Over recent years, pregnancy has surrounded the family once again. My eldest child's first successful pregnancy (and then the second), if a reflection of what it is now all about, leaves me filled with horror and dread. In fact, if she were not my child and if I didn't have the knowledge I do have, it's a distinct possibility that our newest team member would not be with us. How so?
Her job as a flight attendant made it impossible to continue long haul flights and quite likely affected her health, and pretty much from day 1, she was unable to share or agree with any other mum that pregnancy is a lovely thing. She was sick every minute of every single day - she suffered hyper-emesis (in fact it was this that alerted her to the possibility she may be pregnant, actually within days of gestation) and ensuing pain - by the middle of the pregnancy she was on morphine, lyrica, anti emetics, and as part of the myriad side effects had restless legs affecting her entire body to the point she dislocated her shoulder and caused soft tissue damage and spent half the pregnancy in bed with her head in a sick bag. Her natural phenomenon had become a medicalisation horror show.
Without acupuncture, homœopathy, cupping, herbal medicine, chiropractic and supplements there is no doubt it could have been much worse (if possible?) but I have no doubt that the medications chosen to care for her exacerbated the original hyper-emesis to the point of no return.
She suffered both gallstones and kidney stones - and rather than use natural methods, was fitted with a stent; so during her pregnancy had to undergo surgery for the first time in her life, as well as using addictive drugs laden with side effects. I put her onto a homœopathic treatment to dissolve the offending stones and sure enough, her next ultrasound showed both the kidney and gallstones had dissolved and eventually passed.
Her diet while in hospital, despite clearly advising of her vegan diet, consisted of pork, eggs, meat stews and curries, milky puddings - you get the picture. On her 4th day, as she was visibly losing weight, I brought her in a vegie burger. Not technically healthy but she craved it and besides, it was the first salad or vegetarian meat alternative she had seen in 4 days. A few hours later, like with anything she tried to eat or drink, the entire meal came back up.
While the nurse on duty sat and watched while socialising with the lady in the bed opposite, my daughter cried and vomited and shook, her only input - "That's your own fault for eating that junk food." Any other nurses reading this no doubt will be as angry and incredulous as I was. I wish I was present at the time; forget the hospital food was inedible to her, forget that yes, it was technically junk food. This mum-to-be had not eaten a meal for almost 4 days, was unable to keep ANYTHING down, and this is how is treated when she tries to take things into her own hands?
So, after the stent is removed as unnecessary, she discharges herself; along with pain patches, anti-nausea patches, pain relief and a giant bag of pharma goodies later. Her labour, like that of my middle child, began its intermittent onset from around the 7th month and rather than help her out of this suffering, experts decided to do all they could to stop the early labour, despite admitting her constant illness had no answers. They fully intended to force her to go full term despite like me, having no answers to her sickness.
By 8 months, and for the 5th or so hospital stay, we decided to take matters into our own hands and induced labour. Despite their best efforts to stop the labour, preparations were underway for the imminent birth; forget that the baby was footling breech, and despite my daughter detecting herself, and reminding them that she had a bicornate uterus, they were insistent on a natural birth.
My daughter is 50kgs on a heavy day and a natural size 6 to 8 AUS sizes yet she was expected to continue with a breech delivery and risking hæmorrhaging thanks to the little issue of bicornate uterine structure!
After some panic, a cæsarian was agreed to. Interestingly, the surgeons were impressed with my daughter's insides; the health of her tissue, lack of bleeding during surgery - a great testament to healthy alkaline vegan lifestyle (to all the detractors over the years). In fact, the surgeon called in his peers to marvel at her healthy tissue.
And then it was on!
Despite repeated reminders and written request to the contrary, a vitamin K injection was given (cystic fibrosis warnings don't seem to matter; I guess they have an injection on offer there, too.. read more here) and the heel pricks began along with antibiotics (another 'treatment' she had requested not to give) - and despite her apgar being 9.
My daughter had little to no say in her baby from that time on. While she was worried about possible drug withdrawal, they were worried about how many times a day they could check for who-knows-what, just in case. By day 4 she refused any more intervention. By the time she left hospital she already felt a failure. It was encouraging for her to hear that many of the mums in hospital at that time were also questioning the K injection and vaccination.
Please print this out and share with your entire birth team, and place one above your hospital bed.
Ensure your birthing partner has a copy.
Since then, she has done the rounds simply trying to find a doctor who will agree to sign a Conscientious Objection form. During one visit which she insisted I accompany her, the pædiatrician began his well rehearsed spiel about 'lack of research' - 'record of deaths of non-vaccinated children' - 'statistics showing no records of any bad side effects' - 'anti-vaccine scaremongers' etc - he didn't reckon on just who he had in his clinic.
After sitting there listening to his 15 minute rant, I got just one comment out - "Actually, I have been involved in vaccine research professionally and personally for a few decades now and there are many studies out there that you obviously know nothing of..." - I didn't even get to finish before he showed us the door.
Shame, my daughter actually liked him prior to this.
She received calls on a constant basis to see midwives and pædiatricians and GPs. Her home is immaculate, clean and well organised. The baby is healthy, happy, thriving, with no health issues. So what is their issue? I can only imagine it has something to do with the diet, refusal to use chemicals and anti-vaccine stand. In hindsight, it all began when my daughter needed to sleep during the day; coinciding with the midwife visit, when the baby was just over a week old. How shocking for a new mother.
Correct me if I am wrong, but haven't new mums always needed to sleep? I know I did and like feeding, sleeping was done on demand. During the same visit, my daughter was reprimanded for not formula-feeding because of breastfeeding difficulties. No big deal; she began exclusive expressing. Pretty simple, right? Apparently not.
We didn't even get to the issue of where baby sleeps. Like me, my daughter allows her baby to sleep WITH her (read more on co-sleeping here). I can only imagine what would happen if she even brought this up.
The good news at the end of this little saga that should have been pretty straightforward and enjoyable is that rather than be made to feel like a monster for not vaccinating, and insisting on raising her babies vegan, she has found a vegan natural parenting group - supportive and understanding.
Thank God for that!
How nice that we are no longer the only 'weirdos' out there...