Monday, April 28, 2014

Doulas Born

I look around the circle of woman sitting on the floor. A bakery owner, a young woman who will become a midwife, a mother of four, a nurse, a grandmother, a feminist, a massage therapist, a non-mom, every woman is different yet they’re all here for the same reason.

The stone has been passed to me and it’s my turn to share. “What will I take from this workshop?” I look down at my hands. The small stone is still warm from being held by the woman next to me, I play with it in my fingers. As the trainer’s assistant I have sat in this circle so many times in the last few years. Why do I keep coming back, what do I get out of this? I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a moment. I daydream and imagine the stone falling from my hand, the vision only lasted a second and I knew I had my answer.

“I took my doula training almost 7 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday, I sat in a circle like this and was filled with so many emotions: excitement, hope and determination.” I look around the circle and connect eyes with a few of the newly trained doulas. “I have attended a bunch of births and gotten to witness the amazing rite of passage, the beautiful transformation of a woman into a mother. I have gotten to see babies born into the arms of strong, confident mothers. I love it, I love everything about it.”

“It’s like taking a stone,” as I hold up the rose quartz in my hand, “and tossing it into water.” gently motioning as if to toss the stone to the middle of the circle. “You watch as the ripples move outward, reaching further and further.“ My hands move out imitating the movement of the water. “That’s what you’re all doing here, starting ripples.” Deep breath, don’t cry, don’t cry, “Maybe you’ll go home and start by telling your sisters or best friends about this training, about the amazing things you have learned about women.” I smile to myself because that‘s exactly what I had done years ago, “Eventually you will go to births and forever change the lives of the families you serve.” My thoughts flash to some of my favorite clients, the doulas that attended my births, my children, “Those of you who have children will raise them to not fear but honor this awesome process. Maybe some of your doula mamas will be inspired to someday take a training like this. Your ripples will grow and reach further than you ever imagined.” A few tears line my checks but I don’t wipe them away, I wear my stripes with pride.

“That’s what I’m taking from this workshop, that’s why I come year after year to help.” I shoot a smile to the trainer. “As a doula you get to help and witness woman become mothers, you get to watch babies being born, which is awesome and all but… I get to watch as you women, beautiful woman and mothers and grandmothers… I get to help and witness you become doulas. I watched this weekend as doulas were born.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christy and Julia...

Lamaze international is hosting a blog carnival. The topic: How did childbirth classes help me? How can I give back to the childbirth educators who work hard to educate and empower women during their childbearing year? I can tell my story.

My due date had come and gone, I wasn't worried. They had talked about how only a few women 'go' by their due date. They taught us the importance of letting labor start on it's own. So, I waited. Labor started on it's own. They had talked about the stages of labor and what to expect. So, when I first noticed contractions, I knew I was in early labor and I knew what to do. I ate and drank, I went shopping and went for a walk. I kept moving and changing positions. The contractions became stronger and closer together. We walked into the hospital, my doula led the way, my husband was by my side, my mother and mother-in-law followed us. I felt safe. They had taught us the importance of continuous labor support. I had my entourage, I felt like a queen. I had worked hard on my birth plan, it was short and to the point. I planned on laboring naturally without medical pain relief. I chose not to get an IV or hep-lock or any intervention that wasn't medically necessary. They had talked about the cascade of interventions, how one can lead to another. I steered clear of them all. I started to feel scared and panicky. They had talked about transition, that it is normal and means you are close to the end. I remembered and relaxed, continuing my rhythm and ritual. Before I knew it, my body was pushing. It knew what to do and when to do it, I just followed it's lead. They had talked about different positions for pushing, I used them all. After she was born I just laid there, holding my baby, letting both of us catch our breath. I breastfed. They had taught me to stay with my baby, it was the best thing for us and for learning to breastfeed. My husband and I just smiled at each other. We were more than a couple, we were a family.

My childbirth educators taught me so much. Because of them, I was empowered to make educated decisions, to seek the support I needed, and to have the amazing, challenging, life changing experience that only women who have birthed naturally can understand. Childbirth classes gave me more than just confidence or tools to achieve my ideal birth, they were a rite of passage. They helped me become a mother. Thank you,

Christy and Julia...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The finish line...

My sister and I were pregnant at the same time. We used to talk about what labor would be like. We decided it would be like a marathon: long and hard, yet rewarding. We were right, labor was hard. There will be times when you think you just can't go on, but if you just take it one step (or one contraction) at a time, then you will make it to the end. It was also very rewarding, I learned so much about myself by laboring and birthing my baby into the world without drugs or interventions. There is nothing like the rush of hormones you get when you have a baby. I am women hear me roar! Anyways, talks with my sis inspired this poem. Don't laugh :)

My Marathon

Normal, natural childbirth
is not the popular choice today.
Why would you choose the pain? what you'll hear them say.

A marathon runner will tell you,
the challenge is why they strive.
Why would you choose to run,
when it is easier to drive?

Some choose the harder way
to test their body and their soul.
You become stronger and more confident
when you finally reach your goal.

Giving birth is my marathon.
I practice and prepare for my wish.
Keep moving and drinking water
are things that will help me finish.

I know it won't be easy
there will be laughter and there'll be tears. 
I can do it if I just stick to it,
I will give in and let go of my fears.

In a marathon or a childbirth
the best way to get to the end.
Is with the company and support
of a close and loving friend.


