It’s Time To Live Below The Line Again

Live below the line 2014The past two years I have been committing to eat and drink $1.50 worth of food a day for five days in an effort to raise awareness for extreme poverty all over the world and to help raise money.  I had actually forgotten that this is the time of year this is usually done until my oldest daughter, who joined me in it last year, asked me when it was.  So I looked it up and found out it does in fact start this coming Monday (April 28) and goes until Friday (May 2).

Since my daughter was asking about it I figured she wanted to join me again this year.  She said she would.  I asked my 12 year old if she wanted to do it, but she declined at this time.  It’s a tough thing to commit to so I get it.  I won’t force anyone to do it here so it’s just me and my oldest daughter doing this.

And we discovered last year with a little planning it was really very doable.  I haven’t told my daughter though that this is going to mean no Moe’s Queso (our weekly date together).  We’ll have to reward ourselves next Saturday with that.

So what can you do?  Well, you could join me and live below the line.  I have chosen the charity CARE to raise money for. Here’s what CARE says they do with the money:

CARE works in 84 countries around the world to support nearly 1,000 poverty-fighting development and emergency programs. These are programs that improve access to proper nutrition, quality health care, economic opportunity and education and don’t just help people improve their lives now – they provide people with the tools they need to overcome challenges for the rest of their lives. -

You can either join my efforts or pick your own charity and do your own work towards raising money and awareness towards poverty. Or you can make a donation to mine and my daughter’s efforts in this.  Check it out here.  Help me spread the word.  I will keep you posted on our progress.

I will tell you from experience that this is a very eye opening experience.  Knowing that people live on such little, barely able to get the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables and protein a day.  I only do this for 5 days out of the year.  About midweek I am dreaming of the foods I will get to eat when it’s over.  For some there is no end in sight.  So that’s why it’s so very important to me to help out and make a difference in the lives of people I don’t even know.  I hope you’ll do the same.

Will you be living below the line this year?

CARE works in 84 countries around the world to support nearly 1,000 poverty-fighting development and emergency programs. These are programs that improve access to proper nutrition, quality health care, economic opportunity and education and don’t just help people improve their lives now – they provide people with the tools they need to overcome challenges for the rest of their lives. – See more at:

The Feminist Breeder Calls Loss Mom Nuts!


Image courtesy of Bambi, Mary Beth’s mother.

I have been trying to write this post all weekend long.  Maybe I was clouded by anger, or my own raw feelings on the loss of a child, or the fact that this happened to someone I consider a friend.  Probably a combination of all of that, but it’s something that has got to be written.  We need to stop burying babies in homebirth over and over again.

The women who speak out against the negligent actions of their homebirth midwife need to be allowed and we have got to stop attacking these women.  I don’t care how great you think homebirth is.  I personally think hospital birth is the greatest place to give birth and if I heard about the negligent actions of a doctor that caused a baby to die I would never ever dream of telling anyone that the mother was nuts for sharing her story and baby.  If a doctor was negligent of course there would be consequences for his actions, but none the less if a mother wanted to share her story and her baby, then I would welcome it.  Even if I completely disagreed with her.  But then again maybe that’s because I also know what it’s like to lose a baby.

I know what it’s like to be told I’m making things up or am over dramatizing things.  I know what it’s like to be told that I’m a liar and my baby didn’t exist.  I know what it’s like to be told I’m not grieving her loss right.  I know what it’s like to have her forgotten by people who are supposed to love me and my children.  It hurts, a lot.

What I don’t know what it’s like is to have a child die due to someone’s negligent actions.  To then have that person walk away and move on with her life never having to answer to what she did while I’m left with a gravestone I get to visit every time I miss my child.  I don’t know what it’s like to share my story of negligence and share pictures of my beautiful daughter only to have people say that I’m nuts for sharing that and fear mongering a certain agenda and slandering homebirth midwives.  And then to be called a snotty bitch for doing that.  But I can put myself into the shoes of someone who has had that happen to her, just this weekend no less, and I can completely sympathize with her.

I am furious in fact.  My blood pressure has been skyrocketing a thousand times this weekend because of statements made about a woman I count amongst my friends.  I am angry, this has to stop.  And on top of it all my friend’s photo was reported to Facebook as graphic violence.

Mary Beth’s Story

Back in June 2008 my friend Bambi was planning a homebirth for her daughter.  She went into labor one June day and called her midwife who didn’t end up showing up until after Mary Beth was born.  When she got there along with the EMT’s they checked over Mary Beth.  The EMT’s not being experts on babies deferred to the midwife who gave little Mary Beth a clean bill of health.

She left and this new family settled into life.  Bambi went to take a nap and was awoken shortly after by her husband who said their new baby wasn’t breathing.  She was rushed to the hospital where they worked on her, but where unable to save her.  She was in respiratory distress.  And what was even worse is Bambi had drawn her midwife’s attention to many things that concerned her, all of which was explained away by her midwife and seemed reasonable to her, but all things that any medical professional would have recognized as respiratory distress.  And before anyone says how can we know it was the midwives fault, the coroners report said, “Cause of death: homebirth.”  That’s pretty clear cut.

Mary Beth died and her midwife went on to practice.  And Mary Beth’s mother is angry and concerned for other women and has been fighting ever since to save more family’s from experiencing what she has experienced.  The problem is, it has come at a price.  She has been dismissed and called a monster.  People who were once her friends have turned on her.

Why?  Because she stood up to her homebirth midwife in the only way she could.  And sadly it doesn’t end there.

