Friday, August 31, 2007

Fishing for Babies

Check out the story of this Birth I found on the internet! Breech delivery so easy, a shrimp boat captain can do it! But apparently a highly skilled OB can't- too much liability. Now that OBs are leaving obstetrics in droves (at least here in Missouri) for other career choices, perhaps they can add shrimping to the list, along with GYN only or cosmetic surgery.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Death By Cesarean

This article appeared in my local paper, The Kansas City Star, last Saturday. Read it and weep. This is where the out of control cesarean rate is taking us. Oh well, look at the bright side. When enough women die the medical establishment will stop looking at cesareans are 'cure alls.'

Posted on Sat, Aug. 25, 2007
Experts: U.S. childbirth deaths on rise
By MIKE STOBBEAP Medical Writer
U.S. women are dying from childbirth at the highest rate in decades, new government figures show. Though the risk of death is very small, experts believe increasing maternal obesity and a jump in Caesarean sections are partly to blame.
Some numbers crunchers note that a change in how such deaths are reported also may be a factor.
"Those of us who look at this a lot say it's probably a little bit of both," said Dr. Jeffrey King, an obstetrician who led a recent New York state review of maternal deaths.
The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, according to statistics released this week by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 - the first time the maternal death rate rose above 10 since 1977.
To be sure, death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States. The death of infants is much more common - the nation's infant mortality rate was 679 per 100,000 live births in 2004.
Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy long ago. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother's death as recently as 90 years ago.
But the fact that maternal deaths are rising at all these days is shocking, said Tim Davis, a Virginia man whose wife Elizabeth died after childbirth in 2000.
"The hardest thing to understand is how in this day and age, in a modern hospital with doctors and nurses, that somebody can just die like that," he said.
Some health statisticians note the total number of maternal deaths - still fewer than 600 each year - is small. It's so small that 50 to 100 extra deaths could raise the rate, said Donna Hoyert, a health scientist with the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate is the number of deaths per 100,000 live births.
In 2003, there was a change in death certificate questions in the nation's most populous state, California, as well as Montana and Idaho. That may have resulted in more deaths being linked to childbirth - enough push up the 2003 rate, Hoyert said.
Some researchers point to the rising C-section rate, now 29 percent of all births - far higher than what public health experts say is appropriate. Like other surgeries, Caesareans come with risks related to anesthesia, infections and blood clots.
"There's an inherent risk to C-sections," said Dr. Elliott Main, who co-chairs a panel reviewing obstetrics care in California. "As you do thousands and thousands of them, there's going to be a price."
Excessive bleeding is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related death, and women with several previous C-sections are at especially high risk, according to a review of maternal deaths in New York. Blood vessel blockages and infections are among the other leading causes.
Experts also say obesity may be a factor. Heavier women are more prone to diabetes and other complications, and they may have excess tissue and larger babies that make a vaginal delivery more problematic. That can lead to more C-sections. "It becomes this sort of snowball effect," said King, who is now medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The age of mothers could be a factor, too. More women are giving birth in their late 30s and 40s, when complications risks are greater.
Other characteristics of the maternal mortality rate include:
-Race: Studies have found that the maternal death rate in black women is at least three times greater than is it is for whites. Black women are more susceptible to complications like high blood pressure and are more likely to get inadequate prenatal care.
-Quality of care: Three different studies indicate at least 40 percent of maternal deaths could have been prevented.
Sometimes, there is no clear explanation for a woman's death.
Valerie Scythes, a 35-year-old elementary schoolteacher, died in March at a hospital in New Jersey - the state with the highest Caesarean section rate. She had had a C-section, as did another teacher at the same school who died after giving birth at the same hospital two weeks later.
However, Scythes died of a blocked blood vessel and the other woman died from bleeding, said John Baldante, a Philadelphia attorney investigating the death for Scythes' family.
"I'm not sure there was any connection between the two deaths," Baldante said.
Also mysterious was the death of Tim Davis' 37-year-old wife, Elizabeth, who died a day after a vaginal delivery at a Danville, Va., hospital in September 2000.
She had a heart attack after a massive blood loss, Davis said. It's not clearly known what caused the heavy bleeding. There was no autopsy, he said, a decision he now regrets.
Two previous births had gone well.
"Nothing led us to believe anything was wrong with this pregnancy. She was like a picture of health," he continued, noting she had been a YMCA fitness instructor.
A lawsuit against the hospital ended in a settlement. Davis also sued the obstetrician, but a jury ruled in the doctor's favor.
The child born that day, Ethan, starts second grade next week. "He's a happy kid," Davis said. "He's just never had a mom."
© 2007 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

I'm bitter about birth. It's true. I am. I'm sick of hearing about healthy young women going under the knife for no good reason. I'm sick of docs telling women that their babies are too big, or their pelvises are too small, or what the fuck ever. I'm tired of hearing women say they can't give birth without an epidural. I'm tired of docs scheduling inductions and women eagerly and gullibly going along with it because they are 'tired of being pregnant'. I'm sick and tired of those same inductions leading to cesareans that wouldn't have happened if the induction had not happened. I'm tired of women blaming themselves for things the healthcare system causes. I'm tired of medwives. I'm tired of burnt out women-hating, baby-hating doctors who need to get out of obstetrics. I'm tired of wimpy, whiny women who want no responsibility for their births, tired of women deluded enough to believe everything their doctors tell them. I don't want to bear witness to someone else's shitty birth. I don't want to see that look in her eyes, sick and desperately afraid of something being wrong with her baby if she doesn't do what THEY tell her. I don't want to watch a woman thank her doctor after he or she just fucked up royally but made themselves look like the hero. I'm tired, just plain old sick and tired of all the bullshit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home Funeral Photos

Not to be morbid, or belabor a point, but since I had such wonderful responses to the posts on my friend's recent passing and his "green funeral" I thought some pictures might inspire some to really plan ahead or begin to share with loved ones about their own desires for death and burial (or cremation). There's a photo of Kathy and her grandbaby saying goodby, friends sealing the casket, Lee's sons and friends transporting him to the crematorium and a good photo of the casket itself, handcrafted as a final gift from a friend. I took these photos from Lee's website that he set up to keep friends and family informed of his condition. The site itself has been wonderfully comforting. Folks left messages for Lee, and then his family, by the hundreds. When Lee was well enough, he journaled, then later Kathy took over for him, giving updates every 2-3 days. Now the site is inundated with condolensces to Kathy and her children. Their family has done a wonderful thing not only in modeling how death can be done with dignity, but in sharing the whole process with others in a very transparent way. If you haven't done so, write out your Will and Living Will too, or just write you wishes down and put them in your desk drawer. Have you been meaning to get life insurance (stay at home moms need it too)but haven't yet ? Talk to your loved ones about what you would want done in the event of your death or debilitating illness. Do you feel strongly about donating your organs? Have you told anyone in your family how you feel? We won't all get the chance Lee did to plan the details over several years. Talk to your family about it now.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

I got tagged by Housefairy. You go girl- this child can write. Click on over to Breast and Belly and check out her post, A Nurse's Guide to Managing Failure.

Here are the rules for being tagged:
RULES - Post rules before giving the facts - Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves - People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules - At the end of the your blog you need to tag six people and list their names - Leave them a comment on their blog, telling them they have been tagged and not to forget to read your blog.

You asked for it, you got it: eight things about me you probably didn't need to know:
  1. I'm tall (for a girl) and love it. I tower over most women and half the men I know even though I'm only 5'7'' I like the feeling of taking up space in the world.
  2. I have a fetish for the tops of bald men's heads. It started when my husband decided to shave his head after his hair started to thin. Now, every time I walk by a guy sitting down with a smooth bald head, I'm tempted to bend down and kiss it. (Fortunately my husband lets me kiss his smooth shaven head as much as I want!)
  3. I speak competitively. For the past 3 years I've entered speech contests hosted by Toastmasters International. I've even won some competitions.
  4. I'm a cat lover. I haven't been without a pet cat since the age of 20.
  5. My favorite show on TV is "60 Minutes." I try never to miss it.
  6. I'm a compulsive journaler. I have boxes and boxes of old journals I've kept since I was 18. I usually have 2-3 going at a time. I don't know if I should put it in my Will to destroy them upon my death, or let my kids have at it.
  7. I throw myself a birthday party every year! People plan on it all year round. I include reading the poetry I've written the preceding year.
  8. I'm secretly writing a naughty romance novel. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone.

Now that you know all my dirty little secrets, I'm tagging Mimi, Mountain, Monkey Momma, One Hot Mama, Red Spiral, and Molly.

India Arie - I Am Not My Hair: Remix, Closed Captioned

Check this out- I love this video by Akon and India Arie. It expresses perfectly what I'm trying to say. I am not my hair, or my skin, (or my fat!) I am the soul that lives within! (Double click on the image to see the video)

Busting Out

A seed has taken root in my heart. I won't reveal it all here and now, but I have learned that dreams manifest quicker if you share them with others. I am sharing this one with you. One of the things I have found that I do really well is write curriculum. I have written many continuing education programs over the years and presented them to specialized audiences. Something I've wanted to write for many years but always managed to talk myself out of, is a curriculum for 1) homebirth doulas and 2) homebirth couples. Maybe talking myself out of it, was a manifestation of my diminished esteem, or perhaps the timing was not right, but I am writing them now. A guide for doulas on how to help at a homebirth (Red Spiral wrote recently that she felt she didn't have a role in homebirth but felt very needed in hospital birth- I found that interesting since I specialized in homebirth when I was a doula and of course my own homebirth doula- Nadah, was amazing) and a guide for parents planning a homebirth. I'm really excited about creating these educational guides.
On another note, I decided to grow out my hair and have it twisted. (Now I know all my poor caucasian readers won't have a clue as to what I'm talking about), but just trust me on this one, it will look good- eventually. I'm becoming concerned about my apprearance. It's time to loose all this damn baby weight. I taught a CPR class with a client for the past 3 years. He hires my firm to come train his school districts's coaches. When I saw him last year he weighed a little over 300 pounds, when I saw him again this year, he weighed half that. He told me he did it by bicycling. He was too fat to jog (his words) and even walking was hard on his joints but he found bicycling (and ammending his diet) worked just right for him. It was really an impressive testimony. I want that kind of testimony! I want to be 45, fit and fabulous (not white girl skinny : ) but curvaceous and bodacious with a big booty (and natural twisted hair). I want to be my own kind of beautiful. Fuck whatever current fashion trends prevail. I'm only concerned that my outside me expresses the vivacious inside me. I'm not the type to obsess about my appearance, even with the weight I know I'm pretty, but damn it, my body's going to seed. I've got to get fit, I'm even considering a return to a vegetarian diet. Right now, I've got a bicycle collecting dust in the garage to confront. Today, Dear Readers, be beautiful your own way...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Appeal to the Supreme Court

I added a new blog to my list today, "Molly Reads." This avid reader, (a woman after my own heart) reads and reviews birth related books for her blog. What a great service- thanks Molly! As an avid reader myself, I keep a stack of books on my bureau, (and one in my purse for spur of the moment reading) that I am constantly devouring. Right now I'm finishing up, "The 21 Irrefutable Qualities of a Leader" by John Maxwell, an absolute must read for anyone in a leadership position or who wants to be.
I got news of an update on the Missouri battle for legality here on our borders. There has been much buzz about it throughout Kansas and Missouri in the birth community. Though the initial legal battle was lost, there is intent to carry the case to the supreme court. Here is an article from the Friends of Missouri Midwives website:

Midwives supporters to appeal injunction on new Missouri
Midwifery Law to Missouri Supreme Court
(JEFFERSON CITY, MO.) – Missouri midwifery supporters say the injunction barring the new midwifery law is disappointing, but that it’s not the end of the story. The coalition of four nonprofit midwifery organizations has determined it will appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court based on the fairly well-stated position of that court that they do not make the laws, and that the Missouri Legislature does, enabling “wide latitude” in what laws are passed and how.
“If a law has been passed by both chambers and signed by the Governor, it indicates a pretty solid process, and the Missouri Supreme Court has a lot of respect for that,” said Mary Ueland of the Missouri Midwives Association. “We feel very optimistic about the likelihood of the Court upholding the midwifery provision,” she stated, referencing the Missouri Supreme Court’s three most recent rulings on these kinds of constitutional challenges, in which the court has upheld what the Missouri Legislature has passed.
“Frankly though, the larger issue here is why the Missouri State Medical Association is talking with the American Medical Association to raise more money to fight this law,” Ueland asked. “Why is it that they fail to see the midwifery provision of HB 818 is indeed related to the underlying health insurance bill, when we know the Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that health insurance and health services are closely related and interdependent on the other.”
Ueland isn’t the only one who questions the seeming stranglehold that organized doctor’s groups in Missouri seem to want to put around the Midwives Model of Care and the profession of being a Certified Professional Midwife, a career that is legal and regulated in 24 states, and that is Medicaid recognizes as eligible for reimbursement in nine states.
President of Friends of Missouri Midwives, Laurel Smith, says efforts to thwart midwifery on these weak “unconstitutional” grounds obscure the larger issue that organized doctor groups are fearful of the imagined impact midwifery will have on their financial bottom lines and thus try to strike down any attempt to create midwifery policy.
“We must remember what got us to this point: the filibustering of Sen. Chuck Graham and Sen. Yvonne Wilson of a Missouri midwifery bill that had majority support for passage,” Smith said. “Sen. John Loudon tried another way to bring the Midwives Model of Care to Missouri so families can have access to maternity care that is safe, respectful, family centered, health promoting, and cost effective, and now the doctor’s groups are coming at it a different way.”
Dr. Elizabeth Allemann, MD is one of the intervenors in the case to support Certified Professional Midwives in Missouri and said that despite the documented evidence proving up the Midwives Model of Care, it generally causes great fear and alarm in the organized medical groups. “What is interesting to me is that we seek not to take anything away from doctors, but to work very closely with them, as is the case in other industrialized nations to a significant extent. We seek to expand access to healthcare services, which is exactly what decriminalizing midwifery does.”
Dr. Allemann says it is clear they will continue on to the Supreme Court. “We will continue to shine light on the creation of a healthcare system in Missouri that includes Certified Professional Midwives, which ultimately is good for mothers and babies. While I understand the organized doctors’ groups are not limited in the amount of money they will spend to continue to fight about this issue, honestly, my concern is more about the women in our state who cannot even afford prenatal care due to skyrocketing costs.”
She said she hopes she can help facilitate a time when the state’s medical and midwife communities will be able to be work together. “We will stand shoulder to shoulder to do the very best for women and babies in Missouri,” she said.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Putting the Dead to Rest

Thanks to everyone who responded to my two posts on the dying process. I'm comforted to know that these posts touched so many of you. On a final note, Lee's memorial service was grand. Lee was an avid writer and journaler and some of his writing were read at the funeral. I was priviledged to be asked to read one of his poems. Three of Lee's adult sons and several pastors of our church spoke about Lee's life and character. We all should have such testimonies of love and stregnth at our passings. Attending a service like that certainly gives you a renewed perspective on what your life should be about. I found myself wondering what people will say about me at my funeral and about how the choices I make today (and everyday) will influence what they say. What about each of you, Dear Readers? How would you like to be remembered by those you love?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sitting Up With The Dead

Sitting bedside in death is not unlike sitting bedside in birth. I went last night to sit with my friend Kathy after her husband Lee passed away. There he lay in their bedroom in his lovely pine box coffin that had been lovingly fashioned by a family friend, and packed in dry ice to preserve the body. Their dream of a "green funeral" was in all its glory. The formal memorial service will take place in a few days, but their home has seen much traffic of visitors coming and going. We sat for 3 hours into the night beside his coffin, laughing, crying, telling old stories and new ones alike. While Kathy shared the details of his actual passing, I thought of more ways the dying process is like the birthing process.
Like birth, death is messy- social decorum prevents me from going into detail, but the dying process can be a very messy one.
Like birth, death is noisy- as Kathy described Lee's 'death rattle' she seemed to be struck by how loud it was. The dying person can become quite 'vocal' though not verbal.
A need for orchestrated control- Lee's 'death plan' included all aspects of home death and a green funeral. He planned it all down to the detail, and Kathy carried it out for him.
The weight of the unknown- When will death come? (When will this baby get here?) Will he be in pain? ( Will it hurt?) Will he suffer? (Will I be able to handle the pain?) Will his death be a peaceful one? (Will my baby be healthy?)
Corporate social rituals to mark the occasion- Wakes, Visitations, Funerals vs Baby Showers, Blessingways and Baptisms
The intrusion of medical intervention for a process that basically happens on its own- for a brutal look at how bizarre our death customs really are, read Jessica Mitford's, "The American Way of Death." I believe the dying should be made comfortable with palliative care but not in prolonging the dying process.
The outrageous and unprecedented cost- I was struck by how simple and inexpensive Lee's passage was made. (That's not why they did it the way they did) Lee looked so at peace in his simple pine box without the heavy make up I'm used to seeing on dead people, just simply his dead self without embellishment.
Fancy doodads that add nothing but expense-Think state of the art 'baby warmers', when mamma's belly will do just fine. (Did you know just one those things can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars??) Looking at Lee's tidy pine box reminded me of this whole issue of 'sealed caskets' that's all the rage in the funeral industry (and remember, it is a money making industry). Metal, sealed caskets are absurd. We were meant to be put in the ground to dry rot- and the vermin facilitate that process (sorry there is no nicer way to describe it). Sealed caskets turn the body to mush and dramatically increase decomposition time, instead of the natural process that's supposed to occur.
Artificial Timetables- Medical interventions prolong the dying process while medical interventions work to shorten birth- either way, an artificial socio-medical construct changes the natural process. Most folks have no idea how hard the medical system works to keep dying people alive while conversely, an artificial timeline is placed on birth to speed it up without scientific evidence that either is warranted
Tampered Input- In birth women are denied simple food and water to see them through the arduous journey of birth- they must do the hardest work of their physical lives without calories or adequate hydration (crazy!) In death, the dying are force fed and IV hydrated in defiance of the natural dehydration of death. The unwillingness of the dying to take in food and water is part of the body's shutting down process. When Lee decided to stop eating and drinking, the hospice nurse told Kathy that he could live 2 weeks without food and up to a week without water. It was accepted as a part of the process of dying.
I could go on, but I think I've made my point. I remembered in the olden days folks would display the casket on the dining room table and sitting up with the dead was a common practice. For the last two nights Kathy has pulled a mattress into the bedroom to sleep alongside her husband's casket (the room being emptied of furniture to make room for the coffin and to accommodate visitors). It was such a blessing to sit with her as I did and share in her sorrow (to the extent that one can). Tomorrow when she wakes, it will be to say goodbye to his physical shell for the last time. Her sons will help take the casket to the crematorium.

Midwife for the Living

I read this post from Sage Femme and had to post it for my readers. It is a beautifully written essay on why I think hospital birth is so fucked up, and I refuse to do it. Read it and the accompanying post she links to called "If you buy the hospital ticket, you go for the hospital ride" This post by Navelgazing Midwife changed my mind about trying to change hospital birth and instead putting my energy behind promoting homebirth as a viable, reasonable and safe option.

Midwife for the Dying

My friend Lee will die soon. He has struggled off and on with cancer for the past 3 years. He is my age. His family has been on the death watch for two days. Most folks don't realize how hard it is for the body to die. When his soul does leave his body, I will help his wife Kathy prepare his body. Lee has chosen to die at home. Together, he and his wife Kathy elected to have a home funeral. His body will be available for viewing at his home after he passes. He will then be cremated and a memorial service held at our church. I love that he has chosen a death, like his life, outside of conventions. (After homebirth, homeschooling, and home business, home death somewhat completes that philosophical cycle.) They even set up a website where he and his wife have journaled his dying process. Its a wonderful tool for communication. Along with journaled updates on how he is doing, folks can leave him messages, post pictures, and even videos. (The site has wonderful videos of a recent wedding of one of their sons- they had the wedding at Lee and Kathy's house and Lee was able to attend in a wheelchair, with a portable oxygen tank.) I'm so glad they elected to be public with this death- our culture is far too mysterious, hiding it away and shrouding it in fear.
The title for today's post is apt, because for me there are glaring similarities between the act of dying and the act of being born. How can that be? It is the same doorway, all are passing through, some coming in, and others going out. On either side of that doorway, helpers are needed. The midwives who guide the passage in, and the midwives who guide the passage out. Both are a holy service for those gifted to bestow it.
Birth requires a great work of labor, but so does death. Unless a person dies instantly such as a traumatic car crash or gun shot wound, the body struggles toward death. The body wants to live, it wants to be in homeostasis (balance) because thats what it knows to do. Death is foreign to the body and the shutting down process is long and arduous, much like utero emergence is foreign to the fetus, and a long arduous, mysterious journey. Ask anyone who ever sat bedside at death. Like labor, it can seem to go on forever.
Death requires the same tender mercies rendered for birth. Respect and dignity are paramount for both. Quiet, sometimes solitude are called for. There is a gathering of family and those who are close. Meals are brought, memories are shared, there is communal rejoicing/sorrowing.
I will miss Lee. Strangest for me will be Kathy without her Lee. They have always been a strong, bonded couple. He was her knight in shining armour. It seems especially cruel for her to be without him, headed into their empty nest years when they would have enjoyed each other's company freely with the kids all married or away at college. Unfortunately, we have little say over our coming and going on this earth. We only have say over what we do with our time while we are here.
Lee used his time well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Update on Josiah

Can you believe, Josiah is 10 months old? He is crawling everywhere, pulls himself up and 'walks' while holding on to the furniture. This week his two lower front teeth finally popped through. We thought he'd never get teeth! And I'm not ashamed to say- he's as cute as can be. He has fine straight brown hair and looks so much like his daddy. He has soft cafe au lait colored skin and is long and lean. He loves to munch on crackers, and if we open a peach or plum with a couple of bites, he can grab it with both hands and suck down the soft inside flesh. It is so difficult to believe that a year ago he wasn't even here, and now he is the center of our lives. We all love this baby so much. He has truly changed our family for the better. Last night, his 13 year old sister heard him yelp because he almost fell off our bed. My husband and I were both on the bed reading, and he ventured too close to the edge, but I grabbed him before he fell off. He cried anyway from fright. Big sister comes running in yells at us for being neglectful, and whisks him away to her room. I yelled after her, asking how she managed to survive this long with such neglectful parenting? My husband and I had a good laugh, and I thought, that baby just brings out the protector in everyone. We all want him to be well and happy and have his every need met. I'm so grateful we have that baby- so grateful to be his conduit for coming int0 the world.

Monday, August 06, 2007

First Timer's Remorse

"but thanks for addressing the frustrating, sometimes infuriatingly helpless feeling that is talking to a primip about homebirth!!! Arg! "

This comment from Housefairy got me to thinking (a dangerous pasttime I know). Most folks, even those who might agree with most of what I have to say and read this blog, have no idea how permeated with fear the hospital is. The fear of birth is literally paralyzing. The fear keeps the docs (and midwives and nurses, et al...) from acting on a woman's best behalf- heck the fear keeps the docs from even knowing what is best for her, because all they can see is their own liability. This is why its so difficult for moms (especially first timers) to fathom their doctors not having their best interest at heart. They cannot fathom the fear that these people operate under. The way they see it, each birth is a lawsuit (or at least catastrophe) waiting to happen. They don't have the luxury of viewing each woman and her baby as a unique unit. They can't afford to care about the supremacy of her birth experience. All they know is they gotta have a live baby and live mamma at the end of it all, and if they can accomplish that without losing a whole lot of sleep, so much the better. Fear negates the value of hand holding, fear eliminates autonomy and individuality. Control is the antidote to the pervasive fear that inhabits the birth room today. Controlling every aspect of the outcome is the only way to choke down the fear and operate through it. I almost feel sorry for the poor bastards- almost. Then I remember, that the price they gladly pay for peace of mind and comfort, comes at the expense of a woman and her baby.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Blogorgy (blog-orgy)

Spent all Sunday morning reading and replying to blogs and was late for church. (Forgive me, Lord- but we spend lots of time together- I have to steal snippets of time for blogging- nonetheless Sunday morning is yours) Found some great new (to me) blogs and possibly some new friends. Am I becoming one of those weirdos who has more virtual friends than actual??? Maybe. I'm so grateful for the blogosphere- for so long I thought I was alone or maybe just isolated. Its nice to have a voice- and time for listening to the voices of others.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Midwives, Doulas, and Lactation Consultants

It is done. Our World Breastfeeding Week Health Fair is over. It went really well. I was so proud of my Breastfeeding Committee. We worked hard and pulled off a wonderful event. In the end folks did come through. We had enough vendors, enough presenters, enough food, enough door prizes, even enough participants. The city newspaper sent a reporter and photographer. The mayor sent a representative and a proclamation. A lovely time was had by all. I met a local midwife named Cheryl. She was quite fascinating. She takes the CPM test next week. One of my committee members, Valtra just took the IBLC exam. When she passes, she will be the very first African-American lactation consultant in our city. She has done a mighty work, toiling with inner-city poor women (mostly black) who will most likely not encounter anyone else more devoted to their breastfeeding success. As a lactation consultant she'll be able to do even more. Please say a prayer or send a good thought to Cheryl and Valtra. We need more like them.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ripe for the Picking

Yesterday, I had a young pregnant labor and delivery nurse in my CPR class. She happened to work at a hospital I used to work at. So naturally, after class we struck up a conversation about mutual friends and eventually childbirth. She was having her first baby and mentioned that she was using a midwife. Of course I talked about my homebirths and why I made that choice. She gave the typical argument of what if something goes wrong. I countered with my usual, its the interventions that makes things go wrong. Having worked in California, she did concede that we tend to be a lot more heavy-handed on management of labor here. (for international readers- the US tends to be more conservative in the middle and more progressive on either coast) I don't know how much I convinced her but I hope I gave her some things to think about. She really is a thinker, but its hard not to get sucked into the world of doom and gloom birth when you are mired in it daily- that's why I had to get out, it was changing my view of birth. My hope for her is that all goes well, but that these issues become more passionate for her after she experiences birth for herself. I always did notice a change in L&D nurses after they had thier first babies.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sisterhood Soliloquy

We had dinner last night with our best couple friends, whom we don't see nearly enough anymore since we changed churches. While our younger kids ran around their massive yard (all the teens left to go to youth group at the church), we sat around the grill drinking iced Chai teas and arguing about Islam and immigration, I thought about how incredibly important these people are to me. How our 25 years of friendship, (the husband and I went to college together, our spouses came into the picture later) has embedded and taken root in my heart.

On another level, the same thing has happened to me with birth. I didn't know I would feel so passionate about it. It took root and has never waned. Anonymous got me to thinking. She (or he) wrote:
"First, I want to say that your boy Josiah is just about as beautiful a baby as I have ever seen, But being upset by "Knocked Up?" C'mon, lighten up, it's a movie and a pretty funny one at that!"
But a movie scene did upset me. I can't lighten up! I can't watch movies of bad births, or hear conversations about bad births without it affecting me. Sometimes I wish I didn't feel so passionately. Sometimes it feels like a burden I wish I could relieve myself of. Any of you reading this who share this passion will understand what I mean. Folks who just think birth is about how you have a baby just don't get it. I am consumed by this issue. I'm not writing a book, the book is using me as a vehicle to get written. Things will change, I'm certain of that, if only because they always do. Societal mores constantly shift and the young girls of today will wonder why so many of their mothers opted for cesarean or phamaceutically mediated birth. In fact, I see inklings of a shift in beliefs about birth already. I just want to be sure I'm a part of that shift. Perhaps ladies (and gents), things have become so off kilter, partially so we can have a role in setting it to rights. Each of us in our own little part of the world fighting diligently for the kind of birth we believe in, is making a difference. I'm so grateful to know I am not alone, that our sisterhood (which includes the men who get it) is strong and enduring, and that change will eventually come.