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Sanctimommy Sighting!

Dr. Amy over at the Skeptical OB has a great post about that rare (but unfortunately, not rare enough) creature, the Mater Sanctimonius, commonly known as The Sanctimommy. Amy describes her attributes far better than I could, so go over there and have a look…I’ll wait. :) .

I’ve come across some Sanctimommy doozies in my day, some of whom have even commented here. But I think this particular specimen takes the cake:

I think many of us walk a fine line between wanting to know what’s going on in the world, and being sorry we ever asked. Thanks to the power of Twitter, I have been able to cyber-witness mothers everyday in hospitals all over this country being rolled off to the OR for their cesareans – all Tweeted live by the expectant father. It’s not hard to tell by a quick glance at the blinkies on the side of my blog that I am no fan of cesarean deliveries, and I’m not one to hide my feelings on the matter either. Science and evidence are on my side, and I know it. I realize this means I’m putting myself in a challenging position by exposing myself to certain Tweets in Twitterland.

Oh, they just make it too easy. If you have a nifty application like TweetDeck or Seesmic, you can perform a quick search on any word, and it will open a column that is continuously populated with tweets that contain that searched word. Right now I have a column open for the term “BFing” (or breastfeeding) and one for the term “cesarean.”

Almost every day I see a tweet or two come in from a dad in a delivery room somewhere in America’s heartland, saying something to the effect of “labor’s a bust, we’re going with the cesarean.” And of course, being who I am, my heart drops just a little. I can’t not say something (more on this later). So here is the transcript from yesterday’s encounter:

TheDad: Thank god for the epidural. She’s in labor getting close! Exciting!
TheDad: Doing cesarean in bout half an hour after no progress from baby with 2 hours of pushing

(Here’s where I come in)

Me: Get rid of the epidural, and she probably won’t need the cesarean (they r bad news). Seriously. That’s what worked for me.

TheDad: it’s only bad whentoo strong to feel anything. Babies head toobig nothing to do with epidural

Me: it’s bad when she can’t move to reposition the baby. If she was able to move, baby’s head is likely to fit. Avoid cesarean.
Me: and btw, “big baby” and “big head” are good excuses for docs to cut, and 90% of the time they are wrong about size.

TheDad: of course she can move to reposition the baby. Epi doesn’t mean handicapped. It’s not rocket science. Some heads are too

TheDad: big and some hip bones are too small and don’t move.

Me: i’m a small woman who birthed a 10 lb baby after the doctors said I never could. Doctors love cesareans. Very sad.

TheDad: great for you. Unfortunately not all womens bones cooperate

Me: we always blame the woman’s body. Our bodies are not a lemon. Good luck with baby, I wish Mom a speedy recovery. Ican-online.org

Now, I realize that it seems completely ludicrous that I would expect some stranger to take my advice over Twitter. I am under no delusion that this man is going to turn to his wife whilst she’s being prepped for the OR and say “Honey, unplug the spinal, this woman on Twitter says you shouldn’t have a cesarean.” And I’d surely die of shock if she actually turned to him and said “Really? A stranger on Twitter said so? Okay, unhook me Doc! I’m delivering this baby through my vagina instead.”

No, no, it’s not like I really think that’s going to happen. So why do I bother? Why do I upset myself, and undoubtedly upset this expecting dad on the most important day of his whole life? I promise this is not nearly as selfish as it sounds. Or at least I hope not.

Yes, I understand that I don’t know any of the details about this couple’s unique situation. Maybe there was a really, really good reason why she needed a surgical delivery. The issue is, though, this situation is hardly “unique.” If people only knew how their cesareans played out like scripted screenplays, they might feel cheated and lied to. The Business of Being Born did an excellent job of creating a cartoon out of this all-too-common situation. Everyone thinks their cesarean was “necessary” and an “emergency” when in reality so few of them really are. I want people to know this. I want to help them avoid this. I want them to avoid the pain and trauma my cesarean caused me.

My intentions are pure – but you know what they say about Intentions and that Paved Road to Hell… The truth is, I can’t help it. I have always felt some unshakeable urge to convince others of my argument, especially that which I am passionate about, even if it may not be the appropriate time or place for such an exchange.

I don’t have anything against VBACs per se. After all, I’ve had two of them. But if my husband (who, thankyougod, isn’t on Twitter and certainly wasn’t on it back in 1997) were to be on the receiving end of an exchange like that, I might find myself – just for an immature, spiteful moment, mind – wanting to sign up for an elective repeat CS right then and there.

If you have any similar examples, feel free to link to them in the comments.

