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A Labor of Love
June 13, 2010 7:30 PM   Subscribe

First came love, then came marriage, then came a ridiculously long and complicated endeavor to get pregnant after a diagnosis of oligoastenoteratozoospermia requiring in vitro fertilization to conceive. This birthed the blog that attacked infertility with humor and snark. And, when she finally got pregnant, then came four unbelievable days of labor and a spectacular failure of pretty much everyone who was supposed to help. Don't worry, it all worked out just fine.
posted by Leezie (72 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, yay! I didn't know she'd had a son! That's awesome. :)
posted by zarq at 7:39 PM on June 13, 2010


I'm glad she had a healthy baby and he sure is cute, but I'm never impressed by these kinds of stories. If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:44 PM on June 13, 2010 [22 favorites]


Ha, my sister's due in four days (first kid). Think I will not be sending her this link.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


MaryDellamorte, adoption is really complicated, can be expensive, and frankly, I would rather have people only adopt if they are very motivated to adopt, for the sake of the adoptive child.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:55 PM on June 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

Adoption is easier for some than others. Approval certainly isn't guaranteed, and is often a lengthy, at times emotionally heartbreaking process. To state the obvious, those who are fertile do not need a license to have a baby. They don't need to answer questions about why they want to have children. They don't need to prove their worth as parents to anyone. As long as they treat their children well, they are never at risk to have them taken away because a birth mother changed her mind. No, all they need is to have sex and conceive a child, then keep it. The infertile can't take such things for granted.

The choice to treat infertility is not always a selfish one. Whether you choose to have compassion for those who do so is, of course, your business. But your simplistic reduction of their plight when you haven't walked a mile in their shoes seems rather cold and uninformed to me.
posted by zarq at 8:00 PM on June 13, 2010 [40 favorites]


Approval certainly isn't guaranteed, and is often a lengthy, at times emotionally heartbreaking process.

That same thing can be said about IVF. Conception isn't guaranteed either. Of course adoption shouldn't be an easy process, can't give a child out to just anyone off the street. People can do what they want and spend money on what they want. But I just cringe when I read these stories of IVF painted as some kind of heroic journey where I'm supposed to feel awe and wonder for the courageous parents' journey into the world of parenthood.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:08 PM on June 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


Wow, what a story.

Regarding adoption, the blogger who writes A Little Pregnant (and has amazing stories of her own) wrote some thoughtful posts (tagged with "why don't you just adopt?") about adoption (they ultimately did not). It's certainly not as clear-cut a process, logistically and emotionally, as people seem to think.
posted by gaspode at 8:12 PM on June 13, 2010


Jesus christ, if anyone else has a 6 month pregnant wife don't read the birthing story without 2 stiff drinks close at hand.
posted by iamabot at 8:13 PM on June 13, 2010


Ah, yes, here is another one that I was thinking of, not tagged with the above, but certainly apropos.
posted by gaspode at 8:15 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad she had a healthy baby and he sure is cute, but I'm never impressed by these kinds of stories. If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

As someone struggling with fertility problems, I can say that my desire to have a child is about as far from that characterization as it could possibly be. A woman's road to successfully conceive after a long struggle is, I believe, not designed to impress anybody.

If I do end up in a position where I need medical help in order to conceive, I have a lot to think about in terms of how far I am willing (and able) to go to make it happen. However, I'm not in the business of judging others for going further than I am willing to go. I would especially not be in it if I had not been in their shoes at all.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:16 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


And, you know, you don't have to be infertile to adopt. I'm just saying.
posted by sugarfish at 8:16 PM on June 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


MaryDellamorte, adoption is really complicated, can be expensive, and frankly, I would rather have people only adopt if they are very motivated to adopt, for the sake of the adoptive child.

More complicated then all this crazy stuff? Anyway, people can do both, of course. When I was growing up my mom was friends with a couple who had adopted some Asian kids and then had a child of their own later. I don't know if they just waited or if they did some IVF stuff later (They would have had their own child ~1982 or so, I think).

So you can do both. But I kind of agree with Mary here.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on June 13, 2010


The other issue in this story is why she put herself through a week of labor and risked the baby's life because she was stubborn and wanted a natural birth or nothing.
posted by amethysts at 8:21 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


To state the obvious, those who are fertile do not need a license to have a baby. They don't need to answer questions about why they want to have children. They don't need to prove their worth as parents to anyone. As long as they treat their children well, they are never at risk to have them taken away because a birth mother changed her mind. No, all they need is to have sex and conceive a child, then keep it. The infertile can't take such things for granted.

I beg to differ.
posted by phrontist at 8:31 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"More complicated then all this crazy stuff?"

Yes, it can be, depending on your definition of complicated.

It's easy to say "oh, adopt!" if you're straight, you don't practice any alternative lifestyles, you aren't mentally or physically disabled or otherwise "unfit" to parent...

And, like I said, you have to take the well-being of the adopted child into account--we're not talking about a theoretical, cookie-cutter, clean-slate "child". It's a little person who deserves to be chosen whole-heartedly, not with "well some people think it's selfish or silly to do IVF, so..."

You have to think in terms of ongoing resources as well, when it comes to costs and complications. Say that once the child is adopted their special needs require expensive and time-consuming treatment, and a full-time parent to take them to appointments. Or before the child is adopted officially but after you've grown attached to each other, the child is taken away from you. Or you find out a year later that your child might not have been given up for adoption voluntarily...

Labor of the Heart is a really good book that goes over the various issues and options surrounding adoption. I recommend it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


That same thing can be said about IVF. Conception isn't guaranteed either.

However, conception and infertility treatment (of which IVF is only a subset option for some patients,) do not involve further outsiders being involved in what is often a very personal situation for many couples than medical personnel. Adoption requires a person or couple to meet various lengthy and perhaps arbitrary criteria before they can become parent(s), and those criteria differ between adoption agencies, from state to state in the US and from country to country. The documents potential parents are required to release to an adoption organization in order to be judged worthy of parenthood invade their privacy in ways that medical treatment of infertility do not.

In addition, most states protect the biological mother's rights even after the adoption papers are signed. An adopting couple who may take their newest family member home from the hospital, only to be forced to return them within days or weeks. This is not an issue with infertility treatments.

Of course adoption shouldn't be an easy process, can't give a child out to just anyone off the street.

American society does not set standards by which would-be-parents should be judged, unless they are adopting. In the UK, adoption agencies and fertility clinics are required by law to assess whether a child they help conceive will be brought into a suitable home. But if they can have one themselves, no one cares about whether a child's parents are good candidates. Anyone who is fertile can conceivably (no pun intended) become a parent.

