Intactivism Needs Feminism to Survive.

4 01 2016
Intactivist.jpg

Yelling at women precedes all of these and hasn’t stopped one of them. Blaming women has preceded all of these and hasn’t ended one of them.

 

I once had a nasty run-in with Men’s Rights Activists in the intactivist movement. On this one conversation I was alarmed to hear that the men present believed in “female privilege”, because baby girls’ genitals allegedly are left entirely unmolested from life’s onset. Based on the history of circumcision I mentioned circ was patriarchal and women, mothers who defy the system, would be the reason intact boys become the norm.

One man absolutely lost his shit and blubbered misogynist insults at me until he blocked me out of rage. Another brought me to tears by saying something that happened to *me*, to my body, never did happen and that I was lying (it was extremely personal to say and nothing I had ever told another living soul besides my husband, so the level of violation was deeply felt– I obviously should never have trusted that kind of personal experience to anyone like this person but I was trying to correct their assumptions about female experience and privilege), after he spent some time condescending to me and my friends (who, up until that time, thought we were a vital part of intactivism– our boys are whole). <— That man now has a major role of power within Brother K’s Bloodstained Men movement– a movement I previously thought deserved my respect.

Now notice I didn’t say ending routine infant circumcision was a cause I left behind…! (And, neither have the feminists who’ve been speaking out against this behavior. We all still believe in stopping RIC.)

He then deleted all his nasty comments, kept mine which were full of justified anger and now out of context (looks crazy, hysterical, of course), and messaged me to *privately* apologize and told me that he’s actually a really *nice guy*. No, he’s not a publicly make it right kind of guy, he’s a scream at you for effect and then hide the evidence kind of guy.

You know, a coward.  A blowhard. A bully.

These men I referenced from that convo are all childless, by the way. But they had fun telling *me* about birth because “their girlfriend did it natural in the hospital”. (Mansplaining galore…)

This was the turning point for which several of my natural parenting friends and I realized that the intactivist community didn’t value us. We didn’t belong. Even though we were the mothers, because we were females and we had disagreed with the sexist attitudes we suddenly encountered, they may as well have hung a “no girls allowed” sign– what could *we* possibly know? We were just mothers who’d saved our sons and the sons of friends through information, support, and love.

Now this was a shock to me because my observations of Brother K and his movement up to that point were positive. He seemed like a cool hippie dude. What were all these awful woman-haters doing in this group? Had I missed it and they’d been there all along?

Why I Am No Longer An Intactivist – Whole Woman

We are the ones having the gentlest births, the gentlest parenting, the most mother-led-instinct in the home, and yet you would alienate us? We are the reason it is working. We are your truest hope, beyond all other tactics you’ve tried. We are the most educated and passionate, well-rounded on all these societal interlocking topics, and we are on the front lines. We are the feminist natural mothers.

Since then, the rise to power of that one abusive and self-pitying rageaholic has been noticed. We left groups and put certain people on block but still, these things came up. Avoidance of this brand of male aggression was futile.

I’ve seen more and more anti-woman, anti-feminist dealings, more talk about female privilege from the boys club and their handmaidens, and the new frontier– confronting birth and pro-woman pages, of all places, to ask their stance on circumcision. And not just as their own post, or as a message, but as a derailment of the original post on other important topics. I’ve seen this in at least two places on Facebook that I can recall– on The Girl God and Birth Anarchy. The first responded graciously as is her gentle nature. (Because, you know, it’s really important when discussing that all our gods were men and that girls matter too, that we check to see if we’re properly caring for male genitals.) The latter did not. And I was pleased with both responses; no one owes the sexists in intactivist circles anything. The intactivist questions were a tangent out of place both times. It was awkward and disrespectful to observe. It was like being accosted by religious fundamentalists as you were minding your own business.

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This tactic is cowardly– for two reasons. One, they are hitting up sites that are very much anti-circumcision in the first place. You’re preaching to the converted. Two, they are hitting people when they are down. This was clear on the Birth Anarchy page, in which the post they attempted to make about themselves was about a woman seeking justice after a forced episiotomy.

