I have been stewing ever since I read the story, and I have held off posting my thoughts while I calmed down and got my thoughts together. Here are some of my impressions:
First, I totally resent the title of the article: "Extreme Birth."
As my friend (who also had a home birth) quipped with me, "what, are they talking about giving birth on the side of a cliff or something?" Kidding aside, how backwards is it that people (like Cara Muhlhahn) who believe in and support the process of physiologically normal birth are the ones who's work is branded "extreme." Meanwhile, Doctors are currently seeing to it that one in three American women are cut open to have their babies extracted via cesarean section.
To me, the great tragedy here is that something as physically radical (and truly extreme) for mother and baby as cesarean section has become incredibly routine. Why don't more people in the mainstream media/medical establishment look at c-section (not to mention the myriad of typical medical protocol and hospital interventions that interrupt the natural process and often result in c-sections) as "extreme"? Why is the burden of proof of safety usually placed so heavily on the process that nature intended and designed over the course of millennia as opposed to the relatively recent modern inventions, drugs, and technology that interrupt that process? Anyway, that's a whole other soapbox I could go off on.
Now I would like to talk a little bit about my experience of being interviewed by Andrew Goldman for this article, because I think it sheds a bit of light on what I believe to be his true bias against home birth.
A couple of months ago, I had a phone conversation with Mr. Goldman that lasted for over an hour. Throughout the interview I thought it was incredibly obvious that Mr. Goldman had an agenda that sought to establish me and other people who have home births as stereotypically hippie-dippy, anti-establishment, Birkenstock-wearing flakes. Here are some of the questions that he asked me:
Are you a vegetarian?
Do you only buy organic food?
Is your child being vaccinated?
I have tried without success to imagine how any of these questions relate to the stated topic of our conversation, home birth, and specifically my relationship with Cara Muhlhahn. At at the time they left me feeling baffled, and since then my emotions have grown into feeling downright offended. One of the most upsetting points in the interview was after I went to great lengths to tell Mr. Goldman about my personal experience with home birth, which gets into my family history and the fact that both my mother and mother-in law had home births. My mother's influence on my choice of where to give birth has been enormous. She gave birth to me (her first child) in a hospital with all the technological bells and whistles of the day -- She was laying down and hooked up to all the requisite monitors, I was pulled out with forceps, she was immediately separated from me, and hours later when a nurse returned with a baby...it was not me! The whole experience was downright traumatic for both of us and it began the journey that led my mom to stay at home and use a midwife by the time my sister (her third child) was born nine years later.
I went into great detail sharing this personal background and carefully setting up the premise that it was her negative firsthand experience with the medical establishment that led my mom to discover the alternative path of home birth, which she pursued only after yet another negative hospital experience (with the birth of my brother) and much research, reading, and education on the issue. The midwife-assisted home birth proved to be a far more positive and healthy experience for the entire family. Mr. Goldman seemed to be listening intently, but when I reached the end of the story, he simply asked, "and would you say that your parents were hippies?"
Even if that question was remotely relevant, my parents most definitely were not hippies. And while I have nothing against hippies, I deeply resent the implication of his question and all of Andrew Goldman's overriding attempts to pigeonhole me and my family into an easily discounted stereotypical, "fringe" minority.
As for the article's s attacks on the character, credibility, and professionalism of Cara Muhlhahn, I can only express my profound outrage. My personal experience with Cara was good, I trusted her ability and expertise a hundred percent, and I have the utmost respect for her and her work. She is incredibly well respected in her field and I think she adeptly provides a much-needed service to pregnant women who have precious few options in our confoundedly broken-down health care system. Andrew Goldman's story was one-sided and unfair because it put sensationalism above the facts.
Note: I would encourage you to check out the interesting conversation and debate that is unfolding over on the article's comment thread. It sheds some light on aspects of the story that were glossed over or not covered at all.