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.

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7 responses

19 01 2012
Heidi Faith

Stillbirthday handles all matters, questions or concerns objectively and confidentially, without slander or false light, with understanding and reconciliation as the objective. Stillbirthday maintains that confidentiality in every instance, including this one, though you have freely chosen, on your own accord, to reveal that stillbirthday has in fact attempted to reach this goal with you, and you have chosen false light and slander as your way of doing so. The website resources and programs at stillbirthday are freely available to pregnancy and infant loss mothers without discrimination, and stillbirthday has made every reasonable effort to provide this situation with the same understanding and reconciliation that is the same goal as any other question or concern that may be brought to the attention of the site creator. Please visit stillbirthday.com with any further questions or concerns.

19 01 2012
Michelle

Well since you posted the same thing on her Facebook page I will post the same response here:

But you failed to answer a few very significant questions in order to clarify things which truly are of PUBLIC concern. It isn’t slander if you have concerns based on what you see and you give a person the chance to answer concerns but they refuse to answer. Especially when we are talking about something as sensitive and fragile as loss and how to deal with someone who has had one.

My biggest concern is the fact that it appears many of the “mentors” listed seem to have a side agenda which is to trash, belittle, or make fun of homebirthers, or natural childbirth advocates. Many of these women have joined Dr. Amy in trashing loss mothers and the one highlighted in one of these blogs clearly stated that not every mother deserves sympathy for her loss. A sentiment she had no problem disclosing to me on a public forum simply because I disagreed with her position against midwives. I am NOT of the opinion that a certain title guarantees you “quality” care. The fact that a CNM went out of her way to find a post about me on a different Facebook page simply to tell me in so many words to “shut the fuck up” about MY story is a huge example of a title not being equal to professionalism. And I have used all three types of midwives and all were equal in terms of quality care. ( that’s right the midwife who attended my homebirth loss gave me the same quality of care that my current CNM give me. In fact they remind me of each other in a lot of ways).

So then what happens when you have a loss mother who planned a homebirth but her baby dies inutero before the labor/birth? How would the mentors handle her? Many of them (or their friends) seemed to be joining Dr. Amy in trashing a mother recently who had just that situation occur to her and it was done within weeks of her loss. Pretty heartless and cruel if you ask me. Not at all supportive of a grieving mother who happened to SEE what these people were saying about her. How will you guarantee that these individuals do not divulge loss stories to Dr. Amy to exploit for her attention whoring ways? Because many of them are supportive of Dr. Amy and all the fuckery she spews.

These are valid concerns because the fact is not everyone is out for revenge over their losses. Some really are at peace and just need to be able to talk about their loss as well as be respected for their choices and the way they grieve. It seems that many of these women do not have the capacity to separate their own emotions about what happened to them from what has happened to someone else.

24 01 2012
Lyndell

Wow, I feel sick. I don’t know what Stillbirthday is doing by having these women be even considered as mentors. I am not saying the program does not have value, but if I was running this group I would be dismissing these women on the basis of their violent language alone – let alone ridiculing ANY woman about her birth. This is not the behaviour of a woman but an immature child.
And Heidi…..in your response regarding the stand point of stillbirthday you do not answer why these women are mentors in your program. I do not see how you can say Stillbirthday ‘handles all matters, questions or concerns objectively and confidentially, without slander or false light, with understanding and reconciliation as the objective’ when you have your mentors are calling people ‘bitch’ or ‘stupid ass’ (Bambi), using demeaning ‘parody’ (Lisa) or responding ‘neener, neener, boo boo’. Maybe training is needed?

2 02 2012
Guest Post by Michelle: Grieving Mothers Deserve Better, Stillbirthday. « theperfectbirth

[…] (a loss mother) had something to say about the targeting Stillbirthday (an organization that claims to care about the healing process of loss mothers) has aimed her way. […]

24 04 2012
Just Quick Clarifications (For the Stillbirthday Debacle) « theperfectbirth

[…] to publish our comments in our own defense, even though they have been allowed on ours. Like the interview I attempted, communication is always shut down. I am never proven wrong. It’s a hit and […]

7 06 2012
Medicine Vs. Midwifery: Divide & Conquer « theperfectbirth

[…] To me, the utter lack of respect I have seen from those with the title of midwife, doula, nurse, grief mentor, or doctor leaves me in indignant disbelief.  Those people don’t need to be […]

21 09 2012
Everyone Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? More on Stillbirthday. « theperfectbirth

[…] though members of the Raptors (anti natural birth group) and mentors and members of Stillbirthday (such as Lisa, Bambi, and Liz) are very angry that midwifery is supposedly lacking standardized education and licensure across […]

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