Thursday, November 29, 2007

going through pictures...

I have been organizing and filing photos online so in the event I ever lose my computer data, they are uploaded elsewhere.

Here are two complete births that I photographed for clients - a few of these photos ended up in my montage:

We're hoping that the second set will get published in Midwifery Today. It seems that there are so many photos on the inside back cover that feature reclining women in bed. It's nice to get more in there that show women upright, receiving their babies into their own hands. If you've got pictures that you'd like to share, please offer them to Midwifery Today!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

thanksgiving 2007

some pics from our Thanksgiving dinner...I wish all the food was photographed, but we didn't have time (taking pictures when we wanted to eat? please!)...

excuse the salmon color of my walls. I'm hoping to get around to painting them soon.

changing of the seasons

Fall is quite possibly my favorite season. So is Spring. Really, the transitions from one extreme (Winter and Summer) to something different is appealing to me. Having moved every two to three years growing up, transition and change is welcome and positive.

This Fall brings many changes in my life - some good, some painful. I keep working on my personal life, my integrity, my needs. In the end, we all have just this one life. We have to live it in a way that reduces suffering and pain for ourselves We work towards what we want, what we need, what brings us peace and fulfillment. Some people refer to this attitude as selfish - I happen to call it self-aware. Self-aware or even self-centeredness is not a negative in my book - you are not taking from others in a way that robs them of their own identity and needs, but you are looking at yourself honestly and asking for what you need. To me, selfish and self-centered are polar opposites. Aren't we, as humans with egos, all self-centered?

Moving forward, I see hope and pain. Both of these are easy to feel in life. For too long, nearly all of my adult life, I've felt somewhat hopeless and stuck. I've dealt with a mental illness that crippled me and my relationships. I've been dishonest with myself about who I am. I have let myself down repeatedly when I don't ask for what I need.

We are all stronger than this. Digging deep inside, we must find that place that looks towards what we need to fulfill this time on earth. We don't get a second chance - and in the end, I want to look back and feel that I have been honest, have worked for good, lessened my judgment of others and felt true to my heart. I want this of those I love, too.

So emotional, this post. No ranting today about the state of obstetrics in our country...just a need to put it out there that midwives, like all care providers, deal with the same issues everyone else does. We all carry our own baggage, our own life experiences that affect us in deep ways.

Moving forward, just like the seasons, I am grateful for change and look to the benefits and growth that it always provides.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Looking for a midwife in the Denver area...

I'm helping someone search for a midwife for her upcoming birth, due 1/1/2008. She lives in the Denver area, but has been told by the midwives she contacted so far that they are completely booked. Knowing it's late notice, I still have great hope that this woman can have the peaceful homebirth she desires.

If anyone can pass on names I'd appreciate it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

last baby of November!

Thanksgiving day brings gratitude to a first-time mom patiently waiting for her baby two weeks past the 'due date'.

Was called last night at 10.30pm, drove to their house (about an hour and 20 mins north of us), got lost, arrived at 12.20am - quick and furious labor saw their 7lb 5oz baby boy born into his father's hands in the water at 3.32am.

This beautiful baby boy was 'diagnosed' with a two vessel cord in pregnancy - and while his growth was right on for dates, they received anxiety and pressure from their physician to induce early (very rarely do two-vessel cords cause issues, but it's always something to keep in mind in regards baby's growth). Eventually they decided that the birth they wanted for their baby wasn't going to happen in the hospital. At 35 weeks, prior to leaving for Kauai on vacation for a week, they hired me as their midwife. The remainder of her pregnancy was uneventful with a strong baby, continued growth, fabulous reactivity and constant movement.

Now they can actually put that sweet boy in his Thanksgiving outfit! The cord definitely had two vessels, but her placenta was gorgeous and healthy.

Came home around 7am, grabbed a few hours rest and now am getting ready for the guests to arrive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

thanksgiving eve baby

Had a birth early this morning, third baby (first boy!), 11lbs 8oz, born posterior. Short and sweet aside from some extra blood loss that resolved rather smoothly.

We have one more November mom, was due at the beginning of the month, that is expecting her first baby.

Doing a group prenatal up in Portland on Saturday.

