Friday, November 30, 2007
book report: Baby Catcher
by Peggy Vincent
I enjoyed this book so, so much! One of my classmates recommended it to me while we were in our labor & delivery clinicals in nursing school. I was fascinated and moved by the author's description of her work as a nurse-midwife. I had several realizations while reading this book: I am not cut out to be a labor & delivery nurse; it's a shame that the medical establishment is reabsorbing the homebirth movement; I really don't want to have a medicalized birth when I have my own child; and I feel like my labor & delivery clinical experience was a freakin' joke.
I'm not cut out to be an L&D nurse because I feel too inexperienced. I know that the author of this book went into the field without having birthed her own children yet, but I really don't feel I could do that. I'm also not sure that I want to become such a specialized sort of nurse, especially considering my anti-medicalized birth rant that is forthcoming.
Part of what Vincent writes about in this book is her experience with being an L&D nurse in San Francisco during the 1970s, where she met women who wanted to take charge of their own birth experiences and refused drugs, IVs, and confinement to bed. She was frustrated with (mostly male) doctors who imposed their concepts of how labor "should" progress on women in labor. Most memorably, one of the doctors told Vincent that a normal birth was always a retrospective diagnosis, and that he considered birth to be complicated and unsafe until proven otherwise. Inspired by these women, Vincent went to midwifery school and started her own business as a midwife and delivered thousands of babies at home.
But as medical malpractice cases increased and insurance carriers refused to insure nurse-midwives, practitioners like Vincent found themselves unable to continue their businesses. Vincent is upfront about the fact that she continued to deliver babies for friends and previous clients, but informed them that she was uninsured ("going bare"). There are still midwives available in some places, such as here in Seattle, but medical insurers are making it more and more difficult.
Which brings me to my personal preferences... I am well aware that I have never given birth, so all of this is basically a**talk. But it's well-educated a**talk. When I think "hospital birth," I think IV, continuous fetal monitoring, contraction monitor, limited ability to get up and move around, doctors wanting to deliver the baby in a certain timeframe and on a certain schedule, encouragement to use narcotics or an epidural, nothing to eat or drink throughout the entire labor, episitomy, 30% or higher rate of caesarean section, and delivery flat on my back with my feet in the air. When I think "midwife birth," (and let's be clear, I have no intention of giving birth at home, I would much prefer to go to a birth center) I think eating & drinking what I want, intermittment fetal heart monitoring, no drugs, no IVs, ability to move around, get in the shower or tub, get down on the floor if it feels right (knowing what I know, I would NEVER get down on the floor in the hospital!), and laboring at my own pace in the positions of my choice. This sounds way more comfortable to me. I fundamentally trust that my body will know what to do and do it well, and I don't need a hospital for that. If something were to go wrong, there are more hospitals in Seattle than you can shake a stick at, and I could be transferred by ambulance in a very short time.
Finally, I feel really let down by my clinical experience after reading about Vincent's student nurse experiences. I did witness one baby's arrival during my clinicals, but it was a c-section and the mother was not in hard labor at the time the decision was made. I didn't see any women in serious labor. I didn't see any vaginal births. I didn't even care for any postpartum women who had had vaginal births, so I didn't even get to see what stiches that repair lacerations look like. I thought it was going to be a really educational, uplifting quarter and it just wasn't. All I learned in the hands-on way was that I really don't want to give birth in a hospital.
My nurse opinions aside, this is an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read honest and open descriptions of lots of different births, including a few that didn't go well. Plus there's a bonus recipe in the back of the book for caramels that sounds really yummy. And there's a lot of resources for additional information - articles, websites, and other books.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Really interesting! You can type in a zipcode and get demographic information about the population there. And you can do side-by-side comparisons of different zipcodes as well. I compared the zip where I grew up to the one where I live now... worlds of difference. I was shocked to find that 25% of the population in my hometown is below the poverty line. I'm guessing that's because my hometown is a college town and most students have little income... at least I hope that's what is going on. Another big difference is that the median age in my hometown is about 24 years old, while in my current location the median age is 37.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I'm at my parents' house where there is snow outside. My tummy is full of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and I'm eating a piece of pumpkin pie that I made with my mom last night. R* is here too and we're all hanging out together in the living room. I am thankful that I have my family all together for the holiday. I'm thankful that I am almost done with 5th quarter of nursing school and that I only have one more quarter to go before graduation. I'm thankful that we have our new Kismet kitty in our lives, which has helped ease the pain of losing Booshka and Kadydid last year. I'm thankful for my classmates who continue to rock in so many ways. I'm thankful for the blog readers out there who offer support from all over (especially SN Moxie who came all the way to Seattle to have coffee with me! Okay, so she was also present for the birth of her cousin's baby...) I am thankful that we sold our house before the housing market crapped out. I am thankful that R* has a good job and continues to support me while I finish up school. I am thankful that I have a job that is allowing me to get some experience in nursing before I find my first job. I am thankful that the time for having a baby is getting closer (but not quite yet).
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Done with clinicals.
Done with care plans.
Done with teaching project.
Done with term papers.
Done with going to work the day after my last day of clinical which really sucked for the record.
Still left to do before the quarter is over:
Take several exams.
Write approximately twelve thousand more log entries to turn in on Tuesday. (Actually, I'm almost done with this, but I cannot stand to write any more tonight.)
Go to see my parents for Thanksgiving wherein there will be eating of pie and turkey and stuffing and potato chips and much sleeping in and much drinking of tasty beverages. I can't even express how much I'm looking forward to this.
A one-night stay at the Salish Lodge on our way back after the holiday, wherein there will be snuggling in front of a fire, soaking in a bathrub, and hot stone massages.
And some more exams.
It's really close. Graduation is four months away. Unbelievable.
Labels: nursing school
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I have no idea what this means.