Monday, April 28, 2008

Conjugating Verbosity

This is a photo of Josiah and I 'womanning' our booth at the Debi Bocar breastfeeding conference a couple of weeks ago. Jo is flirting with a pretty lady (or begging for her food) I can't remember which. He engages in both activities shamelessly and often. You'll notice me on the other hand studiously examing some undoubtedly important research document pertaining to some critical issue, or is it a People magazine article about the state of Britney's upper thigh cellulite? Oh well, at least I'm reading.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogger Beware

Today, I'll be doing my presentation on healthcare blogging- so this message is for the audience of my presentation. Blogging is great for sharing information, consensus building, or just blowing off steam, but beware, it is not without risks. Blogging can have unintended consequences. It can cause misunderstandings, hurt feelings, fights, and even litigation. You should always follow the bloggers code of conduct when blogging and always be aware that you never know who is reading your blog. It's okay to share your opinions, even if others don't agree, but you should be wary of personal attacks. Words don't always come across in print, they way they would in speech. Happy blogging.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Myths of the Black Breast

So much flowing through my mind as I review research for the breastfeeding book and upcoming presentations. I give a presentation tomorrow on the impact of blogging on healthcare! I'm quite excited about it and learned a lot as I researched the subject. Sadly my research on breastfeeding is drawing me to conclusions that no one wants to hear about. Unfortunately the most powerful barriers to breastfeeding for black women can be traced back to institutionalized racism and how that racism impacts healthcare disparities, access to care, care provider and healthcare consumer interactions, cultural perceptions, competence and ability, and on and on and on. It's really quite depressing and quite shocking- even for me. These are not the answers (to the question, why don't black women breastfeed) that I expected to find. But everytime I turn a corner, there it is smacking me in the face. On a brighter note, Valtra and I decided on the framework of our book (it won't be a how-to) and look forward to crafting our query to our selected publishing houses.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One Flew Out of the Cukoo's Nest

I took my 19 year old down to visit his college yesterday. He'll be attending Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg KS (don't even try finding it on a map). He has an internship in DC this summer first and will start at Pitt State this Fall. Before the intership, he has to get through graduation at the Jr. College he attends. A busy year for this kiddo. He is steadfast, earnest, and very thorough. So far he has payed for college all on his own, with his savings and earnings. He scrupulously accounts for every penny (he didn't get that from me). He researched colleges for months and chose one that offered his major and minor but was most economical. He studiously informed us that Pitt State would be less expensive than going to the state college here in our town and living at home. But honestly, I think it will do him good to go away to school anyway. I've been giving him some cooking lessons and reviewing the finer points of ironing. (He'll need to wear suits and button down shirts while in DC.) I'll miss this kid- he's really been the easiest one of the bunch. He's a 'walk the chalk' kind of person who wouldn't dream of breaking a rule (he doesn't get that from me either). Honestly it just seems like yesterday my husband and I were taking turns cuddling him in our arms (he was such a pretty baby) and now he's taller than both of us! He is quiet, handsome, and serious about his academics and will do well at his new school. I worry about him socially just a little. An introvert by nature (like both his parents) he is still warm and friendly toward people. He is very active in the church youth group and quite popular and a leader. But he's grown up with all those kids- its been a very insulated environment. Also, he's never dated- just group events with the church kids. (No we didn't forbid it, nor did we encourage it, he just never showed an interest.) He's a very devout person- I don't think he'll go crazy once he's out of his element, but I want to be prepared if he does start 'experimenting.' He's a good kid, but he's not perfect. I just want to be supportive of the man he is trying to become.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Drowning in a Think Tank

I was thinking about Monkey Mama's response to the Birth Abuse post. I also perused her blog, which I recommend In thinking about this for weeks now, I've bruised my brain trying to come up with a way to communicate with first timers. I think I may have come up with something. Instead of scary cautionary tales- why not give them a new standard to shoot for? Instead of a list of dos and don'ts, how about a list goals to aim for achieving? (I didn't promise this was Nobel Prize level thinking) Why not encourage women with a new paradigm of birth and then send them out into the world with an objective list that care providers and hospitals and birth centers need to measure up to? I've contacted a friend who is a banker, to get guidance on setting up a non-prof. I'd be happy to hear from others.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Green Around the Gills

I've been writing a lot lately. Mostly changing "Homebirth Handbook" into " Green Birth" Honest to God, I haven't changed any content, just the layout and made some additions. The impact on my own life has been somewhat amusing. Let's see, we already changed over to the funny lightbulbs and started recycling. I'm really yearning for the vegan diet (I think dairy is keeping me fat) and I'm trying those green cleaning products. I'm actively experimenting with waste reduction. I once spent the weekend with a family of five that produced almost no trash. This must have been 10 or 12 years ago, but I never forgot it. They lived in the country and had goats. They purchased their food in bulk from a coop and stored things in glass jars. (I recently joined a food co-op too!) The only disposible item I saw them use was toilet paper (brown and recycled). They used hankies instead of tissue, and cloth napkins instead of paper. I have observed that the bulk of our trash is food packaging. Fast food and grocery store food is really over packaged. My immediate goal is a FAST FOOD FAST. Which means that I need to start cooking again. (I purposely stopped cooking some years ago) Now I make a weekly menu calendar for the fridge and plan ahead what to cook and where to purchase food. Because I have 5 kids that get sack lunches everyday, I'm not really sure how to cut that trash. Sandwiches have to bagged, granola bars, chips, etc. come in individual packaging that make life so much simpler. I did cut out juice boxes, explaining to my kids that its mostly empty calories and they'd be better off drinking water anyway. I've slowly weaned them off American 'cheese' and processed 'lunch meat' to real cheddar and deli meats. (They hardly notice the difference but it makes me feel better.) I also started shopping regularly at Sam's Club (I used to go about twice a year, now I go almost every week). Some of their stuff is over packaged to but I can buy in bulk which makes sense for our family of eight. My husband balked about the increase in food bill, but I just passed it off as a consequence of have almost 4 teenagers in the house. I live near a wonderful health food store (Whole Foods) but it is expensive. I try things out from the store, and then purchase them in bulk from the coop. I'm having a love affair with my crock pot. I like throwing in the ingredients in the morning and coming home to good smells and a cooked meal in the evening. Besides fitting in daily excercise, returning to daily cooking has been the biggest lifestyle change toward a healthier, greener life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bunny Hop

Hopping around on crutches today. Pulled a ligament in my foot the first day of a new free weight class. (pathetic!) Now I can't even do my early morning walk I enjoy so much- bummer. The good news is I can still hobble over to my CEO Roundtable and my writer's group this morning. I love both those groups. In the roundtable I meet with other women business owners- what a dynamic group. At the writer's group, I hobnob with some really talented writers. I'm taking my article for show and tell. I also officially joined the doula group yesterday as a homebirth doula (or should I say Greenbirth Doula!). Busy day, busy week, but I plan to use every spare moment to write.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Born Green

Its official. I'm initiating a website. Join me if you'd like. I've tried all weekend to purchase a domain but keep running into technical difficulties. I'm also trying to decide if I'm going to start a second blog, or simply change the name of this one. Input welcome.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Green Birth

I'm back- after a 3 day head cold induced coma, just coherent enough to blog. My son Airick won the seat on the local school board : ) I was disqualified from the speech competition for my paperwork not being in on time : ( And somewhere in the midst of my awake/asleep/dream state, I envisioned a movement. A massive uprising of men and women who said enough is enough. Things cannot go on the way they are, the way we treat birth must change. Our values in birth must be consistent with our values for living. This movement needed a name, a banner. Something common to the times- that immediately conjured up images of a new approach to birth. Something that would make a catchy domain name and an easy to remember web address. Something they'd talk about on CNN and pick up on at Associated Press. Something that would run rampant through the mommy-blogs as well as the medi-blogs. Something like-minded folks could rally around. A social cause, a consumer movement, a healthcare protest, an Ina Mae- load up the busses, we're headed for Tennessee, honest-to-goodness birth epiphany, THE LIKES OF WHICH THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN.

Or maybe that's just the headcold medicine talking.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cytotec Kills

Here is a link to a story about cytotec
I was scared shitless every time I had to administer this drug to a woman. Of course, the women were clueless (think thier docs told them the risks- don't bet on it), but I knew exactly what the risks were. The cytotec pill was cut into pieces and placed in the woman's vagina or rectum where it dissolved and caused contractions. Unlike pitocin (and I never thought I'd be complimenting pit) that we could shut off instantaneously through the IV if a problem occured, there was nothing we could really do about a dissolved pill in someone's pussy if things went bad. (We could try running sterile water up her rectum or vagina to flush it out but that was a long shot.) When I complained to my nursing supervisors about my discomfort with practices like these, I was told I had no say over how doctors practiced. If they were doing something illegal or unethical, yes, but I could not complain (well, I could, but no one was bound to listen) if I disagreed with their practice protocals.. For instance, I couldn't complain about a doctor breaking a patient's water when they were dilated to 2 (even though I knew this could lead to an unneccessary cesarean.) In fact I was told by the higher ups (whose office I was called into from time to time) that defensive practice was defensible. They actually wanted the docs to be heavy-handed to protect the hospital from liability!
Anyway, take a good look around the Conscious Woman website. I'll be doing a program with them this Fall on the topic of infant mortality and lactation. It's a really cool set up. You access programs via conference call and computer. It's actually a very intimate setting to interact with world class speakers. It's a cheaper way to get ceus than traveling to a conference but you get the same caliber of speaker.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cover Girl

Finally, it's up on the web! Read my April article, 'Delivered, Safe and Sound.'
This was a scary article for me to submit, because I could catch a lot of flak but now that it is done, I'm proud of what I wrote. - Oh, and check me out, I'm on the cover! Enjoy.
PS: Some folks are having trouble with the way the pages load: you must click NEXT in the left hand column to see the next page. My article is about 4 pages.

Birth Abuse

I've been reading on the blogs lately some entries about 'birth rape.' and
Birth rape seems to define an emotionally and or physically traumatic birth that leaves the mother feeling violated and traumatized. As someone who worked briefly as a sexual assault nurse, I hestitate to use the word rape out of deference to what happened to the women I saw, and prefer abuse instead. At the same time I'm not trying to belittle what birth-abused women have experienced. I've experienced it myself. But even worse- I have been an abuser. That is much harder to live with. That is one reason I feel so strongly about not returning to hospital nursing. It is to be perpetually torn. On one hand it is beat into your head that you must be the patient's advocate in the healthcare system. On the other hand, you are to be allies with your healthcare colleagues and there is an unspoken 'code' that you do not betray them- you protect them, and they will protect you, presumably from the patient. This was a line I could not walk. I abused patients at the doctor's will. I abused doctors in every conceivable underhanded sneaky way I could to make myself feel better about being coerced into abusing patients. After some time, I came to despise both camps because I could not do right by either. I cannot have a healthy relationship with birthing women or my physician colleagues in a hospital setting. The power is too unbalanced and I must pick a side. Sweetly coerce the patient into things she doesn't want done, or face down the ire of the doctor- and I did face down the ire. I was yelled at, cursed at, had things thrown at me, written up, complained about, asked to be replaced by another nurse. I also tried to empower women to fight for themselves. Once when a mother of six came in to deliver, she was stunned to find out she would be getting a cesarean because she had one with her second birth and her physician group had just banned vbacs. Now HER physician had promised her a vbac, but of course HER physician was no where to be found when she came in to deliver. When I was alone with her, I took a major risk by telling her she did not have to have the cesarean, she could ask for a different doctor. But later when the doctor reentered the room to get her decision, she simply resigned herself to it- even though she had initially been very angry about it. This story exemplifies birth abuse in all its glory- and yes I helped to cut her open without a medical provocation- just on account of a fear-based policy (litigation fear at that). I remember being angry with everyone that night, the patient, the doctor who promised something she couldn't deliver, the doctor who cut her, and myself. I cannot divorce hospital birth from birth abuse. It happens every day in a million mundane ways- here where I used to practice it is nearly ubiquitous.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Human Milk for Human Babies- Duh

Okay, I've put off writing about it for a couple of days, but if anyone happened to be listening to National Public Radio on April 1st, you may have heard a segment about a new breastfeeding study ( It's about 3 minutes long so you can listen for yourselves. The study, being reviewed by NPR's pediatrician, ultimately discounts some benefits of breastfeeding, such as bonding and increased cognitive acuity. It does support some benefits such as gastrointestinal protection. I haven't looked at the actual study, which is still ongoing. But what ultimately alarmed me is not the study findings, so much as the physician response to it. His final words were that he had always assumed the humans knew how to make the best milk for their babies, over cows and soy plants, but now he's not so sure??? Is he kidding? It takes one unfinished study (from Belarus, no less, a country whose child health has been so compromised by nuclear fallout that they send their kids to the US to be exposed to clean air, clean water, and healthy food not grown in contaminated fields! to make him question whether or not humans make better milk for humans than cows do? I hope his views do not represent typical pediatrician thinking. I was very heartened recently by the presence of so many pediatricians at the US Breastfeeding Committee conference in January, in Washington DC, though here in the midwest I have not found very robust support from that quarter.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

airick leonard west for kcmo school board

My son Airick is running for the local school board. I couldn't resist running his video ad. If you are in the KCMO School District, don't forget to vote April 8th!

How to make a Bee Gee turn over in his grave

Big shake up in the world of CPR yesterday. In case you haven't heard the news, the American Heart Association announced yesterday that it's backing compression only CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults. Why do I care? For those who don't know, my 'day job' is running a CPR training business. Unfortunately I can't make a living bitching on blogs about birth and breastfeeding- so I just save that for my spare time activity. When I'm being gainfully employed I roam about the city teaching people how to save lives. I got an email from the powers that be telling me to start teaching the new way- NOW. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the new changes and rushing to read the research so I know what to tell my trainers. Apparently the new data is so compelling (in number of lives saved by the new technique) that AHA couldn't wait until 2010 to make the change (they usually implement new changes every 5 years after their big research conference) . The last big change of 30 compressions, 2 breaths took place in 2005. So starting today, here it is folks:

For adults only do compressions (pushing hard and fast in the middle of the chest, between the nipples with both hands one on top of another, about 2 inches deep into the chest). Do the compressions at the rate of 100 per minute until help arrives. How fast is 100 per minute? Sing the BeeGees song "Ha, ha, ha, ha, staying alive, staying alive, ha, ha, ha, ha, staying alive, staying alive" The cadence of this song is 100 beats per minute. Simply push to the rhythm of the song. And don't stop until help arrives. (You did have someone call 911 didn't you???)

Children and infants, and adults who have drowned or suffered a drug overdose should still get 30 compressions and 2 breaths.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Crazy 'bout my baby...

I'm hanging out at home with Josiah and just thinking how nice it is to have a baby. Of course he's a toddler now. He's a cutie with brown curly hair and chocolate colored eyes. I realized what a happy happy boy he is, when he came down with an upper respiratory infection (URI) and he was fussy nonstop for 3 days. The virus passed and then he was back to his natural joyful self. He runs around from activity to activity, from sibling to sibling and from parent to parent. The world is just of feast of pleasurable activity for him. It would have been awful to have missed having this baby. I stop at no attempt to keep him out of mortal danger, cutting grapes in half, plugging up oh so attractive outlets, swooping down to pluck quarters out of his hands as they aim for his mouth, or stopping his 16 year brother from dangling him upside down by one foot. I probably save his life a hundred times a day. He rewards me with the sweetest 6 toothed grin. He has added much love and joy to our lives- not to mention his weight in poop and drool. Thanks Lord- nice call.