Yes we did.

I am so happy to see the new day dawn.

So what if Obama were a Muslim or an Arab?

Thank you, Campbell Brown. Every time the comment "Oh, he's an Arab" gets thrown out I think, "Well, no, but so what if he were?" These people are saying that MY KIDS aren't American enough. After all, they've "got some Muslim" in 'em. Their paternal grandfather was born in Iraq and raised Muslim. Of course their maternal grandfather proudly served as a United States Marine -- but I guess that doesn't really matter, for some reason!!!

Here's a link to the article that more elegantly states my point :)

OK, OK!!! I made a decision!

Phew, this was tough. Weren't they all great?! Isn't it sort of interesting to look at birth with such a relentlessly editorial eye? I think that one of the things that really stuck out to me was that nearly across the board, no matter how difficult/painful/scary the writer felt the birth was, one of the six words was something like, "beautiful," "miracle," "amazing," "blessing," "proud." And that's really what it's about, I guess. A birth can go so many different ways and what I love is when moms and dads (yah, dads, I didn't see any submissions from YOU guys!!!) remember the birth of their child as a beautiful event.

So without further ado, let me announce the "winner!"

Although, seriously, I don't think that's the right word because you're all so great, and I mean that.

See, now I can understand what gets into Joe Biden sometimes. You know how he just can talk and talk and go into all these great, touching, funny, anecdotes about the great people he's had the fortune to have touch his life? Like, when he was introduced by Dan Rooney today in Greensburg? Seriously, I just love this guy.

OK, I'll be good.

Now, without further further ado:

Jessica KTS said...

Saw her head in mirror forever!

I just loved that! Just a moment in time frozen forever. And having pushed myself for a total of 6 1/2 hours between Chim and Badger, I feel your pain, dude. Congratulations!!!

Now, like I said, I had a hell of a time picking and I gave this a lot of thought and made many lists. I loved the progression in birth stories in Kris's response:
#1-excited, naive, painful, pitocin, failure, cesarean.

#2-scared, another surgery, tears, another boy.

#3-determined, communication, surgery, support, fearless, girl:)

... the personal story that Julie emailed me and explained a little about the "serendipity" part:
Induction, assumptions, urgency, support, relief, serendipity.

... the bravery of Kristi and so many others as she illustrates in her telling of the cesarean birth of her daughter:
induction, overzealous, scarring, disappointing, beautiful, painful

... Christine's joyous alliteration:






... and the lovely, gentle birth described by Maria (the description of, if she's who I think she is, is completely accurate!):
loving, peaceful, natural, PUSHING, beautiful BOY!

Oh, I could go on. But I've done enough of that already. And you guys know me, I do go on. Thank you everyone for participating! I hope you had as much fun as I did! I really hope I can do this again. PW inspires me with her contests, what can I say?

Contest Time! Beautiful BIRTH BEADS!

This is a contest for all the moms and childbirth professionals!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Write about your birth or a birth you've attended, or if you've not yet had the big birth day yet, your hopes for birth, in six words. This is borrowed from doulicia -- by way of my doula board! To play fair's fair, here are my births, in six words.
#1: watched pot, surgical, plenty of blame.
#2: textbook, instinctual, midwife, supported, strong, healing.

So leave a comment with your six words. Don't get caught up about being all poetical, I'm much more interested in your true recollections, or hopes. Please also pass the word along! I don't know how I'll pick a winner but whether it's deciding which speaks to most, or loving each of them so much that I have to employ that thing that Pioneer Woman uses, it'll be fair. Unless I decide to keep the prize myself, because just take a look:

These are Birth Beads and this bracelet is made by a doula who works with Heart & Hands. Aren't they beautiful!? And there is a lovely story behind the beads, as seen below. Don't you love the tiny feet and little picture frame? What a nice keepsake for a new mom, a special client, or heck, even yourself! If you love this bracelet as much as I do, why don't you give Ellen an email (egcc93 at hotmail dot com) and find out about guaranteeing you can have a bracelet of your own?

