Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Excitement Begins!

The last 1.5 months have been a blur of babies, business, classes, errands, prenatals, family gatherings, music, special events, making arrangements for upcoming special events, Christmas preparations....and...and...and! My calendar has looked like a mishmash of lines, notations, arrows, and codes.

But tonight, the last long weeks suddenly aren't weighing on me anymore. I'm finally getting to focus on what lies ahead. Christmas. My family. Baking and laughing and togetherness. Then, the adventure of a lifetime as I head to California on December 27. I'll be out there until Valentine's Day, having the blessing of assisting another midwife in her very busy practice. I hope to update this blog often, as well as my midwifery facebook page. I know there are so many new memories that will be made!

So I'll keep packing, wrapping presents, scratching the kitties under the chin, and sipping on my hot cider, while listening to the TV playing the Wizard of Oz in the background. This year my Christmas "tree" is a poinsettia, and it makes me smile. My decorations will only have been up a couple of days, but it's been worth it! Early Monday morning I'll wave goodbye to home, already looking forward to returning. Dorothy had it right...There's no place like home!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Hi! Are You the Midwife?"

Before the week began, I thought doing a prenatal Tuesday evening wouldn't be a problem at all. I was taking an extensive course that week to become certified as a lactation specialist, but when a new client called me, I immediately scheduled an appointment. I would be heading out of town soon and time was valuable. But that night when I hit the road I wasn't having as much fun as I thought I would be. My stuffy head hurt, several nights of little sleep were already catching up with me, and on top of all that, snow was falling. What a night to be out! I fought my foggy brain, keeping my eyes on the road, watching for slick patches. I finally saw the sleepy little town that was my destination, and after a few false leads, found the house. My weariness all melted away when I stepped inside and heard a young voice say eagerly, "Hi! Are you the midwife?" I smiled at the grinning 9 year old face in front of me, and answered, "Yes I am!" Bouncing up and down a little, his hands rather clasped in a pleading gesture, he then asked, "Are you here to bring my baby brother??" I had to laugh, and told him I would do the best I could, but that it was rather early yet for baby to come! So started a wonderful evening. I even got hugs from a couple of the children, including the 9yo - "That's for bringing me a brother!" Boy oh boy, but I hope I don't disappoint him!

I left there a few hours later, a smile on my face, shared laughter making my heart happy. As I drove home in the thickly falling snow, I started thinking about how much I love that question..."Are you the midwife?" It brought to mind another time just a week before...

Excited at the thought of a homebirth sometime in the future, a local family had me over for dinner. I'm always just a tad nervous to walk into new homes and new situations, hoping I will meet needs and that we'll be a good fit. This night I walked into a home filled with smiling faces, and three bubbling children just brimming with excitement. Another 9 year old, eager face looks at me and says, "Hi! Are you The Midwife?" Yes, I'm pretty sure she said it in capital letters! I joyfully answered, "Yes, I am!" I walked out of that home with precious memories...the 9yo sitting on the couch doing her embroidery, calmly asking me about the benefits of waterbirth, then deciding that was how SHE was going to have her babies...the delicious meal that my new friend had prepared....the questions and conversations about what I love the most - midwifery and homebirth...and the three year old following me around in the end saying, "Don't leave! Please don't leave! I have to find my socks and go with you!" It makes me smile even now.

It delights me to be known as The Midwife. I can't express how much it humbles me to be allowed into homes, doors flung wide open, welcome arms bidding me entrance. I love getting questioned about my work. Every time somebody says "wow" when I tell a birth story, or recount the number of births I've attended, I realize anew just how blessed I am.

I've walked into near-mansions...and humble log cabins. Homes built into the ground with grass for a roof...and expansive homes holding large numbers of children. Yet no matter where the question is posed, when I hear, "Hi! Are you the midwife?", it gives me joy to answer in the affirmative - "Yes, I am!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For This I Say Thanks

Thank you for the mothers I serve in one of the most special times of their lives.

Thank you for the privilege of having homes opened to my heart and hands, and for friendships made and treasured forever.

Thank you for the awesome people I've been able to meet in my professional life. I know some of the best!

Thank you for the friends I have that enrich my life in so many ways. They share my heartaches, carry my burdens, make me laugh, and feed me when I'm hungry.

Thank you for letting me never go without.

Thank you for the unique joy of playing footsie with an unborn baby, then getting to look into their newborn eyes and saying, "Remember me?"

Thank you for my wonderful family who loves me perfectly, unconditionally, and forever.

Thank you for Truth, for the indisputable things that govern my life.

Thank you for joy that is present no matter my circumstances. Thank you for having my life run on deeper channels than the external happenings that surround it.

Thank You for being my Friend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Had Fainted, Unless...

There is a popular phrase in our culture that says, "I'll believe it when I see it." Our entire lives are based on the tangible, on trusting our selves, our instincts, and our sight. It's a tiresome way to live, this utter dependence on self. As a Christian, I have seen the necessity of changing that phrase around - "I believed to see." Believing (faith) results in seeing (fruition) which naturally results in more believing! I had another moment of fruition tonight, and it made me laugh with tears of joy and gratitude in my eyes. I started thinking of all the ways that my faith has resulted in sight and I wanted to chronicle some of them.

"I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." Psalm 40:10

For over two years I have held other jobs than that of midwife. I have been house cleaner, nanny, seamstress, the go-to gal that would do just about any job offered to her. I won't say that I didn't get weary of needing to do other work than that which I loved so well, but I came to the place where I could honestly thank my Father in Heaven for each time income came my way, no matter how menial the source. Whether $10 or $100, I learned to say, "Thank you Lord" every time I was handed payment. It became a place of peace and simple gratitude.

Last year, I wrecked TWO cars in 2.5 months' time. Then I was told that my "new" car possibly had a cracked head, and even to a car novice like myself, it was the knell of doom. I will never forget sitting on the curb at my mechanic friend's apartment complex, crumpling up on myself, rocking back and forth, hurting too much to even cry. I was at the end of my rope. How could this be happening?? I bought my cars with cash, lived oh, so frugally, pinched and scrimped to got by, and where was my break? Aren't we supposed to get a break??

Then that still, small voice spoke to my heart, and I unfolded my agonizing self, sat up straight and said, "You're right. You have taken care of me before now, you will continue to take care of me. My life isn't up to chance, but is safe with You." My storm didn't seem to be over, but the storm inside my soul was quieted. As it turns out, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my car...

