Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Some History Or Why I'm Still A Hippie

Here are the pictures I was trying to post yesterday:

Again, someone was having a moment.

Moment over! Isn't she beautiful? 

And in something else leftover from yesterday- the thing that really pissed me off worse than anything about what this guy

said about the doula and the willow tree is that he had no right to be discussing anything about Meghan Markle's birth plan in a public forum. Not only was it highly suspect as to confidentiality and incredibly disrespectful, it was purely tacky. 
Just tacky. 
I hope he got his ass kicked by a higher up. 
If there IS a higher up to the Envoy of the Royal College of Gynecology. 
And yes, I AM still pissed off about this and I'm going to be probably for the rest of my damn life. 
This is just such a sore subject to me even though I haven't given birth in thirty years. I still harbor great animosity towards certain doctors who were involved in my care when I was going through my pregnancies and planning home births. With my first birth, I went to a local doctor for my prenatal care. I did not decide to try to have a home birth until I was about halfway through the pregnancy and I did not inform him of that decision because in those days, I probably could have been arrested for child endangerment. The whole home birth movement was so newborn itself that there was no such thing as a licensed midwife except for a very, very few old women in rural counties who had been trained and licensed back in the thirties, probably. A friend of mine did use one who was miraculously still alive and still practicing to deliver her baby, Dawn Rose, a few weeks before my baby arrived but I had chosen to ask a few of my friends to assist me who were very interested in becoming midwives. As I've said before, we basically had a copy of Spiritual Midwifery and a shared wish to avoid what hospitals were doing in those days which included enemas, shaving, exclusion of the partner from the process, drugs (always drugs!), wrist restraints if it appeared that the mother might have the gall to try and touch the "sterile field" which had been created with the shaving, enema, and tons of Betadine, an almost 100% episiotomy rate, the whisking away of the babies to the nursery with absolutely no opportunity for bonding, and the giving of the baby a bottle before nursing was begun to ensure that, well...what? The baby had a patent passage for liquid to pass through? 
There was more. 
It was horrible. 
Dark ages for sure. 
One of the women who attended me with that birth had actually given birth at home with her husband delivering the baby. They had lived for some time down in the Yucatan in what was then the entirely Mexican and rural area of Tulum and they had observed the women there giving birth at home and wanted to do the same. Another of the women was in nursing school. She went on eventually to become a nurse midwife and taught in various schools but at this time, was still just a student nurse. And the other woman was a friend of mine who had had two babies, both in the hospital, but one with no drugs. She had used the then almost unheard of Lamaze method of childbirth. 
This was so radical that the local newspaper had written an article about it. 

Anyway, these ladies helped me through 28 hours of labor at which point I gave up. I wanted to go to the hospital. And I did. Hank was born probably less than an hour after we got there and yes, I got an episiotomy and yes, I got shaved, and yes, I got yelled at for touching the doctor's hand, reaching for my baby after he was delivered because now the doctor had to change his gloves before he could stitch me up, and yes, my baby was taken away from me to be washed and fed in the nursery but by the grace of this doctor (deep sarcasm), my husband had been allowed into the delivery room with me. 
And this is what the doctor said to us after our baby was born: "I don't want to become known as some hippie doctor. You hear me?"

No fucking problem, man. No fucking problem. 

And we somehow had the courage to take our baby and leave the hospital a few hours after the birth. We got lectured by several people about how foolish and reckless we were being and we had to sign all sorts of papers but I am proud of us for sticking to our guns. 
We were so young. I was twenty-one, my then-husband was twenty-three. 

Two years later May was born right down the road from where I'm living now but in a trailer we lived in on a piece of property we owned. The same ladies were with me and I had begun to assist in illegal home births myself. We had bought and devoured English midwife textbooks and obstetric manuals. We had acquired fetascopes and learned to keep records. We had gotten some experience. We knew a little more about what we were doing. 
And May and the rest of my children were born at home, each one delivered by one of those ladies including Lily who weighed over ten pounds at birth and had a nuchal hand, meaning that she had one of her pretty little hands up next to her head when she was delivered. With, I might add, no episiotomy and no tearing. It was a scary birth but my midwife knew what to do and did it and all was so very, very well. 

