Tag Archives: midwifery

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

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.

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.

“I’m back where I’m supposed to be. I’m me again”, A Brave Story of Homebirth After Cesarean

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There are no words...

Sometimes in this work, and in this life, we meet people who have a place, hold a light, hold your attention. Sometimes you hear a story that blows your mind or see a picture that haunts you, in a good way. This woman, this special woman, so willing to share her vulnerability, while at the same time being a complete bad ass..this woman has my attention. This woman’s story needs to be heard. And this woman needs to tell her story.

I am so honored and grateful, that she has shared it with me, and is allowing me to share it with you.

And so her story begins…

“My name is Dallas Bossola.  I’m 38 years old and I’m a stay at home Mom.  I’m originally from Viriginia and my family moved to the Outer Banks in 2009.”

“My son was born on December 6 2007 via cesarean section at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond VA.  The cesarean was for failure to progress.  I was at 3 cm and Kiran was sunny side up.  At the time, we were led to believe that Kiran was in distress and a cesarean was going to “save” him.  It wasn’t until I started planning my VBAC that I learned that he was never in distress and the fact that it was approaching 5pm on a Friday was probably more of a reason the call for a section was made.  My pregnancy with Kiran was very high anxiety.  I had multiple miscarriages before Kiran and was considered high risk.  I also was approaching 35 so that was one more mark against me.  So during those nine months I always felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I had 11 ultrasounds, numerous NSTs, a cervical check at every appointment, several gluclose tests..FEAR…FEAR…FEAR.  When my water broke with Kiran, I went straight to the hospital, checked in and waited.  I was only at 3cm and in hindsight, I should’ve gone right back home.  But I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.  I just did what they told me to.  Kiran’s birth was a beautiful tragedy.  The woman I was before that day…disappeared.  I remember lying on the OR table and seeing him in a warming bassinet and thinking…how did I get here?  How did this happen?  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? My heart broke that day.  It broke for the birth that I didn’t get and for the child that I felt I had let down. In December of 2007 my journey to VBAC began.”

“Well, Kiran’s birth def made me feel inadequate, a bit stupid I guess.  I knew very little about what went in to a labor and a vaginal birth and even less about how birth really goes in a hospital setting.  I was angry for a while and depressed.  But at the same time I was thankful.  Thankful it was all behind me and that I was free to move forward.  But the “moving forward” part didn’t come like I thought it would.  I was stuck.  Very, very stuck.  And it wouldn’t be for about six months before that feeling would be replaced with a fire and yearning to know what happened.  What should I have known, or read or asked about?  And how do I keep it from happening the next time.”

Where did Kiran’s birth lead you?

“Kiran’s birth led me to the birth world.  I became a member of ICAN and then a postpartum doula.  Living on the Outer Banks led me to home birth.  Hospital VBAC’s just weren’t happening here when I was thinking of getting pregnant again and the thought of another section frankly made me want to jump off a bridge rather than go through that again.  But we really wanted another baby and I just decided that I would do whatever I needed to in order to stay out of the hospital.  And staying out of the hospital meant for starters finding a home birth midwife that would take a VBAC.  The midwifery laws being what they are in NC made things a little tougher.  I did not want to use an illegal midwife because being a VBAC, if something happened that I needed to transfer, I wanted to make sure that there was continuity of care and not a “dump and run” at the ER because my midwife was scared of going in.  So I reached out to a VBAC friendly doc in High Point and asked him if he new of any CNMs that would be willing to travel to the Outer Banks and he gave me Deb’s info.  I called her up…she said yes…and the rest is history.  All I needed to do was get pregnant which I did just a few weeks later.”

What did you do in this pregnancy, in preparation for Z’s birth?

“Oh man.  What DIDN’T I do to prep for Z’s birth!  Well, I exercised every day.  Some days I swam, most I walked, did yoga.  I ate really well so I wouldn’t gain a lot of weight.  I took triple doses of Juice Plus+ (JP+ is a whole food nutrition supplement), drank red raspberry tea every single day, watched my diet like a hawk and just tried to keep my head on straight and my eyes on the prize.  I read a few books….Ina May’s stuff of course…Birthing From Within…Squat Birth Journal…Artemis Speaks to name a few.  I did a lot of “head work” on my self.  Meaning I tried to sort through all the gunk left over from Kiran’s birth.  That was such a sad time for me and I’m so thankful for it at the same time.  So I had a lot of, confusion, that I really wanted to get clarity on before I walked into Z’s birth.  I prayed some.  Prayed for a quick, safe birth.  And I surrounded myself with people who wanted this for me as much as I did.  I listened to my midwives and took their advice.  I opened my heart up and asked that the Goddesses, Mother Nature, God, Buddha…show me the way.  And when my pregnancy started to draw to an end, I had this feeling of readiness.  Clarity. Confidence.  And a knowing that no matter how it all shook out in the end…I had done EVERYTHING I could and that I would be at peace with whatever the outcome was.”