Lots of preparations today for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! We have a vegetarian dinner - Our Menu:

Pilgrim Punch

Hors d'oeuvre
Goat Cheese Crustini with cranberry compote

First Course
Individual pot pies in acorn squash

Main Buffet Course
Stuffed Portobello mushrooms
Salad w/ dried cranberries, walnuts, apples, goat cheese
Vegetable tian
Parmesan roasted asparagus
Vegetable dressing
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Candied sweet potatoes
Cranberry sauce

Individual pumpkin mousse parfait
Apple crisp

I'm grateful for the path that I'm on, for the families I'm involved with, the beautiful births I am witness to, my health, my own family and my dear friends who have seen me through so much. I am also eternally grateful for my incredible apprentice/assistant who believes in birth so wholly that it always humbles me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CPD = care provider disproportion

I have seen so many birth stories just like this. I've known a few women that wanted to send birth announcements to their previous providers (that 'diagnosed' CPD), but they knew that the providers wouldn't remember them at all. How upsetting that we remember the providers that cause us trauma, grief and intense pain from birth...but we are invisible to them even days later.

Friday, November 16, 2007

loss and birth

A close friend (a homebirthing doc) called me last night when I was on the road. She was in tears, telling me that her dog (who had been ill over the past few days) was dying and if I wanted to say goodbye, I should come now.

I drove straight over (fortunately I was close to the house) and entered their home. She had this dog for 13 years, since she completed her residency. Over the years I've known my friend, this dog (loudly) greeted me and our friends at gatherings in their home, she accompanied us to the lake picnics year after year, and hung out in her office for patients and staff to love on.

A couple times we watched her dog while her family went out of town. She was an amazing, sweet, beautiful dog.

Seeing the family around this dog was hard. The children were crying, my friend was crying. The dog was laboring with every breath. They cut hair from her as she lay in her bed. My friend told me that the vet had given them the medication to put the dog to sleep. She then asked if I would administer it. Just being asked to do this was intense. I agreed.

The family gathered on the couch, the dad lovingly held the dog in his arms. We unwrapped a bandage on her leg, revealing an IV start. In a slow, smooth motion I pushed the pink fluid into the IV port. Seconds later her labored breathing stopped. She left this world surrounded by those who loved and knew her.

They buried her last night out in their garden. The kids put some treats in the grave along with her bowls (of food and water). The stone with the children's footprints and the dog's handprints, made years ago, was placed atop the grave.

It reassured my friend to hear that a baby was on the verge of being born as I left.


Remember the client with no due date? The one we thought was due October 20th? She had her baby this morning, her fourth baby, third home VBAC with me. Beautiful girl, 9lbs, born in to her mother's hands in the water. Called at 4.30am, baby born at 7.39am. Her last baby was born in my apartment!

My apprentice estimated gestational age around 41 weeks. What's funny is that every pregnancy with her has been like this: nursing, no regular cycles, no idea of conception date, etc. She has an amazing sense of humor about her due date - and even when she's way over our guess date, she's still good natured about it all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ani Difranco's homebirth

Ani Difranco talking about her homebirth at a show last year...(language may not be appropriate for all)

I love, love, love her. I felt like a freak repeatedly calling her merchandising staff when she was pregnant asking, "is she having her baby at home? please tell her to consider a homebirth!". They were nice enough, but after the third time, I'm sure they had a "hang up on this woman right away" note on the phone. I also bombarded her MySpace with messages. Yes, more than feeling like a freak, I am one.

Artificial Rupture of Membranes

From the Cochrane Reviews comes this review of research that finds AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) does not hasten labor or ensure baby's well-being.

The researchers reviewed 14 randomized controlled trials involving almost 5,000 women and found little evidence for any benefits. Amniotomy did not shorten the length of labor, decrease the need for the labor-stimulating drug oxytocin, decrease pain, reduce the number of instrument-aided births or lead to serious maternal injury or death.

Anecdotally, there have been situations where I know rupture of membranes - both spontaneous (on their own) or artificial - has made a birth happen more quickly. I think it's safe to say we all know of times where late AROM has picked up a slow labor at the end of dilation. Whether or not it's supporting the natural process of labor (it's not), there are times where I've seen it work.

However, we also know that this information is not a surprise to many providers. I think the biggest disadvantage is when it's used to induce prior to 4-5cm (having seen AROM at 1-2cm for induction it seems to shows the least amount of effectiveness) or when labor is moving forward, but not to the appreciation of provider and/or mother. This review only pulled instances where labor had begun spontaneously and AROM was not used for induction.