People can do what they want and spend money on what they want. But I just cringe when I read these stories of IVF painted as some kind of heroic journey where I'm supposed to feel awe and wonder for the courageous parents' journey into the world of parenthood.

Of course, you're entitled to do so. I'm equally entitled to characterize your position the way I wish to.
posted by zarq at 8:45 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I beg to differ.

When the Childfree movement begins to actively, aggressively enforce a ban on fertile people from conceiving children, perhaps there will be some equivalency. Until then, their arguments aren't exactly stopping anyone from conceiving -- at least not against their will.
posted by zarq at 8:48 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

This makes logical sense. But the best and most powerful reasons to have kids have nothing to do with logic whatsoever.
posted by notswedish at 8:51 PM on June 13, 2010


This makes logical sense. But the best and most powerful reasons to have kids have nothing to do with logic whatsoever.

Biological imperatives aside, in the US, infertility treatments are often perceived to be faster than adopting a child, some treatment cycles may be covered by insurance, and they may be less expensive than adoption depending on the type of medical assistance required. For example, treatment for PCOS combined with IUI may not be particularly costly, although its success rate varies widely from case to case.

Obviously, this wasn't the case for this particular blogger.
posted by zarq at 9:00 PM on June 13, 2010


One last thing... this topic (treating infertility vs. adopting a child) was examined here at length in 2007.
posted by zarq at 9:09 PM on June 13, 2010


I'm glad she had a healthy baby and he sure is cute, but I'm never impressed by these kinds of stories.

I agree, but for a different reason- it always seems (from the ultra small sample of birth stories I've read, YMMV) like it's the people who want to refuse all modern medical intervention at the beginning who end up being in labor for days on end. Another way God shows he has a wicked sharp sense of humor? I don't know. All I know is that when my time comes, I will be taking my pregnant, contracting ass to the HOSPITAL, not a shower or a doula's apartment or whatever else is "in" at that time. Because I am a WIMP.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:12 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other issue in this story is why she put herself through a week of labor and risked the baby's life because she was stubborn and wanted a natural birth or nothing.

Did you read her blog? That was not her position. "Natural" birth is a useless catch-phrase; she wished for a vaginal birth with a minimum number of interventions, which is actually safer, barring a known serious problem, than an automatic c/section. C/S being a major surgery, you realize, with many attendant risks for mom and baby, such as infection and increased risks of mortality for both if it's done w/out a good cause. It's no small thing to slice through so many layers of fat and muscle while avoiding nicking major organs or the baby, and lots of women suffer long-term complications from scar tissue even if the surgeon does a good job (try reading about "adhesions" from c/secs) not to mention making it harder to have a vaginal birth if you want to birth again.

Her biggest problem was a posterior baby, it seems like, which can be a bitch to resolve unless you have a really skilled set of attendants helping you move properly, which she seems to think she did not (like when they forgot/were indifferent to renewing the requested Pitocin.)

I wasn't there, so I don't know any more than you, but you should at least understand that vaginal birth is usually safer than a c/section, and therefore, to call a woman who attempts it against staggering amounts of pain/inconvenience "stubborn" (and implying she's therefore being selfish/stupid) is neither fair nor accurate.
posted by emjaybee at 9:12 PM on June 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


When the Childfree movement begins to actively, aggressively enforce a ban on fertile people from conceiving children, perhaps there will be some equivalency. Until then, their arguments aren't exactly stopping anyone from conceiving -- at least not against their will.

I'll reiterate what I said above, more explicity - the fertile and infertile alike should take the ethical gravity of procreation more seriously - they, to use your phrase, have a lot to answer for - but the infertile especially so.
posted by phrontist at 9:16 PM on June 13, 2010


I've seen too many stubbornly "natural" births go pear shaped to enjoy this style of writing, and the attitude. I know that people freak out during birth, but crowing about it afterwards is ripe. There are a whole host of inaccuracies in this account, but one of the classic ones is becoming indignant and imagining that huffing pure O2 with a loose facemask will make a blind bit of difference to a decelerating foetus in the context of a mother with unimpaired lung function. The hemoglobin in the blood returning from a mother's lungs is already almost fully saturated with oxygen, and the foetal hemoglobin is designed to strip oxygen from the maternal hemoglobin with maximum efficiency. Therefore huffing any extra O2 really isn't going to help you. The only realistic way to raise the amount of O2 being delivered to the foetus would be to place the mother into a hyperbaric chamber and raise the pressure significantly. And there are a whole bunch of things that could go wrong with that process. That's why obstetricians have such a dismissive attitude about O2 during delivery.
posted by meehawl at 9:25 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll reiterate what I said above, more explicity - the fertile and infertile alike should take the ethical gravity of procreation more seriously

As an abstract concept, I agree with you.

- they, to use your phrase, have a lot to answer for - but the infertile especially so.

Um... I didn't use that phrase.

Answer to whom? Please explain why the infertile should be held to a different standard. Unless I'm missing something, you can't be referring to the fact that they have planned pregnancies. After all, one does not have to be infertile to do so. .
posted by zarq at 9:27 PM on June 13, 2010


I don't think anyone in this thread said anything about how people shouldn't use IVF to have children. As far as overpopulation goes it's just a tiny drop in the bucket, and far more children are born by accident. Making sure everyone has access to birth control, and that women have economic opportunities as they do in the first world would take care of most of the problem.

It's just that doing so doesn't really make you some kind of, like, hero.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


MaryDellamorte: I'm glad she had a healthy baby and he sure is cute, but I'm never impressed by these kinds of stories. If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

Thank you for that. I wasn't going to say it, but this is a million percents of exactly right.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:12 PM on June 13, 2010


I agree, but for a different reason- it always seems (from the ultra small sample of birth stories I've read, YMMV) like it's the people who want to refuse all modern medical intervention at the beginning who end up being in labor for days on end. Another way God shows he has a wicked sharp sense of humor? I don't know. All I know is that when my time comes, I will be taking my pregnant, contracting ass to the HOSPITAL, not a shower or a doula's apartment or whatever else is "in" at that time. Because I am a WIMP.

My wife delivered "naturally" (OK, she took one hit of Fentanyl during transition) and it took about 11 hours, no problems.

I shouldn't say anything since: 1) I am not a woman; 2) I have only witnessed one birth in person ... but, it seems like it doesn't always have to be that hard. Obviously, experience is going to vary a lot, but I've seen a birth video where the partner is filming and the woman delivers twins herself. One breech.