The Feminist Breeder Strikes Again

On Friday Gina of The Feminist Breeder posted about a Facebook group that I belong to and so does Bambi called Fed Up With Natural Childbirth.  First of all let me explain, I’m not fed up with the actual process of natural childbirth.  I have birthed two of my children naturally.  And everyone who belongs to that group has no problem with women birthing naturally.  What they have a problem with is people like Gina who tell women it’s the best and safest way to give birth.  That women who do are just superior for having done it and that all hospitals and doctors just want to cut you open so they can get more money or leave sooner.  It just really shows a basic lack of understanding of how doctors and hospitals work and it sets women up for failure.  Those who don’t get that perfect natural birth often end up with postpartum depression and feelings of failure.

So Gina hates this group because well it threatens everything she believes.  She calls the group hateful and thinks the person who started the group is going after her fans and paying for them to join.  Can we say paranoid?

Anyway, since so many of Gina’s fans were checking out the page that Gina herself told them existed as a group we were explaining our feelings about birth and Gina.  Remember this: Gina told her fans about the Fed Up page, she called everyone on there a bunch of haters and then expects people to not be talking about it.

People came from Gina’s page and saw many things including a picture Bambi shared of her beautiful daughter, Mary Beth, explaining what she is fighting for.  And then she was told that her daughter’s picture was the epitome of negativity.  How nice it must be to live your life never having to know such grief as the loss of a child.  At the loss of a child to a negligent homebirth midwife none the less.  Somehow I doubt she could be the epitome of positiveness if she had walked a mile in Bambi’s shoes.

It got worse from there though.  That above was just said by one of Gina’s followers, Gina had much worse to say.  Which included calling Bambi nuts, that she was slandering homebirth midwives, she has an evil agenda to prevent women from having choice, and finally that she is a snotty bitch.  And this is how Gina and others like her show support to other women.

TFB nutsTFB dead babyTFB snotty bitches

And to add insult to injury, this picture was reported on FB for graphic violence.  Thankfully FB knew enough not to actually remove it, but wow!  Lets just completely erase Mary Beth’s existence because it’s too negative and we don’t want to see that.  I’m just sickened by all of this.


Please tell me, how was Bambi stalking and harassing?  She posted a picture of her daughter on a page that she belongs to.  She did not go to someone elses page and post this picture.  She did not hunt anyone down and say hey look at my dead daughter!  She posted it in a place where she knew there were like minded people.  And then Gina’s fans went to that page and reported this picture.  So Bambi is in the wrong here?  She did what exactly?

Can You Blame Me For Being Mad?

This is the problem with so much of the homebirth community. Aside from the idea that they are superior they also dismiss and bury babies that die during homebirth. If a woman speaks out against her homebirth this is how she is treated.  It’s so unfair.  Do you see why people get fed up?  I was banned a while ago from Gina’s page so I couldn’t comment, for all the good it would have done.  All I can do is come to my blog and hope that someone reads this and understands how dire of a situation this is.  And understand that Gina is the hateful one.  Look at that picture above and tell me, what exactly is graphically violent about that?  It would be like me reporting pictures of everyone’s sleeping child as graphically violent.  It’s outrageous!  Women who speak out against homebirth are not doing it to take away your choice, they are doing it to help prevent more Mary Beth’s from happening.

And Gina might have won this round.  Bambi has had to take a break from everything.  Gina however is still spouting off at the mouth about how much she hates hearing women say that their doctors told them they can’t vbac after all because their baby is too big.  She’s telling people about how hateful the rest of us are.  She’s going on and on and on about stuff which she knows nothing about while claiming expertise.  Lets make one thing clear though, Gina is no victim!  She creates all of her own problems.  Remember, she sent people to this page that she thinks is so hateful.  She sent them there and they didn’t like what they saw.  And rather than blame the person who told them about the group, or themselves for looking at it, they are blaming the people on that page for what they saw.  I have news for everyone who thinks we invited you there, trust me we did not.  No one paid for advertising.  Facebook makes recommendations based on what they THINK you want to see.  It’s an imperfect system I suppose, but Facebook invited you there and Gina told you about the page and you went looking.  No one asked you to come look.  But if you’re going to look, then we’re going to give you something to look at.  And if it bothers you to see that “dead baby” on the page, then think about how the mother must feel.  Then think about why it happened and why she’s so angry and try to come up with a way to change that and prevent it from happening to other women.  I sure would hate if it were my grandchild, so you better believe I’m fighting to make sure there’s accountability in homebirth for my daughters and future daughter in law.  That’s what you should be seeing when you look at that picture, not graphic violence!

This has to stop.  Mothers who speak out against their midwife need to be listened to.  And since Gina believes that there wouldn’t be the same outrage for a doctor, she is absolutely wrong.  But since doctors and hospitals have a review process of all negative outcomes unlike in homebirth midwifery the chances that a doctor is not help accountable for negligent actions are slim to none.  I do not support doctors blindly.  No one should.  But considering there is a certain standard they must meat in their training unlike homebirth midwives I think it’s safe to say your chances of finding a good one are better than your chances with a homebirth midwife.

What do you think about what The Feminist Breeder did to this loss mom?

Miscarriage: When It’s For The Best

stillbirthAs I’m sure most of my readers know I had a 20 week miscarriage five years ago.  Quick recap of how that story goes.  In November of 2008 I found out I was pregnant for a 4th time.  My son had just turned 1 and I was already into my 2nd trimester which meant I was going to have two under two.  The timing of it all was really just awful.  We were just getting things on track for my son and we definitely did not have the room for a 4th child.  So a month later when I went in for a check up and my doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat it really almost seemed like a blessing in disguise.  And truth be told that was how I got through those first few hours.  This is for the best.  I didn’t shed a tear in the doctor’s office.  It wasn’t until that night that this whole “it’s for the best” thing became my worst nightmare.