In my opinion,this is where looking at evidence-based research is key: as providers, we carry alot of anecdotal experience. The important thing for me is that we don't allow those experiences become the truth for us. Giving full informed choice (including research like this) is important for each woman - including that our own experience includes an amount of women that a study this size would consider insignificant.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

waterbirth in the media

ABC's Private Practice, a spin-off from Grey's Anatomy (which I love, but not as much as ER), is featuring a waterbirth...looks like at home? The clip of the waterbirth was fast, though it looked like it could be in the hospital...but there are candles involved (hospitals can't allow candles because of the presence of oxygen).

Either way, Addison (the main OB/Gyn) is a quick-to-cut doc (her birth scenes in Grey's were almost laughable)...I wonder what this experience will be like. They're likely to have some 'emergency' like meconium (remember The L Word's attempted home waterbirth turned cesarean because of meconium while Tina was pushing?) or something else. It has to be dramatic.

Normal birth can be so boring for TV. Ha!

(Thanks to my apprentice/assistant for this heads up)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mothers Naturally

A new website put together by MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) for consumer awareness about midwifery and birth options Mothers Naturally

Sunday, November 11, 2007

in the morning I'm surprised...

that I'm still in bed and not at a birth!

One first-time mom due last week, one third time mom due last week and a fourth-time mom (her third VBAC with me) due who knows when. (She was nursing and like her other two babies, her due date was unclear. We guessed October 20th, but now it's clear we were wrong...)

I need to stop looking at YouTube birth videos. It's so hard to see how babies are handled. I can deal with what women choose for their births, but the babies...isn't there a more gentle way to introduce them to the world than suction the heck out of their noses and throats, scrub them off with harsh surgical towels and clamp their cord right away?

again, with the cords around the neck

Doc: "Got the cord around the neck....Ohhh....good thing we did this, got the cord around the neck twice....normally would have resulted in an emergency c-section..."


birth in IKEA

Combining two loves of mine....natural birth and IKEA...

I can see how this could happen...a fast labor and no way to figure out how to get out of the store!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cosmetic Vulvar Surgeries

This is off the topic of birth, but timely for women to be aware of. In the last five to ten years, there has been an increase in surgical procedures to alter a woman's sexual organs.

It starts with the commonly-known breast enlargement, lift, etc. I think I'm pretty numb to that already, as it's been around forever. Surely I must have been horrified when I first heard about it? I could have been too young to care or to even think that looking like my Barbie was something that should have raised my eyebrows.

It seems that there are a host of surgeries offered to women who don't like the look of their vulvas. Of course, this distaste for their own girlie bits comes from pornographic images. As a late second/third wave feminist, I'm not down on porn. To each her/his own. I am down on the increasing pressure for women to alter their bodies to look like certain genres of porn stars. Who is introducing these changes to women's anatomy? And WHY? To top it off, male porn stars have not changed their own genitalia at all in the last 100 years (well, aside from shaving and always looking to be 'bigger', a male myth that it's 'better' for women).

One blogger posts about the surgery to restore a woman's hymen (a hymenoplasty). From a Russian website extolling the virtues of "recovering [their] virginity". Why on earth would a woman want this surgery? My 'favorite' reason from the Russian site was this:

4. Enhancing the feelings of sexual gratification

Some women undergo surgery to please their husbands and partners. They want to “lose their virginity” all over again to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary in a very special way. Others have their hymens stitched back together to receive and give more pleasure when making love.

Perhaps you're thinking that this is an isolated look at this subject. Do a Google search for 'hymenoplasty' and you'll be treated to even more. The sad fact is there are women around the world, due to religious and cultural beliefs, could be at risk for alienation, abuse and sometimes even death if an intact hymen was not found.

Now on to more cosmetic and outrageous procedures...achem, "vulva enhancements":

Last but not least, there has been a huge trend in the last five years for anal bleaching. Yep, you read right: anal bleaching.

Let me be clear personally: After the third degree episiotomy involved with my daughter's birth, I had to undergo perineal reconstruction surgery at 15 months postpartum. Even after a year postpartum, I was unable to have sex without incredible amounts of pain and was experiencing fecal incontinence. The surgery helped me regain my sphincter control, as well as remove a quarter-sized piece of hard scar tissue right at the vaginal introitus. I am grateful for that option that allowed me to have sex without intense pain and to not poo my pants in Target.

But still...these procedures? When they're done for cosmetic purposes, we have to examine why we believe that it's more attractive.