My mother delivered me with nothing but breathing and self hypnosis and a reasonable labor: 14-15 hours. She took several medical interventions and pain relief with my brother and it took 72 hours. He was first, however.

it's the people who want to refuse all modern medical intervention at the beginning who end up being in labor for days on end

Hm, I dunno about that, but from what I supposedly learned in childbirth class, the people who accept medical interventions are more likely to end up with a c-section. (I'll let someone else do the research though...)

Anyway, we used a hospital, but I'm the sort who doesn't believe it's always necessary. I think we're still reacting collectively to earlier eras, when childbirth was much more dangerous because of the malnutrition of mothers. The history of medicated birth is pretty crazy.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 PM on June 13, 2010


It's just that doing so doesn't really make you some kind of, like, hero.

To you. Others may feel differently.

Infertility is a disease state which can be caused by many things. People who are attempting to overcome disease conditions often find it helpful to learn from and be reassured by the success stories of others who have faced similar circumstances. In the case of infertility, an intensely personal, biological and cultural issue for many couples, internet support groups, forums and blogs have proved to be a potent resource -- where they can remain anonymous and perhaps deal with a variety of issues that many couples can find difficult to address in a more public way.

I've commented about this on Metafilter before.
posted by zarq at 11:05 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt.There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

Do you have statistics to back this up? My understanding (from friends who work in this field) is that, at least here in the States there are not actually that many children without families. Many children in the foster care system, for instance, are cared for by family members. At least half are intended to return to their families (either parents or another family member). Only 10% stay in foster care for more than 5 years. Now, obviously, these kids have a rough time, and I have nothing but admiration for families who adopt those kids that are candidates for non-family adoption. But most kids in the foster care system are there temporarily, due to some sort of disruption in their parents' lives (mental illness, incarceration, etc) and don't need to be adopted by people outside the family.

Also, you say that you would adopt if you couldn't conceive without difficult and expensive medical intervention. Why only in that case? If it's really so important to adopt, why not do so even if you are perfectly able to conceive without medical intervention?
posted by lunasol at 11:08 PM on June 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm amused by people that claim moral superiority over others who choose to pursue medical technology in the effort to conceive a child. That's a philosophical stance on my part and a conscious decision to recognize the frivolity of such outlandish personal high horses.

My wife and I have been going through this process for two years and I can tell you, with certainty borne of experience, that she is not amused by such people.

The next time you meet someone who is going through fertility issues, here's a list of things you should say should you wish to risk a bop on the nose:

1. Oh, my cousin's roommate got pregnant as soon as she stopped trying.
2. Why don't you just adopt?
3. Is it really that important to you that the child come from your genetic material?
4. Is it really that important to you that you give birth to you child?
5. So many children need love in this world. Please consider adoption.

Your moral stance is, at best, meaningless to people with fertility issues. At worst, it's insulting crap that they've heard before while withholding their anger and frustration from spilling out and physically injuring the supposedly well-intentioned people smiling at them through unwarranted, uninformed, and unwanted advice.
posted by Revvy at 11:18 PM on June 13, 2010 [20 favorites]


MaryDellamorte: "I'm glad she had a healthy baby and he sure is cute, but I'm never impressed by these kinds of stories. If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around."

As a man who struggles with fertility issues and is an adoptive and biological dad (and having read none of the links others have pointed to regarding adoption), allow me to be slightly more blunt than a couple of other respondents to your insensitive comment:

1. Your cavalier "I'd adopt" is just the sort of flippant comment about the process and challenges of adoption (both legal/logistical and personal/psychological, whether related to infertility or not) that many people who've never had to deal with it make. It is insensitive and ignorant in a way that makes those of us who have dealt with adoption alternately seethe with anger and shake our heads sympathetically at your simplistic view of the world.

2. Your characterization of the blogger in the OP as "self-absorbed" is rude, judgmental, and again based on ignorance. You don't know her well enough to make that claim about her, let alone about every other person who did or didn't adopt while struggling with infertility.

On preview: My comment's bluntness is blunted somewhat by Revvy's. Well said, Sir.

Additional thoughts: I recognize clearly that I can no more speak on behalf of all people with fertility issues/those who've dealt with adoption (my #1 above) than MaryDellamorte can on behalf of everyone else. Partly, I'm using a linguistic device; then again, having gone through this and commiserated with others who have, I am actually speaking on behalf of at least some others.
posted by yiftach at 11:47 PM on June 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was told on multiple occasions that I am infertile. They were obviously wrong, but for most of my life I've 'known' that I'll adopt. Until I started looking into it at which point I found out that by most adoption standards, I am banned. I was depressed for years. My husband is an atheist. We didn't have 25k to spend on the adoption. We have justified concerns about international adoption that for the most part, preclude you from participating. If it had come to it we would have adopted siblings and special needs children but since the other anachronism wanted to give it a go first, that's what we did.

Adoption is not easy, nor simple. Not compared to fertility regiments and IVF. It's a whole lot more expensive too, if you want to get into the 'status' aspects. I still wouldn't have done the fertility treatment thing, but to portray adoption like it's a simple thing and fertility treatment is a complex thing is ignorant.

As for the medical intervention thing - check out the cascade of interventions. It's why epidurals aren't standard. It's why induction isn't standard. I got started on the cascade (why thank you pregnancy induced hypertension) and was induced a few weeks early. I also had some pain relief. All up it was 6.5 hours from gel application to a baby in my arms. That's pretty damn abnormal, to the point that my first cervix check was greeted with "oh god the baby is right there, call the ob!!" - without intervention me and bub would have been in a bit of trouble. Nothing an experienced midwife couldn't have dealt with but it needed someone else there - between the hypertension, posterior baby and the cord too tight for her to actually exit the canal, extra hands were needed. But vaginal birth was the absolute safest option for the two of us. Simple as that. Wanting a vaginal birth because it's the safest option (because it means things have not gone wrong) is not stupid nor obsessive nor 'trendy'. Yes, it fucking hurt but willingly going through it isn't a stupid choice - it's not like a c-section is painless.

This woman's doula sucked, the nurses sucked and the first ob, sucked. Shit like that happens, natural birth, medicalised birth, homebirth or hospital birth. It's unfortunate and I hope to god that hospital has fixed some of those issues or at least had a chat to the idiot nurses about things like 'check on labouring women' and 'don't let pit drips run dry' (I know my ob had a chat about 'not monitoring the blood pressure of a woman induced for high blood pressure and super high spiking under stress' and 'do a cervical check before administering sleeping pills to a woman who is actually in labour and dilating rapidly but since it's posterior, she can't tell it's labour').

