An Informative Blog Chat with Brenda

The following conversations are from the “Where’s My Midwife?” blog Aug. 2009. I re-categorized them in order to make them easier to find!

  1. Brenda said

    August 8, 2009 @ 10:41 pmLooking forward to hearing more about the details. I understand addressing NHRMC policy as a root cause of the state of midwifery affairs in Wilmington. However, I still feel strongly that we also need to focus on peaceful resistance against Carolina Ob-Gyn’s actions. I hope there will be enough of us to have protesters at both sites.

    Many of you are focused on the future, as am I. However, I am due very soon and also feel a very present and immediate relevance to the recent action. Being cut off from care in the very final leg of my journey has been jarring, not to mention emotionally and physically distressing. I do feel as though Carolina OB-GYN needs to feel the effects of these decisions as many of us are being affected in the present.

    I am still grappling with what I’m going to do. So, in addition to the philosophical stance, there is a pressing practical reality. Has anyone focused on a solution for those of us with this very real and immediate dilemma?

    • Amy Farmer said

      August 9, 2009 @ 9:52 amThere is a fantastic birth center in Chapel Hill that will often take patients late if they can-it is a drive but I used to work there for awhile (as well as had my 1st child there) and many women came from SC, VA, and all parts of NC to have their babies there. A wonderful experience-Women’s Birth and Wellness Center is the name.

  2. Brenda said

    August 9, 2009 @ 11:47 amAmy… I called them last Friday night and spoke with both the director and one of the managers. They are at capacity for August. But perhaps this is a solution for women due September and beyond. It certainly seems like a very lovely space.

    • youaremysunshineblog said

      August 9, 2009 @ 12:56 pI can only imagine what it must be like to have planned a birth with the midwives at Carolina Ob/Gyn, and days before welcoming baby have this awful event occur. For those of you who are most immediately affected, my thoughts are with you. As a doula and childbirth teacher (and a mother who had two natural births at NHRMC), remember that regardless of the person who is there to catch your baby, you and your support team control the experience through knowledge and advocacy. What I mean by this is that you, as a birthing mother, have everything you need inside of you to give birth with confidence, strength and joy! Your support team needs to be able to advocate your birth plan with informed respect. Being able to “birth from within” is where most women can find the strength to handle the intensity of birth, while your support team needs to keep the environment safe, dark and quiet. For most fathers, this can be very difficult as they are not trained in the information needed to know what is routine medical care and what is medically necessary. I would highly recommend hiring a doula. I always do because it is proven that a doula reduces the risk of negative outcomes and helps the dad be involved and confident.

      On a side note, I just attended a conference on Friday where Dr. Janalynn Beste spoke on “Gentle Birth”. She is the doctor that is in charge of the family practice residents at NHRMC. She has also given birth naturally in a hospital setting. Her husband Dr. Todd Beste is in charge of the OB residents. Perhaps, consider birthing with a resident.

      If you show up in labor at NHRMC, you can always “refuse to consent” to an intervention or a certain doctor’s care. In that case, a resident would take over. Again, as a laboring woman, it can be hard to find your voice when your body is telling you to go within. Someone familiar with the “Patient’s Bill of Rights” needs to respectfully and affirmatively speak up.

      I wish you peace in your transformation into motherhood. Attitude can make all the difference! Please be sure you have someone ready to care for and advocate for you and your baby. My book “Trust Birth” and Penny Simpkin’s book “The Birth Partner” are quick reads on this.

  3. Sylvia said

    August 9, 2009 @ 3:11 p…Our voices as concerned mothers and women need to be heard by our entire community and beyond, not just by the hospital and those in private practice. … Our maternity and health care options should not be limited in this way!

  4. Brenda said

    August 9, 2009 @ 9:24 pmI will be on hand tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be quite a spectacle as walking is not the easiest or fastest activity for me right now. But I think it’s very important that we all make it a priority to support the effort.

    On other notes, my partner works out of town. He will be here Monday and Tuesday. I pray to give birth within those two to have the advocacy Carmen advises. Otherwise, it’s my eighteen year old daughter and I that will be facing this, including any non-consent issues that arise. She’s a smart young lady, is well aware of my wishes and has read all the books along with me during the pregnancy. In fact, I know she’s better informed than my partner.

    Although I previously had an excellent income, I have not worked in many months now and had pre-paid all expenses to Carolina OB-GYN. They are refusing to refund the excess I paid until all billing has been processed. Therefore, hiring anyone for anything is not within my budget at the moment.

    I am an AMA (Advanced Maternal Age) mom and deeply concerned that risk averse personnel will be quick to ply me with unwanted interventions. I will have to place this in Higher hands than mine.

    In the meantime, my prayers go out to the other moms who are burdened in the immediate, as well as each of you who have carried the cause of midwifery long prior to this. I hope good things will come of a bad situation, even if they don’t come until the longer term.

    Eyes on the prize, ladies. Choice!

