Monday, November 16, 2009

Held Hostage By Her Doctor

 Update:  My friends have raised $1500 so far, only $1500 more to go to raise the ransom they need!

This is not a fairytale.

It is, on the contrary, a very frustrating story about some very good friends of mine, whom I love very much.
My friend, Hannibal, is an author, poet, multimedia reviewer and critic, technology geek, and closet superhero, who met the love of his life a couple years ago, and life as he knew it changed forever.

Myshell is a choreographer, dance instructor, graphic design artist, and mother of a very spunky little girl who, I believe is about 4 or 5 years old, but I can never remember because she has the personality of a 12 year old.

Myshell is a very healthy, intelligent, hardworking, multi-talented woman.  The ways in which her presence in Hannibal's life has enhanced the quality of it, are profoundly evident by anyone who knows them.

Together, Myshell and Hannibal have forged a bond. They fell in love, married, and now are expecting a new addition to their family.

The pending arrival of their daughter has our circle of friends very excited. I'm sorry if this back story seems a little vague. The details, though in my opinion relevant, would take a full essay of writing, and I don't think it's prudent in the moment. Suffice to say that this love story between these two is inspiring to many who know them.

It should be so... Love should be inspiring. Those of us who figure out how to have it in our lives should be reminders to the rest of the world, that Love is possible.

Anyway, I got an email from Myshell this past week regarding the birth of their child. I do not want to paraphrase so I have included that email text here and then an interview with Myshell afterward, in the hopes that you find it educational, and ultimately that it moves you into whatever sort of action you deem appropriate. It takes a village indeed, my friends.

Dear Friends,

We had a very discouraging prenatal visit last week. When we told the doctor of our birthing plan, the doctor said, "If you don't have this baby by your due date, we have to schedule a c-section." He also said that there was no way Myshell could deliver at their facility "without receiving Pitocin after the birth of the baby." Myshell has already had one c-section. If she has another, there is a strong possibility that she may never have kids again. She may also hemorrhage and bleed to death.

Many women have successful vaginal births after Cesarean Sections. We have decided to opt for a home birth, so we could have more control over our plan and the health of baby and mommy. We need your help! If 100 people give us just $30, we can have a safe home birth with a fully equiped midwife. We found a midwife at The Sanctuary , who will perform a vaginal birth in their home. Please help us raise the $3,000 necessary to cover the cost of home delivery.

Myshell is already 36 weeks pregnant. We must pay in full before she is accepted as a patient at The Sanctuary. Every dollar amount counts. We are asking for $30 from 100 of our friends. To donate, please  contact us at For more information on the dangers of hospital birthing visit (this site). Thank you in advance for your support.


Myshell and Hannibal

My Interview with Myshell:

BF:  What was your original plan for the birth of your child and why? 

MCT: We originally planned to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) at Kaiser. We signed the form two months ago.  We wanted the safest most natural delivery possible.  There can be serious complications with a repeat Cesarean, such as a limit on or end to having future babies, uncontrollable bleeding, etc.

What explanation did your doctor give for why he insists you have a c-section procedure if you do not give birth by your due date? 

MCT:  He claimed it wouldn't be safe for the baby if I carried her past the due date.  He also, in the next breath, mentioned convenience, scheduling, and holiday vacationing, so I'm not sure which parts were his real reason.  He didn't specify any risks.

BF:  What is the signifigance, from your doctor's perspective, of your due date?

MCT:  More than likely his concern is the size of the baby. He didn't say. With research, however, I've learned that uterine rupture is more likely in VBACs with larger babies.  There is a higher risk of hemorrhaging with a repeat C-Section no matter how you slice it, though (no pun intended).

BF:  What is Pitocin and why is he insisting that you receive it after the birth of the baby? 

MCT:  When most people think of Pitocin, they think of labor induction.  Pitocin, the synthetic version of oxytocin (a hormone produced naturally by women), *is* used to induce labor.  It is also used after the birth to cause the uterus to contract back down and prevent hemorrhaging.  In the majority of deliveries, however, hemorrhaging does not occur -- especially when the mother breastfeeds.  Breastfeeding causes the mother to produce oxytocin (the natural form of Pitocin), and it has the same effect on the uterus.  HMOs make everything "routine" to cover themselves. 

BF:  What are your concerns with being given Pitocin?

