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Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Chop Shop"

Yet another new Blog that I've just discovered- "Don't get me Started" Rips into birthing in our society with an openness that is refreshing and shocking... But just as true, word for word.

Chop Shop

Nine months along she comes waddling into the lobby. Checks in at the front desk, waits for a nurse escort. Yes her water has broken. Contractions are still far apart, no need to panic. It’s her first baby and she’s nervous. Scared of the pain. Doesn’t know how long this will take. In complete disbelief that she’s going to leave this hospital with a little being in her arms. Terrified of the unknown.

She’s dreamt of this day for nine months. Read all the books about what to ‘expect’ and yet there was no chapter on giving up rights. There was no chapter on becoming powerless.

Once her water breaks, she can’t leave her bed. Once we give you pitocin or an epidural, don’t even think about moving. Psychiatric patients are never put in restraints, never tied down (except for the worst of the worst situations) because it is “cruel and unusual punishment”. But laboring women? Laboring women are put in medical restraints. Pharmacologic restraints. We pump medicine through an IV, shove it into the space in your spine and say DON’T MOVE. YOU CANNOT MOVE. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT FUCKING MOVING.

We don’t care that you hurt. We don’t care that it’s better and safer for the baby and for you to move, move, move. You can’t move. It’s hospital “policy”. “Policy” that was created for the convenience of clinical staff. There is zero evidence saying this is a good idea. In fact, the evidence states quite the contrary. To move, move, move. To shift positions and let gravity help you. To take a walk and have a massage and lay in a bathtub. Actual scientific evidence tells us that this is what women SHOULD be doing. Instead, the medical establishment drips an IV, pushes the meds and takes choice away from women. Every second of every minute of every hour in this country a woman’s choice is being ripped from her.

She lays in pain. Vaguely remembering what she wanted to happen. How she dreamt this day was going to go. She read the books, rented the videos; hell, she read the blogs and watched the YouTubes. There are so many options out there! So many choices! Look at all these different ways I can maneuever my own body to get this baby out of here. Nope.

None of those things happened. Wait. Where are those choices now?

Now she’s medicated against her will. Now she’s lying in a clouded haze. Never told the side effects. Has no idea those meds will depress her breathing, her heart rate, her level of consciousness. Maybe they mentioned the drugs can “cross the placenta” but she was also conveniently told in a moment of horrific vulnerability that the meds will “take her pain away”.

And after a quick nap, it’s been decided. While she was out cold, and the baby’s heart rate slowed and that little swimming baby in the happy amniotic fluid struggles to keep it together, it’s decided. She hasn’t progressed. Not dilated far enough. Not effaced. Sure the meds caused this. Sure the meds we pumped in to her to “stop the pain” pulled the e-break on her labor. The very meds we gave her, we insisted that she take, stopped the body from doing the very natural thing that we’ve been doing for millions of years. The solution? Cut her open! Yay for sugery!

“You haven’t progressed enough. We’re going to have to do surgery.”

That is not choice. That is a directive. That is an order. That is not garnering consent. That is not providing all the options. That is not laying out the risks for surgery and the risks against surgery. It’s a fucking chop shop in there.

We call them “pre-dinner Cs” for a reason. Lord knows that obstetrician wants to get home for dinner so it’s no surprise that she’s induced at 2ish and delivers via c-section by 3ish. Knocked out in another drug-induced haze. Baby ripped out of her belly, placed in a plastic bin like a bag of lettuce at Safeway. Lay her on the mother’s chest? Heaven forbid the baby’s “yucky”. Heaven forbid the baby start breasfeeding, doing that other thing we’ve been doing for millions of years.

Nope. The doctor and nurses have exams to do. They need to poke and prod and shove under a light. Heaven forbid they learn to do an assessment while the baby is in it’s most natural position, with mom.


Every day I walk in to clinical my heart races. I clinch my fists, grind my teeth. Nothing about this experience is what it is supposed to be like. I have never had a being growing inside of me. I’ve never felt a kick or a flutter or a summersault inside of me. I have never expected and waited and read and dreamt of this day. And yet. There I go and stand in disbelief.

And watch from behind a wall of horror as these women are objectified and victimized. There are no options, no choice, no bevy of laboring menu items in which to check off. Fuck, there are more options at a Taco Bell drive-thru than there are in your average laboring suite in an American hospital.

I make no jugements about your own delivery. If you wanted to be drugged and not “feel anything” (*ahem* a ridiculous expectation that the medical establishment shoves into women’s psyhe) or scheduled your own c-section, that’s lovely. Hats off to you. I am not pointing fingers at you and saying we all need to do it the same.

This is about choice.

At our most vulnerable moment. When we are terrified and filled with hormones and emotions and doubt and stabbing, murderous pain. We will do anything.

You know what I would do? You know what I plan to do? I will risk it all and birth on my kitchen floor before I allow any fucking person in scrubs to come near me and take away my choice. To tell me “what is best for the baby” when I know damn well they’re lying. Fucking lying. Lying cause they’re impatient. Lying cause drugs have a higher reimbursement rate. Lying because they want control over my body and this process. I will push out a baby (if I am blessed with that option), in a bathtub, in a manger lined with hay before I trust a sole in the laboring unit in any American hospital.

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