Tag Archives: Depression

In Conclusion

Today is my friend’s birthday. He is a single father  in the middle of a messy custody battle. DCFS is involved. I don’t claim to know anything about his baby mama’s case. But regardless, he felt the need to ask DCFS for permission to have me come over to his house. You know, because I’m a felon and all.

Just now he contacted me to let me know he is not allowed to associate with me. He got a “finger wagging” from the social worker.

Ironic that. Ironic all of it. I’m now too dangerous to associate with children, or even be present in their home. Hurry up and hide them! This midwife is dangerous.

It’s taken me a good couple weeks to write an update because the update I have is so heart-wrenching for me I couldn’t bring myself to write it.

A couple weeks ago on… oh, never mind, I’ve apparently blocked the date from my memory… I signed away my right to: 1. Have my midwifery license in the state of California and 2. Ever defend the Medical Board’s accusations if I attempt to ever obtain a medical license from the state of California for any reason ever again. Read: Never work in the state of CA again… not even if I went back to school and became an MD.

If California was like so many other states and recognized a woman’s right to birth WHERE and WITH WHOM she desired, I would be able to work outside of the megalomaniacal Medical Board.

In exchange, I get to relieve my pro bono attorney who has been tirelessly fighting on my behalf without a penny since the fall of 2010. I also get to know that I will have “surrendered” my license as opposed to having it “revoked”… semantics, really, but one that may make a difference in another state.

If I fought the Medical Board any further, I ran the risk of them back charging me tens of thousands of dollars. And, well, as a single mama with no ability to work in her profession, I really can’t afford that.

And, honestly, my supporters are tired. I watch the responses to my emails dwindle as time goes by. And my local birth community is too busy to care, most of them.

None of this changes even if my felony conviction is overturned after appeal.

The thing I find most ironic about this is that this state has many midwives who have been found guilty or plead guilty to crimes– most after the death of a baby– who are still working here, peaceful as peaches with their licenses intact. And further, let’s not get into the doctors who have continued to work.

So, I claw at the dry earth around me and hope to carve out some essentials as the kids and I attempt to make ends meet while I’m forced to remain in this county by the CA probation department. Without a job.

I clean houses, and babysit and teach classes here and there. I scrub toilets and paste canvasses and run errands for people. Whatever it takes. My friends at least trust me for these things.

And I see my children barely at all.

My daughter has taken on irrational fears ad nauseum and my son is incredibly angry. What do I do about it? Nothing. I don’t have time.

And I dream of the day when probation is done and I can leave this awful, ignorant, assaulting state. When I can burn the bridges I had with the Socialist Republic of California. And I look forward to another life in another state where midwifery laws aren’t so ridiculous.

But I’m ANGRY. I’m oh, so angry. My family’s blood is in this land. Our tears, our sweat. I’m FROM this place. My grandfather and grandmother served here as medical people. Gave their lives to the health and well-being of its citizens. We volunteered and voted and went to church.

And now the taxpayers of this state have seen fit to strip me of all of my life’s work, my family, my friends, my roots. They have seen fit to toss me out and give not a care to whether we live or die. Is a cage worse than being exiled?

Well, I guess I could stay… but then I would continue to work these 10-12 hour days and my children would be missing two parents instead of the one.

The words I want to write here are not suitable for children so I will leave this at that. Image


It’s Been a While

Life goes on. I’ve moved after finding some work under a rock and pushing it around a bit to make it grow.

I miss midwifery.

I’m planting a real life garden to help me process my philosophical one. There are lots of rocks in it and the weeds are outrageous.

I plan to warm baby chicks and eat their eggs when they are bigger. Happy Spring!

And I’m writing. Writing, writing, writing.

This book is done. Please order it.

And I’m working on another.

I still have three days of CalTrans. Apparently I’m not ready to be done with it. I will get to it during spring break and my kids can be cared for.

In the mean time, I’m still trying to swallow the pill I’ve been dealt. It’s monstrous. But there will be glory when I’m all done. And God is here to guide me.


CalTrans Day 2: 24 Hours Remaining

I took the day off yesterday to visit with a fertility gynecologist. I have been struggling with premature ovarian failure since my arrest. I assumed it was just stress. I mean, being arrested is pretty stressful. Especially when you have NO CLUE they are coming for you.