I went through many ups and downs through my grieving process, but the whole idea of it’s for the best flew out the window completely the moment I had her.  While I felt this huge amount of relief that it was over, it really wasn’t and I have carried her with me every day for the last five years.

I have seen this a lot too.  And you know it’s so easy for people to tell a woman who’s grieving that it was for the best, but you know what?  Even what’s for the best still hurts.  My little angel was still a part of me and my husband that we had created together.  She looked like her siblings to me.

But this one “for the best” moment in our lives had a huge impact both positively and negatively on our lives.  It has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with thus far in my life.  It has had an impact on each and every one of us in some way or another.  So despite the fact that this might have been what was best for our family and without this having had happened our lives would be very different (not saying better or even worse, just different) losing a baby is still very very hard no matter how much it was for the best.

So the next time you hear a woman go through a miscarriage and you want to say it’s for the best, just don’t.  First of all she probably already thought it and second of all it’s just not helpful.  Whether it’s a young teenage girl with her life ahead of her, it still hurts.  A mother of multiple children already with her hands full with the kids she already has, it still hurts.  The single mother or soon to be single mother, it still hurts.  The woman who has raised her children and suddenly gets pregnant late in life, it still hurts.  This was a life that while it might not have been planned doesn’t mean it wasn’t loved right from the get go and so it’s hard.

Miscarriage and death are never the best answer to life’s problems.  So please, the next time you feel the urge to say, “It was for the best!” stop yourself.  No matter how you mean it, you don’t know just how much this baby was loved.  So offer your condolences, offer your love, offer a shoulder to cry on, but DO NOT offer it was for the best.


Don’t Fear The Mammogram

1922238_10151918294812653_1469750310_nYes, I am of the age where mammograms are now a part of my medical check ups.  I am 35 and my doctor recommends one between the ages of 35 and 40.  Knowing how I can be with putting things off I opted to just got this done and over with and hope that I don’t need to do this again for 5 more years.  And I was quite nervous about this.  Because lets face it, we have all heard horror stories of painful mammograms.  And even just imagining your boob getting pressed between two glass (plastic or whatever material these machines are made out of) plates doesn’t exactly leave one feeling all warm and fuzzy about mammograms.

And I know, you probably aren’t going to take my word for it.  I had a friend tell me they’re no big deal, didn’t hurt a bit, but I was still nervous.  Was she blowing smoke up my butt?  I assure you, no smoke blowing up anyone’s butt here, mammograms DO NOT hurt!

Here’s What Happens

I went in today for my scheduled 9:45 appointment early.  I was supposed to be there at 9:30 to fill out paperwork.  I got there about 9:25.  Checked in, filled out my paperwork, and sat down for a few minutes.  I got called back, sent into a room to take my top off and put a robe on and then brought into the mammogram room.  She asked a quick history, if this was my first mammogram, when I had my first child, how old I was when I had my first period, if there’s any family history of breast Cancer and when I had my last menstrual period.  Then we got down to business.

I had a very nice tech by the way.  She assured me that mammograms get a bad rap, but they really aren’t all that bad.  She had me stand in front of the machine with my hands at my sides.  Then she took my breast and placed it on the table and lowered the other plate on top of it.  She told me to hold my breath and took the picture.  Then we did the same thing on the other side.  I kid you not I felt not even a pinch.  It was no more pressure than a gentle hug and I truly found breastfeeding to be far more uncomfortable and painful than this.

After she got those two images she had me take my arm out of the sleeve of my gown and turn to the side and put my arm up on a bar across the table.  She placed my breast on the table again and lowered the other plate and told me to hold my breath and took the picture and we did the other side like that.  The most uncomfortable thing was the position I had to stand in, but that really wasn’t that uncomfortable.  That was it.

This Is Just My Experience

Now when I posted the above picture to my Facebook page I had a few say mine was painful, but yeah they are still important and worth it.  I imagine a few of you have thought this as well about my post up until now.  This might be about the only thing being well endowed is good for.  I can see how the side shots especially might be more painful for someone not well endowed.

But perhaps it’s all in how the tech does it.  You know how sometimes you get blood drawn and some are really great you don’t feel a thing and barely bruise and others just jam that needle in there?  Perhaps that makes all the difference here.  Or some gynecologists can make you feel really at ease during an internal exam and pap smear, but others are just brutal.

Or maybe it depends on what is needed to be seen.  This was a baseline.  I could get called in for another one if anything shows up.  Not because there’s something wrong, but they will want to get a closer look at something.

But what I do know is I went into my mammogram completely dreading the entire experience.  Now this isn’t something I want to be doing for funsies ever day or anything.  Having strange women handle my boobs is not what I’m accustomed to and not exactly my favorite past time, but it was not nearly the painful or uncomfortable experience I was expecting.

So if you have been putting off your mammogram out of fear of the procedure itself, stop!  It’s not bad at all. It’s less invasive than a pap smear and it’s fast.  I was out of that office before my scheduled 9:45 appointment time.  I almost wish I could put off my pap smear for the next five years and get a mammogram every year instead.

What was your experience with a mammogram?

Homebirth Midwife Crowd Sources – Meanwhile, Baby Dies #notburiedtwice

Photo courtesy of The Skeptical OB

Photo courtesy of The Skeptical OB

I am all sorts of sad and angry right now. Because you see a baby died a completely senseless death and people watched it happen in real time on Facebook. I seriously don’t know on what planet it’s ever considered professional to publicly ask for medical opinions on Facebook, but it happens ALL. THE. TIME with homebirth midwives. And if a doctor ever dared to act in such an unprofessional manner by asking for a second opinion on Facebook on a case the world would be outraged. Not only because it would be a major violation of HIPAA, but also because who does that?

