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Monday
Aug012011

Why I Left Homebirth Midwifery

I received a comment the other day to my “This is ‘Dr. Wonderful’?” post, one that deserves a place as a post itself. Here, written by a local midwife here in San Diego, is the comment. I respond below, taking each sentence at a time. 

“Barbara,

Why after well over a year, on the week his mother has passed away, would you attack him in this way? We’ve all known about these gyno lawsuits, that have gone nowhere all this time. Could it be because you are no longer in his favor? I would suggest before attacking Dr. Biter in this fashion, you should check yourself at the door. I would be interested for you to share with your loyal followers your own reputation in the San Diego birth community. Many of us know how many times you have been called out for inappropriate actions during births. We find it no coincidence that homebirth midwives in San Diego are very busy and yet you had to close your business down. The people that read your blog only know one side of you and the rest of us know where you really stand amongst your peers. So before you go throwing stones...... 

Dr. Biter is a people pleaser to a fault, no doubt about that and when he fails to please everyone, he doesn't do a very good job of swallowing his pride but he never comes from a place of malice with his clients. He is not perfect but to call his character into question on this sort of forum is just purely unprofessional. The people in our birth community here have too much class to call you out on a blog, but enough is enough. You have your own reputation to be concerned about.  

I am intentionally signing this anonymously because I will not expose myself and my family to your vindictive nature, which many of us have witnessed firsthand and is clearly displayed here in your blog.” 

Dear “Anonymous” midwife at IP Address 70.181.185.xxx in Encinitas, CA… (ain’t technology wonderful?) I can see your house from here. 

“Why after well over a year” 

I posted a brand new item in the Dr. Biter saga. 

“on the week his mother has passed away” 

I did not know that Dr. Biter’s mother had died; apparently I was on the DO NOT CALL list. 

And not that I’d purposefully be cruel, but no one asked about the Medical Board and their lousy timing. Or what about the women and the lousy timing their botched surgeries or their neglectful care caused to their families? What about the really profane amount of pain those women were in for months and years? Or the insane amount of money they’ve spent to fix what went wrong? Who’s thinking about them? 

Me. 

“would you attack him in this way?” 

No attack. Sharing information. Correcting a mistake I made. 

It was crucial for me to speak out because I spoke out so loudly for him before. It is crucial that women know there is more to the story than I initially reported. As disturbing as this might be to you and your peers, women read what I write and take that as a letter of reference. It is extremely important to me that women have the updated version of the reference. Women went to him because of what I wrote; now, in the name of Informed Consent, women can choose to go to him still. 

“We’ve all known about these gyno lawsuits, that have gone nowhere all this time.” 

Lawsuits are one thing. Being brought up on charges by the Medical Board is another thing altogether. And, as Licensed Midwives, licensed by the same Medical Board, I would have thought you would know the difference. And the lawsuits are not “going nowhere.” Lawsuits take many years to wind their way through the court system. Just because we can see the dates the lawsuits were filed does not mean we have access to the entire court process or knowing where in the process the lawsuits are. Often, when settlements are made, they are made with gag orders, so we really don’t know how many are (or were) out there, do we? 

“Could it be because you are no longer in his favor?” 

He fell out of my favor long before our (his and mine) last contact. This has absolutely nothing to do with being liked; it’s about women’s health and safety. How High School can you be? 

“I would suggest before attacking Dr. Biter in this fashion, you should check yourself at the door.” 

What are you wanting me to check? The lawsuits against me? There are none. The charges from the Medical Board? There are none. 

“I would be interested for you to share with your loyal followers your own reputation in the San Diego birth community.” 

Ah, my reputation in the San Diego Birth Community. Yes. I am a pariah here, that is quite true. Is it because I use my voice and “pen” to speak out about injustices in the Natural Birth Community? Is it because I refuse to compromise in the safety of women and babies? Is it because I know too much and you all want to silence me? Sadly… and I do mean very sadly, it is all of the above. I will not shut up, no matter how hard you and your peers try to freeze me out, how hard you and your peers try to make me squirm or how many lies you and your peers tell about me, trying to convince others that I am wrong or bad. 

“Many of us know how many times you have been called out for inappropriate actions during births.”  

Name ONE. 

And if there were any times…  ANY (and there are none), you would have only heard about them in Peer Review and everything said in Peer Review is confidential. Remember? I could have you censured for even saying that one sentence. I have proof of who you are and that you said this. Hiding behind an anonymous comment does not absolve you of breach of confidentiality. I am considering taking that sentence to NARM and filing a complaint against you and your peers. I know better than to go to your Peer Review since the self-policing is non-existent. In fact, this is one aspect of non-nurse midwifery that seriously needs some help. Who oversees midwives? Each other. There are no independent panels anywhere that can impartially judge another non-nurse midwife’s actions; sadly, including you and your peers as well. 

I pity your clients and those of your peers that you would be so reckless as to breach another woman’s confidentiality on the Internet. Wow. And I’ve been told that, because of my blog, there was the “potential” for breach of confidentiality of Peer Review cases… of which NONE ever happened… and here you are, talking out of school yourself. How unprofessional and untrustworthy can you and your peers get? 

But, even if there was no confidentiality agreement, you could not point to ONE case where I was “called out for inappropriate actions during births.” I should sue you for that statement. 

“We find it no coincidence that homebirth midwives in San Diego are very busy and yet you had to close your business down.” 

“We” -Are you speaking for all the midwives in San Diego? You were elected spokesperson? 

I closed my practice for a number of reasons and yes, a part of that was the ostracization from the other midwives because it was clear I could not trust them to back me up. Women who did  come interview with me told me the comments that came from you and your peers, the threats of “you’ll end up on her blog” or “she transfers too much.” I know all about what slanderous lies were said to purposefully destroy my practice in an attempt to make me stop writing about how LMs/CPMs need more education, skills training… and even a more professional Peer Review. 