Pink- Between the mother …
A spark! Anew life has begun
Blue- And the father
In just three weeks,
The heart begins to beat
Two more months,
This is the exact size and shape of baby’s feet
Another month
Time to find out the sex? Or be surprised? Pink, blue, purple
After another month or so
Movements of the baby can be felt
You and the baby are growing
Soon will come Labor! Unpredictable, Beautiful
Moment in time
All leading to meeting your new child


I'll accept submissions until, say, 10pm EST on Wednesday September 24, and announce the winner Thursday September 25 (births and other life permitting!).

Good luck!

Third Baby in China Dies from Tainted Formula

A third baby has died after drinking tainted formula and more than 6,000 children have been made ill, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

China's largest producer of milk, Mengniu Dairy Group, announced the recall of three batches of formula made in January after tests showed they were contaminated.

More than 6,200 babies have been sickened by milk powder now found to be tainted with the chemical melamine, said Li Changjiang, China's director of quarantine and inspection, up from about 1,200 on Tuesday.

More than 1,300 infants are hospitalized. The illnesses include malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.

This is yet another reason why I think that formula should be more closely regulated. China is not alone in having to recall formula -- it's been done in the United States 22 times from between 1982 and 1994 alone. With a manufactured product, there is a risk of contaminating the sole food supply for astonishing numbers of young babies.

We are fortunate to live in a time when babies who cannot receive human breastmilk for whatever reason are not left to starve. We are fortunate to live in a time when a cesarean birth can save the life of mom and baby alike. We are NOT fortunate to see these options overused and abused.

The True Face of Birth: Help Dr. Newman's breastfeeding clinic

The True Face of Birth: Help Dr. Newman's breastfeeding clinic

Over at The True Face of Birth, Rixa (who is expecting, whoo!!!) reports that the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute of Toronto is facing a funding crisis! Please do help out if you can!

The Midwife Center Sponsors Screening of “The Business of Being Born” on Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Midwife Center Sponsors Screening of “The Business of Being Born” on Saturday, October 4, 2008

Clients and friends of The Midwife Center understand its value first-hand and know how lucky we are to have access to an independent midwife practice. Now that the United States has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world as more and more medical interventions during birth become commonplace, the Center is even more precious. Ricki Lake’s response to this crisis in birth was to produce a documentary film about birth titled The Business of Being Born.

From the producers:
Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big business.
Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have babies.
The film interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system. When director Epstein discovers she is pregnant during the making of the film, the journey becomes even more personal.
Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potentially catastrophic medical emergency?

If you haven’t seen the film, you don’t want to miss it. Even if you have seen the film, please consider joining us for this special screening event and inviting that friend you’ve been meaning to tell about the center. More women need to see that there is another way – this film will make it crystal clear.

Screening of The Business of Being Born
Waterworks Cinema, Aspinwall
Saturday, October 4, 2008
9:30am - Bagels and coffee reception
10:00am – Welcome and movie screening, followed by a panel of local physicians and certified nurse-midwives to answer questions from the audience.

Tickets are available at The Midwife Center or at the door for $10.00 each or 2 tickets for $15. A kid’s movie will be shown at the same time, supervised by volunteers, for $6 per child (ages 6 and up recommended). Please call 412-321-6884 or email for more information and to RSVP for your child(ren).

Welcome Baby Boy C!

Some wonderful friends of mine (my college sweetie and his wife, actually) welcomed their son this morning. These petite parents grow 'em big, as Baby C. was 9 lb 9 oz (if I recall, his big sis M. also tipped the scales at nearly 10 lb).

Congrats guys -- what a lucky boy to be born into such a lovely, loving family!!!

Contest coming up! Watch this space!

Keep checking back here for an upcoming contest! The prize will be very beautiful and appropriate for giving or keeping!

Dr. Phil Homebirth Show

I got this request today. If you'd like to share your homebirth story, here's a chance to do so!

If you have not already seen this, Dr. Phil is doing a show on the horrors stories of home birth!! He wants you to submit your bad stories so he can do a show on it. Please flood his site with your positive stories so that he can know that the correct story would be to do a show on the joys of home birth!! I just sent in mine. If you haven't had a home birth but have attended one or know someone who has, write about theirs!

