Monday, December 26, 2011

The Designated Hitter

Now batting, the Designated Hitter, David Ryan.

Merry Christmas to one and all! I'm Donna's husband and am posting for Donna this week. I just read some of the requests on the Facebook page and will try my best to address some of the topics listed. (I just can't get over how every group seems to develop their own set of acronyms. I noticed one that was used was DH -- which to me, a rabid baseball fan, means "Designated Hitter".  I'm pretty sure that was not the intended use, but I decided to go with it anyway.)

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year full of tradition, both good and bad.  Traditions are pretty powerful -- especially when it comes to family.  We do things because of tradition. It's the way we've always done things and we like it that way! Like cutting both ends off of a pot roast before cooking it because that's the way mom showed me how to do it. (Anyone not heard that story before?)

I thought the theme of traditions would tie a couple of the requested topics together.

A few of you wanted to get a "male perspective" on circumcision. I don't hunt or follow NASCAR -- but I do have a penis. For purposes of full disclosure (don't worry -- no photos will be posted), I am circumcised.  I wasn't circumcised for religious purposes.  I am a Christian and have learned from my study of the scriptures that circumcision is not necessary per Christ's teachings.  So why was I circumcised?  Tradition.  I've never discussed the issue with my mother or my father.  I have to admit that I don't even know for sure if my father is circumcised.  I assume he was because that's just the way things were done.

We have a son.  We chose not to circumcise him because we did not see a reason to do so.  We broke away from tradition to what I believe is a better way.  Why wouldn't I want my son to be better off than me?  Was I worried about the "Jock Kingdom" mocking him in the showers? No. Did it bother me that his penis wouldn't look like my penis? No. In fact, I proactively avoid showing anyone in my family my penis (with the exception of Donna). 

I've heard all of the pro-circumcision rationales and the only one that makes any sense to me is religious in nature.  Covenants with God I understand.  Concerns about Junior's penis being intact while Daddy is circumcised I don't get. Pot roast.

Tradition plays a huge role in how we choose to give birth.  With our first, Donna wanted an epidural and didn't care to learn anything more about giving birth.  We toured the hospital, took a hospital class, and would have ended up with a C-section had it not been for my sister Tamara.  We were fortunate.

Initially, Donna didn't care because that's just the way women have babies.  They go to the hospital and let the doctors do the rest. That's the way it is done. Pot roast. There is a much better way.

Well, I think that does it for me. Happy New Year everybody! I am hungry for some pot roast.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Why I'd Make a Rotten Midwife

I have been asked several times recently if I have aspirations to be a midwife.  One midwife commented on all the young women that have had a baby or two and want to be a doula or midwife.  My children are older now and I've been an educator for almost 9 years.  They all are surprised that I am happy and content to remain "just" a childbirth educator. 

Let me tell you why I'd be a rotten midwife:

The number one quality of a good midwife, in my opinion, is patience.  Labor takes time and a laboring mom deserves just that.  For this reason, I'd make a great OB!  OK, just kidding.  I would seriously be like, "Come on already!  This is taking forever.  I've got other things to do!"   I'd be a clock-watcher, for sure and all over the "failure to progress" diagnosis.  I'd also be all about the pitocin.  As you can tell, I am not a patient person.  For the same reasons, this is why I do not work as a doula. 

I have always compared being a midwife to selling real estate.  For years, I thought I'd like to be a real estate agent.  How fun to drive around looking at houses, talking to people.  I could do that.  But then I realized that that part of the job is only a fraction of the big picture.  The paperwork and contracts, well, I'm not so interested in that.  In fact, yuck.

Being a midwife looks like so much fun -- catching babies and being a part of this exciting day.  It's easy to forget that it took 9 months of charting and appointments to get to this day.  A few hours and it's over.  All that paperwork.  Again, yuck.

I'm probably slightly queasy too.  Have you ever watched a woman be stitched up after a birth?  Whoa.  I'm not very good with blood either, although I think I am able to remain pretty calm through an intense situation.  