But, I took the shit that was dished out to me by my “sister-midwives” (snortylaugh) and created something even better. Something you and your peers can never take from me.

“The people that read your blog only know one side of you and the rest of us know where you really stand amongst your peers. So before you go throwing stones......” 

What “peers?” You weren’t in my “Peer Review” (and I am using that term loosely). It does seem as if you’ve been talking about me with the “Peer Review” group I was in and wow, isn’t that a breach of confidentiality, too? Over and over, examples of being unable to trust the midwives in this county… quite disturbing, actually. 

What stone am I throwing? It seems like you’re in the rock pile, sister, not me. I am demonstrating proof, not hearsay, not my opinion, but giving proof… my first-hand knowledge as well as what is public information from the Medical Board. 

“Dr. Biter is a people pleaser to a fault, no doubt about that and when he fails to please everyone, he doesn't do a very good job of swallowing his pride but he never comes from a place of malice with his clients.” 

I’m sitting stunned at this comment. So, when he tried to please women by giving them a birth that wasn’t safe, just because he doesn’t come from a place of malice he should be forgiven? His damage overlooked? I cannot believe you #1 believe that shit #2 think that is a valid excuse for trying to keep me quiet! I’m going to leave that statement to hang out there by itself… a noose, just for you and your peers. 

“He is not perfect but to call his character into question on this sort of forum is just purely unprofessional.”  

Are you kidding? Do you even know what professionalism is? Half a handful of midwives in this community understand professionalism and you and your peers, most assuredly, are not one of them. The coffee-klatch Peer Reviews, the back-biting, the sloppy practices, the incestuous “training,”… try and talk to me about professionalism; I could just start with midwives taking their children to prenatals and births and move on from there. 

“The people in our birth community here have too much class to call you out on a blog, but enough is enough.”  

Is that a threat? “Enough is enough”? 

Ah, yes. Class. That’s what the midwives demonstrated when I was unceremoniously kicked out of Peer Review late last year. When I was told to move because the community didn’t want me here anymore. Classy as hell when I was told that I hadn’t done one thing wrong, that, in fact, I was a great midwife, but that my blog demonstrated the “potential” for breaches of confidentiality. And classier still when I was told I was suspect because Dr. Amy had said good things about me. Or when I was told I wasn’t welcome at community events because women were worried they would end up in my blog. (Who perpetuated that myth?!) But, classiest of all when I was told a post I wrote about CPMs needing more education set me apart from the rest of the midwives, that I had, for all intents and purposes, become a traitor to the CPMs… and all that from a post I wrote THREE YEARS AGO! I can only imagine how delighted you midwives are now that I have taken to really speaking out that non-nurse midwives are, for the most part, quite lacking in education and skills training and should have much more of both before becoming CPMs. And yes, myself included. 

See, the thing is, even CPMs interviewed by NARM think CPMs need more education and skills training, so it isn’t like I’m saying anything bizarre or crazy. 

What I find interesting is you and your peers expend so much energy on me and what I say (holding meetings, passing emails, etc.), yet if you spent half as much time on more education or training, there wouldn’t be anything for me to write about! 

(repeating)“… too much class to call you out on a blog….” 

But with an enormous lack of courage to approach me in any civilized, professional and proactive way. This says so very much about non-nurse midwifery and the cliquish and coffee klatch-ish unprofessionalism I do not miss one tiny bit. 

“You have your own reputation to be concerned about.” 

You are right there. I have my own reputation to be concerned about. And I hold my head high with my reputation. I am proud of who I am as a midwife, monitrice and doula. I am proud of who I am as a woman, a writer and a truth-teller. 

You and your peers can try to knock me down, try to kick me, try really, really hard to make me shut up, but I am not going to. This is not a popularity contest. You and your peers think that just because I’m not in your community anymore, I won’t have anything to write about? Oh, how wrong you are. Women still speak to me, tell me their stories that they want told, but are too scared to tell themselves. I hear all about so many of you midwives; your clients still talk to me. 

I will keep talking about midwifery, about education for non-nurse midwives, about the lack of skills training for far too many non-nurse midwifery students and I will keep speaking out for mothers and babies. NO ONE will make me shut up about their lives. 

“I am intentionally signing this anonymously because I will not expose myself and my family to your vindictive nature, which many of us have witnessed firsthand and is clearly displayed here in your blog.” 

Your “anonymous” isn’t so anonymous in this day and age of anyone can find anyone with a few clicks of the keyboard. 

If you really knew what you had to say was the truth, to not be violating confidentiality, to truly be backed up by your peers… to have any validity at all, you would, as I do, stand proud and use your name. 

I find it interesting and pretty darn amusing that sharing facts and telling the truth is seen as vindictive in your mind. Speaks about your nature, now doesn’t it. 

I have not attacked you, your family or your peers. On the other hand, you and your peers have slandered, lied and purposefully attempted to destroy my business, my living, how I pay my bills and care for my family… all the while hiding “anonymously” and quite unprofessionally. 

And if my blog is so distressing to you and your peers, so concerning, why are you and your peers here reading? If I am so atrocious, why are you and your peers validating what I say by just being here? 

Oh, that’s right. Because I have valid and true things to say. Because what I say hits too close to home for your (and the others who would silence me’s) comfort. 

If you and your peers don’t like what I have to say, get lost! 

If, however, you and your peers are interested in the health and well-being of mothers and babies and desire to better non-nurse midwifery and the safety of homebirth, then keep reading because that is exactly what I will continue to write about.