Sunday, October 7, 2007

I want Google to find me too!

So, though the chances that you're here reading this and don't already know me are probably pretty slim, just in case you don't, I'll tell you a little bit about me. And yes, I have ulterior motives, because I'm trying to "do my part" and get birth issues onto the radar screen of the mainstream (yeah, I know, set a reasonable goal there). On the advice of a friend, who also happens to be an ultra cool cyber-savvy person and the Publications Director for the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) I'm trying very hard. She told us to go out and blog blog blog. I get the Google alerts for various topics, including "International Cesarean Awareness Network" and I want my blog to show up one of these days!

Now, you ask, why is this something you care about? Surely with 3 of 4 kids in a charter school (that means LOTS of parent involvement and 120 miles of driving each school day), a preschooler still mostly at home, a full-time job (for the moment) and all that goes with that, having a blog and actually writing in it can't be such a good idea. And maybe you are right....I've yet to prove that I can keep up with this. But, since my job does include a lot of down time in the middle of the night, maybe I can pull this off (sleep? who needs sleep....I lost that biological imperative about 9 years ago. Ha!). But seriously, why do I care?

The first reason I care is because I had a cesarean over 9 years ago and I hated it. I knew I would (it was "scheduled" so I had lots of time to anticipate just how fun it wasn't going to be, given what I'd actually planned for) but I didn't anticipate how having it would completely shatter me. I mean, really, it shouldn't have, right? -- my husband and I had a lot of trouble conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy so we ended up in treatment (somehow I guess because I didn't just fall pregnant, I was supposed to really not care how the babies "got here"), the surgery was scheduled so I was able to request (demand) certain things to make it a better (less worse?) experience, my recovery was "good" (aka not medically complicated by anything)...and it shattered me. Pain that didn't just magically go away in 8 weeks (that's when they tell cesarean moms that they'll be back to normal), delightful depression that morphed into an impressive rage, a profound disconnect with my babies (fraternal twin boys), an even bigger disconnect with my husband (you can resume "relations" in 6 weeks. yeah, right. try 7 1/2 months and then not because you actually want to, you just feel that the likely damage done to your marriage is worth prostituting yourself to prevent), doubts and regrets that never ever stop and keep you awake night after night, the inability to take a shower without sobbing (because that's the only place you can do it and not be heard). The incessant fear that you are not a good mother that in fact you are a terrible mother because if you were a good mother, the overwhelming love you instantaneously feel for your babies (that I didn't feel at all) would make all the cesarean stuff just go away....yeah, I hated my cesarean.

When I found ICAN and joined the email support group, I found other women who had very similar experiences, very similar reactions, women who really didn't like their cesareans. And, they weren't afraid to talk about it! That was a sanity saver. THEN I started to realize how many women there were....that was many years ago, and the host for the list at that time was a program that was really difficult to use -- it was complicated and somewhat arcane to join, so I'm sure there were lots of women who never made it there (took me 3 tries and I'm pretty computer literate). Imagine how many there would be if it was easy and everyone had an Internet connection? As I started to move through my journey, I developed a passion for giving other women the help I'd gotten. Eventually, I took over ownership of the list, we moved to Yahoo and the number of women who joined each day was and still is staggering. Clearly, there is a problem with cesareans....and I can't turn my back on those women who are grasping at any hope that they aren't crazy and there was a way out of the place where they find themselves.

And things just get worse....the cesarean rate keeps going up and up (in 2005 it was 30.2% of all births, kinda -- turns out they don't even count things like multiples or breech or preterm in that number! Hey, I didn't really have a cesarean No seriously, the real rate in 2005 was probably more like 36% or so...) The infant mortality rate is going up....and guess what? The maternal mortality rate is going up too! And the interpretation of this bit of news didn't even have to be spun by ICAN -- the government stated quite clearly that the increase was most likely due to the increasing cesarean rate (and obesity, though that is likely not independent of the cesarean rate, since over-weight and obese women have cesareans at a much higher rate than other women, often for no apparent reason other than being heavy), along with better reporting. That last bit is interesting...we've suspected for a long time that childbirth related maternal mortality is woefully under-reported (as much as 4-16x by some estimates) so actually, things have been a lot worse than anyone could prove for a long time.

If you have any awareness at all that our health care system is way screwed up, you'll love this factoid: the U.S. spends more (total and per capita) on maternity care than any other country on this planet. And our measures of outcome, those good ole mortality rates, suck. We rank somewhere (depending on the list) between 21 and 25 in the list of developed nations. There are lots of developing nations that have better numbers than we do. We are throwing money away, while women and babies die. How come I never hear any of the presidential candidates talking about that? Oh, I forgot, the American Medical Association uses a lot of those health care dollars to pay really good lobbyists and to make contributions. Wait, wouldn't that be illegal? Uh huh, and nothing illegal EVER happens in health care OR politics. Your insurance premiums at work there. And you thought they were going to buy you good medical care, silly you.

Needless to say, I could go on and on and on. And I suppose that's the point of a blog...but...maybe we'll just save the rest for another time. If you are desperate to read more, you can go to my website. Start with You Should Be Grateful, the first thing I ever wrote and then go from there.



tjamois said...

Gretchen--awesome! Google found ya! Excellent essay!
Tonya J.

Tami of BrooksGroth said...

Glad to see you here! :-)

I only had VBAC in my comprehensive google alerts but after reading this I think I need to add a few more ... hope to see you showing up when I get those alert emails ... and then I can easily share what you're writing through my google reader shared items so the few people on my family blog know I'm reading it too.

Keep writing --

Laureen said...