In 2001, one of my good friends found out she was pregnant and planned on a homebirth. We talked and talked about it. I thought it sounded incredible. At that time, I fell for the romanticized notions of it. I did no research. Course, I couldn't get my husband on board anyway, so it didn't happen for my next two pregnancies. When I got pregnant with my fifth, we hit a rough patch in our marriage and I decided that I didn't care how my husband felt, I was going to have the birth I wanted. I looked at studies from other countries and saw how safe homebirth was. Did I know the difference between here and other countries?? Nope. When I interviewed Brenda, I was incredibly impressed with this woman. She was very sweet and caring. Her numbers were phenomenal with just 1 stillborn out of 2500 deliveries. I had found my midwife and was going to have the birth I wanted. Course, I had an easy labor and delivery, baby was perfect. So, when I got pregnant with Mary, we decided since all went well before, we would do it again. I was low risk and had never had any problems. My kids had all been born healthy (minus the oldest who was resuscitated due to a cord around his neck and then diagnosed with a CHD, which he still has). Between pregnancies, Brenda and I remained friends. I truly loved and trusted her. I knew she cared about not only the baby and I, but my entire family. So, when Mary was born, it was easy for me to believe Brenda when she told us our baby was healthy and the little things I had questions about were just typical newborn things. We all know what happened next. That afternoon, when we left the hospital I called Brenda to tell her, but the police had already been to her house. The next day at some point, Brenda came over and brought me a locket that she had had engraved with Mary's name. The day of the funeral, between the burial and luncheon, was when we came home to her sitting on our steps pissed because OTHER midwives were discussing the possibility of her being arrested. Days later she showed up begging me not to be angry with her. She talked about her cancer and that she would hold my baby for me in heaven. She sat and cried over my anger because she was my friend and loved me and didn't want us mad at her. There was another day that she came and just sat with me outside and talked about having our families get together for a pool party because our kids loved hanging out. Shortly after this is when we got the infamous emails from her. Six months after Mary's death is when I learned about her past. By then, it was too late.
Now, you may wonder why I have shared all of this. With Lisa Barrett being in the news, I feel that I need to address some things and it's hard to address them if you don't get a background on where I am coming from.
I see people talking very flippantly about the babies that have died under Barretts watch. These were loved and wanted babies, not just some ratty old tee shirt. They aren't disposable. These were real little babies that never got a chance. Barrett is why they didn't get a chance. She behaves as though she is above reproach and she's just fighting for women's rights. It's infuriating. SHE wants to do what SHE wants regardless of the costs to others she may harm
In talking about Women's rights, let's really look at this. The premise of this is that women have the right to birth how they want with whomever they want. Fair enough. It's also said that trying to regulate and get rid of negligence infringes upon women's rights. Can anyone explain this to me?? When abortion clinics began, did THAT infringe upon rights or was this a way to ensure safety in those seeking the procedure? That furthered women's rights and gave women a safe option. Considering childbirth is more dangerous than abortion, we must ask why safety in childbirth is so abhorrent. Isn't it a good thing to have a provider who actually knows their stuff, has a real education, and values your baby too?? Why is that such a bad thing??
Now, this leads me to my last point. IF any provider is practicing negligently, we NEED them not practicing. If you have a homebirth provider whose negligence and/or rogue behavior is leading to death upon death, do you really want them practicing?? If an OB was negligent and repeatedly caused deaths, the pitchforks would be out. It's bad enough that there is no recourse for families who lose babies due to negligent non-CNM's, but to have the homebirth community support them is even worse.
Stories, like the ones about Lisa Barrett, are going to continue piling up until the homebirth/midwifery community stands up and says "This isn't ok". Our camp continues to say "There needs to be safety measures. There needs to be accountability. These deaths aren't ok.". I feel like we are begging and pleading for this community to do something, anything and we are hitting a brick wall.
As a mother who has lost a child due to a serial negligent midwife, I am angry as hell. You are essentially telling me that this midwife is more important than my child. My child's life didn't matter to you. No child's life matters. Really?? It's ok to continue to let these babies die PREVENTABLE deaths? It's ok to put families like mine through hell? My children have lost a sibling. Infant death is a reality to them and something they discuss with other children and adults. This is something they shouldn't have to deal with. I know I have said it before, but if somebody, anybody had stopped Brenda from practicing, I wouldn't of found a midwife and would of continued using an OB and had that happened, my daughter would be here.