Letter to the Editor

We were featured in the local paper because of Cadrian’s startling and unusual entrance to the world. The article, appearing two weeks ago, was very well done and had a couple of great photos of Cadrian and our family. The main reason I agreed to do the article was because I wanted to stress that birth is a normal, natural process.

I have had two very medicalized births; one that potentially could have been a very dangerous situation. But despite those experiences, I still had faith in the body that God created, in the process of delivery that God designed, and chose to take the medical interventions out of my third child’s birth.

That is not to say I didn’t have prenatal care. I was monitored to be sure there wasn’t a rise in my proteins or glucose, possible indicators of complications. I do decline a lot of the standard prenatal tests, because since we wouldn’t terminate our pregnancy if a test showed there was something “wrong” with our baby, there really is no purpose served by doing the test. While laboring in the hospital, I found I couldn’t decline many of the interventions like continuous fetal heart monitoring to an IV because I was attempting a vaginal birth after a cesarean, which is seen as risky by hospitals afraid of law suits, should anything go wrong.

I feel like I am probably better informed of the risks and benefits of any birth, and of birth options than a lot of people. In making this decision, I looked at the two different kinds of birth I had experienced myself, read anything I could find about birth, watched videos, and joined message boards and learned from others’ first hand experiences.

For us, home birth was the very best option.

The reason I bring all this up, is in this week’s paper, a man wrote a letter to the editor with all these statistics about pre-eclampsia, emphasizing its dangers and talking about how necessary it is to get good prenatal care.

I think probably, he was just using my comments as a jumping off place to warn people of this disease. I know it’s a sensitive issue for him since he lost his daughter to it. But I don’t want people to think I don’t take pre-eclampsia, my pregnancies, my babies or my health seriously.

Because I do.

I researched and prayed, and prayed and researched before we made the choice to have Cadrian at home.

I don’t know if ignorance or a lack of care or knowledge would be the impression people would get of us from reading his letter or not, but part of me wants to write a rebuttal.

The other part of me thinks I should just let it go…

Here is the original article and the ensuing letter to the editor:

Home sweet home birth (identifying details changed)
Justices celebrate family birthdays with new arrival

By: Tracy D

TheJustice family of rural Busytown got to celebrate not one, not two, but three birthdays on Sunday, July 20.

Kevin and Jessica Justice had invited family and friends to join them in celebrating the birthdays of their daughters, Aviana, who was turning 4 on July 21, and Brielle, who will be 2 on Aug. 11. They were at Fun County Park, where everyone enjoyed an afternoon of swimming and was looking forward to the party in one of the park’s picnic shelters.

Jessica, who was pregnant with the couple’s third child and due on July 27, began having a few contractions while at the pool. But she had two birthday girls who had been anxiously awaiting their big celebration, and she wasn’t about to disappoint them.

“But as we were getting everything set up for the party, the contractions ramped up to about every four to five minutes,” recalled Georgann, Jessica’s mom.

At 5:45, “something changed,” added Jessica, who decided she needed to get home – where the couple had planned on giving birth anyway – just not quite so soon.

After encouraging the guests to continue on with the party (and take lots of pictures), Georgann said, “Everyone gathered around for a quick prayer for a safe, easy-as-possible labor, and we took off.”

Between the pool and the park exit, Kevin had to pull the car over four times because of Jessica’s intensifying contractions. Fortunately, the Justice’s century farm is only minutes away from the park.

Along the way, they called their midwife, who lives about an hour away. She left within 10 minutes of their call. As soon as they arrived home, Jessica went to lie down on the cool floor of their large bathroom. Meanwhile, Kevin went to set up the birthing tub they had ordered especially for the home event.

By 6, her contractions were 3 minutes apart, and by 6:50, Jessica was pushing.

“I was so scared by then that we were going to deliver this baby with no outside help whatsoever, that panic was only a breath away,” said Georgann. Kevin had given up on the tub and gone in to be with Jessica while her mother was on the phone with the midwife, still en route.

“The midwife was very calming, and soon she had me back in the bathroom, repeating to Jessica and Kevin what she said to me. First thing she said was, ‘Get the nose aspirator out of the birthing kit.’ Oh! The birthing kit! How could we have forgotten? I was struggling along using old towels, rags, toilet paper and baby wipes. Those ‘chux’ would have been so handy!” laughed Georgann.