Last week I heard about this completely senseless death of a baby whose midwife had approached Jan Tritten, the editor of Midwifery Today, to ask what to do about this case she had where a post dates mother had 0 fluid, but she wanted to know if this was okay. This was posted in a way that made it sound like it was a case Jan was actually overseeing herself and it wasn’t long after that she updated the thread that the baby had died. It has since been deleted, but fear not there are screen shots and you can see how the whole thing played out here.

Seriously, go read that and then come back here. I’ll wait…

Back? Are you as appalled as I was at that? The internet exploded over this because as you can see there were numerous people saying it was okay and they’ve had that happen before and everything turned out just fine. No one urging her to get to the hospital ASAP. But you see it gets even worse. Later, after Jan decides to delete the thread we find out that it wasn’t her case and she was simply posting it for anonymous, and those were this other midwifes words. And as she often does this on her page when people come to her for advice that’s what she did. She was simply the messenger, so don’t kill the messenger here people.

Who’s To Blame?

But Jan is a huge part of the problem with homebirth. This whole thing portrayed exactly what’s wrong and why the lack of regulation in homebirth in the United States has got to be called into question and changes need to be made. Because you see the second Jan got this email if she were truly a professional or someone other midwives are supposed to look to for advice, then she wouldn’t have posted it on her Facebook wall to begin with. She would have told her to get that mother to a hospital ASAP no matter how she has to get that mother there because this is no longer a low risk situation which she should be overseeing and it requires more expertise than any midwife has. I mean come on, zero fluid people. I’m no medical professional, but even I know this is a get your butt to the hospital situation

Who Is The Midwife

But then one has to wonder who is this anonymous midwife who couldn’t see what kind of dire situation this mother and baby were in?  Well, thanks to all sorts of pressure of people begging for the identity it seems we might have found the identity.  Allegedly the midwife in question practices in Nevada and she goes by the name of Christy Collins.  This is important information to know for anyone who’s looking to hire a midwife.  Christy has denied being the midwife in question and it’s likely going to be easy for her bury this birth story.  Midwives have been doing a pretty good job of blaming the mother and saying “she wanted time” and that she chose not to go to the hospital.  But why is that?  Why would any mother, if she were told your baby could be in very real danger and this is beyond my scope of expertise refuse to transfer?  Well, unless of course she wasn’t told how bad of a situation it was.  And of course homebirth midwives have to make their services far more appealing to women than the hospital so the community is very careful about telling women how awful hospitals are and how their unnecessary interventions will lead them to unnecessary c-sections.

Oh, I feel or OBGYN’s, I really do.  Especially after seeing mine today for a routine check up.  Because you see she was so great to me today and always.  She doesn’t force anything on me.  She spoke to me with respect and understanding and we felt old together over the fact that my oldest is in high school.  She hasn’t seen me in three years (because I’m really bad about these things and generally don’t go unless I absolutely have to) and yet she remembered the troubles my son had after birth, six years ago.  Doctors get a bad wrap simply because they practice in a hospital and it’s so not fair.

This Has To Stop

The midwife who is responsible here, and make no mistake about it if Christy Collins was the midwife who did in fact oversee this case, then she is responsible must be brought to justice.  Nothing ever happens to midwives.  And before you go saying, but babies die in hospitals and doctors make mistakes too, yes that’s right, but there are consequences.  Doctors can lose their license to practice and can’t just simply up and move.  There are public records about a doctors stats.

What’s interesting to note about Christy Collins is she originally was a midwife in California.  She crossed state lines to be able to continue practicing because she couldn’t be bothered to get a license to practice in CA.  And when she was busted for that and had to pay a fine she simply skipped town and moved shop.  This happens ALL. THE. TIME.  Midwives move and change their names when they are caught doing something they shouldn’t be.  This has to stop!

Christy deserves punishment for her part in this tragic and senseless death.  Jan Tritten deserves punishment for her part in this.  Homebrth should be regulated because it’s unsafe.  And if ever there was an example of how bad things are when it comes to homebirth in the United States, then this story is an example of that.

Not buried twice.  No more burying babies in coffins and then again burying the story of what happened.  We need to get the information out there.  This has to stop.  Won’t you join the Facebook page Not Buried Twice to help put a stop to this nonsense?

For the record I want everyone to know I’m not against homebirth.  I even considered it with my youngest.  However, I knew it wasn’t going to be safe for me or her.  What I am completely against is these senseless deaths and zero accountability for them.  If you don’t believe that it’s happening much more than just this one instance, then please read the Hurt By Homebirth blog.

Aviva Romm Is No Medical Doctor I’d Want To See

Image courtesy of stockphoto/ Free Digital Photos

Image courtesy of stockimages/ Free Digital Photos

Can you believe there are doctors out there who go through medical school and take an oath to do no harm and then ignore everything they learn in medical school? I guess sometimes I might get wrapped up in a little wishful thinking. Of course in every profession there are ones that just don’t take their work seriously and when it comes to a doctor that has great risks. I really think most doctors out there really believe that it’s their job to do no harm. And even when you do find a doctor who’s not so great it might just be a personality clash. Lets face it, we don’t need our doctors to be our best friend though. We need them to mitigate the risks and advise us of what they think the best course of action is going to be. Is it always right? No, doctors are human and they can only go with the most up to date information they have, but for me anyways, I would rather not have my feelings spared. Talk to me with respect, yes, but don’t spare me information because you fear it might upset me.

And when I see a doctor playing tone police on the internet I get very concerned for everyone involved. Mostly because tone is very hard to express on the internet anyways and is completely open to interpretation, but also because I would think a doctor should have a thick enough skin to handle differing of opinion from people no matter how it’s presented.

Aviva Romm, MD?

