Linda Thompson interviews Thais Derich about her debut memoir Second Chance.
Linda: Hi, this is Linda Thompson, your host for The Authors Show. I rather doubt that any expectant mother looks forward to or even anticipates the surprise of a delivery by caesarean section. That's just the tip of the iceberg when author Thais Nye Derich talks about her experience in her new book, Second Chance: Healing From an Unwanted Caesarean. Thais join us today to talk about a less than ideal delivery experience. Thais, welcome to The Authors Show.
Thais: Thank you, Linda, it's great to be here.
Linda: Thais, will you give us a quick overview of Second Chance: Healing From an Unwanted Caesarean?
Thais: Yes. I live in San Francisco Bay area, a mainstream mom, got pregnant and took my first class and thought I was doing everything right. Went to a first class hospital, just assumed I would get the best care there is in the world and I ended up with the caesarean that left me traumatized for years. During the three-year period of healing, I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about birth and birth policy and culture and our medical model of care. In learning all that, I realized that my cesarean was unnecessary and it's not just a problem with me, it's the problem with our whole medical model of care that we practice in the United States right now. When I became pregnant with my second child, I needed to figure out how I was going to avoid the potholes that I fell into last time.
Linda: Was there anything specific that pushed you towards sharing your story with the rest of the world?
Thais: Yes. When I started to uncover that the United States has a worst maternal and infant mortality rate amongst all developed countries and other startling facts like that, I realized that I was a victim of a system that wasn't looking out for my best interests and it became a protest. I was determined to give birth the way I had studied was the safest and most evidence-based way of giving birth, even though it wasn't what I had experienced in the hospital from my first birth. I felt a fire in me to share my story with others because I was shocked myself to learn what I learned in the process of healing in between the two births.
Linda: I really have to admire that protest attitude of yours because I feel that if more people spoke out about our -- what I call our so-called health care system, that maybe we could change things. While you were writing your book, were you writing for any specific type of reader?
Thais: Well, I wrote the book very much -- it's my story, I wasn't really writing for any specific person. I just told my story as it unfolded. What I'm realizing now with my readers is that the book is for everybody. It's not just for women that are going to have a baby now. I've had readers that they aren't planning on having any more children and they read my book and cried and healed themselves from their own traumas that have been left buried. It's also for a feminist. It's a different angle of controlling a woman's body and this is a little section of that through childbirth. How our system tries to make laws and policies that dictate how a woman gives birth, rather than trusting her and allowing her to make decisions for herself and her family.
Linda: In you book synopsis, you write that you left the hospital physically, spiritually, and emotionally injured. Please share a little about your experience.
Thais: I was in the hospital and my water broke. This is the first thing that happens, is you go into the hospital too early. My water broke, I called my doctor and she said, "Well, you should probably come in because of the risk of infection," but I wasn't in labor yet. Once you step into the hospital, you know that costs money, for them to hold the room for you. If you're not in labor, you're going to be in there a while and they're going to start getting agitated because you've been in there for so long. I got in too early and then my labor -- looking back, I think I got in there at 6:00 AM and I was pushing by 9:00 PM.
They allowed me -- and again, the word "allow", they allowed me to push for three hours and then my time was up and I didn't know any better to ask for more time. In my birth class, I was taught "Oh, just don't try to be a hero, just see what your doctor says. They know that." I went in with that assumption. After three hours of pushing, a doctor came in and said it's time to get the baby out. "You're fine. Your baby's fine, it's just time." I'm in a vulnerable situation, I am pushing the baby out and looking back, that's a ridiculous thing to say and I should have said something, but I didn't and I signed the paper for the caesarean. When you're getting ready for surgery, they shave your pubic hair, they put a shower cap on your hair, they're moving fast.
Even though it wasn't an emergency, the gurney men we're running me down the hallway, it was very scary. My husband was running with me and then get to the doors of the OR and they say, "Well, you can't go with her." I was like, "Wait, what?" My husband, he's like "Why can't I go in there?" They said "You can come in later, after we prep the room." That moment, I later found out through therapy, was really traumatizing for me, to be separated from my husband and going in alone to the scary situation.
