This is a guest post from Doula Dani who asked me for an opportunity to explain some of the history that led up to the purge of the VBACFacts Community.
Hi, I’m Danielle Repp. Online I go by “Doula Dani.” Jen Kamel likes to refer to me as “Robin.”
I am sure you are wondering what is going on and what happened to your online community. You’ve been left in the dark. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Jen Kamel has left you in the dark – this is just the first time that you know about it.
I’m not sure if you are aware of what happened a couple months ago when Jen Kamel took a completely private conversation between the two of us and shared it for all to see in a blog post, trying her hardest to make me look like a fool and to make herself look good. She was trying to prove a point: non-expert birth bloggers are dangerous.
Jen Kamel herself is a non-expert birth blogger.
What she did was cruel and vindictive and I have no idea why she did what she did.
To give some background… I was writing a piece about VBACs and HBACs for my blog. (linked below) At the end of the blog post, I was hosting a Q&A with an HBAC mom and wanted Jen Kamel to participate as well. Jen Kamel originally said yes, she would participate… but then backed out. I was really bummed when she backed out but had an HBAC-friendly home birth midwife be a part of the Q&A instead. It ended up working out better as the HBAC mom and the midwife knew eachother.
After the piece was finished, I had a VBAC-friendly OB/GYN and a statistics professor review my piece for accuracy. I had made some mistakes so I made the appropriate changes, they reviewed it again, I got the OK and I published it. I sent it to Jen Kamel afterwards for her to see the piece, since originally she was going to be a part of it.
She didn’t like it, to put it mildly. She was clearly upset with what I wrote and how I wrote it. I was upset and incredibly surprised – I had two experts review my piece! At the time, I had no idea what Jen Kamel’s experience/education/training consisted of. I made assumptions… I thought someone who runs a website called “VBAC Facts” would at least be some sort of research expert. I let her walk all over me. It was a humiliating conversation that left me very upset. At one point, because of her insistence, I took down the piece I wrote – a piece that I was very, very proud of. My credibility is important. I would never want to post something that didn’t represent the truth. I don’t have an agenda to promote or protect. I don’t make money from my blog or my stance or anything. All I care about is that women have the (real, truthful) information they need to make informed decisions. I did make some changes based on her suggestions but the truth was, she was never going to be satisfied. She didn’t like what I wrote and especially did not like the information I was sharing regarding HBAC mortality rates.
The conversation ended between Jen Kamel and I. I thought the drama was over with. Until weeks later, Jen Kamel posted a blog sharing our entire conversation!! Our private conversation. Not only did she share the conversation, but she added in little digs and afterthoughts… she tried as hard as she could to make me look horrible. It was so hurtful. She wanted everyone to see that she is the VBAC expert and no one else should be trusted with their VBAC information. I could not believe the low level she stooped to, to try and make me look horrible. (Dr. Tuteur wrote about the whole situation. Relevant links are at the bottom of this post.)
Why didn’t she critique the piece I wrote? Why didn’t she want anyone to read it? She wanted to leave you in the dark. People tried to share the piece on her Facebook page. It was deleted every time.
Just like many pro-home birth sites and Facebook pages, Jen Kamel wants to keep you in the dark. They want information to be shared only in ways that helps their agenda and/or that backs their personal choices. They delete and censor to keep their readers in the dark. You have no idea how often information is censored in the world of home birth. I am a former home birth advocate and I didn’t realize all the deleting and censoring until it happened to me. Being deleted was one of the first major red flags for me. I had experienced and read some troubling things about home birth by that point (of my first deletion) and my head was spinning with questions/concerns…. and then when I asked a question on a blog about one of my concerns, I was deleted…… and then banned. That’s when I really realized I something was very, very wrong. It wasn’t that the outspoken home birth advocates were unknowingly passing around false information…… it was that they were/are intentionally misleading.
It is really a shame. I was not expecting Jen Kamel to do what she did. I couldn’t believe it. Obviously, Jen Kamel and I don’t agree on certain matters. But when I went into it, I was excited that she said yes to participate. I thought she seemed reasonable. I thought she cared about true information over agenda. Clearly, I was wrong.
Now fast forward to all the current drama: someone in her group took screen shots and shared them with Dr. Amy Tuteur. Dr. Tuteur shared them here on her blog.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Someone was clearly just following in Jen Kamel’s footsteps… sharing information that was private. No, it wasn’t me. And no, I didn’t tell anyone to do it. I can’t lie and say I don’t feel a little bit of justice here… Jen Kamel had someone do to her what she did to me.
What could Jen Kamel have done? She could have let her community know what happened and told them to be careful with what they share – it’s the internet, nothing is ever truly safe. Not even in a secret group.
What did she do instead? She deleted a large number of people from her group. She is only allowing certain people in. She shut out people who need support and looked to the VBAC Facts Community for it. I don’t understand it.
I’m writing this because I want you to see the full picture. I tried to respond to Jen Kamel when she wrote that horrible piece, I wrote a response on Facebook… but she deleted the whole thread shortly after I did respond. I have since been banned from her Facebook page.
I don’t think Jen Kamel is a monster. I don’t think she’s a bad person at all. I think of all pro-home birth sites out there, she did a fairly good job of not getting too extreme. I think she made some snap decisions that she thought were in her best interest… decisions that haven’t been the best for her community and decisions that she likely regrets.
You can read Dr. Tuteur’s piece about the ordeal here.
You can read the piece I wrote about VBACs and HBACs here.
You can read my follow-up piece here, addressing HBAC data sample size.
If you are searching for a new VBAC group to join, a couple of the members from the VBAC Facts Community started a new support group on Facebook, VBAC and Birth After Cesarean Facts — Evidence Based Support.