24 Responses

  1. Just FYI, she deletes all “unsupportive” comments, so don’t bother.

  2. I have the constant urge to spout off my hardheld beliefs about circumcision every time I hear someone is having a boy. It is so hard for me to occasionally bite my tongue or to phrase things mor delicately. Why not the full frontal attack? Because a pro-circer tried that on me and it upset me so much I can’t talk to her anymore AND because up to that point I was only 90% committed to not mutilating little boys.
    So yeah, I think I see where you’re coming from.
    Its hard to not say something. By watching and not trying to intervene, one feels a certain amount of complicity. But the problem is, by trying to intervene, we sometimes push people into the wrong decision out of spite.
    *hugs*

    • I think you probably wanted to direct that comment to the Sanctimommy who wrote the original blogpost, slee. And I heartily recommend you keep on biting your tongue on that subject.

  3. Urgh what an awful woman! There is absolutly no reason for her to get involved in anyone elses life in such an intrusive manner at such an important time! If my husband were to get contacted by somebody like that whilst I was in pain and trying to bring our baby into the world in the best and safest way I could (with medical advice) I hope his response would be as well thought out as “Why don’t you go $%&* yourself”

    BTW what would this intruding woman think of this: http://jezebel.com/5321226/not-wanting-a-cesarean-qualifies-as-mental-illness

  4. What amazes me is that the tweeting dad even engaged with her. Her behavior strikes me as being that of a particularly pernicious sub-species of troll.

    The best way to deal with all trolls is to ignore them. They may not go away, but they won’t get any satisfaction, either.

  5. Holy sh*t. How could someone do that to total strangers??? I just don’t even know what to say. This is beyond Sanctimommy and into mentally ill.

  6. I just posted a comment there, which apparently will probably get deleted, to the effect that it’s not fair to go picking on any specific individual and telling her that all she has to do is turn off the epidural.

    Failure to progress, and failure to breastfeed, DOES happen even under “ideal” conditions, and much more frequently than most people believe (a 5% chance isn’t nearly as rare as it sounds). If it were that simple, no homebirthers would ever transfer and wind up with a CS, and MDC’s BF forum wouldn’t have any members wondering why their milk supply is tanking even though they’ve done everything “right”.

    You can argue whether there’s a linkage at the population level, but it’s impossible to have any metaphysical certainty in an individual, and it’s unfair to go giving her assvice. Is she the 1 in 6 for whom that CS will be lifesaving, even according to the WHO? Is she the 1 in 20 for whom breastfeeding will go idiopathically wrong, no matter what the mother does? Does the Twitter feed magically include her entire medical history, so that you know whether she’s got any problematic preexisting conditions?

    The mind, it boggles.

  7. Even if she were right, you don’t harangue random strangers. Let’s say I started trolling for Flat Earthers on Twitter and bombarded them with scientific cites. They are wrong but it wouldn’t make me less of an asshat.

  8. Aside from the fact that any man talking on the internet to a complete stranger during labor risks death, this is just strange. It just proves you can find anything on the net. If she is this interested in childbirth, why not apply to medical school and show the OBs how to do it right? It would either be a very gratifying or a very humbling experience. Based on her level of confidence about childbirth, surely she could handle medical school. She wouldn’t even have to diagnose via Twitter either!

  9. That woman is deranged. I scheduled my c sections for a numer of reasons. First off the wisdom of stretching out your vagina unnecessarily? Uh there is none. Secondly, you get an extra day to relax in the hospital.

  10. Actually, the morbidity and mortality of a vaginal birth vs c-section for the mom seem to favor vaginal.
    That being said, I did enjoy having the extra day in the hospital. I was able to demonstrate my mad breastfeeding skillz to the LC by then, instead of “you’re coming along very well for your second day”, and I had one more day of room service (muy importante when you’re trying to breastfeed around the clock so OH GOD YOUR MILK COMES IN), and, of course, two more weeks of paid leave CHA-CHING! Who said persistent breech presentations were a problem?
    I think my husband appreciated the extra night of sleep sans baby…

    • Miriam: “Actually, the morbidity and mortality of a vaginal birth vs c-section for the mom seem to favor vaginal.”

      For the mother, yes. For the baby, not so much. Or more correctly, for both of them – it depends on a lot of personal factors..

      I discussed the stats involved in the VBAC decision here.

  11. From the original poster in her comments:

    “…the way that I interpreted that was that the ACOG realized
    that FHR is no indicator of outcome, so whether it’s electronic or not…”

    Great interpretation! Maybe they’ll make a “Homebirth Barbie.” When you pull her string she’ll say, “Statistics are HARD.”

  12. I know for breech c/s favors the baby… I don’t know for vertex. In general, pretty darn safe for both modes (for trained professionals on a closed course)
    I’ve also heard that FHR has not been associated with changes in outcome, but neither has pulse oximetry or capnography in anesthesia, so I wouldn’t use that as a reason to not use FHR.
    (pain and trauma of a c-section my bippy– I had LESS pain and discomfort AFTER my c-section than BEFORE it… pregnancy is not for the faint-hearted)

  13. To clarify, I was not talking about VBACs. Went to Feminist Breeder’s site (where she says the “science and evidence” are on her side), so I just figured out where all the VBAC references came from. I apologize for failing to follow the thread of the discussion appropriately– I don’t actually know the stats for VBAC but I do know:
    you’d have to be a moron to have a VBAC anywhere but a hospital (FHR and all).

