Friday, October 16, 2009

Excuse me for a moment

Mostly I look and act normal. I work part time and do Mommy stuff the other part of my time. I pack my kid into his snowsuit, load him in the car, and do Mommy of Toddler activities.


I am actually mostly okay with that. I mean, it sucks when there are 15 women in a room and the only topic of conversation is pregnancy. Because I can't contribute half of my experience without freaking out the dead-baby-neophytes in the room (what??? babies can die for no reason??? I can't believe it). So mostly I keep my mouth shut.

But there are certain things that really, really bother me. I wish that I was the belligerent type, storming through life cutting a swath with my opinion, but I am not. So I hear these things and I keep my opinion to myself. I try not to think of them and hope that people still like me, despite my silence on most-things-pregnancy.

RANT #1: I don't think home birth is safe. I won't ever think that home birth is safe. I don't care what statistics you wave at me, I don't care how natural it is, I don't care for how many centuries women did it, I DON'T THINK IT IS SAFE!!!!

You know what I think we should be doing, if hospital births aren't passing muster? I think we should be uniting with local women in our communities and approaching hospitals en masse and demanding changes. We should educate our health professionals as to the needs of the modern woman. We should burn diapers or IV bags (what would the bra equivalent be in this case???).

No, instead we take our ball and go home. Or in this case, pretend that we are super-invincible women, doing Mother Nature's She-ra thing, and that if we have our baby in an inflatable pool at home with our midwife that nothing can go wrong. The midwife has a Doppler, after all. And we are only a 1/2 hour from the hospital if something happens. Making sure that we focus on the low numbers of fetal and maternal deaths in recent history (ignoring, of course, that most of the births are happening in health care facilities).

What's so empowering about birthing in your house, away from the possibility of intervention to save your life or the life of your child? Why aren't we rallying to replicate that experience in a health care setting? Seriously, I don't think this is black and white and you have to choose home birth OR being drugged, C-sectioned and shown a bottle-fed baby in 3 days after you wake up. If you want to give birth with a midwife in an inflatable pool, with all your family watching, you should be able to do that in a health care facility with an OR down the hall and an OB on call. Why aren't we fighting for that option? What is the matter with us? Why do so many women prefer taking the risk of birthing at home?

RANT #2: I have no real understanding why the current practice is to allow women to carry their babies 10-14 days post due-date. Sure, I understand the floating, ball-park nature of due dates, but they aren't as much of an estimate as they once were. If a women is unsure of dates, she is normally sent for a (very accurate) early ultrasound. That should set a pretty firm date, shouldn't it? We have fairly reasonable methods to verify lung maturity when we reach the due date.

Now I know that induction has a bad reputation for being painful, etc. and I know it doesn't always work, and I know that using drugs can backfire. And I am not suggesting every woman have a C-sec on her due date. But 10-14 days seems like an awfully long time. Why not 5-7 days? And is it really about induction being more expensive than natural labour (more drugs, longer hospital stay for mom, etc.)? I don't have enough information, and I don't know anything for sure. All I can say is that EVERYONE I KNOW IS PREGNANT and all of them are going post-dates. And it scares the living crap out of me, every single time. Let's just check the stillbirth stats and see how what percentage of stillbirths happen post-dates.

I just want to say that the induction I had at 37 weeks with BB was gentle, it worked really well, and it was an appropriate way to handle the complications we were facing at the time (history, polyhydramnios, cord concerns). So it is hard for me to see through my experience and understand why anything else would ever be done.

I guess I am not really looking for answers to these questions. I have heard most of the answers before. I just don't like the answers I have heard.

I just don't want more babies to die.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Tomorrow is our Walk to Remember. Due to Canadian Thanksgiving and conflicting commitments from most members in our support group, the date is early. I am not doing anything special this year, just attending.

In the past I have sang, spoke, read poetry. Is it okay that I am not doing any of that this year? I know the answer is "yes". I know it's okay. But it feels wrong.

I am not in the place any more where I grasp at anything that is remotely connected to C. It saddens me, but it is what they call healing. I have done as much as I can to integrate him (and the loss of him) into my life. Tomorrow I will walk in his memory for the fifth time.

Every day, BB grows and changes. His existence is a continual evolution. I worry about being a good parent, about making good choices for him. I am constantly reacting to those every day things that define our life.

My relationship with C. never changes. It does not grow and mature. He cannot reach out to me as his mother, I cannot hold him close as my son. In so many ways, he can only be an idea, a concept. He was and he mattered, but I didn't know him. Not in the way I know BB. I know that is the real tragedy, but I can't change it. And I have lived with it long enough to know that it isn't going to change.

I think of C. at some point in every day. Not in that gut-wrenching absence-of-presence sort of way, but when I see two brothers play together or when someone speaks of their kids. I know, intellectually, that I have another son. But I don't know what life was like with that son. In some ways, I just don't know what I am missing and I never will.

I don't accept my son's death, not in some "it was meant to be" sort of way. But I have integrated it into my life. I had a son who died. I son I barely knew. I never heard his voice, he never reached out to me, I never fed him, he never slept on my chest. Those personal, physical, tangible pieces of evidence to label him "my son" left with him. We never get that relationship.

There's nothing to be done about it. It doesn't make me weep. It is the tragedy of my life, yet I am finished with most of my crying. I am not putting him away, never will, but the shroud of continual grief is gone.

I miss my son. I never had my son. My son is a memory of a beautiful dream from another lifetime.

Tomorrow I will walk in memory for my son.