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!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Breaking up with Ina May

I continue to learn, read, and do my best to keep my mind open, learn about myself,  my privilege, my community, and history. As I do I become ever more grateful to all the women who have come before me, allowing the profession of the Midwife to survive and thrive, in turn allowing the profession of the Doula to become...I am now questioning previously held beliefs in a person who is no longer aligned with my values, or the values of the community I serve.
I was profoundly disappointed to hear the Texas Conference Q&A.  I'm a scorpio...so for me, once I know something I can't un-know it, and I lack the ability to "sweep it under the rug", which I am grateful for more every day. This year alone, I have divested from the bank I used for two decades as a direct result of their financing role in the Dakota Pipeline, I am learning about investing for the first time, primarily to keep as many of my dollars away from an administration that is actively using tax dollars in a war against women, mothers and families, in addition to other specifically targeted groups within this beautiful and diverse society that I adore and serve. I once boycotted Target for 15 years simply because an employee made my kids cry...I only recently reversed my position to support their stance on the bathroom/gender issue. You can pee next to me, by the way.
Once I know it, I can't just go on as if nothing has happened.  Even if Ina May's apology was sincere (it fell short in my opinion...more of an "I'm sorry you misunderstood me" kind of passive aggressive response, and even if the intent was truly different that the impact...the reality is that she offended and disrespected a large number of women...and I categorically disagree with her statement. As a result, I will be removing her book from my recommended reading list, revising my book to remove references and citations,  and replacing those recommendations/readings with other highly reliable and evidenced based resources, resources that I believe speak to, honor, and revere ALL women, as I do. She has certainly made her mark on modern midwifery, just as many, many women have before, alongside, and after her have done...but for me, as I work to leave my own mark as a Doula and educator, I no longer wish to associate myself with her teachings.

Stay tuned for the 2nd Edition of Expecting Kindness!

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

Education

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. 
The moral of the story is: LOVE YOUR CHILD. PLAY. DEMONSTRATE INTEGRITY. BE AUTHENTIC. ENCOURAGE CURIOSITY. TEACH COMPASSION. SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED THROUGH "FAILURES". SHOW INTEREST IN THEIR INTERESTS. MODEL LIFELONG LEARNING. BE PRESENT. 
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?
I - Is it INSPIRING?
N - Is it NECESSARY?
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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR CLASS BEGINNING MAY 9, 2016!

Please don't hesitate to call or email with any questions.

This class will provide everything you (and your partner) will need to understand the entire process of labor and birth, including the most common variables. You will be educated about what your body is doing during the various stages of labor, which will (mostly) eliminate fears and replace them with confidence, anticipation, and a deep respect of the female body and it's ability to give birth. You will learn tried and true comfort measures that I have learned both through my original training as well as from attending well over 200 births; We will practice massage techniques and other sensual tools, guided verbal relaxation, mental imagery and others to help get you through the moments that may feel overwhelming.  We will work together to prepare a thoughtful, respectful, and flexible birth plan and teach you to effectively advocate for yourself and your baby, and finally we will discuss everything you need to know about going home with a newborn! We have fun, we have great conversations, an open and inviting atmosphere to allow you to ask literally ANYTHING, a comfortable classroom that is also an actual birthing suite that the instructor has worked in hundreds of times. Because of my experiences, the story telling component is really illuminating and it's easy to get swept up in the excitement by hearing the empowering stories of women who have gone before you. More details in the tabs on the right!

My book (our curriculum), Expecting Kindness, is available to browse both in the lobby of the Eastside Birth Center, on the shelves at Soul Food Books in Redmond, as well as on Amazon.com.  For those who are unable to attend classes for any reason, I urge you to pick up a copy and work through the lessons together with a birth partner independently.  It is a valuable resource. The feedback has been universally positive, both in the classroom and from those who have used it privately. The lessons are concise, easy to read and understand, and more effective than all the resources you will find on the bookstore shelves specifically for birth preparation. To my knowledge, it is the only workbook style Childbirth Education resource on the market and I am very proud of it.  It is designed to prepare women and partners for an uncomplicated, unmedicated birth, when it is the healthiest choice for mom and baby...which is almost always...AND prepares you to make wise choices if a need for intervention arises. Acknowledging that medicine is beautiful, when necessary, we know that when it is overused it can create risk that wouldn't otherwise have existed if administration of many interventions weren't so routine.  I want you to walk away from your birth...no matter what the outcome...knowing that you made sound decisions on behalf of yourself and your baby. You can purchase the book directly from me by clicking the tab on the right titled Order a copy of "Expecting Kindness".

Monday, March 21, 2016

Putting "The Mommy Wars" to Bed: Chapter 6

Vaxer's, Anti-Vaxer's, Delayed Vaxers, 

I am not going to pretend to be able to understand all the science behind this issue.  That is exactly why it is SO hard to make a decision about this. This is probably the most contentious issue parents face in regards to the depth and contempt in judgement.

I'm going to list why I have been told families have chosen to vaccinate, and why they have chosen to not vaccinate.  Then I'll summarize what I think needs to happen in day to day interactions with other parents.  Whether or not you know it, both sides of this issue are operating from a position of "beliefs", and we have no choice really but to trust what we think and how we feel about the current data.  There have been countless scientific "facts" that have later been disproven, so even if something has been accepted as fact, that doesn't necessarily make it true, on either side, of any scientifically proven fact. Science evolves as new data, new studies, new experiments, new criteria, new scientists, etc. come into being.


Vax

  • Believes in herd immunity and feels it is the socially responsible thing to do
  • Wants to travel with children
  • Was immunized and "is fine"
  • Immunized other children who appear to be unaffected
  • Trusts Pediaticians opinion
  • Believes it is a requirement to attend school
  • Trusts the medical community/pharmaceutical companies to make vaccine's safe
  • Believes that the risk/reward ratio favors immunizations 
  • Does not know anyone personally who's child had an adverse reaction to vaccines
  • Exposure to media, we all seek to validate what we already suspect or believe

Non/Anti-Vax
  • Does not trust pharmaceutical companies to place the well-being of children ahead of profits, believes privatized medicine values bottom line over health, and relies on sickness to make $
  • Trusts Holistic Practitioner's ideology
  • Disagrees with the sheer amount of toxins if following the standardized immunization schedule
  • Doesn't want to make that choice on behalf of their child, leave the choice up to them when they are old enough to decide
  • Knows personally someone who had a child who suffered from an adverse reaction following a vaccine
  • Has a child who suffered a reaction from a vaccine
  • Believe that even if one vaccine or another is disproven as being the primary cause of autism, that there is still probable cause for concern simply due to science's inability to prove what DOES cause it
  • Has a child with other health concerns or has an allergy to ingredients in vaccine
  • Believes that the diseases vaccines' protect us from are essentially eliminated and the risk of having the vaccine is greater than the risk of catching the disease.
  • Aren't sending kids to school and don't feel the risk of exposure warrants the exposure to toxins
  • Exposure to media, we all seek to validate what we already suspect or believe

Delayed Vaxers
  • Believes in herd immunity, but chooses to space out vaccines and have children immunized more slowly over time or when there is an increased risk of exposure to specific disease 
  • Believes that neurotoxins in immunizations, when following the medical establishments vaccination schedule, are too risky
  • Aren't sending kids to school and don't feel the risk of exposure warrants early exposure to toxins in quick succession
  • Has a child with other health concerns and plan to vaccinate when health improves
  • Exposure to media, we all seek to validate what we already suspect or believe
The reality is that there are SO FEW people out there who are flat out refusing to vaccinate, that herd immunity is working. The media loves to create controversy out of nothing at all. It simply doesn't have to be the big judgy issue that it has become. Most vaccinate, some space them out, and a precious few choose to opt out.  The few who choose not to are not going to have a significant impact on our communal health, and even though you might resent their choice to not participate in the herd, they are the reason FOR the herd immunity concept and they are an important part of the herd. Those who feel safe enough about immunizations, do it to protect A. Themselves and B.  Members of the community who don't, can't, or won't.  That's is the WHOLE point. People have a right to be skeptical of the drug companies, they have a right to question and wait for an answer that makes them feel good about ANY medical procedure, especially those chosen on behalf of someone else. Those who choose not to immunize, or delay immunizations are serving the herd in important ways too. If everyone jumped on board, and we all just blindly followed the drug companies instruction without question or skepticism, they wouldn't continue to work to prove the safety of the 49 doses of vaccinations that are currently on the schedule from birth to age 6.  So you vaxxers who trust the system of herd immunity are keeping our families safe in the short term...either following the schedule as given or delaying them for your peace of mind...and you anti-vaxxers are pushing science, medicine and big pharma to continue to prove that we are not blindly following the herd.  If we want to use the analogy of the herd, let's really look at herd behavior. There are those members that forge ahead blindly, accepting risks, both known and unknown, knowingly and intentionally, there are some who try to stay safely enveloped by the rest of the herd, and those who stray out away from the herd or fall behind, sometimes drawing out the predators and maybe finding themselves at risk. There are pro's and con's to being any part of a herd, and the drug companies aren't necessarily shepherds we can trust, they have a lot to gain by misleading us...therefore the anti-vax community has emerged to provide some checks and balances, making sure the shepherds aren't actually wolves in disguise. Trust each other more, we don't need to fear or have disdain for those who make different choices than we do.  We are all a part of something much larger than we can possibly imagine and trying to make everyone conform to the same ideology about anything is not the answer.