At 7 p.m., Cadrian Kevin landed right into his daddy’s arms, and the midwife arrived 10 minutes later.

Despite the chaotic urgency of it all, Jessica called her son’s birth “exhilarating.” After having had a Cesarean section with her first baby due to pre-eclampsia, and a long and “traumatic” labor and delivery with her second one, the Justices started thinking about a home birth early in this pregnancy.

“We’ve made it (childbirth) such a medical event, and it doesn’t have to be,” explained Jessica. “It’s the most natural thing in the world, and women have been doing it forever.” They did plenty of research and hired a certified nurse midwife to help them.

“She carries everything she could possibly need in case of an emergency,” Jessica said of the midwife. “People asked us how we could consider a home birth when something could go wrong, but really, 99 times out of 100, nothing does.”

As it turned out, the couple (plus Grandma) handled the home birth without the midwife. Luckily, joked Kevin, he has plenty of experience birthing cattle on the farm. He added that perhaps Jessica pushed so soon to avoid his using the chains and jack that are employed in calving.

“It was just so empowering,” Jessica said of the experience. “To meet Cadrian here in our own house, with Kevin and my mom here, was just so special.”

Next year, the Justices might have to get a bigger cake so they can add another name if they choose to celebrate all the birthdays together again. For now, they are just thankful Cadrian arrived healthy and safely, and that Aviana and Brielle are relishing their roles as big sisters.

“Everyone is fine and doing well, including me,” reported Georgann after the blessed event was behind her. “God’s hand was upon us all, and He answered the prayer we prayed in an unexpected way!”

Heed warning signs of preeclampsia

Make no mistake about it – I am thrilled to know that Kevin and Jessica Justice have a healthy new son, Cadrian. However, I am concerned about Mrs. Justice’s statement that, “we’ve made childbirth such a medical event,” in light of her previous experience with preeclampsia (“Home sweet home birth,” July 30).

Approximately 8 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. will be affected by preeclampsia and every six minutes, a woman is diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. She is in danger of multiple organ failure, stroke, and death. The baby’s life is threatened, too, and the only known treatment we have, despite the fact that preeclampsia has appeared in medical literature for more than 2,000 years, is to deliver the baby. Of course we know the potential hazards to the baby if born too prematurely.

In short, preeclampsia is a serious medical event and needs to be approached as such. A recent survey conducted by our Foundation suggested that when women don’t know about the warning signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, the chances double for a negative outcome to the pregnancy. I know of too many fathers who have lost their pregnant daughters (myself included), too many husbands and wives who have lost a baby, and too many husbands who are now single fathers – all because of preeclampsia.

It is, of course, up to each family to decide how they will approach their pregnancy. The Preeclampsia Foundation urges every pregnant woman to educate herself as to symptoms (go to www.preeclampsia.org), insist upon regular blood pressure checks after the 20th week, and likewise insist on urine tests (looking for increased protein). These are simple, minimally disruptive actions that can literally save lives.

-s- John Warner

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please, discuss…

25 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor

  1. I think it would be okay to let them know that you were monitored very closely and you are very much aware of the complications associated with it.

    I have a friend who is very pro natural child births after having a c-section with her son. She started an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) here in CT. I think she would really love to read your story to share it with people who don’t believe it’s safe to do a VBAC. This sort of story is really right up her alley. So do you mind if I share it with her?

  2. I’d let it go…If not, ALL I would say back is that yes you are aware of the seriousness of pre-ecclampsia, and that you were monitored quite closely up to the day of birth and knew it was not an issue.

    I think you are right…he is raising awareness out of fear that many woman have died. But your article does a great job at telling the other side..the medical side. I don’t think you need to say anything more.

  3. Wow. I honestly think maybe this guy is just still greiving his daughter, and trying to get the awareness out there about good prenatal care. You’ve made perfectly clear that you had good prenatal care, and I’m positive that your midwife would have known if something was wrong.
    The way I read it, it sounded like you were trying to say that we’ve made delivering a baby medicalized. I didn’t take any of your story to mean that you would just not have a dr. at all. Maybe this gentleman just wanted to make sure that people didn’t take it the wrong way, I know of a couple of people that did not have the right prenatal care, one came out fine, and one did not. Like he said, it is up to the mother-to-be to know the symptoms of something wrong. And ultimately it’s the parents-to-be choice.

