Friday, May 5, 2017

#InternationalMidwivesDay

Today was International Midwives Day, which for me, was bittersweet. I am so proud of all of the birth workers I have gotten to know throughout my pregnancy, and feel so strongly about the quality of care the midwifery model provides. I chose to birth with midwives because I was sure that they would guarantee me the best chance of a natural birth, free from unnecessary medical intervention. I trusted them to allow my body to do what I believed it was capable of.

But it didn't go like that, exactly. Somehow, after 20 hours of unmedicated labor and three hours of pushing, I found myself threatened with a C-section. I signed consent papers for anesthesia as my daughter's head crowned, and was wheeled into an OR across the hall from the beautiful birthing center I had imaged myself crossing the finish line in, "just in case." I watched my husband change into scrubs and my birth plan fly out the window, all because I had exceeded the number of hours I was "allowed" to push.

Did you know that 1 in 3 babies in America are born via cesarean section? That number is not only triple what the WHO recommends, but research indicates only 50% of those surgeries are medically indicated.

I was one of the "lucky" ones. I was lucky because I was able to lie there in that OR, terrified out of my mind, and push my daughter out through "only" vacuum assistance and sheer force of will. I was lucky that the ridiculous hospital protocol, in which a group of people who were probably not even doctors decided that three was the number of hours a woman got to push her baby out of her body, didn't mean that I ended up with a serious and undoubtedly unnecessary surgery to deliver my child. I believe, as much as I was failed by my providers, that had I not delivered with a midwife, I would not have been so lucky.
 
In the birthing tub with my husband and mom supporting me, prior to being transferred. Photo by Nicole Lahey.

And I was lucky that after a birth experience that shattered my mind and body, and fell short of almost everything I had hoped it would be, that I had people around me to support me in my disappointment and anger. People who at the first sign of depression, said, hey, let's deal with what happened to you so that you can move on and enjoy your baby. People who told me it wasn't my fault, that I did everything I could, who shared in my sorrow and pain over what I had lost and didn't just say, you have a healthy daughter, that's what really matters.

I was lucky that our broken healthcare system didn't get the best of me. That in the end, more than one person in my life took the time to remind me that I mattered. That it was ok for me to be open and honest about my struggles without repercussion.

So now, as I watch a group of white men make decisions about that already-broken system, not to fix it, but to make it even worse, I'm shocked. I'm horrified that someone in my shoes, one of the "lucky" ones, could still be considered ineligible for future care, because of things that were out of my control, or because I was brave enough to open up when I faltered in the aftermath.

And what about all the women out there who aren't so lucky?

Women who had c-sections, women who suffer from post-partum depression or anxiety, women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Women. All. Over.

But especially: Women of color. Trans women. Women from economically disadvantaged communities. Their children. And the  birth and healthcare workers who struggle to provide the best care they can for us all, under unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Today, as I was thinking about the disgusting hypocrisy of it all, I came across a piece of writing from a friend of mine, who is a midwife.

She wrote:

"The hubris of these old white men enacting laws they believe will never touch them fills me with a rage so overwhelming I can taste it. The patriarchy is strong.

But.

We are infinitely stronger. Because we give birth to the next generation. We adopt the next generation. We lovingly raise the next generation, providing safe space for their hearts and their minds to grow. 

In the end all these hateful old white men will die of their own personal pre-existing conditions.

And we won't even stop to dance on their graves because we'll be too busy." (Imogen Minton) 

Me after giving birth to my daughter Rafaela, the next generation. Photo by Nicole Lahey.
For anyone expecting, I strongly urge you to consider finding a midwife to catch your baby. You will find that the philosophy behind midwifery care is directed towards the needs of the individual, all while working to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. Click here for more information about the laws in your state and to find a midwife near you.

xoxo
Angela


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