In Memory of Gavin Michael

It’s been one year today since the tragic and preventable death of Gavin Michael.  In that year I’ve become friends with his mother, Danielle, whom I blogged about here. She later said it helped her see how she was being manipulated by midwife Christy Collins.

In the last year,  not one person responsible for Gavin’s death has so much as expressed sadness for it – let alone guilt, grief or responsibility.  Jan Tritten,  Midwifery Today magazine,  Christy Collins – nothing.  Except to ban and delete all evidence that it ever happened.

Don’t let them hide another unnecessary, completely preventable baby death. Don’t let them bury another child twice. 

Life, The Universe and Writer’s Block

I was interviewed by some time ago about my son’s life and death. I have tried to make a post ever since, especially with all the anti choice legislation and seas of misinformation out there. But I just haven’t been able to. I’ve been on a blogging hiatus as I focus on my living son, my husband, my family and my job.


I've written my heart out for Isaac already

I’m still around.  I update my Tumblr on occasion and express my creativity through arts and crafts.  Lately, papercraft.



I have a half dozen almost-finished posts, but I’m so stressed about how tomorrow’s article will go that I haven’t made much progress on any of them.


I spent an hour on one tonight only to have the computer eat it, so this is the best I have. If you’re new here, welcome.  Most of what I write is about my life and my history.  My son’s death and my experiences with it are here. I’ve got lots of archives and new work is always forthcoming.  Read and enjoy, and forgive a busy mom for putting life above prompt blog posts.


Wouldn't you?

The Pilgrimage

It’s 3:44 am and I cannot sleep.

You'd think it was because clowns will eat me, given that I've been listening to the audiobook "IT" while driving, but nope. Pennywise ain't got shit on the fulfillment of dreams.

After two hours of trying to drift off and being barely able to lie still enough to avoid keeping my husband awake along with me (truly unfair, as he works tomorrow morning and I don’t have to be functional until my sweet son comes home from Grammy’s at 9). I could theoretically get up to five hours of sleep if my brain would turn off for even a moment, but it won’t. It’s replaying my night, reveling in the best moments. My heart feels so full it aches right now, in a way that I can’t quite put words to. I feel inspired and humbled, ecstatic and embarrassed, proud and shy.

Tonight, I met my heroes.

These motherfuckers.

These motherfuckers.

I knew months ago that Penn & Teller would be doing a show at Spirit Mountain Casino. It was such a given that I’d go that it didn’t occur to me that I might not get a ticket – that the show would sell out weeks before we could afford even the cheapest tickets. But sell out they did (no surprise, really) and my husband and Diamond both just shrugged and moved on. I, being the one who tends to be a bit larger than life, would have been devastated under most circumstances. Somehow, though, I wasn’t.

Nope, I just decided after barely a moment’s deflation that to hell with that, I was going to go to that casino and just wait until the show let out. I’m a fan; I know these guys hang out in the lobby until the last fan waiting has met them and been selfied or autographed or whatever.  I wanted to see the show, but what I really wanted was to meet them and say Thank You. Thank them and tell them a little about how much of a difference Bullshit! made in my life, for ill and later for good.

It was a magical night, full of a luck that I don’t usually encounter for an event I’ve built up this much in my mind. I left at five, fingers crossed that my husband’s suggestion of asking about no-shows at the box office would work. I made good time, chugging along I-5 and listening to Stephen King,’s It, too excited to stop for more than a cup of coffee. I got there and went to the box office and was given one of three remaining seats. Good seat too, on the floor, 15 rows back, not too far from center. I could see and hear and was so hopped up on anticipation that I couldn’t even read the program I’d bought.

The show was great – I can’t do it justice with words. Much of it was quieter and more intimate than I would have expected. Seeing them making the audience complicit on tv doesn’t capture the true magic of it in person. They did one of my favorite bits – the one where they symbolically burn the flag. It was nearly identical to the ones I’ve seen, both on Bullshit! and on youtube (I watch it every year on July 4th). It was like watching a dance – one that made me laugh and tear up at once. And the last gag was nothing big or explosive – just the two of them, Penn talking quietly, mostly lit by a candle, and ultimately eating fire. It reminded me less of a grand finale than of sitting by a fire at the end of a night, listening to one last story before bed.

Out in the lobby, it was madness. I waited patiently – more still and silent than anyone who knows me would ever believe. I mostly just stood and watched; tried not to stare like a creeper. Eventually the lobby emptied to just a handful of fans, those few of us with stars in our eyes, exchanging looks that were a mixture of camaraderie and wariness. We all knew why we were there – we wanted to go last and get to have a conversation, not just a souvenir.


I don’t talk about it publicly, but I’ve met a whole lot of celebrities since Project Elanor. I’ve got a bit of pride about the fact that I have kept my wits and been able to… well, to be my usual “public” self – confident, gregarious, casual. But not this time. This time I had to force myself talk. I stammered; I had trouble getting the words out; I blushed furiously and hung back.

Maybe it's because celebrities always seem so much smaller in person. But then there's THIS asshole...

Maybe it’s because celebrities always seem so much smaller in person. But then there’s THIS asshole…

I felt humbled to be in the presence of these men that I respect on such a deep level – as a comedian, a writer, a performer, a skeptic… I am not joking when I say they’re heroes to me. But they were both so kind – and so different than I expected. Penn called everybody “Boss” and was soft-spoken and listened intently to what people had to say – when they got his attention, which was prone to wander. He also looked exhausted enough that I felt mildly guilty to be one of the last hangers-on. (ETA: I think he’s sick – he skipped Sunday school)

But I pushed through enough to stammer out a very truncated version of my story. I told Penn that I’d been in a small cult. He immediately said, “I’m so sorry!” I smiled and said that I’m all better now, and then told him that the leader had us watch Bullshit! and explain away what Penn was saying. He nodded and then doubled back. “You mean, like, trying to debunk us?” he said. “No, I mean he was explaining to us why what he was doing wasn’t what you were debunking,” I managed to say. Penn laughed. “I wanted to understand!” he said and patted my arm, and then was on to the next adoring fan.

He was very nice and accommodating. And I made him laugh once.

He was very nice and accommodating, and much quieter than I expected. But he also sounded pretty hoarse, so maybe his voice was done for the night.

Teller, on the other hand, was bright and eager, friendly and welcoming in a way that was almost totally unexpected. It’s hard to describe Teller in person – so different from Teller on television. His near-silent performance has so much nuance that the camera doesn’t do justice, and his interactions in the lobby had a very different feel. I was unprepared for the full attention he gave me – and every fan – and wasn’t able to do more than stammer my gratitude for the show – all the shows over the years – and take a picture, and then sheepishly ask for his autograph. “I usually don’t, but Penn kind of signed it before I even asked,” I said, feeling stupid. But Teller is a class act and signed it, indicated that symmetry is important, and just seemed to try to make me (and everyone else) feel at ease and as comfortable as he clearly was.

He has a really nice voice. SHHHHH, don't tell anyone that I told you.

Also, he takes selfies like a boss.

At the end of the night, I left with a ticket stub, an autographed program, the photos I’ve posted here, and a heart over-brimming with joy and gratitude. It’s an hour since I started this post (and, admittedly, three shots of vodka) and I’m no closer to sleep than I was when I began. All I can think of is what I wish I’d said, what I want to say next time, and what an amazing dream come true it was to meet them both. I came away feeling inspired and ready to work all the harder on my writing, performing and comedy. Instead of the horror I felt in the wake of Project Elanor and Tentmoot. It was a revelation – this is what it is supposed to be like to meet a hero. Not shame; joy. Not horror; honor. Not ignominy; inspiration.

Thank you. Oh, thank you so much.

Thank you. Oh, thank you so much.

Christy Collins Rewrites History


I’ve been very closely following a particularly heartbreaking chain of events this week. If you are not familiar with the #notburiedtwice campaign, I strongly suggest you read this post.

In brief: Midwife Christy Collins, currently of Las Vegas, caused the totally preventable death of a baby through what in any regulated health care profession would be gross and obvious malpractice. She ignored a clear indication for immediate induction of labor: absolutely no amniotic fluid in a woman two weeks past her due date. Instead of transferring care, Christy crowdsourced “stories/opinions” via Jan Tritten, editor of Midwifery Today on Facebook. She subsequently delayed care by driving her client 30 minutes to a hospital that has a “midwife friendly” doctor. The baby died, and the midwifery community began to delete all evidence of the entire thing, including trying to hide Christy’s identity.

Luckily,  the crowdsourcing led to a great roar of outrage from readers, who got busy screen capping and digging for the truth. As the truth behind Christy Collins’ and Jan Tritten’s lies unfolds, a letter came to light, which I am going to unpack.

There's a lot to unpack, and very few LOLs to help.

There’s a lot to unpack, and very few LOLs to help.

For those new to my writing, I was in a cultic abusive relationship for over five years. I had a partner who created a small cult that, at times, would dwindle to me as the only follower. I was young, naïve and trusting, and I was at a major crossroads as a recent college graduate in a new and un fulfilling marriage.  My abuser used a variety of brainwashing and manipulation tactics on me until I believed everything he said – which included that he could channel other beings, that my family and friends were the real abusers,  that he became other people (including a “doctor”) and more. I ultimately divorced,  cut off my family and friends and lived totally in his living fiction until I was able to break free.

After extensive deprogramming and therapy, I became very interested in Munchausen by Internet,  a phenomenon detailed by Dr. Marc Feldman.  I’ve followed several cases and written about the tactics used in cultic and manipulative abuse. It’s become almost a hobby, deconstructing the carefully crafted doublespeak. It is from that background I draw as I look at the following letter.

Next post will be far LOL-ier and less wall-of-text-ier

The full text of the letter has not been released, so I am making some educated guesses to fill in the blanks. I know this letter was written by Christy Collins, almost certainly to the mother, after the birth and death. I don’t know the identity of the family and do not want to add to their pain, so know that my estimations of the mother’s feelings and reactions is speculative. Nor do I think the baby’s father was unaffected; I am focusing on the mother as the letter appears to be to her. We are missing the introduction to the letter; we jump right in to Christy’s defense.

I wish I could go back in time, and have said stronger words – enough to make you hate me, and fell you had no choice but to go into the hospital the day before.

Right here, Christy is immediately laying the guilt on the mother. She gives an initial illusion of remorse, but immediately shows that she’s placed herself in the power position. This will become more apparent as we go along, but even in this first sentence it’s quite clear.  Further, it’s important to note that, for the mother right now, Christy is likely still deeply trusted, so this primes Mom to say, “I could NEVER hate YOU!”

I could’ve lived with you hating me, over this feeling of devastation.

So much in each sentence. It’s really a masterpiece. This is all about Christy and how much the baby’s death hurt Christy so much.  And that makes Christy so sympathetic, because she regrets it so. When you’re in any relationship where you are being groomed and manipulated, pain and sorrow felt by the manipulator is YOUR problem. This also prompts a soothing “it wasn’t your fault” response from Mom.

I know we say that we don’t know if it would’ve been any different; maybe he would’ve been very sick, but alive. I don’t know. But I wish I wouldn’t pushed much hard and said the things that we never want to hear the ‘experts’ say…

Translation: there’s nothing we could have done differently,  because OBVIOUSLY Christy would have done it. Except it would have made the mother hate Christy.  So really, whose fault is it? She’s not saying it outright… yet.

Instead of … telling you to “be prepared that the perinatologist doing the NST is likely to tell you that your baby could die if he doesn’t come out;” those should have been MY words.

Christy tips her hand a bit here. She told the parents that the doctor (or tech or whomever was at the testing facility) would be the bad guy. There is a tremendous pressure within the homebirth/natural childbirth movement to distrust all authority except the midwife, and Christy admits that she prepared the parents to ignore the (potentially lifesaving for the baby) advice. It is essential, though, that Christy acknowledge this if she wants her veneer of regret to stick.

You might have been really pissed at me for pushing you into a corner where you felt you didn’t have a choice, but … I wouldn’t care…

Here the picture of Mom as irrational and truly at fault becomes clearer. Because Christy was protecting herself from this woman who would have HATED her for agreeing with the medical establishment. 

I am angry at myself for being the midwife who tried to be as firm but gentle as possible when advising to go in when I could’ve waved the dead baby flag…

Christy could have been the hated hero, instead of the tragically kind friend. There’s a subtle dig at doctors here too – if only OBs weren’t so gung-ho about “playing the dead baby card” and “scaremongering!” It conveniently ignores the scaremongering Christy did in regard to the doctors in the first place.

I wanted so badly to see a change in fluid … while you just wanted time/space to think …

Translation: Remember, YOU wanted to process the information. I just hoped it would be okay since I didn’t dare contradict you.

If I hadn’t agreed, and used the words “your baby could die because of this …”, maybe he would still be here.

Right here, she puts full blame on the mother. “If I had dared to disagree with you, baby might be alive. But YOU wanted TIME.

My back up doctor was amazing and the whole team worked so fast.

So it isn’t THEIR fault, no way. The fact that Christy withheld crucial information from that “amazing” team doesn’t bear mentioning. I bet she wasn’t calling them “amazing” while she was prepping the mother to ignore them.

Then the longest 47 minutes of our lives while they worked on your baby who had clearly been soaking in mec for weeks.

So it couldn’t POSSIBLY be Christy’s fault. Also, the image is devastating and would serve to give a dose of fresh anguish about the baby to distract from “hating” Christy.

Acidosis … bad blood gases … the worst of which had occurred in the last 20 minutes.

If Mom hadn’t been SO INSISTENT on waiting…and yet baby was clearly soaking “for weeks” in meconium. Christy is really underlining who she wants Mom to blame: Herself (and not Christy). Also not mentioned: The 30 minute drive to a hospital where there was a “midwife friendly” OB. 30 minutes, containing those last 20 minutes.

An induction yesterday, just one day after a perfect NST may not have mattered anyhow we were told…

If I hadn’t agreed to your desire to wait he might have lived! But he was doomed, so it’s not my fault! Although Christy pauses to note that they were told that by the scaremongering doctors you aren’t supposed to listen to.

Baby sounded perfect the next morning and we had the same BPP result after you rehydrated. You still wanted more time.

You had no reason to worry, so you wanted to wait, just like I taught you. So it’s your fault.

I said I didn’t feel we had any, and read to you what even other midwives had to say. That I wasn’t the only one who felt a sense of urgency.

This part requires extra unpacking, especially if you haven’t read the initial crowdsourcing post. The first big problem is that the majority of the midwives who replied gave dangerously uneducated answers. This is a situation where there is literally only one correct course of action: go to the hospital and get the baby OUT. Immediate induction or c – section, or else the baby may very well die. As we have seen happen here. Knowing this, and that very few responders gave any “sense of urgency” until after the update stating the baby had died, it is chilling to envision what happened at that computer.

Obviously this is conjecture, but my guess is that Christy read the comments and used tone of voice and careful wording to give mom a clear sense that there was consensus to wait. She could then,  after the baby died, use the same words with different emphasis and tone to make mom think there was NOT consensus to wait. This is gaslighting. Mom, who is questioning herself at this point (as anyone would), may ultimately remember the second version of the story instead of the first. False memories are disturbingly easy to create.

Only 20 minutes later, your baby showed distress. And hour later, your baby was out … and gone.

Another dose of grief, make sure Mom can’t think for too long about any one point.

I wish I would’ve been so harsh with my words the day before, that you would’ve hated me.

Christy wants Mom to think Christy’s wracked with unjust guilt, because Mom was clearly so unstable.

Maybe you would be nursing your baby, angry about your induced birth experience, and refusing my visits.

Grief-and-guilt combo.  Notice how she keeps making deliberately heartrending references to the loss? Keeping Mom in a high state of anguish prevents critical thinking. Mom can’t stop and remember exactly what happened.  Memories recorded in a state of great emotion also can be both less reliable and more vivid.

Instead you and the daddy slept with your dead baby all night in a hospital bed …

This is exactly what I mean.  That image us so heartbreaking that it’s where I had to stop reading and cry myself. It’s blunt and heartless and designed to make Mom cry too.

I blame me. I would rather have you hate me for pushing you harder into a bad birth experience … so you could hold a live baby instead.

And back around to Christy reminding Mom that this pain is Mom’s fault. If ONLY it had been SAFE to even SAY anything, but you’d HATE me for it!

Midwifery implies choices. Informed consent. Informed refusal.

A sudden shift to a totally businesslike argument that still focuses only on Mom’s Choice. Throwing “informed consent” and “informed refusal” as sentence fragments additionally helps plant them in Mom’s head (still reeling from the words “your dead baby.”)  This letter doesn’t miss a trick in the manipulator manual.

No woman would refuse an induction if she knew what having a dead baby felt like.

Book-ending the buzzwords, Christy is implanting with another round of anguish and the blunt use of “dead baby” again.  While in this one case I agree with the words Christy wrote, context is everything. She’s making it clear that Mom refused an induction and implicitly the baby’s death is Mom’s fault.

I’ll say, no mother who has lost a baby is going to feel anything but raw anguish at blunt language like that within mere days of the loss. I have lost a baby (under vastly different circumstances) and words like that, during the rawest phase of grief, sear in a special, terrible way. To have them coming from someone you trust profoundly (as Christy clearly arranged, what with the “you’d hate me” focus) would be indescribable.

In the future, I’ll pressure until my client hates me. I won’t care.

That’s right, if she gets another irrational, unstable mother to be, she will use you as the Goofus to her Gallant and risk being hated. This is also an extra pang of guilt for Mom, and one that could easily slip under the radar: that Mom “ruined” Christy’s caring, gentle nature and MADE her not care. From inside of the manipulation, that is powerful shame to bear.

How is this mother supposed to know what to think, with Christy reframing? It is not coincidental that this letter was rushed out while mom is still deep in the trauma. Every word here is chosen to elicit a specific response. It’s a perfect manipulative attack, and my heart breaks for this mother. It is all the worse because the community that has supported the mother has already turned on her. The midwives who responded to the crowdsourcing are all very adamant that this was ALL MOM’S CHOICE.

It wasn’t.  This letter is just one more piece of evidence that it was Christy Collins, CPM and the community supporting her dangerous, manipulative agenda. Trying to blame it on the mother – and make her blame herself – is just the vile icing on a deadly cake.

I will fight to my last breath lying liars who lie, especially those who break hearts and cause deaths.

I will fight to my last breath lying liars who lie, especially those who break hearts and cause deaths.

Swamps of Sadness

I still miss Jason. More than you’d think it was possible to miss someone that, technically, you’ve only seen in person three or four times in the last several years. I’m finally coming out of that tunnel of untapped anguish now. Ever since he was killed, I haven’t felt much more than this awful, gnawing, numbing ache. To quote, of all things, Lord of the Rings….”I feel stretched, like butter over too much bread.” And there’s been little to no creativity, at least writing-wise, in that aching nothing.


Pictured: Nothing

I’m finally starting to just cry sometimes. Watching the new Half in the Bag (which, ironically, Jason hated) broke through. They were talking about how the best thing about a certain bad movie is watching it with someone who hasn’t seen it yet and watching their reaction to the absurdity. And suddenly the sorrow was loosed, as I remember the last day I saw Jason, days before he left us all. When I sat him (with Diamond) down and made him watch Sharknado. And laughed with joy at his repeated shouts of, “What the SHIT is going ON??!?!? WHAT?!!”

Seriously. Watch this movie. Over and over.

Seriously. Watch this movie. Over and over.

Now that the sadness has broken free, I’m feeling the loss more keenly than ever. But I’m also loosed from that prison of numbness. The words are starting to flow along with the tears.

Hey remember this? CRY, DAMN YOU.

Hey remember this? CRY, DAMN YOU.

So the blogging will resume – along with the long, long overdue blog redesign, which I am grateful that Jason got to see. Thank you all for still checking in on me and the various kind condolences I’ve gotten over the weeks. It matters, more than I can say.

No Words

My friend died.

I can’t even process it yet. Jason, Shopping Cart Bob, one of my honest-to-god best friends, was killed in a car accident. He was driving home from visiting the northwest. He drove down with Diamond for the day on Monday.

As last visits go, it was pretty fucking perfect. We sat around and laughed. Watched Sharknado and a bunch of Rifftrax Shorts. Had Thai food delivered. Made jokes that nobody else gets. Laughed so hard I ached the next day.

It still says he’s logged in on facebook. His name, little icon of his phone. I don’t feel much of anything yet. I want to write the thoughts that are flooding me, but every time I try I delete it. It’s too raw. He was just here. It keeps welling up.

I miss you, Jason.


All The Rage

One thing I haven’t written about yet is the anger that Andy leaves in his wake. Not really, not with the gutting honesty I usually use. The shame, the fear, the sadness…those things are far easier to admit. The rage isn’t funny. And for a long time I have been very careful to keep it out of my posts, because I didn’t want to be vengeful in words or actions. I didn’t want to bolster Andy’s “bitter ex-girlfriend” defenses, or be carried away by a “tsunami of rage” like Jeanine was.

I'd rather just keep my head above water.

I’d rather just keep my head above water.

But the rage is a very real and healthy part of being out of the Cult of Andy – and for anyone who has escaped an abuser. It was in discussing this with a former DAYDian that I realized I had a more appropriate resource – my old LiveJournal, which I started within a month of leaving Andy.

This is a picture taken the same day the notorious FauxPology was posted.

This is a picture taken the same day the notorious FauxPology was posted.

When I got out, the urge to start writing again – for myself instead of as part of my therapy – was very strong. I knew it was essential to find my own voice again. Writing had been a central part of me until it was simply drowned out by Andy’s fantasy world, and it was the first place I knew I could rebuild.


The second place to rebuild was community theater. I was Truvy in this show. The wig was enormous.

It was hard to get started. I had been without computer for years and felt overwhelmed with these MyFace and SpaceBook things. Worse, I was absolutely terrified that either Andy or Jeanine (who was still fully convinced I was an accomplice) would find me. I didn’t want to be connected to my old handle anyway (Orangeblossom), because I didn’t feel at all connected to my former self. Kumquat was a nickname my childhood best friend gave me, and I was pretty sure that it was obscure enough that no one would know. Since that handle was taken, I added “Writer” and tiptoed back into LiveJournal, starting the long, slow process of reconnecting with the world.

The one on the left just had twins!

Not just online; I made friends in the real world too, and learned how normal adults socialize.

Sharing these old posts isn’t just hubris; Diamond has thanked me more than once for showing her. And the fresh pain in those is a lot more helpful to someone just going through it than my calmer, reasoned, post-therapy writing.  Even a year ago, they were far too raw and open to share. But after all the forgiveness and reconciliation that’s come; after so many people have told their stories, it’s time.

Pic unrelated.

Pic unrelated.

I haven’t unlocked the whole thing; I’ve kept private things that were too irrelevant – or too intimate – to ever post publicly.  You can read through it chronologically starting here. If you would prefer, the posts I feel are most important are below.

June 5, 2007  This is one of the earliest posts where I was trying to separate myself from Andy’s world.

July 1, 20007 This is the first time I talked about being a victim while most people thought I was nothing but a con artist. A lot of pain and sadness there.! It worked for us!

In August, my shrink deemed me ready to start dating. I was starting to meet people through a dating site.

August 2, 2007 A description of an incredibly vivid nightmare I had, ultimately repeatedly for several years. My dreams have always been quite literal.

September 27, 2007 Pain and frustration over yet another attempt on Andy’s part to get me back.

Still friends with most of them, too.

That job rocked for a while, even if I did sometimes have to serve coffee to people I hated in high school.

November 19, 2007 Still being contacted but less angry, more distanced. Outside of LiveJournal, I was holding down a full-time job and had bought myself a car.

February 18, 2008 Feelings about Jeanine. This is also after Andy sent me a massive pile of Valentine’s Day stuff. This is also a few months into my relationship with my husband. (link fixed)

New Year's Eve, 2007/2008. No idea which year this was taken, as evidenced by Captain Morgan over there.

New Year’s Eve, 2007/2008. No idea which year this was taken, as evidenced by Captain Morgan over there.

February 26, 2008 Final direct contact with Andy, when I called him from my now-husband’s phone to tell him I was never coming back.

I realize that Andy’s defenders (and likely Andy himself) will howl about how that was ever so long ago and he has totally changed this time for real. However, the fact that people contacting me, asking for this kind of help (you know, how to deal with Andy treating them the same way he treated me) means they aren’t irrelevant. These are people who got out within the last three years.

That's love. And I hiked in Yosemite when I was seven months pregnant. That's love too.

Three years ago, we took a belated honeymoon. Not only does Chip know my past, he went to see it himself.


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