Birth Anarchy: The Sexist Shit Show of Intactivism

Only cowards make an enemy out of a gentler friend and don’t target the real enemy. Because it’s strong. It’s daunting. You would rather this mission never be accomplished and the movement eat itself than to tackle the real enemies. It’s then about getting out your own power and feeling like you can dominate someone. It’s easier to follow the disgusting pig narrative that we have “pussy privilege” — a true embittered cry of the resentful MRAs — than to band together with like minded souls for the common good. That makes you an enemy to intactivism.

Because your intactivism only works if you act like the ultimate victim. That means you have to first tear women down.

I watched an intactivist woman tell me women “allowed” circumcision to happen. Allowed! We didn’t invent it, we didn’t enforce it, it wasn’t our idea, our husbands still hold more control and power than us in society and in our homes,  and it certainly doesn’t benefit us sexually or otherwise– but yet, through all this, the onus was on us… we had allowed it. These are the women in the intactivist movement and why they get along so well with the MRA type men.

Make no mistake, I’m not asking you to be nice, intactivists. Just not to be pigs and assholes to innocent women. I’m not asking you to not be pissed about circumcision. Get mad! It’s terrible. I’m telling you how ineffective it is to shit on women who are recovering from traumas and act like that is justice. I’m warning you that you are barking up the wrong trees and it looks impotent-bully as fuck. Laying the blame at mothers’ feet and targeting 18 year old new parents right after delivery is hardly taking on the big dogs. It’s just cowardly aggression, like a Rottweiler going after a chihuahua. Sure, it’s easy to go after smaller, weaker targets.

I want to say I still love what you do but you are alienating THE most important people for the progression and longevity of your movement. They are the lifeblood. Your short-sightedness and blatant disregard for the strong women of what would be this movement is lacking in both compassion and smarts.

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More mentions of mothers than daddies, and doctors. Doctors do the cutting, doctors invented it, doctors profit off it. Daddies insist it be done for bullshit macho male reasons and beat their wives into submission. But okay, moms, this one’s on you.

And for all their bodily integrity nonsense, and not trusting doctors, and supporting the natural flow of goodness and letting nature be and do it’s job, I’ve watched them have no problem with women in their movement getting cut up in Cesarean sections with the same familiar retort: “I’ve done my research”.  Oh, intactivists, where have we all heard that before!?

This is not best for babies, though. And it is not best for women. It’s meant for emergencies and that’s for good cause. But cheer that on all you like if you don’t mind being hypocrites. Or maybe it’s only baby boys who are sacred, and fuck what happens to their mothers? However, mothers who’ve been traumatized by birth are far more likely to submit to cutting their sons out of defeat or depression, or sometimes lack of consciousness. Mothers disrupted from their natural oxytocin are more likely to feel a disconnect from their child, have a harder time bonding, PTSD, PPD, difficulty breastfeeding… and I know some MRAs think that is good for boys ultimately. I do not. They think it will teach boys not to love women too much, which attachment to a doting mother would inspire. Yes, an injured woman will continue the MRA cycle of violence well.

Now, it would be brave if you were going to places you suspected were pro circumcision. It would be brave if you were going after the people who were doing the cutting, and the people who unapologetically profited from this system. Those things would be confronting the problem. I have to wonder what limp-dicked mission you hope to accomplish by badgering vulnerable women who already very likely agree with you. Attacking gentle and wounded women is the easy way out. It’s for people who are deeply insecure about their dicks, which MRAs are.

One of MRAs pet causes is routine infant male circumcision, which is quite unfortunately and unconnectedly a shared cause of modern gentle parents, especially feminists who believe in mothering on instinct and leaving warlike male domination behaviors in the past. Circumcision is indeed a relic of male aggression in a thriving patriarchy, even though MRAs try very hard to continue blaming women for this. But I’m not here to convince you of that history, just to make you aware of the infiltration of one of the only true things a men’s rights activist has to bitch about (circumcision), and how this cause will continue to remain limp in their hands. Again, many of these men are childless.