There is this Yale graduate doctor named Aviva Romm who seems to be quite popular with people.  She has a family practice, but has also written several natural holistic books and maintains a blog and Facebook page.  And recently she wrote a blog post about her position on homebirth.  Now first of all I would like to point out that Aviva Romm is NOT an OBGYN.  She is a family doctor who prior to getting her medical degree was a homebirth midwife.  She is not advocating what the current ACOG guidelines say in this matter though.  Her blog post isn’t entirely even keel, it really does have a way of making the hospital sound less than ideal and glossing over the problems in homebirth.  She blames the hospitals really for why homebirths aren’t more successful.  If doctors and hospitals would just accept these transfers with open arms, then everything will be so much better.

Now, I’m not a doctor so I can only go by what I know about how things work in hospitals from my own personal experience.  Even when I was preregistered at the hospital for all of my births there was still quite a bit that needed to be done by the hospital’s staff when I arrived to deliver my babies.  When I was sent there straight from my doctor’s office with my oldest I recall things being quite hectic to start out with, despite having information about my arrival from my doctor.  I can only imagine what an emergent homebirth situation must look like, especially when you see so many stories that say and the midwife was in a separate car to the hospital from mom.  Now sure, we could blame doctors and hospitals reactions on why a midwife wouldn’t do what she could to prepare the hospital for the arrival of her patient, but in emergent situations I have never known a doctor to not jump into action and take care of what needs to be taken care of.

And Aviva Romm herself is even unwilling or unable to be that smooth homebirth transfer doctor.  Actions speak louder than words here people.  You have a doctor who is saying doctors and hospitals need to be more accepting of homebirth transfers, but who she herself will not accept homebirth transfers.  And do you know why?  Because she’s currently not in a practice that offers birth services.  Actually, she also says she is traveling too much as to why she can’t be the doctor that accepts homebirth transfers.  And through her medical malpractice insurance she was required to decline hospital obstetrics privileges.  And yet she expects other doctors to be the ones to do what she herself is unable to do. Well, quite frankly she seems to think she could do it better because again I’ve never known a hospital to turn away a woman in labor simply because she was a homebirth transfer.  Aviva can’t and really she won’t work with local midwives because “the standards amongst hombirth midwives are too variable.”  Her words.

So Aviva has a whole list of reasons why she is unable to provide that seamless care to women and even admits that there are too many problems with how homebirth midwives practice and yet she thinks women can make a safe and informed choice to have a homebirth with so many variables that a doctor won’t even jump in there and sort out.  Maybe Aviva’s next book can be How to pick your homebirth midwife even when a doctor can’t.  But hey ladies, it’s your right to choose homebirth so go for it, but don’t go crying to Aviva Romm, MD when things go south because she’ll be off traveling or turning you away because she was unable to get a practice that offers birth services.  So good luck.

But It Gets Better

Do you remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that the new MANA (Midwife Alliance of North America) homebirth study showed a huge increase in death for a baby?  Well, when Aviva was asked about that she had this to say:

Aviva Romm, MDThere you have it, she hasn’t even looked at the most recent data regarding homebirth and yet she is telling women it’s safe.  But I was very interested to see what would happen if Aviva took Amy Tuteur up on her offer to find a 3rd party statistician to go over those numbers with them both.  One would think this is a win win situation for someone who is so sure that she is right about the safety of homebirth.  She would have numbers which would show people just how safe it is and she could shut up one of homebirth’s biggest detractors once and for all.  Seems like a pretty natural reaction someone would have when they know they’re right about something.

But no, not Aviva, she accepted and then less than a week later she backed out of it.  After Amy Tuteur found an independent statistician Aviva backed out, not because this statistician wasn’t independent or qualified for the job, but because Aviva has decided that Amy Tuteur is just too mean and she needs to disengage from her.   Can someone please tell me how looking at numbers with someone who doesn’t have a stake in the race has anything to do with meanness?  Because the only reason I can come up with about why someone who is so sure that homebirth is safe would “disengage” from fact finding is if she already knew the truth and it meant she’d have to eat her own words.  What would have happened if Amy continued to be mean after the results proved her stance on homebirth to be wrong?  Well, Aviva would have facts on her side and Amy would look far less credible.  Guess who’s looking more and more like a quack right about now?  I’ll give you a hint, it’s NOT Amy Tuteur.

But It Can’t End There

I thought I would try to appeal to Aviva’s desire to create a safe space for women.  But it would appear that her idea of safety for women and my idea of safety for women are completely different.  Because you see as a mother I feel safe when I know my kids are safe.  I don’t think I know a woman and a mother who doesn’t have that feeling of safety in that moment.  So I posted this to Aviva’s wall (please ignore the typo in the first line, I’m aware it’s with all due respect):

Dr. RommYes, I’m aware that by my calling her on having a moral compass that someone who’s so very sensitive to words would have a problem with what I wrote.  And I expected it would get deleted and it most certainly did.  Without response from Aviva.  But the next day she did post this on her Facebook page:

Words have powerful effects, especially when spoken by authority figures. Doctors are frequently guilty of giving people negative health messages. “Nocebos.”

I’ve received many emails from women who experienced obstetric nocebos. Just today I received one from a momma who had a cesarean for her first baby and was told she’d probably never be able to birth vaginally because of the position of the baby in her pelvis. While, in fact, that may be the case for her, an inadequately sized or misshapen pelvis is a only a rare cause of a true need for a cesarean in most healthy women. The first baby I ever midwifed was to a mom who was was about 5’3” tall and the dad was 6’4”. During her pregnancy an OB told her she’d NEVER birth her baby vaginally. She was just :too small.: She actually pushed her baby out just fine in a beautiful home birth. But about 5 minutes before she did she looked at me with fear in her eyes and said “Am I too small? Will my baby come out?”