  4. I don’t think that he was trying to say that you did anything wrong by opting for a home birth. I think that he just wanted to put the word about preeclampsia out there and the article about you gave him that opportunity. There are far too many people in the world who might see the article about you and assume that it is ok to just stay at home and give birth to a baby without having the appropriate medical care during the pregnancy. It seemed to me that he was just trying to educate the masses on the dangers of that misconception.
    I’m very happy that you were able to have such an amazing experience after your other experiences.

  5. I think the point is getting the care needed. You did that. I think he was assuming that because you had a homebirth that you didn’t get prenatal care. I wouldn’t take it personally at all. Because he lost his daughter, he probably likes to talk about her whenever possible and warn other people.

  6. Great story, I would say not to pay it any mind. I’m sure he was just using your story as a soapbox for his cause. Understandably it is an issue for him.

    You made it clear that you did not plan to have a pregnancy/delivery free from any medical intervention. And obviously since you had Pre-e before you were well aware of the complications and what to watch for. AND that you did research homebirth before making the decision.

    I wouldn’t worry that people are reading the article are judging you. I know in your shoes I’d probably write a rebuttal though. But, that’s just me.

  7. Hi there.

    I’d probably say something. I think that because you spoke out with the point of showing people a “new/old way” to birth – that it’s completely fair that you should be able to rebut, and share the real story.

    Your article didn’t say you were unaware – in fact it made specific reference to your midwife. I’m sure that women who would be interested in homebirthing would understand that a midwife isn’t some commune-hippie who’s just gonna boil some water and throw some towels on the bed.

    I’m noticed that Americans like to lump midwives together like they’re the crazy old Auntie who “thinks” she knows all about pregnancy and birthing. On the contrary, I’ve found that midwives are actually more aware of personal history, and more prone to act on your behalf than doctors.

    I think the man who wrote the article was probably on his own soapbox, using whatever he could to make people aware of preeclampsia. He’s scared, he’s lost, and fair enough that he should write in.

    But to leave it be, leaves homebirthing in the background, once again under the doctor’s list of ‘You shouldn’t because…”.

    Obviously you’re thinking about it and won’t attack this guy. But at least make it clear you did have prenatal checks, urine tests, and blood pressure checks.

    good luck with however you decide to go.

    Just my loud-mouth opinion over here….

  8. I would definitely let it go. It’s such a personal decision and there’s not really a winning answer. You did what was best for your family and he is expressing concern based on his experiences. I’d leave it at that. Esp since he is grieving. Besides, no one reads letters to the editor, LOL. Most people will only have seen your article.

  9. He is just trying to educate others. You have reasons for sharing your information and making the choices you did, and he just wanted to get his information out there and used the “Letter to the Editor” portion of the paper. I don’t see it as something against you. He just wants to educate whenever he has the opportunity.

    I would send him a card in the mail that acknowledges his loss and thank him for sharing the information with others. Don’t go public with any rebuttal. He has LOST his child and he is probably coping the best way he can.

  10. I’m coming out of lurkdom to comment on this one just because I, too, feel very strongly about it.

    I’m pregnant with our 6th child. Four were born in the hospital, the 5th, last summer with a midwife and this one due in December will be with my midwife.

    I have had some very “medicalized” births in situations that actuallly didn’t require them. My third pregnancy I began to feel different around the 38th week. I even checked my own blood pressure noting that it was higher than normal. I called my doc several times and they told me not to worry. I went a week overdue and when I did go into labor they had issues with my bp the whole time I labored. After she was born, my bp still stayed a little high for me. They sent me home anyway.
    For a solid week my blood pressure rose steadily. It wasn’t until it became 172/118 that they frantically told me to get to the hospital lest I have a stroke. Nice.

    My point is this, sometimes even the medical institutions don’t take care of people as they should. I understand this man’s concern, but I’m fairly certain he doesn’t really have a clue as to just HOW GOOD midwifery care is. I have received better continuity of care in the last year and a half from my midwife than I EVER have with my other children at the OB’s office (not saying that is for all people, just my experience)!