The doc was very intelligent and mentioned, after unsympathetically mentioning that he sees no follicles anywhere, that only 1% of women with POF do not have premutated x chromosomes.

Say what???

He went on to explain that my daughter’s autism diagnosis is probably fragile x derived. For those, who, like me, are saying “fragile whaaa?”… It’s a chromosomal abnormality on the x chromosome. The good doctor also casually began to rattle off risk factors to me for having these premutated x chromosomes.

He concluded by saying he was 99% certain this was the case for me, but that I can have it confirmed with a blood test. Of course I ran over to my office to have someone draw the massive amount of blood this particular test requires.

Then I spun in circles about it and the fact that my daughter most likely has a 50/50 chance of birthing a child more severely effected than herself. Call me sentimental, but I was looking forward to grandbabies someday. The POF was hard enough to swallow… I mean, who wants to go through menopause and age like a 55 year old before you’re 40? It kinda sucks.

When I was a teenager, I used to say I wanted to be young and then old. I didn’t want to have those awful middle years of adulthood where you aren’t cool at all. Be careful what you ask for.

So, I normally don’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity. I find it to be a huge waste of time. But today I wallowed in self-pity on the side of the freeway.

For the record, CalTrans work ON the freeway is a WHOLE lot harder than CalTrans work off the freeway. I picked up trash. Big deal. But the repetitive motion of doing the same thing the entire day in the heat really messed with my neck, shoulders and right hand (those trash grabber things are tough to squeeze after the fourth hour of repeatedly squeezing it).

The entire of experience was a flashback to jail, only in the sunlight. Same etiquette and rules. Same mannerisms and speech.

Except the head boss guy was kinder to me than the others. He asked me what my crime was since I had not worked there before. I told him and his face softened.

“Midwifery is an honorable profession. I’m so sorry.”

He’s a black fellah in his mid 50s. His age puts him right at the time black babies were still being delivered into the hands of granny midwives. He went on to tell me that he was in the room with his wife when his son was born even though that wasn’t typical. “Jes me and my wife and the doctor. And he’s there tellin me everything he’s doin. I watched a miracle right there. Then two days later, my knees started knockin about how big a miracle that was.”

His words to me were kind after that.

The wind from the vehicles beside us blew clouds of dust into our faces. My eyes, ears, nostrils… black with dirt. My face was smeared with it and sweat from the heat of the sun. My lips were gritty. I don’t mind hard work. If I could have changed the motions of my body occasionally I woulda been alright. It was the repetition that killed me.

Here I am, going to die young of heart disease after aging prematurely and looking like a fat old lady when all my friends are young and fit. Or maybe I will survive the heart disease and live to be old enough to develop fragile x tremors and parkinson’s like symptoms from my mutated chromosomes. Why wouldn’t God have provided me with a partner if I was going to suffer so much? And who would want to marry this fat, saggy, infertile lady now? Why would my children have to go through so much stress now, only to prepare them to have to be left alone or have to take care of a mother who can no longer hold her hands still enough to paint and who yells expletives at them and forgets basic life skills?

As you can see, not a happy place to be there on the freeway. The freeway didn’t make it, my mind did. Sitting there in an emotional cage all my own.

In that moment, I noticed a little lizard in the dirt in front of me. Poor fellah was in shock. His entire home was being hoed and raked and dumped. All he was left with was dirt. He played dead, not knowing what else to do.

I picked him up in my dusty gloved hand. “Poor guy.” I said to him, feeling huge amounts of empathy for such a small little creature that nobody else noticed.

I placed him to the side of my by a tree for shelter.

And then it occurred to me. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” These words, attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the account of Matthew, rang in my ears.

God has infinitely more compassion on me than I have on others. I can trust and believe that. But even as I did, my heart cried out, “I don’t see it at all right now, God!”

I remembered how, on New Year’s Day, a guest speaker at our church spoke about “the God who gives and takes away” and that it is ok to ask Him why He does. And, I did. Finally after this whole crazy journey, I asked Him on New Year’s Day 2012… Why, God?

And I think I am going to start getting answers. At least, I see now why I went through the pain of losing my third pregnancy. And if I think back, that was the moment that everything began for me. The loss of my third pregnancy was the beginning of a long, seven year path through pain.

As I returned to picking up trash, the next item I grabbed was a photograph of a woman. I looked at it in the trash bag for a moment and wondered who she was and then moved on to pick up more trash to toss in over her.