I was given Pitocin after the birth of my daughter, who is now five years old.  My blood pressure went up so high that I almost had a heart attack.  The contractions were so painful after delivery that they interfered with the bonding phase between me and my daughter.  They had to give me a completely different drug to counter all of these complications.  All of this is in my file -- yet they insist on giving it to me again.  "It's protocol." The doctor stated. It has been directly linked with Autism. People forget that medicine is a practice just like law. They try things for years until they notice a link between a drug and a side effect, and then they pull it off the market. We are all guinea pigs.

BF:  Why is it so important for you to have a home birth and why do you like The Sanctuary?

The Sanctuary will come to my home fully equipped to deliver my baby in water or out -- cord clamps, water proof pads, gloves, stitches (if needed), birthing tub, and years of experience.  There will be two Certified Nurse Midwives, who will cater to me from early labor until a couple of hours after the baby is born. They return a day later to check on me and the baby.  There are subsequent visits 3 days later, 5 days later, and 3 weeks later.  They are also capable of coaching.  

At the hospital, you are left to labor on your own, and the doctor comes in to catch the baby or perform a C-section.  There is an "unspoken time limit" on each of the beds.  If you labor for "too long" it's considered a "failure to progress."  Many new moms are unaware of this and go to the hospital too soon (during early labor).  That's what happened to me the first time.  I was cut unnecessarily.  The fetus was not in distress, nor was I.  I was simply "taking too long."  They claimed my daughter was face up (not breech -- posterior), but at 4 centimeters, most babies are face up and they rotate during the birthing process.  

BF:  How do you feel emotionally about this unexpected challenge?

MCT:  I am super stressed out. Had we known that the doctor's perspective would change, we could have had time to save the money ourselves.  My delivery is less than four weeks away.  My research in the last week alone regarding the insane infant mortality rate in the United States in comparison with other countries has me terrified.  They are running a business.  Those doctors are surgeons and they prefer to cut -- much like the Christina Yang character on Grey's Anatomy.  Most C-Sections take place between 4 and 5pm, when doctors are ready to leave in time for dinner and 10 and 11pm, when they feel it's "getting too late."  My daughter was born at 4:50 pm -- go figure.  It's convenient for them.  It's quick.  It's dangerous for us, though.

BF:  How much time to you have to raise this money?

MCT:  I need to raise it by the end of this week.  The Sanctuary needs to start seeing me and get acquainted with me before delivery.

BF:  Do you know if you're having a girl or a boy?

MCT:  I'm having a girl.

BF:  Have you chosen a name yet? 

MCT:  Her name will be Ella Simone.

BF:  How's Hannibal handling all of this? 

He is soldiering through it.  He's on board for the home birth, and he wants to see both mommy and baby healthy. We both wish we had known months ago.

Final Words
I could rant here about the imperfections in healthcare coverage in this country.... but that's another blog for another day.  If you live in another country, or if you have at some point ever lived in another country, you know that we are one of few that has a system set up for no other purpose other than making money.   Well, God bless American capitalism, but what about my friends?
They are insured through Kaiser, which apparently doesn't cover home birthing.  Even though, ironically Hannibal works for Kaiser, in a position that has great positive influence over the quality of healthcare the company is able to provide.
As far as I know, universal healthcare systems in other countries cover childbirth wherever you have it.   We have some ever so slightly skewed ways of doing things here and that needs to change.  Ask yourself what you can do to facilitate that change, then do it when the opportunity arises.  However,  that change comes slow and too late for Ella Simone and her family.
They need help now....

Donate Here

Related News
Health Plans Work to Reduce the Health Risks and Costs From Elective C ... - Atlantic Information Services, Inc.
Husband and Wife Childbirth - (blog)
Parents and kids: Nov. 11 - Old Colony Memorial and Plymouth Bulletin
Parents and kids: Nov. 4 - Old Colony Memorial and Plymouth Bulletin

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  1. First of all, wow, thank you.

    Second, I am beholden to say that most of the photos here (save the 4D ultrasound and the one with me in that ridiculous jacket and top hat) were taken by the illustrious and praiseworthy Leroy Hamilton, all credit due.

    Third, seriously, thank you. Wow.

  2. you're very welcome, and my apologies to mr. hamilton for not adding credits to those photos!!!

  3. Brig, this is proof positive that the world is very very small. I fell in love with Hannibal & Myshell's wedding (so much so, I have it on my iPod and watch it all the time!) I am so shocked and disheartened to hear that such a fabulous couple is going through such a trying experience. They are in my thoughts and my prayers!!!


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