Yes, Let’s Talk About Labor and Birth


08/10/2016 by syrbal-labrys

I dislike doctors. Mind you, I’ve known some good ones; but I’ve known more patriarchal male asshats with a flashy diploma on the wall. So, I found it interesting to read a very much favored and followed blogger today.  She discusses at length how women in labor might be treated more like brainless twits than autonomous adults.  She is a doctor, so when she talks about balancing care of a mother and child against possible lawsuits, she knows whereof she speaks.

Of course, I have three children; the first was delivered in an Army hospital (in Berlin, Germany in 1978) where a lawsuit was not an option because I was an active duty soldier.  Good thing, because I sure as hell would have sued the asshat who delivered my first-born.  He was mad when my labor stalled for an hour or so — it was my first birth and that can be expected.  But he was on a schedule, you see, he wanted to be home for “movie night” with his family!  When my labor began again, it was quite vigorous and I was going “natural”.  He didn’t like that either; he badgered me literally every two minutes to accept an epidural.  He had never done one before and was eager to try it.  He was a major, I was a sergeant – I shouted at him anyway telling him I did NOT want drugs.

An hour later, he was still badgering me as it came down to the line.  I finally snapped “Fine, do it and don’t fuck it up.”  Well, he did.  I lost ALL feeling below the waist and could not feel myself pushing anymore.  The asshat didn’t know the difference between a saddle block and an epidural.  Then I heard him give orders to the nurse, “Put pitocin in her IV drip, we need to move this along.  I want to be home as close to 1800 as possible.”  Mind you, I was a high-risk pregnancy — heart irregularities due to a mitral prolapse that occasionally caused ventricular tachycardia, so he might have thought twice about that if he hadn’t been in such a rush to get home to popcorn and beer.

My son was born at 1755 and promptly pissed on the doctor.  That made me smile.  He left before the placenta was delivered, leaving the nurses to “Finish up, will you?”  I bled heavily for THREE MONTHS after the birth.  I was breast-feeding, and after a month expected back at work AND fitting in my usual uniforms.  Two months after birth I was expected to pass a PT test including a two mile run in 19 minutes or less.  I failed that test by 19 seconds and passed out at the finish line, blood running down my legs.

“Military medical care” is often joked about as an oxymoronic expression.  My experience made me think that went double for military ob-gyn “care”.  My other two babies were not born in a military hospital and I didn’t have near the problems — though still high risk and prone to bleeding heavily.

When birthing my third child, as a civilian stationed at a tiny Bavarian town with no sufficient American facilities; my German doctor was trapped at an emergency C-section and the midwife was caught in traffic.  With three nuns in attendance doing a hilarious Catholic Three Stooges act, my husband delivered our tiny son.  His APGAR score was not what I knew was best, likely from trying to NOT push when I was fully dilated.  But within about two minutes, he cried lustily and pinked up and kicked and complained about the new cold, cold world.  With all the terrors of that birth?  It was still a preferred experience over the first time with a medically certified male pig playing catcher!

My first child, I had to get up and make my own bed daily, while bleeding onto the floor.  Then I had to mop the floor. The Army nurse shouted at me when my night-terror afflicted newborn cried, and forcibly removed him from my room.  In the nursery, he promptly woke EVERY child on the ward.  Yes, that, too, made me smile.  My second pregnancy, also while military?  I refused care at the military hospital and went to Berlin’s “Free University” Medical Center to beg for (and receive) pre-natal care.  My second child was born at an American civilian hospital, as I was 70 miles from the nearest military facility — by CHOICE.

My third child?  Nuns brought me herbal tea, beer (to bring in the milk) and sandwiches every time they saw me breastfeeding my son.  The obstetrician had shame-facedly sewed up a little tear saying, “This is not how we usually do things here.”  I was treated marvelously well.  They seemed in awe of a woman who delivered without medical aid and without much complaint.  I was just happy to have been treated with respect and as if I DID have personal agency that would not be over-ridden for the sake of a beer and a movie!


2 thoughts on “Yes, Let’s Talk About Labor and Birth

  1. Sorry about that, I hope I got it corrected now. WP links are sometimes iffy…

  2. Bravo!!!

    By the way, I think the link to the artical isn’t working. At least, it’s not for me.

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The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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