The Stories We Tell About Death | Indie Birth

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The Stories We Tell About Death

July 22, 2019

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 18 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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In our culture, sensational stories are everything.

 

A baby dies under the care of an unlicensed midwife, in a state where the only midwife option is a certified nurse midwife. Said unlicensed midwife is criminally charged, on the news and social media. She has her house searched and is taken to jail, only to be released on bond before her criminal trial. The parents of the baby have not initiated any of the persecution.

Just a month or two before, a certified nurse midwife has a baby die under her care. Nothing is said, no posts or social media or anything at all. Google reveals nothing. The community has no idea and any inkling of this death is passed in hushed tones. The CNM has her license removed by ACNM very quietly. There is no case – nothing civil and definitely nothing criminal. It’s almost like it never happened. Said CNM moves on with her life (or so it seems) and even sets up a different business under a similar name.

In both cases, no matter what you think or insist, no one could actually say what happened. Was it a random death? Was it a case of negligent care? At what point did the baby die? Were the parents and midwife on the same page or not? We have no answers unless we were intimately involved, and maybe not even then.

What do these stories hope to prove? What are we looking for? Is this truly the world we wish to live in?

No matter what we do or don’t do, no matter who we are or what our credentials are (or aren’t) babies DO (sadly) die every day. In every country, in every setting for birth, with every provider and also without any provider. Before birth, during birth, after birth. Big babies, small babies, early babies, late babies, sick babies, healthy babies. This is a fact. This isn’t to diminish the profound effect that a death will have on the parents, the family, the provider…and everyone it touches. Yet, it remains a fact of being human. Death is part of life.

There are two general beliefs (and probably more) that came to mind as I pondered this sad disparity in our awareness.

First belief: Death is the ultimate end, the last “risk”, the worst thing that can happen to our human form. We enforce a false belief that Death can not ever be a part of birth. When this happens, we must blame. As a culture, we spend our entire lives, every second and most of our choices in an extreme fear state about death. Death is part of life. Death is part of birth. We aren’t having healthy conversations about this topic in all the ways, and so when death happens, the light is so obviously shined on any potential “murderer” (an absolutely ridiculous term for 99.999% of providers). Death can occur spontaneously without warning, and death can be avoided/prevented occasionally and all providers should be including this perspective as a part of their well-rounded, multidimensional care for women and families. Of course, transparency and full disclosure about the provider’s skills, background, education DO matter, but there is not any provider immune to death (personally and professionally). Yet, we are human, and death is painful for those left living.

Second belief: Women are being lied to. Yes, YOU! There is no only/better/special midwife. All of the unlicensed “myths” are just that, and it would serve every person in this country to investigate the history and point of licensing. Licensing is not to protect the public, as one might think. There is only the midwife that is right for THAT woman and that family, and god willing, the midwife is honest about herself and her experience. The worst thing we can do is paint this picture of “perfection vs. negligence” when it comes to midwives, whether that is to serve our own ego, the perception our community has of us, OR the idea that a Giant Organization of midwives is free from blemish. Free from loss. We can use all of this to continue to separate ourselves from each other. Licensing has created a false belief that we, the public, are not accountable. The old paradigm needs a victim, and a scapegoat.


Licensed vs. unlicensed. Real midwife vs. “fake” midwife.
Life and death.

What is reality? Are these labels meaningful? Do these conversations bring us closer to any real truth? What higher good do this stories serve?

Stories. Beliefs. Fear. Blame.

If you resonate with this post, I ask you to consider how your choices have been reflected in these topics. Fear of death, for one. Do you believe anyone else is responsible for your well-being, and what questions about any of it do you have in working with a provider? Have you allowed yourself to consider death (most people are too scared to do that), as well as look at your relationship to it? How would you feel if death were to be a part of your birth experience? (And of course, obviously, it is for many women already through miscarriage and/or pregnancy release).