Nocebos are powerful negative messages that stick because they are told to us by someone we believe, who carries authority about their words, may have a set of skills, experience, or knowledge we lack so we are relying on them, and because they are about something which we feel vulnerable.

Fear has a tremendous physiologic impact on birth. So does our lack of belief in our ability to birth. So we have to work to overcome nocebos in all forms — negative media portrayal of birth, negative messages from family, friends, and health care providers, negative messages from the medical model about birth. Beliefs have a powerful role in our birth outcomes.

What are some of the beliefs you’ve struggled with? Negative messages you’ve overcome? How have you done this?

She is very focused on the how people say things.  So much so that several comments on this thread were deleted.  Starting with this one:

Aviva Romm commentActually, this person got banned for saying this.  And I then responded with this:

Dr. Romm 2Which ultimately got me banned from the page.  The thread continued on where someone asked her about having an HBAC and she did give her advice, which ultimately was correct.  This person was NOT a candidate for a homebirth, but that didn’t stop one of Aviva’s followers from telling the woman she could have a homebirth if she just found herself the right midwife and doula.  That ultimately was deleted, rightfully so, but the person had already seen it.  But what might have been the most heinous act of deletion on this thread was the deletion of a homebirth loss mom’s comment:

Aviva Romm Bambi commentSo I think what this boils down to with Dr. Aviva Romm is if you call into question the safety of homebirth, then she will delete that.  She will disengage from anyone who doesn’t think her Yale degree makes her the be all and know all of all things medical.  However, she will tell you to question your own doctors who are telling you that you can’t do something.  Just don’t tell her that she might be wrong to be recommending something that is proven unsafe.  I mean seriously, how would she know, she said she can’t be bothered with numbers and she has no desire to have someone interpret them for her?

What a shame that she is using her authority as a medical doctor to advise women to do something that she herself will not in fact do herself though.  It might be even worse that this practicing medical doctor is giving out medical advice without any sort of warnings to speak to their own medical professional.  Opening her and her medical practice up to possible lawsuits.  Not even correcting someone who is telling a woman who should not have a homebirth that she can if she just finds the right provider.  This is not a doctor I would want overseeing my care, but then again I prefer my doctors to actually believe what they learned in medical school.

What are your thoughts about this latest attempt at hiding the hideous death rates in homebirth?

What Do We Do When Something’s Amiss With Our Child?

EducationI’m no stranger to having dreams and expectations of my children.  I’ve been doing it for the past 15 years.  Now the key to being a supportive parent is recognizing that our dreams are just that, ours.  That our children are not an extension of us and we don’t get to live vicariously through them.  We can guide them and help them in many different ways, but it’s important to understand that if they don’t turn out how we expected it’s not a reflection on us as parents.  How we handle these things though, that is a reflection on our parenting.

This weekend I watched as another blogger who is quite well known as being a person who likes to stir the pot, really stir the pot big time.  The Feminist Breeder’s oldest son was just diagnosed as being Autistic and it did not take her long at all to not only become and expert, but to also make herself the spokesperson for the ASD community.  And what she is 100% sure of is that we must cure people of Autism.  Not surprisingly people who felt differently than her and who either have Autism themselves or who have been in the Autistic community had a few things to say about this.  Gina, being Gina of course dug her heels in and decided to call these people zealots and tell them that they have “jumped the advocacy shark” which now has the internet exploding.

Now I know Gina isn’t going to listen to anything I have to say.  But none the less I want to share a little story with you.  Because I do think Gina is processing things right now and she’s just not going about it in the right way.  Maybe she’ll come around and if she does I’m sure she won’t apologize for her extreme behavior, but sadly I don’t believe she will.  But none the less I think I should share my story of finding out my own children might have a harder time achieving what I had dreamed for them, not for her but for the next parent who struggles with a diagnosis about her child.

When My Oldest Was Diagnosed With A Speech Delay

Way back in 2000 when my oldest daughter was just 17 months old we had contacted our local early intervention to have her evaluated for her lack of speech.  She was accepted and it spun my world upside down.  I had a million questions and a whole lot of mommy guilt.  Now I know this is not the same as someone who has autism, but I do think we go through some similar sort of grieving process so to speak when we find out something is amiss with our child.  And it doesn’t entirely matter if you suspected something was up or not.  Hearing the words has an affect on us.

So when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with a speech delay I wanted to know why.  Did I do something to cause it?  How do I fix this?  I looked for it to be something specific like maybe Apraxia of speech.  As if having a name associated with her speech delay was going to change things.  You know kind of like when your child has a sore throat.  If it’s strep and she can get on antibiotics she’ll be up and about in no time, but if it’s viral then you have to wait it out and make her comfortable with plenty of rest and fluids.  It’s frustrating when you think your child is struggling and when you can’t instantly fix it.  I mean you’re mom, that’s what you’re supposed to do, make all the bad things go away.

But when it comes to developmental delays and neuro-processing disorders it’s a little more complex.

Now My Daughter Is 14 And Is Doing Great

So for four years of my daughters life we went through speech therapy.  I asked why it was so, I worried when I got pregnant with my second daughter that she would have the same affliction, and I advocated for what my daughter needed to make her speech come along.  And when she was 5 and they said she’s fine there’s no more we can do for her I worried.  I told every teacher for years about her speech delay and asked them to watch for any problems.  And now she is maintaining a 3.5 GPA in her Freshman year of high school, taking 3 advanced classes and planning for her future.

She remembers her speech therapy and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t look at it as something she wishes she didn’t have.  It has set her on a certain course for her life.  And as I think I’ve mentioned before, I do wish all kids could receive speech therapy.  But it took me a while to come to that realization that it’s okay that there’s not a cure for everything.  I do still hate viruses though.