    • youaremysunshineblog said

      August 10, 2009 @ 11:50 am Brenda, our thoughts are with you.
      If you are comfortable, labor at home as long as possible. Look for the signs of possible medical need, meconium, maternal fever and lack of fetal movement. You may find comfort during the first stage of labor being in your own home, bed, bathtub, etc. Eat and stay hydrated!
      Remember to use the phrase “refuse to consent”, if it is a true medical emergency you wont be able to get the entire sentence out before you reach the operating room. Otherwise ask the following questions:
      1. Is this a medical emergency or do we have time to talk*?
      2. What are the benefits of this procedure?
      3. What are the risks of this procedure?
      4. What are my alternatives**?
      5. I would like time alone as a family to discuss my options*.
      6. I would like to do this for the next hour (doctors make hourly rounds, so it fits into their schedule).
      *If you have time to talk is it truly an immediate emergency situation?
      Most cesarean surgeries and other interventions are done because of LACK OF PATIENCE!
      **You may need to add in natural alternatives such as walking, hydrotherapy, relaxing on the toilet, etc. Medical staff tend to give medical answers.
      If your nurse isn’t on board with natural birth and your birth plan, request a different nurse.

      Warm regards on a beautiful birth. You can do this! Even the most unpredictable birth can be empowering when you make active cho

  5. Brenda said

    August 10, 2009 @ 2:41 pm Thank you ladies! I actually feel empowered just having shared time, space and energy with you all today in a productive and meaningful way. Together we can effect change.

    My Ph strip tests are definitely indicating the presence of some fluid between 7 – 8 though seemingly diluted. My guess is a slow and possibly high leak. I know you actually trickle for quite a while with little other activity.

    I am comfortable and will be here at home as long as possible. I am familiar with the non-consent model you’ve shared, but am so appreciative of the reminder. I don’t know if I could have found it today to save my life!

    I feel calm and surrounded by the beautiful, strong vibes I got today from you intelligent, action-oriented, determined women! I really needed that. I see they’ve done the noon day coverage on wect and plan more for the evening. People should try and add to the comment section for the accompanying written report on the web-site.

    Partner touched down by plane and is enroute. My daughter will be home from work soon. It would be nice to have a baby, but she will come when she is ready.

    Peace & Love,




  1. Brenda said

    Wow…. I see things are being organized to proceed with making Wilmington a more supportive place of the choices of birthing moms. I wanted to give you an update.

    I delivered a beautiful, sweet baby girl at NHRMC on Sunday morning at 4:11 a.m. I declined to consent to care by any Carolina OB/GYN personnel upon arrival. I was assigned a resident upon request, armed with the knowledge that I could do that from the suggestion here.

    Privately, I was approached by many staff supporting the decision and stand. They also spoke about the power women have to affect change with these types of actions.

    Honestly, my birth was SO intense and fast (1.5 cm/60% effaced to fully complete and naturally delivered within an hour of arrival), that there was little time for interventions of any sort. I can say that they read my birthing plan and referred to my wishes when care choices were thought to be an option. My daughter and birth partner was on hand to advocate, but didn’t anticipate having to face this challenge without the partnership of a midwife prior to Carolina OB/GYN’s decision.

    I am grateful to each person who participated positively in this birth, including the beautiful energies I carried away from the protest, my care team at NHRMC and my brilliant, strong and supportive daughter, who held my hand through it all and was the voice I heard through it all.

    But I have to say that in the midst of that turmoil, intensity and uncertainty, I deeply grieved the loss of my midwife’s familiarity and trust. I felt overwhelmed and defensive in the face of the speed and force of the birth. I worried that my daughter, who turned nineteen on the day of this birth, would be disregarded for her inexperience. I am still haunted by the images she witnessed of birth as an overwhelming, consuming, traumatic experience with strangers. I know it could have been a much more manageable experience from beginning to end with Suzanne there as planned.

    In the same breath that I express my gratitude for a healthy birth despite the harrowing nature, I reassert the inhumanity of Carolina Ob/Gyn’s handling of the termination of the mid-wifery program. The inability to transition in a manner that preserved the conscious choice, dignity and trust of their mid-wifery patients stands as a tragic example of misplaced corporate priorities.

    I am hopeful the future of mid-wifery in Wilmington and North Carolina brighten considerably with the leverage of attention and support brought about by their actions. But I also continue to campaign for a remedy for the moms, babies and mid-wives directly affected in the immediate.

  2. Brenda said

    I should add that I also declined the care of Wilmington Health Associates pediatric care for my newborn while hospitalized. I am sure there are many fine and qualified professionals there in both OB and Peds. I have nothing against them personally. I simply wanted to reclaim my stolen right to choice in a principled individual protest.

  3. cubanitadoula said

    Brenda, what a powerful testament to your strength and determination, and what an inspiration you are to all of us. I have the profound knowledge that your daughter (as everyone who was part of your birth!) witnessed your strength and your power. I know that while you are reveling in the arrival of your new baby, you are mourning the loss of not having your midwife present at your birth. I am so sorry that that was taken away from you. Would you be willing to share this with others at the Facebook group and on our website I could post it on the blog there as well. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  4. Brenda said

    Thank you so much for the beautiful affirmation. I cling to the hope that you are right. In nature, the spectrum of processes are not all peaceful or gentle, and yet express her magnitude. But to those with understanding.

    I would not mind your posting to your blog. I think it’s important that we all continue to share our experiences as reminders of the very real human factors being influenced at corporate and policy levels.

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