I love education, likely, because for me, education was a turning point.  When I learned what was happening to my body in labor and it took the fear out of childbirth.  I like those "light bulb moments" when someone gets it in class.  I like to see couples get information and make informed decisions when it comes to the birth of their baby.

If you had a great birth, there are lots of ways you can spread the good news of natural childbirth besides being a doula or midwife.  Those professions are often not that practical for moms with small children or babies anyway unless they have a great childcare setup.  Besides education, there are lots of advocacy opportunities.  Check to see if there is a chapter of Birth Network National in your community.  Attend nurse-ins and help normalize breastfeeding in your city.  Ask birth professionals in your area how you can be involved.

In the meantime, you're welcome for not becoming a midwife.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's the Deal With My Blog Title, You Ask?

It's time to revisit the title of my blog "Banned From Baby Showers".  The Haters think that I am banned by the people having babies because of my strong opinions ("No wonder she's not allowed at baby showers!").  I had someone ask me if I have a Texas-sized opinion on all topics, or just childbirth!  Am I allowed at weddings?  Birthday parties?  In fact, my friend Shannon came up with my BFBS icon:  the caricature with the big hat, big hair, and big mouth!

If you'll indulge me in a little story telling, I'll tell you just how the name came about. 

I have been a Natural Childbirth Educator since 2003.  I had my first baby with an epidural in 1996, followed up with a fabulous unmedicated birth in 1999.  I have had 2 more unmediated births since then.  My message to all women?  You can do this!  Don't be afraid!  Birth is transformative.  You are strong! 

I found myself at playgroups and church telling every pregnant woman why she should have an unmedicated birth and seek out midwifery care.  It's an amazing experience that you only experience so many times in life.  Don't miss out on it!

By 2003, I had to do something with this knowledge and excitement for natural birth.  I got certified to teach classes and have taught over 300 couples since.  I love my "job."

In early 2006, I attended a baby shower with some women from church that I barely knew.  I had only lived here for about seven months.  Several of us seriously got into it.  It was ugly.  It was all about inductions and trusting your doctor.  We fought over being informed or, in my eyes, remaining ignorant.  Seriously -- ugly.

The rest of the day was yucky.  I knew I had not accomplished anything but alienate this group of women.  I called several of them before going to church the next day to apologize.  Awkward. 

After that experience, I told my husband that I could never put myself in that situation again.  Teaching to people who want the information would be my only "outlet."  Most people know what I do professionally.  If they want information, they can come ask me.

I simply find it impossible to sit and listen to a group of ill or mis-informed women talk about pregnancy, labor, or birth and not say anything.  Laughing about inductions and c-sections and how necessary they are is not my idea of fun. Most baby showers make a mockery of this sacred event.  

So I stopped attending baby showers.  Word spread pretty quickly, and the story of that famous baby shower must have also spread, as few people have questioned me about it over the years!  The fact that my blog title runs the length of my back windshield also clues people in -- don't bother inviting me.  (As a side note, I had several people -- usually women who struggle with infertility -- tell me over the years how they wish they could ban themselves from baby showers, too.)

I've always liked writing and my husband has bugged me for years to write a book.  He said the title should be "Banned From Baby Showers."  He's so funny and clever.  We laughed over it, and when I decided to write a blog, "Banned From Baby Showers" became the title.  This is my book!  I've been writing this blog for almost 3 1/2 years now.

So, when I talk about "Banned From Baby Shower moments," I'm referring to those experiences with your friends, family, or co-workers over childbirth.  The ones where you have to make a decision about whether to give information, or just walk away from the conversation to avoid a fight.  

