Postpartum Scare, Part 2


I need to preemptively state that I am tired of living in the shadows, staying silent so that people who have harmed my family in some way, don’t have to be held accountable for their actions, or have others know about what they’ve done.

In my post, Midwife Review, I mentioned that this midwife told me that if I continued sharing the information of what happened, she would contact her attorney. I won’t be fear-mongered into silence.

It is the stories of CPS (and many, many more than could sanely fit into that one post) that I shared in my last postpartum post that made me resist my midwife’s “recommendation” to take our 5 day old girl into the pediatrician, when she had a dime- to nickel-size drop of blood in her diaper.

That first morning, we woke up, we changed her diaper and she had a small amount of blood in her diaper and a little on her vagina. I was concerned, but not worried, so I took a picture and sent it to our midwife. I called her and asked if she’d seen anything like it before. She asked if she could share the picture with a small group of “18 Christian midwives” that she knows personally, to seek their thoughts. I told her yes. About an hour later, she called back and read off about 7 responses from them, all of them freaking out that the baby had been sexually abused, with two midwives also suggesting that it could possibly be precocious puberty (beginning puberty before the age of 9). None of them were sure of what was going on, as all of them said they’d never seen bleeding like that from a 5-day old female before. Our midwife only saw one picture, slightly blurred because it was early in the morning and I couldn’t get a better shot, that willingly sent her because I was curious as to what it was. I was not worried or filled with fear. She never once asked to come see Leela in person, herself (I was 5 days postpartum, so it wasn’t a registered thought from me, though I wish it had been).

This is where the fact that my oldest daughter had been molested by my ex-husband, was a huge emotional trigger for me. I felt no red flags that my youngest (a decade between my two children) was being abused. And yet, when the midwife read to me the comments that the midwives suspected abuse, I sobbed. Sobbed just as I had when Melody told me about being molested.

It was a very strange moment, because my knowledge and feelings on what was happening at the two different times of crying were very different. Someday, I may share with you my experience after Melody told me she had been molested. Today is not that day. It was hearing those words from the midwives that put me exactly back into the moment I wept in my car while I told my Dad that Melody had been molested, the night I learned about it myself.

All of this made me very resistant to putting any family members through the hell that comes with that very suggestion, who I knew were innocent (since Leela hadn’t been assaulted!). You can’t take back the accusation or the effect it leaves on the accused-innocent.

After sobbing and being held by my husband for a good 30 minutes, I got to researching quickly. I only had to type in one google search, “newborn 5 day old vaginal bleeding.” It was immediately apparent that it wasn’t uncommon for actual blood to come as a hormonal flush for girls (my first daughter had white fluid streaked with blood, so it looked pink, not like actual blood as it did with Leela). 

I sent the midwife legitimate medical websites that said this. I was calm and at peace.

This was my actual response to her, with after-notes for clarification in the {parentheses}:

Okay, I am calling around to set up a newborn exam for “Leela.” No luck finding a pediatrician, yet, that is taking new patients and that is open to no-vax. 

I am still going to be very diligent to get her examined, and take seriously the bleeding if I see it continue for more than a few days – and the thoughts you shared with me from fellow midwives. You know me well enough now to know 1) I study everything for myself as much as I can and 2) I am not hesitant to take action when I think a child is being harmed. 

With that said, after I got off the phone with you, I started looking online and in my books for what could be going on. After even a quick glance over {I did more than a glance-over}, it appears a good number of (clearly, not all) little girls around this day-age have what looks like a little mini period, with a day or two of actually bright blood (I’ll reference some of the web articles I found). Already there is a diminished amount {most of the day had gone by, by the time I could type up/send the email}, basically a drop or two in her diaper. Her nipples are also irritated and looking chapped. Yesterday they were looking like they had pus on them too, but nothing wiped off. None of that today, just the chapped/irritated thing. I knew not to be worried about it {the nipples} as it is probably hormones flushing out. 

Her vulva is red, but not actually swollen today. It was swollen the first few days {of her life}, but not yesterday or today {the day we saw the blood spot and shared a picture with the midwife}. Even looking at the picture again, it’s not swollen. 

After reading what I have, I am scheduling a normal newborn exam for her {standard scheduling is when baby is 2 weeks old}, rather than rushing her in anywhere. It sounds very normal after what I’ve read (I also called several people and asked them what they experienced with their little girls as newborns, none seemed alarmed with what I shared {what I didn’t mention was that they were more well-known  that I know online, who also have daughters}). If there is abuse, it will still be very apparent in an infant, even a week from now. While I am not going to ignore it, I am also quite cautious to assume it’s something more serious than what is more than likely a normal mini period for a female newborn. I will absolutely make sure to ask the physician at the exam to check her all over, including a vaginal check because of the blood issue.”

So… I told her that I would be taking Leela to a normal newborn appointment (we had never planned on taking her to a “well-child” visit. I can, and do, check that stuff at home. The link on the well-child visit is well worth reading, by the way) after she was two weeks old. On an odd side note, it was our midwife who advised us to keep newborns away from others, at home for two weeks as she built up an immune system, so they wouldn’t get sick. Thinking of taking her for no proven reason, into the germ infestation at a pediatricians office seemed completely counter to what we’d learned about up to that point.

If Leela had been assaulted at 5 days old, to a point at which she was bleeding, her insides would be wrecked, the bleeding would be more intense and go on for more than a few days, and the signs of it would be evidenced by a doctor for weeks to come, even months. She would be crying inconsolably (even at a year old, our girl only cried when needing a change, or wanted to be held), her vagina would be red, swollen and beat up. None of those other signs were present.

