Thursday, March 27, 2008

Intersection of Identities

During my undergraduate education in Women's Studies, we always dicussed the intersection of identities such as race, class, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Last night I went to a discussion a book signing for the new Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth book. I haven't read the new book yet but I am excited to hear feminists begin to talk about this women's health issue. We always hear about reproductive choice -- as in the choice about deciding when/how/if a woman wants to get pregnant -- but no one has been discussing the poor state of choices available to women who are pregnant. Or the sub-par care this health care system is currently delivering to most pregnant women. So last night I found myself among a group of women where several of my identities intersected -- lesbian, feminist, and aspiring midwife. Also of interesting note, the Feminist Women's Health Clinic has a donor insemination program that works with lesbian couples (and I'm sure others as well.) But I would totally love to get involved with that aspect of women's health. For me, it's inspiring to see lesbians who are starting families, etc. I never got that sort of exposure before. And since having a family is very important to me, I would like to help others also achieve that.

My first "official" day of my pediatric clinical rotation was yesterday. I think I did pretty well despite having the clinical instructor who is "known" for trying to fail people. Hopefully I will remain on her good side. I did not do too much clinically but I did spend most of my day holding a baby who doesn't get held much. Which brings up my next ethical question...what quality of life do borderline viable preemies have? I took care of an ex-25 week preemie whose prognosis is quite poor. It brings a different perspective to just seeing the little babies in the NICU or PICU. A lot of the children are ex-preemies who have severe health problems stemming from their prematurity.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's a two post kind of day

Ani DiFranco -- one of my most favorite artists ever -- had this to say about her reasoning behind giving birth at home:

"I would definitely choose a homebirth again despite the fear mongering of this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines. I look at societies where women are marginalized and oppressed their whole lives (even covered head to toe in tarps!) but are still in control of birthing practice, in a whole new way now. I mean, who is really more advanced? To take birthing out of women’s hands and deny us the continuum of eons of wisdom and experience is to eject us from the very seat of our power. I believe that women in hospitals are prevented from being able to have normal, healthy birthing experiences because of the intimidation of being on the clock, being pressured to take drugs to make it quicker, being inhibited in their movement and activities, and alienated by a sterile, fluorescent lit, feet-in-the-air type environment. You know the classic 'performance anxiety' of not being able to pee or poo because somebody’s watching you? Multiply that by a million! A cervix is a sphincter after all! Then to add tragic insult to injury women are numbed through their great moment of revelation. I believe the act of giving birth to be the single most miraculous thing a human being can do and it is surely the moment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their power and connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done, you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — and afterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. If you can do that, you can do anything. Check out the books on this subject by Ina May Gaskin. She’s one of my great heroes. P.S. I was in labor for 43 hours. Pushed for five hours. It was brutal and scary and prolonged, and if I was in a hospital, they would have definitely cut the baby out of me. I thank the goddesses that I was at home with patient midwives who knew how to go the distance. The memory of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not."

You can read more of her interview here.

TENS during Labor

I have a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) that I use for my back pain. I recently thought it would be a good addition to my doula bag. I have a ton of extra (unused) TENS electrode pads. (The company sends me new ones like once a week!) Anyways -- I wanted to be able to offer this to my doula clients but I wasn't quite sure about how/where to put the electrodes. Does anyone know? Have prior experience with a TENS unit? Know where I can find some information?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Placenta anyone?

My maternity clinical rotation has officially ended. We got to examine a placenta which is really interesting. I had seen them before but never been able to get hands-on. It's a lot more sturdy than I had originally thought. Plus it's really cool to see where the baby grew, how it attached to the mom, etc.

I also realized that I've never had that much blood on my (gloved) hands before. Blood can be taboo -- indicating sickness, or disease -- but in the case of birth, (some) blood loss is normal. It somehow feels very wrong to have someone else's blood on your hands. I suppose since I will be catching babies for a living, I must get used to this new phenomenon. But not too much blood.

This week is packed full of exams before Spring Break. Tomorrow is ATI (a practice NCLEX) for maternity. Thursday is my pharmacology test. Friday is the maternity midterm. This week couldn't have come at a worse time. Today is mine & Beloved's 3 year anniversary and I'm stuck studying instead of enjoying a romantic day off with my beautiful girlfriend. It's alright though, she's fast asleep anyways.

I've committed myself to doing a birth this month so I'm not traveling during the break. It will be my first birth attended by midwives. I'm excited. I'm still processing my last doula birth. The parents were committed to a natural labor and birth. They did everything right and despite all we was born by emergency c-section. It was the first time I have seen birth just not work. Although it was disappointing that it ended in a c-section, it really did affirm to me the benefit this surgery can be when used appropriately. And please take my word that I have seen (in my short time in my maternity rotation), very unnecessary, poorly justified, almost malpractice c-sections. Contracted pelvis determined by clinical "pelvimetry" without a trial of labor. Sigh. That's another post entirely.

Another experience has really been bothering me. A classmate of mine was helping a woman who was getting ready to push. My classmate was holding her leg. The OB was quite temperamental and did not particularly like the way the classmate was holding the leg. So he swatted at the student. Repeatedly. In other words, this OB slapped the student, my classmate. Upon recounting the situation, my classmate was in tears. She has been so upset by the situation. I know it's not my battle to fight but I would think there would be greater recourse on a physician for assaulting a student but there hasn't been. I don't think it's ever acceptable for physical violence. But this situation has been continuing to bother me. I had never thought I could potentially be assaulted by a coworker and it would be shrugged off so simply. If the situation had been reversed...a student slapping/swatting an OB -- there would be hell to pay, perhaps even an expulsion. It also bothers me because it's a man hitting a woman. It was an unfortunate manifestation of an intersection of several power discrepancies.