A strange question entered my mind as I did so. “Why did you have compassion on the lizard and not the woman?”

My response was “The woman was only an image. The lizard was alive.”

The point became clear. This body I’m living in is simply an image of me here on earth. The soul is what is alive. God cares far more about my character and soul development than He does about my temporary comfort in a body that will perish with the using.

It’s a hard lesson. Learned in a very hard place. Somehow it’s easy to think I will live forever, stay young forever, wake up tomorrow… but the reality is so very different.


Wednesday’s Child

The dull ache at the base of my brain is like a relentless lover scorned. It’s giving way to a kind of vertigo that has shifted the real world into a dream as graspable as black smoke. The stench of it chokes me and turns my stomach. My tongue dries out like it’s licked the heart of the desert and been forever changed. I swallow hard to moisten the scar in my throat and soften the fortifying rock below my solar plexus. My heart beats to a random drum in staccato. Faint and without much interest in continuing.

I’m watching the credits roll and I don’t remember most of the movie. I’m too tired.

Every breath carries a thousand griefs. The tears are so stuck I don’t remember what it’s like to cry but I’m afraid if I suddenly recalled how to sob I would cry out every last drop of blood in my body. My flesh carries the marks of this beating and I’m afraid to look at them in fear I’ll find the bullet hole that went straight to my brain.

I remember a time so long ago that it feels like it belongs to someone else and not me.

There was a wide eyed girl with a heart so open she could have swallowed the whole earth with it. She believed in happy endings and prince charmings. Even though her father died tragically when she was four, she held out for the end believing it would justify the loss.

The darker the tunnel the brighter the outlet will be. The deeper the grief the greater the glory in the end. Every fairy tale says so.

Her hope would not be muted. Not by a hundred insults. Not by the false accusations of wagging tongues. Not by jealousy of lazy narcissists. Not by the inconvenience of the cubicles. Not by the misunderstandings of the ignorant.

But in the end she curled herself up in my head and went to sleep. And left me all alone. Her weight pressing in on my spinal cord.

From my quiet, forgotten corner, I watch as lovers unite and ride off into sunsets. I gaze into the eyes of the hopeful who have felt little pain in their pursuits. I inquire about the arrivals of kings and queens, born into the hands of another. I listen to the complaints of those who do not love the liberties I’ve lost.

I fell off the merry go round very early. The boy who pushed me just offered me a piece of rotten candy if I don’t tell anyone it was him. He doesn’t want it to ruin his holiday in the sun, after all.

I look down at the rags and blood and filth I’m wrapped in. I feel the patches of head where hair used to be. I lift the lids that are heavy with wrinkles and blink hard to moisten the eyes that are so dry it hurts to see. I caress the body that sags into the shape of an old woman prematurely.

And I ask her to press harder in sleep so that the credits will end. I can close my eyes and click my heals and finally go home if it’s still there.

I open my eyes to find that re-entry is never what they tell you. It’s awkward. For everyone. Some things can never be the same again. For the war-child, home vanishes in the smoke.

 

 


Day 34: 46 Hours Remaining

Mothering is the thread that is interwoven through the fabric of life.

This morning I was sweeping in the bed area when one of the women who had slept there during the night hurriedly packed up the last of her belongings. My presence was an indication that she was running late.

“How are you this mornin?” She asked me with a big smile.

“Good. Good. And you?”

“I’m doing great. Really blessed. I start class today. All I need to do is start classes and show that to my P.O. and then my next hearing I might get my kids back. I miss them so much.”

“Oh? How many you got? How old?” My sweeping naturally paused at this moment, as it would for any mother.

“Well, there’s Jimmy, he’s just started kindergarten. And Patrice is three and then little Johnny is almost one.” She beams with that motherly pride.

My heart breaks that they slept last night away from their mama.

“What’d they get taken for?” I have a feeling I’ve grown about as confrontational as everyone else here.

“Drug possession. I went to jail and they went to my mom’s.”

So many broken families. And the cycle reproduces itself quite sustainably. Once you lose that glimmer of hope– once you snuff out that candle of a belief that this is just temporary– you become a permanent fixture of this world. It’s a different city than the one you’re used to. Things are dimmer, grimier, more in the moment. There is still life where ever you have drawn your own cliff, no matter who you are.

All it requires is a belief that human beings can, indeed, walk on water.

