(Note: This post is a continuation of an earlier post written today. I split it into two posts because I felt it was appropriate. The title of this post was inspired by an Emmylou Harris song of the same name.)
You would think this would all be over for me. You would think that somehow I would be protected from getting hurt again, if I studied things out carefully enough… if I followed my gut and listened to that little voice of the Spirit which only whispers truth. I listened and found a good allopath in the town where I live. I was actually told that he was safe for me, and would not harm me. But when it comes to female issues, I cannot work with a man. So over this past year, I searched until I found somebody I thought I could trust.
You see, the midwife I ended up working with during the 4th pregnancy, the one that came after the Lyme’s Disease, was pleasant, kind and nice enough… until it came time for the actual birth. Then, let’s sing along folks, [to the tune of Jingle Bells] it was C-Y-A, C-Y-A, Time to C-Y-A… After working with her for months, she suddenly announced that she was not willing to attend the home waterbirth she and I had planned. She felt the baby was past-dates and would be large, though all the tests we did showed she was fine. She was worried about my weight, my gestational anemia, and my multipara status. She had me do or take just about every substance known to midwifery to try and force the baby out “naturally”, including external and internal use of borage oil and copious doses of tincture of cotton root bark, which I later learned was an abortificant. She had me go to an acupuncturist, but when the acupuncturist said she felt from my meridians that the baby was not quite ready to come out yet, that was ignored. Quite simply, it was as if she had lost patience with me. She was suddenly unwilling to do what we had been planning for months… and I remember her saying something like that she had spent too much money on my case already. I should have run, far far away, then. I now believe she also wanted to make sure her midwife’s apprentice got to count me as one of her numbers, but of course I was too naive and trusting to realize this was her plan at the time. Her key to the whole situation was that she knew how badly we wanted this baby. So, believing my baby’s life was in imminent danger, we finally agreed to follow her adamant demand that I be induced. If I could go back and make that decision again, I would do so, and find another midwife willing to attend me in my home… or go unassisted. But we did not have any more money for another midwife, we were strangers in the area, we were frightened because we were being told our longed-for, yearned-for baby could possibly DIE, and, quite frankly we trusted her. My trust is a precious gift I do not give many people.
So I cried all the night before and then cried all the way to the hospital the next morning and then spent the whole day walking the floors, getting induced with Pitocin. I had prayed for experience, since I want to become a midwife. So God gave it to me… but not in the way I had expected. I found out first hand that the contractions in natural labor are whole heckofalot less painful than chemically-induced contractions. I had my waters artificially ruptured. Thank God they had cordless EFM’s there, and allowed me all the mobility I wanted all day long, or I would have gone mad. As the evening neared and the earnest hospital staff scrambled to put together a birth pool with which it was obvious they had little experience, my labor finally vamped up. Since the pool was not available, I went with what water I could find in the hospital bathtub and shower. That labor was holy bloody HELL. This is where I had my first experience with a doula (the midwife apprentice), and yes, it is true that doulas are like a drug. She was invaluable to that moment. I was determined: I refused any other drugs, knowing the side-effects and the danger my baby. But I wonder, if, without that doula and my music and my husband and my essential oils, if I would have been able to hold out. A hospital nurse had also informed me, with a look of triumph in her eyes, that the time clock had begun, the minute I began Pitocin, toward a c-section, and that if I did not have that baby by midnight, there was no escaping the surgery. I had worked with this garrulous magpie of a nurse all day, but she only gave me this information around 7 or 8 pm. Why is that? Sometime after transition (they took FOREVER filling that tub!) the MD attending then did a little Nazi-like deal-with-the-devil where, pointing at the inviting, finally-filled Aquadoula tub, told me I could not get in there and have my baby unless I consented to an internal fetal monitor. Helpless, I agreed, just wanting to get into my safe place, the deep water, like I had been wanting to get into the water for HOURS. (I had had 2 prior water labors, 1 prior water birth). Once I was in the water, and very very ANGRY at having had so much of my personal power taken away and rights ridden over roughshod, I basically shut them and their panic and their voices all out, flipped them all a mental bird, and pushed my baby out. It could not have been more than 10 minutes. It was obvious everyone was kind of afraid of water birth in there, not really trusting it. I could feel that vibe. And when my baby emerged, from a furious mother instead of a peace-filled and ecstatic one, there was a panic, and somehow she nearly got dropped back in the water by the MD. My midwife stood there the whole entire time, not allowed to do anything. Yes, she kept her promise and was with me all day for the whole thing, but that was not what I had had in mind when I paid her over 2K at her hire. The doctor did not wait of course, but cut her cord without asking me, telling me it was too short to hand her to me, and that things were “too dangerous”. Then they whisked her off to the baby warmers and I did not get to see her for what felt like an excruciatingly long time. When the MD examined my baby, and looked at the placenta, she determined that my baby was not post-dates at all, and could probably have stayed in utero another 2 weeks or so.