But yeah, I spent four hours not realising I was in active labour. I couldn't time my contractions and they were all in my back so I just blamed the hospital bed. I'm still not trading in the glorious five days of rest in my pseudo-hotel hospital suite afterwards though.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:51 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt.

Personally, I tend to fall toward this line of thinking, myself (even in cases where fertility isn't an issue) but MaryDellamorte, please understand that adopting -- whether domestically or internationally -- is not something that you can just magically "do." Adoption itself can be "incredibly hard and expensive," not to mention extremely emotionally challenging (even for straight, married, middle-class couples). Some agencies have age limits, for example; others have limits imposed by health histories. Many U.S. adoption agencies and international adoption programs wouldn't even consider my partner and me, given that we're both in our 40s and I have a history of cancer.

I have dear friends who are struggling with fertility and who are trying to pursue adoption at the same time -- because holy cow, they just want to have a child, no matter how it happens -- and they've both said that they don't know which has been more heartbreaking: the attempts to conceive, the attempts to avoid miscarriage, or the attempts to adopt.

So yeah, I think adoption is great, and I might privately think that more people ought to consider it. But don't for a second believe that it's the easy answer here.
posted by scody at 12:03 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not a perfect article, but this NYT piece about vaginal birth rates at a Navajo hospital in Tuba City, Arizona was pretty enlightening to me. It runs down a lot of the numbers about vaginal birth vs. C-section in the United States, some of the practices involved in caring for women in labor, and some of the insurance follies.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:03 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt

Yes, lots of people say that. I call this the "dog shelter" response, whereby having a child is a bit like choosing between "pedigree" or "adopting". It isn't, and either you're incredibly enlightened about the process of adoption or you don't have much of a clue about fertility problems and adoption. If getting a child were as easy - emotionally and otherwise - as doing to the local dog's shelter then your response would make more sense.

There are lots of great reasons to adopt, and lots of strong reasons not to. In my area, I barely match up to the ethnicity of children who need to be adopted. Which is apparently a problem (although not to me). And that's before you get to problems to do with children who still want to live with their birth parents, damaged children* and the incredibly invasive, stressful hoops they make you jump through.

* And I'm not saying they don't deserve to be adopted, but merely pointing out that it's not a choice everyone wants to make, and it's no picnic.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:54 AM on June 14, 2010


Ooh, ooh! Is this the thread where I can share all of my judgments about people that I don't know and other people who are completely imaginary and the way they've decided to create families and go through birth?
posted by brevator at 5:33 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I really wanted to have children and I was diagnosed with something that would make it incredibly hard and expensive to conceive, I'd adopt. There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around.

You're so smart, how many healthy babies in the US went un-adopted and family-less last year? I'd bet a nice meal that the number is less than 100, each with some special-snowflake reason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:41 AM on June 14, 2010


What brevator said. Also please remember that this site is accessible to people all around the world, and many of us live in countries where adoption is well nigh impossible (eg Australia, the Netherlands). As someone who had absolutely no problems getting pregnant, I find it impossible to understand how others can sit in judgement of those who have had major hassles trying to have families of their own.
posted by ask me please at 5:45 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every month or so I get a newsletter about all the children in my area desperately needing adoption. Their crime? They're not babies.

I have fertility issues, which were devastating to hear about when I was 18. I realize they can be overcome with technology, but I have zero interest in going in that direction. At this point I don't really think my genetics would be that much of a boon to the world, so I don't really see any point. I am, however, interested in taking the local up on their requests for adoptive parents for an older kid/kids. I look at the info every month or so when it comes out and it breaks my heart how many of them there are.

Everyone says, oh, but an older kid, that's going to cause you nothing but problems. Which is funny, given the problems me and my sister caused my parents, in spite of being biologically related.

But I don't really understand the appeal of babies to start with, so there that.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:04 AM on June 14, 2010


There are too many children without families to spend all that money on just to fill some self-absorbed notion to see a small version of myself running around

As an adoptee who went through infertility, my son is way better than me and my husband put together. Self absorbed or just totally in awe and grateful by the fact that he is here and makes me happy every day?

Glad you want to adopt. To each is own but going through infertility is not about being self-absorbed. Sorry you can't understand.
posted by stormpooper at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2010


I don't think anyone in this thread said anything about how people shouldn't use IVF to have children. As far as overpopulation goes it's just a tiny drop in the bucket, and far more children are born by accident. Making sure everyone has access to birth control, and that women have economic opportunities as they do in the first world would take care of most of the problem.

It's just that doing so doesn't really make you some kind of, like, hero.


Exactly.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2010


We flirted with adoption three times.

The first time, we went to a couple meetings. It was made pretty clear that as a not-provably-infertile couple, our chances were slim-to-none. The international adoptions were more feasable, but for various reasons we weren't eligible for adoption from many countries .

Several years after that, we decided we'd try to adopt an older kid. Our chances would be better, and it would be a bigger mitzvah. After paying the various $200 fees to third-party agencies, we found a kid -- he was 14 or so -- that we thought would fit well into our family. The social worker called us and explained that he was, essentially, unadoptable, and that they place kids like him in the various adoption databases because they were required to by law.

And finally, several years ago, we went to an agency that specialized in open adoptions. The long and the short of it was that it would be north of $40,000, that you had to "sell" yourself to the prospective moms and, after all that, there was non-zero chance that the mother would change her mind.

And that is why people don't "just adopt".
posted by bitterpants at 6:51 AM on June 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


brevator: Ooh, ooh! Is this the thread where I can share all of my judgments about people that I don't know and other people who are completely imaginary and the way they've decided to create families and go through birth?

um, sure. especially if you want to trumpet the fact that you're a sophomoric judgemental asshole yourself. or if you want to do the reader's digest condensed version of the dozen or so comments that precede yours.

MaryDellamorte: just chiming in to say you're not alone in your stance.
posted by msconduct at 7:01 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Adoption is not easy, nor simple. Not compared to fertility regiments and IVF. It's a whole lot more expensive too, if you want to get into the 'status' aspects. I still wouldn't have done the fertility treatment thing, but to portray adoption like it's a simple thing and fertility treatment is a complex thing is ignorant.

