From C to UC in 6 Labors: Guest Post From Felicia

17 04 2012

The following is a guest post from our friend Felicia, who is a doula. She runs the Facebook page Peaceful Baby Doula Service. She’s had SIX labors. Here she takes you through her history with labor so you can see how she came from being a C-section patient to being a determined unassisted birther.   -Elizabeth

I’ve had clients ask, strangers, and family. Everyone wants to know:  how do you get to where having an unassisted birth is comfortable?

I’d have to say the simplest answer is I know, and trust my body. I’m very in tune with the signals my body gives, and what they mean. I know my body inside, and out. Sex education taught in public schools leaves a lot out. I learned that lesson, when I became pregnant, and I learned even more about my body the more I became interested.

At 12 my menstrual cycles began.  Nobody bothered to explain why or how it happened. I was just handed a package of pads and sent on my way.  I became pregnant at 16, and still, I knew hardly anything about my body.  I figured out what my problem was at about nine months pregnant- I had expected EVERYONE ELSE to explain to me what was going on, and went along with what decisions were made for me, instead of doing my own research and educating myself. Eleven days past my due date with a threat from my OB-GYN to induce, I started to research. A little late in the game, eh? I learned more about my body in those 2 days than I had been taught my whole life. I googled “ways to naturally induce” and “what can make you go past your due date”. I learned what to look for on my body to determine what way my baby was positioned in my body.

I had an Occupit Posterior baby, I learned– after researching the spoon like dip in the area under my belly button. I also learned this could cause the body to hold the baby in longer.  Then, I began reading up on signs of labor, what happens during each stage, and what happens to the baby.

I had a successful vaginal birth, in which I stayed home the majority of my labor, and got to the hospital with only minutes to spare. The entire labor only lasted 7 hours. I REALLY wanted a home birth, but living with my mother– a registered nurse– I couldn’t get her to agree, so I wound up at the hospital.

I learned even more about my body during my second birth.   Due to my inability to KNOW my body, and a recommendation by the obstetrician overseeing my birth, I had a Cesarean Section. My baby was persistent Occiput Posterior, and labor had started with my water breaking.I was in labor for over 24 hours, and  I was so tired I think I would have agreed to anything to get it over with. I believe I learned more about my body during my recovery time then I ever wanted to know, which was part of the reason why I ended up in that situation. I learned my body didn’t react well to anesthesia, or any drugs for that matter. I learned exactly how important sleep was to my body (during labor I went 24+ hours with no sleep due to my contractions). I learned there are SO very many nerve endings in your uterus (and how oh so painful it is to have them cut apart). I learned that there were so many consequences to my decision to agree to major surgery– emotional pain, as well as physical.

nerve endings firing

I learned that sometimes when your nerve endings are severed, they don’t grow back-so you experience fewer sensations in places that affect your sex life– for the rest of your life. I AM STILL ANGRY WITH MY DECISION TO AGREE TO A UNNECESSARY CESAREAN, AND FOR MY OB TO SUGGEST IT WITH NO MEDICAL REASON. A woman’s body is an amazing thing; it can tell you so many things if you just listen.

My third labor was really more emotionally enlightening about my body than anything. I learned that if I set my mind to something, my body could be coaxed into anything. Labor really is mind over matter. With Pitocin induced contractions, but my determination to NOT have any ill effects from anesthesia, I had a successful VBAC. I also learned my body does WAY better at controlling the contractions so I could deal with the rushes. You’ll have doctors, nurses and even some women tell you Pitocin induced contractions are just like natural labor— but they are LYING!

My fourth labor I learned the mind is such a powerful thing. I chose a home birth, and had so much stop and go labor that when labor really came, I had no idea I was in “real” labor. I cleaned the house, cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while my husband was sick in bed. I learned exactly how much the mind can block out (I was in active labor, and didn’t realize it until I was 8cm, just 20 minutes before baby came).

My fifth labor I wanted to do alone. I did tons of research on birth, learned how to check my own cervix, I learned about the NFM (Natural Fertility Method), signs that might indicate a need to transfer, what to have in my birth kit, how to monitor ME and the baby. I couldn’t get my husband on board, though-so I reluctantly called the midwife who lived an hour away, and took THREE hours to get there. I labored alone and even though I could have delivered without her there, subconsciously I waited until the midwife got there, and baby was born 5 minutes after she arrived.

My sixth labor I decided that nobody was going to tell me how to labor. I wanted full control of my labor, my pregnancy, and the birth. I decided not to find out the gender of the baby (because I knew it would drive other people bananas not knowing, ha-ha). I did a couple prenatal appointments with an OB/Midwife-alternating due to hyperemesis, but never receiving full prenatal care (I did my own– tested my own urine, took my own blood pressure, monitored the baby, paid attention to my body (keeping track of headaches, what made me sick, checking for swelling) and just paid really close attention to my body in general. I felt so much bigger that pregnancy– and couldn’t figure out why. I had lots of back pain too– way more than regular. I learned so much about my body– [more about] what my cervix was, what it felt like, what position it was in.

At around 39 weeks I finally figured out why I had so much back pain. Something just didn’t feel right, as I checked my cervix and I knew what I was feeling wasn’t a head… our little one was breech! I automatically began reading, and researching about breech birth and also how to attempt to turn my little one. I prepared my husband for what I might need help with if baby was breech and what might happen (so he wouldn’t freak). At just 3 days before I gave birth (already past my due date at 41 weeks and 1 day), my little one decided to turn transverse. I worked on getting her completely turned, using many methods.  I went to bed with a fierce backache, but when I woke, baby had turned in my sleep. I am so glad I had not hired an OB, which would have suggested induction way before any of this took place. MY body knew baby wasn’t in the best position, so it held off to go into labor until AFTER baby decided to turn. My body had been yelling at me the entire pregnancy and once I listened, it responded!

On a side note, don’t EVER let an OB tell you that  a LARGE baby won’t move out of the breech position; my little one was NINE pounds, a whole 2 pounds heavier than any of our other children. She moved, just when SHE was ready, and with a little encouragement.

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.

Video Blog: “Why I Don’t Believe in the UC Elite”

20 06 2011

Women should really know what their options are in childbirth. All too often they will count themselves out for this or for that, because another woman discouraged them about it, or a doctor tried to dissuade them from it. There are often ulterior motives here at worst, or just gross misconceptions at best. I wanted to talk about it a little, particularly as it relates to UC. This also can be said of/translate to women who want merely a natural birth, a home birth, or a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). So, although the topic does center around unassisted birth, it has a much more universal appeal.

That sounds so silly to say. Does it get much more “universal” than unassisted? 🙂 Ask the universe.