And why does that matter? The future is with mothers and their children. It is the in tune Earth Mothers who are procreating, procreating a LOT, and doing it with ultimate gentleness and love. Whole mothers make whole babies. Keep babies whole and women have a better chance of staying whole and then they in turn keep their babies whole… etc. The future does not lie with angry men shouting into the wind about their dicks. The future is not with the street signs, blood theatrics, and the streetside hostility. You will reach people and get attention and change some minds, but no, the primary change does not occur there for the future generations. I’ll tell you exactly where the change is happening. It is on the front lines. It’s with the mothers who instinctively know they want to keep their sons safe, and believe in it. They are trying. I was anti-circumcision instinctively before I heard any of the statistics. I would have been anti-circ with or without these guys. And I was lucky that I had the personal empowerment such that I would have fought any male partner who tried to contest me. Not all women have these things. Beating them up will not gain them these things. Beating them up even when they are being good will not gain anything.

The MRAs have large amounts of single men, deadbeat fathers, involuntary celibates, and many of them will never be fathers. Those who are, are very controlling in the household. I actually know one who insisted his wife circumcise their son(s). Male control is obviously a dead end street. Male control is the reason for circ in the first place.

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Ha, not a chance! ^

Women, softness and compassion of an Earth Mother, are the future. Feminists are the future. Your movement will never survive without feminism. Without feminism, decisions and power will always revert back to warlike males (see: Heather Hironimus) having turf wars and dick waving contests. Your movement is only succeeding because young mothers talk amongst themselves in private groups and share knowledge and stories and support. You said you don’t need us but it is we who do not need you. If you think this is war, and a war against the women mentioned in this post, know that all you do is perpetuate male violence.

Rape of all types is a manmade invention.
Sexual rape, birth rape, and surgical rape.
Control and aggression aimed at women and children destroys the world.

The world will be saved by a Western woman. -The Dalai Lama, 2009

Restoring peace means restoring power to women. 

Men,

You invented war. You can either keep waging wars or you can listen to women. 

Respecting life starts at the source– the womb, and the Earth. Without this, you are emptiness.

Male violence is the worst problem in the world. Name the problem.





Your Birth Story: What it Does & Doesn’t Mean

19 11 2012

Your birth story can only account for what is possible, not impossible.

People are selfish. Human beings are consistently driven by ego, and one of those qualities includes making their story the end-all-be-all, final gospel word on certain subjects. I can be a very self-centered person and obviously believe my story can help people. I think all of our stories “prove” a lot of different things. I think anecdote is important. What it’s not, however, is a way to define everyone else’s lives, stories, or to justifiably command their beliefs. Conditioning, nature, and experience will shape these for us– they cannot effectively be imposed. Your story is not the only story that means anything.

My wife and child would have died if not for that life saving intervention from the doctor, so don’t you tell me doctors are doing wrong!

Oh, really… Well, I am happy for you, but I didn’t realize your story meant that mine didn’t happen.

Not even just men, but all people. Hmm…

When I hear the term “birth rape” I think it is such a disrespect. I was raped, and I don’t appreciate anything else being called rape.

Oh, I see. Because you were one of many to have experienced sexual abuse, you are now allowed to sit on a panel that judges what is and isn’t rape for other people, including women who were victims of actual sexual penetration rape who also describe their own labor experiences as “birth rape”. Because your rape gave you authority over all.

I am a nurse and I am hurt that you claim that nurses have abused patients! I bust my butt to save lives every day!

One, thank you for your work. Two, you do not speak for all nurses. Three, what if I told you that things you were taught help people might actually sometimes cause harm? What if I were one of those people who were unintentionally or even intentionally harmed? Would you be willing to learn with an open heart and mind what those things are which cause damage? Would you listen knowing that if you believed me, it would change how you view the world, yourself, your own profession?