If someone you knew came up to you and said, "I am going to run a marathon in a few months." What would you say? I would say, "Wow! That is awesome." I would ask about how they were preparing, if they were doing it with someone they know. I'd ask about the time and place. I wouldn't question whether they would be able to finish or not. I wouldn't tell them they couldn't do it, or tell them it is pointless because there are cars and buses. So why, when I told people that I was planning a normal natural birth, was I told that I am crazy, and it's dangerous. "You don't have to be a super woman." I was told it's nice that I wanted to 'try' but when it came down to it that I would choose to get 'help'.

It's a good thing that I was determined, those naysayers can do a number on your confidence. I surrounded myself with positive and supportive people. I started slow and steady. When the hills came one after another, I stuck with it. There was blood, sweat, and tears. I kept my eye on the prize, I got to...

the finish line...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Midwives Rock!

I love having midwives as my care givers. I have some friends and acquaintances that think it is weird or old fashion. I disagree. They ask, "what if something happens?" I say, "that is why my midwife is there." I'm not planning on giving birth in a forest, by myself. I just don't see the point of going to a doctor... There is nothing wrong with me, there is nothing wrong with my baby. Don't doctors take care of sick people? I like to think that having a baby isn't some crazy ticking time bomb that I need to have a doctor there "just in case". Don't get me wrong, if there is something wrong with you or your baby, by all means go to a doctor.

Women have been having babies for thousands of years, it seems that the whole system works just fine if you just trust that your body knows how to make and birth a baby. I think going to a doctor is just asking for an iatrogenic complication. I plan on laboring and getting my baby out the way God intended. To me it seems like docs just know too many ways to get around that. So, to sum it all up, I think that...

midwives rock!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where I'm going...

You may not realize it because the retail business tends to just skip over it and go right to Christmas, but Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away. Although it may be short lived, it's the time of year to think about what we are grateful for. For me it's family, the matriarchs of the family to be exact. It's not that I'm not thankful for my hubby, but let's think about the ladies.

The other day, my 15 month old daughter was playing with a hat. She was putting it on her head, spinning around, laughing, pulling it over her eyes. Then she started to head straight for the edge of the table. I scooped her up right before she ran head first into it. I lifted the hat so she could see, told her to watch where she was going, kissed her and put her down facing in an obstacle free direction. I laughed to myself and thought, "the things we have to teach our children." Then I stopped and thought about it. That's an important skill, to watch where you're going. I assume my mom taught me that. I would assume for most of us, our mothers taught us that. Have you ever thanked your mom for teaching you to watch where you're going?  I know I hadn't.

So, much goes into having kids. First you have to grow the kid. (Well, technically there is a step before this.)  After nine months of all the "fun" pregnancy has to offer, you have to get the kid out. We have to feed our children, and bathe our children. Not only do we have to teach them to walk, but now I find out it's our job to teach them to watch where they're going, jeez! 

(Maybe I should have saved this for Mother's Day, lol) After writing my post yesterday, I can't even begin to list all the things my mother has taught me. I am thankful for my mother, my grandmothers, my sister, my aunts... I am thankful for all the moms out there. It doesn't matter what age your children are. You are ready, waiting to scoop them up, uncover their eyes, and head them away from the pointy corners of life. Thank you for the little things. Because of you I'm watching...

where I'm going...

Monday, November 21, 2011

My mother taught me...

I was raised in a house where pregnancy and birth were a normal talked about thing. My mother is a nurse, childbirth educator and doula. I grew up hearing about women laboring naturally and breastfeeding. So, before I even got pregnant the first time around, I knew about the whole process. I understood why natural labor and breastfeeding are the best thing for my body and baby. I actually looked forward to labor, to the right of passage, to the life changing experience that only women who have labored naturally can understand.

It has been hard for me, watching dramatic births on tv, and hearing horror stories about labor. When I know why things are going that way. I get so frustrasted when I talk to women who are clearly uneducated about birth. I hate hearing, "well my child is happy and healthy so it doesn't matter that I had a medical birth and formula fed" when I know the research that says otherwise. I can't blame them though, this is the world that we have grown up in, this is the norm. It's not something that is talked about now, it is something that is feared. Fear can be a powerful influence.

I am pregnant again and more and more I think about my first daughter. How will she see labor and birth? What will the norm be when she is of childbearing age? Will she see birth as the challenging, empowering, amazing experience that I learned it would be? Or will she be scared? Will she just do what her doctor says, when that may not be what the research shows to be best? I hope and pray that I can raise her, and any other daughters I may have, the way my mom taught me. I want her to not be scared, but to be empowered that women can do this. What will she tell people when she looks back on her life and says,

My mother taught me...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Are you ready?

I decided to start this blog so I would have a place to share my thoughts. I was just recently blogging on a website where you could "write about your experience with pregnancy or to simply offer words of encouragement and support to other moms."  They wanted it to be a place "for women to connect with other women in a supportive and positive way." Only problem is I didn't find it encouraging, supportive or positive. The majority of the posts were not evidence based and I found myself getting frustrated reading them. I guess the straw that broke the camels back was that all the comments and blog posts were reviewed and had to be approved by the site administrator. I don't like to be censored.

I want more than pleasant conversation and tip-toeing around hot topics. I want to dive into those topics, I want to talk about the research, about society's expectations, I want to say what I think needs to be said. I suppose I should say upfront that I don't mean to offend or upset anyone, but I may end up doing so. I have been offended and upset for too long.

Are you ready?