How fun it was to read 'Special Delivery' (1/5/07) on birth options! Hours before I read the article, my 2-year-old daughter and I were warmly greeted when we dropped in unannounced to her birthplace, the midwife-staffed Madison Birth Center, to say hello. She was my third birth, the first two being hospital births.
Now that I have been through a small spectrum of birth choices, my main concern is the lack of education we as mothers are given about our choices. All births have risks ' but so does every process of life.
I am grateful to the obstetrician who delivered my first two children with her state-of-the-art medical knowledge. I also remember the surge of courage at my midwife-attended birth; when I felt I could not go on, I felt a gentle hand on my head lending me the strength and determination to continue.
When I informed a friend, who is a mother of four, of my birth outside a hospital, she gasped: 'Is that even legal?' What we need is mainstream coverage of the birth choices available to all women.
Catherine Smith, Evansville
We appreciated Ann Levihn's article on different birth options in Madison and wish to add another regional choice. Our son was born this October in Reedsburg. We were looking for a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) and found our options in Madison very limited.
There is a small but real risk of uterine scar rupture during second-stage labor. For this reason, we wanted to give birth in a hospital where emergency backup is available, but we couldn't quite find the homey atmosphere we wanted in Madison.
More important, we couldn't find anyone who could guarantee they would be at the birth ' somehow we missed the Wildwood Clinic in our search (Letters, 1/12/07). We began to think what we wanted was not possible: a midwife-attended birth in as natural a setting as possible. But we found it at the Reedsburg Area Medical Center, a small regional hospital 70 minutes from Madison.
We found that its birthing center has equipment similar to what we saw at Madison's larger hospitals, but the application described in those tours was quite different. At Reedsburg, it is entirely dependent upon the birthing mother and her provider. The birthing center is headed by Certified Nurse Midwife Diane Bindl and is staffed by a phenomenal group of OB nurses. The word midwife means 'with woman' and aptly describes births attended by the two-woman team of Diane and her partner, Deb Adams.
Bindl and our doula, Certified Professional Midwife Gretchen Spicer, were with us through our entire labor and eventual cesarean birth. Even though the birth was surgical, they made it as close as possible to the birth we had envisioned.
We were treated with care and compassion and knew in the end that we had truly done everything possible to achieve a VBAC, and that our baby was strong throughout. More information about the Reedsburg Area Medical Center is available at www.ramchealth. com/birth_center.
Jennifer Ruef and Adam Cain
Ann Levihn's article presented a great deal of useful information for prospective parents. Regrettably, she omitted an important local source of highly personalized care: family physicians who practice in UW Family Medicine clinics throughout the area.
What distinguishes family medicine as a discipline is the continuity and in-depth knowledge that comes from caring for an entire family, often over the course of years.
For expectant mothers, this means the family physician has probably treated her, her children and perhaps even her spouse, and understands the home environment and social support she will have available during and after the pregnancy. The physicians of UW Family Medicine clinics not only deliver the children of their patients but also provide continuous care in the postpartum period and beyond, building a depth of knowledge that is difficult to match.
These UW physicians deliver at both Meriter and St. Mary's. Last year, more than 500 babies were delivered by UW Family Medicine physicians. The great majority of these deliveries were handled by the same one or two physicians the mother sees at every clinic visit. This comprehensive and personal approach is a point of pride for us, and we hope women realize this option is available to them here.
Sandra A. Kamnetz, M.D., Vice chair Family Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
According to state Sen. Mark Miller, 'Wisconsin has absolutely no sources of energy' ('Now It's the Dems' Turn,' 1/12/07). This is simply not true. Our state's strong agricultural base is on the cusp of producing large quantities of a clean, inexpensive and renewable fuel.
Biodiesel can be produced from soybeans, canola oil, or even fry grease. It has much more energy per unit than ethanol, and not only costs less but has fewer environmental drawbacks. Three biodiesel plants are opening around the state within the year, and will use crops grown right here in Wisconsin.
My biodiesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI gets more than 625 miles per tank of fuel. In addition to the incredible mileage, the exhaust smells like popcorn, not at all like acrid diesel exhaust. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that money spent on the fuel is more likely to stay in Wisconsin than go to Texas or overseas.
I encourage anyone who wants to help our nation escape its dependence on oil to contact Madison's Prairie Fire BioFuels Cooperative or the new Milwaukee Biodiesel Co-op and switch from petroleum-based fuel to Wisconsin-grown fuel.
Jason Haas, Milwaukee Biodiesel Co-op, groups.yahoo.com/group/mkebio
The horse's mouth
Regarding Jay Rath's article 'All Together Now' (1/19/07) in which he quotes Ald. Brenda Konkel as saying 'they [Smart Growth Madison] seem to be a lot more supportive.' Konkel's statement is completely false. At no time did Smart Growth Madison ever support the proposed conservation districts; nor did we ever indicate we were 'more supportive,' as she claims.
Please don't rely on what alders or others might claim our group supports or opposes. Instead, feel free to call our executive director, Carole Schaeffer, and ask our opinion directly. Thank you.
Terrence R. Wall, president, Smart Growth Madison