BOY WAS I MAD when I heard that. I still feel like in this birth I was robbed, and my baby was robbed, because of the fear of BOTH alternative and allopathic care providers. The whites of her eyes were bloody-colored for 2 months from the stress and force of the contractions, and she was sort of shell-shocked for the first little while, too. This child with the most loving and affectionate disposition of all my children, this child who deserved a blessed and sacred passage: my poor baby got sledge-hammered out of the womb with a corkscrew needle screwed into her head, instead of being gently, gradually and sweetly water-birthed like her brother. And do not tell me the STUPID thing I have heard over and over, “Well, you got a living baby, and that is all that counts.” Really? REALLY?! Just more of this mainstream medical bean-counter bullshit that quantitative supersedes qualitatitive every time? And that quantitative is really all that matters?! (Because it makes our insurers happy). I mean, the whole reason the doula profession was invented, is, I suspect, that Penny Simkin did not have a pleasant birth experience qualitatively!!! As for an aftermath to this story, though the midwife I hired and her apprentice are, I guess, acquaintances-friends… I do not want to work with either one on a personal healthcare basis again. I am glad I had a doula at this birth, but I would not have had to need her so badly if the situation had not been CAUSED by their fear in the first place.
So, getting back to 2013-2014, since I lost the midwife I thought would be the last one I would have to pick, I went on the hunt for another. I had an assignment at MCU to interview midwives in my state, and so I interviewed two CPM’s and two CNM’s. I really liked one of the CPM’s but chose to go to a CNM in the end because she shares the same faith as I do. I was so excited! I thought I had finally found the ideal female health care provider. I interviewed her, but still felt gun-shy. I had been dealing with a health issue that I wasn’t sure of the cause – extreme stress from returning to school and dealing with raising a difficult teen? less-than-ideal nutrition? or could it be disease? or a combination? I had gone to see a Master Herbalist and I believe now that the herbs he gave me probably saved my life. Among them were bloodroot, black walnut and teazel. The problem stopped and I began feeling better. But then I ran out of money to see him and felt pushed into a corner to find someone my insurance would pay for. So I finally went to this new midwife, a CNM this time instead of the CPM I had seen before. I had warned the office staff prior to coming that I was a survivor of rape. I had asked them repeatedly: AM I GOING TO SEE so-in-so, and they assured me that yes, I would. Well it all turned into another one in a long chain of disappointments and betrayals with medical practitioners, and I will not be going back to that practitoner again, either. Think it’s all in my head? Upon the advice of that good allopath friend of mine here in my town, I wrote a letter of complaint. Guess I am not so crazy after all. I got both a written and telephone response from the owner of the practice, a CNM, apologizing for what had happened, explaining that I was not the only person to complain, and informing me that this person was no longer employed with them. Of all the care providers I have ever met, that owner-CNM bent over backwards, doing more in word, deed and financial actions to make amends for a sin committed in the name of her practice – that she herself did not commit – than any other care provider or practice I have ever met. This woman has my lasting respect and gratitude. As far as I’m concerned, she is the best in the region.
All happening at the same time as this was my choice to return to school last fall to become a certified professional midwife, CPM, while simultaneously trying to earn my DONA credential, and complete AAHCC certification as a childbirth instructor. I was so excited and hopeful! There had been news that birth services were returning to the little rural hospital in my town! No more pressing my face against the glass, like the Little Match Girl in Hans Christen Anderson’s story. There was going to be a place for me! Somewhere where I could serve and be of use! But with all of these endeavors, again, it was a series of – over and over – getting the wool ripped off my eyes.
The absolutely senseless and insane thing about DONA’s requirements is that they ask your enemy, who does not want you around and views you as their competitor and income-usurper, the medical doctors and nurses, to evaluate you as a doula. How incredibly stupid is that? This is why there are so many doulas who say they are DONA-trained, but have no letters after their name. It is because they can’t get them. They are trapped between the arrogance and self-serving-allopath-appeasing behavior of DONA (A doula in the room is better than a doula in the hallway!) and the selfish hubris of the Whitecoated Priests of BigPharma.
As for becoming “certified” by any organization, CAPPA, DONA, AAHCC, or otherwise, I am reminded of a job I used to have, straight out of college with my baccalaureate. It was at a travel agency run by a very clever man. He had 3 different addresses as part of his operation. He planned music festivals at one, scheduled all the travel arrangements to the music festivals at another, and then sold all the trophies and awards at the third address. I thought this was dishonest, and he thought I was a little busybody. So we parted ways. This is what all these “certifying” organizations are beginning to remind me of. They are all self-serving. Come! Come to our conference! Buy our materials! Get our letters behind your name and pay us every year so you can keep them! They are making their LIVING off of you, me, and the whole stupid sheeple American public who does not trust anybody unless they have an expensive sheet of parchment. I find myself joining the ranks of the Birth Anarchist or I Am Not A Womb Pod… Yes, as I enter my 40’s, I find myself, to my shock, turning into a stark-raving feminist… and about a few more things than just birth. You know, if I had just been treated kindly, my rights respected… if people had just used the Golden Rule… this never would have happened. I would have rolled merrily on my way, perfectly happy and content in my Molly Mormon-ness. But my experiences with unrighteous dominion and the memory of them have made me a different creature now. Many thanks to the rare and precious few health care practitioners who are actually humble, worthy and good. But to the rest: I am a Jael, a Deborah, a bloody-husband chastening Zipporah, a Holofernes-beheading Judith and a flaming Joan of Arc who will not shut up or stop typing away at this keyboard, because I know there must be others out there like me… or who might end up like me if they are not warned to self-educate, self-advocate, and avoid being alone in the lion’s den.
