Push Girls

Have y’all heard about the series Push Girls coming out on the Sundance Channel this June about four strong female friends who also happen to have spinal cord injuries? This show looks like it is doing so much right: strong women who hold each other up instead of tear each other down, interracial friendships, actors with disabilities playing themselves (instead of the countless roles in which able-bodied and typical actors play people with disabilities a la characters like Artie in Glee or Raymond in Rain Man). Not to mention the very real, complex, and interesting lives these women lead. The series looks like it is neither focusing solely in on disability nor ignoring it but instead include it as one dynamic in a shifting

One of the things I’m most excited about is that we follow Auti Angel, one of the Push Girls, on her journey to become pregnant and start a family. We almost never see images in the media of women with disabilities choosing parenthood. We don’t see positive portrayals (or any portrayals for that matter) of women with disabilities during pregnancy, labor and birth, or the postpartum period. I’m excited to nuance this conversation, deepen it, and look at it with all of its complexities and joys. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping she chooses a midwife, but I guess we’ll have to see. Mostly, I can’t wait to see how the show producers choose to portray Push Girls and this particular story line.

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Unexpected Birth Outcomes

When he was a week old, we got a call that his metabolic screening panel came back positive for congenital hypothyroid. I think this call, this first pronouncement, was from our midwife, but I don’t remember her calming tones, her everything-will-work out demeanor: I remember the blood in my ears, the grip around my perfect child tightening, the irregular shape of the bricks outlining our empty fireplace.

From Congenital Hypothyroidism: The Past

One of the births I attended in the past year was at that of a baby born with a previously undetected congenital defect. In the ensuring 12 hours or so, I had the profoundly humbling experience of watching a family’s understanding of their lives, plans, and realities change forever. Irrevocably.

It was something I had assumed I would encounter eventually, but isn’t that true with all complications of labor and birth? Some day I might see that. Not now. Not so soon, so early in my training. But there I was helping a family navigate suddenly the difficult world of grief, readjustment, hospitals, specialists, tests, etc. and ad nauseam after their beautiful homebirth. Trying to serve the needs of both parents who dealt with this information very differently, and trying to make this experience as holistic, loving, informed, and as close to the midwifery care they received before birth as possible.

Which is why I was deeply touched that Arwyn chose to share her story of discovering that her son had congenital hypothyroidsim on her blog Raising My Boychick. She talks about how it transformed her son’s babyhood and how her feelings about it have changed now that he’s older and now that she’s pregnant again. It’s a moving account, an apt commentary on ableism and disability activism, and in general an important read for birth workers.

You can read the whole story (in two parts) here: Congenital Hypothyroidism: The Past and Congenital Hypothyroidism: The Future.