Oh, for fuck's sake, yes to this. People who've never waded into the morass that is adoption, or dived in head first, just don't have any idea. Thanks to everybody up-thread who wrote long comments about it because I just don't have the energy today, though I've done it before.

Also, responding to an individual hard story by saying, "should have adopted!" is akin to responding to an individual story of a challenging adoption with "should have done the IVF, shouldn't you?" We adopted our third child although we could almost certainly have had another biological child with a little persistence. We chose not to, for various reasons that seemed really good to us at the time (Mainly that I had had two terrible pregnancies).

And then we had a terrible adoption. Our agency, though we initially loved them, turned out to be unprofessional and poorly-informed; a mistake they made cost us about $3000 to fix.

And then, because the birthmother initially lied about who the birthfather was, we ended up in a protracted custody dispute that lasted almost two years, went as far as the appeals court, and cost us $47,000 in legal fees. An adoption that we initially thought would cost us $14-17,000 ended up costing well over $60,000 before the dust settled.

And this is not as rare as I thought it was! I've just had some friends go through something similar with their adoption, and I have some other friends who were forced to jump through additional ridiculous hoops because they ended up with a judge who disapproves of open adoptions and so demanded all kinds of additional background checks, and repeats of things they'd already done.

The kids are all three amazing and fabulous and we are happy every day to have them. (Though not at every moment, as I'm sure other parents will understand ;-) But not one of them came to us the easy way, whatever the easy way might be.

I get so tired of people who have no experience or knowledge of what it's like to make these kinds of decisions, or what the decisions can lead to, smugly judging other people and smirking about what "I would do if that ever happened to me." You don't know. You can't know. It would be great, if you want to have an opinion about adoption and fertility treatments, to take some time to learn about them so you can have an informed opinion.
posted by not that girl at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2010 [14 favorites]


MaryDellamorte, Delmoi: not much to add, except that smartypants rationalising of overpopulation and whatnot mean precisely fuck all to people who actually want kids.

You might as well tell a famine victim he's part of the problem and toss him an apple core.

I get your view. I once had it, and it's not uncommon. It's dead easy to rationalise away a situation you're not in while ignoring that amongst other things the whole business of trying to have a kid for infertile couples is pretty miserable, expensive and painful. But above all, personal.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:17 AM on June 14, 2010


iamabot - I've heard some horrific birth stories (people love to share these when you're pregnant to which the only response is LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU), but that one really takes the cake.

You'll be OK. Your missus will be OK. Everything will be fine. Deep breath.
posted by dabitch at 7:45 AM on June 14, 2010


You'll be OK. Your missus will be OK. Everything will be fine. Deep breath.

Ditto this. Can't tell you how many people delighted in sharing their horror stories and "expertise" with my wife and I during her pregnancy. I learned to respond to: "You're pregnant? With twins? Have I got a story for you!" with "NO HORROR STORIES." Wound up having to be quite aggressive about with some people.

It's natural to worry. But if you can, try not to dwell too much? Everything's going to be okay.
posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2010


I couldn't really think about the IVF angle while reading the labor story because mostly I was thinking, "Oh my god--what? really? what? a medical professional did what? her doula said what? oh my god--no! what? oh crazy family, yuck! god, people, really? wait... wtf--adipose on the floor?" Because she's right, many of the people who were supposed to be involved in this process failed at their jobs, or at least did their jobs poorly in a way that must be incredibly frightening for a person who is about to have her first baby. And then, you know, there's the medical/science angle of four days of labor (which I don't think is universally diagnosable as either always do a major surgical intervention or never do a major surgical intervention). And then there's human fat on the floor.

Whatever your personal beliefs might be about how to deal with fertility issues, I thought this story was pretty compelling. I'm not sure if personal beliefs about IVF really ought to make you think, "Pfft... well, she kinda asked for it. You go for IVF, you pretty much deserve negligent medical care."
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:13 AM on June 14, 2010


Also, I've been mulling this, and I know I'm a bit late to the party, but there's something very puzzling to me about saying "Because our bodies function normally in this one respect (i.e., we can conceive together), it is morally acceptable for us to have biological offspring" regardless of any other expensive medical or social interventions that couple may need and without knowing anything about them, while someone with a fertility-related issue is told, "just adopt" flippantly and is characterized as selfish for undergoing any kind of medical assistance in conceiving.

It seems a bit like saying, if you are physically able to drive a car, you may do so in good conscience, but if you are physically disabled such that you would need some type of technological intervention in order to use a car, you should consider the environment and just take the bus.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:28 AM on June 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Jesus christ, if anyone else has a 6 month pregnant wife don't read the birthing story without 2 stiff drinks close at hand.

If it makes you feel any better, with my first (and so far only) child, my water broke at 8:30 am, and I'd had mild cramping for about two hours prior to that. My son was born at 11:55 that same morning. Every labor is different. Best advice: just have her stay as fit as she can, which will make her body more able to tolerate whatever nature has in store for her.

best wishes.
posted by anastasiav at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


My friend's first arrived just after she got her legs waxed one Christmas Eve. It was about two hours from start to finish.

She lives a 3 minute drive from the hospital. She gave birth to her second in the taxi just by the entrance to the hospital.

When I asked her husband how much he had to shell out to get the upholstery in the back of the taxi sorted he said the Afghan immigrant driver had point blank refused payment and instead had given him a warm hug and said they were like family. He popped by two days later with some flowers.

See, not all birth stories involve pain, long bouts of labor. Or even doctors.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:07 AM on June 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


On having read the entire story: I can see (in retrospect) the failure here. Why on earth did they not put her in the birthing tub when she'd been in labor over 24 hours and wasn't progressing? Water - bathtub/shower - was clearly the only thing that was relaxing her and having her feel comfortable. It seems like they had some arbitrary rule that said "you can't get in the tub until you're 8cm".

Also, a Doula is not the same as a midwife. Where was her care provider? No one (including her husband) was managing her care and acting as an advocate for her at a time when she couldn't advocate for herself.
posted by anastasiav at 10:10 AM on June 14, 2010


Jesus christ, if anyone else has a 6 month pregnant wife don't read the birthing story without 2 stiff drinks close at hand.

I'd disagree. I'd say read all the stories and watch all the videos that you can about childbirth, especially if you're the partner, because it's very hard to get that info first-hand. You need to be prepared when shit like that happens.

Even though this woman apparently had a birth plan (which the nurses seemed to follow pretty well), she comes off as sort of unprepared for any birth complications.
This practice uses a backup physician that does not work in their office...so basically you never get to meet the actual doctor. But with a 3% c-section rate (according to them), I took a gamble that I wouldn't need to worry about it.
Why on earth did they not put her in the birthing tub when she'd been in labor over 24 hours and wasn't progressing?