Linda: I get cold chills just thinking about it. Tell me, Thais, your book title is Second Chance, did you get a second chance and have another child and how did that birth differ?
Thais: Luckily, I put a lot of work into my second birth. I am not doing this again. I learned that 44% of hospitals banned vaginal birth after caesarean. I couldn't go into a hospital again because I was more likely -- even though I'm a healthy, perfect candidate for vaginal birth after a caesarean. I interviewed doctors and they were all very nervous, they would say, "Well, we could let you try. We might have you try in the OR or you need to be continuously monitored," and just a lot of these restrictions. I said, "Well, I'm going to have to do this at home if I really want to have a vaginal birth. I can't go to a hospital because I'm more likely to have a caesarean there than if I have my baby at home."
I felt fine about that because I had done three years of research and I knew that I was safe. I also was in the city and I was literally five minutes away from the hospital. It was easy to get to it if something went wrong. I had a midwife, who has delivered over a thousand babies and she was great and everything went as planned. I had a healthy boy and my son, who was born via caesarean, he was there and he got to hear his brother's first cry. It was just the most beautiful, peaceful family birth and an experience I'll never forget.
Linda: Congratulations on that. What would you say is the most important message in Second Chance that you want your readers to remember?
Thais: If there was someone in front of me right now, who didn't have time to read the book or who was scared, it might scare them, say, a pregnant woman who says, "Well, I want to read your book, but I'm worried it's going to scare me". I think the one message I would say to that woman right now is that she is the ultimate decider about decisions about her body and her birth. That the doctors and the hospital, they all work for her. She is not a victim, she is not the lesser, she is in control and she can act on that by saying things like "I would like more time", "I would like a second opinion", "I would like more informed consent", "I have the right to refuse suggestions that are proposed to me." that's the message that I really want women to hear.
Linda: I think that's a very important message because we are, after all, in control of our own bodies or, at least, we would like to think so. Tell me, now that you published your first book and it's a memoir, are you planning to continue writing?
Thais: Yes. I'm actually really excited about my second book. It's a fiction book that takes place in an apocalyptic world, where women stop giving birth to girl babies. There is one more girl who becomes of age. At this time, women are being farmed as breeders, rather than -- it's not a normal society, how we know it now. This girl has to decide if she is going to succumb to this and try to save the human race by seeing if she can have a girl baby or is she going to flee and do something else.
Linda: That's a little spooky. [laughs] If you could compare your current book with any other, what would that other book be?
Thais: I haven't seen a book-length memoir about birth, but I think I would love to compare mine to The Thinking Woman's Guide to Childbirth. That's a more of a how-to and I think mine, it would be a lovely complement to that. Mine is a story. It reads like a novel or memoir, but it also teaches what The Thinking Woman's Guide to Childbirth teaches its readers.
Linda: Where can we learn more about you, about your work and protests and, most of all, where can we purchase Second Chance: Healing From An Unwanted Cesarean?
Thais: My book goes for sale everywhere books are sold and I have a website, where I post events and my blog. I keep it up-to-date and my website is thaisderich.com and that's spelled T-H-A-I-S D-E-R-I-C-H.com. My first and last name dot com.
Linda: Thais, you've certainly given our listeners something to ponder today and I do believe that a lot of them are going to want to read about your experience prior to having a child of their own or even afterwards. Thank you for sharing your story with us and when you publish your next book, will you come back and chat with us again?
Thais: I would love that, Linda, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Linda: You've often heard me say that there's no better way to close a show than with a good review. Here's a compilation of a few I found for Second Chance. This book is a beautiful, raw and poignant story of the role of birthing in women's lives. It takes on one woman's journey, yet it is so real that it is almost impossible not to take to heart as partly your own. I've read a lot of book-length birth stories, but Derich's stands out as especially revealing of the weaknesses in our system. An unbiased, highly transparent account of one woman's journey through the labyrinth of emotions and experiences that can accompany the post-cesarean birthing women in the U.S.--
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