What changes can you make in your own life to reflect your ultimate responsibility?

There is no provider, no place, no circumstance that can truly “save” you, so what do you need to do to realize your own power? In our own communities, when a baby dies, what do we need to do to heal? How can we support the family in their grief? How can we support the midwife in her own process? How can we bring transparency and give people a chance to be heard without invoking the criminal process? How can we sort out complex feelings and situations while respecting each of us as autonomous human beings?

I write this to bring these issues to light in a way that I hope makes sense and can bring more change, faster to the beliefs around death, blame, accountability and responsibility. My ultimate hope and dream is that we can shift these conversations to ones that facilitate healing. Practically, I hope that more women and families can be exposed to the kind of care that they really resonate with, and that should they have to walk a hard road, that they have the love, support and integrity to do that knowing that they made the best choices for them. Lastly, there is no anti-death regulation, or practitioner and perhaps it’s opening our eyes wide to all the roadblocks that keep us from true understanding of ourselves and others.

Death is part of life and I see this all as an opportunity for ancient healing.

I recognize this is not popular belief (yay!) and I am posing some big questions. To create change we have to be willing to face them and dig deeper within ourselves, first. Only then will we begin to see the change reflected outwardly. It seems we have a very long way to go. The journey begins here and Now. For every bit of anger, blame, fear that these stories bring up, where are those things in ourselves?

And what is the “work”? Is it time to continue our own persecution, the way we have sold our sisters (and ourselves) down the river, many times? Or are we ready to shift the paradigm? Are we READY to do our own work and address our own hurt? Only then can we see and feel that the “solution” we seek is within each of us. We are the answer to every problem we have. With each internal shift and change, we get closer to a true revolution of minds and hearts.

May all beings be free.

If you want to continue this conversation with us, check out some of our learning opportunities below <3

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  1. Ellie Lee says:

    Oh Maryn. What you wrote resonates so deeply inside me. Twenty years ago my baby boy died when I was 34 weeks pregnant. My friend was my midwife in Florida – and honestly I can’t remember her licensure status – that was not important to me. Yes, it was horribly tragic for me and my family – I had three children under the age of 7. It was agony to spend 10 days with my baby slumped in my uterus, before my body was ready to spontaneously give birth. I cried for ten days. But I did not even think to blame my midwife. Yes, it wasn’t during labor, but it did happen when I was seeing her. I learned so much from my Chrysalis baby, lessons that are burned in my psyche. Life is precious. Birthing a living baby happily is what happens most of the time, but nothing is guaranteed. Like you said, sometimes babies die. they just do. And it is terrible that midwives are judged for this, and that licensure status has any part of this. The death of a beloved baby is agony enough, without politics and blame. Letters after a name do not define the spiritual brilliance and knowledge of a human being. I live with a scarred, but a healed heart. Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull), said, “What’s the reason for tragedy and disaster? To force us to call on the light within! And when we do, that Light bursts forth, right in the midst of tragedy, so sing to us of our power. The purpose of living is to shine that light.” When a heart breaks, more light can shine through.

    A year later, I wrote A Tribute to Chrysalis, the story of the death of my son and the healing of my heart. If there is a way to post this for those who are interested, I would love to share it.

  2. Maryn Green says:

    Aw, we love you Ellie. Always happy to have you in our community. And sure, if you are in our forums on Patreon you may surely share there. Love, Maryn

  3. SarahM says:

    Ellie All The Love ????

    Death is a large part of me due to its strong effects at a very young age, with my mother. Nothing can prepare you for this and even after, so many human heal differently that it’s difficult to tend to that from an outside person.
    And then when an outside person try’s to step in to guide a pointing finger, it truly only gets muddier.
    I also hope deeply that more Honest conversations come about for death. And not ‘pre-recorded’ thoughts and sayings that most give (even if truly from a good heart). Digging deep and being open to kinder affection for those personally involved may help a lot.

