What if homebirth children treat their elderly parents the way they were treated?

Old hand

For me, one of the most distressing aspects of homebirth is thinking about the experience of the babies.

Their very lives are on the line for no better reason than because their parents are seeking a specific experience. While their mothers wallow in their birth pools, and while their fathers wallow in their empowerment, the babies may be suffocating to death, struggling to extract enough oxygen across a failing placenta to feed their fragile brain cells, or gasping with heads stuck in the vagina while their bodies dangle outside because their mother attempted a breech birth at home, or drowning in a sea of bright red blood, the oxygen so close yet utterly inaccessible because their mother’s uterus has rupture during an attempted VBAC at home, extruding them into the abdomen with no way out and no way to survive.

When the survivors grow to adulthood, might they treat their elderly parents the way they were treated, as a prop in their parents stories. Might they put the lives of those elderly parents on the line to return the favor of valuing experience over their well being?

That thought came to mind reading the narcissistic drivel from M. Landers, a father whose third child was recently born in a home VBAC. Landers mused on great existential questions, like pain and death, in The Tragedy Of Childbirth: If It Hurts, Embrace It

I envision his son eventually writing a piece entitled The Tragedy of Old Age: If It Hurts, Embrace It.

The heart of Landers’ piece is his attempt to explain why he and his wife are cavalierly risking the life and health of a postdates baby in a homebirth. It purports to be deep, but is really nothing more self-indulgent, puerile rationalization:

… People can argue statistics day and night about the safety and ethics of homebirth v. hospital birth or vaginal v. C-section, but in the end I think our prefered [sic] stance really comes out of our capability to accept life-threatening and potentially tragic situations without attempting to control them. No one wants to stand by and watch tragedy befall their loved ones, but it is a constant and real possibilty [sic]. While we understand a lot about the human body and how to “successfully” modify its efforts at the birthing process, the truth is that it knows what it’s up to and often our attempts to improve upon its effects can just as easily thwart an ideal outcome.

Imagine Mr. Landers at age 80, hobbled by arthritis, nearly blind from cataracts and suffering chronic pain from who knows what. He doesn’t know, because his son, who is now his caregiver, refuses to take him to a doctor anymore, because all that doctor did was implore the son to buy expensive prescription medicines to ease his father’s arthritis, pay for expensive surgery to remove his cataracts, and subject his father to expensive tests for no better reason than to figure out cause of his chronic pain. The doctor has gone so far as to play the “dead father card,” warning that his father might die without expert care.

How would Mr. Landers feel then if his son exhorted him thus?

Dad, this is old age. If it hurts, embrace it.

If Landers wept for access to cataract surgery, desperate to be able to see, read and write again, would he be satisfied with this?

My preferred stance on this issue really comes out of my capability to accept life-threatening and potentially tragic situations without attempting to control them. I’m sorry that you’re nearly blind, Dad, but you ought to trust vision more and not attempt to control it.

And if Landers begged for access to medical care, expressing his fear that he might die as a result of whatever was causing his chronic, debilitating pain, would he be mollified by this?

Dad, no one wants to stand by and watch tragedy befall their loved ones, but it is a constant and real possibility. While we understand a lot about the human body and how to “successfully” modify its efforts at the aging process, the truth is that it knows what it’s up to and often our attempts to improve upon its effects can just as easily thwart an ideal outcome.

It sounds unspeakably harsh and cruel, doesn’t it? Yet how different is that from Landers’s own philosophy on risking the death of his son at homebirth?

Not very.

We understand how heartless and selfish the son is because we can easily envision ourselves in the position of an elderly Landers. We can imagine the grief at his loss of sight, his chronic pain and his fear of death. In contrast, it is difficult to appreciate the position of a homebirth baby, since we know that we will never again face the risk of injury and death at our own birth. But just because it is easier to put ourselves in the place of an adult instead of a baby, does not mean that the baby is suffering any less.

We quail at the thought of being treated like the elderly Landers; we ought to quail at the thought of being treated like Landers treated his son.

Landers better hope that his son give more thought to his comfort, safety, and very life, than Landers gave to him.

227 Responses to “What if homebirth children treat their elderly parents the way they were treated?”

  1. M. Landers
    May 21, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Hey there!

    Someone was kind enough to let me know that you’ve started a conversation about me rather than with me. In my experience, attempts to improve upon my own perspective usually comes from talking with others rather than about them. Perhaps you did hope I would somehow find my way here, or perhaps you only really care for the more blog-able and sensational aspect of what my family thinks. Even so, you should have let me know in hopes of starting some kind of aggressive internet dialogue or something. Think of the blog ratings! 🙂

    I do not think that being born and dying are similar experiences. Occasionally and tragically, they coincide. Sometimes it happens at home and sometime it happens in a medical facility. But in general, I find the experiences of being born and dying of old age to be utterly different concepts and (I can only assume) experiences. You’re question is a very interesting one and I like it. The way you address it makes it seem that you asked it because you had some answers in mind already. Your imagery throughout also seems a bit vicious. I hope you wish my family no ill will.

    I continually come upon people who seem to believe that birthing outside of a hospital is rushing headlong into chaos. The only action my wife and I actively took that was risky was conceiving a child in the first place. A non-action of allowing her body to progress naturally is not an unnecessary risk. We allowed a body to grow within and be removed from another body. We had a multitude of medical input throughout the process, multiple ultrasounds, and plenty of advising on the progress throughout the pregnancy. We had multiple, medically-trained personnel at our home for the entire labor process. Did we decide to stop her body from going through with its natural process because the risk was too high? No. Do we know many people who have lost children in pregnancy and birth? Yes. Does that make us afraid? Yes. Do we scramble to resolve the pregnancy without complications? No, we tried to be informed and allow a healthy natural process to proceed.

    If I desperately wanted to keep my children from dying at all costs, I would stop putting then in car seats. Road fatalities are horrifying statistics. But the risk of driving is one I am willing to take at this time. I think of the possibility of my children dying in a car accident often, and it scares me, but I choose to have control of my fear rather than seeking to eliminate all risk. We use car seats, but we still drive the car.

    Thanks for reading!

    I haven’t read the comments, but thank you for any positive thoughts sent our way!

    -M. Landers

    • Young CC Prof
      May 21, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      The probability of a preventable disaster at home birth is one per 1,000, which is greater than the probability of your child dying in a car accident at any point up until he reaches driving age.

      The probability of preventable disaster at a home VBAC is 1 in 200, assuming no other risk factors are present. This is approximately equal to the probability of an American child who is healthy at birth dying from any cause at all up to the age of 18. You just compressed an entire childhood of risk into a single day for no reason at all.

      I just thought I’d put that in perspective for you. You gambled and won, but did you really understand the odds?

    • Stacy21629
      May 21, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Dr. Amy has made open invitations to supporters of home birth to discuss the scientific data on multiple occasions. No one has ever taken her up on it. If you want to have that open dialogue, you should contact her. Her email is in the sidebar. I’m sure she’d entertain the idea if you are interested.

      I wonder though – knowing that the risk of dying a preventable death at home birth is at least twice that of dying in a hospital (being generous) – what exactly was your child’s choice in all this?

      What troubles me about home birth supporters that claim to “accept the risk of death” is that they deny there’s any risk of death at all. Birth is dangerous. Always has been. Large numbers of mothers and babies have died during this “natural” process. You brush it aside like it’s walking to the mailbox, claiming to be “informed”. That’s a complete contradiction, but probably owing to the fact that you “you had some answers in mind already”.

      I had my first child at home. I thought I was informed. I read birth blogs and birth sites and watched the Business of Being Born. Then I read real SCIENCE. And I know that while the odds certainly are in my favor to have a live baby at home, they are higher in a hospital and I don’t have a crystal ball to know beforehand how things will turn out. My current pregnancy will be delivered in a hospital.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

      In my experience, attempts to improve upon my own perspective usually comes from talking with others rather than about them.

      Ironic statement given that

      1. You refuse to address the content of the post
      2. You didn’t even bother to read the comments
      3. You seem only interested in whining about how misunderstood you are and not engaging with Dr. Tuteur or the readers in the least.

      Perhaps you would consider improving your own perspective by engaging in a dialogue with Dr. Tuteur. Her contact information is on this blog and she has expressed willingness to debate on the issue…

    • anion
      May 22, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      Dude, you wrote it and published it online to stimulate discussion or convince people that your thinking is right/to think the way you do. Don’t complain because somebody took you up on the implicit offer to think and discuss your opinion, without talking to you directly. That’s like an author insisting you only discuss his or her book with him or her personally and not with anyone else, anywhere else, or a movie director saying no one can think about or discuss his or her film except with him or her directly.

      Don’t publish it online if you’re going to whine about people doing exactly what you wanted them to do.

      I certainly do send positive thoughts your way and wish you the best (sincerely, and I hope you never experience the tragedies so many homebirth mothers and babies experience), but I think your opinion in this matter is dangerously wrong, and your actions irresponsible and reckless.

  2. Leigh S
    May 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    When I die, I do, in fact, hope my four home-birthed children treat me the way they were treated.

    That would mean – if possible – dying at home. Surrounded only by the ones I love and know. A quiet, dark, peaceful setting. Touched by kind hands. I hope I have songs sung to me and hear whispers of stories of my beautiful life. I would like to slip out of this world in the manner they slipped in.

    • attitude devant
      May 19, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

      And without any help in case you have a treatable problem, and without any medication to ease any pain or anxiety you have.

      Interesting: your death fantasy is as unrealistic as your birth plan. You have as little control over the manner of your death as you have over the circumstances regarding your births. At least y’all are consistent.

      • Leigh S
        May 19, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

        Oh Attitude,,with all due respect, I didn’t include the following information because I assumed that folks commenting on such an important topic already had all of the information.

        My births were attended by a licensed midwife. So she had medication should an emergency arise as well as O2 and equipment for a newborn resuscitation. In our state, LM’s can carry medications to treat hemorrhage. Most women who choose home birth also have back up plans in case they choose to transfer to a hospital for additional care.

        Of course, I did not have medication for my pain. Those of us who choose home birth understand there won’t be such medication and that if we want/desire to transfer to a hospital for such medication it is always an option. I happened to be lucky enough to have enjoyable and pain free births – albeit hard work! My anxiety was eased through relaxation techniques, support from my midwife and husband, and my birth tub.

        Obviously my birth plans were indeed realistic: Four births, four healthy babies, four plans gone just as I’d hoped. Including a breech birth. Life is a gracious combination of planning and luck. The luck we can’t control. The planning and education we can.

        Perhaps that sort of death I described runs in my family (obviously I’m being sarcastic), as my grandfather and grandmother both passed this way. I was at my grandmother’s side – I was only a young woman of 20 – as she passed. She was in hospice home care. It was this experience that led me to question the medicalization of birth and desire a home birth.

        It is indeed important that people – and their families – realize there is some element of control in their end-of life care. Home deaths (as well as home funerals) are an option for some individuals (obviously dependent on their health concerns).

        I have been a doula for 9 years and hope to some day either volunteer in hospice care or as a death doula. How we are born, and how we die, matters.

        • attitude devant
          May 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

          A breech birth at home. Lovely. I can’t say I think much of your midwife’s judgement. And I say this as someone who has performed a couple dozen breech births.

