Marilee Pinkelton

Marilee attended my son’s VBAC homebirth in 2009. Barely – because I sounded so calm on the phone, she misread the situation and didn’t think the birth was imminent. By the time she arrived, he was crowning.

Nevertheless, he got out safely. But there was meconium in the waters, and not a trivial amount. When she bathed the child, Marilee commented that the bath water turned green. I now know that we should have headed to the hospital *immediately* upon seeing all that meconium. But because the baby was active and nursing and had good APGAR scores, Marilee actively discouraged us from going to the hospital, warning that he would be admitted to the NICU for an unnecessary long stay and pumped full of drugs.

She did, to her credit, stick around most of the day, keeping an eye on the baby. But I now know that a poorly-trained, ideologically motivated care provider is worse that having nobody around at all. She heard meconium in my son’s lungs but convinced herself – and us – that it was fine because he still seemed so healthy. She kept saying, “sick babies don’t nurse.” Her diagnosis was Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn, a random breathing problem that happens to some newborns but goes away without intervention. I now know that you never, never, never assume TTN when there is also meconium present! When there is meconium present and funny breathing, you assume meconium is in the lungs and it’s serious! But at the time, what she said seemed to make sense – the baby did seem okay except for some funny breathing. Maybe it was just a fluke.

And then at one point late in the day, she declared his lungs free and clear, as though the crisis was over. But it wasn’t. Overnight, the baby’s breath started to sound a little funny. My husband and I debated going to the hospital – we felt like we should, but the “care provider” we trusted had seemed SO CERTAIN that it was unnecessary and would do more harm than good. If my baby spent a week in the hospital, our bonding could be put at risk…our breastfeeding relationship could be put at risk…this stuff was important to us, at the time.

But it all became moot in the morning. We called Marilee somewhere around 5am and shortly after she showed up, the baby turned blue. She called 911 and our new baby took an ambulance to the hospital.

He spent a month there – by the end I WISHED it would have been the mere week our midwife warned about – and his case was serious. He had inhaled a significant amount of meconium. For the first few days, we did not know if he would make it at all. He was put on two different ventilators, and a feeding tube (breastfeeding? out of the question) and indeed pumped full of drugs. For which I was grateful, since he wasn’t in pain.

Amazingly, this baby is now a strong, healthy, active two year old. But this is no thanks to the “midwife” who delivered him. The heroes here are the professional medical doctors who saved his life after the “midwife” failed to accept that there was even a serious problem. I do not think that Marilee caused the meconium inhalation, of course – if I’d given birth in the hospital, the risk still would have been there. But they would have been able to suction the baby right away, and would have been monitoring his oxygen all along. My son, I now know, spent the first 24 hours of his life fighting to breathe. If he’d been born in the hospital, or had at least been transferred right after birth, he would have gotten supplementary oxygen from the outset.

As for Marilee, I don’t think she is malicious – just well-intentioned but dumb. In some ways, that’s worse. She is blinded by her dislike of hospitals, as I suspect many CPMs are, and it negatively impacts the advice she gives her patients. I think the most telling thing was how she reacted after the baby was taken off in the ambulance. My midwife, my trusted care provider, called me – the terrified new mother – for directions to the hospital from my apartment. She was so sure that the hospital was unnecessary that she hadn’t even bothered to find out how to get there. So unprofessional.

I can only hope this experience taught her to take meconium seriously the next time she sees it. Unfortunately, the zealots at ICAN are still recommending this hack left and right (because people like me, who almost see our children die, can hardly see c-sections as a tragedy anymore and don’t go to ICAN meetings) so she’s probably got plenty of clients. But she shouldn’t. She’s not qualified to deliver a baby. But most CPMs aren’t.


Dr. Naved JafriĀ 

I saw 3 OBGYN’s at this practice. They want you to get to know everyone since whoever is on call is the one who delivers your baby. Dr. Naved Jafri was my favorite, and I was lucky that he was on call when I gave birth. Throughout my pre-natal care, he was the one I felt most comfortabe with. He took the most time to answer my questions, and find out how I was doing. There was a female OB there who I wound up having problems with, and when I requested that she not attend the delivery he offered to attend me regardless of who was on call. When my babys head and shoulders were born, he placed my hands underneath the babys arms so I could pull him onto my chest myself. The practice itself is very friendly. I loved the nurses. Also, the one female OB who I did not like was “let go” a month or two after I gave birth. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had a problem with her.


Shenandoah Womens Health Care

This is a CNM based practice. I chose centering care instead of traditional care. I loved being able to spend 2 hrs at the office talking about pregnancy, labor, etc. instead of the usual 15min appointment. It was like an appointment and childbirth education class rolled into one. The downside thought was that I mostly saw one midwife despite the fact that there were 5 on call, and whoever is on call is the one who delivers your baby. So I didn’t get to know the other midwives. The midwife who ran the class, Marty Jones, was wonderful. She was friendly, patient, and always had time after the group session if you had private questions or concerns. I really wish I could have had her deliver my baby. Unfortunately, she was not on call when I went into labor. Melody Mast was the midwife on call, and I had only seen her once a couple months before. She seemed perfectly nice, I just didn’t know her very well, and was not as comfortable with her as I would have been with Marty.

I also met Dr. Stephanie Scheidt, one of the OBs. She’s the one who performed my sons circumcision. I liked her as well. She took the time to explain the procedure to me, what type of pain relief she would use, and how it differed from other methods. She asked permission to give a pacifier as a comfort measure since I was breastfeeding. She took the time to address concerns I had due to the complications that occurred with my first sons circumcision.(performed by an OB from a different practice)



Loudoun Community Midwives

The midwives at LCM are fantastic. They are very knowledgeable on natural childbirth, but supportive whatever the route you choose. I also loved that they are very compassionate and will spend as much time as you need going over whatever it is that you are worried/interested in/etc. They honored my wishes and helped me to get the birth that I wanted in a situation that wasn’t ideal. I also really enjoyed their reception staff as well.





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