Sunday, January 27, 2008

Have Spinal Column, Will Travel

So, last night. Tampa's Business of Being Born.
Round and Round it goes.

The CNM's "educate women"
The OB "I practice ethically"
The Doula's "empower women"
A woman in the audience "respect life"

I have a singular frustration as I wake today. It's the same frustration I've awakened with and gone to bed with for the last month. I'm sharing it because it's becoming a bit of an obsession and reframing the argument has to become a reality.

Cesareans are NOT about Malpractice. They are about what an OB is or is not willing to do to keep himself from being subject to malpractice. Would you let someone hold your wife down and cut her baby out of her stomach if they were standing on a street corner telling you they would get sued if they didn't? An OB tells you "I have to practice this way" because he worries about his practice being lost, his livelihood, his home, his ability to pay his bills. He lives in this fear. She lives in this fear. Women OB's are not only as bad, they are often worse, pushing themselves to live to the standard of practice while raising families and trying to fight back against long hours.
Wow. Feel sorry for the OB's, right?
Until you realize the following:
They cut women to get home on time.
They induce women to manage care and timing of their office visits.
They induce or section women in order to keep their cost of doing business low.
They cut women who had a prior cesarean because they are afraid of being sued.

What they don't do is look at the woman in front of them and wonder if she will die at age 45, leaving teenagers or toddlers without a mother due to the bowel adhesions she received from that cesarean. It's not lawsuit material.
They don't look at that same woman at a year postpartum and see her lying on the floor sobbing due to the PTSD results of her failed struggle against failing at birth and having her baby taken from her. She can't sue. She's actually "healthy" after all...physically. Right?
They don't look at that same woman after three cesareans, unable to stop crying because the stillbirth in her arms is the result of those other surgeries. That first OB can't be sued for this.
They don't look at that same woman at six months, unable to have sex because she still has pain. One man successfully sued for not being able to sleep with his wife.
They don't look at that same woman at 6 weeks, having a hard time walking up the stairs because of the infection in her incision that still hasn't healed. This isn't lawsuit material because it's actually a NORMAL complication of cesarean.
They don't look at that same woman sitting in the NICU, staring at her 2 week old who has a respiratory infection. This isn't lawsuit material because once again, it's NORMAL.
They don't hold her hand in her bed while she's trying to figure out how to nurse across a scar when she can't even hold her baby.
They don't hold her hand while listening to complete strangers discuss the news of the day and take her baby to another room.
They don't hear the voice of someone else telling them that their body has failed and it's time to let someone else take over and take her baby out of her.
They don't sit in her labor room trying to fight the pain of the contractions and giving in to the epidural because she's terrified of what will happen next.
They don't help her cry at night, not knowing how to say no to an induction tomorrow which she doesn't need and doesn't want and is secretly terrified of.

They go to their practice, they see her for 5-15 minutes, they weigh her, assess her and leave. And worry that they will get sued because deep down they know they are not giving care. They are providing a business service without compassion and they only look at the plumbing.
God forbid they notice the house has fallen down and the woman is trapped inside. After all, if they don't see her as a person, they can't get sued.

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