Sunday Morning~ How did I ever raise five kids?

I admit to being efficient and productive.  I learned that at a young age when I wasn’t allowed to go out with friends until all my chores were done. I think it irritated my parents that I was able to get the list accomplished in time to socialize, so they kept adding more chores to the Saturday regimen. I don’t remember arguing about it, just setting my jaw and adopting a “just watch me” attitude.  I’d fly through the house like the white tornado, clean the bathroom, dust the stairs and the furniture, fold laundry, and clean my room.  I think in the warmer months there was also yard work, but that was mostly the brothers’ domain. I’d get it all done, and take off with whichever friend was available and interesting at the time. Never one to turn down an invitation, I developed some good cleaning skills and managed to organize my activities to fit everything in. I remember once, upon returning, my father demanding, in his ever-accusing tone, an account of what I did at home that day.  I listed my accomplishments and glanced at my mother, daring her to deny that I’d gotten it all done. Reluctantly (it seemed to me) she admitted I was telling the truth. Defeated, he got distracted with something else to save face, and tucked away the particular punishment he’d had in mind for a later date.

When I had young children I would get a days-worth of chores done in an average nap time. Not a second was wasted, and even I marveled at what could be done in a two-hour timespan. I also learned the fine art of a second wind. The kids would go to bed at eight, and though all I wanted to do was crawl in to my own bed and sleep, I’d start on some project that was SO MUCH EASIER to do without the kids around.

These skills have served me well and I am grateful for them. However, living on my own for many years, I’ve become a bit slack and, though most of my friends would laugh at this, don’t get nearly as much done as I used to.  Yes, yes, yes I can rally and race around cleaning the hour before company comes and feel like I’ve still got it in me, but most of the time I’m less than efficient. This week I am  wondering how on earth I kept up that pace way back when. My two-year old granddaughter, one child, has brought me to my knees. And she is a good kid and not very demanding! How did I do this with five? And work? I feel like I have not had an intelligent thought all week. In fact, I’ve been struggling to remember nursery rhymes.

My op ed got printed in two newspapers this week. There was considerable response, and if I hadn’t had a two-year old for the week would have been obsessing about that instead of which lane the muffin man lived on. It was with some trepidation that I had sent that op ed out to the world, knowing it would hit some nerves.  I remind myself that responses are a good thing, but in all honesty, really only want to read the positive ones.  I expected some pushback from the medical community and there was very little.  The vast majority were supportive, though maybe there was a sense that responding to it was giving it credence and some wouldn’t even stoop to that.  Perhaps if written by a doctor the opinion would seem more credible, like when the Harvard OB/GYN wrote that data shows less intervention safer than a high-tech birth. When HE said it, the concept was all of a sudden taken seriously. Midwives have been saying that for all of eternity.

There was one particularly negative reaction to my piece that came from a surprising quarter. I expected the medical community to get a little (or a lot) defensive, but I was not expecting a home-birth midwife to react as if I had insulted and offended her. I had 700 words to work with and distilling my message took a lot of time and consideration. It’s the sound-bite world that terrifies me, as it has elected morons and destroyed noble men and women. It’s a real craft to hone a message like that and I fear I may have missed the mark a bit. Or she’s a wing nut looking for a platform. I know of her, but don’t know her, so I can’t say, but it scared me. Everyone has a right to their opinion, I get that, but to re-write my sentences and post them to social media with her reaction was downright scary. At least the newspaper pulled the comment when they discovered the name-calling and profanity. I pull my hair out at how hard it is to advance the messages of  nurses, midwives, and alternative care providers. We all constantly swim upstream in our rigged system, and spend so much time setting traps amongst ourselves. It’s like the Democrats in Congress, constantly eating their own. Physicians don’t ordinarily do this.  They are so reluctant to criticize and mete out consequences for unsafe practice that the state of maternity care has sunk to the level that it has. Non-physician providers would be fired in an instant for behaviors that are tolerated in physicians. I just don’t get it.

The negative response was reacting to a point I was trying to make was about how our profession is misunderstood. There is an association of the word “midwife” with uneducated women who only do home births. That is completely erroneous and educating the public, legislators, the medical community, and the world has been one huge long slog. There are many wonderful, brilliant, educated women who do home births and I know that very well.  I work with many of them and trust them completely. They have offered women alternatives that they deserve and they do it safely. I am eternally grateful to them and want to see their careers grow and prosper.  And they will, as home birth is growing steadily in this country. We need them and they need our support. As women in rural areas can’t find maternity services near them, they are turning to home birth as an alternative. This is not what the medical community is expecting.  Nor do they expect that when they refuse women the right to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC), she will then turn to home birth for that option.  That is the largest growing population of women choosing home birth.  Hospitals are declaring that VBACs are unsafe and women must succumb to unnecessary surgery, and many of those women are then delivering at home very safely? Yup, and it shows how crazy the system is that we’ve created.

My attempt to say all this in very few words was taken as if I were the one calling those midwives uneducated. I was very relieved to see that someone rebutted the distorted comment, but I really don’t want to be distracted by this. I want my message to stay clear. It was a good wake-up call, though, to be ready when bigger, scarier fish come after me. So thank you, Carol.  You’ve given me a glimpse into the hard, cruel world of standing up for what you believe in.

There! Done in a nap time.  And is it Drury Lane where the muffin man lives?