a balance in that not every individual will grieve the same way. We are all different. If you take a person under your wing and try to push your own pain onto theirs as a means of making yourself feel better this isn’t healthy for either individual. Special care must be taken into account when you are dealing with emotions like grief. Especially when it is new.

Elizabeth:  What impact do you feel an individual who has not fully healed themselves would have in connecting with and mentoring those just fresh in their grief?

Michelle:  As I stated above I think this is something that has the potential to do more harm than good. Everyone is at different levels in grief, however one must try to be empathetic to others experiences and realize that theirs is their own and no two situations are equal. I think it’s good to have those who just say I understand and leave it at that. Spreading venom though based on their own loss is not healthy for anyone. I just ran across a quote today that pretty much sums it up: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” — St. Augustine.  Being mad about something you have no control over will not harm those you are mad at it will harm you the angry one.

Elizabeth:  Discuss a little about what happened in your birth when you experienced your loss, and tell us why you do not feel the midwives were at fault.

Michelle:   First I want to state that I had a strong instinct that this baby would never make it out of my womb alive. I had this feeling long before I decided to homebirth. It was that feeling actually that drove my decision. I needed to have a peaceful pregnancy if that was all I was going to get. I also was threatened with a tubal ligation by the OBs and I knew if this baby didn’t make it I would be devastated if I would never be able to have any more kids.

As for what happened in my birth, my labor was perfect and beautiful. I progressed nicely and there was no stall of labor at all. Every time heart-tones were checked he sounded perfect. I began to feel pressure and the need to push and I was checked only to find there was still a lip of cervix left. Heart rate was checked again and he was fine. My midwife broke my water to see if that would help get rid of my cervix. There was no indication at that time that the baby had any trouble. It wasn’t long before I really needed to push. I am unsure of how long I pushed before things went wrong. I know it wasn’t a long time though (it wasn’t even an hour). I had pushed the baby down to where he was essentially crowning and at that time heart-tones were checked and not found. When I heard that I immediately pushed with all of my might to birth him. His head was born and then my contractions stopped and I could not get the rest of him out. 911 was also called before the head was born. Once they arrived I had another contraction and was able to birth the body and he was born lifeless.

I did not ever feel that my midwife was negligent. The minute there was a sign of trouble she called 911 and did everything she could to get the baby out. I want to mention that I am not convinced that shoulder dystocia was what caused his death. I truly feel that it was the other way around. There is an excerpt in the book Spiritual Midwifery that touches on how hard it was to birth a stillborn baby because the mom couldn’t feel any energy from her baby. Babies must be active participants in the birth process meaning once the head is born the baby must rotate its body for the shoulders to be born. In my case my baby had a loss of heart-tones prior to delivery of the head so once his head was born he was no longer participating.

Elizabeth:  Do you feel you had quality care? How qualified were your midwives, and what made them qualified? What were their credentials?

Michelle:  Without a doubt I had quality care. In fact the care I received from her was a million times better than the care I have received from OBs. She had been a midwife for well over 30 years. She had personal connections with Jeannine Parvati Baker, Gloria Lemay, and many other highly regarded midwives. In all honesty though I chose her because of faith. I had trusted in the Almighty to give me a sign that this was the right path for me. I knew when I contacted her she had retired. What sealed the deal for me was finding out her home she purchased to retire in was literally 2 streets away from me. She was put on my doorstep. How could I ignore that sign? She was exactly what I needed in my life at that time and exactly what I needed for that birth. I have never had a single regret about choosing her and I am still very close to her. In fact every time I see people trash a midwife that attended a birth with a negative outcome it makes me think of her. Because they are still people and whether or not people believe it or not the loss affects them too.

I have used all three types of midwifery care. My first midwife was a lay midwife, my second was a CPM, and my third was a CNM (she is still my midwife this time also). All planned homebirths. The care I have received from all three of them have been equal in terms of quality so “titles” to me mean nothing. 🙂

Elizabeth:  Do you believe that any time a baby passes away, it is due to insufficient care?

Michelle:  Not at all and this goes for whatever place of birth you choose. Are there negligent providers (both midwives and OBs)? Absolutely. Does that mean every single one of them are negligent? No it doesn’t. In fact I would even venture to say that at times it could be as simple as making the wrong choice and not necessarily negligence. I think it is important to remember that doctors and midwives are people and therefore are not perfect. They do make mistakes. Most try their best to give the care you want while keeping everyone safe. Sometimes things do happen so fast there is nothing you can do. Other times they are totally negligent. But one must have the ability to separate the two.

Elizabeth:  What brought you to natural birth in the first place ? Were you “indoctrinated” by any “cult”, and do you subscribe to any NCB “dogma”?

Michelle:   I have actually always been “natural” minded. I had planned a natural childbirth with my first baby long before I was ever on the internet or knew anything about the world of the web. It unfortunately ended in a bullied unnecessary c-section.

Elizabeth:  Exactly. That’s just like me– I didn’t need any indoctrination, it was just something I was pulled toward without regard for how anyone else felt about it. I wasn’t even aware there was a club, nevermind cult. I didn’t get an unnecessary C-section, though… I wound up getting induced and taking the epidural. How did all that affect you?

Michelle:  This only furthered my desire for natural childbirth because I had seen what the opposite was and for me it was ugly.
Elizabeth:  Same here.

Michelle:  I tried again for a natural childbirth the second time only to end up with a c-section again. My loss was my first and only un-medicated birth and it was amazing. I loved every second of my labor. My 4th and 5th baby were also planned homebirths that ended up hospital births with epidurals and I really disliked them both. It was the one thing that I was disappointed over because I missed out on what I had the first natural birth. Hopefully I will finally have that “perfect birth” this time around 🙂.

I was never coerced into natural childbirth. I was drawn to it. I don’t know that I subscribe to any NCB dogma however I will suggest and encourage natural childbirth over non natural childbirth. Only because it is better for mother and baby overall to avoid unnatural chemicals into the body. I do however respect what other people choose. Like I said I have only had one natural un-medicated birth. I know sometimes the benefit of getting pain meds may outweigh the harm.

Elizabeth:  I’ve said before how grateful I was for the epidural, but I’m like you– having been through both versions, I do not recommend the medical way.

When getting care from a doctor or midwife, mentor or counselor, how important is it to research the individual and feel like you truly know them very well beforehand? Or can we ever really know everything about our providers?

Michelle:  I think it is important to for sure ask questions not only about them to others but ask them point blank to their face. I think that the relationship between a midwife and her client may differ from an OB and client simply because of the amount of time spent together prior to the birth.  I don’t think we can know everything and I am not sure we really have the right to know every single thing about them. What I really feel about this is that we should all trust our instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. I think as a society we have been somewhat trained to ignore our instincts and just do what other people tell us.

Elizabeth:  To anyone out there grieving hard, enraged, and blaming natural childbirth in general for their loss, what would you like to say to them, or what would you want them to know?

Michelle:  Honestly when I see people so full of anger over their loss I feel really sad for them. I wish they could let go of the anger and embrace what they have. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. But being rage-filled only makes you feel worse not better. It hurts you not the one you are mad at. As I said earlier “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” — St. Augustine. I think society has made us feel like we have to blame someone/something for death rather than acknowledging that death is part of the cycle of life. There isn’t always an explanation or a reason.