As Time Goes On

We all have an ability to come to terms with things.  Once we see the look on our child’s face when she accomplishes something that was once hard for her to do we begin to see there are benefits to things.  But even if we can never find a benefit to the struggles that our children go through it’s not always our place or within our ability to fix it.  It is our place and within our ability to always always advocate for our child.  I do hope Gina’s “jump the advocacy shark” does not mean she’s over advocating for her son because it has only just begun.  The reality is there is no cure for autism.  The fact that we are seeing more and more people diagnosed with autism does not mean that it’s due to environmental factors of some sort.  There likely is a genetic connection which means Gina might come to find that one of her other children is autistic as well.  If a “cure” is ever even going to be possible it’s likely not going to be in our lifetime or in our children’s lifetime.

Advocacy is what we have.  We can’t get “over” that.  We can’t ignore it and dig our heels in about a cure.  We have to work with what we have and we have to take our feelings out of this and put our child’s needs ahead of anyone elses.

I will always advocate for my children’s education and for them to get the help they need to help them be successful in the area they want to be successful in.  As many of my readers know my middle daughter has an IEP for reading.  I pushed very hard to get her tested and get an IEP in place so she didn’t continue to fall further and further behind.  There’s nothing she needs to be cured of, she has her strengths and she has her weaknesses.  None of those are going to stop her from pursuing her dreams.  Whether it’s to become a hairdresser or whatever she chooses to do.

Bottom Line

In all of this, no matter if you’re just starting out on a journey with your child, or have been in it for years there are three important things to remember.

  1. This is your child’s struggle or blessing, not yours.  Your job as her parent is to help her navigate life as best as possible, but that’s always been your job.  But what you think might be the best way to handle things when you start out in the journey with our child, you might find it not the best.  You might even begin to see blessings that you didn’t see in the beginning.  Which brings me to my next point.
  2. Don’t ever burn bridges along the way.  Whether it’s another parent who has been in this for a while, or an adult who can give you the unique insights of what your child might be feeling or the school system itself.  You need to learn how to speak on behalf of your child and you also need to help your child advocate for herself because you can’t always be there making sure the IEP is being followed by the school in the day to day stuff.  There will come a time when you have exhausted all possibilities and you will have to cut your losses and try something new even.  This will all come from understanding that you don’t have all of the answers.
  3. Don’t ever ever ever allow your child to even remotely think that you think there’s something wrong with him in anyway.  Kids are more perceptive than we may think though so always let your children try things they want to try even if you think they’ll struggle with it.  Play to their strengths too.  My middle daughter loves art so we found her an art school.  While academics are still very important she gets just as much time to work on the arts which is like a reward for her hard work.  And believe me, you will not see another child work as hard as her through the areas she struggles with.

If you have a child who was diagnosed with a delay or a disorder of some sort how did you handle it?

MANA Finally Posted Homebirth Death Rates

stillbirthThis week in pregnancy news MANA (Midwife Alliance of North America) finally released their death rates to the public. It only took 5 years to do so. One year later than when I was told they would release them. But better late than never, right? Well, probably not for the women who lost their babies over the last 5 years because they didn’t have this information.

The problem though? For some reason homebirth advocates and of course midwives seem to think that 2 in every 1000 births ending in death is okay. And you know in all honesty seeing that number alone (and well not being a statistician or anything) I’m inclined to say well, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. But then I start to wonder how does that compare to hospital births in this nation.

Shouldn’t That Be What We All Are Asking?

I mean women who are looking for the best and safest place to give birth sure are likely to ask. So we look on the other side of the coin and they are saying that according to the CDC database hospital births over the same time as MANA’s study, with white women, at term was .38/1000. I’m not going to go all crazy with numbers and percentages here because I know there are people like me who the math of it all just doesn’t make much sense, but let us just say, if that’s right that 2/1000 at home does not look anywhere near as safe and certainly is not safer than hospital birth.

And then when you hear from the midwives themselves who were a part of this study and they are saying how they reported things, you really have to wonder how much worse can these numbers get?  It was not a well controlled study.  That 2 deaths per 1000 births might actually be twice that or worse even.  It’s really hard to have faith in this study.

But it gets even worse. You know how everyone always says homebirth is great for low risk women? Yeah, well, your odds definitely are better if you’re low risk, but here in lies the problem in American homebirth. No one seems to have thoroughly defined what exactly is low risk. If homebirth is supposed to be done with low risk women, then why are vaginal birth after c-section being performed at home? Why are multiples being born at home? And really, why are breech births being born at home? Why at the very least at the conclusion of this study FIVE years ago have we not put regulations on who can have a homebirth? Out of 222 breech homebirths 5 ended in death. Who knows what other long term effects will be felt for the rest of those breech births, but we do know now according to this “study” that 20 out of every 1000 breech homebirths will end in death. That’s math I can do, that’s 10 times greater than homebirth as a whole.

So in the last five years I have to ask, what did MANA do? It seems to me they have just been burying these preventable deaths and doing a lot of talking, but not taking a lot of action in things. And I would also like to point out that of all of the homebirth midwives in the United States only 20-30% did this voluntary reporting. You know what that means to me? That the results are even more gloomy than these numbers suggest. Now I could be a glass is half full kind of gal in this instance, but you see there has to be a reason that 70% of the midwives didn’t want to be included. No matter what their excuses are for not being a part of it (too much work inputting the data, are afraid of what their outcomes will show, or just don’t care) it just doesn’t sit well with me. If I’m proud of the work I do and am in the business of helping people, then I would shout my stats from the rooftops and do everything I could to make sure my good stats got out there. Seems that the 30% represents the best of the worst. If giving birth at home is where your heart lies, then you need to understand that it’s really sub standard care you are receiving. No matter how anyone tries to make those numbers sound good to you and how much you are told it’s a variation of normal or homebirth is as safe as hospital birth for low risk women, that’s just not true.