I mentioned that if she had been molested, I was absolutely willing to turn in whoever had done it; the midwife and I had been personal friends and she knew I had turned in my own husband (who was my ex- by the time all of this happened) for child molestation before.

I was hoping that the midwife did her own frantic research (She did. In fact, in the same email that she told me not to share this story or she would contact her lawyer, she confirmed for me that she had “poured through her books” and even asked a second group of local midwives – that I had not given her permission to speak with – what the blood could be… ironically, it was this second group that stated more frequently to wait it out, it was probably just hormonal) before she sent me a response email late that night, saying basically to “please rethink taking her to the dr.” She then called the next morning, just before 8am, and said if we didn’t take her to the pediatrician, she was calling CPS and telling them she was being molested.

When Daryl asked her what her medical sources/citations were for accusing us of this, her response was not even related to the extremely serious accusation she was threatening to make. It was, “Your wife has refused several of my medical referrals, not doing what I requested of her. Not that it bothers me.” Not sure why she brought it up, if it didn’t bother her, or why she avoided answering his question (other than that she didn’t have a good answer). Clearly, she was bothered that I educated myself and decided against doing the things she requested of me. 

Over 2 years later, all I can think of for her “medical referrals” were for my endocrine disorders which I’ve been successfully self-treating for half a decade (it’s how I was able to conceive and carry Leela to begin with. Thank you brain, ThyroGold, Seriphos, and a handful of necessary nutrient supplements!), and to have a ultrasound when my water broke but labor stalled out… so that we could test baby’s weight and amniotic fluid – neither of which is accurately measured by ultrasound.

Nevertheless, the god-complex of expecting me to do everything she said, without educating myself, left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Even God doesn’t expect me to be mindlessly obedient.

We took Leela in to the pediatrician, now panicked for no legitimate reason, and he was absolutely shocked that our midwife was so ignorant of the issue, that even based just on the picture I sent her (which he saw), that anyone with any amount of education about newborns, would assume either abuse OR precocious puberty. His words literally were, “woah, two big swings and misses,” then he chuckled. Then I told him she was threatening to call CPS, and I needed something from him to prove she wasn’t being sexually assaulted. He said, “She what? ……. Okay, I’ll write you a note for her. Please have her contact me to let me know what she decides to do about this.”

I called the midwife after the appointment and let her know the doctors reaction, his evaluation, etc. I was exhausted. I had no energy to tell her what a craptastic human being she had been to my family. I just sank into our couch and let numbness wave over me for a little bit.

Daryl talked with her after I gave her the recap. He was livid, but expressed himself in a controlled manner. He asked her if she read the information I sent her in the email, about a hormonal flush. She flat out said no. He asked her for her medical sources that led her to accuse us of abuse based on one picture and an admitted lack of knowledge on the entire thing. She said she didn’t have any.

She then changed her story and told us that she wasn’t calling CPS to report proven abuse, but that she “suspected” abuse.

So, let’s put this all into focus. Unwilling to study the information her clients sent her, unable to find any proof or information to give foundation to her fear/worries, and too “busy” to even consider coming to her clients home 
(or, I can give a bit of understanding… perhaps the thought of actually seeing her client in such a “serious situation” never registered in her mind, either… but golly, you would think it would/should have for a “professional” willing to toss this horror story around), this midwife was willing to accuse a family of molestation with literally no medical basis for the accusation, even when realistic, medically-based options were presented to her that it was not molestation.

Her email to the pediatrician was just as sad and pathetic, with her wagging her finger at me to him, about declining her medical referrals… as though he cares what I did, and safely, during my pregnancy. {sigh}

My upset doesn’t come at all with someone willing to report abuse, or that she was willing to with us
In fact, when anyone knows without a shadow of doubt that a child is being molested, they have a love-duty, commanded by God, to protect those children.

No, my upset came because she was basing an accusation on an unwillingness to study, not having any real medical evidence/proof for the accusation, not seeing the client in person, and yet insisting to call CPS with that accusation.

I can barely express the sick, nervous feeling I get when I know a friend is still seeing her for midwifery care. It has actually sent me into panic attacks more than once. I only hope and pray they don’t have anything happen with her as I did, but because of her god-complex, I am concerned that it will.

In the end, we had a more comforting experience with the pediatrician. I no longer speak to that midwife; She was immediately blocked on Facebook, because I was afraid if she ever saw a scraped knee from a bike accident, a bruise on the head from slipping off a couch, or a rash in any pictures, she would jump to abuse again.

This was the postpartum scare, but even after it was over, I was left reeling from what had happened. I felt violated and manipulated. Many times during the following postpartum weeks made me look back on it and feel eerily similar to my experience as a secondary victim – whether anyone can understand that or not, doesn’t matter to me, it’s just how I felt for a long time, and I can still make connections there.

I felt disillusioned by midwifery as a whole, and questioned if I even wanted to be a midwife myself. I actually grew depressed and angry when I thought about being a midwife for some time. I remember weeping many times just thinking about midwives or being a midwife. It took me months and months to sort through everything to get to the point where I could hold to the calling God has for me, without feeling jaded about it. That is a post for another time.

If you have any red flags about your midwife or doula (or anyone, for that matter) – listen to your instinct. That doesn’t mean you need to treat the person terribly, but be cautious, and for goodness sake, don’t feel badly if you swap home birth care providers. Just go your separate ways and be joyful.

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