Posted by: emjb | January 6, 2006

Thanks for the sunshine enema

So I went to my midwives’ for my final visit, and to get back on the old birth control, important to do before I switch jobs and lose my insurance for a while (which I am determined not to panic about. Stupid lack of healthcare country. Anyway).

I met with the Head Midwife, I’ll call her Alice, the one who tried to send me in two days early to be induced, totally freaking me out because I wasn’t ready. Not that it ended up mattering that I did wait the extra two days..but anyway. She is aware of my feelings about what happened, and about the hospital her clinic uses. But she says to me, well, you should write letters! It’s important to try to change the system! Sadly, our hospital is the best in Brooklyn, so you would have been screwed anyway!

OK, well obviously this is what she has to tell herself to sleep at night after sending her hapless clients off to the meat grinder that is New York Methodist, but..the fuck? Does she really think my letters are going to make this place change its ways, especially if she keeps roping in clients to send their way? Why should they? I am going to make my complaints, but I am realistic about its effects. The only things that make giant institutions change is changes in the law or a loss of business. And I have heard quite different reports about the treatment you can get at other Brooklyn hospitals, so I think she’s probably full of shit when it comes to that, also.

I didn’t agree with her or go along with the smiling, but neither did I leap up and call her on her bs, because I judged that the denial was deep. Also, it’s hard to berate someone while being examined; you don’t want them to make any sudden moves. I just shrugged and said “huh” a lot, which she didn’t know how to take. Finally she says to me “Next time, you should definitely do a VBAC, and you might want to consider a homebirth!” Really? Why the fuck didn’t you recommend that before? If you’d done your job, you’d have realized what kind of birth I wanted and that maybe you should have told me I wasn’t likely to get it unless I homebirthed! Jesus! If you had said anything of the kind, I might have tried it.

And oh, by the way, you do know that VBAC’s can be hard to get, especially with homebirths? That it can be hard to find attendants that your insurance will cover…or even if you decided to pay them out of pocket, because of insurance liability, right? The fact of the matter is, I will have a harder time birthing naturally if I birth again than if I hadn’t had to have a c-section, not because my body can’t but because many hospitals and doctors are still afraid to try it. And no chirpy little assertions about how much you believe in VBAC are going to change that.

So, whatever. I will have a letter ready to go to her clinic too, though again, I’m realistic about it’s results. The thing is, I know she knows..and the other midwives know…that something stinks here in their being attached to this hospital. I suddenly understand why they didn’t ask me more questions about my birth plan, or what kind of birth I wanted, just said “Good!” brightly whenever I mentioned my doula or whatever. I understand why they didn’t tell me about what their kind of induction is like before I had to have one. Why they had trouble meeting my eyes sometimes when I talked about why I wanted to birth naturally. I often wondered why they seemed somewhat more detached than I expected about my birth–but now I think they just didn’t want to make promises. They know they’re not any better than the most callous, c-section-happy OB/Gyn, in the long run, and they’re uncomfortable with it. Why become a midwife if you don’t want to promote natural birth? They’ve sold out their ideals, and they’re putting a pretty name on what is no better, in its way, then the twilight sleep births my mom had to endure.

She also proceeded to tell me it was unlikely that my hemorrhage was caused by retained placenta because the placenta gets examined. But she had no other explanation, leading me to wonder 1) are the examiners never wrong? and 2) does this mean I had some other kind of injury that caused it? She implied that my flying home so soon was a factor, in classic Blame the Victim fashion. Fuck you lady. I felt like shit long before I flew, and the feeling only started to go away after I hemorrhaged. Clearly, something was wrong. I can’t prove it, because whatever it was was flushed out. But…fuck you, lady. No really. Fuck you.



  1. “are the examiners never wrong?”
    Of course they’re wrong sometimes. And your lactation problems point toward retained placenta too.
    It sounds like a lot of guilt talking on her part. Flying too early? Bah.

  2. You have hit the nail on the head about her selling some of her ethics “down stream” in order to work for this hospital. As a nurse, I am forced to do it daily. All we can hope is that we may have made “some” patients stay easier, and when that fails, you cannot meet their eyes. But you can say ” I’m sorry we failed you,and is there anything I can do to help you now.” But alas we support the bastards to the public, also feeling helpless, ourselves, and feeling that things will not change as long as money is the goal.

  3. Thanks, DM. It helps to have someone who’s a doctor not assume that I’m just a whining troublemaker. And Grandew, that’s really all I ask. I know the system makes it hard to do the right thing, and if they had just said so…or given me some warning…then I would let them off the hook, mostly. Lots of midwife practices have problems with their hospitals, after all.

    Plus, I should mention that some of the nurses and staff were nice to me. The intern who took out my staples and came to see me was gentle, sweet, and respectful. The anesthesiologist who did my epidural was really nice and explained everything he was doing very thoroughly. There were some good guys.

  4. A scary truth — one that I don’t like to dwell on — is that OB has become the field of last resort for the bad medical students. Almost nobody wants to go into it anymore, because of the lifestyle and the liability. The whole specialty is getting desperate. I don’t like to talk about this because there are some excellent people still going into it, and I don’t want to cast aspersions on them, but I see the stats for the graduating medical students. The truly awful students flunk out, but you know the joke about what they call the person who graduates last in their medical school class … “Doctor.”

  5. Tons of people will support your doing VBAC in Austin, so you can probably stop worrying about that. It’s a really positive city towards midwives and natural birth.

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