Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Just Some Doula Thoughts After A Birth.

Me and C at the Wedding of her Mama and Papa, dancing to sleep.

As a Doula, my role is more than just executing a job description. What I hope to achieve is to become (even if only temporarily) a part of a families' circle of trust. It's not "family", it's not "friend", it's not "employee" alone. It's some interesting combination of these, or something else entirely that we don't have a word for in our language...at least not one that I know, other than Doula. Being there for a family at their birth is a privilege, and I hope I serve each family in their moment of need, in the way that they need me to. It is such a treasure to me when I am able to stay connected with families after they have their baby and my contract is fulfilled. Staying connected looks different for each family...a picture of them and/or they're baby in a random text message on a Tuesday afternoon, a card during the holidays, being contracted again as their family grows, transitioning from Doula to Swim Instructor for kids as they grow, being invited to birthday parties, weddings, meeting for coffee, play dates with birthing classes turned playgroups, Facebook connections and emails. It's certainly not an expectation, but I hope to serve each family in a way that inspires them to stay in touch. I have grown so much as a human being by serving so many families, each unique and beautiful, in this very personal, very important time. I hope they realize how much I appreciate them, respect them, and wish them happiness, health, and the knowledge that I am here for them and LOVE to see their family stories, their photographs, and their children.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Good Morning. I'm just sitting on pins and needles, awaiting the "call of the doula". When I have a mama who is post dates, and is anxious to go into labor, give birth, and be holding her baby in her arms, i find it kind of a cruel irony. What she needs, is calm. As a doula, I have learned over the years, to respond...partly to prepare myself and partly to lead...by collecting AS MUCH SLEEP AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Go to bed early, sleep in. Take a nap if you can. The more of this waiting time you can sleep through the faster it passes, and the more rested, nourished and hydrated you are, the better your body will be able to perform in labor. Use your waking hours to pamper yourself, it's goddess time. You can check off some boxes if it makes you happy but try to remember that the baby won't care about the perfectly decorated nursery, or the state of pantry organization, not even a little. Spend some time making beautiful memories with your partner, do things with friends and family that will be challenging in the early days, weeks, and months of new parenthood. Today is a beautiful Autumn day, go collect some leaves, bundle up a little and breathe in the crisp air, enjoy some tea....I'll do it too.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Class Begins soon at SPROUT!

I am very excited about offering my class in more than one location, and the two spaces I have the privilege of teaching in, are also my two favorite free standing birth centers. I am getting ready to finish up a course at the beautiful Eastside Birth Center in Bellevue, Wa and will have another one beginning right on it's heals at Sprout Birth and Natural Health Center in Mountlake Terrace. Class will begin on October 25 (my birthday!) and run for 6 weeks. Click the link to "Kind Birth Education" to find instructions for registration! My newly revised curriculum should be available on Amazon in plenty of time to order in time for class; I'll be posting here when it goes to print!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Childbirth Education!

Good Morning!

If you are expecting a baby during early summer, I am currently available to teach private classes by appointment. For dates in mid-late summer I have weekly classes scheduled to begin in June 19th, and will run for 7 weeks, ending July 31st. I am very eager to get back into a group class format and hope you will join me to prepare for one of life's most valuable and incredible experiences. My course will prepare you thoroughly for all the challenges you may face during labor and birth, and will also provide critical context to help you know how and when to use tools from other classes you may be taking, like hyno-birthing, for example. Let me be your travel planner, and help you to learn to navigate labor, with your birth team, but keeping you and your partner in the drivers seat.

See the tab labeled Kind Birth Education for details!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Expecting Kindness