I find myself being drawn to some refreshingly honest and in-your-face people like Dr. Richard Schulze. Because I believe him when he says he doesn’t bullshit, I use his products. I’ve been using them for about 2 months now. I have been feeling better and having more energy, though I still haven’t lost any weight. He was a student of Dr John R. Christopher who eventually taught at the School of Natural Healing himself. I only wish he had a school, too, because I would attend it in a heartbeat.
As for Midwives College of Utah, there isn’t much I feel comfortable sharing on this blog at this time, but despite having earned a 4.0 in my first semester, I have withdrawn that school and do not plan to return there again. I have discovered for myself that philosophically, I am a traditional God-fearing herbalist midwife in the tradition of the Biblical Shiphrah and Puah: someone more along the lines of Martha Ballard or Onnie Lee Logan or Ina May Gaskin when she was young… and that this kind of midwife has all but disappeared from the United States. I doubt there will be more of them with the near-complete Marxist-philosophical takeover of American higher academia.
In the final months of 2013, and with the optimism only idealists can muster, I enthusiastically advertised in the local paper, on Craigslist, and on Facebook: Surely the women in my area, which has been officially proclaimed a health-care shortage area by the federal government, would be interested in my services. Surely they would be as excited as I am to have a doula and a childbirth educator in town as I am to be here, willing to serve. Uh, nope. Representatives for the mega-hospital which runs this whole region told me to get out of Dodge, right after I served as doula to the most shimmeringly beautiful, peaceful 100% natural birth I have ever witnessed, including my own. The little guys are following suit, either ignoring my existence, or telling all their clients that having a doula in their hospital is illegal and not allowed!!!! Oh contraire, mon frere, not under Obamacare: that’s the only good thing about it.
Add to this temporal struggles this year with employment, housing, unexpected betrayals… and a crisis in faith as the Internet becomes another pandora’s box, full of non faith-promoting information which may nonetheless be factual… and it has not been a fun year. I sensed it on New Year’s Eve 2014: I was like a child, digging my heels into the ground in front of the haunted house ride somebody bigger and stronger was dragging me off to ride. NO! No!! Do not make me go through this! And this year has ridden just the way that my forebodings said it would. I am having to find out, again, what it is I really believe and value, and cling to it and nothing else. I have only begun to feel better as I have begun to let things go – temporally and spiritually. I do not have the room or energy to carry it anymore. If it is not true or of lasting value I do not want it in my life. No more clutter. If this world is just a place that is full of half-truths and lies, then I only want the truth, even if it is rare, and even if I am the only person left who wants it. My husband and I are looking into joining the Tiny House movement and never looking back.
This simplification and de-clutterification includes the issue of women’s health. I am at a point now where I am not sure if I will ever be willing to have a gynecological examination, let alone work with ANYONE claiming to be an expert on ANYTHING. And why is such a medical ritual necessary anyway? Furthermore, If I ever do get pregnant again, before my biological clock stops, I am not sure if I will even get prenatal care. Why should I? When hardly anybody, Priest of the Whitecoat or Priestess of Midwifery, is truly trustworthy or does what they promise… and everybody, in the end, is really just interested in making a paycheck and not getting sued ? What about the love? I’m reading or hearing over and over that the only way to truly get the kind of birth that you want is to be nowhere and with nobody that doesn’t 100% believe in natural childbirth. And few there be that find such. Oh my heck, I’m turning into a radical freebirther.
I am sorry if giving raped as a sixteen year old girl by my family doctor gives me ISSUES. I am sorry if enduring 7 years of marital rape during my first “marriage”gives me ISSUES. I am sorry if I am too damaged to be NORMAL. I am sorry if I keep being the one so unlucky as to keep having all the Pandora’s Boxes in the world shoved in my lap.
Speaking of Greek mythology, as I have recently learned, the Medusa had ISSUES, too. Instead of getting understanding, help and healing for being a rape victim, her virtue stolen by the much older and more powerful god, Poseidon, she was banished and cursed by the goddess Athena, the very one who had the power and should have helped her. There is ALWAYS a “now you know the rest of the story” but few ever have the compassion to hear it. So thank you, to whomever you are, for reading part of the untold story of me; of this angry weeping angel.
So am I sorry that I no longer look through a glass darkly, but through a broken, shattered window? No. I am NOT sorry I am no longer a blind, dumb sheep.
I will not willingly lay down on your altars again,
nor offer myself up to your gods.
“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and [Jesus Christ] himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on [the Lord’s] side even if there isn’t any [God] to lead it. I’m going to live as like a [child of God] as I can even if there isn’t any [Heaven].” – Puddleglum, paraphrased. From the Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis