The Cheryl S Story
A Dianetic Birth
In mid-1980, our first child was born. I commuted to Los Angeles during my first pregnancy because I was told by many different Scientologists, both public and staff, that natural childbirth was the "Dianetically correct" way to have a baby. The mission sold a big, blue picture book authored and self-published by Margaret Martin, entitled "Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth," which depicted hospital births as being cruel and barbaric and home births being dianetically correct and, therefore, superior. Typically, as I was to soon find out, reality was just the opposite.
I retained Lucille Nye Schober, D.C. as a midwife. She was not only listed in the back of the Margaret Martin book but was referred by a Scientology medical clinic as well, which was also listed in the back of the Margaret Martin book.
Late in the pregnancy, Dr. Schober determined that the baby was breech. She consulted with Milos Klvana, M.D., an obstetrician. Dr. Klvana, whom I had never met, called in an x-ray order to Granada Hills Memorial Hospital for me to have an x-ray called a pelvimetry performed. This was to ascertain if my pelvic structure was adequate to have the baby breech.
Dr. Klvana determined that I was structurally okay to have a breech baby at home. I was naive and did not think anything was wrong with this. After all, he was an M.D. and I assumed he knew what he was doing.
The last week of my pregnancy I had Braxton Hicks syndrome (false labor) twice: initially for 24 hours, then 3 days later for 12 hours, then after another 2 or 3 days, actual labor commenced and lasted 16 hours. So my first child had to undergo 52 hours of intense labor.
I was staying with Alison in Granada Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles, and was planning to have the baby at her house (since there was no room in our domicile in Santa Barbara). Alison kept insisting that two "thetans" were bugging her. "Thetan" is Scientologese for a spiritual being, a soul without a body. She said one thetan was a prankster and the other was very serious. Alison had received a lot of auditing and had been adjudicated (determined to be) a "theta perceptic" (someone who can perceive thetans or future events, etc.)
She told me that the "prankster" wanted to "pick up" my baby's body. I wasn't sure whether I believed her stories or not until a strange thing happened. I was in the bathroom at her house one day. I was about to open the door to leave when a toothpaste cap hit the back of the door and bounced off. Alison had cats and I thought one of them was in the bathroom with me. I looked, but no cat. Weird, but I shrugged it off. When I next saw Alison, she laughed and told me that the "prankster" had tossed the cap at me to indicate that he was going to take the baby body. I was still skeptical.
Joe was born at Alison's house on June 6, 1980. Joe presented himself to the world butt first, then legs, and finally head last. The cord was wrapped around his neck three times. His color at birth was a deep, deep purple. It took nearly 20 minutes to get him to breathe by himself. Dr. Klvana alternated giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen. Finally, Dr. Schober put her pinky into his rectum and used an old chiropractic trick, she said, of maneuvering the tailbone to get him to breathe on his own.
Then the argument began between the doctors. Should Joe should be sent to Children's Hospital? They became embroiled in a heated argument. Finally one of them called a pediatrician. Jay Gordon, M.D., an associate of Hollywood pediatrician Paul Fleiss, M.D., arrived at the house and immediately ordered Joe taken to Children's Hospital. Dr. Gordon was outraged that a known breech baby had been knowingly delivered at home. Hot words were exchanged. I didn't know what the argument was all about at the time but I learned later that to wilfully have a known breech baby at home was illegal. Joe should have been delivered in a hospital by Caeserean section.
Steve and his brother, Tom, took newborn Joe to the hospital. An hour after Joe arrived at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, he had a seizure (a result of the birth trauma that deprived his brain of oxygen). He was kept at the hospital for three weeks on intravenous feedings (to prevent intestinal necrosis, a common but very serious problem if oxygen deprived babies are fed by mouth) and Phenobarbital (for the seizures). It was so sad to see little Joe constantly drugged and crying when the IV needles were inserted into the skin on his head. Dixie cups were taped over the IV insertion site to keep him from knocking the needle out. This went on for three weeks. His dad went back to the Santa Barbara org the next day. I stayed in Los Angeles and visited Joe every day. I took him out of his incubator (though he was 8-1/2 pounds at birth, he was in an incubator to keep him warm) and sat with him in a rocking chair every day for three hours. (Eighteen years later I go to visit him once a week for his allocated thirty minute visit at jail where he currently is incarcerated due to the problems he received from his birth trauma.) His father still goes to the Scientology org every day and visits him on rare occasions, but is usually "too busy."
The bottom line is: Joe nearly died. Only the swift intervention by a competent and ethical medical doctor saved his life. Joe's "Dianetically correct" birth resulted in learning and other disabilities and problems. Dianetics has no safeguards or exceptions to its procedures. Those procedures are just mindlessly followed by its adherents. Breech babies are an obvious exception to any "Dianetic" rule. Yet, there is no "exception" in Dianetics protocol.
I learned my lesson, though. Three years later, Joe's little brother was born in a reputable hospital attended by reputable doctors. In 1990, Dr. Klvana was convicted and imprisoned because eight babies had died under his care. Dr. Schober had her chiropractic license revoked in 1993. The Scientology organizations no longer directly sell the Margaret Martin "Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth" picturebook. Sometime in 1982 books on Dianetics and Scientology authored by others than L. Ron Hubbard were banned from being sold in the Scientology organizations. However, this book is still being sold by at least one private business owned by a Scientologist (George's General Store) across the street from the main Scientology complex in Los Angeles. Dr. Schober's name is still listed as a provider in the back of the book, despite the fact that she is in her 90s and her license has been revoked for six years.
In the name of DIANETICS Joe was subjugated to terrific pain and trauma. What was the point? He could have avoided 52 hours of labor, birth trauma, three weeks of IV's and incubators, and six more weeks of being weaned off of seizure medication if I had had a Cesaerean section. The facts of my experience proved to me that just blindly following "Dianetics" technique is dangerous.
After Joe was released from Children's Hospital, he and I rejoined his father in Santa Barbara. The three of us continued to live in one room with a shared bathroom and the cockroach-infested community kitchen for another 9 months.
During the time there, Joe became a very angry baby. He would escape from our room and crawl down the hotel corridor screaming at the top of his lungs when he awoke to an empty room. His father was supposed to keep Joe upstairs with him while he was on post, but usually he just left Joe in our room by himself.
I could not stand the communal style of living, but Steve didn't seem to mind it. He had become involved with Scientology in 1974 and had been living like that for a number of years. He had grown accustomed to his weekly diet of granola, milk, bread, and peanut butter, which was all he was living on when I first met him.