Moving a Mountain

Several years before becoming a loss mom, I became a doula.  A doula is, in short, someone who provides support for pregnancy and birth.  I can provide customized birth preparation just for you, teaching you all about pregnancy and birth right in your own home.  We explore medical options, why they are available, how to prevent them, and how to work with their possible side effects should they become necessary.  We also explore the many natural, non-medical, personal options you have for birth.  During your labor, I provide all sorts of comfort techniques, I can help you advocate for yourself regarding your options, I take photos, and I help you and your spouse enjoy the experience together (and since stillbirthday, any of the doulas here provide these same services – and more – for miscarriages, stillbirths, and known fatal diagnosis).

Although I had been a doula for several years, I was completely overwhelmed with confusion when I experienced my pregnancy loss.  I was told that “we need to remove that debris”, which ultimately led to our homebirth of our precious, fully formed, miscarried baby boy.

Immediately – even before he was born – my husband and I both understood that others needed to be better guided on this path that we were stumbling upon.  It is because of our experience that stillbirthday was born.

As a doula – a birth professional – I meet and interact online with birth professionals, but also several mothers who, not professionals, are simply passionate about birth.  A few of these mothers include In Search of Perfect Birth, The Skeptical Mother, and The Feminist Breeder.

In Search of Perfect Birth is a mother who endured not only a terrible hospital birth experience, but also a terrible homebirth experience while attended by a midwife.  This ultimately led her to delivering her third child at home, unassisted.  She found this last birth to be so rewarding and healing for her, that she wrote her birth experiences into a book, and uses her online presence to encourage other mothers to explore their birthing options, but also to promote unassisted birth as a plausible birth option for any mother who may not have otherwise considered it.  Disclaimer: most who do promote unassisted birth do so cautiously, more cautiously than her, but that seems to be her passion and she has a small crowd who align with that.

The Skeptical Mother is a mother who endured horrendous pain prior to her birth and not related to it, but knew that the impact of her trauma could play a part of her birthing experience.  She sought out a midwife and found healing from her trauma through her birth experience.  She uses her online presence to encourage mothers to seek alternatives to highly interventive births and to explore the healing potential of natural birth.  When keeping to this agenda she provides a wonderful online service.

Now, there are three members of stillbirthday who have attempted natural childbirth, that resulted in tragic births.  After their losses, they went back to the natural childbirth community – of which I am a part – and asked for answers and support.  They were not only disappointed – these mothers were grieving.  Their children were dead.

Understandably, when a strong foundation is not set for communicating through grief, misunderstandings took place.

Meanwhile, another mother experienced a loss, in a similar – but different – situation.   She too had a tragic homebirth, but her situation was different and she does not find any fault with her midwife.  She and one of the three mothers I mentioned above both felt that each was a threat to her interpretation of her experience and therefore of her grief, and a conflict quickly arose between the two of them – they were both vying for validation of their experiences.   In Search of Perfect Birth used this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to promote her agenda:

Mothers should seek unassisted and/or homebirths at all costs.  Even infant death is natural and normal, and should be embraced more quickly than any medical assistance in birth whatsoever (this is my interpretation of her overall agenda).

This far-reaching, extreme view is not held by many in the natural childbirth community.

These two mothers – the one from stillbirthday, and the other loss mother – engaged in a conflict that eventually required mediation.  Within mediation, both loss moms agreed that they said things that were hurtful.  Both loss moms agreed that their interpretations antagonized the other.  But only one loss mom apologized: the one who became a part of stillbirthday.

Because In Search of Perfect Birth sought to prove her agenda, she used old, one-sided clips of the worst parts of old conversations, coupled with some outright lies, and strung them together in a series of nasty articles attempting to discredit stillbirthday.  Her goal was to cast this mother out of stillbirthday so she could continue to provoke her, seeking more evidence that mothers who believe infant death to be natural and normal, and who don’t seek accountability from others (even when it is warranted) are the only healthy bereaved mothers – that homebirth should be sought at all costs, and even in the event of an infant death, it is better than obtaining medical assistance: infant death is natural, medical assistance is not.

All three of the mothers who represent stillbirthday now have personally apologized for any and all misunderstandings and ill words they’ve used in the past as they’ve tried to navigate feelings of grief and betrayal.  They abide by the strict standards of being a part here.  They see that there is the potential to use even these experiences to walk with another mother and show her where the potholes are and how to navigate difficult feelings – namely, grief coupled with rejection and humiliation –  more effectively.

For several months, and in spite of the apologies, In Search of Perfect Birth, The Skeptical Mother, and the bereaved mother who turned to them for support have partnered together and have searched for opportunities online where people speak highly of stillbirthday.  Together, they interrupt conversations had by grieving mothers, to share their creative but inaccurate articles that attempt to link terrible things with this organization.

Just today, they merged with The Feminist BreederThe Feminist Breeder is also a mother with an online presence seeking to promote natural childbirth awareness and information.  Recently, The Feminist Breeder was the focus of a terrible, hurtful blogpost.  In Search of Perfect Birth used that opportunity to convince The Feminist Breeder that stillbirthday was connected to this mean-spirited article.

Stillbirthday is not affiliated with that blog.

The three mothers that once used different tenets of natural childbirth, who have been deeply offended that the community that once encouraged them to birth a particular way could abandon them so quickly and dismiss their tragedy so entirely, have spent years trying to work through their simultaneous betrayal and grief.  It hasn’t been easy and they haven’t always made the most appropriate choices.

They have apologized for the things they have done.

They continue to abide by the structure of stillbirthday.

They continue to see things, both that they’ve done, and accusations of things they haven’t done, being thrust in their faces as In Search of Perfect Birth continues to try to draw them out from stillbirthday.

What hurt that The Feminist Breeder recently endured by that nasty article I can’t imagine.  It’s not fair to see hurtful things being published about you.  I understand the knee-jerk reaction, to try to avenge her hurt by getting back at who she thought was the author of such meanness.  But there has been a mistake.

Stillbirthday is not affiliated with that blog.

The thing that In Search of Perfect Birth, The Skeptical Mother, and now The Feminist Breeder fail to see, is that there is no way of drawing these three out from stillbirthday.  They are a part of it.

There are over 300 representatives of stillbirthday, all over the world, including our doulas, mentors, prayer team and volunteer Love Cupboard coordinators.  We have each stumbled to stillbirthday, carrying our broken hearts and trying to make sense of our grief.  Together, we each agree to the rigid structure here, and use stillbirthday as a platform for mediation, healing, and growth.  Stillbirthday serves thousands of families each month, and we all come together to make sense of what we’ve endured.  There is no condemnation here.  There is, however, a great deal of accountability.

Please read through some of our guidelines for yourself to see what standards we have here.

Doulas Principles of Service

Mentorship Program Outline

To the loss mother ensnared in that situation, please know that I continue to value you and the hurt you endured and continue to carry at the loss of your baby.  You are always welcome here.

In Search of Perfect Birth, The Skeptical Mother, and The Feminist Breeder, there is a huge mountain of misunderstanding between us.  I believe we can move that mountain without you throwing stones at loss mothers.  I believe this can serve as one piece out of the way to allow us a better view of each other.  I understand that there has been hurt, I do.  But you need to accept the apologies given to you, accept where there isn’t anyone to blame, and move forward.  Isn’t that the underlying message you have implied in your quest for retaliation?

The three mothers you have concerns with have certainly done these things.  And as long as they continue to do so, they will remain here.

So, here are a couple of important points:

  • stillbirthday does not endorse cruel or mean behavior.  If a mother made a poor choice prior to becoming interested in being a part of stillbirthday, we do not endorse her because of poor choices – but for her willingness to use those choices for good for others.
  • stillbirthday does not endorse one particular birth method over another.  Mothers who choose out-of-hospital births and experience unexpected stillbirths are in such an extremely unsupported demographic.  Midwives and families in these situations all need comprehensive support and it is the longstanding desire of stillbirthday to provide that.
  • Any clips of conversations published by those online personalities above are not only outdated, irrelevant, but also untrue with a terrible slant.  Apologies have been made for any and all wrongdoings, and anything that was published material that could be removed has been.  These mothers are now watching as their old poor choices continue to be spread with intentionally offensive angles for the purpose of promoting the online personalities named above.  These mothers have asked for forgiveness and continue to provide excellent service to loss mothers through stillbirthday.  They should be congratulated for their growth, not continually condemned for the way they previously handled the rejection at their broken hearts.
  • Many, many loss parents face enormous challenges during their grief: some face suicidal feelings, illegal drugs, reckless behavior, drinking problems, among others.  These feelings can all be worked through, and in the right environment, can be used to help guide another parent and help prevent them from finding the same dark path.  Grieving online proves to make some of these choices remembered publicly, long after the choices have ceased, as is the case in this situation.  However, we bereaved parents are not bound by our pain, but truly can grow and can help others, even in the face of outsider skepticism, doubt, ridicule, and shame.
  • While the mothers in question continue to provide excellent service to loss mothers, it is the one loss mother under the wing of the above online personalities that continues to spread untruths and give the terribly untrue impressions of stillbirthday.  It is extremely apparent that it is she who is in need of further support and closure, that which hasn’t been found through these other means.  The invitation to work with her to find healing continues to remain open, despite the intentional attacks, lies, and rumors she and the others spread about this organization and those within it.  Meanwhile, those lied about continue to help support others.
  • Dr. Amy once provided the only platform for mothers of unexpected home stillbirth to share their mix of feelings.  She publicly realizes that stillbirthday provides a solid platform for the multi-dimensional grief that takes place – regardless if there is accountability on the part of the provider, or not.
  • To the online personalities mentioned above, I ask you, “What is the alternative?  What is it that you propose?”  Are you seriously suggesting that once a loss mother makes a decision in anger, hurt, or defense, she is forever banned from using her situation for good?  If stillbirthday really kicked these mothers out, as you are demanding, what message is that sending to loss mothers throughout the world?  That their grief journey is conditional?  That their feelings are constantly challenged against condemnation, shame, rejection?  What would the response of loss mothers everywhere be?  Dishonesty, fear, shame?  It certainly wouldn’t be a message of hope or healing – your agenda clearly does not promote hope or healing.  You are not loss mothers.   You cannot provide the comprehensive support that we need and deserve.