“Z’s birth was fucking awesome, of course.  🙂  I got the quick labor I prayed for (11 hours, soup to nuts.) Oh and be careful what you pray for right!  Contractions were about  30 seconds long and coming every 2-3 minutes.  I got up around 3am and came downstairs.  I took my birth ball out onto our deck and labored peacefully, watching the sun rise.  Watching the water on the canal…feeling at peace and knowing in my heart that it was all going to be ok.  My midwife showed up around 10am, checked me and helped me into the water.  I was at 7cm, bag of waters intact and shortly after that I felt the urge to push.  I asked Deb to check me again and she said there was no need.  That I was doing exactly what I needed to do and if I felt like pushing, well PUSH! I remember hearing my water break and thinking holy shit!  I’m really gonna have a baby!!!  There was a frenzy of laughter, friends showing up barely in time, photographer clicking away taking beautiful pictures, my husband Facebooking (WTF!) and me begging baby to please “help me help you!”  I remember feeling her head come out and Deb yelling for me to stop pushing.  Z had a compound presentation and Deb wanted to catch her elbow when it popped out.  I remember feeling scared, terrified but just wanting her out of me so I can know that she’s ok and it’s over.  So I pushed hard with the next contraction and she shot out like a rocket across the tub!!!  I remember thinking “I DID IT!  HOLY CRAP I JUST SHOT A BABY OUT OF MY VAGINA!”  And there was a little confusion as to whether she was a boy or girl, because her lady parts were so swollen.  But once we confirmed it was a girl, complete joy and happiness just over took the room.  Everyone was smiling, crying, popping champagne, cracking beers and ordering me a cheeseburger!  It was truly an amazing day and a beautiful experience!”

“I’m not sure if Z’s birth, per say, has changed me. I think Kiran’s birth turned me into someone that I couldn’t identify with.  Listen, my Mom walked out on me and my Dad when I was two.  My dad married a women who didn’t want kids and they both kicked me out at 17. I’ve been in abusive relationships, dabbled in drugs and alcohol, been to jail for a hot minute….and I have lived through it all.  I’ve never been a weak person.  I’m not afraid of anything.  I’m a survivor.  But something about Kiran’s birth just turned me into someone I was never able to identify with…I was lost…confused.  And I’ve spent four years rediscovering that fighter in me.  That survivor that’s always been there.  I think if anything Z’s birth has been like putting on an old comfortable pair of your favorite shoes.  I’m back where I’m supposed to be.  I’m me again.  Full circle Mama.  Full fucking circle.”

~~~~~

Even though I know women are strong, even though I see the strength in women and in birth, I am still blown away by the bravery and courage and determination of women. Thank you, Dallas, for being your brave, raw, bad ass self! I am forever grateful that you have shared this piece of yourself with me and are allowing me to share it with others. My blessing for you is that you remain in your rediscovered skin, knowing your power and abilities, and continue to provide encouragement and support to the women around you. Much love.

Meeting Ina May Gaskin, The Backstage Pass

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Meeting Ina May Gaskin, the sign and run!

“It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” ~ Wendell Berry

So last weekend, I met Ina May Gaskin. I’ve met celebrities in my past. Musicians, athletes, television personalities, authors, you get the picture. I even partied with Vince Neil and Don Dokken in the same weekend. Anyone who knew me in the 80’s knows that is a BIG deal! I’m generally uninterested and not really so impressed.

 As I stood there in line, clenching my newly purchased copy of Birth Matters, tightly to my chest, in the company of other giddy Ina May groupies, my heart raced. I never thought I would meet her. This is Ina Fucking May people. My time grew closer and closer. And my palms sweatier and sweatier. What would I say!? Would I thank her for all of her work in the advancement of midwifery or for helping so many mamas and babies? Would I share a quick glimpse into how touching that very first Ina May book changed my life, as it has the lives of so many other women?

Nope. Nope, I sure wouldn’t. Loose lips, loose bottom surely had no place in this encounter. Shoulders high, jaw tensed and bottom clenched, I said, “hi” and shoved my book at her, looked at my friends waiting with 3 cameras and multiple iPhones snapping away desperate to get a perfect shot, snatched my book back and I vanished. I am not even sure I said thank you for the autograph!

Not my shining moment in birthwork that’s for sure.

With my dream of someday visiting the Farm, and my delusions of grandeur that my family will want to vacation there over Disney, I am certain our paths will cross again. Here’s to hoping I can speak more than one word, maybe even eye contact and maybe, just maybe some expression of my genuine heartfelt gratitude for her work and dedication.