Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The most politically controversial thing I've ever done....

In 1977 my pregnant mother sat in a courtroom in Santa Cruz as a judge ruled whether or not her naturopathic doctor had the legal right to attend women in birth at home.  The courtroom was filled with pregnant women.

See, Dr. Helmut Schlosser and his wife Veronica (who was a midwife), had a growing and thriving practice, catching babies in the homes of their clients.  They had such beautiful rates of unmedicated natural births that women would seek them out at a rate that worried the medical establishment.  And so Dr. Schlosser was charged in court.

Was it legal?  Could women really have babies at home?  Is it safe to give birth and not be attended by a surgeon?

The judge ruled no.  A supposed victory for the OB/GYNs who had instigated the investigation and charges.

But the judge did leave one caveat.  If you were a client and were close to your due date and could not find another doctor to attend you at this short notice you could continue with Dr. Schlosser.

So, my mother never looked for another doctor.  She birthed at home in Dr. Schlosser's patented birth chair just the way she wanted.  She didn't need a judge to decide for her what was good and right for her and her baby.

It was a boy.  My older brother.

Seven months later she found out she was pregnant with me.

What was a mama to do?  The home birth she loved was now illegal.

Well, not everything that is legal is right and everything that is right is not necessarily legal.

She called Dr. Schlosser and Veronica again.  And she birthed me at home.  Just the way she wanted.  On her own terms, listening to her own intuition.

But that was in the 70's.  Surely things have changed?

Home birth is on the rise in the United States to the tune of 20% since 2004!  So one might (naively) assume that home birth is accepted as a normal choice some women make.

Fast forward to 2001.  I needed a midwife.  Through the referral of a friend I found one.  She was everything we were looking for.  She was experienced and knowledgeable, comforting and mothering.  She was a woman of faith both in God and in birth.  She was also unlicensed, a fact she let us know at our first visit.  But, a fact I already knew from the woman who referred me.

Did it bother me that she was not licensed to attend births?  Well, given my history--that I was born into Dr. Schlosser's illegal hands--no!  I was not bothered by the fact.  Other factors were more important to me.

Born in a loving home surrounded by loving people
My daughter was born healthy and peacefully at home.  A year later so was my son.  Eighteen months after that we had another home birth by a midwife who was not governmentally authorized to be there in Mongolia.  Then back in the states two years later a son.  Then two years later another son.  Then two years later a daughter.  Then almost three years later another son.  All born just the way we wanted.  At home.  On our terms, according to our faith, and consistent with our own consciences.  In all the births that happened on U.S. soil, our original unlicensed direct entry, traditional Christian midwife supported us.  She has become part of our family.  We love her.  She's like my children's extra grandma.

It turns out that not that much has changed since the 70's, however.  On November 15, armed agents of the California Medical Board rushed into her home and arrested her at gun point.  Her crime?  Attending home births.  She was charged with "practicing medicine without a license."

Let's get something straight from the get-go:

I have the right to be attended in childbirth by whomever I want so long as that person does not misrepresent herself/himself to me.  If I want to be attended by an OB, a chiropractor, a nurse, a midwife, my grandmother or a witch doctor that is MY CHOICE.

Does this make sense to anyone:

California has some of the loosest abortion laws in the country.  I could choose to abort my baby up to 24 weeks in utero (that's viable, people!) with absolutely no restriction and not necessarily attended by a doctor or surgeon (a nurse, physicians assistant or other trained person will do).  That is completely LEGAL.  But if I want to give birth to a full-term healthy baby outside of a hospital that's a no-no.  That might be risky.

Wait, what?!

What happened to all this CHOICE?  How can I have the legal right to NOT carry a child but not the legal right to decide WHERE and HOW that child can be born?  It's as if making the choice to have a baby is the last choice we get to make.  After that one choice the California Medical Board wants to make the rest of the choices for us.

We heard so much in the last election cycle about a war on women.  There was a lot of rhetoric and spin and political merry-making going on.  Well, this is it, girls.  THIS is a war on women.  It's a blatant attack on our choices!  It's an attack on every woman--whether you choose to birth in a hospital with an obstetrician or at birth center with a midwife or unattended--just you and your spouse.  It is our right to make these choices.  Our rights as women, our rights as parents.

Of all the political ranting I've done over the years, with all the rallies and protests I've attended, with all the votes I've cast, it turns out that perhaps the most political thing I've ever done is to give birth to my seven children in my bedroom instead of in a hospital room, attended by a traditional Christian midwife instead of a surgeon.

Midwife attended home birth as a act of civil disobedience.  Who would've thought it?

If you agree, if you value your freedom, if you want the freedom to choose home birth and midwifery, consider helping my midwife by donating to her legal defense fund.