Homebirth is ridiculous. I’m lucky I’m so smart and had my baby in the hospital. He needed oxygen and actually suffers today from not having had enough oxygen at birth, so at home he surely would have died, MORONS. Enjoy killing your babies!

I’m sorry you are dealing with a stressful situation. I really mean that. It sucks to face hardship with our babies. We all wish our children had only the best of health. Maybe the pride you feel over doing the “right” thing can be helpful if you are trying to cope with something very difficult, but many of us know that bad situations such as oxygen deprivation can be created in hospitals. Some would argue that you may have had a safer experience at home. Things like drug augmentation, the effect of mother’s position, prolonged labor, premature lungs, premature cord clamping… a variety of things in the hospital (and even at home) are interventions which can damage. Say a baby is in distress during labor and needs to come out now in order to be safe and healthy. Many situations in hospital can actually be causing the distress. That’s just one example. Who really knows for sure? But can this one experience mean you understand what is true and right for everyone, all the time? We all do what we feel is best, in the moment. Every situation is individual. What saves you can kill someone else. Don’t assume you understand it all. Attacking others for a choice you should feel very secure about doesn’t help anyone. And, it doesn’t prove your case.

A good healthy response to most stories and beliefs is, “Maybe that’s true, or maybe it didn’t actually happen the way that it would seem.” I don’t know about you, but when I hear a story, I hear from my heart and my mind. My logic and skepticism provides doubt where I feel intellectually unsure about what is presented, and I will do further research if I need to satisfy that curiosity. My heart will feel for them, employing my empathy and sympathy. Even if logically I do not agree, my heart understands what emotions may be painting the picture. I say, if I were in their shoes, maybe I’d agree. Can’t we all do this?

Our experiences can be so powerful for us, we take them to heart– too much. They become defining features of our identity. What that means is, when someone else’s experience comes in and seems to contradict that, our fragile identities become threatened. Our egos will not stand for that. That’s when people pop in with stories that are somehow supposed to put others in their places and shut them up, only it doesn’t. Because believe it or not, other people have stories too, that to them seem equally powerful.

I’m not immune. Like most humans I struggle with ego and identity every day. I’m an argumentative person and admit that argument stems mainly from identification with labels and forms. Who am I, without my tragedy? What worth am I, without my knowledge or cause? These things keep us trapped. To truly understand, to have right knowledge, we will exercise compassion. The best thing we can try to do is understand each other and give each other room.

Anecdote is not useless, however. It can be helpful to serve to warn others who face similar hurdles.They should serve to help our fellow man avoid undue suffering.

Everything *seems* impossible, until you’ve experienced it.

We should be trying to lessen the suffering in the world, not add to it.

Our stories and anecdotes can help enlighten us so we can take the appropriate next steps on our individual paths. Collections of anecdotes can be considered research, and all anecdote is in some regard evidence. When we use our own story as a means to discredit all other stories which also carry their own weight and power, we are living in our own reality. It’s false. It’s delusional and denial. Your story can tell people what is possible, can suggest what is and isn’t probable, but it cannot negate the details felt by others to tell the world what is impossible.

 

 





Special Mother’s Day Report: The Mommy Wars Are Over!

14 05 2012

(Worldwide, North American Mother’s Day 2012,
Associated Press)

The news we have all been waiting for has finally arrived– the Mommy Wars are now officially over. Just in time for Americans to celebrate Mother’s Day this recent May 13th, we have received word that both sides of the Mommy Wars divide have agreed that no such war exists any longer and that peace talks and healthy discussions of differences are now fully in effect. Individuals will finally be treated as individuals, and not aligned-with purely for the groups which they claim to belong to. CNN reports that the groups themselves are in the process of dissolving, so as to eliminate divisiveness in the parenting communities.

May 13, 2012- President Barack Obama, acting as Commander in Chief, announces that the War between the Mothers has ended.

This news comes just weeks after extremists in the anti-AP and -NCB camp attempted to drop a bomb on the nation of Brazil. The intended target was missed, but the bomb hit the Atlantic Ocean, causing a series of complications which resulted in citizens near the shore losing power for about 20 minutes. Luckily, the Brazilians didn’t seem to notice.

Celebration takes place in the streets as sides have put down their arms. Instead, they have decided on flamboyant parades full of hugs and sisterhood. Membership cards to any particular group are being burned in the street with noted glee.

AP and NCB (“attachment parenting” and “natural childbirth”) leaders hired perennial Mommy favorite John Cusack to be present at anti-AP/NCB locales and hold his stereo over his head as a show of appreciation and gesture of good will. The song playing was Boyz II Men’s  “A Song For Mama“.

Ryan Gosling could not be reached for comment.

Although sides may still disagree, they no longer target one another with condescension and ideas such as, “you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts”. Both sides have recognized finally and officially that “facts” are relative and subject to one’s trust in the source, and have agreed to only gently share views rather than to attack and aggressively go out of their way to debate. Information will continue to be shared on a “need to know” basis. All terrorism has been abolished. People of like mind will continue to convene at agreed-upon locations, free to practice their beliefs in peace and harmony and without fear of retaliation or subterfuge.

People seeking information on parenting from either generalized ideology will finally do their own research and be trusted to make their own grown-up decisions, rather than being sneakily tricked into drinking any kool-aid or bitterly indoctrinated. Interference of any sort will only be encouraged in cases of blatant child abuse;  speculation or sensationalism will be strictly prohibited in placing judgment, as there is now a “live and let live” peace treaty underway. Both sides have sworn to uphold values of consideration toward the feelings of people who differ, and to prize them as just as valuable and valid as their own feelings.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. It’s the dawn of a new day.





Just Quick Clarifications (For the Stillbirthday Debacle)

24 04 2012

Most of this stuff could have been cleared up if open communication were ever utilized. You’d be amazed how much understanding can occur when people genuinely talk to and listen to one another. But, not happening, so here goes.

Three things:

1. I never went to Gina @ The Feminist Breeder to convince her of anything. It literally never happened. I only stepped into the conversation when alerted by my friends it was occurring.  At that point, it was concerned loss mothers who’d been victimized by the Mentors at Stillbirthday who had spoken up to spark her retraction of endorsing their site in the first place.

2.  I never tell mothers that it is better to watch your baby die a natural death than to receive emergency care. All you’d have to do is read my book to know that I am all about having back up plans and taking care to use medical service when it is needed.  Others have gathered this just from my online activity, w/o even having to read my book.  Saying that I prefer dead infants to medical intervention is absurd and a regurgitation of the common go-to claim made against any natural childbirth proponents by anti natural birth groups. Heidi claims to be for natural birth, but she’s pulling out all their cards tonight.

3. Everything I ever used in any posts about Stillbirthday was entirely factual. I don’t have to lie. The truth is bad enough. Every time I ask “what was a lie?” I am never answered. Some act like they are above that and then post passive-aggressive blogs to avoid actual conversation and maintain the appearance of a moral high ground. We go to comment, but they refuse 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 run.

Okay, Four things.

4. I have never, ever, ever, EVER made ANY request, explicit or implied, that ANY particular member be ousted from Stillbirthday. My problem was with the organization as a whole. I never made any demands, threats, or ultimatums. If you were told this, you were lied to. I have nothing to gain if ONE person leaves this organization. If one person leaves, who wins? Not me, and I don’t care. This is not to fulfill any vendetta. This is not personal. It is beyond personal. Even if any one mentor were ousted from this group, I would still never promote Stillbirthday. It’s very foundation, to me, is questionable. There was never a deal one could make with me in exchange for my silence. Only understanding did I seek. Questions and answers. These were refused.

Good! I think that’s all cleared up now. Have a good one!  🙂





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.





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: 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.