What is most hurtful to me, is remembering how overwhelmed and alone I felt, in my bathroom, in a pool of blood, delivering my dead son, hearing the words echo in my heart “we need to get that debris out of there”.  To know that I put stillbirthday together to prevent another mother in that situation from feeling quite as alone as I felt, and to see you handling your confusion and hurt feelings so ineffectively as to steer her – so many loss mothers – from getting the quality, comrehensive support she needs – that she can find here.  It’s heartbreaking – and it’s preventable.

It is important for all birth professionals, and anyone passionately representing a birth perspective, to know that a sturdy platform for working through pregnancy and infant loss is so very essential to good communication and good outcomes for your audience.  These terrible misunderstandings and escalated emotions happen when there isn’t a safe place to navigate the overwhelming feelings that can arise in grief.  Please visit stillbirthday on May 1, as a two part article on how to approach pregnancy loss with your audience will be published.

Let us prevent any more of these terrible misunderstandings and unecessary hurts.  Let’s move this mountain together.

I’d also like to point out that this situation is important enough to me that I actually wrote this article while in labor.

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6 Responses to Moving a Mountain

  1. Mary says:

    Lovely explanation. Thank you for your generosity and willingness to stand firm in the face of those who would tear you down.

  2. Samantha says:

    It is precisely situations like this that prove the integrity of an organization. Thank you for giving whomever these three mothers are a second chance at their grief. Obviously the situation before wasn’t conducive to healing, and stillbirthday is providing such a place for that – I know, because I’ve found many helpful resources here.
    I follow the Skeptical Mother but read the things that she and others said this morning. While I liked following her updates, I’m going to unlke her page and hope that many others will rethink and not just take rumors as truth. Since you are a doula, do you recommend any other pages to follow?

    • Heidi Faith says:

      Samantha, thank you for your encouragement. This has been a difficult situation for sure, with lots of old and new hurt feelings. I’m sorry that it came to a point that the best solution was for me to bring all of this to light. I wish things could have been resolved confidentially, but those involved chose not to cooperate with any other option I presented to them, and unfortunately are turning some things that were shared in confidence into additional lies. Sigh.

      Hurt feelings aside, I still don’t want anyone feeling they need to pick sides or unlike pages just because of me or stillbirthday. I do appreciate your loyalty, honestly I do. If you really are looking for another “birthie” page (: you might have heard about Birth Without Fear, who stands behind stillbirthday as well and she also was probably how you were even led to The Skeptical Mother in the first place.

      Most importantly, I want you to know that I am sorry for your losses. I am thankful that stillbirthday has been able to provide even the tiniest bit of support for you. Losing our children is purely devastating.

  3. Jen Stevens says:

    Thank you for all that you and Stillbirthday do, Heidi. I continue to hold it in prayer. The path of loss is long and thorny and excruciating; having support and a soft place to fall is a gift.

  4. Outsider says:

    Oh my goodness this situation is just plain horrible. I am so angry that the work you do for loss mums is trying to be railroaded by some vengeful agenda. Have these people no dignity or respect for parents that have lost their babies? Heidi, your response to all this unnecessary drama shows the kind of person you are – compassionate, forgiving and passionate about helping others. To all involved with stillbirthdays, keep up the great work that you do in helping loss mums (and dads) in their darkest hours.

  5. Robin Karr says:

    heidi, as i read what you wrote here, i could see and feel that you are concerned that all of this hurtful talk and hurtful postings took place and took place publicly no less. in our human mind, we don’t always see any good that can come from situations like these. i have a feeling that good has come from this situation and misunderstanding though… there is no doubt that satan meant this for evil but god meant it for good. god is using you. don’t ever doubt that for one minute. god does not require us to be perfect; only that our hearts are perfect toward him. it’s obvious to me that your heart is in the right place and that’s all that matters. god will work the rest out. the battle is his anyway. you are a willing vessel he is using. this whole ‘thing’ has reminded me of a story david wilkerson told many years ago when he obeyed god’s calling and went to new york city to work with gangs. he managed to get himself arrested and the picture of his arrest waving his bible was front page news. he said that he knew that he had disgraced god and feared his work with gangs would not move forward. god’s ways are not our ways though… that picture of david wilkerson’s arrest waving his bible is the very thing god used to help make a way for pastor wilkerson to get respect from gang members.
    i think of you as the david wilkerson of the loss mother’s ministry. no weapon that is formed against you will prosper.

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