    And Most Mostly of this the
    “Perfection verse negligence”
    The façade of the whole built up playground Of this Society. Augh not sure where this mentality is sourced from but it needs transformation.
    W/????

  4. SarahM says:

    Oh and I was totally lied to about my mothers death. Surely put the blame on any and all doctors. But I had to come to peace with that and realize it was just what it was. I had to walk my own path for many years to figure out the truth. We all deserve the healing that comes at the ‘end/beginning’ of truth healing from that take away pain source*

  5. Desi says:

    Maryn this is beautifully written and well heard from myself and I’am sure from hundreds of others as well. Thank you for taking the time to write this heartfelt, eye opening message to all of us. I appreciate you Maryn for all that you do for the women that you serve. I thank you Maryn deeply and sincerely from the bottom of my heart, for being there for me through my recent miscarried baby that I lost in February 2019. Yes your absolutely right death is apart of life. Sometimes there are special times of loss where we feel the veil between heaven and earth so thin, between those babies that have received mortal bodies for a short time and have taken their last breaths of life hear sooner than we could have imagined only to journey on into immortality to await for the resurrection of there bodies to be reunited with their spirits. When I was about 5 years old my sisters 5 month old baby died in my house that I grew up in. I remember seeing this little angel baby the color blue. It’s something that I will always remember. Seeing a baby death in my own home at such a young age, I can only imagine how that must have affected me in so many ways. I know that life extends beyond the grave. These little ones that are taken home to God have a purpose beyond the veil in heaven. My own mothers first of 12 babies did not live after birth in a hospital. No matter who we as women choose to invite into our space when we give birth there will always be situations where there are lots be births and rarely tragically some deaths as well. Whatever my creator has in store for me and my future babies is what will be. I had a near death experience from going into shock after losing to much blood after not being able to build my blood volume in time when I was in the middle of an early miscarriage. I kept looking back at my 3 year old sleeping on my bed and I wanted to stay alive for him so that he wouldn’t be with out a mother. I was fighting to not fade out. Sometimes near death experiences can make you appreciate the sacred gift of life more and to help you remember to give more love to those around you. My heart is so broken for the traditional midwives that are under fire right now and for the mothers that didn’t get to keep their beautifully and magnificently created babies. I offer my thoughts and prayers of peace and comfort for all involved including the babies that have suffered during their end of life minutes on earth. I pray that in any and all birth setting so and with any and all types of Dr’s, Midwives licensed and not licensed, any one involved in birth when the tide turns and death comes over a little one or even the birthing mother, that a healing may take place in the hearts of those that experienced this pain. I love seeing a mother with that gorgeous glow, when she holds her new living baby in her arms as her eyes light up. May love go out to all the birth workers of all types who nurtured and loved a pregnant birthing mother and stood with her during the birth of her baby no matter what the outcome was. We all love babies and we mourn with those that have lost a treasured soul. We love and support the midwives under attack and stand with them during these shaky times. If you want to make a difference love the women close to you as well as those from afar. We can make the biggest difference in our own Children’s lives by educating them on the risks and benefits in where we choose to birth and who we choose to be present at our births. I explained to my children that the birth and deaths of babies can happen at home or a hospital. Keep the education going in what ever circle of influence that you can. I love you all and what ever you do when you see a pregnant women, show her love and kindness as you never know how far that will go. Love your Friend Desi

  6. Maryn Green says:

    Thank you for always sharing from your heart, Desi! I love you.

  7. Victoria Nicholas says:

    Dear Maryn & Soul Sisters

    Maryn, your brave & honest soul is not taken for granted. This post is met with reverence, love, and so much respect. Love to you & all the sister midwives, and the birthing people doing their internal soul “sister wound” work.❤️ Death is part of life. We can’t even argue this so why do we?! We must heal. Thank you Maryn

  8. Francoise 'Mamacita' Souverville says:

    Thank you Maryn! You are beautiful and I love everything you do!

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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