Congrats to my friend C!

My "internet" friend C and her family just welcomed a beautiful little girl -- I can't wait to hear about this homebirth! It was attended by a midwife and apprentice as well as her friend A., who is an awesome photographer as well as a first-time doula :)

Congratulations to all on the new addition!

Opening of the new Obama office!

Last night Badger and I attended the opening of the new Obama office in East Liberty. It was very crowded, which is a good thing... unless you have a spooked 22-month-old strapped to your body. I thank my lucky stars that I had my sling with me though; otherwise we would have had to turn right around. We bumped into my midwife there and he couldn't believe how big "the baby" had gotten!

Anyway, it was a fun time, very exciting, and I wish I'd have brought my camera!

My kids, with the waking and the not sleeping.

Last night, Badger decided that 4am is wake up time. Night before last, it was Chim who was up every few hours with a tummy-ache. It's as if they got a memo from the Kid Patrol that I finally got health insurance (yay!), and this week concludes my 3rd cycle after the miscarriage, and those were the milestones I was waiting for before I start thinking about whether we will try again for another kiddo. I have a feeling their vote is "no."

Pregnant Bellies Give Birth to Art Form

How beautiful are these belly casts? What amazing talent these artists have, and what a gorgeous keepsake of pregnancy!!!

Delivery Method Affects Brain Response to Baby’s Cry

I thought this article was so interesting:
Delivery Method Affects Brain Response to Baby’s Cry

I know that from my personal experience, I felt very detached in my mothering with my first child, who was born via c-section, when she would cry. With my second child, who was born via vbac, I couldn't tolerate hearing him cry. I would act immediately (well, most the time). I have chalked this up to the toll the difficult labor and recovery with the c-section, that it just took a lot out of me, emotionally and physically; whereas with my second, I felt victorious and energized, and I had energy to spend mothering my child.

This study is very small but I find it professionally interesting and personally gratifying to read scientific evidence for this phenomenon!

Our sad garden

Well, the garden didn't turn out too well. It was fun to watch everything grow but not too much fun to watch everything stop growing. This was our first year so we decided from the outset that it would be just a learning year for us.

Check out the best of the carrots. Cry with me.

I can point to several factors in the garden's not doing very well, and how we hope to counteract them next year:

  1. The soil was not tilled far enough down. When I see the stunted pathetic carrots, I can really imagine that they just didn't have anywhere to go. Next year we'll look into hiring someone to do it for us (I can't imagine it would cost much more than renting it ourselves and the subsequent ER costs and foot reattachment surgery).
  2. Chipmunks. Little rodents -- good thing they're so cute. Next year we plant to plant a marigold and lavender border.
  3. Powdery mildew. It got our zucchinis and cantaloupes and I think it got our watermelon too. Next year we will spray with a milk solution that should help.
  4. Planting too much, too close, all at the same time, and late in the season. Next year, we'll use our experience from this year!
  5. The miscarriage happened the weekend after I planted the garden. I don't know what I plan to do to not have that happen again, but it sure did put a damper on my enthusiasm and ability to do anything this summer.
Now, we did have some success. I had a nice crop of cherry tomatoes in a big pot on our front porch -- we probably got close to 60. We still have about a dozen green tomatoes and we're just hoping the plant can hold out long enough to ripen them up. Another case of overcrowding but I think it was a success nonetheless. I also did better-than-expected on my herb pots as well, since I usually kill anything off by the time it sprouts. We have had lots of fresh basil, thyme, and mint. Cilantro and dill didn't do very well -- I think they got too much sun.

Tell me -- how did your gardens grow this summer?

So, doulas... any Labor Day babies?

Come on, doulas -- any Labor Day babies born on your watch? I haven't been to a birth in 3 weeks and I'm getting antsy... and none on the horizon either! Frustrating!

I will be visiting my most recently delivered client tomorrow and I'm excited about that -- it's always nice to see how a new family is settling in and getting to know each other.