When you are giving birth, it is my absolute belief that you are deserving of FAR MORE than simple kindnesses, I believe you should be downright revered.  Having attended a great many laboring women and witnessed the absolute magic a woman's body performs in the creation of life, the harboring of that life, and the birthing of that life into a life of their own, it is impossible to not have reverence, right? Not necessarily. The medicalization of birth throughout the 1900's shifted the "respect" to the doctor and extended medical staff.  Women were sedated, undermined, over-treated, evaluated, subjected to barbaric procedures, condescended to, tested upon, and categorically disrespected. The birth stories I've heard from women in those generations would make your head spin, and likely cause you to reflexively cross your legs. Thankfully, medical science is always in a state evolution.  It can be, however, a very slow evolution and there are always some practitioners and some hospitals that are resistant to change their status quo to accommodate "new" ideas, even once proven. It is highly interesting that science is finally beginning to catch up to, I mean prove, what midwives have known all along. The physical, intuitive, emotional, mothering, knowing, type of intelligence is finally being vindicated through scientific studies.  One example is the change that happened recently in which women can FINALLY eat food during labor.  The rule (in hospital) as long as I can remember has been NPO, nothing by mouth, except for ice chips and small sips of water just to prevent her feeling dry.  The perceived risk (previously an actual risk likely derived from the time when women were customarily under general anethesia/twilight sleep for delivery) was that IF there was a complication, and IF she required a surgery, and then BIG IF she required a general anesthetic, she could possibly be at risk of vomiting and aspirating her vomit. So the obvious response was to starve ALL women in labor (even after the age of common anesthetization of women) while they are essentially running a marathon or climbing a mountain, of all nutrients that she needs to keep up her energy.  So a recent study compared the risks and decided that the risk of starving women in labor was greater than the risk of the string of IF's. For those of us who work in and out of hospitals, this has been a glaringly necessary shift for a long time.  Out of hospital, we literally and commonly fan women while feeding them. In hospital, we have had to beg for anything that falls in the margins of "clear liquids" and the results have been plainly obvious. I needed no study, but it appears that scientific studies have now proven that when women are pampered and nourished, their bodies are better able to handle the demands of labor and birth. It's movement in the right direction, but it is slow.  There are other examples of how science has served women well in recent decades: Actively working to brings cesarean rates down, limiting episiotomies to absolute necessity (in fact, it took me about 4 minutes to remember that word, it's been so long since I've witnessed that wicked procedure that my mind buried the vocabulary!). But alas, there are also many other examples of common practices that science needs to re-address and change policies for normal/healthy laboring women: What constitutes "progress" in labor, time limits placed on women, resistance to allowing full chord blood transmission to baby (delayed clamping), policies that disallow doctors from determining safe fetal positioning (some babies can, with a trained doc, be safely birthed in a breech position), overuse of pitocin for induction of labor for non-medical reasons, the use of (sometimes vague or outdated) statistics to scare women into compliance, unwillingness to provide thorough explanations of suggested procedures/medications to allow for the patient to offer informed consent. Even the language used when some practitioners want to check the dilation of the cervix, for example. "I'm going to check you" or "It's time to check your cervix" or "Let's check your cervix", often at intervals that don't give women much time to make significant change. Is it too much to ask, to expect a person to ask permission before they put their fingers in someone's vagina? Maybe she just need to pee first, maybe she doesn't want to be checked at all, maybe it's just kind to give her the chance to pretend that she has some control in a situation where many feel wildly out of control.

Ok, you get it.  So ends the rant about why we can't assume that we will be treated with both expertise AND kindness. Back to the title.  Expecting Kindness. In this particular situation, perhaps it comes off as a little entitled.  Yeah, and?  You ARE ENTITLED to be treated in a particularly special way while you are performing the most powerful, magical, and loving act the human body is capable of.  I mean, if you only could have seen the things I have seen.  I wish I could extract a few memories, Harry Potter style, and place them here for you to really experience.  I suppose just watching video's is not enough though, because in order to fully comprehend the image, her: strength, intuition, dedication, choice, AHHH this language limits me, wisdom, love, willingness to endure, partnership, meditation, excitement, tears, worry, anger, peace...you would have to be able to feel what the woman is feeling as she is radiating all of the above, and so much, much more.

In closing, you absolutely deserve to be treated with every conceivable kindness,
and you should absolutely be able to expect it.
Let's get to work! www.expectingkindness.com

Friday, April 29, 2016

Putting "The Mommy Wars" to Bed: Chapter 7


I'm just going to tell my story here, and you can use it however you see fit.  

When my daughter was 2.5 and son was born, my honey and I decided that I would stay home. Our reasoning went like this: 
  1. We will be paying almost as much for childcare as I am making
  2. If I can teach Childbirth classes and compensate for the difference, it's a wash
  3. I cried every day that I left my daughter with her wonderful Auntie at her small, private, in home day care, playing with her cousins for two years. I wanted to be at home
Shortly after I gave birth to my son, and my daughter was nearly 3 years old, I started getting pressured to put her into pre-school.  The decision was 100% selfish at that time. A visceral NO.  I had just worked for two years to be at home with her, and her brother.  No way was I putting her into a pre-school. What is pre-school but teaching her to like learning, and a few basic skills for Kindergarten readiness.  Letters, numbers, patterns, attention span, drawing, reading, painting, eating graham crackers and napping.  I can do that, I told myself. And I did.  We had the best time. We went to gym classes, swimming lessons, and story times to offer the "social skills" everyone was always so concerned about.  We went for walks and to parks and she learned everything she needed.  Two years later when it was theoretically time to put her into Kindergarten, again my mind/heart/body really resisted the idea.  I mean, if I can do pre-school, how hard can Kindergarten be? We then stumbled upon a school in my district that partnered with homeschoolers to try to offer the best of both worlds.  I could homeschool her, with he support of certificated teachers who would guide me and hold me accountable to making sure she was reaching the appropriate milestones.  I was able to attend classes, and my little guy was even included at his own level.  Class sizes were a tiny 3-5:1 student to teacher ratio.  It was a dream.  We took classes at the school that were more engaging with other kids: Science, Drama, and Ceramics, and did all the core at home, with guidance and support.  My kids bloomed.  We read by the fire, or in trees, they read to each other in the backyard on a blanket in the spring.  We did math, read The Story of The World, learned fractions while we cooked together, went to parks and beaches and the school even provided weekly swim lessons.  We continued with story time and gymnastics. I loved (almost) every minute of it.  I never had to wake them before they were rested, so honestly my life was charmed. There were certainly sacrifices. There were no extravagant family vacations, going camping was our big getaway each year. We ate simply at home, rarely went out and when we did, Ruby's Diner (where they served Kraft Mac-n-Cheese) was our $30 treat. We worried about money, quite a bit.  We made that sacrifice knowingly and intentionally. We shopped at second hand stores, but damn it, my children had a beautiful childhood. As they grew, and my "some college" level of education started to show its limitations, we started taking more core classes at the school and doing more of the elective classes at home.  We did PE, Art, History, and Health at home, and left the core classes to those with greater expertise.  Here is where some of my regrets enter the scene. Logically I know that I could have regrets no matter which style of education I had chosen, no program or style of learning is right for everyone...pretty much the point of this LONG story, but read on if you'd like...so I don't judge myself either.  Nearing the end of my daughters junior high career, I started noticing dynamics that were not great.  Because we were so invested in the community, and because she had a safe/familiar social group, I kept her there despite my intuition.  That decision led to some hardships for her.  I don't, nor can I ever, know that if I had made another choice, if she would have had an easier time.  Perhaps she needed to grapple with something and would have found something to grapple with in any environment. Eventually we ended up moving around to a few different high school programs, none were a particularly awesome fit, but she got it all done.  My son chose to transition into traditional high school for his junior year, part time, and  then full time for his senior year.  He's now preparing to graduate this spring. There are definitely benefits to public high school; the specific benefits that are in contrast of homeschooling that leap out at me so far are, A. Deadlines B. Unbiased grades/feedback C. Necessity of better organization/time management/study skills/planning.  On the other hand, I've spent the past week the most afraid I've ever been due to threats made against the student body at his school.  A highly unlikely scenario in a small homeschool community. Two very different kids, the same childhood, the same options, struggles with different aspects of education, her interest and willfulness, his organization and issues with distractions. Where we landed (so far) is with two people who have a wonderful shared history, a long childhood of happy memories, academic successes and failures, and then more successes. Aside from private school, we have done it all, and you know what?  These two people are who they are, and short of a catastrophic experience, likely would have become themselves no matter where they went to school.  I have seen bad outcomes in the homeschooling world, largely relating to kids having too much control over their education (or lack thereof as the case sometimes becomes), too much flexibility, etc.  I have also seen bad outcomes in public education, falling through the cracks, not having enough parental involvement, exposure to alcohol and drugs, bullying etc.,  and private education is just as fallible.  Schools that are not held to state standards can write their own tickets and can abuse that to create phantom successes. They are also known for elitism, favoring students whose families make generous donations that the school relies upon. Paying a lot for your child's education does not guarantee a positive outcome either. 
Listen to your intuition and seek counsel from unbiased resources if you meet challenges.  There is no way to know for sure that your child will be successful in any given educational environment, no matter how much money you may spend, or how little. Ultimately the choice belongs to your child, and they alone will live with the consequences of their decisions, positive or negative.  
To wrap up this topic specific to "The Mommy Wars", I just want you to think about how many times a day we all judge ourselves...usually more harshly than necessary...and know that that is a trait that we all share.  If I have made a decision about my child's education that you believe is not in his/her best interest, please, utilize the acronym T.H.I.N.K. before you decide to share.
T - Is it TRUE?
H - Is it HELPFUL?
K - Is it KIND?
In addition, I would add, are you a person that I trust? A random stranger making a snap judgement, even if all of the above is relatively true, is unlikely to be received well. I don't know you, you don't know me, or my reasoning, or my child's needs, challenges, gifts. etc.  
If you are someone I can trust, AND the answer to all of these are truly "YES", then really consider the INTENT vs. IMPACT.  If you truly want me to consider what you are saying, find a way to offer it to me in a way that is loving; say what you mean in the kindest possible way. If I feel judged or like you are being condescending, I am unlikely to consider anything you have to say.  It's a natural response. It's much easier to deflect my own pain, in anger at you. If I feel, on the other hand, that you are seeing me struggle and I feel like you are climbing into my sinking boat with me and picking up a bucket to bail, I will more likely be able to hear you. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

KIND BIRTH POCKET DOULA at your service!

Please click the link on the right -------->
Feel free to share with your loved ones, I have provided pocket doula services for years, locally, across state lines, and as far away as Singapore...
I can provide support and thoughtful guidance to assist you in making informed choices over the phone or via text message for a small donation!

It is my belief that there are women and partners out there who have a lot of questions, but hesitate to call because it feels like an imposition.  A small donation will hopefully relieve you of that feeling and allow you to make the call, or send the text.  There are also many questions that you may feel uncomfortable asking a friend or relative, but you aren't sure it's necessary to bother your doctor or midwife about it...now there is some middle ground. Some highly experienced middle ground. Aside from topics that might fall under the category of medical (for which I will direct you to your care provider and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't call me in an emergency...911 is your friend, we are so blessed to have this in our community and the first responders that will come, are absolutely wonderful), I can be the in-between.  The best friend that you can ask virtually anything, who has also attended hundreds of births and taught childbirth education for nearly 2 decades.

I am excited to see where this addition to my services will take me.