Wendy tells me a little later about how her own mother and father died when she was young. “I was raised by my aunt. That was a blessin, that was.”

What I thought was a tragedy, was highlighted as a blessing by Wendy. If only I could bottle her positive attitude and take it with me everywhere!

I was rolling toilet paper when a very slight, white woman made her way into the bed area with her head down. A partial paralysis of the right side of her body could not mask the fact that she was emotionally distraught.

“Ms. Wendy… I… I need a phone…” and here she trailed off into tears. It was hard to make out what she was saying under her muffled sobs.

She took a breath and tried again. “Please, Ms. Wendy… I need a phone… I just found out my mother died.” She sobbed again.

“I just can not be out here right now. I need someone to come pick me up.”

Wendy dialed the number on her own cell phone and handed it to the woman who tried her hardest not cry as she left a voicemail for someone. My heart broke for her. She looked like she was in her thirties, about my age. I wondered if I could have been in her shoes if situations in my life had been different.

How many moments of homelessness were averted in my life by the care of others, the provision of family and friends or just being in the right place at the right time to land some work. How many moments of hopelessness have I sat in where I would’ve given in to self destructive behaviors had I been around the wrong people? How many health issues did I avoid by having health insurance, being partially raised by a surgeon and a nurse and being given the ability to become educated in medical care?

So many things we take for granted.

After lunch I walked back to the shelter and passed her sitting at the bus stop. No doubt on her way to say goodbye to her mother a day too late.

 


Day 32: 62 Hours Left

I watched him hold onto the handles of the cart with a grip so tight I felt my skin tingle. The man was literally holding his entire weight up by his hands. He was dragging his red tennis shoe covered feet with great difficulty, one at a time, behind him. I have never, in all my 37 years, seen someone have more difficulty walking. It was obvious he would benefit from a wheel chair.

A young woman steadied the cart as he walked and made sure his belongings didn’t fall off as he labored along. Although she appeared to be about fifteen years younger than him, her face was bright and cheerful and it was obvious she was a pleasant companion and loved him dearly. I see that a lot down here… bright and loud, shiney and witty… the women are like ornaments on the necks of the men they care for. Some of them aren’t women, technically. But the men don’t seem to mind. There is definitely a lot more testosterone than estrogen on these streets. And even more loneliness.

The man in the red tennis shoes was another reminder of the uniqueness of each individual here. Every person has a story, a lifetime lived with all their various issues dancing across the various years. Not one is alike, even if many share common themes. It’s part of what draws me into loving people. I love stories. I love them even more when I am an uninvolved viewer. I don’t like to live the drama myself.

Yet somehow, despite that, my life has become more dramatic than I ever wanted it to be.

I was drinking a water in the bed area when I overheard Paul asking one of the case managers about a newly opened office position.

“What would that person have to do?” He asked.

“Well, among other things, they would need to be good with people and developing relationships with clients.”

Paul nodded and then excitedly pointed at me.

I immediately dropped my head, embarassed to be pointed out.

The case manager laughed a little uncomfortably and then said, “Shoot, no. We don’t hire just anyone!” Within a minute I could tell he realized how painful his statement had sounded and he began to cover his tracks: “I mean, not that you’re just anyone or something. I mean they need experience and a degree and stuff.”

I laughed, but on the inside I broke. I slipped away and found an uninhabited corner to sweep up leaves and cry.

I worked hard to get through eight years of post-highschool education and have nothing to show for it. I have no degree because none is offered to licensed midwives. I have no experience in anything but loving others. I have loved with a wide open heart and served until my body ached. I’ve deprived myself of sleep for nights on end and gone without food because someone else’s need was greater. And in the end, one judge’s word brought it all to nothing. My wide open heart had a gallon of arsenic poured into it. I drank the tyranny of the cubicle dry.

And now I’m just anyone. Now I’m nameless and faceless and lost in the crowd. I could be the woman on skid row who is begging for a dollar. I could be the addict. I could be the drunk. I could now be the single mother who wraps herself up in relationship after relationship looking for satisfaction. I could be the waitress who tried to become an actress all her life but never landed anything but a handful of extra roles. I could be the hooker.

I walked a mile to 2nd and Los Angeles Streets during lunch to get away and try to remember what life was like before skid row. I bought a coffee at the cafe my attorney and I sat at in Little Tokyo and tried hard to remember the hope I once had that the system would show itself true on my behalf.

