It’s Lies, All Lies!

Regarding Elizabeth Salaam’s article “The Unkindest Cut” (Cover Story, December 15). She has no MD or DO interviewed, she references Drugs.com about Pitocin (all on the internet is not truth!), she mentions a few handpicked “studies” done years ago that she probably googled (and misses more recent studies that were well-publicized and even on Good Morning America that say epidurals don’t lead to more cesareans!). Very slanted. I practice OB anesthesia (not at Sharp Mary Birch), and I support any birth the mother wants and don’t push my services (as many of us do).

Her data is straight wrong: most labor floors nationwide do not allow you to eat during labor; that is labor floors that are current in their safety practice. Did she even call the hospitals to ask? Isn’t talking to both sides a hallmark of good journalism?

I am not defending Sharp Mary Birch; I do not work there. I am defending the idea of getting your facts straight. Lives are saved because of the fireman-mentality hospitals often have (“expect the worst”), but I don’t see doulas touting those instances in this article. As for the person who delivered her next baby at home, there is no mention of the potential disaster of that. Lots of problems with the article, and once again, it has to do with facts and current medical knowledge, not with my defense of Sharp Mary.

I am new to San Diego, and I won’t be picking up this paper again.

Name Withheld
via email

Elizabeth Salaam responds: I was unable to find a doctor or an administrator at Mary Birch who was willing to talk to me.

We’ve Been There

Your article on C-sections is very interesting, especially the news that one local hospital is more likely to perform the procedure than others (“The Unkindest Cut,” Cover Story, December 15).

My three kids were born in three different San Diego hospitals, including Mary Birch, so I have some basis for comparing the treatment offered.

My first son was born at another hospital, where they followed the protocol described in your article: Pitocin, epidurals (that’s plural — they gave my wife three doses), and then a pitch for a C-section. We objected, and so instead they used suction, which we later discovered caused our son to live in distress and pain for the first 20 months of his life. I wrote a memoir (published this year) about everything that arose from that experience.

Some years later, in 2000, I found myself in a delivery room at Mary Birch, and I have to say that the level of sensitivity to our concerns was far greater than at the first place. The staff at Mary Birch did kind of want to do suction delivery, but based on the previous experience there was no way in hell we were going to permit that, and they relented. Everything turned out fine that time.

The final birth was indeed a C-section, done under emergency conditions. It wasn’t what we’d hoped for, but again the long-term result was what counts.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a sweet, storybook experience in the delivery room. I do think hospitals and providers should try hard to be receptive to the wishes their consumers express. On the other hand, delivery is a potentially scary event, and without proper support it can sometimes result in death. As the parent of one child who entered life with major problems, not all due to his delivery, I’d like to conclude with two points. Yes, do your research and do choose the providers most likely to give you the experience you hope for. But getting through the delivery and being able to take home a healthy child is far and away the most important consideration. People who’ve done that may not realize how lucky they are.

Stephen Gallup
via email

Be Prepared

While I was prepared by the title of your December 15 cover story (“The Unkindest Cut”) for an exposé-style piece, I found the intermingling of personal stories and stats to be informative and true to personal experience, with one exception — clearly there is a missing piece of the process that is enabling the hospital staff and not the families to set the tone for their birth experience, and that is developing strong patient advocacy through self-education. In all examples cited (my wife/child’s also), there was a chasm between anticipated experience/outcome and actuality.

While all circumstances can’t be preordained, some “What if…?” thinking is paramount to having a satisfying (and healthy!) birth experience. Taking a birthing course of your liking or selecting a doula who will guide you yet also stand up for your patients’ rights while you’re undergoing/enjoying the stress/exhilaration of childbirth will help bring your actual experience closer to your expectations and be better prepared for those other “eventualities” that we don’t like to consider.

Our Bradley Method instructor was an invaluable resource at holding out against an “emergency C-section” ten-hour onslaught at 35 weeks, which amounted to Braxton-Hicks contractions. Do write a birth plan together with your spouse/partner and share it with your doctor early on in your pregnancy — his/her reaction (both actually) will tell you a lot about who’s in your corner once push comes to push. Ultimately this preparation let us peacefully come to terms with the reality that, though our child, full breech and with a potential cord wrap (which was true) couldn’t be born through the desired natural childbirth method, we could alter our birth plan to stay as true to that intent and bring our healthy child into the world.

Matthew Thompson
via email

Like It, Like It

Re the “Blurt” story on Joe Stevens’s TV show (December 15). I really liked this article. Very good article!

Alan
via email

Touchdowns Before Potholes

While driving home today in San Diego I became very angry indeed upon seeing men and machinery at work squandering city funds repairing the roadway! What sort of city officialdom would decide to spend money eliminating potholes when lack of finance is (so far, at least) preventing the building of a brand-new football stadium (“Head Case,” “City Lights,” December 8), which most taxpayers would agree is absolutely essential lest the home team flee to maybe (horror) Los Angeles? It simply makes no sense.

Very Annoyed Citizen
via email

Helping Hands

I’m calling about Osiris Murillo, one of the folks you did an article on who was living in her car (“My House Has Wheels,” Cover Story, December 1). She’s a young lady, an SDSU graduate, living with her three-year-old in her car. My husband and I were very touched by that story. We’d like to do something to help her.

Janis Musante
Carlsbad

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