          I have had family members die at home and in the hospital. Sometimes we were lucky and it was easy and peaceful. Sometimes it was agonizing. It was nice to have hospice support for pain relief and for guidance. I just think your view is lovely and idealistic…but somewhat divorced from the realities of how we die. I surely don’t want you as my hospice volunteer or death doula if you’re going to deny me access to pain relief. Just saying.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 12:19 am #

            Dear Attitude – A Being of Spunk and Verve,

            It was I who decided – of full understanding and consent and education and volition – to birth my breech baby vaginally. So you need not worry about my midwife’s judgement. She only followed her protocol.

            And please know that volunteer hospice workers and death doulas are not care providers, so they do not provide/administer pain relief. Meaning, they aren’t in the business of denying relief. They are there to simply support and love a person through their end of life journey.

            If I had the great honor of supporting you, I would remind you of your unfathomable light. Or as the poet Hafiz more eloquently stated:

            “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”

            And maybe we’d even find a moment or two to laugh together.

            In Kindness,

          • Stacy21629
            May 22, 2014 at 4:11 am #

            Of course we can still worry about your midwife’s judgment. She’s the supposed medical professional. She’s supposed to be more intimately aware of the risk than you. Plenty of owners have told me “go ahead, doc you do X for fluffy”. To which my response is ” um no. I’m not qualified. That’s not safe. You will get a better outcome at the referral hospital” And I refuse their care. A true medical professional knows their limits and isn’t afraid to make a client made by enforcing them.

            Your midwife is dangerous for agreeing to attend a vaginal home birth. I don’t care how “educated” you think you were.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 11:56 am #


            My midwife follows/followed protocol as dictated by the state that licensed her. She is both trained in risk and aware of it. For instances in which she is not trained, she refers out to OB’s.

            You may find her agreement to attend me dangerous. That is your right, just as it is my right to have her care for me in birth. Others’ perceived danger didn’t – and never has – impeded me in my life decisions. Ultimately, I take ownership for all of my choices, including the ones I make in birth.

            I appreciate your continued comments and conversation.

            In Kindness,

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

            State “licensing” of home birth midwives is a crock and I put no stock in it at all. The midwifery lobby is very strong and ALWAYS resists any and all restrictions on their scope of practice – even when it would save babies’ lives. They are more concerned about their livelihood (“follow the money”, anyone?) than the lives of babies.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          May 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

          ” I happened to be lucky enough to have enjoyable and pain free births – albeit hard work!”

          In other words, your labors were agonizingly painful just like most other women, but, in keeping with the misogynistic NCB tropes, you discount your pain as meaningless, or even enjoyable. Thanks for demonstrating yet another deplorable aspect of NCB.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 12:14 am #

            Dear Amy, A Being of Questioning and Light,

            While I do not always agree with you, I honor and thank you for keeping this incredibly important conversation going. This is the only way in which change and compassion and understanding ever occur. We must keep talking and sharing.

            In Kindness,

        • anonymity@@
          May 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

          ” How we are born, and how we die, matters.”
          You are quite right, we should definitely try to make them two separate events.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 12:12 am #

            Dear Anon – A Being of Mystery Indeed!

            Amen, Amen, Amen.

            In Kindness,

          • anonymity@@
            May 22, 2014 at 5:30 am #

            Bless you Leigh.

        • Stacy21629
          May 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

          ” How we are born, and how we die, matters.”
          Well I don’t know a darn thing about how I was born and I’ll likely be unconscious prior to dying so I don’t care too much about my moment of death either – other than I’d like my pain controlled and I’d like to not suffocate to death. If your kind hands and soft songs can provide that, great. Otherwise it’s my LIFE that matters. They aren’t going to sit around at my funeral and talk about “oh she had a wonderful death. Just as peaceful as when she was born.” No, they’re going to talk about my LIFE.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 12:11 am #

            Dear Stacy,

            Thank you for keeping the conversation alive and well.

            Yes, life matters. Folks will absolutely remember our contributions.

            But it’s not unheard of for folks to also remember a person’s death. The so-called “peaceful” ones and the agonizing ones. Like birth, the journey of death makes imprints upon us. Ask a woman to share her birth story; no matter her age she will remember. Ask a person to share the story of a loved ones death; no matter their age, they will remember. Stories are what connect us.

            The death of my grandmother had a profound, and beautiful, impact on my spirituality and life experience. While I won’t argue she was pain-free, nor romanticize her experience, the experience of my siblings and my mother gathering by her side for six continuous days was immensely moving. We never left her side, sleeping on the floor and taking shifts so she would never be alone. I sang songs to her, though she never opened her eyes nor spoke. I remember curling up in my Mother’s lap (I was 20!) and looking into her eyes and thinking “My Mama is losing her Mama”.

            I am so grateful for the hospice workers, who taught me and my young siblings how to carefully watch for signs of dying. We learned so much – medically and spiritually – that will stay with me forever.

            Before birth was even a thought in my mind, I wrote in my journal about my grandmothers experience how “It seemed that death was like birth…a waiting, a watching, a surrounding with love and peace and stories”.

            In Kindness,

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          May 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

          How we are born, and how we die, matters.

          How so? Matters how? As Stacy, of Zip Code from Denton, Maryland says, I don’t remember anything about being born.

          And in terms of dying, the only thing I think of when it comes to how it happens “matters” is that I think I’d rather do it without pain. But that’s not a great guideline, because it encompasses everything from medication to beheading, so it’s not all that helpful.

          So, ultimately, I question your entire premise. As a result, I don’t accept your conclusions.

          (I just had to contribute to the thread to find out what name she would call me…

          Bofa, Potato of the Couch?)

          • Home Body
            May 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

            Is anyone else reminded of the Star Trek episode where the aliens address the Enterprise crew as “Ugly Bags of Mostly Water”? Just me? Alrighty, everyone carry on.

            (Hi everyone. I’ve lurked for a couple of years, learning from those who understand the topic, but just couldn’t resist commenting today. )

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            May 22, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

            “Ugly Bags of Mostly Water”?

            Speak for yourself.

            Personally, I contain way too much water-insoluble content.

    • violinwidow
      May 21, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Would you like someone there who knows how to administer morphine for the terrible pain that you may feel, or knows how to suction you so you don’t feel like you are suffocating on the secretions your lungs produce, someone who knows to reposition you carefully so your paper thin skin does not tear like tissue paper, who knows to swab your mouth so you don’t feel like you are choking, someone who knows how to clean you so the acids in your fecal matter don’t burn your skin? You have painted a picture of this beautiful peaceful death and I’m going to tell you that that is rarely how it goes. Take it from someone who provided palliative care for elderly people, death is not peaceful or painless. There’s a reason why elderly people beg God to let them die.

      • Leigh S
        May 22, 2014 at 12:05 am #

        Dearest Violin, Being of Greatness,

        To avoid being repetitive and taking up space, I’ll ask you to read my reply to Stacy above regarding pain relief in the home hospice setting. Thankfully, it is fully available to those who request it.

        And yes, for end of life care, I would absolutely want to be surrounded by people and experts who could care for me in every way. Which I why I chose home birth with a licensed midwife, who has the available training and tools to help with such things for both me and my baby.

        In Kindness,

        • Stacy21629
          May 22, 2014 at 4:05 am #

          Your licensed midwife has a surgical suite, blood bank, NICU and resus team in that bag?

          Oh so she CAN’T care for you in every way. Just the non-life saving /life-threatening ways. For that you need a hospital and doctors.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 11:52 am #


            Home birth midwives care for low-risk women. Sometimes low risk can turn into high risk, and that is where expert doctors and hospitals come into play.

            Midwives do have the training and tools to resuscitate a newborn Once baby is stable, the choice is always available to transfer to a hospital for further care.

            Midwives have their important place (and always have) in providing care and support to birthing women. Doctors have their important place in providing care and support to birthing women as well. They can work together quite well to provide excellent care to women and babies.

            In Kindness,

          • Stacy21629
            May 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

            When low risk turns to high risk, my living room is the wrong place to be. In a high risk life or death situation – which you just acknowledged can happen at home – how much time exactly do you think you have to save that baby’s life, keeping in mind that brain damage can start in as little as 4 minutes.

            Home birth midwives CANNOT resuscitate a newborn. Not the way an expert TEAM in the hospital can. Carrying O2 and a mask and rubbing baby’s back is not resuscitation. Your midwife can simultaneously place an IV, intubate, provide ventilation, give compressions if needed, administer medications, take vitals? No. Not even with an assistant (who should be monitoring mom immediately postpartum) can she do all that. If a woman’s baby falls out ble and not breathing in her living room that is a high risk situation that is in the wrong place.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm #


            On the contrary, midwives CAN resuscitate a newborn.
            They carry an Ambu bag. They are also certified and train in newborn resuscitation, as mandated by the state that licenses them. We are taking about a state-licensed profession. Do you really believe the state would send a midwife without resuscitation equipment?

            These are the kinds of facts that are critical you have if you want to make a sound argument.

            Many midwives practice with an assistant too, for instances such as this.

            In kindness,

          • Susan
            May 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

            I am a labor and delivery RN and I had a homebirth with two CNMs decades ago. I can tell you with some certainty that no matter how skilled two people are at resuscitating if you have a baby who needs more than just a few puffs of ventilation — the rare but real full code resuscitation– that there is just no way that what will be done at home compares well to what a hospital can do. It’s all about teamwork and resources and even in hospitals we tend to meet afterward to see how we can improve.
            The “state” has made a huge error in licensing CPMs at all in my opinion. And though I think homebirth should be legal I would never participate in one as I wouldn’t want to be the one caring for a mom or baby knowing things would have turned out better if I had x,y,z….

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            May 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

            If they don’t have extensive training in intubation, they can’t perform an expert resuscitation. An ambu bag is to resuscitation what a bandaid is to lacerations. It works fine for minor problem and is useless when more advanced methods are required.

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 3:34 am #

            Leigh I work veterinary ER. I am well acquainted with what resuscitation requires. If all I have is oxygen and an Ambu bag you can kiss Fluffy goodbye because I can’t save him. I need an IV line, an ET tube, a slew of drugs, EKG, BP,SpO2, a defibrillator (among other things) and hopefully at least 3 additional sets of hands. That is – if you want your dog to live. THAT is resuscitation and your midwife in your living room can’t do that. If you want your blue baby to live THAT is what is needed.

            YOU my dear are the one woefully illinformed as to what true life-saving medical care looks like and the great gulf that exists between homebirth midwives and hospital care. Of COURSE politicians send ill trained I’ll equipped midwives out. The midwifery lobby is very strong and actively resists any and all restrictions on their scope of practice even if doing so would save more babies.

            You are repeating mantras with no idea the truth behind them. And you’re very lucky.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            May 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

            I work veterinary ER. I am well acquainted with what resuscitation requires. If all I have is oxygen and an Ambu bag you can kiss Fluffy goodbye because I can’t save him. I need an IV line, an ET tube, a slew of drugs, EKG, BP,SpO2, a defibrillator

            How often do you defib a dog?

            I need to ask Dr. Mrs Bofa, DVM, but I’ve never heard her talk about it. Then again, she’s not ER, so that’s likely an important difference.