I lost myself in the crowded streets and remembered that just two months ago it was, actually, me who signed lab orders and travel approvals and birth certification letters on letterhead that had my name and medical license on it. It was me who was trusted to hold women in their most vulnerable state and honored to be the first to ever touch a human being on earth. It was me who was giving advice and calming fears and healing hurts.

As I walked back through the masses of hurting humanity who are more like me now than any other group, I was relieved to see the man with red shoes wheeling himself down the sidewalk in a brand new wheelchair given to him by the staff I love so much. There he was, my medalion of hope that love can find one solitary lonely anybody.

 


Day 24: 113.5 Hours Remaining

Just because I have kept a positive attitude during this process does not mean it is PLEASANT. Nothing angers me more than people justifying their position behind my prosecution or in supporting those who slandered me during the investigation and the case by saying that this blog is proof that this has been good for me. This process will ultimately turn out for the good of everyone involved, because my God loves me and is sovereign. But that does not in and of itself provide absolution for every evil thing that was done and said during this entire scapegoating. Job’s friends were all wrong.

It is only by a supernatural power that I am keeping it together. My faith has grown deeper than it has ever been in my life because I KNOW where I would be right now if God were not even more real than the judge, jury and prosecutor. I can feel the tormenting sea of insanity brewing just beneath my breast. I can hear the voices of rage screaming murderous hatred just behind my ears. I can smell the smoke of pending devastation within my fists. I am a crazy woman restrained.

I have begged God for justice. I have searched in my wake for a victim and found none. I have scanned the horizon for a place of refuge and find it only in His arms alone. I have bottled a million tears and slept without a home or a bed for over a year. I have felt the branding of being a burden to everyone I meet. I have watched my children shoulder the pain of adult cares. I have felt the sting of a child support check that doesn’t even fill my gas tank after six months of nothing. I have swallowed the tyranny of the cubicle with a wide open mouth.

And in the end I can only say that for the life of the baby girl that was saved, I would still do it all exactly the same way if I had to do it all over again. Because I could not live with her death. Because her life is worth this pain. Because the struggle of midwifery and the exposing of the inconsistencies in our midwifery law is worth this pain. Because the cause of parental rights is worth this pain.

Today I met a woman who put her husband in the hospital and got half the hours I got. She also got a misdemeanor.

Helicopters hovered overhead and we all wondered if they were awaiting a verdict in the Michael Jackson case. Everyone was discussing it. I felt nothing but a pit in my stomach, remembering the day the jury deliberated less than two hours for me.

I told one of the staff that I might be out of a place to live soon. He’s been hearing more about my situation lately and today he got really angry and told me that he feels so bad for what is happening to me and my kids. My response was to panic internally. Having a skid row shelter staff worker tell me it’s bad, is like an oncologist tell you that you your tumor is bigger than he’s ever seen. It removes any doubt about whether or not you are going to make it.

To get out of the slump I was in I wrote a note to encourage Eric because I imagine the case workers don’t get thanked very much. As I was writing it, Charlie was telling me how much he loves his job at the shelter. How he can’t imagine doing anything else. How you gotta love what you do so you do it well.

I hope that Eric loves his work like that and I told him so in the note. Then I paused, looked up so I could choke back tears, and said, “I loved what I did before I came here. Really loved it. Could work 70 or 80 hours in a week and it didn’t even feel like work…”

I found my purpose, my calling, in midwifery. God told me to go there and do it. And I did it. To the very best of my ability. But like King David, God told me this temple will not be built by me. That answer is not GOOD for me, but it is God’s goodness that holds me as He says it. He holds me while I sob and pour out the futility of all those years of study and devotion and selfless hours of not being paid. All that time and care given for no reason but just to love families with all of my heart. My heart wide open.

Chastening does not have to be for a reason. Sometimes it is the simple hand of the potter cutting off a piece of the clay that is in the way from it becoming the perfect piece it’s intended to be. Sometime the potter crushes the whole thing on the wheel and starts over agian.  

God has some purpose beyond what I can see right now. The struggle of chastisement is not, in itself, the best thing God has planned for me. The end result is the best thing. Just as Christ’s death on the cross was not for His own good, but for the goal of the prize God had ordained on the other side.

Resurrection. That faith is what keeps this phoenix alive in the fire. A faith of weaker substance would have rendered me suicidal.

Job 19:25-27