    Personally, I would let it go. You and your hubby have prayerfully made the best decision for YOUR family and that is awesome. This man is obviously grieving his daughter and is now extremely cautious. And that’s okay.

    Sorry for the book, I obviously am NOT known for my brevity and am fairly passionate about this subject! lol!


  11. I would simply write a reassuring response via the editor and hope that they print it. There’s nothing wrong that since otherwise people could mistakenly think that you dissed medical attention while pregnant and that would be, in their minds, a black mark against home births. This is coming from a reformed anti-homebirther (my first experience with home births was my aunt’s and her baby died).

  12. I didn’t read the other comments so forgive me if I say something someone else has….

    I am sure you don’t want to get into a battle with this guy, but I personally would write a rebuttal.
    I thought the article on you guys was great and explained the fact that you had prenatal care. I guess the guy was maybe just feeling some things over his daughter’s death and was using your story to vent or educate.

    I would write in to the editor and clarify that you did research, had prenatal care, etc. Some people just can’t fathom home births or natural births (I never had an epidural with my three babies and people are astounded by that for some reason). Just because we may not understand something, doesn’t make it wrong. You can use that line in your letter, if you’d like. 😉 Ha ha ha!

  13. I’ve told you before, I think, that I had home birth too. My midwife spent so much time with me during my pregnancies (appointments were always at LEAST an hour long) and knew me so well. No 15-minute in and out appointments.

    She monitored everything carefully and I felt completely safe.

    The thing about homebirth is that midwives will ALWAYS transport to the hospital if needed.

    In fact, my first daughter was born in the hospital though we planned on homebirth. When I failed to progress after 30 hours of labor (OUCH!) she agreed that the best thing for both of us was to seek medical help.

  14. Nice story! Was it in the Times?

    I would just chalkk the editorial up to a grieving man who has understandable fear about birth after loosing his daughter. Your story was very well-written and never implied that you had no medical attention through your pregnancy. And how cool that Cadrian’s birth made the news 😉

  15. I think that the man who wrote the letter is under the impression that you had no pre-natal care what-so-ever. He doesn’t seem to take issue with the fact that you had your baby at home. He seems more concerned that women who might have the condition could somehow “miss it” because they’re not receiving proper medical care before their baby is born.

    There’s no reason you cant write your own letter to the editor to clarify the situation (just like you did here in your blog). I see that done all the time in news papers.

    Honestly, I don’t think he meant it as a personal attack. It sounds to me like he’s just concerned that another family could suffer the same tragedy that he did in losing his daughter, and is doing his best to raise awareness.

    Try not to let it bother you too much. I’m sure this man’s objection has less to do with YOU than his own grief over his family’s loss 🙁

  16. I just read the rest of your comments and agree with Susie 100%. I’ve found that many people have no understanding of what a midwife is, or how they’re educated or qualified to do their job. Almost as if anyone who feels like she wants to start “birthin’ babies” for a living can just stop down at Walmart for a few supplies and go at it with no training or accountability at all.

    I had Dillon in a hospital and saw 5 different doctors during my pregnancy. It sucked and the birth was a frightening, stressful experience. With Nathan I had a midwife and it was wonderful. I honestly felt that she listened to my concerns much more sincerely than the doctors had, tracked my progress more closely, offered me more options (including traditional pain meds if I wanted them!) during labor, checked on the baby more often and educated ME more about the laboring and birthing process than the doctors ever had. In the hospital I felt I was just a number- “get her in and get her out” with the least amount of interaction possible.

    If I could have viewed all of this third party, not knowing who was the doctor or who was the midwife, before I ever had children I probably would’ve pegged the midwife as the doc initially- as she was more easily more experienced and proficient hands down, even to an onlooker. I’m glad that I know better now. Midwives and Doulas are every bit as qualified and knowledgeable as their MD counterparts when it comes to labor and delivery!

    It’s very probable that this man thinks that “midwife” = backwoods, eccentric, crazy lady with an 8th grade education relying on 18th century tools to carry her through watching the pregnancy and birth. It’s a more common misconception than you might think. I hear it all the time here from my girlfriends….