Jon Delano's Streaming RNC Webcast Chat

Here it is, my 15 minutes of fame.
Jon Delano's Streaming RNC Webcast Chat

I don't think I embarrassed myself too badly! There's one question at the very end when he asked about undecided voters I blanked and just started babbling. Of course I know undecided voters, Heather on the panel is one of them, and I know many more -- nice one, Karen!!!

But as I said, it sure was fun! As I mentioned earlier I felt a little out of my depths -- after all, the other guy blogs about politics and I blog about breastfeeding, vbacs, and if you're lucky, a three-year-old's temper tantrums.

OH, if you notice that I refer to Sarah Palin's children as "humans" -- that is totally my daughter's influence. She calls people "humans."

"Mama, look at that human! She has a pretty dress!"
"Shush, Chim, you don't want to blow our cover before the Mother Ship returns."

Karen "the Liberal" Pittsburgh Doula :)

OK, I just had a ton of fun. I was asked to be part of a live streaming chat on with John Delano (who was super nice) regarding Sarah Palin and motherhood and all that good stuff. Now, I don't talk about politics very much here but I'm pretty liberal, politically speaking so I was "the liberal". My vote is definitely for the Obama/Biden ticket this fall.

I will post the link when it's live -- unless I look like a total doofus, in which case I won't :) I'm really a hobbyist when it comes to politics (although I like to think I put a lot of thought into the issues) and I don't know as much as "the conservative" about the political apparatus, so to speak. He sure did know his talking points though and managed to sneak in a "Hussein" and call the two women on the panel sexist a few times.

I will keep you posted! It really was super fun -- I love talking about politics and it's usually so taboo that I am not able to do so. I've never done anything like that before and I really appreciated the opportunity (thanks Heather from Pittsburgh Mom, if you're reading!).

The 7 Secrets of Being A Homebirth Dad

This was forwarded to my doula group. Not sure where it originated but I thought it was interesting! I honestly don't know if or when I will attend another homebirth, from sheer lack of opportunity.

The 7 Secrets of Being A Home birth Dad

All Dads to be are nervous or at least skeptical when their wife/partner
first mentions the idea of having a home birth. This is nothing to be
ashamed of – us guys are conditioned by a life times constant bombardment
that Doctors know best and that it is our patriarchy duty to always make
safe choices. That's why when my wife Bel first brought up the idea for the
birth of our second Daughter my first train of thought was about risk.
Images of John Hurt's chest cracking open and a tiny, evil alien being
screeching it's bloody arrival to the universe ran through my mind. I looked
up at the walls of our apartment and wondered whether an arterial spray of
blood could ever be washed out of that particular shade of off white. Ten
minutes googling dissolved my misconception that home birth is reckless
(with Bel peering over my shoulder and directing me to websites she'd
already read).

In a nutshell, there are studies for and against, but if you listen to your
own common sense you will probably agree it's just as safe, if not safer.
You can Google all that stuff yourself, what I want to really want to talk
about is the second train of though that ran through my head – why?

Why have a home birth? My wife had her reasons and she laid them out for me.
Bel had a horrible experience in hospital with our first daughter and that
was a big part of it. As Bel explained it to me Nodded and said 'umm' a lot
and was happy to go along with it because I knew it was what she wanted. But
I never had reasons of my own –from my selfish perspective as a Dad – until
I had experienced it for myself.

These reasons are the 7 secrets I want to share with you guys now.

1. In a home birth you are no longer relegated to the bench.
Before the birth itself there is more to think about in a planning and
logistics sort of way, ranging from buying equipment to manly jobs like
making sure the birth pool hose actually attaches to your taps. On game day
you are not just a big hairy thing whose only use is to be squeezed
viciously or swore at. You are in charge of the birth pool, maybe even
catching the baby (I'm doing that next time). And, aside from the mother,
who will be a little preoccupied, you are the only person in the building
who knows where all the towels are. If you have ever read The Hitchhikers
Guide, you'll know how vital that is.