Don’t Be Duped.

MANA is trying to sell you something. They are selling you a substandard of care. And while they have finally revealed the death rates they are really hoping that you’ll be impressed by their low intervention rate and high breastfeeding success rate instead of focusing on what we really should be concerned about. Perhaps those hospital interventions are just what’s needed to keep babies alive. Well, there’s no perhaps about it. That’s exactly what’s needed. Those babies survive at much higher rates BECAUSE of hospital interventions. Even with the most qualified of midwives your chances simply are just better in the hospital to begin with, but homebirth in the United States attended by a CPM/DM is frighteningly dangerous no matter how MANA wants to try to distract you with their other stats.

If nothing else can we all just please agree that we need to define what low risk is and any midwife who does not follow these guidelines will have real world consequences? No slap on the wrist. Lets stop burying babies who have died in homebirth over and over again. Lets admit that there needs to be far stricter regulations for homebirth. And lets admit this needs to happen now, if not then 5 years ago when this information SHOULD have been made available.

Not after pressure from people and not after being told we won’t pay for your services until we can see your outcomes. It’s well past due that babies start dying in homebirth when they easily could have been saved in hospitals.

I want so much more to happen by the time my daughters are giving birth. If they choose homebirth, I want it to be with a highly educated attendant. Not with someone who just recently was required to have a high school diploma. I want her to have someone who will be honest and straightforward with her that there are certain things that will risk her out of homebirth. Of course I will be buzzing in their ear telling them these things, but their care provider should be providing them with the risks. True informed consent. That’s what I want to see and I have 3 (well 4, my son’s future wife) reasons to want this. Even if I’m done having children I still have a stake in this and I want what’s best for my future grandchildren. We can’t live in the past, we can only move forward and moving forward means using all of the technology and resources at our disposal. Not to mention the information we have from the past. We can do better for pregnant mothers, so lets do better. Lets stop talking and lets start doing something to change that 2/1000 statistic and make it more like .38/1000 as seen in the hospital. That way saying homebirth is as safe as hospital birth for low risk women will actually be closer to being true.

What do you make of the new MANA stats that were released this week?

Update On St. Baldrick’s

Shaving my headTwo and a half months ago I shaved my head for childhood Cancer and raised money for St. Baldrick’s. I raised over $1000 and I am still getting some donations trickling in. Sadly my name is no longer searchable on the St. Baldrick’s database because they are moving on with the 2014 shaves. Mental note, if I do this again apparently earlier in the year gives me more time to raise money.

But anyways, people on the internet often ask me how my hair is coming in and want to see it. And truth be told right now, I mostly HATE my hair. The back flips up a lot. Well, honestly all of it does. I can’t do anything at all with it and it just is driving me nuts. I keep thinking maybe I should go get a trim or something to clean it all up, but then I’m like it will never get long again. And I see pictures of me with more hair and I miss it.

But sometimes, sometimes I look at it and I think it’s not bad. I have been called sir though so I guess from behind I do look like a man. I can’t wait to get out of this stage with my hair though and to something where I can actually do something with it. But for now I guess I’ll have to enjoy the good days like Friday when I snapped this picture in the car while waiting for my middle daughter’s bus…


My husband says it doesn’t look like me though. I don’t think it’s because of my hair, I think it’s just the way the sun was hitting my face. Plus, I usually smile in pictures. I don’t think there are any pictures of me looking so stoic. But my hair doesn’t look half bad there.

Now that I have hair though people rarely make any sort of comments. And honestly everything I have gotten has been mostly positive over the last few months. Some ask, some just look, one person at the bus stop waited until the coldest day of the year to chat with me outside about why I shaved my head in the winter months. One person approached my husband at the grocery store to ask if I had Cancer.

But anyways, in spite of all of my current hair woes, I would absolutely do this again. The entire experience has been a humbling one. It has been eye opening and it has been scary. But it has all around been amazing. To have the people that I have had support me in this in the way they have has been amazing. And the most amazing thing of all if knowing that over $1000 is going to help some children survive Cancer. I might never know how much of an impact my fundraising has actually had, but I know it’s helping. And if nothing else people have learned a little something about why this is so important.

One Month After Shaving For St. Baldrick’s

Shaving my headI was talking to a friend yesterday who doesn’t live close and she was asking me how my hair was coming in after shaving it for St. Baldrick’s.  I thought others might be wondering as well and today just so happens to be one month since that big day.  So I took some pictures of me today so you can see how my hair is doing.  I can’t brush or style it yet, but it is growing in nicely.

Before we get to what you all really want to see I want to remind everyone that I am still raising money.  I have not reached my goal and I do seem to be at a standstill in my fundraising.  I am up to $1,050 which is absolutely amazing, but I’d really love to get to my goal of $5000.  So today while you’re getting some of your shopping done on Cyber Monday why don’t you consider gifting someone a donation to St. Baldrick’s in their name.  It will make the perfect gift for the person who has everything.  Or really anyone who has been touched by childhood Cancer.

But anyways, here is the progress that my hair has made in just one month…

One month after shaving

And in case you forgot what I looked like a month ago, here’s the before and after…

After shaving one month laterAnd yes, I am sporting my St. Baldrick’s shirt today which I received for raising money for them.  I also have a pin which says, “Ask me why I’m bald.”  So it has given me plenty of opportunity to talk about what I did.

So it’s coming along nicely, I’m happy to say.  I’m also glad that I did this on so many levels.  Of course most importantly the amazing outpouring of support I have received especially financially from people.

But like I keep telling people, it’s just hair it does grow back as you can see.  So what do you think?  Is it coming in nicely?