Yesterday I attended Lois Capps' thank you rally for people who helped to get the health care bill passed. It was held in the parking lot of the Community Health Care buildings across from the old General Hospital building. It was a surreal experience standing there looking at that building where so many babies were caught by Certified Nurse Midwives over the years and hearing Representative Capps speaking about a bill I passionately hope will encourage an upswing in the numbers of women receiving midwifery care in this country.
I couldn't really concentrate on what she was saying because my mind kept wandering over and walking the halls of that ugly old building thinking of all the uninsured babies born there over the years. Remembering the excitement of being present at the first hospital waterbirth in the county in one of their rooms. Thinking about the wonderful nurses and midwives who worked so hard at General Hospital over the years to create our most pro-natural hospital birthing option in the county. They always led the way, clearing a path for our other hospitals to follow; from postpartum family rooming in to birthing chairs, from the creation of the breastfeeding warm line to birthing tubs. Perhaps their most important contribution was becoming certified by the World Health Organization as a "baby friendly hospital".
It was a bittersweet moment thinking about the General Hospital nurses and midwives trying so hard to create a free-standing birth center within the shell of a building the county supervisors left behind and knowing the new health care reform might breath life back into their dream. How fitting to be listening to Congresswoman Capps, a former nurse, who has continued caring and fighting for women and children her whole life. It shouldn't surprise me. During my career I've met so many "Nurse Hathaways" walking the halls of our hospitals. Women who truly care about making things better for birthing women and their babies.
Although I was invited to attend this event I didn't actually work on getting passage of the legislation. Instead I worked on making sure birthing women's voices were represented in the bill. Women all over the country were similarly working through two grass roots organizations, the Mama Campaign and Childbirth Connections. I'm working on a piece that I hope will come out in the Women's Press about my experience with Lois Capps and the democratic process. Stay tuned.
Here is the article: Adrift on the Ocean of American Democracy.