            Your experience here is pretty useful. Pediatric care, especially with babies, is actually a lot more similar to vet medicine than most people realize. It’s probably more similar to vet med than to internal medicine. For starters, ped’s, like vets and unlike internal med doctors, have to carry around weight based dosage in their heads all the time. My wife gets a consult on the phone, she whips out her calculator. Her sister, a GP, never bothers (because, you know, all her patients are 160 lb men, which is the basis for standard dosage)

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

            “How often do you defib a dog?”
            Not very. V-fib is an uncommon arrest rhythm in dogs and cats. They usually go bradycardic to asystole. But sometimes you get lucky.

            And there’s finances, which human ER folks don’t have to think of. It’s awkward, but I need to know if I can spend about $800-$1000 of the client’s money before starting resuscitation…but of course that’s valuable time lost while the patient is going agonal…

            “My wife gets a consult on the phone, she whips out her calculator.”
            Yup. Calculator, stethoscope, pen. I’m not ready to work unless I have all 3. I have my ER drugs on a rough basis in my head (ex 0.2mL/10#) but still have to do that math.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            May 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

            Yup. Calculator, stethoscope, pen

            Yep, that’s what she keeps in her white coat.

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

            Love the name change, BTW. “Being of the Sofa”, haha.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            May 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

            I still like, “Stacey, Being of the Denton, MD Zip Code”

            Unfortunately, Leigh, Being of the Random Being Names, never gave me one.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

            I didn’t get one, either. I feel kind of left out. (mostly really really amused, though.)

          • Poogles
            May 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

            “We are taking about a state-licensed profession. Do you really believe the state would send a midwife without resuscitation equipment?”

            Unfortunately, yes, because it is true. The state licensure is meaningless when it comes to CPMs/DEMs/LMs.

            “Many midwives practice with an assistant too, for instances such as this.”

            But see, that was Stacy’s point – even having one assistant is NOT ENOUGH. There needs to be at least one care provider looking after the mother, so if the baby needs resusitated, the midwife would be on her own (or the mother would be – neither is acceptable)

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

            I forget the mother or baby’s name but Dr. Amy wrote about a birth center birth where the baby came out blue and the MW and assistants were so absorbed in trying to “resuscitate” the baby that no one noticed that the mother was hemorrhaging all over the floor.

            But I’m sure they were “licensed” so it’s all good.

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 24, 2014 at 12:25 am #

            Pretty sure that was Patty Couch-the woman who “worked for YEARS in L&D”. In environmental services, which means she cleaned the units, not practiced nursing or medicine in them.

          • Stacy21629
            May 24, 2014 at 1:03 am #

            Thanks – I read that post recently but was too lazy to look it up again myself. 😛

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 24, 2014 at 12:21 am #

            If they care for only low risk women and are “experts in normal birth”, how many times do you think they have actually had to go from theory to actual practice with those skills? Do they do drills so they don’t lose their head in a crisis, like many midwives do (Darby Partner, Faith Beltz, almost every midwife who has had a situation where push came to shove and they had to use those resus skills)? I am trained in newborn resuscitation too, and even though I do a refresher course every year, i wouldn’t be comfortable hauling my ambu bag and a tank of oxygen to a home birth and calling myself “skilled” in using them. The real skill is having critical thinking and spotting a crisis before it happens so that resuscitation isn’t an issue in the first place

    • LibrarianSarah
      May 21, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Like other relics of the past, I think people over-romanticize dying at home. Back in the days when people died in bed at home they did so in agony. Kind hands and soft songs do nothing for agonizing pain. More often than not it wasn’t this soft beautiful “slowly falling to sleep” death. Slow suffocation could sometimes seem that way to the outside observer but not to the person going though it. There is a reason most people who die of conditions related to old age do so in either hospice care or a hospital setting and that is because pain relief in a cold bright harsh hospitial setting is 1000 times better than agony in your own bed surrounded by your friends and family.

      • Leigh S
        May 22, 2014 at 12:02 am #

        Dear Sarah, Being of Hope and Wonder,

        If you will, please see my response to Stacy above regarding pain relief in the home hospice setting.

        You are correct – both birth and death can often be romanticized. Though my births were lovely, they weren’t a walk in the park. I willingly give all of the details to anyone who cares to know. On the flip side, birth and death can often be so shrouded in shame and fear that folks end up simply not even discussing them (and/or perpetuating myths about them).

        Let’s keep the conversations going. Always.

        In Kindness,

    • Stacy21629
      May 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      “Dying in your sleep” is nonsense.

      I tell folks that about their dogs and cats. It takes an astonishingly long amount of time to die of “natural” causes while you slowly starve and dehydrate to death, laying in your own feces and urine. Romantic, huh?

      At least I have the luxury of sodium pentobarbital. MUCH more peaceful than the idealized image people have from the movies.

      • Leigh S
        May 21, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

        Dear Stacy,

        I apologize if this is redundant, as I will post it on a few other replies as well. However, please note that home hospice care can and does allow for the care providers to provide pain relief to patients. My original post never claimed I would deny pain relief to myself, loved ones, or anyone else. The beauty of health care – beginning of life, end of life, and everything in between – is that we have choices.


        My dear grandmother did indeed have pain relief; we (her family) had standing orders from her doctor to ask for it whenever we felt it was needed.

        In home birth (In the US) pain relief isn’t an option and women choosing this route understand that. In many other countries, home birth midwives are allowed to carry nitrous oxide in case women request a form of relief.


        • Stacy21629
          May 22, 2014 at 4:02 am #

          What other “intense” moments of life do you moan through?

          Yes women that choose homebirth “know” it will be painful but they are fed rubbish like “it wasn’t painful just intense and I focused through my surges and opened up to a new level I didn’t know I had and blah blah blah blah”. Anyone that says “wow! Being in such indescribable pain that I vomited for hours until I was just retching stomach acid. That was the farthest thing from empowered I’ve ever felt”. Is patted on the head – “there there my little being of light. It’s ok. All births are powerful”. Well not that one. The fact that you can’t acknowledge that labor is misery for some women because you had a good experience is the rub.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 11:45 am #


            Do answer your question honestly, I moan through many intense moments and teach my kids to do the same. The moaning I use is much like chanting mantras; a repetitive sounds that helps to channel and focus my energy. For example, if I have anxiety about something I often sit and moan/hum in a low tone as I work through the emotions. In birth, I submerge my ears underwater and moan/vocalize/chant and feel the vibration of the sound reverberate under water. It is quite calming to me.

            Below is an except from an article I will link on the medicine of sound and vibration.

            “If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heardnot only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. Sound enters the healing equation from several directions: It may alter cellular functions through energetic effects; it may entrain biological
            systems to function more homeostatically; it may calm the mind and therefore the body; or it may have emotional effects, which influence neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, which in turn help to regulate the immune system–the healer within.”

            As I said in my previous post: “Every women does what she needs to do to birth her baby: I’ve witnessed
            women scream, cry, sing, moan, pray, and breathe their babies out. None
            of them are wrong or right or better or worse. They are all simply

            As you can read from my comments, I never denied that women experience pain in labor. I’ve witnessed over 100 births and women have said “It was painful…it wasn’t painful” and everything in between, Of course labor is miserable for some women. I never said it wasn’t. Labor is also ecstatic for some women. I’ve also never discounted a birth simply because it wasn’t – or was – painful. I’m not in the business of discounting people’s truths. Every experience matters…mine and yours alike.

            In Kindness,

          • Irène Delse
            May 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

            So, no pain relief for children either? I hope yours are never seriously ill, never break a bone, and never need a tooth extraction… Or that ‘moaning’ thing would be cruel indeed.

          • Irène Delse
            May 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

            “What other “intense” moments of life do you moan through?”

            Well… I can think about certain times in bed, when some people do moan… But not from distress, usually. 😉

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 24, 2014 at 12:12 am #

            Not sure if you heard this one but the midwives I trained with called birthing in the tub “the midwives epidural”-as if. Being naked and sitting in a tub of warmish water that may or may not have my blood and feces in it while I howl in pain doesn’t sound empowering and it sure isn’t pain relief that is consistent or effective. The fact that it’s a one size fits all template for birth with CPMs sounds like anything but choice.

    • Stacy21629
      May 21, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      And besides – my homebirthed son “slipped into this world” to my screaming in agony and begging for the whole process to be over. My first words afterward were “I feel so much better!”

      My next child’s hospital epidural birth will likely be considerably more peaceful – sans mom screaming through contractions.

      • Leigh S
        May 21, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

        Dear Stacy, Being of Light,

        I have been at many births – home and hospital – where women have had similar experiences to yours. I’d love to hear more of your story. And good for you for making plans for your next birth, for one that feels supportive and right for you. May you feel well-loved.

        While my four home births weren’t painful, they were incredibly intense. They required both every bit of my focus and every bit of surrender; quite a paradox. My second son – born 5 months ago – slipped into my own hands in the water with his 3 older siblings watching silently and smiling. My husband didn’t even know I was pushing because I was so quiet (I usually vocalize with low moans). I even shocked myself! Regardless, I feel all of my children entered the world in their own wonderful, peaceful, and unique ways.

        Every women does what she needs to do to birth her baby: I’ve witnessed women scream, cry, sing, moan, pray, and breathe their babies out. None of them are wrong or right or better or worse. They are all simply powerful.

        With Kindness,

        • Stacy21629
          May 22, 2014 at 3:57 am #

          You don’t need to know my birth stories because I don’t hinge my or my child worth on pontificating and glorifying a single day. The whole world doesn’t need to know.

          You couldn’t be much more patronizing if you tried. We’re grown adults here, not 4 year olds at story time. Beings of light and other diminutive nonsense. I am a grown woman as are the other posters.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 11:35 am #

            Dear Stacy,

            I happen to believe that the day my children were born is worth glorifying and celebrating.

            “Being of Light” being called diminutive is an interesting way to put it as it couldn’t be further from the very definition and intention. We are expansive beings and, as Carl Sagan said, “We are made of star stuff”. Beings of Light in the most literal sense!

            I recognize and value you as a real person, not a faceless name on the internet. It is why you will always see my comments remain respectful. I refuse to fling mud simply because I can be protected behind a screen. I choose to view these discussions as an opportunity to come to a place of greater understanding and compassion.

            I feel your vigor and your conviction. I know it comes from a place of truth, as does mine. And that, I honor.

            In Kindness,

            PS And do you remember story time as a four year old? Do you remember why we loved it? Because we believed in the power of a story. We had hope and wonder that filled us. I choose to believe that stories are what continues to connect us on a much deeper level. We must keep sharing them, however our means for getting them across.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            May 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

            Carl Sagan said, “We are made of star stuff”. Beings of Light in the most literal sense!

            Um…Light is photons. We’re not made of photons*. We’re made of atoms. Sagan was talking about the matter produced by fusion inside stars. It might be more accurate to say that we’re beings of nuclear waste.

            *At least I’m not. I guess I can’t conclusively prove that none of the commenters are not photon based life forms.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

            On the Internet, no one knows you’re a photon.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

            Oh, I know I replied to this before but I don’t see it. Regardless, you gave me a good chuckle!

            I stand corrected. And now I must refer to folks as “Beings of Nuclear Waste”. Doesn’t quite have the same right to it, eh?
            In Kindness. And Photons,

          • Stacy21629
            May 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

            I believe in sharing my child’s birth story WITH MY CHILD and close family and friends. Not every Tom Dick and Harry on the Internet. Because my birth stories do not define me or my child, it does not need to be broadcast to the whole world.

          • Poogles
            May 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

            “I happen to believe that the day my children were born is worth glorifying and celebrating.”

            Well, sure, that’s why we celebrate people’s birthDAYs. However, most people don’t typically see a reason to celebrate the actual process of their children being born (except, perhaps, in the immediate postpartum period) – see the difference?

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

            Dear Poogles,

            Yes, of course I see the difference. And in our family, we celebrate their day of birth as well as the way they were born. We routinely share their birth stories. My three kids were even present at my son’s birth and have their own personal stories to tell about it.

            I love hearing birth stories: home, hospital and everything in between!

            In kindness,

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            May 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

            I happen to believe that the day my children were born is worth glorifying and celebrating.

            For sure, but what are you celebrating? That they arrived? Or how they arrived?

    • Leigh S
      May 21, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

      Whew – so much fan mail has come in the past few days that I haven’t had a moment to respond. But because I prefer to respond to my fans personally, I am preparing to do that now with each comment. Thank you for this conversation.

    • Mtbakergirl
      May 22, 2014 at 12:55 am #

      The key difference in the scenarios you outline is that you are a competent adult who is able to articulate her wishes. Your children were bearing the vast majority of the risk in your “idyllic” home births and they had no ability to articulate their wishes, which may well have been to have immediate access to life-saving technology.

      • Leigh S
        May 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm #


        Thank you for your comment.

        To fairly substantiate your point, you must be willing to look at it from the opposite perspective as well.

        You must be willing to agree that women choosing to birth in a hospital are also not giving their children the ability to article their wishes. Which may well be their desire to not have medication pumped into them that may distress them, pulled forcefully out of the womb with forceps or other implements, subjected to ultrasounds, induced into the process of birth before they were ready, etc.

        You must be willing to admit that life-saving technology doesn’t always save lives. It has an excellent track record, of course, but that doesn’t help the mothers who have lost babies while birthing in a hospital.

        Birth, on some level, is the assumption of risk of which women bear the burden. We must stop the blame game, the shame game, and instead provide compassion and kindness to all women. We do not have to agree with their choices but protect their right – and your own – to make those legally-protected choices.

        Women birthing at home always have the option to transfer to a hospital for care. Barring rare, tragic, and often unforeseen circumstances, most women are able to make it to a hospital in time for emergency care. This is indeed the risk a women takes; just as a woman birthing at a hospital must wade through the risks she takes. There should be no judgement in either choice. I have supported women choosing to birth in both scenarios and I trust that they feel supported in their decisions. I have supported dear friends who have lost babies; dear friends who have chosen to birth at home even after a prior loss in a hospital and ones that have chosen to birth in a hospital after a prior loss.

        In Kindness,

        • Stacy21629
          May 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

          Our children likely have a desire to be ALIVE at the end of their birth. Despite the home birth mantras you have repeated in this comment, large numbers of babies have died 100% preventable deaths at home. There is not always time to transfer and uneducated midwives ignore risks like breech babies. I choose to at least give my child the best opportunity to be ALIVE at the end of birth and, statistically, that is at the hospital. I think that slowly suffocating in a meconium filled uterus is likely an unpleasant experience and choose not to subject my child to that.

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

            The good news is we both have the same end result in sight – our means of getting there is simply different.
            In Kindness,

          • Young CC Prof
            May 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

            Some means are faster and more certain than others.

          • Stacy21629
            May 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

            “that birth would not have been non-interventive”
            Nope, we don’t have the same end result in sight.

            My end result is a healthy baby – by whatever means necessary. Your goal is a non-interventive birth. You even stated that you knew and understood the risks of vaginal home breech birth, acknowledging that you KNEW that what you were attempting was more dangerous FOR YOUR BABY than a hospital C-section. But you wanted a “non-interventive” birth more than you wanted a healthy baby. So you “accepted” the risk and had a home birth.

            Our goals are NOT the same.

        • mtbakergirl
          May 22, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

          To fairly substantiate your point you must be willing to
          look at the relative risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality in each setting, as well as the potential for an educated self advocating woman to have a “peaceful” birth in each setting.

          Relative risk of perinatal mortality at home has repeatedly been shown to be 2-8x higher than in a hospital setting. Babies born at home were 18x more likely to require head cooling treatment for brain injury. For breech births in particular, there
          are no clear estimates because even those
          who support and study home birth recognize that breech delivery at home is so risky as to be unethical to include in a trial. The MANA “dataset” indicates that risk of death for breech babies at home is 22.5/ 1000, whereas breech position in the hospital is not associated with any increased risk of death per the CDC wonder database. These rates take into account the supposedly risky and “traumatic” interventions you list in your comment and your belief that midwives are somehow all-seeing and can reliably predict a negative outcome in time to transfer to the hospital.

          The potential to have a peaceful, calm, midwife-led, low intervention birth in a hospital setting, is actually quite high for low risk women with singleton, head down babies (in my area around 80%), conversely suffocating to death or brain injury, which is much
          more likely at home due to a lack of resources and trained staff could not be construed as peaceful by anyone.

          So, while it probably makes you feel good to tell yourself that your children would accept a higher risk of death and much higher risk of brain injury in your quest to obtain a peaceful birth you present a false dichotomy.
          If we are going to assess risk vs. benefit which we must do because as you point out bringing a child into this world is inherently risky (a recent UK study showed that the risk of death on the day of birth is equivalent to that of a 92 year old). It is extremely likely that your deliveries could have been both peaceful and safe in a hospital setting, and much more likely that your babies would have the decidedly un-peaceful experience of suffocating or bleeding
          to death at home.
          Keeping the conversation going,

          • Leigh S
            May 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

            Dear MtBakerGirl,

            Yes! Conversation going indeed
            I chose to take a risk, as every woman does in birth. I choose it baed on education, intuition, support, and with a trained midwife in attendance. You can’t ask more of a woman than that.

            Clearly, I never said midwives are all-knowing nor could predict outcomes. As you’ve seen from my replies, I am about as straight forward and non-sarcastic as they come. This is too important of a conversation for such tactics.

            My births could have certainly happened peacefully in the hospital (no OB at the time would deliver a breech vaconally so that birth would not have been non-interventive). However, I didn’t want them to be born in the hospital and so I capitalized on my legally-protected right to autonomy and choice. And I chose home birth four times.

            In kindness,

          • Mtbakergirl
            May 23, 2014 at 12:47 am #

            Why is it so hard for you to plainly state that you didn’t choose to take the same risk any pregnant woman does? You chose to expose your baby to 2-8x the risk of death and 18x the risk of serious brain damage.

            Also, as is the point of this post, parents choosing a homebirth don’t chose to take the risk, they chose for their baby to take the risk.

            I have no desire to trample any pregnant women’s autonomy. My issue is not with the decision you made, or your right to make it, my issue is with the airy language and nonsensical rationale you use to obfuscate the very real danger you put your baby in for (apparently) no other reason than, “I didn’t want to have them in the hospital.”

    • Bombshellrisa
      May 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      That sounds more like a hospice situation. This article wasn’t saying someone in hospice.

      • Leigh S
        May 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm #


        You are correct. I was simply answering the question in the above article: “What if homebirth children treat their elderly parents the way they were treated?”

        My reply would be exactly how I answered. Comparing a home birth to a hospital death doesn’t compute. Comparing a home birth to a hospice death does.

        In Kindness,

        • Bombshellrisa
          May 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

          It still doesn’t address the question. What if your children refused to give you adequate care until the very end, until you were considered terminal? It’s one thing to die at home surrounded by loved ones and hearing soft music. It’s quite another to have been denied care or pain medication until you get to that point.
          I have attended many home and birth center births with midwives that I apprenticed. I have also cared for many patients who were in hospice now that I am a nurse. I would never treat them as the same thing, they are completely different situations that require totally different skill and mindsets. I don’t understand at all your comparing a death during a home birth to a death of a hospice patient.

        • Stacy21629
          May 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

          “Comparing home birth to a hospice death”
          Except, no. As you already acknowledged, you believe in proper pain management at the time of death. Midwives cannot and do not believe in proper pain management at the time of birth because it involves an epidural.

  3. Jess B
    May 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I wonder about the homebirth movement, as well. In many places in the US, you can even have your midwife (and/or doula) in the birthing suite at a fully equipped hospital. You can have your cake and eat it, too, frankly. My first child was born naturally, with no pain meds (my wife is a trooper), in a first-class hospital, just in case. If the birth went all according to plan, the need for intervention was non-existent. If anything began to go awry, we had medical professionals on-hand to detect abnormality or danger and to intervene for the health of my wife and/or son. Especially concerning our overseas friends, it costs you nothing to take precautions, and you can still have your natural birth without recklessly endangering yourself or your child.

  4. Ash
    May 18, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    OT: Ricki Lake is doing a “I Am A…” on reddit on May 20. Be prepared for “cascades of intervention” posts.

  5. guest
    May 17, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Why the disgust?
    If you support maternal autonomy, she can do whatever she wants, irrespective of your understanding, approval or judgement. You agree that the baby has no rights before birth so what is the issue?
    It is of no consequence how bizarre, disgusting or selfish you think her reasoning is, it is ultimately her body, her birth, her choice .
    And you support that, so why the disgust?

    • Paloma
      May 17, 2014 at 5:30 am #

      Personally, I support that it is the mother’s choice since it is her body. But also, she decided to become a mother, she decided to go ahead with a pregnancy and ultimately raise a child, therefore, she should not only think of herself, but the child too, since she decided to have it. Justifying that a certain experience is more important to you than the safety of your child (that you willingly had) is selfish (at least for me it is). When you decide to become a mother you should put the needs of your child before your own comfort or experience, that includes birth. That is what makes you a good mother, not the fact that you pushed your child through a certain part of your body. As much as it is her decision, that doesn’t mean any choice she makes is good.

    • LibrarianSarah
      May 17, 2014 at 10:17 am #

      You do realize that the person Dr. Amy is talking about is a man right? And talking as much about his wives potential pain and suffering as his unborn child right? He can afford to be so callas because he has no skin in the game. He is not the one whose life is at risk.

      • guest
        May 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

        Thanks Sarah, I do realise he is a man. I am talking generally and using this discussion as an example.
        You are all caught up in a paradox of supporting maternal autonomy but hating stupidity and unnecessary baby deaths.
        You then feel too guilty to call it what it is, because it is taboo to criticise maternal autonomy.
        At the end of the day it is just futile bleating because they will continue to kill babies and continue to have a watertight defence.

        • LibrarianSarah
          May 17, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

          The goal is not to convince those who’s mind is already made up but to convince those who are on the fence. By publicly criticizing women who have these homebirths and giving coherent arguments about why they are making a stupid and dangerous decision women who are on the fence about homebirth or think they might want one but are not sue might think twice. As a result some babies lives might be saved. That hardly seems like futile bleating to me.

          • guest
            May 18, 2014 at 1:54 am #

            “I can do whatever I like because the baby has no rights” is, unfortunately, a watertight defence.

          • LibrarianSarah
            May 18, 2014 at 2:04 am #

            In a court of law maybe but not in the court of popular opinion. If any woman said that out loud when talking about risking the life of her child every person listening would think she was an asshole.

          • regularguest
            May 18, 2014 at 2:26 am #

            Yes, but does it make any difference?

          • Sue
            May 18, 2014 at 2:56 am #

            “The goal is not to convince those who’s mind is already made up but to convince those who are on the fence.”

            LS is right. We’ve seen lots of direct evidence that this is so.

          • anonymity@@
            May 18, 2014 at 5:43 am #

            No problem with that at all.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 18, 2014 at 7:35 am #

            Many of the women who home birth will do recommended things like avoiding all alcohol during pregnancy. Why? Because they care about the baby, even though it’s not required by law.

          • LibrarianSarah
            May 18, 2014 at 11:31 am #

            Yes because anyone who is listening to the debate, which is a lot of people on th Internet, will side with the people who don’t sound like assholes.

            Also, sociologically speaking, informal social control like shame is far more effective at controlling behavior than formal social control like laws and government. Think of all the people who do marijuana in states where it is illeagal. Donald Sterling is not going to step foot in any court for his racist tirade but the court of public opinion bitch smacked him harder than any government body could.

    • yugaya
      May 17, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      I support her right to make her choices but I can agree with any woman being free to make them if that are the choices women consciously make ( I know the risks involved, I do not care taht I am increasing the chances of my baby not surviving the birth, I value the birth experience or location of my choice over life of my child, or I value the physical integrity of my body more than the life of my unborn child) .

      But, I will never support lay unqualified untrained unlicensed birth junkie midwives who manipulate their patients into making these choices and I will never support the lie that give women false sense of security when it comes to risks of childbirth.

    • Busbus
      May 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      Personally, I support a woman’s right to make her own choices in childbirth, including choices l deem foolish. (I agree with the poster below that it’s different when it comes to non-nurse midwives – I don’t support anybody’s right to take a medical role if they don’t have the necessary education to practice safely.)
      However, none of that means I can’t say something when I think someone’s choice is foolish. It’s called having a discussion.

  6. Sue
    May 17, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    “Hardships might provide solid feedback and consequences.”

    Yep – but marathons might provide personal “hardships”. Dead or disabled babies can affect whole families for life.

    Sore muscles vs dead baby. Not a great comparison.

    • Box of Salt
      May 17, 2014 at 5:03 am #

      His use of the word “might” suggests that the writer has not actually experienced any of them.

    • Durango
      May 17, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Or ask, which is harder, running a marathon or raising a neurologically devasted HIE baby?

      His use of “hardship” kills me. Preening when they got lucky.

  7. Ducky
    May 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    This was really effective.

    • Sue
      May 17, 2014 at 2:13 am #


      “we ought to quail at the thought of being treated like Landers treated his son.”

      It’s even worse than this, because the elderly man would be at the end of his life, while the newborn is just at the beginning.

  8. jenny
    May 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    I just had a visit with some of my daughter’s doctors. I told them that I had been feeling some doubts about our decision to extubate. They reminded me that she had been giving us signs with her body that she was ready to die, and that her dad and I had made our decision based on the fact that she was extremely unlikely to recover in any meaningful way. We talked about how we wanted to give her a good death since we knew she had gotten the best shot at survival and all that the NICU could do was not enough.

    I’m at peace with our decision most of the time. But the doubts are important to me. It’s important that I wonder if we made the right choice, if we should have hoped harder, if we really did give her the best chance possible. I think we made a decision in alignment with our values – that we wanted her to have every chance possible, but that we would also give in when it was time, instead of fruitlessly and painfully prolonging her body’s breathing.

    This man is gloating over the spiritual meaning of a decision he never had to make.

    • Sue
      May 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

      Thank you for that perspective – it helps bring us back to what really matters in life.

      Even in acute medicine, where I work, sometimes a “good death” is just as important as a “save”.

      • jenny
        May 17, 2014 at 9:53 am #

        I was really grateful we had the opportunity to give her a good death when it was clear she wasn’t going to get better.

        The blogger in the OP is an ass. It’s kind of disrespectful of him to equate the choice to birth away from highly effective life-saving interventions with the end of life choices that so many families have had to agonize over, the wrestling we had to do with the reality that there are things beyond our control.

        • Karen in SC
          May 17, 2014 at 9:57 am #

          Not only death, but lifelong disability. Someone should point his ass in the direction of Abel Andrews or Charley Hooper, both results of birth attendant errors.

        • May 17, 2014 at 10:14 am #

          The moral and ethical problems inherent in the heroic treatment of the extremely premature and/or severely birth-damaged babies was the reason I left a job in the NICU and even to this day I cannot say I have found answers for myself.

          Example: when a mother with a history of repeated miscarriage begs the medical staff to do “everything” to save her 24-week baby, and goes home with a blind, convulsive child who has been ventilated for almost 10 months–and the next year, the mother carries to term and has a healthy child, and later tells me that her damaged child “has ruined their life entirely as a family” since she requires care 24/7….

          Or when a young couple, living with in-laws in a spare bedroom because they haven’t got enough money to put a downpayment on their own home, give birth to a 26 week old, who is “salvaged” but severely damaged. They claim they were never asked whether they wanted the infant resuscitated but the baby was whisked into the NICU and ventilated immediately as it wasn’t breathing — and then, when they asked to have the ventilation ended, were told that “the doctors couldn’t let the infant die”…

          I could go on and on. I just couldn’t deal with it. People — all people, from prematures to the extremely elderly– are entitled to quality of life, IMHO.

          • jenny
            May 17, 2014 at 11:31 am #


    • wookie130
      May 17, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      You are absolutely right, Jenny.

  9. Dr Kittu
    May 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I treat seniors ( although I dislike that term) on a daily basis.
    I have people who don’t want investigation, don’t want hospital, don’t want to know their diagnosis and trust me to keep them pain free, at home, when they die.

    I have very frail elderly patients who want all investigations, all treatments done. Who want resuscitation attempted, no matter how futile.

    Older people have a lifetime of knowledge and experience to draw on when they choose how they want their illnesses managed, and I will do my utmost to respect their wishes ( even if I, personally, disagree with them).

    Babies don’t have that.
    They have to rely on the choices of their parents.
    I want parents to make good choices
    That will sometimes mean opting for the unnatural choice.

    We currently place very little judgement on how people choose to die, so most people feel able to make the choice that is right for them.

    If only the same could be said about birth choices.

    • Stacy21629
      May 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

      We can also recognize the financial and time trade-off.

      If we spend a million dollars treating a 24 week preemie that survives and lives a full life, divided over the lifetime that’s a good investment (and I don’t just mean financially).

      If we spend a million dollars treating an 85 year old with cancer who would have died sometime in the next 15 years no matter what…

      Please don’t take me to be some heartless person that wouldn’t care for my parents because it would be too expensive and not “worth it” but clearly a heavy investment – financially, emotionally, time wise, etc – at the beginning of life carries a longer duration of pay off than at the end of life. The NCB crowd wants to just shoe string it through their child’s birth when that’s the most crucial time to be “all-in”.

      “We currently place very little judgement on how people choose to die, so most people feel able to make the choice that is right for them. If only the same could be said about birth choices.”
      If it was the baby consenting to a home birth, then fine. But it’s not. How would it be different from a parent with expressed wishes to “do everything” at the end of life but the child denying those wishes because it wouldn’t be a “peaceful” way to die?

      • Sue
        May 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

        “If we spend a million dollars treating a 24 week preemie that survives and lives a full life”

        NICU and micro-premmies – there are “miracles” and there are tragedies – not only with deaths.

        Unfortunately there is a population of very disabled children and young adults who live their lives with repeated seizures and aspiration pneumonia. They are the flip-side of the babies who are saved by NICU. If only we had some way of knowing who would benefit most.

        Like “miracle” drug treatments, miracles sometimes have side-effects. I don’t envy my NICU colleagues treading these fine lines.

      • T.
        May 18, 2014 at 10:16 am #

        It also carries a longer possibility of paying a lot if the baby ends up so badly damage not to be able to do anything. And the older person has already given to society. Giving to an elderly person is often paying back. Giving to a newborn is hoping that they will repay it, but no guarantee.

    • Sue
      May 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

      Slightly OT – today at work I have been looking after a wonderful 97 yr old Chinese man who is accepting limited treatment for symptomatic relief, but does not want to be extensively investigated or treated. He looks twenty years younger than his age, is perfectly lucid, and speaks English which he learned as a professional in China.

      His family and GP are saying he is “stubborn”. I think he is rational. And very precious. Meeting him and his family has made my day.

      • Sue
        May 17, 2014 at 5:46 am #

        Oh – and while he was being treated, there was a mother across the room with a four-day-old baby. The extremes of life. They only happen if you survive childbirth.

      • Siri
        May 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

        I’m visiting my mum and dad in Norway at the moment (they are 69 and 78), and on the tram there was a poster that read, ‘Our elderly people; like lions and polar bears. So very precious. Their loss so unimaginable. Yet they will soon be gone’. I had to whip out a tissue and fake a sudden cold! From now on I’m saying TO them all the loving things I would say ABOUT them if they died. Just typing this has me in floods of tears.

  10. Lindsay Beyerstein
    May 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    “As we slowly labored through the evening and the night, we experienced all available emotions. My wife was eager then scared, prayerful and penitent, cursing her existence and submissive to God’s will.” We? What do you mean “we,” sir?

    • MLE
      May 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Even though he included himself in these emotions, his language is so detached it sounds like she was a test subject.

    • Stacy21629
      May 16, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

      You’re the Point of Inquiry lady. 🙂

      I enjoy the show. Glad to see you here.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      May 16, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

      Maybe she was squeezing his hand really, really hard?

      (Nice to see you here! I’m a regular listener, too.)

      • Sue
        May 17, 2014 at 2:33 am #

        Maybe she would have been better off squeezing him somewhere a bit more delicate, with each contraction. Then he might more fully have shared the pain.

    • Sue
      May 17, 2014 at 2:30 am #

      And isn’t there something weird about the husband who delights in his partner’s suffering as “achievement”.

      The men I know who have watched their partners go through difficult births have been absolutely traumatised by it. They don’t glorify the suffering.

      • OBPI Mama
        May 17, 2014 at 6:23 am #

        So much so that some refuse to talk about it (like my husband). Too traumatized.

      • wookie130
        May 17, 2014 at 9:15 am #

        Sue, I felt this way too, as I read this piece. It’s almost sadistic, when I stop and think about it.

        I know a lot of men who felt very helpless while their partner’s gave birth. I know my own husband is very much a “fixer” and if I’m in pain, or uncomfortable, he just wants me to feel relief immediately… I’m happy to say that he loves me enough to not want to watch me suffer, particularly in the name of some deeply felt principle or philosophy.

    • Siri
      May 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Bloody sadistic chauvinist arsehole. (Not you, Lindsay!).

  11. Jessica S.
    May 16, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    “While we understand a lot about the human body and how to “successfully” modify its efforts at the birthing process, the truth is that it knows what it’s up to and often our attempts to improve upon its effects can just as easily thwart an ideal outcome.”

    No, the TRUTH is (as opposed to the truthiness) that it’s possible to know quite about about what the body is up to at any given point and to thwart a less than ideal outcome, as bodies are often wont to produce. Clearly, this guy does not know enough to understand that, but that’s where these great facilities called “hospitals” come in…

  12. Jessica S.
    May 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    “But in the end I think our prefered [sic] stance really comes out of our capability to accept life-threatening and potentially tragic situations without attempting to control them. No one wants to stand by and watch tragedy befall their loved ones, but it is a constant and real possibilty [sic].”

    So I assume he’s fine with not buckling himself or any other family members up in the car? Doesn’t enforce helmets for bikes or scooters? He’d scoff and say that’s not comparable, b/c those are proven preventative measures. But so are the inventions he and his ilk pan as unnecessary and blah, blah, blah. Seriously, it’s exhausting. The mental game of Twister played to accept views such as his are just utterly exhausting.

    • Young CC Prof
      May 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

      Don’t try to understand it. It’s the “babies die in hospitals, too” fallacy, he just doesn’t understand the numbers or the biology.

  13. anh
    May 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    “the tragedy of getting kicked in the nuts: embrace it”
    Dude, childbirth can HURT! HORRIBLY horrendously I get nauseated when I think about it HURTS
    why the everloving hell should I embrace that?????

    I remember in the moments leading up to my epidural. I was SCREAMING and begging the hospital staff to knock me out with a mace (When the lovely nurse asked me where she might I find a mace I screamed for her to check the lost and found…not much logic occurring)

    I will always remember my husband’s face. White. drawn. terrified. he cowered in a corner while a strong nurse held me steady. I have never in my life seen him so terrified. and I will love him forever for that.

    why the hell are you ok with seeing your wife like that, dude?

    • Mel
      May 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

      I want to start leaving maces in lost and founds now just in case of such a request.

      • anh
        May 19, 2014 at 5:15 am #

        I think my logic was I wanted something to hurt worse than my contractions and I figured it would hurt really badly to be knocked out with a mace

    • Dr Kitty
      May 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Because she was fine with it before she went into labour, it means she’s FINE with the 10/10 pain.

      I ‘ve never been in labour ( because my OB put my chances of a vaginal delivery at 10% INCLUDING forceps) but I have had plenty of superfun experiences with pain .

      He. Is. An. Ass.

      • Siri
        May 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

        An arse, Dr Kitty; an arsy arse that wants wiping with the very roughest kind of sandpaper.

    • batmom
      May 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

      During labor, when I was in the bathtub, five hours in, I told my husband, “I cannot take this. You are going to have to kill me.”

      Then he drove me to the hospital where I had a lovely epidural.

  14. Young CC Prof
    May 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Let me put aside for a moment the whole stupidity of HBAC and the substantial and entirely unnecessary risk to the child’s life (1 in 200 given no other risk factors), that’s well established.

    My biggest issue with this essay in particular is, like other commenters said, the extent to which he presumes to speak for his wife. She is not quoted, nor are her actions described in any detail. Supposedly he is writing about her, but I reach the end of the essay with hardly a glimpse of her. He describes the experience of unmedicated labor like running a marathon, but it is not his marathon. He claims that challenges are a crucible for shaping the soul, but this is not his crucible. Where is her voice?

    • Jacob Wrestled (Danielle G.)
      May 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      He appropriated her pain as his own. Why not her voice as well?

      I suspect that he didn’t mean the piece to come off this way. However, in his eagerness to be the empathetic husband who is participating in the labor, I suspect that he’s conflated their experiences and forgotten that they are, in fact, different. No small irony: in trying to hard to identify with someone else, he canceled her out.

  15. Renee
    May 16, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    The Tragedy of Childbirth; If It Hurts, Embrace It”

    Landers, if you are reading this, I hope YOU embrace the “HURT” when you need surgery, or break a bone, or have Cancer. I can see it now:

    “The Tragedy of Cancer; if it Hurts, Embrace it.”

    Who needs pain relief? Cancer is natural, and you cannot beat it if you try to control it! Plus, all that suffering is great for you! If you are sick or in pain, I sure hope you are stuck at home, and your wife says “you don’t need pain meds, or a hospital, so we are not going anywhere. You need to accept the risks!”

    (This has to be the most anti-woman, disgusting, hateful nonsense I have ever heard. Yuck, yuck, yuck. And I am sure this guy thinks he’s enlightened.)

    • Karen in SC
      May 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      sounds more like a Klingon philosophy, doesn’t it?

  16. Stacy21629
    May 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Several near misses lately…this one and then there’s also:
    1. the TTTS mom still planning a home birth – delivered at home last week:

    2. the HuffPo “I’m High Risk and I’m Having a Home Birth”, 9# baby due to untreated GD

    These people are so lucky and they think it’s some magical blessed thing they’ve chosen to do, risking their child’s life. Ug.

    • Young CC Prof
      May 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Two more mothers who got lucky despite doing everything wrong…

      • yugaya
        May 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

        Nine out of ten times luck i.e. trusting the birth is enough.

        • Young CC Prof
          May 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

          I think those two had worse odds than usual, though, especially TTTS lady.

          • AmyP
            May 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

            I just looked up TTTS. Oh my goodness.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

            Yeah, she’d had in utero surgery to stop the transfusing, and following that one twin died. Still wanted a home birth for #2.

            So, God is OK with in utero surgery, but not with delivering the baby in a place where medical care is available after the birth. Good to know.

          • Mel
            May 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

            Oh, Zsu’s got a gift for massive hypocrisy. After pontificating on how healthy eating habits will prevent needing medical insurance and praying for Obama to die, she rejoices when ACA requires insurance companies to give her and her medically fraught pregnancy a policy without preexisting conditions limitations.

            Plus, she was bashing another blogger in her closed world for advocating stevia as a sweetener since Zsu decided stevia caused 2 of her 4 miscarriages. In the same post, she recommends drinking lots of raw milk during pregnancy- a massive listeria risk.

          • Dr Kitty
            May 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

            While I really hope her baby is healthy, it will be in spite of her, not because of her.

            Stevia BTW is a plant, like sugar came and sugar beet.

            Your choices for sweeteners are chemical (aspartame), plant derivatives (maple syrup, sugar, stevia, agave nectar) or bee spit (honey).
            Choose your poison (personally, I’d go for options that have been used for hundreds of years).

          • Stacy21629
            May 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

            Alternet commented on that exact hypocrisy.

    • Sue
      May 17, 2014 at 2:35 am #

      Next episodes will be:

      “I drove while drunk and didn’t kill anyone”, followed by
      “I withheld by diabetic son’s insulin but he is still alive”.

  17. Renee
    May 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Easy for HIM to say, HE has no skin in the game. HE won’t be the one to die, or be brain damaged, or end up in a coma, or bleed out. HE doesn’t have to deal with agonizing pain for a day or more.

    I know some dads would give their lives to save their kid, or wife, so I am not downplaying their love for their family just because they are men. I know my DH couldn’t bear the thought of me being in labor pain, so I know not all men are so cavalier.

    But this guy IS that cavalier. AND he is an ignorant fool. He isn’t stoically accepting risks, and being OK with the callousness of the universe (which is EASY to say when all goes well!), he is inviting risks that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Why stare death in the face and stick your tongue out, if you can just avoid it all together? (I think we know why…)

    • Mel
      May 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      That’s what angers me about this twit. He’s yammering on about enlightenment from watching SOMEONE ELSE’S pain and risk of death or disability.


      • Young CC Prof
        May 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

        YES. That’s what I was trying to say, only you said it so much better. Home birth mothers are taking nutty risks with their babies, but they are accepting great pain and some risk for themselves, too. He’s just watching.

      • Sue
        May 17, 2014 at 2:37 am #

        TWO other people, in fact.

  18. jhr
    May 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Landers describes the choice of a HB VBAC as an act embracing risk, danger and potential tragedy rather than the denial of such realities that is standard in such choices. But that makes his and his wife’s choice all the more bizarre. Adopting the rarefied language of a philosophy professor, he embraces and revels in his existential choice. The Landers famliy were extrememly fortunate: they had a healthy baby. They never had to test their philosophy against the reality of an unnecessary death or the life-long care of a damaged child, either of which could have resulted from their cavalier attitude.
    The childbirth experience that he sought is somewhere on the spectrum between xtreme sport and historical reenactment but it is wrapped up in the distancing abstractions of the Academy so as to seem less narcissistic.
    Yes- in the good old days, with high infant and maternal mortality, deaths and disabiliities that are now preventable, many people accepted a more fatalistic world view and often turned to religion. And if offered the options that we have available now, I would daresay that each one who suffered in the past would gladly change places with us.

    • Stacy21629
      May 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      “Landers describes the choice of a HB VBAC as an act embracing risk,
      danger and potential tragedy rather than the denial of such realities
      that is standard in such choices.”

      Except of course that they hired a midwife and didn’t go UC. So they don’t REALLY believe what they say at all.

      And of course, if there was an issue they’d go to the hospital.

    • MaineJen
      May 16, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

      “The childbirth experience that he sought is somewhere on the spectrum between xtreme sport and historical reenactment..” Well put! And it wraps up perfectly why I’m so uneasy about homebirth. Because in a regular historical reenactment, everyone gets to take off their costumes and go home at the end of the day. Not so with homebirth: there are real, live consequences.

      • Young CC Prof
        May 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        I know people who fight historical reenactment battles. Put on shiny armor and go bash the other fellow over the head with a stick. However:

        These people spend $300 on the steel helmet alone and then spend hours padding, strapping and adjusting it until it fits just right. They recheck each other’s safety equipment before every fight. The larger events actually arrange to have an ambulance on site. Oh yes, and they use sanitation, as well. No freaking camp fever.

  19. AmyP
    May 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I kind of hate gungho homebirth dads.

    So creepy!

    • Young CC Prof
      May 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      Yeah, that is NOT the way normal fathers behaved back when home birthing was the norm, not at all.

      • AmyP
        May 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        Yeah, there was supposed to be nervous pacing and maybe smoking and definitely boiling of large quantities of water.

        • Dr Kitty
          May 16, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

          Because you knew you might be digging a grave (or two graves) in the morning.

          Old time dads actually got it.
          This is life or death stuff. Nervous pacing until someone tells you all is well is appropriate.

          If NCB actually was about embracing childbirth as practiced for most of human history then dads would be left outside the delivery room. In most cultures childbirth is a sacred female rite, where life and death collide and men are most definitely not allowed.

          Dude, don’t give me nonsense about “women doing it this way for millennia” if you’re involved. For hundreds of years we’ve been keeping men AWAY from birth and AWAY from making any decisions during labour.

          Personally, I’m pretty sure that back in the day decisions were made to save women’s lives at the expense of the child they were carrying without recourse to priests, husbands or anyone else.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 16, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      I agree. Much as I don’t like the stories with the woman talking about how she’s a birth warrior, at least in those stories the person taking the risk (well, one of the people taking the risk) is the one who is enjoying it and getting some kind of gain out of it. The woman in this story begged for help and prayed to die and the guy thinks it all went well? If my guy did that he’d be out of the house as soon as I could walk again. Possibly missing a few body parts.

      • Jacob Wrestled (Danielle G.)
        May 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

        I assume that she basically agrees with him about the “value” of the suffering that was clearly a significant part of her “birth experience.” So he’s probably supporting her in her own outlook, more or less. As long as they are on the same page…?

        However, my husband would have caved the minute I started begging for help or to die. This is one of many reasons I am pleased to have married the man.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          May 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

          It’s hard (for me at least) to tell from the article. She probably at least said ok to the idea, but did she really want to do it or just agree to make her husband happy? Or agree so he’d stop harassing her? I don’t know…

          • Guesteleh
            May 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

            It sounds abusive to me.

    • Renee
      May 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      I don’t “kind of” hate them. I find them disgusting.

  20. Jacob Wrestled (Danielle G.)
    May 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m going to shamelessly pontificate for a moment, because the philosophical themes in Landers piece reoccur in home birth literature–and in American thought in various other quarters. So I’m going to offer my philosophical/spiritual critique of what he said.

    Landers writes, “Human beings need these definitive experiences. We need to run marathons that we have invested our very lives in, completely draining and testing our commitments and our trust. We tend toward shallowness and half-hearted relations. We don’t want to experience hardships that test our true merits and expose out faults. Hardships might provide solid feedback and consequences.”

    Insofar as Landers is arguing that we must admit there will be challenge and tragedy in life, and should accept that inevitability, and find meaning and redemption in it where we can, then yes – I agree with him. Certainly suffering and challenge can help us to see ourselves more accurately, or to move beyond “shallowness.”

    But it is reckless to embrace challenge and tragedy that you know how to avoid. Does Landers suppose the world is so empty of these pain and death, that he and his wife ought to be creating a situation just so they can enjoy the benefits of being pushed to the limit? Pain will find you. Tragedy is going to catch you up. You will face life challenges that push you to the brink and beyond. You will get sick, and eventually die, possibly in a horrific way. (I’ve already lost 2 friends to cancer, and I’m not yet 40.) There is so much opportunity in life for pain; one does not need to inflict it gratuitously on one’s self or on anyone else.

    Lander’s sermonic embrace of the “marathon” sounds life-affirming, but the rush to embrace gratuitous suffering is in fact a life-denying hatred of ordinary life. In spiritual terms, he is saying: “To gain the secret knowledge of the gnostic, I will despise and mortify the body.” “Life is so cheap, I will risk my life, and perhaps other’s lives as well, just to feel transcendence, just to see what I couldn’t see before!” No, no, no. Go home and live humbly, sip your coffee, eat your bread, and help your fellow man, and worship your God, if you have one. This is spirituality the builds something in the world. Enough with the stunts, which produce nothing except a moment of vanity (and occasionally five minutes of fame, if you are lucky).

    There is a place for intentionally embracing challenges and suffering. One may, by risking avoidable sadness or injury, build something worthwhile in the world or help other people. This is worthwhile. And there’s the thing: there is so much real work to be done in the world, that it is such waste a to pour efforts in pursuit of mere self-cultivation. Wouldn’t to be better to press one’s self to the limits while fighting suffering in the world?

    • AmyP
      May 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      “Does Landers suppose the world is so empty of these pain and death, that he and his wife ought to be creating a situation just so they can enjoy the benefits of being pushed to the limit? Pain will find you. Tregedy is going to catch you up. You will face life challenges that push you to the brink and beyond. You will get sick, and eventually die, possibly in a horrific way. (I’ve already lost 2 friends to cancer, and I’m not yet 40.) There is so much opportunity in life for pain; one does not need to inflict it gratuitously on one’s self or on anyone else.”

      Exactly. And we particularly don’t need to be gratuitously inflicting it on our “loved ones” (if that’s the correct term for people we are intentionally causing pain).

    • Young CC Prof
      May 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      “Our son’s life is the memorial of his mother’s strength.”

      That seriously offends me on behalf of everyone who has endured real challenges to produce, preserve or raise a child, rather than self-created ones.

      • Dr Kitty
        May 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

        My kiddo is the smartest (seriously, she asks questions I can’t answer ) , funniest, cutest child. She is the memorial of her parents decision to have a baby, and SHE ROCKS.

        I had her without pain, because we opted for a prelabour CS with a spinal. I refuse to believe this makes me weak.

        My kid doesn’t need to be about me and my choices. She is her own wonderful, smart, amazing self.

        Srsly I could brag, but I’m not going to.
        She’s awesome, and our birth choices have nothing to do with it.

      • Who?
        May 17, 2014 at 3:50 am #

        And just how long does the little one have to fulfill that role? Until he can express an opinion of his own? Until he turns into a rebellious teenager, or a young adult who doesn’t fulfill his parents’ expectations?

        There’s enough pressure on all of us without this kind of manufactured nonsense. Just how self-involved are these parents?

    • Renee
      May 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      This is an excellent comment. I wish I could up vote it 100x.

      His is a life denying philosophy, and is the kind of crap privileged people like to tell themselves to assuage their guilt. They know how awesome they have it, so they tell themselves those with less, those that suffer, are really better off. I think all of this wood dissolve the instant tragedy strikes. It’s all bravado, but a real brush with horror will make you long for the placid.

      “Does Landers suppose the world is so empty of pain and death, that he and his wife ought to be creating a situation just so they can enjoy the benefits of being pushed to the limit? Pain will find you. Tragedy is going to catch you up. You will face life challenges that push you to the brink and beyond.”

      QFT, QFT.

    • Captain Obvious
      May 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      Marathoners prepare and purchase expensive shoes to protect their feet. They accept water and aid if desired or needed during the marathon. EMTs are stationed on premises in case they are needed to wisk the injured off to a hospital. Police Baracade the streets off to protect the runners. His birth logic sounds like he wants to run a marathon without preparation, barefoot, in traffic, and justify it so.

      • AmyP
        May 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

        No, he wants his wife to run it like that.

    • Carrie Looney
      May 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      Will they also drive with the kid out of a car seat and unbuckled, to invite hardship that will test their true merits? What would be the right amount of hardship for him to invite – a bad accident that requires substantial intervention, permanent brain damage, or would it have to be the death of a child to have the _proper_ amount of hardship, a sufficiently ‘tragic’ situation to not attempt to control?

      Tangentially, why do I have the feeling that bottle-feeding would be an unreasonable amount of risk for these folk to feel comfortable accepting? It’s a bizarre mindset.

      • Jacob Wrestled (Danielle G.)
        May 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

        Good points.

        Yes, he wants to embrace suffering, but not any type of suffering will do.

        This is a bit of a game, where I want to achieve transcendence, but without the annoyance of, say, selling all I have and serving the poor.

        Ideally, I need maximum effect with minimum investment. Therefore, I need to find something that:

        1. Involves suffering, but that the kind of suffering I can be assured will not last long enough to disrupt my otherwise nice life. (Labor ends in a day or two! Check!)

        2. Involves a topic that will get the attention of other people. (Babies! Check!)

        3. Creates a narrative where I get to be the hero. I want to transcend, and I want others to know that I have done it. (Birth story! Check! I-am-a-thinking-mom/dad and not a drone! Check!)

        4. (Corallary to #3) The risk must be sufficiently great that I am known to be heroic, but the risk must be also socially acceptable. (Female pain, in order to bring forth children, proving that one possesses enough “metal” to parent! Check!)

        • T.
          May 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

          Bonus point: He is not actually the one feeling pain. Horray!

    • jenny
      May 16, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      This is perfect, thank you.

    • Guesteleh
      May 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      This reminds me of the contrast between the Buddha’s mortification and his enlightenment:

      There was, and still is, a belief in India among many of her ascetics that purification and final deliverance can be achieved by rigorous self-mortification, and the ascetic Gotama decided to test the truth of it. And so there at Uruvelâ he began a determined struggle to subdue his body in the hope that his mind, set free from the shackles of the body, might be able to soar to the heights of liberation. Most zealous was he in these practices. He lived on leaves and roots, on a steadily reduced pittance of food; he wore rags from dust heaps; he slept among corpses or on beds of thorns. The utter paucity of nourishment left him a physical wreck. Says the Master: “Rigorous have I been in my ascetic discipline. Rigorous have I been beyond all others. Like wasted, withered reeds became all my limbs….” In such words as these, in later years, having attained to full enlightenment, did the Buddha give his disciples an awe-inspiring description of his early penances.

      Struggling thus for six long years, he came to death’s very door, but he found himself no nearer to his goal. The utter futility of self-mortification became abundantly clear to him by his own experience. He realized that the path to the fruition of his ardent longing lay in the direction of a search inward into his own mind. Undiscouraged, his still active mind searched for new paths to the aspired for goal. He felt, however, that with a body so utterly weakened as his, he could not follow that path with any chance of success. Thus he abandoned self-torture and extreme fasting and took normal food.

      His emaciated body recovered its former health and his exhausted vigour soon returned. Now his five companions left him in their disappointment, for they thought that he had given up the effort and had resumed a life of abundance. Nevertheless, with firm determination and complete faith in his own purity and strength, unaided by any teacher, accompanied by none, the Bodhisatta resolved to make his final effort in complete solitude.

      On the forenoon of the day before his enlightenment while the Bodhisatta was seated in meditation under a banyan tree, Sujâtâ, the daughter of a rich householder, not knowing whether the ascetic was divine or human, offered milk-rice to him saying: “Lord, may your aspirations be crowned with success!” This was his last meal prior to his enlightenment.

  21. Young CC Prof
    May 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Here’s the other thing I don’t get. Even given a full-term baby with no congenital anomalies and a 9 Apgar, there’s a fairly good chance that that baby will require medical care within the first few hours or days. Why on Earth would you want to hide from that?

  22. The Computer Ate My Nym
    May 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    It gets worse. From the article: “She prayed for strength at time and at other times she prayed to die.
    She accused us of lying to her and of not trying to help her.”
    This is a SUCCESSFUL home birth?

    • Young CC Prof
      May 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      Yep, another wonderful empowering home birth, where the mother begged the father and midwife for help, and they encouraged and supported her by refusing to call for help.

      • Irène Delse
        May 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

        That’s seriously messed up!

      • Renee
        May 16, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

        And if they continue with the emotional brainwashing, she will eventually thank them for it.

        I hope she reads this, the lightbulb goes on, and she dumps this jerk and disowns that hateful MW.

    • OBPI Mama
      May 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Of course! You are not homebirthing right if at some point you don’t literally think you are going to die.That means you are close to being able to push… who needs cervical checks with this knowledge!

    • Jessica S.
      May 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      What a psycho. I picture him standing over her, hands clasped calmly behind his back, while he observes her pleas with detached intrigue. And if that’s wildly off base, then he needs to check how his writing represents him.

      • R T
        May 16, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

        I bet that’s exactly what he was like! Ewww!

  23. Young CC Prof
    May 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    1) OK, good, they’re alive. One potential train wreck I no longer have to worry about.

    2) I think he’s trying to say that we shouldn’t bother with medical care for childbirth because it might not work, and it might just make things worse, and he doesn’t comprehend biology or probability enough to understand that things usually go better with medical care? Essentially, “Babies die in hospitals, too” and “cascade of intervention” dressed up in the language of postmodernists humanities.

    3) Speaking of postmodernist humanities, why is he telling his wife’s story? Was this one of those cases where she begged to end it and they “supported” her in achieving her natural birth? Did they forget a safe word, maybe?

    • Amy M
      May 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      He also kept saying “we” as though he had an active part in giving birth. He did concede that he didn’t feel any of the pain. What an ass.

      • Ennis Demeter
        May 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

        He did embrace it, though.

        • T.
          May 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

          Embracing other people pain is very easy. It is like being a hero by reflection. Easy, uh?

      • Mel
        May 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

        Perhaps his wife should squeeze his testicles in a vice during each contraction next time….

        • Sue
          May 17, 2014 at 5:49 am #

          LOL – I had the same idea, but you thought of it first 🙂

  24. NoLongerCrunching
    May 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    There has been some seriously awesome writing this week.

    • attitude devant
      May 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      May I just say I love it when someone uses “puerile” in writing for a general audience?

  25. M B
    May 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    For some people the baby is not yet “a real person”. That is the usual cause of grief for late miscarriage parents, it looks like the baby never happened. The old person has been around for ages, they have a history and are recognized by their family and friends. For some people it seems difficult to see babies as such. It is very inmature and selfish, but it is like that.

    For me it is actually the opposite. I am happy to do not get treatment for some ailments and I am happy with that. I am an adult and I can make my own choices. When I found out that I was pregnant the only thing that mattered was which hospital had the best NICU, just in case it was needed (hopefully we will not even see the unit). My baby has no choice over what happens. Doing everything to ensure a good outcome for the baby is the only option for me, at least for the next 30 years or so… Until it has grown enough to make its own decisions (so probably, never ever at least from my point of view).

    • R T
      May 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      And you know what, it’s okay some people don’t see the baby as a person yet! I know I certainly do, but I understand why some people don’t and can’t begrudge them that!

      • C T
        May 16, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

        I didn’t really see my first child as “real” until she was born, despite many an ultrasound. My primip body simply didn’t give her a lot of room to wiggle, and I didn’t notice her existence all that much. I was almost 30, so I don’t think it was immaturity on my part. I’d say it was more ignorance and inexperience.
        Now with baby #5 just a month from being born, I feel SO MANY wiggles and know how they correspond to a born baby’s wiggles, and I already feel like this is my real child. Sure, I don’t know what hair color she has yet, but I can tell you this one seems to like music and sugar and makes lots of small movements. Thanks to the ultrasound, I know she looks a lot like baby #4. If I were to lose her now, it would be the loss of a “real person.”

      • Dr Kitty
        May 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

        I’m OK with people not treating a foetus as a baby, IF THEY ARE NOT INVESTED IN THE BABY.

        If you’ve decorated a nursery, chosen a name, started a college fund and bought clothing and cuddly toys for your baby, you should have some interest in their well being.

        • R T
          May 16, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

          I think some women choose their own well being over that of their unborn child, and again, I’m okay with that as well. When I had my partial abruption at 20 weeks I chose to continue the pregnancy. I met another woman in the same situation who was 19 weeks and she chose an abortion. She didn’t want to spend months in the hospital and on bed rest. I understand why she made the choice she did and she already had a name picked out and a nursery ready for her first son. She’s was heart broken, but didn’t have it in her to do such a difficult pregnancy.

    • Paloma
      May 17, 2014 at 5:44 am #

      I think the moment you decide to actually have the baby it becomes a real person to you. I don’t necessarily consider a 2 week fetus a person, but a 40 week one that you have a name for and have been waiting and preparing to meet, that is a person for the parents. If something happened to him/her, they will never forget the pain of loosing a child. It might not be the same as loosing a 15 year old, but it must be incredibly painful anyway. I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t do everything they could to prevent that from happening. I know I would. And yes, babies can die in the hospital too, but at least if that happened I would know I gave my child the best chance they had and wouldn’t have to feel like I created that situation that lead to my own child’s death. I don’t think I would ever forgive myself if I ever did something like that.

  26. The Computer Ate My Nym
    May 16, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    our capability to accept life-threatening and potentially tragic situations without attempting to control them.

    Why in the name of all that is sacred and a good deal that is not would any person in their right mind intentionally refuse to attempt to control a potentially tragic and life threatening situation? We can’t always prevent tragic outcomes? Sure. We have to accept that some things are life-threatening and we can’t do anything about it (at least yet)? I can see that position. But why deliberately place yourself (or, in this case, your wife and potential child) in a life threatening situation that doesn’t have to be?

    • Montserrat Blanco
      May 16, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      That happens a lot. Think about all the people that practices high-risk sports, engages on a dangerous trip, etc, etc. There is a lot of people that refuses treatment for a deadly disease as well. But… They are adults. They can make their own choices. You can even commit suicide and it is not a crime. Childbirth is extremely dangerous but it is the only time in the child’s life where a parent can choose to let the child die. If they refuse chemotherapy for leukemia the hospital would get involved and get a court order to get the child treated. It is insane.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        May 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

        I participate in some sports that are at least medium risk: I ski, climb, and bike. But I don’t “embrace the tragedy”. I wear a helmet, check my equipment, don’t go out if the weather is bad, etc. There’s being an adrenalin junkie and then there’s flat out taking ridiculous risks.

        • Young CC Prof
          May 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

          I love ice skating. Anywhere. And I was raised to it, and I was taught to check natural ice and determine whether it was safe.

          One day, I think I was about nineteen, I was skating on a pond I’d checked myself. I knew that, although the entire pond was frozen only the northwest corner was actually safe, and only for one person at a time. I was not afraid for my own safety because I knew exactly what I was doing and was being careful about it.

          As I was skating, a group of young boys walked past me, and an idea crossed my brain. What if some kids see me, figure the whole pond is safe, and decide to play hockey? That one would be on me.

          That’s why I don’t skate on questionable ice any more.

          • T.
            May 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

            You, ma’am, are an awesome human being.

          • Jessica S.
            May 16, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

            I agree with T! You’re parents done raised you right! 😉

    • Amy M
      May 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

      I skimmed the blog post and he kept invoking god, so I got the impression he is religious and one of those who believes in “fate” or “god’s will.” Of course that argument can be turned on its head easily…why would he assume that god willed the child be born at home vs. hospital? If this was a VBAC, clearly the first child was born in the hospital….why did god will that Csection? I am just speculating here.

      I wonder about people who like to flirt with death. This dude claims that taking life threatening risks, like texting and driving, are down to people being so isolated and so desperate to make a connection they will risk their lives in traffic to do so, rather than wait until they can safely text. I think that’s crap, but whatever, his opinion. I don’t see how risking the life of one’s child fits into that outlook, however. Is he perhaps testing his faith? Testing god?

      • Young CC Prof
        May 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

        There is a place in life and especially in parenthood for just accepting the will of God, or fate, or the universe, or whatever. Your child could get cancer. Unless you believe in quackery, there’s almost nothing you can do to prevent childhood leukemia. Your child could grow up and make bad choices. You can try to teach them right, but it might not work.

        However, accepting what you cannot change does NOT mean deciding that ALL hazards are beyond your control, that’s just stupid.

        • Amy M
          May 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

          Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. So do you think he likes to push the limits to prove that god will always “save” him? Or because he gets some kind of weird high from it? And that he includes unsafe childbirth in that is strange to me…I am having trouble reconciling personal risk-taking (with your own life) for whatever reason, and taking risks with the lives of others. The only reason I can come up with why anyone would do that is religion: as in “My God will protect/look out for me and mine.”

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          May 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

          Childhood leukemia actually has a good prognosis. Not that I’m saying that everything’s great if your child gets leukemia, but it’s not as bad as it used to be It’s not a situation where you simply have to sit back and watch your child die any more. If that’s any help.

        • R T
          May 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

          Sorry, but if my child got cancer I wouldn’t be sitting on my hands hoping God cured them! I’d be out searching for anything and anyone who might be able to help! If there’s a God, you have to meet him half way! I believe you have to make miracles happen for yourself!

          • Young CC Prof
            May 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

            Oh, absolutely I would fight for a cure with everything I had!

      • AmyP
        May 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

        No way. Normally people do it because they’re too dense, immature and selfish to realize that typing “LOL” or “LMAO” or “C U L8R” while driving is not worth risking your life or the lives of other people on the road. It’s not this big existential thing.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        May 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        I think people text and drive out of a combination of denial (“it’s perfectly safe while traffic’s so slow”) and having the attention span of a hummingbird on caffeine. Myself, I think we ought to take the driving part away from the humans and let the robots drive us. Robots almost never drive drunk, distracted, or tired.

        • FormerPhysicist
          May 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm #


        • AmyP
          May 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

          I want my GoogleCar!

          • araikwao
            May 16, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

            I think you should have a GoogleU degree to go with it – what will you be an expert in next?

        • May 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

          Oh yes self-driving cars please!

          On the plus side, Volvo is getting into the action on them too! So now there’s Google and Volvo both working on them.

      • Renee
        May 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

        This guy is trying to ascribe meaning where there isn’t any. Like most conspiracy theories, there isn’t some big, deep, secret, it is just people acting in their own self interest to the detriment of everyone else. It isn’t complicated.

        Normal people aren’t purposely risking death, by texting and driving, because they are disconnected. They are risking death because they don’t think it will happen to them, at that moment. They do it because they just wanna send one more thing. Few really consider the risk at all, which is why we have those campaigns to raise awareness, like with drunk driving.

        Years ago, if someone got behind the wheel drunk, no one thought much of it. Now, we are all so aware of these deaths, that most have a visceral reaction if they see a drinker trying to get in their car. Most will try to take their keys, get someone else to take their keys, or even call 911 on the sly. Few will say “ah, no biggie!”. At the very least, people say “Hey, you don’t wanna go to jail, right?”

        There are also different types of risk takers. Those that take huge risks, with the chance of an awesome reward, are not the same as those that are just willfully reckless. A skilled surfer going out after an enormous wave may be testing their limits, and it may be dangerous, but its truly a test of skill. Risking your life savings on a business may be a bit crazy, but the pay off is there. Racing cars, riding sport bikes, etc are all risky things but come with a payoff.

        Those that take such deadly gambles with no real reward are just not well mentally. If these people knew the risks of HBAC (and it looks like they did) they fall into this category. I don’t care how NCB you are, there isn’t a birth orgasmic enough to trade the huge risk of HIE or death for your baby. Usually HBAC moms are just ignorant or in denial, but not this one.

        • Amy M
          May 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

          I know normal people aren’t seeing it as taking on death when they text and drive but this guy seems to see it that way. He is lumping texting and driving (a bad example) and, I don’t know, let’s say doing trapeze stunts wo/a net AND homebirthing all together. I see that the connection is that they are all risky, but they are not all risky to the same person, which is what he failed to acknowledge, to my mind. I mean, he acknowledged that something could go wrong and someone could die, but to say that killing yourself while attempting a stunt is the same as killing your baby while attempting a homebirth….I think that’s wrong.

          I agree with your first paragraph here, but I’m having trouble (obviously) explaining my point. If this post doesn’t make it clear, never mind.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

            Someone who pops wheelies on a motorcycle is an idiot, unless he’s getting paid a lot of money for it, in which case he’s a performer.

            Someone who pops wheelies on a motorcycle with his ten-year-old hanging on the back is a criminally negligent parent. Is that what you’re getting at?

          • Amy M
            May 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm #


    • R T
      May 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      I would never accept a potentially tragic and life-threatening situation without trying to control it! That’s insane! Are they trying to say no one should wear a seatbelt, look both ways when they cross the street, wash their hands, keep knifes away from children, learn to swim, throw out expired food, go to the doctor for anything, take antibiotics, use insulin if you are diabetic, look for the cure for cystic fibrous, have skin cancer removed, avoid eating lead paint…I mean seriously, why stop caring about you or your child’s life in this one particular situation? Even if I or my child developed some, as of yet, terminal illness with no cure, I would be the crazy person searching the world for anything that might help! I would be bothering the doctors at all hours! I would read everything I could about it! I would never give up searching and hoping I could find the answer! How could anyone just passively sit around going “Oh, well…sometimes you have to let horrible things happen!” NO YOU DON’T! They might happen anyway, but at least you know you tried your best!

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