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

An entry in my calendar, dated September 13, 2010, says, "Quit jobs. Started praying. :)" God allowed some doors to close, removing great stress out of my life. There were moments of trepidation, as the job I had walked away from was my bread and butter, but I trusted that all would be well. I began looking for another part time job to help support myself. Fear entered when I was told that the resume I had produced (with expert help, I might add) was all wrong - lacking in this, had too much of that, and for heaven's sake, it shouldn't have my picture on it because those always get thrown in the trash!! It was especially difficult as I had JUST faxed off my first resume. But I went to sleep that night, content in the knowledge that GOD was the one that would provide, and if that resume was what he wanted to use, then it was going to be good enough! I sent one one office...and was called the very next day for an interview. Although that job didn't end up being the right fit, I smiled through the whole process, knowing that my God was in control.

The days after that have been some of the busiest I've had in a very long time. Every day brought a chance to trust. Every day, my needs were supplied. Several babies were born...a box of food from a dear friend and client showed up on my doorstep...I was given leftovers from church dinners...friends invited me over for meals and snuggle time with their babies...I taught piano lessons to more best friend shared out of her abundance, including a box of barley - I had just used the last of mine and was regretful over that fact...a client payed me more than was owed out of gratitude for the long days I put in during their birth...a fellow midwife shared her fee with me after we had gone through a difficult birth rent was lowered due to a prior mistake on the management's part...another friend called me out of the blue and had me do a dress alteration job for her, paying me more than I asked...a soon-to-be-friend asked for weekly help with children and home...a great big box of apples was given to me as a thank-you gift...a friend slipped a carton of the special milk I buy into my car for me to find, and she didn't know that I had been out of milk for a couple of weeks and was wishing I had some... The list goes on an on.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our assistant pastors preached and told the story of when he was a college student, needing to do a load of laundry. He was $0.25 short of having enough change to operate the machine. Out of faith, he loaded his laundry into his basket, and prayed every step of the way, presenting his need to the Lord, asking him to provide. No quarter...until he opened the lid of an empty washing machine. A quarter. It might seem like so little, but in the need of the moment, it was great, and God provided. Pastor Matt used this story to challenge us to lay our needs out before God, asking him to meet them, trusting that he will. The story in the Bible about the widow woman and her barrel of meal wouldn't have the same impact if she hadn't gone to the barrel over and over again, always trusting that there would be more there. "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail...And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah...and the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD." I Kings 17: 14-16 He asked us to think of what our needs were and to give them to God. I thought, and it struck me...

We had revival services coming up, and I was the pianist for the week. How was I going to pay for the extra gas needed for the meetings? In the quietness of my heart, I asked God to provide, however he saw fit, communicating my concern to him. A moment later, I went to my place at the piano, and when the service was concluded, came down to collect my belongings. A friend beckoned me over..."My husband and I would like to fill up your car for you. We know that gas is a big burden, and we want to help you get to the revival services." My heart was in my throat as I thanked her, hardly even able to do the "proper" Southern thing of protesting gracefully lest we seem, this was my God, choosing to answer my prayer, and so quickly. It didn't matter that my almost-full tank prevented them from adding very much. The amount wasn't important. What WAS important was seeing my Father in Heaven care for me in such an obvious, immediate way. I was awe-struck.

Last weekend, I rode with a midwife friend to our midwives business meeting, and on the way back was telling her that story, wanting to encourage her (and myself) in the telling of it. If we will trust him, he will provide for us. It doesn't matter that we can't see into the future, or that the coming months look strained. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills! No sooner were those words out of my mouth than we pulled into the parking lot where I had left my car find it egged, and half a tank of gas GONE. All I could do was shake my head at the senselessness of it, wondering a little at the timing of my words of trust and the finding of my poor car's condition! Not only did $20 get slipped into my pocket later that night, but a brand new client called and hired me as her midwife. Once again, God provided!

Today, before leaving the house, I put one of my standard meals in the crock pot - a chicken breast doused with some kind of sauce, left to cook while I was away. For the first time in awhile, I used some Italian dressing that had been given to me, noting, and remarking out loud, that it was almost out and I hoped I would be able to get more. I vaguely asked God to supply it. The prayer was more a fleeting thought than a conscious one. Tonight while talking to a sweet lady traveling through for the week, she began to run down a list of things she had to share...need hangers? Sure! How about a bath rug? Wonderful! Do you like salad dressing? As a matter of fact, I do. Are you already ahead of me? I didn't think much about it until on the phone with my mom later, and I told her about cooking the chicken. A light bulb went off..."Ronda said she had salad dressing for me...I wonder what kind it is." I quickly dug in the bag, then started that choking, tearful laugh of joy. Yep...a bottle of Italian dressing. Once again, my Father delights to give to his child.

I know this is long, and quite an aside from the usual things I post, but it's my life. I just had to share. Just had to let the world see the reality of my God and his love for us. It's not a fable, it's not happenstance. It's a real God meeting our real needs in very real ways. His timing is perfect, wonderful. His love, unsearcheable. It all started with, "For God so loved the world..."

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

For your care in my past...
For your blessing in my now...
For your vision for my future...
Lord, I thank You.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Hello Becomes Goodbye....

**Warning...this post is about pregnancy loss. I know this is an extremely sensitive topic, and I wanted you to be aware. But even the midwife has a story she needs to tell. Much love, Jennifer**

LM was a "hand me down" client, as I teasingly call them. Her midwife was leaving town for several months, and I was handed a stack of charts, with instructions on when visits were due, directions to different homes, and a wave goodbye. I gleefully made my rounds each week, checking growing bellies, charting vital signs and heart tones, and listening to the complaints, concerns, or questions - as the case may be - of each mama that I saw. LM was one of my favorites, if there really can be such a thing. She wasn't an incredibly expressive lady, but her glad smile every time I came always let me know that I was very welcome. We spent many a visit at her kitchen table, me asking questions and hearing all the latest family and gardening news, while trying not to spill on her chart any of the fresh blackberry pie I was eating. We made plans for her upcoming birth, making sure that all was in order.

One day, a Thursday, I made my usual rounds, and was told that her husband (HM) was going out of town on church business. LM wasn't worried at all, as she had been overdue with each of her previous nine children, and was only about 38 weeks at this point. I did my usual baby check, letting her listen to the heartbeat, watching her smile at the sound. I'm so glad I did. Before leaving, I made sure she had my number on hand so she could call if she needed anything while HM was gone. With a smile and a "See you next week on the usual day!" I was off.

Sunday evening in the middle of a church celebration, my phone rang, and I quickly answered as I do every time I see that particular "Amish-land" area code. I could barely hear her quiet voice over the hubbub in my background. "Hi, this is LM, and I think I'm in labor. I've been having contractions for a little while. No, I haven't been able to contact HM yet. I can't get his driver on the phone." I assured her I would be there soon, and that we would get to her intended place of birth, that being the out-of-town midwife's birthing room. In due time, we got settled in, the ticking clock the only noise in the empty house. I started the usual tasks of charting, checking vitals and heart tones, and the other little things we do to get mom comfortable and ready for birth.

She got up on the bed so I could examine her progress, and found her to be a little dilated, with the curious finding of the baby being a lot higher than it had been just three days before. The next moments are the ones that changed me forever. I got out my doppler and gel and began the routine check for heart tones. Nothing. I smiled, "The baby is hiding from me...I can't find the heartbeat yet!" I moved the probe here and there, struggling to breathe as my heart leaped in my throat, the most awful silence meeting our ears. I tried not to let the worry I was feeling be too apparent in my eyes. "Let me get more gel. I might not have enough on the probe." Still, nothing. Dreadful silence. Unnatural silence. Empty space not responding to the plea of my mind and heart at the moment - "Please baby, be ok. Please just be hiding. Please let my doppler be broken. God....?"

I questioned her about fetal movements. "Well, I think I felt it yesterday, but I know I haven't felt any movements today."

I looked in her eyes, seeing the mirror of my own fear and inner struggle, while our faces remained upbeat and stoic. "Let's go in to the hospital and see if they can find them. I'm a bit worried about your elevated blood pressure, too. We'll let them help us." She acquiesced, and we loaded up to go to the hospital. My mom, my faithful prayer warrior, was quickly updated as to what was going on. I made a phone call to my collaborating physician, and before long we had arrived, and were whisked straight to Labor and Delivery. More machines, more doppler gel, more professionals listening for that elusive sound. More silence. I watched, eyes wide with unshed tears, knowing that for now, it was about her, and she needed me to be strong. An ultrasound tech was called in, and I moved to the end of the bed where I could see the monitor. The wand slid smoothly all over LM's belly, the image of the baby showing up in the unusual form that ultrasounds present. Then the wand stopped, and I could see the immobile object at which it was aimed, and my mourning officially began with each slow type of her fingers - H E A R T.

Her husband still unreachable, we were given a room in which to labor, while the caring, loving nurses tried to make her comfortable, while doing all the usual procedures that hospital birthing requires. One thing about birth in the hospital is that it's noisy - the "whomp whomp whomp" of the fetal heart monitor is never ending, along with the odd assortment of pings and beeps from various machines. Not this time. Again, that silence.

I stood by her bed for the next long hours. I can't even remember just how many times the second hand went around the clock face. I felt helpless, missing the verbal tools I normally had in great supply. It was cruel to say, "You're doing'll see your baby soon!", or many of the other comforting things we murmer during labor. Every contraction brought a strong squeeze of my hand, and I didn't waver when her eyes sought mine in concentration. I'm here with you...I love you...I care...we're going to make it together. I don't know if those words came out of my mouth, or went straight from my heart to hers. I hardly know what I said. I do know what was not said. Through all of this, LM had remained calm, a few whispered phrases to me occasionally showing me the hurt that was welling up inside, but her outward demeanor was one of acceptance and duty - she knew she still had a job ahead of her, and that is what she focused on. She didn't cry, didn't panic, just...labored.

Soon, she was complete and was given the okay to push whenever she felt like it. The doctor gloved up and stood quietly by, just observing. No bright lights, no grand displays, just a word of reassurance every now and then. Soon, the top of the head was seen, then the head was born, and yet the doctor still didn't move. "You're doing just fine...a few more pushes and we'll be there." I watched as the baby oh, so slowly, was born, the doctor holding a basin for it to be born into, as the stillborn are extremely fragile and must be handled as little as possible. A perfectly beautiful baby girl with a cupid's-bow mouth came into view. Every part of me screamed silently against the proceedings. "No, it's not supposed to be this way! Hold her! Why is she so quiet? Birth isn't supposed to be about death..." Still that silence reigned. It's a silence that doesn't make sense.

Then a sound caught my ear and the silence was broken as her mama's face crumpled with grief. We reached for each other, and I held her as she mourned, sobbing for her baby, crying the hurt out. I could say nothing but, "I'm sorry...I love you...she's beautiful...I'm so sorry..." We stayed like that for a full 10 minutes, midwife and mama, holding each other, tears flowing, sharing grief too deep to name.

They took the baby - soon named Mary - away to be bathed and dressed. I found out later that they took pictures, too, just in case these Amish parents might decide they wanted one. She was brought back to LM for her to see and admire. Little Mary was born with Down's Syndrome compounded by numerous internal anomalies, and had apparently been sick for awhile, but there was no way to know that without the routine ultrasounds that are generally declined by the Plain communities. With great faith and resignation, LM looked at me and said with tears in her eyes, "I guess this was just God's will." It was almost posed as a question, one which I could only nod to, affirming her belief in the Father and his unsearchable ways.

The next hours are a blur from shock and sleep deprivation. At some point in the morning her husband arrived, distressed to have not been there. His face, when being shown his lifeless daughter for the first time, is one that lives on in my memory. Some things never leave you. Soon, more family arrived, hushed tones respecting the palpable sorrow. The hospital staff prepared the baby to be taken away by the funeral home. Did I really see that tiny form being wheeled away on a gurney, maroon cloth covering all, or is that a figment of my imagination, blurred by time and the inevitable forgetfulness that comes with stressful situations? No, I think it was real.

Oh, that silence, still ringing in my ears...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In another birthing room nearly 2 years later, LM lay quietly laboring. We passed smiles between us, our deep bond and friendship needing few words to communicate. I was proud to be her midwife again, this time being of her choosing. Our prenatal visits went much like before, with every milestone we passed being a blessed relief. She had felt much better this pregnancy. Although joyful to attend her again, every time I applied the doppler probe to her belly, a quick shot of fear would go through my heart, until the faithful "Ca-lunk ca-lunk ca-lunk" would echo through the room. Such wonderful sound. After a long, slow, tedious labor, she was finally able to push. Soon, the top of the head was seen, then the face, then the head was fully born. Midwife hands settled gently on the baby, helping guide its entrance into the world. Another shot of fear. A quick smile and a cheerful word to LM. "You're almost're doing great!" One more valiant push and a gorgeous baby boy with a head full of bright blond hair was born - lustily shouting his arrival. My tears of joy at the noise joined his protestations. This is what it's supposed to be. Noisy. Lungs filling up. Little hands reaching automatically. Mama hands meeting them in welcome.

A look of peace and joy passed between LM and me, knowing that all was well. Later, as I held him, adoring his tiny features, tears and laughter mingling together in a strange mix, I said to LM, "I think he looks like a Levi." She just smiled, admiring him with me, pleased and thankful.

I busied myself with the necessary paperwork, cleanup, footprinting, weighing, and assessing that comes with the postpartum period. I turned to see LM with a smile on her face, and getting a nod from her husband, said, "His name is Levi." I exclaimed with delight, feeling as happy as if they had named a child after ME! It was an honor for them to take my suggestion and make it a reality.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sometimes hello becomes goodbye....then with a joyful noise becomes "hello" again. To all those who have loved, yet lost, your arms empty, your heart permanently missing a piece, I lovingly dedicate these words. May blessed time dull the ache, while you never let us forget the baby that remained unseen and unknown by an outside world. We care...we hear...we love you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Story Of A Midwife...

I am often asked how I "got into" midwifery. It's such an unusual profession, off the beaten path, so ancient in it's history. I think it might seem odd to some that someone my age is a midwife - I've been told before that I did not match a person's mental image of what a midwife was. Apparently, I don't have enough gray hair!

Here is my story...

I have always been in love with babies. When I was too young to be in the church choir, I busied myself with every baby I could get my hands on while their mama was occupied. I carried babies on my hips before I even had hips! The maternal instinct was so strong in my little life. I used to pretend I was giving birth, groaning and moaning as I pulled my baby dolls out from under my shirt, then immediately pretending to nurse them. I don't know where, at such a young age, I got my notions of how babies were born! As I got older, I would sit, fascinated, when anyone would tell the story of their baby's birth. I remember one family friend waving aside the idea that birth was horribly painful, as her babies had all come quickly and easily.

On the other side of the coin, I thrived on anything medical, loving the stories of Florence Nightingale and other historical figures, wanting to be that life-saving heroine, calm in the face of danger, holding a flickering lamp as I aided the wounded and hurting. It was romanticized a bit, to be sure! I laugh when I think how that played out in real life. My brothers and I were very active, constantly reenacting some historical period or another. Sometimes I would join in the battles, scattering the enemy to the four winds while we bravely chased after them on our horses (bicycles)...other times I would be seen with my little pink plastic suitcase, full of "bandages" I had rolled. The poor wounded soldiers would get bandaged up, then I would carefully squirt red food coloring on those same bandages to simulate blood. Apparently, it wasn't enough to have them simply wrapped up in strips of cloth!

I thought I would be firmly headed down the path of nursing, until one day when I was about 12 years old I learned what a midwife was. I *knew* that was what I would be one day. I don't remember ever questioning that or looking back. When I was 14, I had the privilege of being in the house where a baby was being born. I was in awe of meeting "real live midwives" and I tiptoed around sharing excited giggles with my best friend. I will never forget when the baby was born and they let us into the room. I proclaimed with pride for years that, "I was the second person to get to hold a brand new baby!!" I can still see that bedroom in my mind's eye, mom in the bed, beaming with joy, the midwives quietly working in the background, a thrill in the air.

After that amazing experience, I read every age-appropriate thing I could about babies, birth, midwifery, and other related topics. I had the wonderful privilege of attending my first birth as an observer when I was 19. I remember being in shock at the intensity of the birth experience. To further break any preconceived ideas I had of what birth was like, she had the baby standing up, leaning over a chair. I remember quietly watching in the corner, overwhelmed and emotionally withdrawing, yet trying, in a clinical manner, to mentally walk through each step of the process. I smile when I think of how I was trying not to completely lose it! One lesson I haven't forgotten from that birth is how hungry a new mom is after her baby finally arrives. I was offering her "sick people" food in the form of soup, toast, etc. She said, "No, I want lasagna! I'm hungry!" It makes me smile even now...

The next birth I was able to attend happened over a year later. By that time I was older, wiser, and more educated. I had read a lot about labor support, and it was at that birth I believe I discovered my gift as a doula. Scenes are imprinted in my, dad, and student midwife all walking down the long dirt lane, goats and mules fist pushed firmly against her sacrum to alleviate the back labor while she held onto her strong husband...the blue sky and warm sun on our shoulders...the excitement in dad's voice as he proclaimed over the wails of his new baby, "It's a girl! No...a boy. No! It's a girl!!" The birth of that baby after a very long labor had the opposite affect of my first observed birth - this time I cried, joyful with them in the arrival of their little baby girl after 6 boys! I wasn't fearful anymore...

By the time of that birth I had been enrolled in midwifery school for almost a year. I loved my studies, awed by the whole new world opening before me. I wanted so much to be a good midwife one day. Since we lived rurally, my opportunities for hands-on learning were minimal. I was able to attend approximately one birth a year for those first few years, scenes from which will always be imprinted on my mind.

By age 23, we had relocated to West Virginia, where I began a formal apprenticeship with a local midwife. That opened so many more doors, and I have had the wonderful privilege of training under and working with other fabulous midwives. Midwives form a special sisterhood, one that is universal. I'm so grateful for the privilege of being a member.

In 2006 my practice sprouted it's wings, and the rest is history! What friendships I have forged...what amazing memories I've made. I wouldn't trade my life with anyone. It's not always easy - it takes a lot of work, requires long hours and much sacrifice, but all so worth it.

Last year, while at a conference, the question was asked, "How did you become a midwife?" As the circle of ladies answered that question one by one and I waited my turn to speak, I thought about what I would say. A long-buried memory surfaced and brought tears to my eyes. In my mind's eye I saw a mom, belly swollen, lying down on her bed, while her three-year-old daughter pressed an ear to her pregnant belly. The little girl laughed when the baby kicked her. And I knew. That is when I fell in love with the unborn, with pregnancy and birth; that is when my fascination with life started.

And in the beginning, a midwife was born...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Post: Three Things Nurses Wish You Knew About Childbirth

An article has been circulating, bearing the same title as this post. I encourage you to read it, by clicking on the title above. Here is what Joni Edelman, former Labor & Delivery nurse, had to say in response to it. I found her comments quite insightful, and am reposting them with her permission, fascinated to see her view from the "inside".

Here's what I wish my patients knew:

1. Doulas. Yes. The statistics don't lie and a good doula is an asset to the RN too.

2. REAL childbirth prep. Yes.

3. Birth plans. Yes. But be flexible. Only because in my experience, the more rigid the birth plan, the more likely you'll end up in surgery. I can't explain it but it's true.

4. Pain medication is available and we are happy to give it to you. However, sometimes it's too late for the epidural or that last shot. Labor hurts. Sorry. We can't always make it pain free. Frankly I'm shocked at the number of women who expect this.

5. YOU have the right (and responsibility) to make choices for your baby and yourself. You can refuse intervention and treatment you don't want. (IV, induction, etc) Your RN or OB might be mad or even mean to you but it's your baby and your body.

But what I REALLY wish people knew is that the statistics are true AND scary. The hospital creates as many problems as it solves. Where else can you walk in healthy and still have a 32% chance of having major surgery? Also pitocin, whether they'll acknowledge it or not, makes for complicated deliveries. OB's like pitocin. They like to exert control when they can because unfortunately they are all terrified of a lawsuit. Most OB's pay more in malpractice insurance than most people make in a year. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE OB's. They have an important role to play when NEEDED. Otherwise they really aren't acquainted with normal, unaltered labor. They rely on quantified information which is great, when necessary, but usually is unnecessary.

So what I wish people knew is it's safe, and often safer, to have your baby at home with a skilled midwife. I just did and even with a delivery complicated by a severe shoulder dystocia, I'm still glad I had my 10 lb 6 oz baby in my kitchen. It's a long story but because of my experience I know what likely would have happened in the hospital making me that much happier I wasn't there."

Thank you for sharing with us, Joni!

Baby Danny's Story

Yesterday I went to my Monday "job", putting on my cleaning/nanny/organizer cap for the day. I was there long enough to grab clothes for a little one, and load the dishwasher, when my phone rang. I heard the midwife's voice crackling through the bad reception on the other end. "Well, I think O.M. is in labor. Actually, she's not really sure, but she couldn't sleep well last night. She's had some bloody show, but not really any contractions to speak of. Oh, and I think she's 6-7cm dilated." With that bombshell, she gave me her schedule for the next couple of hours, and asked if I would go ahead and come over. Sure, no problem. My sweet friend told me to quickly GO...and I headed down the road.

I traveled the hour-plus into Ohio, listening to podcasts I had previously downloaded. With so much time on the road, it helps to find ways to pass the time and enrich my mind. On the way, I saw an unusual sight of a very long row of ambulances, lights blazing, and cars with their lights on, sandwiched between more ambulances and fire EMS vehicles. Come to find out, it was the funeral procession for an EMS personnel. I had never seen anything like it!

I headed straight to the midwife's house, where she has a birthing room set up for her clients. An interesting thing about the Amish is that they keep their pregnancies very secret. The children are told nothing about pregnancy, birth, or babies. If expectant mothers are questioned as to why they're "getting fat", they will tell their children, "I've been eating too many donuts!" Once, I was actually told just that when being given the news about someone in the community, and a child was present. "Did you hear about So-and-So? She's been eating too many donuts!" It was rather funny! Those with large families especially appreciate the use of the midwife's birthing room, knowing they will have more privacy and less questions from the other children.

I pull up to the house...and no one is there. I go in and make myself comfortable, working on my computer to get some projects accomplished. I was a little puzzled as to how I beat the midwife there, but knew they would show up sooner or later. Sure enough, about an hour after I arrived, the laboring entourage drove up...only there really wasn't any labor happening! I got O.M. comfortable, doing vitals, listening to fetal heart tones, and the initial charting that goes with all of it. Upon exam, she was indeed 7cm, but couldn't honestly say when her last contraction was. We settled in to wait, giving her some natural products to see if they would help her contractions get into any kind of pattern. She patiently waited all afternoon, having one contraction an hour....then two an hour....then three an hour. In her words, she was "disgusted." She had never had a labor like that, and while she didn't look forward to painful contractions, she just wanted her baby! In the meantime, we talked and visited, sharing stories and news, the most surprising of which to her was that I didn't have any children of my own. I just smiled and said that I hadn't had my chance yet, so I was content to help everyone else with their families. This whole time the baby's heartbeat sounded great and movements were good. The baby's head was up rather high, so we knew she'd have to labor him down. We enjoyed giving her a little childbirth education, complete with drawings out of books and a pelvis model I had given to the midwife a long time ago. I love watching the light go on in someones eyes when the mysteries of their body is explained. Suddenly, labor made sense to her, for the first time in eight births.

About 5:30pm, she grimaced with a contraction. "My, that one was stronger." Five minutes later, another grimace and tightening of her hands. 15 minutes later...another. Then five...and five...and five...and we have a pattern! The poor dear went from 0 to 60 in no time, so it was a little hard for her to cope with the suddenness of it, but she did wonderfully. I busied myself with rubbing her back, soothing her shoulders, explaining how it would help her if she didn't clench her jaw against the intensity of the contractions. I vocalized with her, watching her body relax every time she quit fighting against the strength of what she was feeling. We applied warm compresses to her perineum, preparing for the soon arrival of her baby.

Another exam..."complete!"...the water broke with a whoosh, and we saw meconium in the water. The baby had had a bowel movement at some point, most likely due to the fact that he was 12 days overdue, so we prepared for possible respiratory problems, and had the bulb syringe ready to make sure there was nothing in his mouth for him to aspirate. Meconium is very slick and if the baby breathes it in, it can coat the lungs so that they can't get the fluid out of them when they take those first few breaths.

We quickly called to dad to join us as he was enjoying his magazine in the other room so much that he about to miss the birth! One mighty push brought baby all the way down and to crowning...then face...then head. One more push and out came a very lusty baby boy, at 6:45pm! Almost immediately he gave us his protesting cry, and we laughed at the fact that his vigorous crying made him wet all over the midwife! After a gentle yet quick suctioning, he was given to his mama. As soon as he was in her arms, he quieted, content to be where he belonged.

The other midwife smiled in satisfaction that her prediction of a boy was right, and after the little champ nursed and was weighed, I smiled in satisfaction because my guesstimation of his weight was exactly one ounce off. I love when that happens!

They named him Danny after his grandfather. He weighed 7lb 9oz, and was 21" long, her smallest baby yet. Such a handsome fellow! I did a full exam, measuring him, making sure his reflexes were normal, his spine was straight, and all the other little details we get reassurances of. I got a print of his feet on the keepsake birth certificate we always give them - he was very cooperative and they were perfect. I gave him a bath in a basin by the bed so his mama could watch, and he went from fussing at me to relaxed and opening his eyes. It was so sweet. Afterwards, I got to dress him in the beautiful clothes that she had lovingly made, then settled him back into mom's arms where he went blissfully to sleep.

She was feeling so well that by 3-hrs postpartum, she was wanting to go home and sleep in her own bed. I was happy to oblige and saw them safely settled across their doorstep. Two of his brothers had come over to the house to do chores and were all smiles at seeing the baby that Jesus had brought them.

In the meantime, the other midwife set off for a distant town to check on another possible labor....and I set off for home. I drove home with a smile and a yawn, wanting to shout to a sleeping world, "I just saw another miracle! I'm a midwife, and I love it!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Are We Thinking?

One thing I can't apologize for, is that I'm biased. Severely. Nope, no open mind here! I'm also strongly opinionated, er, I mean, passionate about what I believe in. While I have attempted to temper that exuberance in many areas of my life, there is one place that I am unswerving...

....and that place is Childbirth.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe there is a "one size fits all" when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Just like every woman is unique, so are her birth needs. There are some true medical instances where a woman should birth in the hospital. The woman with a clotting disorder...or a previous C-section incision incompatible with future vaginal births...or who had her pelvis crushed by a bus, therefore creating true CPD, or cephalo-pelvic disproportion, meaning, "baby can't get out".

