Saturday, December 29, 2007

Birth Stories

So I recently read about the following workshop. Normally the idea of such a thing might make me roll my eyes, but today, it sounds good.

Expectant parents and babies aren’t the only ones who have powerful
experiences in the birth place. As doulas we are deeply affected by
the things we witness. Occasionally, it is time to examine our
experiences and seek resolution. Often what we really need is a safe
place, the opportunity to tell our story in a structured way and have
it be heard, really heard. We will use art exploration, facilitated
dialog and powerful ritual to promote self-awareness, stimulate
healing and celebrate ourselves as amazing women who lovingly and
bravely hold the space for others during a time of great power and
vulnerability. For more information about this workshop and other
Birth Story Workshops especially for home birth midwives and also for
women who have given birth:

I was never one for "art exploration," though truthfully, I can't say I have any experience. I have had a number of clients use the "birthing from within" philosophy which uses art as one of it's tools, but really, it all sounds a little hokey to me. I think the reason I like Lamaze is that I am much more pragmatic than hippy by nature. In any case, right now I think I could use some doula therapy.

Being a doula is a very emotionally taxing job. One of the reasons I do it is because I know the birth story matters. I know that how you experience your birth can frame much of your life and how you see yourself as a woman. Ask anyone who has had an unwanted cesarean and she will tell you how the event effected her concept of her own womanhood. The problem, at least for me lately, is that a number of the births I have attended are shaping how I see myself. I have been to at least two births this year where I felt helpless, unable to support the family in the way that they wanted, in one case, and in the way they needed, in the other one. One of them truly hurt me on the inside, deep in my core, and I am sure I have not began to process the events and my reactions to them.

Ask any doula and she will tell you how difficult a really long labor can be for her. We are not blessed with the hormones and endorphins that keep mom and dad going, but yet we have to be present in the face of exhaustion and fear. People count on us to be strong and steady. Sometimes it is easier than others.

I have doula-d stillbirths, failed VBACS, long labors ending in surgery, abusive relationships and a host of other wonderful and trying situations. But none so sad for me as when I worked so hard and left feeling unappreciated.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Birth at St. V's

I am still too tired and confused to have totally processed the very, very long birth I just attended, but I do have to give props to Dr. Sally Wentross and the many nurses at St. Vincents who handled an extremely difficult situation with grace and generosity. Often doulas are hesitant to work there as is can be a hostile environment but this was not the case today.

Friday, December 14, 2007

New "Section" For Men

December 14, 2007
For Immediate Release


Portland, OR- In a truly groundbreaking turn of events, the AMA has developed a procedure to save all the men of the world! No more discomfort, unnecessary pain....have a fecalectomy!

This exciting new medical development will rescue men from thousands of years of suffering. A simple incision in the intestine will make the concept of the "bowel movement" obsolete. No need to move anything! No more pushing! Your doctor can suction in out for you.

Long gone are the days of wondering "will today be the day?" "Will I be at work and have to go? What if I am in the middle of an important meeting? Do I have childcare?" Now you can schedule all of your pooping in advance! And best of all, you don't have to feel anything; after all, there is no glory in natural excretion. A simple epidural and it is all taken care of for you.

Risks include death, post-traumatic stress disorder, infection at the sight, greater need for re-hospitalization, blood loss and long hospital stays. Also, due to malpractice rates, you will be forbidden to sit on the toilet ever again without constant monitoring, and in some cases, never at all.

A Perfect Ten

I may not be perfect but these are the things that are perfect to me.

Hot, strong coffee in the early morning hours while my children are still snoring away.

The smell of Mrs. Meyers Lavender hand soap (or any other of her lavender products.)

The feeling of crossing the finish line, no matter how long it took.

My husband nicknaming me "almost," him being totally right, and both of us being able to laugh at me. I'll finish something I start soon, I swear...

My daughter Violet, who at 4 1/2 has the most amazing memory and is clearly one of the smartest people I know. You cannot fool this one. She has ruined my ability to sneak clothing purchases past my husband, as every time I wear something new she'll say, " That's a nice new sweater, mommy. When did you get it?"

My daughter Edie, almost 3 and still goofy and sweet as ever. Before she turned 2 she made up her own dance entitled "Wiggle Your Body as Fast as You Can. And Turn. And Turn."

The truffle pizza at Apizza Scholls. I ate it once many months ago and can still conger up the taste and smell. Yum. Let's go. Now. Yes, I know it's 5am.

A brand new baby with a perfect latch. One of natures true wondrous miracles. Form, function, beauty, love, all rolled into one.

Climbing into my big, comfy bed after a long exhausting birth, knowing I did good and happy to be home.

Knowing, deep, deep knowing that you love and are loved in the most perfect way possible.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Know Where I Am...But Where Am I Going?

So you know you are doing a good thing when an old client calls you and asks to meet up for a few minutes just to give you a hug.

This woman didn't have the greatest birth imaginable in terms of outcome. However, she was well supported by her OB, her husband and me, her doula, and I know that made all the difference for her. I talk about this all the time with expectant mamas. It's not only what happens but how it happens. If you are an active participant, if your voice is heard, if you really, truly understand informed consent, then I guarantee you will walk away feeling proud.

I have been toiling/toying for the last few months with the idea of going back to school, yet again. And yes, I realize I am in many, many thousands of dollars in debt from by undergrad and my almost-finished-but-not-quite MA in English Literature. Please do not rub it in. Sallie Mae and my mother do a fine enough job, thank you. I have been looking into Berkley, among other places, for the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program with a focus on Maternal-child health. The main obstacle is: will there be a job on the other side? I want to be able to work to create change that will positively impact the state of childbirth in America. The people with money are on the other side of the coin. So unless I want to fund raise and create my own foundation, I am not sure if it is worth it. I have been really wanting to get involved on more of an activist level, but I am not really sure what the next step is. I see myself as having the capacity to be a public voice for childbirthing rights. I am just not sure how to get there.

In the meantime, I will just continue on, supporting women and families and promoting normal birth wherever and whenever I can.