Tag Archives: Healthcare

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

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Phoenix Rising

Well, after all of that work, I dropped off of WordPress for over a month again. This time I just needed some time to sweat, garden, cry, dig, dance, and sweat some more. It’s been a grueling process. But just as I was about to dig myself into a little hole and never venture out with my outside of the box thinking again, I was given a bonfire of encouragement from Pete Eyre and his voluntaryist and libertarian friends.

I was so blown away to hear of all the stories they have to tell. My story is NOT unique. I just happen to have been involved with midwifery. So many other trades have been affected by the prosecution of victimless “criminals.”

Pete’s encouragement came right at a moment that I about cracked from the craziness of it all: the Medical Board of CA sent me a letter asking me to allow them to continue the hearing I must have before them (to decide if I will have my license revoked or be put on probation for eons). This was a request THEY made because they wanted to have the hearing next January 2013, not this June 2012 as scheduled. When my attorney agreed (hey… big deal… I can’t practice anyway, what does it matter to me?) they sent him the stipulation for me to sign.

In the stipulation, the wording said that I agreed that I had been found guilty of practicing negligently (something I was never even charged of!), that I agreed to have my license suspended (huh? Don’t I need a hearing before they decide that FOR me?) and that I promise not to be found in any place where “midwifery might be practiced” including employment, other than as a patient or the family member of a patient.

HUH??

So, I asked my attorney to politely decline their continuation request. I may be tarred and feathered, but I’ll be damned if I’ll help them do it.

Oh! And in case you, like me, are wondering why I can’t just send them their silly paper and quit even TRYING to practice in the People’s Republic of California, there’s this regulation that keeps things from being that simple.

So my hearing is in six weeks. I’ll keep y’all updated on what happens, but my hopes aren’t high. Nothing about anything related to this process has produced anything but disillusionment in me. Which is a LOT for an idealist at heart to take. Especially one who was also a statist. Heck. I was basically a socialist until this whole thing started. Now I truly fear for the future of our country. We continue to encourage our publicly funded civil servants to make more and more and more rules and laws and regulations.

Oh, and my book will be out soon. Please order a copy if you haven’t. It is the first and only place that I have told my story. You can pre-order it here. The forward was written by Dr. Stuart Fischbein and the Appendix of action items was compiled with an introduction by Pete Eyre; Like two solid bookends on a very messy, emotional female memoir.

My appeal is also still in process… it’s a bit like watching hair grow and hope it doesn’t become ingrown in the process. I am so grateful to my appeals attorney. She rocks.


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.

 


Commercial Break 1.0

My response to article in the Oregon Onion on whether midwifery licensure should be REQUIRED:

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/09/its_time_to_license_all_midwiv.html

 

As a LICENSED midwife in California, I can say WHOLEHEARTEDLY that I DISAGREE with mandatory licensure.

It’s as simple as:

1. Licensure does not ensure better skilled attendants. I have seen better outcomes and better care provided by “lay” midwives than by LMs, CNMs or OBGyns. The skill is not synonymous with how many years of school one attends or how many hours one has logged at a bedside. Skill is gathered by SERVING and LEARNING by DOING. If you really want to see a good list of skilled midwives, set up some kind of midwife report card system for the state of Oregon and let the MOTHERS tell you who is good and who to run from. Here’s an example: http://thebirthsurvey.org/ DON’T leave it up to a bunch of bureaucrats to tell you who is a good caretaker for your pregnancy and birth (read: don’t let the almighty dollar tell you). Mothers are GOOD at letting people know what they think if given a good forum to do so.

2. Licensure does not ensure better outcomes for babies and mommies. While infant loss and maternal loss is devastating, remember that hospitals lose patients too. All their systems and licenses and degrees have not erased birth loss and neither will something as pithy as the licensure of midwives.

3. Licensure does not make things easier on midwives or make them less targeted for prosecution or liability. As a LICENSED midwife who has never lost a mother or baby AND who was recently convicted of a FELONY for saving a baby’s life in the absence of my supervising midwife back when I was a student, I can only plead with you from the bottom of my heart to think carefully before you put sister midwives in the line of fire. Regulation INCREASES investigation, prosecution and fear… the three worst things midwives need when we are faced with so many maternal needs and a growing client base.

WHAT WE NEED IS UNITY… Lay Midwife, CPM, CNM and MD. We need to respect one another and stop fighting amongst ourselves so we can turn full faced towards the families we serve to give them the BEST care we can by SHARING the load appropriately. Every woman deserves a midwife to give her care, and and OBGyn to give her the assurance she is safe if she needs medical experts. A mother has the right to choose how and where she is to birth and unless we hold THAT right as the primary focus, all of our work will crumble.