I am absolutely shaky with rage at this moment. A very quiet rage, but rage nonetheless.
Lily just called me, crying. "What's wrong?" I asked her, my mind racing to every sort of horrible reason for her to be so upset.
And then she told me, haltingly through tears, that the pediatric practice which she takes Owen to just informed her that they are no longer taking home-birth or birth center babies.
She had called them to ask what she needed to do to make sure that this coming-baby could be examined for a newborn check as soon after birth as possible. And that's when they told her. So here she is, about to give birth, without a pediatrician. And of course I'm sure she can find a doctor who will take her but the main doctor she has taken Owen to in that practice was HER pediatrician! And now she has to scramble and change and it's just one more thing and she's upset and I'm upset.
I called the office manager myself. She informed me that yes, this is a new policy and reflects the doctors' beliefs that babies should be born in the hospital where "everything is covered."
"What exactly does that mean?" I asked the woman.
"I am not sure," she said. She was defensive and I do understand that she did not make the policy although as the office manager, I think she should know the answers to these questions. I told her that I did not understand such a policy- that there is no scientific or medical evidence to support it.
I asked her to have the doctor in the practice with whom I have mainly had a relationship with for almost thirty years to call me. This is a man for whom I have had the greatest respect as a doctor and as a human. He has always treated me with respect as a mother and as a nurse and I have always felt that he gave my children excellent and sensitive care. When I was pregnant with Lily, I went to him and explained my situation- that I was having a home birth- and he said then that although he did not approve, he respected my choice and that was that.
So I am interested to hear this doctor's explanation. The office manager told Lily that they had had some problems with some babies from the local birth center and this may be true. However, I am QUITE certain that they have had to deal with problems caused by things which have happened at the hospital, too, no matter how well things are "covered" there.
This whole thing just completely enrages me. It has been proven over and over and over again that the way we deliver babies here in the US is not the safest or best way to deliver babies. Our infant and maternal mortality rates are abysmal for an industrialized nation and yet, we just keep throwing more and more unproven technology at the problem and haven't yet seemed to figure out that this may BE the problem.
I've been fighting this battle for thirty-six years now. When I had my first baby, a planned home birth was considered next thing to infanticide. And yet, the hospitals were still at the stage where only the most lenient doctors allowed even husbands in the delivery room. Where babies were separated from mothers for up to 24 hours after birth. Where women were routinely shaved, given enemas and tied down for delivery. And if you dared to question THAT status quo, you were looked upon as a complete and utter nutcase.
And here we are now and oh yes, you can have people with you when the baby is born. You are not shaved or given an enema or tied down. Your baby can stay with you after delivery. BUT, Caesarian rates are so high that as a mother delivering today, your chances of dying during a delivery are higher than they were in the 1950's! Babies are regularly induced at 38 weeks for reasons I don't even begin to understand and if you DARE go past your due date by a week, you WILL be induced. And inductions lead to more interventions and more interventions lead to C-sections and why IS it that babies are being induced? Do we not think that humans can give birth to normal sized babies any more?
Oh. I am just so angry. And I am angry for Lily and I am angry for women in general who are once again being told by THE MALE DOMINATED ESTABLISHMENT that they don't know what's best for them or their children. And it also enrages me that women have NOT taken control of this situation. That we have allowed the doctors and (and this may be the bottom line cause of all the problems) the insurance companies to tell us how we should give birth to our babies. WE are the ones who have allowed childbirth to be taken away from US and given a medical procedure in its place.
Yes. God. We NEED hospitals and doctors if something goes wrong. But if nothing DOES go wrong, if birth is managed with skill and patience and respect for the process, if an educated and trained midwife is the person doing that, mothers and babies will all be better off and the doctors and the hospitals can do what they do best which is to take care of people who have actual medical problems.
I could go on for days here, seething and simmering until I explode.
I won't. I am waiting for that call but I have also told Lily that she needs to find a different pediatrician. One who respects women who choose to have their babies in the way they deem to be safest and best. As much as I respect that doctor, as long as our relationship goes back, I do want Lily to have to suffer the indignity of going to a practice where her choices are not respected. Where the science is not sound, the medical practice not sensitive to the realities of life. Even if they made an exception for her because of her long history there, I don't think she would be comfortable with them any more and if there is not trust and respect between doctor and patient, then another doctor must be found.
Which makes me so sad. I have loved going to Owen's check-ups with him and his mama. It has been a joy to have the same doctor who examined Lily after her birth and did all of her well-baby check-ups and who took care of her when she had her childhood illnesses, do the same for my grandson. To chitter and chat with that doctor, to talk about his children and grandchildren, to laugh about how quickly the time goes, about what complete fools we grandparents are. To have that relationship with him. That trusting, confident, easy relationship. To feel that my grandson's health care was in good hands. To know that Lily felt the same way.
Well, la-di-dah and let it go.
But I want to talk to him first. I want to ask him how a practice can make such a blanket policy and I want to know why it was made. To hear his explanation. And to let him know as a mother, as a parent, as a home-birth advocate, my point of view on the subject. He deserves to hear that, just as I deserve to hear what he has to say.