From what I understood from class, yeah, that was most likely a mistake (I mean if she feels better in the tub, what the fuck, get in the tub), but it was just 1 symptom of the bigger problem you mention:

Also, a Doula is not the same as a midwife. Where was her care provider? No one (including her husband) was managing her care and acting as an advocate for her at a time when she couldn't advocate for herself.

That's the huge red flag here. I read the story pretty quickly, but it seems like she didn't have a dedicated childbirth professional (doctor or midwife). A doula is basically a birth partner. The midwife is the person who has literally delivered many, many babies.

Also, as you mention, it seems like her husband stepped up to demand the results of her scan at 1cm when they sent her home the first down, but then mostly stayed out of the way until the operation.

If there is one thing I've learned from a recent childbirth and other major hospital stay you (or someone you trust, like a spouse) HAVE to be your own advocate. The individuals patient support just isn't there. There are just too many patients per staff at most places.

Luckily with childbirth, you have plenty of time to prepare and you mostly know when it's coming. Read as much as you can, watch as many birth videos as you can, and read as many stories as you can, especially if you are the birth partner (anything that stresses out the mom should be a no-no.)

Fwiw, I *highly* recommend the book The Birth Partner by Penny Simkins. It's by far the best book I read on the subject, and I read a lot.

Be educated; be your own advocate; relax and have fun! (It can be fun. Even orgasmic. Ina May Gaskin is another great read.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems a bit like saying, if you are physically able to drive a car, you may do so in good conscience, but if you are physically disabled such that you would need some type of technological intervention in order to use a car, you should consider the environment and just take the bus.

Let me clarify, since your analogy is utterly flawed: Everyone on earth should take the bus, just like everyone on earth should refrain from having children. On a continuum of "Good People" vs. "Bad People", people who adopt are on the good side, while people who procreate -- whether via the miracles of modern medicine or not -- are very likely not (IMNSHO).

This woman wanted a baby like I wanted new backyard landscaping. We both worked hard and got what we wanted -- kudos to both of us. But my landscaping is an environmental improvement over what was there before.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2010


Why on earth did they not put her in the birthing tub when she'd been in labor over 24 hours and wasn't progressing?

I'm guessing now that this decision actually had to do with her hypertension and the related interventions. They likely had her hooked up to IVs and/or monitors that didn't allow access to the tub.

That's one of the initial downsides to medical interventions. They will generally require an extra level of monitoring, which can sometimes restrict mom's movement or activities.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, that labour story totally blew mine out of the water. I too had a failed "natural" childbirth that ended with a C-section (but my husband and the staff at my hospital were all wonderful). I'd like to note that, in this context, "natural" childbirth does NOT simply mean vaginal birth. "Natural" childbirth means intervention-free childbirth (that's the ideal, anyway). As in, no epidural, Pitocin, etc. Oh, and definitely avoid the C-section at all costs. I thought I wanted this kind of experience until I was actually in labour. After 20 hours of "natural" labour, it all went out the window. Of course, I then felt guilty about failing, which is the real problem with the "natural" childbirth movement: the NCB advocates tend to sit in judgement of any woman who isn't strong enough or brave enough to have the perfect intervention-free birth experience. This woman could have probably had a much more comfortable and pleasant experience if she had not been convinced that interventions are bad (also, if any of the people assisting her labour were even remotely competent. Yeesh!).
posted by lexicakes at 11:47 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


This woman wanted a baby like I wanted new backyard landscaping. We both worked hard and got what we wanted -- kudos to both of us. But my landscaping is an environmental improvement over what was there before.

as someone who thinks the current overpopulation problem is under-discussed and of paramount importance: does it occur to you that saying things like that in that particular way is enormously insensitive? I mean, I know this is the internet so being "right" is more important than, for instance, being open-minded, supportive or at least more important that simply listening and understanding. But come on, I think there's room in the over-population discussion to at least acknowledge that the roots of the problem are rather more systemic than shaming the infertile could possibly address.
posted by shmegegge at 11:52 AM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


people who adopt are on the good side, while people who procreate -- whether via the miracles of modern medicine or not -- are very likely not

People who adopt a baby want a baby. People who use IVF to have a baby want a baby. For either person to have his/her wish fulfilled, a woman needs to give birth to a baby.

I think adoption is great because every child deserves a loving home not because adoption allows you to have a child without contributing to population growth. This might sound a bit crude, but if you're talking about adopting a baby from a country with legalized abortion, you're talking about contributing to population growth. I don't mean that women who put their babies up for adoption should have terminated instead, but I do mean that it's foolish to say that adoption is somehow separate from procreation: for an adoption to occur, you need a child; for a child to occur, you need procreation. There are certainly many, many ethical and moral issues involved in creating any kind of family, but this idea that adoption = good and intentional procreation = bad is way, way too simplistic.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, coolguymichael, my analogy was about what people say, not about the true ethics of the situation: people often single out a person who undergoes fertility treatments as if that person has a special duty to "just adopt!" or not have a child at all. People ask "Why don't you just adopt?" after hearing about IVF, not after hearing that someone has had a relatively easy time conceiving.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


All I know is that when my time comes, I will be taking my pregnant, contracting ass to the HOSPITAL, not a shower or a doula's apartment or whatever else is "in" at that time. Because I am a WIMP.

I heard the Patton Oswalt routine titled "Birth" (SLYT) and said, "That there is my birth plan."

I really don't see my labor & delivery as an opportunity to strike against the medicalization of whatever, or to take back the process from the hegemony of the patriarchy. Since labor & delivery is, in theory, about someone other than me, I don't feel that it is -- for me -- an ethically tenable position to get all ideological about how the infant gets from inside to out. Priority One: Get Baby Out Safe And Sound. Priority One-A: Don't become a maternal mortality statistic. Anything beyond that is gravy.
posted by sobell at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


All of which is to say that making value judgments about how someone wants to give birth seems about as clear-cut as making value judgments about how someone chooses to grow their family.

It comes down to individual priorities and situations. I am skeptical of the utility of anyone assigning any greater moral value to how they -- or anyone else -- chooses to add to their family.
posted by sobell at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


From my experience vs my friend who gave birth at the same hospital, sometimes it's all about how things go from the very start.

My practice: 4 docs. I met all of them. So I knew that I would have at least one of them--i.e. someone I "knew". Naturally I got the one I wasn't thrilled with but hey, at least the docs had my chart, knew me, and could call another doc in case they had questions.

Friend: one doc on staff. She got stuck with a backup doc and in the end, finally her own doc came through for the c-section. Caused her a lot of unnecessary "who the fuck are you" stress.

My birth plan: sure I'm open to an epidural (I"m a baby). I refused any student care. Tough. You guys get millions of baby a year. Go pick on someone else. My only motto was yes, you can do whatever is medically necessary for the safety and health of the baby and myself. C-section, pitocin, IV, whatever. I trusted the docs wouldn't go "well I got Oprah to watch in an hour so I'm sending you for a C".

Friend: Lives on 100% controlling the situation. And wanted zero medical invervention. She was fighting saline, pitocin, epidural, anything to help the progression of her labor. She wanted a birthing tub when the doctor said 'your baby's heart rate is going up and down, we highly recommend no." She insisted, kid's heart dropped really fast as soon as she got in. She said no pitocin, did labor for 17 hours before going to the hospital...hello infection rate when her water broke. You do not go into labor in a hotel when the @# hospital is right across the street. Pitocin? Honey, it's going on 18 hours and no progression. Give your body a break and get this kid moving. In short, she wound up with a kid that was wedged, pitocin, etc. No vaginal delivery was going to work. She wound up with a C. She said she hated the hospital, doctors, and vowed never to come back. Now to me, while I love her to death, she didn't help the matter all because she wanted complete control.

Sorry but when it's labor/delivery, your control leaves the door the moment that kid decides it's time. I get the whole natural thing. I get you have a birth plan. But my birth plan didn't involve an Apgar score of 1, asphixiation due to cord, meconium in the lungs, and a still, whitish/blue leg and no crying/no movements for 20 minutes, hearing suction, hearing a team of 5 NICU people work on him, hearing 'if he doesn't respond, we have to send this baby to the NICU stat", hearing suction, hearing oxygen, and seeing a whole lot of worry and dread on my husband's face while the nursing staff was trying to distract me. The moment they said "turn off the camera, sir" my only control I had was to beg for my child's life to whatever higher power there was (or is). From the moment that my water broke to the moment that kid finally gave a gurgling cry, I didn't give a shit about my control, a pitocin/drug free birth. I cared about him being alive. Fuck my wishes for granola, sunshine labor/birth. Getting him out safely is what counted and I sure as hell wasn't going to stand in the way. The only thing I asked for was that epidural because labor is @$# painful.

He's 17 mo and a little monkey climbing all over the place and I don't regret anything about my decisions. Do I think he should have gone C-section--possibly. But my own doctor said she wouldnt' have done anything differently so there you go.
posted by stormpooper at 1:23 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry but when it's labor/delivery, your control leaves the door the moment that kid decides it's time.

Well put. My wife wanted a vaginal delivery. Couldn't, for several reasons. Scheduled a c-section for February 7th, her water broke on the 5th and my kids were born at 12:00 and 12:01am on the 6th. The well being of your kid(s) has to be your top priority.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on June 14, 2010


sobell: Priority One: Get Baby Out Safe And Sound. Priority One-A: Don't become a maternal mortality statistic. Anything beyond that is gravy.

You realise that is WHY people want natural birth, right? You do realise that a c-section is far more dangerous than a vaginal birth (mostly) and the unnecessarily high c-section rates contribute far more negative outcomes than natural birth advocacy?
posted by geek anachronism at 3:17 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry but when it's labor/delivery, your control leaves the door the moment that kid decides it's time.

The epidural was completely in your control. So, your control "leaves the door the moment that kid decides it's time" ... except when you need it to make decisions about your treatment ... but only certain decisions about certain treatments. Riiight.

If you know about epidurals, you know that there are potentially negative consequences. For one, it generally slows down labor (why are nurses/doctors so anxious to keep labor moving with Pitocin, but have few qualms about slowing it down with epidurals?) Epidurals also negatively affect early breastfeeding. Data on increased risk of a C-section seems mixed, but one study strongly supports it. The effects of sufentanil and bupivacaine in the baby's bloodstream has not been studied much at all.

It's seems on the face of it that choosing an epidural (with all other factors normal) is objectively a worse decision for your baby than not having one--the obvious exception being that the mother is too stressed/scared/in pain to deliver, which is certainly possible.

But, c'mon. Let's not pretend this is "all about the kid" or that your wishes for a less painful delivery are any more valid or respectable than hoping for a "granola, sunshine labor/birth," which is a shitty descriptor of natural childbirth.

I'm certainly not judging your desire to have epidural anesthesia. Most of my best friends who have giving birth have used it, probably over 90%. I just don't like the attitude of "it's not your choice," "don't be crazy," or "shut up and do what the doctor says."

As I mentioned, my wife took a hit of Fentanyl during a very quick, very strong transition. I'm not going to judge anyone on the decisions they make. But let's not pretend you didn't have "control" of that situation or that there aren't important decisions to be made during childbirth.

The well being of your kid(s) has to be your top priority.

I have to also disagree. The well being of my wife was my top priority. If it were a choice of the baby's life or your wife's, who would honestly choose the baby?!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:20 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


THANK YOU, delmoi. I'm freakin' sick of the "heroic infertile" thing on the interwebs. It's gotten very bad. There is even one noted blogger who adopted, then had a child naturally, and STILL calls herself infertile. The mind boggles. I'm happy for anyone who sculpts their life the way they want, but they don't deserve special accolades, and the tone of many of these blogs implies or outright states they do.
posted by agregoli at 6:47 PM on June 14, 2010


So, your control "leaves the door the moment that kid decides it's time" ... except when you need it to make decisions about your treatment ... but only certain decisions about certain treatments. Riiight.

I think you completely missed the point that stormpooper was actually making. She was comparing her more flexible approach to labour and delivery to her friend's rigid birth plan that must be followed no matter what. Sometimes shit happens, and you have to deviate from the plan, because you really have no control over how your labour is going to progress. If you go into it with a need to control every single aspect of your labour, you are going to be seriously frustrated and disappointed when things don't go according to plan.

But, c'mon. Let's not pretend this is "all about the kid" or that your wishes for a less painful delivery are any more valid or respectable than hoping for a "granola, sunshine labor/birth," which is a shitty descriptor of natural childbirth.

I don't think that anyone is claiming that having an epidural is for the benefit of the baby. I also don't think that many of the aspects of "natural" childbirth are for the benefit of the baby. Having a homebirth is not any safer for the baby than giving birth in the hospital. Having a water birth is actually more dangerous than giving birth on dry land. Refusing Pitocin when your labour isn't progressing does not benefit the baby (in fact, it can put the baby at risk for infection if it's been 18 hours since the mother's water broke). Refusing a C-section often does not benefit the baby. None of these things are done for the benefit of the baby; they're done so the mother can have birth experience that she wants.

Now, I realize that not all women who want a "natural" childbirth refuse medically indicated interventions. I'm sure that the vast majority (like the blogger in the FPP) are willing to change their plans when issues arise. But there are plenty of people out there who hold the intervention-free birth up as the ideal, and those people are making women who "fail" at natural childbirth, (through no fault of their own, because these things can't be controlled) feel guilty for not being able to live up to that ideal.
posted by lexicakes at 7:33 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


But there are plenty of people out there who hold the intervention-free birth up as the ideal, and those people are making women who "fail" at natural childbirth, (through no fault of their own, because these things can't be controlled) feel guilty for not being able to live up to that ideal.

Oh, yes. I can tell you from experience that this is one of the unplanned effects of breastfeeding advocacy as well. The faux-kind but actually cutting things women said to me! The criticism veiled as concern!

A very sad thing that happened when I blogged about my own birth experience with my second son was a woman who wrote me to say that she had had a very good birth that she had been perfectly happy with...and then she started reading all this natural birth stuff and realized that she had actually been mistreated and traumatized by it. Gah!

My own reaction as I get farther and farther away from the births themselves (the last one was 6 years ago) is that they just become insignificant to me. My kids like to hear the stories of their births (especially number 2, for which I get to re-enact excruciating pain, which cracks them up every time), but in terms of my own life, living with the kids has totally eclipsed their births. This turns out to also be true about my failure to be able to breastfeed my oldest son--when I think of how heartbroken I was at the time and how very much it made absolutely no difference in the long run, I want to go back in time and tell myself to just chill out, quit exhausting myself pumping around the clock, and give the baby a damn bottle already so we could start enjoying each other.
posted by not that girl at 8:33 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


not that girl: A very sad thing that happened when I blogged about my own birth experience with my second son was a woman who wrote me to say that she had had a very good birth that she had been perfectly happy with...and then she started reading all this natural birth stuff and realized that she had actually been mistreated and traumatized by it. Gah!

Maybe she was mistreated? Maybe she didn't realise it at the time until she read that she should have been treated differently? More than one woman I know had doctors/nurses/midwives perform a cervical check without asking, warning or consent. A friend of mine had an ob refuse to remove her hands from my friend's vagina while inserting fetal probes in spite of repeated requests because she was in agony. I can see how one could think that was normal until reading about medical providers actually getting consent before cervical checks. Another friend had a horrific experience with a midwife but took everything as normal until further reading meant she realised just how horribly wrong the midwife was about a lot of things and the way she treated my friend.

Being perfectly happy with an experience because you don't know any better is not exactly a good thing.

Intervention free birth is the ideal because it means nothing went wrong. It means labour progressed well and everything was okay. The fact that there are completely unnecessary interventions is the issue, not needful ones. Induction for the sake of convenience (recently a footballer's wife was induced so he could attend the birth and not have the season interrupted), induction because of suspected macrosomia, induction because of 'small pelvises' - those things all start a cascade of interventions that lead to needful c-sections because the birth was compromised from the beginning. C-sections happen WAY too often because of shitty decisions - being a doctor doesn't mean you're free from bias. Which is why there is such a strong need to advocate for your rights and research your options and why "I needed a c-section/induction because my baby was huge" often provokes a certain amount of enquiry.

It doesn't mean it's all fun and games when people insist I should have eaten more protein/lost more weight/put on more weight/had a home birth, then I could have avoided the induction. It means they're not particularly well educated about my specific case. I've spent the last week or so having a friend gasp in horror about my birth story because she's planning a homebirth and is certain things like that won't happen to her/don't happen in homebirth. It's fucking annoying but less to do with the ideal of natural birth and the militant reaction she's had to endless accusations of 'needlessly endangering' her and her baby's life. I know I did the right thing for me and baby anachronism and most people understand that high blood pressure isn't something to fuck with during pregnancy. Those people are the norm - those who don't tend towards militancy no matter what.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:43 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


MrGrimm my feelings were not "it's not your choice," "don't be crazy," or "shut up and do what the doctor says." My feelings were if you're fighting the doctors the moment you go in the door because you're determined for a natural birth even when the heart rate is dropping, that is a problem. A patient does not make things easier by fighting things from the very start. Sure I'm not all about shut up and sit there. We just had a case at Rush where the doctor literally told the mother to shut up and take it and she almost died because of the incompetent doctor who is getting his ass sued (good!). I'm far from saying "be nice and do what the good doctor tells you". And I"m far from the person who doesn't question or mention studies or stands firm on my feelings.

And pitocin was started because I was making zero progress in 6 hours and I had full blown flood from water breaking so they wanted to get things moving along. Contractions were far and few between. I've had cramps that felt exactly like the labor pain I was experiencing. It wore me out. It made me pass out. I was shaking and near vomiting. I admitted I am a huge baby when it comes to pain. It was a 17 hour labor and I knew my limitations and did not want to go through that. If you want to view it as control, fine. And he was posterior position, which didn't help. Like I said, he probably should have gone c-section but my doctors wanted me to try naturally. I firmly believe doctors aren't pushing a high c-section rate for the sake of pushing a high c-section rate. Insurance companies and hospitals dont' like it, so they discourage it.

And to choose a baby over the mother---hands down I would want my husband to choose our son over me.

And my friend is all sunshine granola (self proclaimed). So that's who I was referring to.
posted by stormpooper at 6:32 AM on June 15, 2010


"None of these things are done for the benefit of the baby; they're done so the mother can have birth experience that she wants."

The well-being of a mother and her baby are intertwined. Mom's stress is baby's stress. Mom's anxiety is baby's anxiety. Mom's inability to comfortably hold baby after a c-section is baby's inability to be held.

A mother having the birth experience that she wants benefits the baby.

I think we kinda have this martyrdom attitude about birthing mothers, like we women are unimportant vessels and we're just supposed to lie down and let all the important people figure out what they should do and stick their fingers in our vaginas randomly and if we're miserable, well, shut it, it's about THE BABY. Well, newborn babies are all about their mothers. So when we fight to have the births that we want--we're fighting for our babies, too.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:17 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


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