Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad, Special Needs and Birth- a bit of a hodgepodge

When it rains, it pours. Somehow over the last few days, I have accumulated quite a few topics to write about and with yomtov around the corner, I wanted to get them all off my chest :)

First of all- Gilad Shalit. What an amazing miracle. No matter how you feel about the release of prisoner, who can not rejoice with the Shalits and all of Israel. I am so moved and have been thinking about it all day. Gilad was kidnapped about a month or two before A. was born and so whenever I thought of the length of time he spent imprisoned, I would think of A. I would marvel at how big she was getting, how 5 years is an eternity, my child's entire life up until this point. It just made the insanity of the situation more real to me. And now I can finally stop using A's milestones as a measure of his length of imprisonment.
Here is a link to a great blogpost about Gilad, posted by a blogger appropriately named A Soldier's Mother.
And a video of Gilad's first moments back in Israel, reuniting with his father that made me cry.

Enough said...

On a totally unrelated topic, The NY Times had a great op-ed in the Sunday edition entitled Notes from a Dragon Mom. Emily Rapp writes about raising her 18-month old son Ronan who has Tay-Sachs and will most likely die before age three. She writes how knowing her son's days are numbered makes her appreciate every day with him and focus on the present. She can let go of all her goals and expectations of a Mini-Einstein learning to read at age two and getting into Harvard on full scholarship; and just be with him. And while it is obviously very painful, it is also liberating to live in the now instead of constantly being future oriented as most parents are.
Although raising a child with special needs is very different than raising a child with a terminal disease, there is a similarity in the sense of letting go of expectations. While we do hope for a long and successful future for Y and for all our children,  we have redefined what that success means. It is about being happy, being a good and kind person who is interested in helping others, rather than academic achievement and landing the biggest job. This reality check of what really matters is incredibly valuable.

Lastly, some news on the topic of birth, a topic I have been neglecting on this blog for quite a while. Being six weeks away from my due date, it is obviously on my mind. Just in time, Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, the makers of the film "The Business of Being Born" have come out with the uninspiredly titled sequel "More Business of Being Born". Or, more accurately, four sequels. They felt that there were many issues surrounding childbirth that were not addressed in their first film and so they decided to explore as many as possible in their follow-up.
Here is the trailer

In Part 1, Ricki and Abby visit Ina May Gaskin, often called the mother of modern midwifery on her famous Farm. In Part 2, they interview celebrities about birth and their choices. Part 3 is called Exploring Options, giving more information on doulas, birthing centers and c-sections.
 I haven't watched any of these yet, but last night while cooking yet again, I downloaded and watched Part 4- The VBAC Dilemma. As many of you know, VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) is a topic close to my heart.
That is because Y. was born via c-section in 2005 and since then I have had 2 wonderful, uncomplicated VBACs and am gearing up for another one soon.
It frustrates me that the VBAC-rate in the US is so abysmal. Many doctors will refuse to even consider them or often tell patients things like: "Yes, you can try for a VBAC but just be aware that your uterus can explode any minute and you and your baby might die!" While uterine rupture is a very serious complication that I am not trying to downplay at all, the truth is that the likelihood of rupture is somewhere between .3 and .7%, less than 1 in 100. And that means any kind of tear in the uterus. The likelihood of a catastrophic and life-threatening rupture is 1 in 2000. As one of the doctors in the movie points out, the likelihood of miscarriage from an amniocentesis is 1 in 200, yet many women are comfortable taking that chance.
I have to admit that having done my research already, I did not learn a lot of new things about VBAC from the movie. Still, I think it was well done and for someone just at the beginning of their journey, trying to find out more information, this is a great resource. It offers a lot of facts and statistics, as well as some personal stories about VBAC. It explains both sides of the issue, trying to separate real health concerns from ones that are inflated and dramatized. It also talks about the risks of repeat cesarean, that doctors often do not share with their patients.
Part 4 of the movie can be watched for a small fee on the Business of Being Born website. You can also get more info on the other parts of the movie as well as the planned dates of screening. Surprisingly, there do not seem to be any screenings scheduled for New York at the moment.

That brings me to the end of my long and slightly rambling post. Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach and see you on the other end of yet another 3 day yomtov marathon :)


  1. My friend almost died herself after her baby was born healthy by VBAC, and she needed an emergency hysterectomy and had dozens of transfusions. If she had died ch"v she'd have left 5 kids motherless. It's not taking the same risk as the risk of miscarriage during amnio.

  2. Sorry for the late response. I am sorry to hear your friend had such a hard time. While there are always cases of bad outcomes, the statistics still support the safety of VBACs. If you want to trade horror stories I can tell you some about c-sections gone wrong that women almost died from and even a young first time mom, who spent months in the hospital recovering from a complication of an epidural.
    I think every woman needs to evaluate her situation individually while still having access to accurate information. Hopefully we can agree on that.