    • Many VBAC advocates and much of the lay literature is on an ‘evil doctors and hospitals’ trip…they absolutely advocate getting as far away from technology as possible and staying home, because technology was the supposed cause of the primary CS. It’s a good thing I can find the research myself, because with that attitude (not shared by the foremost MD VBAC advocate, Dr. Bruce Flamm, btw), I would probably have concluded that the only reasonable choices were ERCS in hospital vs. VBAC at home w/no epidural….and happily chosen the ERCS.

  14. Oh my…

    This woman needs therapy. Not satisfied with trying to make women feel unhappy with how the birth went afterwards, she’s trying to get in contact with women giving birth to tell them they’re doing it wrongly AT THE TIME?!

    Does the woman have no empathy or sympathy? She may have felt “pain and trauma” after her caesarean, but I bet her intervention did little for that couple’s happiness.

    But hey. I’m preaching to the choir here.

  15. She sounds completely delusional. As I wrote in a comment on her blog, a comment no doubt being axed as we speak, had she harassed my husband in this fashion when I was undergoing a life-saving, baby-saving c-section, she would’ve received a response that would have blown up her Blackberry.

    She seems incapable of understanding that it’s possible to talk about ceseareans without blaming mothers and fathers, alienating her own target audience, and damaging the natural-birth movement itself. What a flaming b–ch.

    My slapping hand is itching really badly right now….

  16. On a completely different note… I sort of understand the tweeting in the sense of up-dating friends but still…. must we tweet everything?

  17. I know a couple of people who tweeted their births. It’s just a way to keep families in the loop during all those long hours of labor. But people need to keep their updates private just so they aren’t targeted by loons like this lady.

  18. Since you invited us to post any other Sanctimommy examples, how about this doozy that I stumbled across the other day?

    The thread is http://groups.google.com/group/misc.kids.breastfeeding/browse_frm/thread/1409e3f89f921802#, and is mostly an innocuous thread about how nursing in public should be more acceptable, with which I quite agree. But check out this little gem buried in the fifth message down:

    “I strongly believe that manufactured milk should be available to those that
    require, and that it should not be readily available on store shelves. Make
    it a free perscription or something. We walk past manufactured milk in the
    store, and DD1 and DD2 both say we’re walking by the ‘poison’.”

    Oh. My. Dear. Lord. A Sanctimommy raising the next generation to be Sanctimommies in the making…

    Oh, well – I’ve posted an acerbic response, so let’s hope she reads it and it doesn’t get lost in all the spam now dominating that group.

    • Oooh, that reminds me of a Sanctimommy I ‘met’ at CafeMom a while back. Lemme see if I still have the cut&paste…yep:

      We were in wal mart after church this morning and we were standing in line with a lady and small baby behind us. Bailey (5 year old) keeps looking at this woman who is feeding the baby a bottle. I really didnt think anything of it because she has shown an interrest in babies since we told her we were pregnant. Well she preceeds to talk to the woman about how old her baby is (8 weeks) and how she is going to be a big sister again. I was just smiling to myself until…..

      Bailey said ” Is that formula in that bottle?’ The lady replies “Yes” Bailey says “Do you know whats in that stuff?!” The lady sort of bewildered at this point and maybe thinking Bailey is being cute said ” Well no I dont.” Bailey “Well why would you feed it to your baby?” Would you feed him something off the floor you didnt know what it was? I bet your baby has tummy problems too and cant go to the bathroom very easy either. Dont you know that babies should have milk from their mommies not from a can?” Then Bailey looks at me and says Mommy maybe you should have the bobby talk with her like you did with me because apparently she dosent know what her boobies can do.” Then she turned away and started talking to her sister. The lady kind of gasped and looked at me like how dare she. I just smiled back and said ” Well shes right you know.

      I almost peed myself. I am so proud of my little pro breastfeeder. She is going to be a great mommy(many many many years from now) Of course I rue the day she finds out I didnt bf her and get my little lecture. lol

      BTW, your response to ‘your’ Sanctimommy was great. Regular formula by prescription…ugh. Because we docs don’t have enough work to do, so we now should also be the arbiters of Mommy Virtue regarding who ‘tried hard enough’ and deserves a formula scrip?

  19. “If people only knew how their cesareans played out like scripted screenplays, they might feel cheated and lied to.”

    You all are obviously very naive. Don’t you know how much better a place the world would be if everyone felt cheated and lied to? :-p

    Forget whether she has the slightest idea what she’s talking about, I can’t even believe how she thinks it’s ok to add anxiety to this poor dad’s load, as his wife is being wheeled in to surgury. At least it wasn’t mom reading.

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