  17. I think it was all fine up to the part about “heeding pre-eclamsia”. You were under the care of a midwife afterall right? You were being taken care of during your pregnancy. They could have caught it just as easily as a doctor would have, I don’t see why having a home birth means any more risk in that regard. You were definitely not being careless in that regard, even though it seems at the end of the article they make you look that way. We’re planning for a home birth with #2 too! It will be a VBAC. I find your story inspiring! Thank you for sharing it.

  18. Personally, I say let it go. I read the article and the letter and I took it as him sending out a warning, not as an attack on you. Anyone thinking person would realize that if you’d already had preeclampsia once that you would be aware of the warning signs. So, I don’t think he meant it for you, just for those reading the article, ya know? So, I say let it go. I don’t think the battle would produce good results. Also, anyone interested in home birth *should* research it anyway, before they make decisions. 🙂

  19. I think what you did was great. No. I think it was absolutely incredible!!!

    Each couple should have the freedom to choose what/how they want to deliver. However, I think they, specifically mommy, should also be open to changes in the plan if medical problems arise…and that they should be well “up” on all the signs for problems. Sorry, but that’s just smart no matter how/what you decide to do. I am one to believe 100% that births go better when Mom feels relaxed and comfortable with her surroundings and people attending to her. With my 2nd child (my best birth out of 3) I politely demanded that I have the midwife I wanted even though she was on office duty that day. The other midwife I couldn’t stand (I wasn’t the only women…many didn’t like her) and the other option was a doctor I had never met…and a guy. (“guy” didn’t bother me as much as he was a doctor and wasn’t prone to doing things natural like I wanted.) The midwife I had was very kind and offered to to deliver me in between being in the office just a building away. I’m sure a few women were inconvienenced that day…but I SO APPRECIATE THEM! I had an awesome delivery because I had someone who knew my plan…and helped me with it. We WORKED TOGETHER! If you’re being monitored for all the problems we as humans can know of…what’s the problem?! God gave us wisdom and we just need to use it. Ignoring the risk of pre-clamp would be not using it, but being checked and keeping track is wise. Go girl! If God ever performed a medical miracle and gave us a #4 I would look into a home birth!

  20. Obviously you knew all about pre-eclempsia, having experienced it yourself. I feel that it was just his paternal instincts revving up because of his daughter’s death. This is one that I’d just let go…

    I can understand why his statement stings and makes you want to retaliate, though! But I think you should just turn the other cheek. 8% is VERY low (that means 92% of all pregnancies are pre-eclempsia free!).

  21. Kudos to you for following your own convictions and having a home birth. That gentleman is dealing wtih a deep loss and I assume his passionate response comes as a result.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why it is that folks feel that a natural child birth experience is necessarily in conflict with heeding the risks of preeclampsia. It is ultimately an individual family’s choice how to proceed and as long as it is a well informed choice so be it.
    The two main things to monitor for PE are BP and protein in the urine. Neither of these are invasive and thus there is no risk of harm to mother or baby.
    I don’t know your full story so I don’t know if you were indeed monitoring your BP throughout your pregnancy. If you were, then a simple reply to John stating that “yes, we were monitoring for PE during this pregnancy and had it presented itself we would have done what was necessary to protect our family” would likely end the conversation in a reasonable and non-confrontational way.
    Yes, those of us who have had very bad experiences with PE do tend to advocate very strongly for people to respect this disease more. It can strike so fast and turn a healthy, happy pregnancy into a tragedy literally in hours.
    At the heart, we’re all on the same side – we all want happy, healthy, moms and babies!

  23. Anonymous says:

    People often comment about how birth has become so ‘medicalized.’ Women have been doing so since the beginning of time without doctors, so what’s the need for them now. I think what we so often forget is that a lot of women and children used to **die.**

    Maybe I have a different perspective looking at our family cemetery, full of babies and young mothers.

    Maybe I have a different perspective because even with an absolutely uncomplicated pregnancy, great prenatal care, a doctor that I love, who stays there until the baby is born, my baby nearly died. My uterus ruptured during the pushing, and were I not across the hall (not down the street, not ‘minutes away’) from an operating room, my son would be dead. Dead… (He also had a single knot and a figure 8 knot in the umbilical cord. And yes, he is still that active.) None of these things showed up in prenatal care. Pre-ecclampsia is not the only complication of pregnancy and delivery.

    I know I’m the exception, not the norm. But I didn’t know it until after the delivery.

    Just food for thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *