The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Baghdad ER Documentary

A break from birth tonight ....

I have been attending parts of a conference here in town this weekend --
Mental Health needs of Returning Soldiers and their Families sponsored by the International Center for PsychoSocial Trauma at University of Missouri.

Tonight we watched the Emmy winning documentary Baghdad ER. .html

This is one of the first professional gatherings of mental health caregivers to begin to address the huge needs of returning soldiers and families. It just happened to coincide with the reports in the news about the quality of care at two US sites AND the meeting of multiple countries in Baghdad. As one of the speakers said following the movie, it is clear that this war and the problems are not going to be changed by our soldiers, but by these powers coming together for peace. One of the young men featured in the documentary is from Columbia and his mother is in the support group and she was at the viewing. In the film he calls her and her voice can be heard. It made it even more real for me.

The documentary Baghdad ER is powerful and haunting with images of the truth that we do not get in the media. With the media banned from even showing the coffins of our soldiers returning home, the ticking count of the death toll has numbed many. This documentary un-numbs us. The chair of the panel tonight spoke of the images and how we are traumatized secondarily by watching them. He wanted us to be able to release them. I said I wish everyone in this country could watch it and go through the experience of seeing so up front and FEELING what our soldiers are going through. As a mother of soldier in a very dangerous position of getting supply convoys through to troops on the ground, I am very often in my own world of grief. I was transported out of my place to that of the medic core and I was shocked to see what these people do all day everyday -- they save the lives our of our mangled children. They see the worst imaginable things every day.

Many of them spoke of their sadness at seeing our young men and women so devastated - double and triple amputees, blinded, faces burned and maimed. The miracle is that in previous wars these people would not have lived. The tragedy is that our government is not giving them adequate care or taking care of their families. Most of them are being being hit by IED's and the damage is horrific. Views of them mopping up blood covered floors and putting body parts in bags brings it into perspective. These are situations an ER doctor and surgeon will see rarely. In Baghdad they see this all day long. WHO can do this day after day for a year and then come home and ever live normally again? We in our country are lead to believe we are safe and our lifestyle parallels none in quality of comforts. None of these brave, compassionate, giving people will ever be the same. Nor will their children, their spouses, their parents, or their friends and colleagues. The loss of this is so great it is numbing to contemplate . As a mother of a soldier on the road filled with mines, watched by snipers, with car bombs, suicide bombers, and IED's, I am so deeply grateful for the medical core who have answered the call when they could have so easily stayed home and lived the posh life of an American doctor. Seventy percent of the country is supposed to be against the war and yet, where are the marches, rallies, and demands of Congress to chart another course? NOW.

From the HBO site is this description:

BAGHDAD ER allows viewers to experience the physical and emotional toll of war by capturing soldiers and care providers in personal moments amidst intense crises inside the 86th Combat Support Hospital. Located in Baghdad's Green Zone, the facility was formerly the site of an elite medical center for Saddam Hussein's supporters. Thanks in part to the skill and dedication of trauma center teams like the one depicted in the film, wounded troops in Iraq have a 90 percent chance of survival - the highest rate of war survivors in U.S. history. The selflessness and dedication of those caring for wounded Americans and Iraqis stands in sharp contrast with the chaos of war.

One of the young men in the documentary is the son of the one of the mothers in my military support group. Three days later he was back on duty. In two deployments he was hit by IED's (Improvised explosive device) twenty-two times. I disabled my television on November 6 after my son's October 16th departure to Iraq. The news and the politics were just too much. Watching this extremely graphic documentary was a challenge but it gave me the information I really need -- not what the politicians and media people flap on and on about.

I highly recommend the documentary because it gives us an unbelievable image of what is happening to our soldiers. While the effects of war on our soldiers in the field is graphic (limbs being removed, surgeries to remove metal, blood soaked floors, and soldiers dying and being given last rites) it was surprisingly uplifting (especially as a mom) to see the amazing work of the dedicated physicians and nurses and clergy. The Chaplain serving the ER is extraordinary. In 2005 when it was filmed, 17,500 soldiers had been injured. Hour after hour, day after day these medical soldiers see the worst. Their passion, comraderie, and compassion for the soldiers in their care is extraordinary. Their skills are extraordinary. They could be home in their comfortable American hospitals and homes, but they are there instead. Many of them expressed their honest feelings about the war being a waste. AND, while they may not agree with what and why, they exhibited commitment and courage to their mission. Many said it is the most important thing they have ever done in their lives. Surgeons! Who save lives every day back home. I am grateful to see the quality of care and the human compassion given to our wounded and dying soldiers. How grateful we should be to every one of them, and to every other soldier who has answered the call.

A twenty-one year old man dies the day after his twenty-first birthday after surgery to remove a bullet in his chest. He shown being brought in, during his surgery, and the care afterwards. The care he was given by his team was extraordinary. Below is a transcript of an interview with his mother on Democracy Now. She is also connected to a group of Marine parents here in Columbia.

AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined on the phone by Paula Zwillinger. Her son U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Robert Mininger was killed in Iraq June 6, 2005. He was 21 years old. This film has to bring back memories for you. First of all, condolences on the loss of your son, Paula.

PAULA ZWILLINGER: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.

AMY GOODMAN: How important do you think it is for people to see these images?

PAULA ZWILLINGER: I think it's very important. It brings the reality of the war into the home. Right now, as we've talked about previously, what is the public really seeing nowadays? They're seeing a paragraph on the second page of a newspaper saying that, you know, we lost X number of lives today, whether it be an I.E.D., whether a tank rolled over, and it's just a little paragraph, and you don't really get the visual image of really what war is about until you see the movie.

It's very easy to read it in the paper. There's no getting around it. It's a little cold. It's not detailed. You know, you never get details in the newspaper, but when you see the documentary it really hits home, because it's reality. What you're going to see is war, and it's the outcome of war, whether it be positive or negative.

AMY GOODMAN: And your feelings now about the Army seeming to pull back, withdraw support from showing this film, saying it's going to cause post-traumatic stress and even putting pressure on HBO to change this film, to delete scenes?

PAULA ZWILLINGER: Well, you know, I have an opinion and, you know, the more I think about it, as Jon mentioned that, you know, it does have political ties to it, but you know, everybody has to take from this documentary their own feelings, and right now with -- everybody has an opinion about the war. Of course, with the polls and everything showing, you know, where the American public really resides as to our opinion as to whether we should be there or not and how things have changed, I mean, that's an ever ongoing situation, but it definitely has a strong image of what war is about.

AMY GOODMAN: Paula, Matt and Jon brought you to New York, because they had filmed the death of your son in the Baghdad ER.


AMY GOODMAN: You, alone, watched this with your husband.


AMY GOODMAN: What were your feelings?

PAULA ZWILLINGER: Well, you have to understand that I initially had 17 hours where I knew nothing. It was, in essence, a black hole. I had many questions that I thought I would never get the answers to, and five months later, after, you know, losing Bob, Matt called me and told me about the documentary that they were working on, and for me to see this footage again of my son literally puts me at his bedside, and I think that is a precious gift that any parent would take, to literally be there at your son's bedside.

You know, it's -- you have to wonder, timing of it and everything, as to why they were there when Bob came through the door, you know, all those little coincidences and things of that nature, but in reality it has given me peace. It has given me closure. It has answered some of my questions that I've had. It has given me the opportunity to talk with the doctors and the nurses who took care of him. Not every parent gets those answers in a time of war when their child is, you know, injured or killed overseas. And again, you know, I am very fortunate that I have that now, so I look at it as a gift.

Please do something to support our troops and to send a message to congress to make a plan to bring our soldiers home and to support the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives and their country.

No comments:

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth