Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My 10 year wedding anniversary is coming in March and we're in discussion about what to do to mark that special milestone. We got married with just two friends in attendance and then didn't even tell our families until three months later - so there was never any party or hooplah where we could celebrate together and I feel called to consider doing something like this.

In cycle with this, I feel renewed in my commitment to birth work, refreshed and ready to look at what I do, and where I want to go, with fresh eyes and an invigorated heart. I do still toss back and forth the idea of being an OB/GYN - I don't know that any birth professional has inspired me more than my own OB, despite the many areas in which we disagree, he has shared so many incredible experiences with me (having to do directly with me and my own care, or with a client we shared) that I feel almost guilty when I think of not following in his foot steps. I think sometimes too about midwifery, I am always questioning myself on that- am I a midwife?

I feel that I don't know the answers to these questions because truly, all paths are open to me. What I do know, deeply and in my core (the way I wish I knew about being a doc or midwife), is that I want to move forward to being a great childbirth educator, a great doula, a connected henna artist and to teach couples and young women about natural family planning. I can claim that dream with clarity. I'm part way there, or there and needing a little housekeeping, on some of these, and no where near others, and that's part of this journey I suppose.

I have let the mechanisms of my doula work fall to the wayside as I a) got burned out, b) got pregnant and decided not to work through the pregnancy and after she was born, c) started attending births before I had picked up the ball, d) pursued a partnership -- and again, never went back 'home' to rekindle my relationship with my own practice. I LOVE my practice. I LOVE my methods, I love how I have things organized, I love that the client and being sustainable (in an energetic sense) are built in as the priorities. I love the confidence I have when I am organized.

I just haven't been organized in a very, very long time!

I want to just throw out everything I've collected over the years and start fresh with new things. I want to use things I've chosen rather than things I've inherited - and so I will.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shifting a culture

I know we're doing it, and the momentum is building. Is there a way to go about consciously and intentionally shifting the culture of birth? It really does happen on the grassroots level doesn't it - the masses must shift before the powerful minority will follow.

I wonder what that will look like as the wave starts to crest.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pit to Distress

There's been a hubbub of late over Facebook on the recently outed term, 'pit to distress', wherein a provider will amp up Pitocin until the baby goes into distress (or shot across the room) so that a surgical birth can be performed, and the LDRP room turned over.

I think back over my time as a doula and I can't say any of my clients stick out to me as having experienced this but I'd have to go through my records because honestly my memory sucks. (Trust me, there's nothing worse for me as a doula than to run into a client who knows me but who I don't remember.... DOH!)

There's a follow up to the initial article here - and after reading it (also check out the links at the bottom of that page) I got to thinking about this looming wall that women and defenders of Birth (with a capital B, as in, unhindered, supported Birth) throw ourselves against.

I have stated many times (probably not in a recent enough post here that someone could pull it up but if you know me personally you know this about me: the current state of maternity care (if you can call it that) is NOT the doctor's fault.

Ha! Yes, yell at me, I can handle it.

It's not the doctor's fault. It's not the mother's fault. It's not the insurance company's fault.

Every one of those facets are looking out for their own interests. Women are looking to get through birth with the least amount of trauma and the highest illusion of safety. Doctors are looking to get women and babies through birth with the least amount of potential liability and insurance companies want to save money and not get sued either.

Blaming doctors is convenient and easy. And that is not to say that they bear no responsibility - in fact I am saying that we ALL do.

It is the culture of birth that must be shifted.

The culture where the number at the bottom of the spreadsheet bears more weight to us than the safety of women and babies, of preserving families.

I am not saying I have answers on how this has to happen and I know it is happening in myriad ways - every country and culture has their successes and failures where it comes to birth/maternity care. Some have more successes and others have more failures.

One of the fundamental things holding us back from progress in my opinion is the absolute unwillingness for doctors to converse with the many other facets of care that arises in birth. Long have I fantasized (and I know I'm not alone here) about a summit of people who cared primarily about providing the safest and highest quality care for women.

We can develop these questions and grow our outrage but at the end of the day our platform is the childbirth class - the quiet meetings of women at playdates discussing their birth stories - and in conferences where women reveal and are revealed in their own stories.

After reading this insanity about 'pit to distress' and how it is not an accidental consequence of events but an intentional sequence set to force women and their babies down a path without their consent or knowledge - I want women to stand in the streets! I want families to write articles to newspapers and blog for the revolution of maternity care- that the compass always be pointed toward true north - safety balance with compassion - and that no entity, group or individual, be allowed to sabotage that course.

I adore my obstetrician- I want so much in so many ways to follow in his foot steps. When I hear about things like 'pit to distress' I suddenly feel pain in my ovaries that require me to make an appointment with him wherein I can pepper him with questions about his practice, things he's seen, the right-ness and wrong-ness of it and how women can avoid it in the future. I also recognize that he is wonderful but not infallible and a part of me does not want to find out that he has consciously participated in this.

I think I've been hearing about the cesarean rate for so long (and now, being one of those numbers), that it just doesn't fire me up anymore. I know there are incredible organizations and individuals that are watching, recording and performing their many brands of activism around that.

For me, this fires me up- not the term or the fact that it's happening but that it has come to this at all. So where do we go from here? We've learned that women, while under anesthesia, were having their vaginas invaded without their explicit consent by students, we've learned that in some states the cesarean rate is approaching 50%, we've learned that women are being systematically lied to by providers (midwives are not without dirty hands!), that women were being given medications that were causing their uteruses to burst and their babies to die despite the outcry, and now we discover 'pit to distress'.

Enough is enough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let the games begin!

I haven't written in ages. I haven't felt inspired whatsoever. I've been experiencing many things in other planes of my life that I have just not wanted to share, and not a single one had anything to do with birth.

I actually spent a few days thinking that maybe my season as a doula had finally waned- that after about 7 years, maybe it was time to 'move on'. I had fantasies of what it would feel like to leave the birth community, leaving this sense of responsibility I have to birthing women and to myself, and to the many colleagues I've learned from, loved and even lost over the years. I thought, maybe this is where this ends, and it's not on a bad note. I can move on. I will admit to even having some sense of relief.

I was invited to do henna (my new venture) at a local birth meeting and I told a few of my colleagues who have known me a long, long time about the thoughts I'd been having. I saw a few looks of shock and other looks of commiseration, which in turn shocked me!

Listening to these wonderful midwives strategize the best care for women, the most impactful with the least intervention, and the magical subtleties that happen in that birth space between the child and its new environment, between the mother and child, within the mother herself, between the mother and her partner, the partner and child, and all the myriad finer points in between, I felt something stir... a little spark jumping inside of me.

I left that meeting feeling excited and stirred up once again and I realized that I have been starving the flame of birth work inside myself- I have had a few clients since E was born but they were largely friends or people who just wouldn't take no for an answer, toddler strapped to my back or not, I would be at their births! (By 18 months E had attended 4 births with me!) Beyond that, I have had no interaction with colleagues, the local doula discussion lists have been quiet and hard to wake, I've been to no workshops or seminars or conferences.

I realized that even though I might have a passion for what I do and I KNOW deeply in my bones, within my Spirit, that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing on this earth, that those fires can become starved when they aren't fed. Attending births isn't enough, it is the sharing of ideas, the feedback on interesting clients and births, the outrage at the current state of things, the comraderie with my sisters who are all fighting the good fight in their own ways - that is what fuels me!

So after a long hiatus and some hard questions within myself about who I am as a birth professional, what my boundaries are, and what I am willing to risk to do this work, I return to my blog and hope that the wonderful people who challenged me, held me, and helped me to become the professional I am today, will still come along for the ride. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trying it on

Had an urge to write a post about birth - no real topic in mind. Maybe I'll write about discovering ourselves in the space of the birth profession.

This is a topic that is alive for me right now as my partner and I discover that we are in need of discover/rediscovery of our own identities as doulas and birth professionals before we engage as partners. We talked tonight about the initiation that occurs as we enter into this work and yes, when I look back I see many stages of initiation for which I'm grateful, but didn't necessarily love experiencing.

I forget sometimes that while I am one of the witnesses and guardians of the space as parents are initiated by their birth experience, that I am also experiencing my own along the way as well. I can't remember the exact moment that I realized that it wasn't about the OUTCOME. Thank goodness it was early on, but what a huge weight it was off my shoulders to not feel that I had to perform in a pass or fail way with my clients, but that I could be a part of their experience in each moment, and remind them to BE in that very moment.

I remember when I first started out, wanting to keep track of statistics and after just a few clients I realized how fruitless that was, and how skewed it caused my focus to be.

I think it's time to start writing again! Woo hoo. :)