Monday, June 23, 2014

Dear Michigan Legislators

Dear Michigan Legislators,

I have an important story to tell about a tragedy that could have been prevented had Michigan laws been up to date.  You have the power to make them current and protect  families from experiencing the same unnecessary harm. 

My baby died three years ago as a result of severe trauma during out-of-hospital birth at a freestanding birth center.  Two of the midwives attending his birth were licensed.  One was not.  His birth should have been considered high risk.  Proper assessments should have been taken.  We should have been referred to a physician.  None of those things happened.  Instead we were reassured by our midwives that delivering at the freestanding birth center would be safe and ideal.  Instead he was entrapped for over 7 minutes. 

After a very traumatic birth and nearly two weeks in the RNICU, our baby passed away.  We sought accountability at the state, criminal, and civil levels only to be told that there were no laws to which these people could be held accountable.  The Attorney General issued sanctions for the two licensed midwives...who still continue to practice today, one without her license, because in MI you don't need to have a license to be a midwife.  The unlicensed midwife walked away without any consequence because the state can't do much about unlicensed care givers who are considered "a-legal".  Civil court found one midwife to be grossly negligent, issuing a 5 Million dollar judgment.   All of them filed bankruptcy to discharge the civil lawsuit.  The judgment itself didn't matter much more than the paper it was written on though, because they didn't carry malpractice insurance, nor are they required to do so.  The worst part?  We found that we were not alone, that many other babies had been injured or died in the care of the same midwives both before and after our son.  How is it they are still allowed to practice?   

Michigan is one of only a few states to have no laws addressing midwifery outside hospitals.  It's not a subject to be taken lightly.  With a shortage crisis in maternity care, and misleading cultural movements, more and more women are seeking alternative care in our state.  For 30 years North Carolina has required midwives to have an AMCB certification, an education, and a physician back up.  30 Years!  Michigan?  No laws or standards whatsoever.  None.  Not even today.   

Legislators, you have a responsibility to protect the people of Michigan.  Whether Republican or Democrat, you have ethical obligations to do the right thing.  This is not a subject that can be ignored.  It's only a matter of time before a family sues the State for not protecting the people.  Several dangerous bills on the subject of licensing for midwives have been proposed in recent years.  Unfortunately, these bills would do more to protect midwives than the families they serve, and would indeed do nothing to improve safety.  We need you to take action and draft responsible legislation that would improve safety for out-of-hospital birth. 

Primary Areas of Concern:
  • Anyone can call herself a "midwife" in the state of Michigan, regardless of her educational background, experience, or track record.  
  • Anyone can open  "birth center" in the state of MI.  
  • No malpractice insurance is required of a midwife who practices outside a hospital, or a birth center not affiliated with a hospital. 
  • You don't need a license to be a midwife or run a birth center.  
  • Midwives with both criminal and civil history are continuing to deliver babies due to lacking laws in Michigan.  In fact, they purposefully come to Michigan because they can get away with it here.  
  • Home birth has increased 20% during the past 10 years, and 116% in Kent County alone, according to an article from Grand Rapids last month.  Home birth has reached a 40 year high in our state, yet we have no laws governing the practice of those delivering babies outside hospital walls. 

How to Improve Safety: 

Draft responsible, bi-partisan legislation to address the safety issues with out-of-hospital birth.  Licensing midwives alone will not improve safety. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Danger: Audra Post, CPM

Willow Tree Family Center's Provider Directory proudly features:

Naming her stats as follows: 
C-Section Rate: 

VBAC Rate: 

Transfer Rate: 

What is conveniently missing from this list of made up statistics? 
Her death and injury rate of course.  
Knowing for a fact of two deaths and two serious injuries in the past three years, one being my own son, this is one dangerous midwife.  Not to mention that Audra also filed bankruptcy to avoid any accountability in civil litigation over wrongful death, in which another midwife attending the same birth was found to be $5 Million dollars worth of negligent.  Given that she carries no malpractice insurance, and accountability for CPMs in our state is non-existent, families are left to just accept that the negligence continues.  Audra hopes that it continues without prospective clients knowing the truth behind her statistics.

Perhaps Audra should name how many of her transfers were too late.  Perhaps her cesarean rate should be higher, and just maybe more babies would be alive.  
The icing on the cake is that Audra Post, CPM openly advertises Additional Pregnancy Services such as, "Support for breech positions," but she fails to explain that the only breech delivery she's ever attended, ended with the death of the baby due to severe birth trauma after he was entrapped for over 7 minutes in his mother's body.  So what exactly does "Support for breech positions" really mean?   

     Audra, what on earth are you thinking?  Have you forgotten us?  Have you 
     forgotten the horror that was Magnus's birth?  I haven't.  I was there and I know 
     exactly how tragic it was.  I remember vividly how long 7 minutes of being 
     entrapped really feels,  and the 45 minutes it took neonatologists to revive him.  I   
     remember a baby who never opened his eyes until he died because of you and your 
     esteemed colleagues.  Perhaps you should rethink your skill set before another 
     baby dies that doesn't have to. Obviously his death must have been my fault, or 
     better yet my body's fault.  Perhaps you think the stars just didn't align that day 
     and he "wasn't meant to live" as your partner so bluntly put it.  How about 
     severely negligent care that missed many red flags?  How about incompetent 
     midwives that had no business attending a high risk delivery like that outside the 
     hospital?  You had a serious role in his death, his death that should have been 
     prevented had you done your job well.  It is appalling and utterly disgusting 
     that you would advertise yourself to have the ability and confidence to 
    "support breech positions." Thanks for trying to Bury Magnus Twice.  I won't let 
     you get away with that.  You've perfectly illustrated the need for this campaign.

Families, please be wary of statistics like these, of midwives like this, of facilities such as the Willow Tree Family Center that clearly advertise dangerous providers with ugly disclaimers voiding them of any responsibility.   

Women deserve safe care options, not someone who manipulates the truth, can't see the danger in her own actions, and "barters and trades" as a payment option for her services.  

Find an educated, licensed, and insured midwife who works ethically withing a system of care that will allow you to bring your baby home at the end of your birth experience. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not Buried Twice

When we lost Magnus, for months I thought we were alone.  We soon learned his death was preventable and that other babies had died and been injured under the care of the same midwives.  It was then we knew we had to find a voice.  We posted our story on Hurt by Home Birth, reported our experience to the state, the police, and civil attorneys.   We went to the media so other families would know not to seek their care.  Our story needed to be told, our voices needed to be heard. 

We found out we were not alone.  Not by a long shot.  Over the past three years I have come to know many, many families whose babies died preventable deaths, or were severely injured in the hands of home birth midwives.  There was no one for these families to report to, no one to hold those responsible accountable.  Lawyers wouldn't represent these families because without malpractice insurance they would not get paid for their endless hours on the case.  Their own professional organizations (NARM and MANA) turned a blind eye.  With no state laws or licensing requirements, there was little the police and state could do.  And now?  Well, now those midwives are nearly all still practicing.  More babies have died.  More babies have been injured.  

I participated in the Not Buried Twice Campaign because the message is so important.  Families deserve to know the other side to choosing home birth or freestanding birth centers.  They deserve to know that it doesn't always work out, and that when it doesn't, it's always the fault of the parents for making that "choice".  Every loss family I know has a preventable loss story to tell.  These are babies that would not have died in hospitals.  These are families that were misled, manipulated, and thrown out like yesterday's garbage for speaking out about negligent care.  I know too many mothers in this video personally.  Far too many. 

These families do not represent "a few bad midwives" or a couple of mothers who couldn't process their grief.   They represent a fundamentally broken home birth system in our country, and their voices are aimed at raising awareness.  The reputation of home birth should very concerning, and discussed so that safety issues can be addressed and the option as a whole can become something families can rely upon safely. Home birth in the United States is vastly different from home birth in other first world countries where midwives are highly educated and work within a system of medical care. 

And although some midwives are advising clients more and more to have high risk deliveries at home (HBAC, VBAC, Twins, Breech, etc), it's also  low risk pregnancies with preventable, tragic outcomes. "It's some midwives making unethical choices, it's other midwives making ignorant choices.  At the core, it's a philosophy driven movement and it's clear that clinical and educational standards fall by the wayside." ~ Doula Dani.  

MANA and Midwifery Today are marketing experience and convenience at the expense of safety.  They have appalling standards for education and training.  Their own statistics show home birth to be far more dangerous that hospital birth in terms of neonatal death rates, and they don't want our voices to be heard.

I still believe truth prevails.  In the case of out-of-hospital birth, it's truth I wish I had known many years ago.  It's truth I lived and still live with every day.  It's a truth that I don't wish upon any mother or baby.  The truth about home birth in the US is that it is not nearly as safe as it could be, not nearly as safe as any other first world country.  This is truth that will continue to grow and spread if the issues that perforate the already fragile state of home birth are not addressed.  As more and more women consider out of hospital birth, lacking safety standards, dismal educational standards, and inevitable loss will absolutely become more apparent.  The Not Buried Twice video is raw truth.  These mothers have nothing to gain, but want their voices heard so that safety in home birth can be improved, so other families don't learn the truth the way we did. 

This video reminds me of every baby I know that should be alive today and thriving uninjured.  They deserve to be named because they represent truth in its purest form:

Mary Beth
Gavin Michael
Clara Edith
Kaylee Jean

There are 100's more I cannot name, and more listed in the documents below. The list is already far too long.  
Home Birth Deaths
Home Birth Injuries

This list doesn’t account for the families that won’t speak because fear, and grief overwhelm them.  Many of their home births involved things like cord prolapse, eclampsia, extended ICU or RNICU stays, numerous missed cardiac problems, ABO incompatibilities, meconium aspiration, sepsis from retained placentas, and on, and on.  This also leaves out many injuries, 3000cc blood loss, transport of babies to the RNICU, pelvic floor injuries from prolonged labors, and cerebral palsy to name a few.  

In short, the Not Buried Twice video is a small piece that should ignite an important conversation, and further a demand to change American home birth for the better.  We cannot improve safety and standards if we cannot first discuss and acknowledge that there is a monumental problem with home birth in this that is getting worse as more and more families look for alternative options.  

Please watch and share this video so that others may know there are severe concerns with out-of-hospital birth in its present state in the US.  

To learn more about why the Not Buried Twice Campaign started, check out:
 What Ifs and Fears are Welcome Blog: Not Buried Twice

Not Buried Twice Facebook Page

Other Related Links: 

Midwife 101: My Thoughts on Home Birth
(Written by an aspiring midwife)  

Grounded Parents Blog: Why the Fight for Birth Safety Matters

Married to Medicine Blog: The Home Birth, Natural Child Birth, and US Hospital Birth Debate Part II ~ What I Would Want to Know About Out-Of-Hospital (OOH) Birth.

Skeptical OB: Introducing Not Buried Twice