Tag Archives: doula

Emptying the Bag..

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Last night I emptied my doula bag. Rice socks, essential oils, compresses..even straws and hair ties.

As I removed each item, I took a moment to remember every birth I have witnessed, every baby I have watched take that first breath earthside, every mama I have seen dig down deeper than she ever thought she could to push her baby out. 

I thought about meeting each of you at your interview. Watching you grow throughout your journey. Watching you make careful choices about your care provider, your birth plan, your body and your baby. And your birth. I thought about your birth. I thought about your strength and your power. I thought about what you didn’t know. What you didn’t know was that feeling you left me with as I walked out of that hospital, with this doula bag over my shoulder, smiling and giddy like I was holding some amazing secret in my heart, passing all these people visiting loved ones and arriving for their shift, not knowing what I had just witnessed. And then getting in my car, sometimes in the middle of the night, tears running down my cheeks overwhelmed with humility. And then I remembered you on your postpartum visit. Nursing your new, precious baby. A birth warrior. A different woman from just months before. And I remembered your worried calls about fevers and milk and even poop. And I thought about how you had no idea what those calls meant to me. To know you trusted me. And I know, because I made those calls after I had my babies. 

Last night, I emptied the bag. But I filled my heart. With unexpected memories that make me forever grateful. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Each and every one of you who have given me this honor. I can never repay you. I know I will continue to attend births. I do not know in what capacity or when. But I do know that I have enough birth love in my heart to get me through. 

 

Full Circle. And Finally Speaking The Truth About Epidurals.

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So, this birthwork thing has really come full circle. In more than one way. 

I attended my last birth..until (that’s what the midwife said to me at this birth, when I said, “This is my last birth”..she said, “This is your last birth..until“). So this woman, this mama, was also my first birth. I was honored to be a part of her journey with her first child and then again with this next baby. 

And it was more than that. I have watched this woman grow up. It was bigger than the babies I’ve watched her birth. It was a full circle experience. From this child who gave birth 4 years ago to this woman who made empowering choices and stood her ground and followed her intuition and really owned giving birth to this baby. 

And it was the exact reason we do what we do. At 42 weeks, we all knew we were looking at a big baby. Because she had the care provider she had, she carried her baby full-term. She was not bullied into an induction because of a big baby or an old placenta or convenience. 

And he was a big baby. He was 10 pounds 8.4 ounces (I have to include the .4 ounces because to be quite honest I think this baby was probably closer to 11 pounds but the amount of poop he made upon his arrival preceded his official weigh-in), 22 inches long. And she had to work for him. She had to do lunges and squats and polar bear and this way and that way and pretty much every way you can think of other than standing on her head. And THIS women, THIS is why we say you can do this without an epidural. Not because this woman did it without an epidural but because she HAD to do it without an epidural. Let me lay it out for you. Let me paint a picture of what this looks like with an epidural. Mama gets epidural. Baby stops moving down birth canal. And then she stalls. And then a day later she is laying in bed with an epidural, Pitocin and now probably a fever. And then she gets a cesarean. Because the baby was too big. Or because she had a fever (from the epidural). Or because she failed to progress. Or because the baby wasn’t handling the Pitocin. Or because we could be here until Tuesday or you could have your baby in the next hour. Or because sometimes you just need some “help” (I’ve actually heard an OB say that to a mom. You just can’t do it by yourself, you need me to “help” you. Man, how is that for support). 

It wasn’t because her baby was too big (or any of those other reasons)! It was because she couldn’t fucking move! She couldn’t do squats for 30 minutes to help him move down a little bit this way and she couldn’t do side lunges for 15 minutes to help him move down a little bit that way. She couldn’t sit on the toilet for 8 contractions because it is a remarkable place to bring a baby down. Because all she can do it lay there. And all that baby can do is lay in that same spot. Unable to move through the pelvis like he needs to in order to be born. 

We believe it because we know it. Because we see it. Because there is no way on earth an almost 11 pound baby can move down the birth canal of this 5’3 normally 110 pound woman if she is laying flat on her back, numb from the waste down. 

This is why. This is why we are evangelical about natural childbirth. This is why sometimes we may come off a bit strong. Not because we know it all or because we think “our way” is better. It’s not because it’s better, it’s because IT WORKS. It’s because we see it. It’s because it is THE TRUTH. 

(Just as a disclaimer I do realize epidurals can be a great tool for some women. I don’t need anyone emailing me to tell me that. It is unfortunate that they are an overused tool that often lead women into territory that were unprepared for and the risks of epidurals are rarely shared with birthing women by their care provider(s))

(Also as a second disclaimer, this mama knew I used parts of her story in this blog and her baby’s picture!) Image

Twists and Turns and Never Say Never

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Anytime in my life I have ever said, “I will NEVER…”, that NEVER always presents itself in my life in a way I can’t resist. I should know better.

If you don’t know, my heart, my passion is childbirth. It’s watching babies enter the world, it’s witnessing families bound together by another life, it’s being present in a moment and thinking, “holy shit, I cannot believe they are letting me share in this with them”. And it’s more. It’s so much more. It fills my heart in a way I can never, ever explain.

So, cut to the meat.

The day after Christmas, after weeks and weeks (really months) of planning for nursing school and stressing about how our family would survive financially with me in nursing school (aside from the actual monthly cost of nursing school I was terrified of the cost of childcare and the omission of what has become a pretty comfortable monetary contribution from doula work), I got a call from someone I used to work with. For those of you who don’t know, I used to be in real estate. For 12 years I hustled, working weekends, sitting in new construction, dealing with crazy ass people and crazy agents and crazy builders. As time went on I became more and more disgruntled. And then the market went to shit. And putting a deal together and seeing it all the way to closing was next to impossible. And then I got pregnant. And then I reallllly hated dealing with people. And then I had Koi. And then I said fuck all that, I’m doing this birth shit. And I never (there’s that word again) looked back. People would ask me all the time if I would ever go back into real estate and without hesitation I would say, “Nope, never”. So, back to the call. This person said hey, I don’t know what you’re doing now, if you’re ready to go back to “work” (in my eyes, I’ve always worked, just not maybe in the traditional setting of my previous life), but there is a position available in our office for a sales manager and we’d like to see if you’d be a good fit. And so it begins.

I sat on it for 2 days. I envisioned all the what ifs and the hows. Then I told my husband. And we decided I’d agree to an interview.

The morning of the interview I got up early, showered, put on makeup, did my hair, put on my old clothes. My clothes that no one had wiped a poo poo hand on. No boogers. My shoes. Oh, my shoes. Patent leather. Heels. And I interviewed. And I wanted it.

But I tossed and turned in my head over the next couple of weeks. I mean really. Tormented. Giving up a “dream” of midwifery. Or maybe midwifery. Completely “being” birth. And then I got called in for a second interview nearly 2 weeks (2 very long weeks) later. And then I really wanted it. I will spare you the back and forths that I had with my husband 600 times a day. In the end, I wanted it. The day before I was set to start nursing school, I got called in again, and I received an offer for the job. And I took it.

So. Here I am. Doing what I said I would never do. Although, in a different capacity, the same business. And I’m loving it. Like really, really loving it. This is where I am supposed to be. This is the twist and turn.

I have one birth left. I’ve had 2 since I’ve been here. I’ll still be doing placentas. Y’all know I can’t walk away. I have to keep my hand (heart) in this world of birth. And I really am a placenta geek.

So, there it is. I’ve been waiting to sort of spread the word, just because I didn’t want my birth clients worrying about me or my commitment or my availability.

This is an adventure for our whole family. We are all adjusting to mama being back at “work”. We are all finding our way. Just like I’m sure you are with your family. I hope you’ll still be interested in what’s to come. I love my In The Caul peeps, forever and ever.

Birth Story, Friends and Popcorn.

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Birth Story

Birth Story. Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is when referring to unnecessary inductions she says, “A farmer would never do that to a valuable animal.”.

Yesterday’s screening of Birth Story couldn’t have come at a better time. My peaks and valleys surrounding birth come on fast. My peaks are births, doula gatherings, blessingways, hardcore birth talk, seeing past clients with their babes, The Tribecast and encapsulations. My valleys are the too-long stretches between births, the Groundhog Days of life, the looking around my living room at the popcorn smushed into the rug and the couch cushions strown along the entire first floor. It has been one of those seasons. The change from the heat and long days of summer to the chilly floors and dark afternoons has been hard on me. That high in my chest when I’m carrying my doula bag out of the hospital after a beautiful, hard, powerful birth with a smile on my face like I have a secret. Walking into my house in the middle of the night, while my children and husband are sound asleep upstairs, dropping my bag, opening a beer and eating leftovers of whatever my husband had for dinner all by myself, reflecting. I wish I could bottle that up and open it right about the time I change my 4th shitty diaper of the day.

I loved, loved, loved watching the vintage footage of the caravan and getting to know the other important midwives of The Farm. I loved that breech birth and that shoulder dystocia footage. My heart melted a little watching Ina May care for Stephen. The message and energy of the film pretty much sums up why we do what we do. Why we care, why we know in our hearts how important it is to birth our babies with dignity and respect and safety.