I do continue to have Banned From Baby Shower moments, but they are far fewer these days.  I write this blog and I say whatever is on my mind.  If you don't like it, don't read it!  This is the one place I let it all hang out.  Deep down, however, I hope something strikes a chord within you that maybe you can have your baby without drugs.  Like I said in my "About Me," I hope reading my blog changes your life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Just Another Induction Post

You might remember me posting on my Banned From Baby Showers Facebook page about a mom who had been declared "high risk" due to "maternal age."  She is 35 years old.  Her OB had also told her that her amniotic fluids levels were low.  At about 37 or 38 weeks, she recommended induction.  My student declined induction and I'd just like to take a moment to relay to you what the "Treatment Declination" form said:

Our records indicate that you have declined medical induction.

The medical induction was indicated for the following reasons:
1.  Maternal age
2.  High risk pregnancy

You have also been informed of the risk of declining said treatment/procedure, including fetal death, worsening maternal condition, irreversible neurologic (brain) fetal damage resulting in cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental delay and motor skills delay.  You are also aware increased cesarean section risks and increased risk of poor fetal or maternal outcome.

By signing below you have indicated that you completely understand the risk of delaying or declining the above procedure and willingly have decided to do so.

From the beginning of classes, I had told her she had some other (great) options in the Ft. Worth area.  Thanks to several of your comments on the Facebook page, she realized that she likely was not really high risk, and decided to go ahead and switch care providers.  It was  39.3 weeks when she transferred to the UNT Midwives.  Her charts had lots of doomsday stuff in it and the midwives recommended that she visit with their perinatologist. He commended her for declining the induction and told her there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, her baby, or her pregnancy!   She had a fabulous unmedicated birth 4 days later!

I've had some overseas births (France and Switzerland) in the last couple of months who were really pushed into using pitocin too.  One of them ended up not having it, but the other one did.  The nurses were very aggressive in wanting to keep upping the dosage and the mom was barely on top of things as it was.  She was dilating very quickly, but for some reason, the nurse wanted her baby to just fall out, I guess.  It made for a very difficult labor for her.  Afterwards, she hemorrhaged and battled dizziness for hours.  The very quick labor really took a toll on her.  Had they not pushed pitocin on her the way they did, she could have enjoyed her labor instead of gripping the rails, so to speak.

In 8 1/2 years of teaching, I've never had a baby die until recently.  The mom was pressured into induction (those declination forms are really scaring) and had a uterine rupture due to "misuse of pitocin."  The OB was extremely negligent and went in with a vacuum to try to get the baby out.  The mom was only 9 centimeters.  After 3 hours from the beginning of the rupture, they went to a code-red emergency c-section.  The baby was flown to an out-of-state hospital where he received "head cooling" for the brain damage and hematoma from the vacuum attempts.  The baby had such severe brain damage, after many tests, the parents were told the baby would not survive.  He lived 18 days.  They buried their sweet baby on November 1.  To make matters worse, this mom had to go back in for surgery because they left 4 centimeters of placenta and membrane inside the uterus.  She is understandably completely devastated.  I sincerely hope she knows this is not her fault.  This is the fault of her OB who pressured her into the induction and then went about it negligently.  My heart goes out to her and her family.  I am so very sorry they are living this tragedy.

As an Educator, I have gone through many emotions this weekend as I learned what happened to this couple and their baby.  Women are being scared into induction -- being told it is the safe thing to do.  Declining the induction is the unsafe route.  Are these parents being told about the risks of the induction themselves?  Never!

The women who are asking for VBACs are being told it's too dangerous -- they might rupture and kill their babies.  But we never hear of women being told about the risk of rupture when they are induced with pitocin, albeit, a small risk. Did you notice in the Treatment Declination form that it said that by declining induction, you were risking a cesarean section?  I love that.  When a woman is induced, she is twice as likely to have a cesarean than if she starts labor on her own.
Shame on these doctors for leading women to believe that induction is harmless.  As birth advocates, we must stand up and be loud about the risks of induction!  Risks to moms and risks to babies.  These babies deserve their time to grow inside the uterus and not be forced out.  They will let us know when they are ready to be born.