2. You'll lose less hair and gain less wrinkles.
Having a baby is always frightening on some level, if you're not scared out
your wits you must be medicated or dead inside. With a homebirth though
there are less things that stress you out and feed the ugly fear monster
within. Think of it: No traffic. No worry of getting lost. No worry of the
car not starting. No worry that you've forgotten something. No pacing
corridors. No worry about what's happening. No corridors to pace. No smug
doctors. You'll still be worried, but it won't consume you. Besides – in a
home birth, you have too many jobs to do to have time to let your fear
monster run free.

3. Home is where the heart is.
Not to mention Cd's, DVDs, the PlayStation... All your comforts. Your music,
your TV, your favourite mug, your fridge, your magazines, your books even
your beer I guess. You'll be more relaxed, the mum will be more relaxed and
the baby will be more relaxed too when he/she pops out. I'll be honest,
despite the stimulus of worry and excitement, births are pretty boring.
Maybe I have a short attention span, but it's not, you know, entertainment.
And we all know they can go on a bit. With a home birth you will be a
thousand times less bored as you can take a break and read a magazine or
flip on the idiot box for a bit. Hell, it's probably less boring for the
midwifes too.

4. Say goodbye to the little things that kill Me?
I hate hospitals for a million and one small and big reasons. Looking back
now I can't believe I didn't jump for joy when Bel mentioned having a home
birth simply because I wouldn't have to go to one. My main problem with
hospitals is this - the idea of being surrounded by sick people sounds like
a bad strategy if you want to stay healthy. Plus there are hundred small
things: it smells bad, the foods nasty, it's demeaning to find you way by
following coloured lines on the floor and most importantly, when your
newborn arrives he/she won't be woken up by someone else's screaming child.
Hospitals suck, home rules!

5. You don't have to live the delivery room cliché of the hapless and
scorned father.
You know the one - where the woman in labor hates her husband and screams
blue murder into his face, punches him etc. Either that or she is so
medicated and spaced out she doesn't even know what a father islet alone who
you are. With a home birth her labor is undisturbed. She does not have to be
picked up halfway through and rushed to the hospital. I cannot state enough
how much a difference this makes.

6. You are He-man of the home, you have the power!
That's right. It's not the power of gray skull though, it's the power of
being the master of your environment. It's a subtle difference, but one you
will notice. Your home is your place. You pay for it. The-midwives and
guests are the fish out of water. If they want something, they ask you.
There's a funny thing about evolution, it has created the subconscious trait
that whoever gives out the food is the dominant player in any situation.
That's why in a home birth you will find it feels a lot more natural to ask
more questions about what's going on, to make sure that the birth plan is
stuck to and to generally be more involved and have more say over the whole

7. You won't have your surprised, fragile heart ripped out.
If you only remember one of these secrets, make sure it's this one. At the
end of a home birth, the midwifes leave. Not you. This is the way it should
be. In a hospital, you will be torn away from you newborn child and your
exhausted wife at the very peak of your emotional vulnerability. Let me
paint the picture for you real quick: two weeks before my eldest daughter
was born my Dad had died, we were not financially safe and I didn't have a
job. In short, it was tough. But being the alpha male I am, I wasn't showing
it and being the rock solid guy I like to think I am. But the instant I saw
my new daughters face I discovered a vein of happiness and a depth of
feeling that washed away my ego and my fears and even helped me come to
terms with my Dad's recent death and made me, a mainly scientific sort of
thinker, to almost see a thread of symmetry within life.

If that's all a bit too Lion King for you I apologize, my main point is this
–at that point the most unnatural thing in the world for me to do was leave
my daughter, drive home and lay on my couch for eight hours and wait for the
sun to rise. To make me do that, is probably the cruelest thing that has
ever been done to me. In retrospect I wish I had stayed and made them try
and have me arrested to make me leave. I have forever lost that first night
with my first born.

These are my reasons why home birth was better for me. I've called them
secrets, because these things are not common knowledge and are not talked
about all that much even within the world of home birth programs and message
groups etc. It's not all good – you will have to clean up afterwards. That's
not any one's idea of fun. But hey, that's a small price to pay in my
opinion.After experiencing both hospital and home birth my wife and I
wouldn't even consider going to a hospital again unless there was a very
compelling medical reason why we should do so. That's compelling, by our
standards of reason and common sense. Not what any medical profession says.
It's a no-brainer for us. As a Dad there is really no comparison to be made.