But more than even the movie, I loved seeing old friends. Midwives, doulas, birth advocates, veterans, newbies, pregnant mamas, past clients and current clients. I needed the laughs, the hugs, the encouragement and the kind words.

All in all, a pretty perfect afternoon.

Back in Black. Well not really, but back anyway.

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Pshewy.

What a whirlwind this life has been over the last 4 months.

We moved back to Virginia which has been wonderful for my mental state. To be honest, North Carolina beat me down. Not only was I in the midst of postpartum, but I was struggling to maintain a positive outlook on birth and maternal health. I also missed my friends like nobody’s business.

Since our return, I’ve rediscovered myself. My grey, hazy postpartum has lifted and I was standing there, clear as day. The podcast, The Tribecast, has taken off and we’ve had an outpouring of support from women across the country (even some women in other countries!). I’ve been attending births and really doing so many placenta encapsulations that I’m swamped most days. Which is when I’m at my best.

My husband started his own business which brought us back to our hometown. And my kids are growing and amazing me on a daily basis. I’ve started the prerequisites for nursing school which is kicking my butt and using my brain in ways it hasn’t been used in years.

In an effort to brush the dust off, I just wanted to post a blog. Get my feet wet after so much time off.

So here it is. It ain’t special. It just is.

<I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. I have been wanting/needing to just post a blog. Just break the block that has kept me from writing. So, like it says, here it is. Hopefully, I can move on from here. Also, I don’t have a pic to post. I’ll do better next time:-)>

The Tribecast’s A Comin’..

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“Tribes are about support. Women coming together to lift one another up with encouragement and love.”

My tribe and I have started a Podcast. We’ll be chatting it up about birth (duh), mamahood, babies, partners, books, wine and everything under the sun. This is a real deal, raw, candid point of view and I’m so excited we will be able to share it with everyone!

The Podcast will be called “Tribecast”. So listen, it will get real. You know the sayin’, ‘If you can’t take the heat, get outta tha kitchen’? This is us, sharing intimate details of our lives, our birth experiences, our ups and downs, our foul mouths and our tears.

I will keep everyone posted on the details. We are hoping the first Podcast taping will be available early next week.

Stay tuned and thank you in advance for your support!

*Blessingway photos by Patience Salgado. Black and white photo by Nikki Sawulski.

You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this.

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The other day, a good friend asked me about this saying that seems to surround the birth of my son, Koi. She said, “I see it all over the place, around Koi’s birth and I love it”. After I explained how it came to be, I decided to share its origin and existence here as well.

“You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this.”

I had been in labor a really long time. I had been at 8 centimeters, things had started to slow down and when my midwife checked me again I was at 6 centimeters and my cervix was swollen. A different energy had entered the room. A heavy, dark energy. My midwife wanted me to have a little Pitocin to get my body going again. This was not what we wanted. I knew, things would soon spiral out of control, if we conceded. We would not have the birth we wanted, even though everyone was reassuring me I could still do it, even on Pitocin. I laid down in the bed, on my side. And started to cry. Jason and I asked for some privacy, to see what happened for the next 45 minutes or so without Pitocin. I was failing. I wasn’t going to do this. I had worked so hard and I wanted it so bad.

Earlier in my birth, when we arrived at the hospital, my doula had written, “You are strong. You are safe. You can do this.” on the dry erase board. As I lay there in the bed, weeping for the birth I was about to lose, thinking of my baby and the beginning I wanted so desperately to give him, thinking of all the people who told me I couldn’t do it, all the women who didn’t support me..and then I thought of all the women who did. My giant husband whispered in my ear that I was doing a great job. That our baby was healthy and safe. That I just needed a break, but we were still doing this. I sat up in the bed, once we were alone and I looked up at that dry erase board, which now read, “You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this”.  And right then, I recommitted. I recommitted to my body and my power. I told myself, she is right. I can do even this.

And I did. Without the Pitocin, with privacy and rest and support, I labored again and I got there. And I birthed my baby boy, on a stool, and pulled him into my arms, just like I had dreamed.

I share this because we do not all labor alike. Some of us need rest. Some of us go backwards. Some of us go fast and some of us go slow. And we have the power to dictate how we birth, and we have the power to refuse suggestions, even from those people we trust. We have the power to listen to our bodies and labor and birth the way we need to. So. My blessing and wish is that some woman, will realize in her moment of labor, that she has power and knowledge. And she dictates how she gives birth to her baby. And knows she can do this. And whatever the obstacle, she can do even this.

*For whatever reason, I could not caption this picture. These words in the photo were written by Gina Bass and photographed by Patience Salgado.