So that's the background from whence I come with my anger at that doctor's comments. My friends and I were told we were foolish, we were risking the lives of mothers and babies, we were criminals, we were nothing but airy-fairy hippies. 
But we changed some things. 
Oh yes we did. 

Obviously, not nearly enough. 

And let me say that we here in Tallahassee had one person who supported us in a sort of quiet and underground way. This man. 

Dr. Brickler. Remember him? I surely have written about him before. Here's an article about him. 
I won't say that he risked his neck or his career but he took the women who had to be transferred to the hospital and did not shame or lecture which at that point, in the seventies, was huge. And even then, he was so highly regarded and respected that no one called him on it. And he went on to support and be the backup of the first free-standing birth center in Florida where all of the babies were delivered by midwives.
I worked there myself after I became a nurse.

Well. That's my story for the day. And a bit of an explanation of why I am the person I am and how I became that way.

Believe in what you believe. Create change with your knowledge and your heart and your work.
I guess that's enough.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. This post made me tear up a bit thinking of the things my mother went through as a very young woman with me and a daughter she lost in the late fifties...the drugs they gave her during my labor and premature birth knocked her out and made it even harder for me to breathe on my own. My brain damage, though minimal, resulted in cerebral palsy. The shaving and episiotomy were not the worst, either. She was not allowed to have her milk come in and was forbidden from nursing at all while I stayed in the hospital for a little over a month until I attained five pounds weight nd could finally go home. Until then, she was terrified and really did not bond well with me, so I agree with you about the docs and the drugs.You were very courageous and very lucky.

    1. E, this breaks my heart. From the medications given to her in labor to the fact that they denied her breastfeeding. That's absolutely evil. No, of course there was not proper bonding. And of course she was terrified.
      I am so sorry.

  2. have any of us hippies ever stopped being a hippie? not me. I only had two kids but if I'd had more I think I would have eventually done a home birth. both mine born at a hospital, no drugs but yes shaved, enema, episiology and with the second the doctor broke my water instead of waiting for it to happen, gave me an enema and I went straight into transition before I could get off the toilet. he was born about an hour after we got there. I had waited till the contractions were pretty close because I didn't want to be in the hospital. he was born at 3 PM at shift change and the nurses going off just moved us into an empty room so the nurses coming on could take our son to the nursery so we were alone with him for about 15 - 20 minutes but then they wouldn't bring him to me til the next morning because they failed to call the pediatrician and wouldn't let me have him til the pediatrician checked him out the next morning. it was horrible, they just kept telling me to get some rest. I didn't want rest, I wanted my baby. When I had my first the nurses were not very friendly, kept telling me that I shouldn't make any noise because I wouldn't take the drugs because it might upset the other mothers. the only good thing was that they let my husband be with me during labor and delivery both times. we were only in the hospital 24 hours each time but mostly because we had no insurance and no money. my daughter was the first baby the nurses had ever seen that was born without drugs and they were so amazed at how alert she was, eyes open, looking around, not fussing. well duh, of course she was.

    1. my births were in 1977 and 1979.

    2. We will always be hippies, Ellen, and glad of it, too.
      You were very brave in those early years to give birth without drugs. What was your inspiration for this?
      I will NEVER understand the cruelty of separating mothers and babies like they did. Was it because so many of the babies were drugged and therefore needed more watching? Because the mothers needed time to clear the drugs from their bloodstream in order to be able to take care of their infants? Just so evil. Remember when "rooming-in" was considered a big, huge deal?
      Good god.

    3. I don't remember any particular inspiration, just the whole hippie back to nature culture. there were Lamaze classes available which we took. my daughter was born first, water broke at home at 10PM before I even started having contractions. I was in labor for 11 hours when the doctor gave me some pitosin because he feared I was getting too tired and she was born an hour later.

  3. I, also , had my baby 32 years ago and I insisted on many things, I had it all lined up , my doctor, a woman, of course understood, my Doula, a friend, assisted, Labor was quick, Mr. Man applied pressure for back labor, baby was NOT taken away, He never left my side. I was out of there in record time. So glad that our hippie mamas led the way- and books were available. Smash the Patriarchy!

    1. By '81 (is my math right?) they had changed some things. Sounds like you made the very, very best of a hospital birth. Especially the part about keeping the baby by your side.
      Smash the patriarchy INDEED!

  4. My little grandson was induced. She was in labor for sixty hours and then surprise, a C-section. He didn't breathe on his own for the first six and a half minutes of his life but he was bagged I'm guessing, he had oxygen and thankfully he's fine. Strong sucker, strong neck muscles, easy going baby.

    I'm thankful for the women who went ahead of me to make birthing better.

    1. Well, there you go- this is one of the problems of induction. Lily was induced with Owen and her labor was long and protracted and very, very hard. Her subsequent births were at home, unmedicated, and fast. Such a difference! I'm really glad that despite all, your grandson is strong and healthy.

  5. Jonah's birth was entirely dramatic--hospital, angry, unsupportive ex who wouldn't let my mother be there, an awful nurse who told me I was overreacting, an eventual epidural and episiotomy. BUT. the part that got me through it were my midwives. One was a dear friend of a one of my students (who was a home-birth midwife for the Amish of southwestern Michigan and a hippie through and through) who kept me tethered to my body, to my baby, and who told my ex and the doctors to back the fuck off when I wouldn't let anyone hold Jonah for three days afterwards, when I insisted on holding that boy what felt like 72 hours straight on my naked skin.

    1. Ugh. Ugh to the hospital, ugh especially to that abusive man you were married to. Control, control, control. All of them want it. They want to take the control away from the woman and then they can control her and the birth.
      But thank GOD for the midwives, especially the one who made it possible for you to hold your boy. You know what? I think that has probably made a huge difference in your life. And in his, too.

  6. I had a home birth with a midwife planned for my first baby, in 1988. He ended up being born 10 weeks premature by emergency C-section (footling breech) and spending 5 weeks in NICU. Longest 5 weeks of my life.

    Second baby 4 years later, I had planned home birth with my midwife. Went into labour 8 weeks early, and midwife advised hospital. A couple days of stop-labour drugs later, I asked to stop the drug and let birth happen. Doc wanted to do C-section; midwife thought it not necessary; I was with her and she was my strength till the little bugger was born, sunnyside-up.

    Neither birth was the one I dreamed of, and I felt some grief over that for a long time, but not anymore.

    I still love hearing other women's birth stories. I'm still angry about the way women and their babies were treated back then, and sometimes they still ARE pushed around and that enrages me.


    1. No matter how much we plan, how we dream our births will go, the truth of the matter is that situations arise which we cannot control. I can't imagine having a baby five weeks in NICU. That must have been a sort of hell. I am so glad you got to have your second vaginally. I'm sure it was difficult but you must have been completely in rapture when he was finally with you.
      I'm glad you no longer grieve over how those births went. As you and I both know, there is no way to absolutely predict what's going to happen and no one probably thought you would have premature labor.
      I, too, never tire of hearing birth stories. They are the best stories of all. And hell yes, doctors still take control of what they should leave alone. That's what they are trained to do and they do it.

  7. Sometimes I think if Sophie had been born properly, the way I wanted and planned and not rushed and forced -- well -- it just makes me wonder.

    1. I hear you. And of course Owen was induced. No one can say but we wonder.

  8. It's amazing how arrogant doctors can be. I guess they have to believe that all the time and money they poured into education counts for something, and that nature couldn't POSSIBLY handle childbirth alone!

    1. Well, one of the main problems is that doctors are trained to handle the very small percentage of births in which something does go very wrong. And those do happen! But because of this training, a great many of them see all births as pathological in nature- or potentially, at least, rather than a normal process. Not to mention that many of the newer technologies aimed at "helping" in the birth process actually impede or even complicate it. The US has such a technical view of birth and our mortality rates of mothers and infants is ridiculously high. So...why do we do it?
      Don't know.

  9. I'm an infection control nurse and decided in 2011 to home deliver my baby due to outrageous hospital infection rates (and this was the Mayo f'ing Clinic). My baby was posterior and I ended up going to the hospital as I was unable to tolerate the agony. Of course they ended up giving me an emergency c-section, and I stopped breathing during the surgery. When I came to I had so many doctors yelling at me about how I nearly killed myself and my baby by attempting a home birth...they said I should be in PRISON! Um, it wasn't birth that nearly killed me, it was their goddamn surgical procedure (I had an anaphylactic reaction to some of the drugs they gave me).

    I share your deep fury at the medical establishment and at these pompous men who think they have a right to mock women, who are the ones actually giving birth. So. F'ing. Outrageous.!!!!

    1. Okay. There is so much to this story but the part about the doctors yelling at you sounds so familiar and makes me so angry that I want to scream.
      FUCK THEM!
      Bless you for having the sense to try and stay home and I'm so sorry you had to transfer. It certainly does happen.
      But yeah- home is no doubt the safest place for a baby to be born when it comes to possible infection. And yet, when we first started practicing home birth the argument was given over and over again that the hospital was so much safer because of the sterility. What a crock.
      Thank you for sharing this with me. And us. You must be very brave.

    2. Wow, thank you Mary for your kind comment. I've never considered myself brave or been called brave by anyone regarding that birth, and was condemned by pretty much everyone for it. I live in Rochester, MN, the birthplace of the Mayo F'ing Clinic, and most people think Mayo doctors are gods. They're not, and I have the infection rates to prove it.

      I have a lot of guilt because I couldn't bear the pain of that birth, and by going into the hospital to get an epidural (a decision my midwives did not support), I ended up damaging myself and my son. It was a highly traumatic experience. Thank you again for your fresh perspective and supportive words.

    3. Listen- I've always said that if I had been in a hospital setting I would have BEGGED for pain meds or an epidural. No one can prepare you for what childbirth can feel like. I've also said that (especially during my first birth) if someone had asked me if they could have dipped me in boiling oil, I would have said, "Yes. Thank you. That will distract me from the pain." I will also tell you that I have had many pregnancy dreams since my children were born and in a great many of them I've decided that this time I WILL go to a hospital and get an epidural because I'd proved I could do it and well, that was enough.
      Don't ever kick yourself for wanting relief. Ever. Okay?

    4. Thank you, Mary. <3

      I love that you have such a loud, strong voice on behalf of women. When I find myself so demoralized that all I want to do is sit down and fall into silence forever, I think of you and of the other generations who came before us. Women who fought uphill for decade after decade and have *refused* to sit down and shut up. It's damn inspiring!

      PS Not only is Magnolia June the cutest girl ever, but her sweet, sweet name makes me smile every time I hear it. We don't get fabulous names like that up here in the North!

  10. I share your anger and the anger of all women who are treated so poorly during childbirth.

    There isn't a day when I don't count my blessings for being able to home deliver my child. I started labour 8 weeks prematurely and all involved thought this was either a false alarm or that I had ages to go. Anyway, she was born at home and whisked off to hospital within minutes.

    We were punished afterwards, directly and even in the local paper, the doctor who was present at the birth was reprimanded and nearly lost his job. We found out later that an anonymous source phoned with the story.

