Tag: Mighty Pens

Why Maternal Health Matters to Me (#2)

My second pregnancy was more challenging than the first, mainly because I already had a toddler! At 35 weeks, we learned baby was breech. I was a good candidate for a version, but he would not turn. (Also, the procedure is really painful.) So they scheduled me for a C-section.

But baby boy had other ideas! I went into labor a week after the attempted version, two weeks before my due date. Naturally, it was again late at night, and this time I hadn’t filled out any of the paperwork yet—plus they couldn’t reach my OB or the on-call doctor. My labor was progressing. Baby’s heart rate crashed once, and all of a sudden there were nurses calmly shouting codes that meant “get that oxygen over here, now!”  Fortunately, everything worked out. They did one more ultrasound to confirm baby was still breech, then walked me to the OR.

I knew I was in a fantastic hospital with experienced nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, and specialists standing by, but getting up onto that operating table myself, knowing they were going to cut me open, is still one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. (I’ve had a low-trauma life, for which I’m grateful.)

He had quite a healthy cry but calmed down when we got to snuggle.

Now imagine you’re in labor and you know something’s wrong, but you don’t know why. Or you don’t have access to fetal heart rate monitors, portable ultrasound machines, or first0class operating rooms, so giving birth breech is a huge risk. Most births don’t require surgical intervention, but when it’s needed, it can be the difference between life and death. I want to improve every woman’s access to life-saving care. I hope you’ll join me in donating to Every Mother Counts!

grandpa holding baby
Proud Grandpa!

Why Birth Justice Matters to Me (#1)

My parents watched anxiously from the waiting room at the end of the hall as a cadre of hospital staff in scrubs trooped into my labor and delivery room.

Inside the room it was less scary, but of course, I knew what was going on. The doctor had diagnosed that baby’s head was turned to the side, so his “progress through the birth canal was impeded.” In other words, he was stuck. After an hour of pushing, I needed intervention.

The doctor recommended a vacuum-assisted delivery. Pro: no C-section. Con: you get one contraction. One. Chance. My husband and I agreed that we should try, but we still had to wait for the operating room to clear—because if you don’t get the baby out, you need an emergency C-section!

Any time a birth requires medical intervention, a bunch of people come in the room just in case, hence the parade my parents witnessed. Happily, baby came out (I am so glad I had an epidural for that part) and was pronounced healthy, and I was holding him before I knew it!

Birth #1 successful!

My mom says that as the staff filed out again, one of them gave her a thumbs-up and said everything was fine. I suspect they can spot an anxious about-to-be-grandma when they see one!

Proud Granny

Now, let’s count the ways in which I was fortunate:

  • prenatal care at an OB/GYN clinic associated with a top-ranked hospital
  • advanced, dedicated maternity center
  • multiple ultrasounds before and during birth
  • birth classes and hospital tour ahead of time (familiarity)
  • private room with a bed that can be rolled straight to the O.R. if needed
  • NICU available
  • medical interventions available and reliable
  • great insurance

I want all women to have access to as many of those birthing privileges as possible. Every Mother Counts is an organization dedicated to increasing access to maternity care in America and around the world. In conjunction with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and the Mighty Pens, a group of writers, I’m raising money for EMC’s Birth Justice fund during the month of November. I know you might not be in a position to give (2020!), and that’s OK! I just wanted to share why the issue of birth justice is so important to me. But if you want to contribute to this great cause, I hope you’ll join me!