You are a key part of a home birth. The mother needs you and is relying on
you. In a way it's a shame when it's all over because you revert back to
being a useless man again before the midwifes left over tea goes cold.

Ven Batista

The Picture on this blog

In case you wondered, that is me and my baby Badger when he was about 10 weeks old, taken by my friend Matt. I have always loved that picture and it captures the first few months of Badger's life so perfectly. And, he is wearing my favorite outfit -- and of course the one he always had a blowout diaper in right after he got it on!

Welcome to the world, Baby T!

What a lovely birth today at The Midwife Center! Mom listened to her body superbly, met each contraction as it came with wonderful vocalization, and let everything go when the contraction was finished.

I think this was actually the first birth I attended in which the mom pushed physiologically the entire time, with nothing but quiet encouragement and positive feedback from the birth team.

So Welcome to the World Baby T -- I think you will like it here. You're in good hands with Mom C and Dad D!

Putting an end to the chapter.

So today I paid my midwife for the balance of my care from the miscarriage (and not for nothing, "spontaneous abortion, uncomplicated" sounds a lot less miserable than it really was.) and actually put my maternity clothes back into storage and out of sight. I've finished up two cycles since the miscarriage and now that my body's resuming its rhythm, such as it is, I have more confidence that my body did what it needed to do to protect itself and remain in good working order.

I still can't decide what's next -- whether Chim and Badger are going to be our two only kids (and they are plenty, believe me) or whether there's another little oddball somewhere in the ether who will make his or her home with our family.

The questions that I asked myself before the miscarriage was, can I take another difficult birth like Chim's, or a difficult sleeping situation like Badger's? The answer clearly was, "Suuuuure, I guess so!" The question I now ask myself is, can I get through another miscarriage? I still don't know the answer to that one as I feel I've barely made it through this one. I really don't know if I can do this again.


I'm so excited, I just got the call. Certified! I'm thrilled and relieved. And I am NOT cooking tonight, we are going OUT! I will be sure that my client, due 8/20, knows that she is getting a bargain because I was hired at the "trained" rate instead of the "certified" rate :)

World Breastfeeding Week

In order to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, I'd like to point you in the direction of Pioneer Woman's photographs of her cutie nephew Elliot:

Betsy and Baby. And Breast. (Did I Just Type That?)

What beautiful images and, yes, I can tell he is very smart. And breastfeeding stands to boost his IQ as well! Dang, is there anything that stuff CAN'T do!?

DONA certification application!

I just got back from a breastfeeding class at West Penn, taught by Bob Monteverde, IBCLC. And you all know what THAT means. Oh wait, you don't? Well. That means that my DONA certification application is COMPLETE. I am making copies of everything and mailing that sucker tomorrow morning. Only took, what, a year and a half? Badger was 3 months at my doula training, and he's now 21 months. So yeah. A long time! Please keep your fingers crossed my application is accepted!

Welcome Baby M!

A lovely, hard-earned birth yesterday. We were in one of the two new LDRs at Magee. I have to say, the inclusion of the poorly-executed jacuzzi tubs was a nice thought, but not anything to write home about.

Three-hour second stage -- dang, that's so exhausting and frustrating for mamas! The very-patient midwife (seriously, she was 100% positive and reassuring and encouraging) said that one of many things she would change about childbirth education curricula is to emphasize that especially with first-time vaginal births, a 2, 3, or 4 hour second stage is not out of the range of normal.

Congrats to E. and D. on their lovely, beautiful daughter... with one beautiful name for each our of pushing!

Goodbye to Randy Pausch

An Enduring Legacy

Very sad today to learn that Randy Pausch has passed away. Since his Last Lecture, I'm sure we've all thought about how we live our best days. I have found myself frequently thinking of both him and my friend Becky, passed away all too soon last fall, when I feel so heavy with the weight of things they would love to be burdened with -- potty training trials, temper tantrums in the grocery store, and other every-day challenges.