    I was only allowed to visit my baby for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. It became obvious quickly that making a fuss would backfire. I basically had to beg for them to accept my breast milk and who knows whether they did use it. There was so much more: making me wait in front of the glass door until they all had their tea and chat aka handover with much laughter and prayer (!) while my baby screamed and screamed, jokes about my hair, my clothes, my foreign accent, asking my man to show we were married etc.

    None of this came from a doctor but from the mostly elderly nurses, all Catholic nuns, without a shred of sympathy or compassion.

    In the end a friend of a friend got involved and arranged for the public health nurse to approve of our home situation and suddenly all hands were on deck to help us move our heathen baby out of there.

    1. This, too, breaks my heart. Of all of the sins committed against birthing women by medical establishments, there is no greater sin than denying a mother access to her baby.
      Nuns. They aren't all like the ones in "Call The Midwife" are they?
      Fuck no. What they did to you was nothing short of torture.
      Thank all the powers that be for your friend who finally helped you get your baby home. That must have been the best day of your life.

  11. One of the reasons I never had kids, was the horror stories from my friends, we were all young marrieds in the late sixties and early 70s, and it did seem that they were all having babies tended by very angry, abusive doctors. One told my neighbor that she had gained a pound (she was already living on water and apples) and he berated her for it!

    I so did not want to go through that at all.

    No one should ever be treated as you were, as my friends were. It does seem so much more patient oriented now than back then.

    1. Oh yes! They used to be so fucking concerned with weight gain. For what reason, I do not know. But it was so unhealthy for the baby and the mother. I don't blame you for not wanting to go through all of that yourself.
      And yes, things are a bit more patient-oriented now but the problem is is that so many women don't even try to educate themselves and gladly just abdicate all power and decision making to the medical team. I will never understand that.

  12. I think I was a lucky one. My doctor for both babies was an Asian woman, and though my son was a very difficult birth, and other doctors thought I should have a c section, she was patient and worked with us until 24 hours later he was born, all 9 lbs 10 ounces of him, a tall 22 and a half inches, but she didn't rush him. He came in his own time. He had a black eye from hitting my pelvic bone because he presented face first, wanted to see where he was going even then. She delivered my daughter two years later and reading the stories here I'm so grateful it was her. Mary, you have such a powerful testimony about being on the frontlines of women taking back their feminine power from abusive male doctors and bringing their babies into the world in a more natural and holistic way. I love your passion, your anger, your love, your truth. And good Lord that Mongolia is a beautiful child.

    1. Hurray for your doctor! Bless her and her patience and belief in you and in the process. And I can just see that boy of yours doing things his own way, right from the very beginning!
      As babies so often do.
      Didn't going through that process (twice) give you so much respect for and new knowledge about the strength of your body? It surely did for me. There are ways that birthing my children helped me heal that nothing else ever would have done. And part of that was standing up, finally, to authority to say, "No! This is MY body and you will NOT tell me what to do with it." I couldn't ever do it for myself but I could do it for my babies.
      Which was life changing.
      Maggie is a little beauty, isn't she? Lord.

  13. As one Old Hippie to another, I'm glad you were part of the Resistance. I refused to be shaved for any Birth and thankfully I had compliant Doctors who were probably considered Radical themselves for Honoring a Mother's wishes. I also insisted on having a Female Friend present at the Births, having other Women around, IMO, is important, only another Woman can know what no Man can about giving Birth! Got to see the first pix of the new Royal, he's Adorable and the Parents are glowing with Pride and Joy. A surprise I think that they had a Son, I had thought it had been said they were expecting a Girl because I think I read they had intended to name her Diana after his Mum? So rare for it to be a Surprise nowadays with all the new technological advances. One of my Grand-Daughters will soon be having her first Child... so another Great-Grandbaby coming very soon!

  14. PS: Had to add this, our Younger Daughter had 3 of her 5 Children in Mexico, she said a big difference there in Childbirth. For her last Child, the Lady in the next bed who'd just had her own Baby got up and Assisted in the delivery of my Grand-Daughter! Now, you'd never see THAT in an American Hospital setting! *LOL*


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