Guest Post by Michelle: Grieving Mothers Deserve Better, Stillbirthday.

2 02 2012

Michelle (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. They publicly rebuke her and made false accusations, but refused to publish this comment of hers, even though we allowed them to respond on this blog in their own defense. Apparently our asking questions was tantamount to harassment and hate, and they’ve chosen to return the favor rather than provide the information we were seeking. The reason?: they didn’t want to get involved in anything “unproductive”. Listen to Michelle’s words and decide if you think they are capable of appropriately handling conflicts or giving qualified care to grief-stricken parents of infant loss.

Truth be told this entire blog piece which was in reference to ME was completely condescending.

I don’t care WHAT you say there is absolutely NO excuse for another grieving mother to tell me that I didn’t love my son and that I am the reason he died. None. Not a single excuse can be made for her. I did nothing to provoke her “anger”, since this seems to be the excuse you make for her every time. The only thing I did was disagree with her position on certified professional midwives. Negligence occurs ALL THE TIME in HOSPITALS too.

When a loss occurs, you need someone who will stand by you without prejudice or judgment. You can't trust just anybody to help you through your grief. Who can you trust?

This is not something that is strictly occurring during home births attended by [people] other than CNMs. I refuse to change my OWN position in this fight against midwifery because of the way someone else feels. And bullying me about how I deal with my OWN loss is not going to change my position. And that is what she and all of her friends did and continue to do anytime my blog is posted somewhere. She has no reason to be angry at anyone who is standing up for themselves and what THEY believe in. Even despite all the nasty things she said about me I would never ever DREAM of insinuating that she didn’t love her baby. That’s what people who really do have compassion for others do. She has clearly stated she has no sympathy for people like me regarding my loss because I am not blaming the world the way she is. THIS IS NOT THE PROPER MENTALITY FOR A PERSON TO HAVE AS A MENTOR FOR GRIEVING MOTHERS.

I am sure you probably won’t even approve of this post so no one but you will even see it. Please stop posting your condescending blog posts about me and my loss. I am not the one in need of help here. I have peace about my loss thanks.

We’ll see it, Michelle. We’ll see it. You haven’t done anything wrong. All you’ve ever done was tell people that peace was attainable after stillbirth, and that sometimes deaths have no one to blame. We applaud you.

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.