I thank him and his family for sharing part of their time together. I am a better wife, mother, friend for it. I hope they can feel the love and good thoughts of so many millions surrounding them during this difficult time.

Karen Sharif, International Doula

Welcome to the world Baby Girl J., born on the other side of the world! Our good friends K. and M. welcomed their daughter early this morning, our time. I know they're 12 hours different but I don't know if it's before or after... how sad is that!? I feel really flattered that M. and K. thought to call and get advise about when to go to the hospital, interventions, etc. It was a long, hard labor for K. and she did a great job. Unfortunately after pushing for a while, they had to go to a cesarean birth. Glad to report that Mom and Baby are doing well! I cannot wait to see pictures, I hear she is just beautiful... clearly favoring her mother ;)

Congratulations guys, and I just wish I could've been there in person!

(for those playing at home, this makes 2 members of our wedding party in 2 weeks to have baby girls. M-A, Kareem, Tim, and Alex, you guys are next on the list!)

Welcome Baby M!

Not a client, but my dear, dear friend had her beautiful little girl! This is one lucky baby with really terrific parents!

Congratulations J & T!!!

Guess whose hard drive got fried?


Stop what you are doing and back up your work. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

Fortunately I am back with a new hard drive and hope to start blogging again soon.

Goodbye June!

And good riddance! June was not my favorite month of my life and I'm very happy to see July here. I'm feeling better these days.

I am happy to have two clients due in August! I'm excited to get back to work although I will appreciate the time off (well, I'll be busy with prenatals!) this July in the meantime.

AMA's statement on homebirth

Well -- I'm behind the wave on this because it happened this week, and if you think my blog looks like crap, you should see my living room.

I don't really have a lot to add to the much more coherent voices on other blogs. Anyone who knows me or this blog wouldn't be surprised to know I'm against legislating against homebirth.

I would, though, like to welcome the AMA to Netflix. Seriously, dude -- when did BOBB come out?

Our garden is growing

Nature's doing something productive this week! It's been a week and 2 days since I planted our seeds and our zucchini plants are FOUR INCHES TALL! Our watermelon is the next biggest (it's cute too because the shells of the seeds are still on the leaves), and the cantaloupe, scallions, Swiss chard, peas, carrots are all growing. On our porch, the tomato plants are small but growing, and the herbs are growing well, especially the basil. Not sure what the peppers, broccoli, and big onions are going to do but it sure is fun watching and waiting.

A sad day for me

An ultrasound today confirmed what I'd been figuring was the case since Friday of last week -- I'm having a miscarriage. This is a blow that we'll overcome. Just wish we wouldn't have to. I was really looking forward to this. I'm so grateful for my husband and my kids and my midwife.

Hooray for California!

Wedding Bells Chime for California Same Sex Couples

My feelings actually are, every "marriage" in the US should be reclassified as a civil union between consenting adults, regardless of sex. Then, if they care to sanctify their union, it's up to their individual house of worship. One of the main reasons we made the decision to be married by a Unitarian Universalist minister is that we supported UU's stance on gay marriage -- even though as a heterosexual couple we're not in the market for that, we're proud to be affiliated with a community that has this stance.

Terrific Birth!

What a wonderful birth. AROM first thing in the morning and the amazing mama took it from there! No further interventions and this wonderful family welcomed their fourth child, Baby Boy N., around 2pm. I had a great time too. The last few births I have attended have had a lot of interventions and as a doula as well as an expectant mom, this was very gratifying to see a birth go so perfectly. And, the dad was wonderful as well. I (half-) joked that he can be my doula next time :)

Planted our garden today, and a busy day tomorrow!

I'm not really a gardener. But we have this horrible yard that isn't ever going to grow grass, so we turned it over and I planted vegetables on the sunny side and wildflowers from a can on the shady side. I know it's a little late in the season but... well, we've had a busy spring. I planted watermelon, cantaloupe, 2 kinds of onions, broccoli, 3 kinds of peppers, Swiss chard, zucchini, carrots, and peas. Oh, and in containers on my front porch I have leaf lettuce, basil, mint, coriander, thyme, and tomatoes (the tomato plant is about 2" big so we will see if anything comes of it).