I'm hosting a silent auction with all proceeds going to Brenda's defense fund.  We have everything from photography to handmade fashions and beautiful crafts.  Check it out and bid on something!  Justice For Brenda.  You can help a truly noble woman and a critical cause and do a little Christmas shopping!!!


Karen Joy said...

I love how your mom set the precedent.

As you know, I'm pregnant and planning on birthing the baby at home with a licensed midwife, which will be my first (very likely ONLY) home birth.

The only thing that makes me a tad twitchy is that, as I'm measuring big for how far along I am, I'm concerned that I am carrying twins. Now, it may turn out to not be twins, but two things about this makes me upset. Normally, I would be THRILLED to have twins. That would be amazing. But, legal, licensed midwives cannot attend births of multiples in AZ. So, it makes me upset that there's part of me that's hoping that it's NOT twins, so that I can still have my homebirth... AND I'm upset that licensed midwives cannot attend the birth of multiples.

I don't think my husband would be comfortable with a direct-entry midwife. So, it would be in a birthing center, attended by a CNM. That hospital-attached birthing center would be my ONLY sort-of-natural "choice", the only option available to me, unless I went with an (illegal) DEM.

Licensed midwives also cannot attend VBAC births in Arizona. I think that is ludicrous.

There's actually a board hearing on December 17 to consider whether or not licensed midwives can attend multiples and VBACs. I hope to attend, even though Lord knows it's a busy time of year.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

We have a rather horrible homebirth climate in my state (Nebraska). In fact, to have an attendant for our first home birth we had to drive across two state lines to give birth in someone else's home. For our second home birth the birth climate was still just as terrible as ever, but this time I wasn't willing to drive four hours and cross state lines. So we birthed at home, unattended. We're still working hard to change the laws in our state to allow women options of having an attendant. Here's a link to my most recent experience speaking to our legislators about our lack of options: http://millermemoir.blogspot.com/2012/03/home-birth-in-nebraska-lb-712.html

Anonymous said...

Hi 2shaye I also just moved to Nebraska from Los Angeles and Im 17 weeks pregnant. I had the same midwife Daja had when I lived there and had such an amazing birth. Im deeply saddened that this happened to Brenda bc I was hoping she could fly out here for this birth but theres no way I can ask her now as Im sure shes under a lot of stress. The only local DEM will be on vacation when Im due so I thought I would give the local birth center a chance. We went there and it was nice, the CNM was nice but it wasnt home. Still we settled and started to plan for the birth center. Then I went home and read the "rules"... Hospital Transfers are required when : labor lasts more than 24 hours, baby is breech, etc. How am I suppose to labor comfortabley with all this pressure?!? but still... i didnt feel comfortable doing UC so I settled until I went to a Doula event and met a Doula that had just had a homebirth with an out-of-state midwife. She gave me the info, gave me the book the midwife wrote and I made an appt...

Andrea said...

I *love* this picture of your Mom, Daja!!! Just as beautiful then as she is now. <3 <3 <3

I haven't been blog-reading in awhile (computer problems but now have a new one... yay!) so I didn't know you are expecting once again. Beautiful!! Happy pregnancy... happy baby!!!


Anonymous said...

Interesting how I found your article. I was in that court room in 1977. Helmut had delivered two of my children. He later delivered four more of my children. One was delivered by a friend who had worked with Dr. March Banks, who trained Helmut, and delivered Veronica's first child. I taught childbirth classes for Helmut and Veronica for a number of years, first in Santa Cruz, and later, in san Diego, when he lived there in the 1990's. He and his second wife and their son, and his son from Veronica, lived with us when they first came to back to California. I love your story. It brings back many memories. Thank you.

Kay said...

I was googling Helmut Schlosser and came to your blog. He was my Dr, also in 1977. Because of the education he gave both myself and my husband we had our children at home and all of our grandkids, save one, have also been born at home. We've been at 4 of those births. He was an a very special man.
Kay Morales

Jerald said...

Our second daughter was one of Dr Schlosser's last home births in Washington state in 1986, while he was under court order to have no contact whatsoever with pregnant women! He was very much our hero, and a man of principle and integrity. We will always remember him with great fondness! A man of whom the world was not worthy.

Bob Clary said...

Helmut and Veronica helped w our home birth in Orange CA in 72 and in WA state in 74. I had no idea he was living in WA for a while. We went on to have two more home births on our own. Any idea if and how to reach Veronica anyone? Loved them.

Charlotte Clary, Yelm, WA

Anonymous said...

I'm another healthy child born at the hands of the Helmut & Veronica in 1976. I thank them and my parents for having the judgment to bring me into the world in such an environment (from what I heard it was actually at their house).

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