But what about the rest of the birthing population? Why are our hospitals full of the average woman? You've probably looked at her in a mirror before. She's healthy, no risk factors or outstanding medical conditions, and if she walked into a doctor's office, she would be sent away as normal, not needing any special attention.

Let that same Average Joanna get pregnant.

She suddenly needs a battery of tests...ultrasounds...bloodwork...more bloodwork to check out THAT bloodwork...ultrasounds...invasive procedures...fingers checking her cervix even before she's full-term...ultrasounds...difficult blood-sugar tests...and have I mentioned ultrasounds? When she gets closer to her due date, she's told that her baby is "getting big" and that she should consider induction. She's told that her pelvis is inadequate, and that there is no way she could push out even an average-sized baby. She's told that she will definitely want an epidural because, "Why would you want to feel any pain if you didn't have to?" She's told that her water will be broken, that she will need all kinds of wires, monitors, beeping machines, and a prepped operating room, "just in case." It's assumed that her body is broken. Why?

I think the deeper question is, why do we as consumers allow it? Why did we give our power away? What are we thinking by our wholehearted acceptance of someone else's definition of normal? Why do women buy into the thought that we're not able to have a baby naturally, without assistance, tampering, "help", or intervention? Why are our c-section rates so high? Can 1 in 3 women truly not give birth without being sliced open? Why is the routine use of pitocin accepted without question? As Henci Goer, noted medical writer and researcher said, "If 40% of women need oxytocin to progress normally, then something is wrong with the definition of normal."

These questions carry over into every aspect of pregnancy and birth, from the first set of routine ultrasounds, to risky prenatal tests, to inductions, epidurals, and the whole cascade of interventions leading to an almost guaranteed c-section.

I recently sat in on a friend's childbirth education class. She discussed many things I had heard or studied before, but the thing that horrified me the most were the on-hand representations she had of routine interventions, the most notable of which was the Internal Fetal Monitor. Tears welled up in my eyes as I pricked my fingers with the end of that thick, sharp wire. Why, oh why, is it normal, acceptable, desired, or approved of, to screw such a device into our tiny baby's heads??

What are we thinking? Furthermore, why aren't we thinking? I implore you to ask questions. Find out for yourself if the standard offerings of the medical establishment are to your taste, liking, health, or best interest. If you cannot come to a place of peace with your chosen care provider, seek another. But, if you choose to walk in, put up your hands in an attitude of surrender, giving in to everything they want to do to you, then please, please, do it on purpose. Don't let surrender be your default because you didn't know you had any other options, or weren't willing to go against the seeming authority of your health care provider. You might choose the medical standard of care, but let it be just that, your choice.

Make Informed Decisions - yours and your baby's life and health depend on it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reflections of a Midwife

Wispy curtains waved their delicate white arms as a cool breeze teased them through the open window. It was summertime, but the heat wave had broken, at least for a day, and the sunshine was warm and inviting. Inside, a young woman lay on her side in her bed, sleeping cap firmly tied on, her bearded husband beside her, holding her hand and watching her face for signs that she needed him. Her belly, firmly rounded with the coming new life, would sometimes move as the babe inside wiggled around trying to find the best position in which to be born.

There were two midwives there that day, one rich in years and experience, the other more than half her age, with the energy of youth and the wisdom of one who has seen and known sometimes wondrous, sometimes heartbreaking things. The two were well suited, having worked side-by-side in many such scenes, both learning the give and take necessary for such a good relationship to be possible. They teased and laughed and were serious by turns, while the older midwife told all the little stories and tales that she was well known for, giving a bit of distraction to the solemn couple so intent on their journey.

As the little mother would begin another contraction, the air was filled with soothing murmers, the fragrance of herbal massage oil being rubbed on her aching back, and the sounds of her own involuntary birth song. Seeing her flushed face and how she tried to uncover her warm legs, the younger midwife moved to stand behind her, magazine in hand. One hand gently lifted her gown to let the air circulate, while the other softly stirred the air with the book, giving relief. Suddenly, she was transported to another bedside in her memory, to a completely different setting and circumstance...

Five years before....

In a dimly-lit hospital room in the heart of the city, an old man lay dying, his once strong body weakened by the stroke that was soon to take his life. His young friend, the midwife, stood by his bed, patiently fanning his hot body with a piece of paper and his own hospital gown. Occasionally she would speak to him of her garden, of the tomatoes she had picked, or how the ramps had done that year. She told him of the sunshine, how perfectly beautiful the weather was, and how there were fish in the streams for him to catch. She told him of the babies she had caught lately, and how big or small they were - it was their own private joke about the "one that got away." He never responded as he was almost past the point of being able to speak. The family talked in hushed tones outside the door, giving the midwife and the old man time together, for they knew how much she loved him. She stood there for over an hour, thankful to have one last chance to give to him, and hopefully provide a little comfort. Right before she walked out of the room and out of his life for the last time, she leaned over and whispered into his ear, "I love you, Hayward." The old man cracked an eye, and whispered back, "I love you, too."

And she cried...


The midwife came back to the present with a start, tears in her eyes, thinking about that dear man, and how much she still missed him. She looked down at the young mother, working hard to bring their firstborn into the world, many thoughts tumbling in her head. It humbled her to think of the sacred charge she carries in her hand, joining the ranks of the other guardians of life, unbroken since ancient times. Midwives comfort the old and feeble, they succor the young and laboring, they lift up the newest ones, full of their first breath, into their mother's arms. Being a midwife knows no bounds of age or sex. They are servants, with a God-given heart to nurture and love all who they come in contact with.

A few hours later, a handsome baby boy was laid, wide-eyed, into his mother's reaching arms, while the beaming father looked on with joy and wonder in his eyes. The midwife observed the new family, seeing the circle of life begin all over again.

And I cried...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting Plugged In

I love being a midwife. I love connecting with new mamas and mamas-to-be, beautiful with round bellies alive with the life inside. I often tell an obviously-pregnant mom I see out in public, "You look great!" or, "You're beautiful." I wonder as I go on my way, is she having a hospital birth? A homebirth? Has she been educated? Is she a seeker, intent on the best for her and her baby? What will her birth story be? Should I stop and tell her I'm a midwife, and see if she cares to know? Does she know she has options? If she does, does she know where to find her perfect caregiver? Sometimes a mom doesn't like the status quo modernized method of birthing and wants to be in charge, wanting a birth attendant that will listen and follow her desires, but doesn't know where to find that perfect birth attendant! My friend Edie Wells, midwife from Wisconsin, recently told this humorous story:

I went to the local public library today.

For some reason, we got to talking about midwifery, and the librarian was telling me about her hospital birth, and how the nurses were bossing her around and she was very unhappy with them. At the time, she was an x-ray technician.

Anyhow, they said she needed an IV and she said she didn't want it in the back of her hand, because it hurts there. She wanted it on the inside of her forearm. Of course, the nurse put it in the back of her hand. She said she kept pulling the catheter out just a little because it felt better, then the nurse would come in and shove it back in. So, she asked her husband to look on the tray and see if there was another IV catheter, which there was.

So...she inserted it in her forearm where she wanted it and when the nurse came back in, it was switched around!!! Can you believe it? Started her own IV!!! The nurse said she was going to put it back in her hand and she said, "Like HECK you are!" What a woman! There was more to the story of course - I enjoyed it thoroughly. She said "I'm a smart person, I read books."

The question was raised later, "If she's smart and reads books, how come she was birthing in the hospital?" Answer: she didn't know she had a choice. Even though this woman's children are grown, there are women even today, unsatisfied with highly-medicalized care, that don't know that midwives still exist, or that there are options available.

I want every woman to know she has a choice. Hence, the lists of links to follow. Find midwives of all practice styles; find a doula that can help you cope with labor; find a childbirth educator that can help prepare you to make Informed Decisions. Then, when you have found that one, tell someone else that they, too, have a choice, and make a difference in another life!



Childbirth Educators:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cluster Feedings and Fussy Evenings

This is a very informative article for a fussy-baby problem I have seen often. I came away with some great new tips to pass on to my mamas. Check out the article in it's entirety!

Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings
... My baby nurses and fusses all evening! What's wrong?

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

It is very common for babies to be fussy and nurse very often in the evenings, particularly in the early months.

My daughter had a fussy time every evening for a couple of months (yes, it does go away!). I spent weeks camped out on the end of the sofa with a constantly nursing and/or fussy baby every evening from about 6 to 10 PM.

With my son, we didn't have the luxury of being able to sit down. Alex was unhappy and crying unless he was upright and being walked around at this time of day (and sometimes this only helped him to be less unhappy). He would occasionally have a very fussy time during the day, too. Nursing rarely helped to calm his fussiness (unlike with my daughter), so I usually didn't have that tool to work with (though I always tried). His fussiness was such that I looked into other causes (such as food sensitivity), but we never determined any reason for it and he was all smiles the rest of the time. The fussiness gradually went away between 3 and 4 months, as is the norm, but the first few months were hard. Nowadays, the typical comment that I hear about him is "Is he always this happy?" So remember: this, too, will pass...

The Risks of Cesarean Section

"Cesarean section is the most common major surgical procedure performed in the United States." So goes the opening sentence by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services of a lengthy expose' outlining the statistics, truth, and information needed to make a true informed decision about cesarean sections. Unlike mainstream America - as evidenced by the participation in consumer- and physician-elected c-sections - I find that sentence to be rather disconcerting. When has something as natural as birth become something that needs a 32% intervention rate in major surgery? I will not attempt to summarize the entire study here, but I encourage you to read it, and continually ask yourself "Why?"

WHY - do we "need" so many c-sections?

WHY - have the c-section rates increased so dramatically?

WHY - do we see this as normal?

WHY - are we accepting this without question?

Make Informed Decisions! Care enough about your body, your baby, and your birth to make decisions for yourself, to question the status quo, and to realize that fallible man does not have all the answers!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Midwife means "with woman", but wait, there's more....

My dear friend Laurie Zoyiopoulos, a midwife in Michigan, wrote this today in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes the most beautiful things bubble up and have to be shared. Read this and know what it's like to be a midwife, one of the most beautiful, challenging, fulfilling professions on the earth...

Most folks would say that I "deliver" babies (though I like to say "catch") and this is true, but it is a fraction of what I do....what this calling requires of me. The contrast between the jobs within my calling are surprising to me and unknown by many, if not most, who see my license plate and think they know who I am.

I am a teacher of an age-old "profession" and this carries a lot of responsibility. It is almost a given that a midwife will train others to be midwives - this is how midwifery has survived all of these years. Though I don't feel that I am a great teacher, I know that there is much to glean from me and if someone is willing and observant enough, they will learn the skills as they sit at my side, as they lend me a hand, as they serve the women with me.

You'll see me at the copy place as I work for hours, making copies, putting together the information that I have been given, and that I have created, that gives the best informed consent I can provide. I want all those who hire me to know who I am and what the responsibilities are when one choses to give birth outside of a hospital. Making copies, organizing folders of information, ordering books and DVDs, staying informed, myself, in all the ways available. It can be exhausting in itself, but I know it is a necessary part of being a current midwife, one who teaches others how best to interview a midwife and plan a home birth.

I can find a fetuses heartbeat and can tell if he is breech, without a doppler or an ultrasound machine. I know of many ways to survive weeks of nausea and what is safe to take - whether herb or medication - and can explain how to time contractions and what to do if your baby is jaundiced. I know many tricks to get a baby to nurse and how to make an herbal bath.

I keep my supplies stocked and never run out of cord bands or pitocin. You will sometimes find me making sterile packs at midnight or 1 in the morning because they didn't get done earlier in the day and a baby might decide it's not going to wait until the midwife has time to make them the next day.

I am trained and certified to resuscitate a newly born baby - the ones that think that breathing is an option. I don't allow them this lazy notion and go to work and convince them that its not so bad here after all.

I know how to follow directions and to be more dependable than my mother ever thought I could be. The weather can have no affect on my travel - I go when I am called and it matters not how bad the roads are. My husband knows and understands this - a midwife needs one of those, too - an understanding husband.

Though there is nothing new under the sun I need to continue to learn and to discover just what evidenced-based care is -- and practice it.

There is no job "beneath" my title - I wipe away vomit and clean toilets and feed the family dog. I hope to never feel that I have "earned" anything better. A midwife should always know that she is there to serve, in any way that is needed, and it has nothing to do with what her needs are.

I am an ambassador for midwives when I enter a doctor's office or a hospital and I take this responsibility very seriously. I've learned that I will gain more trust and respect by saying fewer words and humbly admitting our need for assistance. I have worked hard, for many years, but respect has been attained and my clients get better care because of this. My mother used to be so discouraged at how easily I could cry, but I have changed and matured, I know she would be proud. A midwife has to be strong for her clients, they need to know she will not waiver. A doctor once told me, after treating me harshly without my returning his anger, but also not backing down, that when I enter a hospital I need to come with "thick skin" and he was right. A midwife needs to learn from those who may not even realize that they are teaching her. There is always something to glean and take with you for another time.

Most of the time I truly love what I do - though my back and arms and legs may ache and I have gone without food and sleep and have had to miss a family celebration. Its a precious calling and it truly can be the easiest thing in the world, but now you know that it comes with much more than just catching babies.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kitty Milk Bank?

My next challenge in kitty midwifery (should that be Midkittery?) is the fact that I have a runt on my hands. Yesterday he seemed fiesty enough, but as the day has gone on, every time I checked on him he has grown weaker and colder. Of course he is conserving his energy and resources. I help him try to nurse and he doesn't have the strength to continue. So, with great hesitancy, this midwife went to the store and bought kitty formula. I will admit that alternatives ran through my mind, right down to wondering, is it possible to milk a cat??

Now-named "Excalibur" ate a tiny bit out of a syringe earlier, while I thought about nipple confusion, messing up his sense of smell, and even held him fur-to-skin to try to warm his cold little body up and make him feel safe.

This post is on the light side, but today's events made me think again about the importance of doing things the natural way, how God's design and provision is just right. I have the same thoughts for the human babies I have the privilege of knowing. Worries about nipple confusion, lack of bonding, and less-than-premium nutrition are at the front of every conversation about infant feeding.

Right now Excalibur is tucked inside my shirt, having just eaten a little more (even trying to latch on to the syringe!), and warming up a bit sandwiched between me and a hot water bottle before returning to his litter mates. Where there is life, there is hope! In the meantime, does anyone know of a kitty milk bank?

Booby Trap: Docs Who Won’t Snip Tongue-Tie, Thousands of Breastfeeding Moms & Babies Suffer

Booby Trap: Docs Who Won’t Snip Tongue-Tie, Thousands of Breastfeeding Moms & Babies Suffer

”Every child deserves to have the pleasure of breastfeeding successfully, and every child deserves the pleasure of licking an ice-cream cone, both of which are aided by this procedure.”

Not Always Perfect

I had an unusual midwife moment yesterday. My cat, Skittles, was getting bigger and bigger "with kitten" - sometimes she looked like she was about to pop! I was watchful, wondering when and where she would birth, really hoping to be there when it happened, as even 1st-time kitty mamas can act a bit inexperienced and confused. Every time she looked at me and cried at me, I was quickly checking her belly for contractions...usually all the poor thing wanted was attention and food! It got a little comical, to say the least.

I came home yesterday to a skinny cat. You knew that was coming, right? I quickly went searching for her babies, thankful to discover that she had chosen my closet where I could easily get to them. Surprised to only find two kittens, I went searching further, and found four more bunched together.

Then my heart stopped. Tangled in the live, warm kitties was a poor little cold, wet one that had apparently suffocated. I cradled it in my hand while I got the other ones situated with mom. I took the dead kitten away to figure out how to take care of it, struggling to keep my emotions at bay.

Then the midwife in me kicked in, and I cried, sitting right there on the kitchen floor. I apologized to the poor baby for not being there and saving it. Said I was sorry that it suffered and that I wasn't there to help. I felt silly, yet heartbroken all at the same time. I am a guardian of life, and death happened on my own threshold.

As midwives, it is our very nature to comfort the hurting...cry with the weary...and guard that precious spark of life with every fiber of our being. Yet sometimes things happen that are far out of our control. We are not responsible for every one of life's tragedies. To think that puts us on a level with the supreme Creator, who is in control of every facet of life and death.

So I mourn a little, thank the kind friend who took the kitten away to bury it, take a deep breath, and turn my attention to the living. After all, there's a tiny one that needs a midwife's tender loving care, and that's surely what it will get.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medication and the unborn child

Medication and the unborn child?

Does medication administered to a woman in labor affect the unborn child?

This UK-based article covers:

- Why drugs?
- Effects of drugs
- Effects on the baby's behavior
- Pethidine and Diamorphine
- Epidural Anesthesia
- Drug addiction in adults
- The conclusion (including US-based research, and findings of Michel Odent)
- So what can be done?

An excellent read!

"What are you going to do about it??"

I have a 1st time mom whose estimated due date (EDD) was June 24. They attend my church so the excitement is high as people wait on the coming baby. Now she is overdue. Mom is excitedly anxious to meet her baby, but she is very relaxed, as I have told her from the beginning that 1st time moms typically go 7-10 days overdue, so she was prepared!

But now the questions come - "Is it ok that she's going overdue? Can't you do an exam and just kinda help things along? Shouldn't she be walking and get that baby outta there?" The one heard most frequently - "What are you going to do about it??"

This points to a sad lack of knowledge about the realities of natural, normal pregnancy and birth. The fact of it is, baby is healthy and active. Mom eats very well and is not growing a "too big" baby. All is well! Yet in our culture, "everyone" schedules a c-section or an induction and can tell you months in advance when the baby is going to be born. From all the mothers that I come in contact with, almost 100% of them are told by their doctor exactly when the baby should be born, so the exposure to someone waiting on it to happen naturally is quite rare!

To answer the question, "What are you going to do about it??", I smile and say "Nothing!" All is well! God knew what he was doing and has a wonderful, marvelous design, and a plan for this birth. I am hoping that her birth will be a beautiful springboard for others to see that it's ok to's ok to let things progress at their own pace...that pregancy is not one big emergency waiting to happen....that you can trust the process, and the God of the process.

Spreading the word, one birth at a time!

Immunization Studies: Adverse Vaccine Reactions. Thinktwice!

Immunization Studies: Adverse Vaccine Reactions. Thinktwice!

This is a collection of links to studies about vaccinations.

Griffin Ranger: The Birth of Griffin Ranger

Griffin Ranger: The Birth of Griffin Ranger: "But I truly believe the best and safest place for a woman to birth is one were she feels most comfortable. For me, I wanted to have a birth team available. Not because I didn't think I could do this on my own, but because I wanted the support of knowledgeable women in case something came up that I wasn't fully prepared to handle. We went into this birth like we did every other one, calling our support in when we felt like we needed it. Little did we know that this birth was going to be fast and relatively easy!"

Ultrasound - More powerful, more dangerous, more unethical

When professor Stuart Campbell says he is worried about the way ultrasound is being used on unborn children we should listen. Hitherto he has been the great apologist and defender - oft quoted in the press as saying it has been used on millions of babies and there is no evidence of harm...

Read the full article by clicking on the title.

The First One

It's been a long time since I kept a blog. My writing skills therefore feel a bit rusty! A good friend has been encouraging me to begin a blog of my own to expand on my growing Facebook page, so I have now officially taken the plunge. I'm sure this blog will be a collection of everything that catches my heart and eye....from a picture of my growing garden, to news of expanding bellies and all things related.

I have a passion for natural birth, and even more specifically, for home birth. I want to help educate women and their partners about every step of their pregnancy, birth, and beyond. It's time we as a society began to question the status quo and find out what choices we truly have! I am all about informed decision making, and will try to supply articles and information to aid expectant families in doing just that.

Here's to happy, safe, healthy pregnancy and birth!