Bon appetit, deer!

And my June client is going to be induced tomorrow so I will have a busy day. She's a great woman and it'll be a pleasure to work with her and her husband -- they make a great pair.

AND, on Saturday I will be observing (and assisting) in a childbirth class... thus fulfilling all my requirements for DONA certification except the essays! Hopefully I can get it all sent out next week! I feel like I started so long ago... Badger was just 3 months old when I attended my training.

Speaking of whom... we think he said a WORD. We think he is saying baa-baa for BALL. He is also signing "more." I guess it's like when you take your car to the mechanic because it's making a funny noise and then it stops... before we are even scheduled for his first speech therapy session, he makes a few nice steps :) I'm certainly not complaining.

After Caesareans, Some See Higher Insurance Cost

After Caesareans, Some See Higher Insurance Cost

File this under annoying, outrageous, sexist, condescending, disempowering and friggin' predictable.

As a self-employed family with no health insurance for us grown-ups, we know what a boon it was when we had "real jobs" and group coverage. Fortunately, our BCBS doesn't YET impose these insane restrictions on women . YET. However, not for nothing, they can't sell me insurance that will cover this pregnancy because, well, I'll USE IT.

So you tell me, where do we begin to fix this mess?

Another Busy Week!

Happy 39th week to my client T! She'll be welcoming her little one shortly and I'm excited to be there. Her previous doula apparently had some mad Rebozo skills so I'm brushing up on mine... with my home-made Rebozo, which frankly is not great.

I'll be attending the Pittsburgh VBAC support group at the Midwife Center on Wednesday June 11 at 7pm, to discuss VBAC in general and how a doula can be particularly helpful when VBACing.

In family news, Chim is impressing us with her imagination and memory. She has named a toy with the first "real" name she's ever given one. Up until now, all her dolls and toys were named things like Frizza or Ooopalah, or Monkey or Puppy. Until she met a dragon named Greenie Pickles :) She's going on a field trip tomorrow and we hope she does well. It's hit or miss with her these days!

Badger is having his formal evaluation tomorrow with a speech therapist and developmental specialist. We're really looking forward to learning the results. He is getting much better about being read to and about finding non-verbal ways to communicate, and in an unrelated story, can blow bubbles... pretty well, actually!

And The Tiebreaker is still hangin' in there! I forget I'm pregnant from time to time. And I'm delighted about that! At this point with Badger, we were preparing for the worst since it really didn't look great from weeks 4-12!

On a final note... LET'S GO PENS! They're really hanging in there against the awesome Red Wings. But please, no more triple overtimes. This old lady is TIRED.

Breastfeeding while Pregnant

Crunchy Domestic Goddess as a recent post onBreastfeeding While Pregnant. I found this really interesting and relevant, not only because my current client just weaned her youngest child during this pregnancy...

... but additionally ...

I'm currently breastfeeding while pregnant :) We're expecting in early-mid January 2009! Had my first midwife appointment this past Monday and everything is as it should be. Looking forward to an absolutely boring pregnancy! I'll be making an "official" announcement at my doula service's picnic next month but I couldn't wait. So if any H&H doulas are reading... please act surprised, lol!

It's not that I have nothing to say...

The past month or so has really taken it out of me! I haven't been able to string together 2 thoughts, doula-ish or otherwise. I do want to say a belated Happy Mother's Day to all those who mother and mother-the-mother, and who have from time to time, mothered yours truly.

We had a great visit in Nevada with the inlaws. I wish they didn't live so dang far away. My husband and I even got to go on THREE dates -- two movies and one overnight at the casinos. I totally dominated the penny slots. The kids had an amazing time. Really fun! So that was 2 weeks.

After we got back, Badger's 18 month well child checkup came along. Everything's great except for the lack of speech, so I've been on the phone during waking hours arranging visits with Early Intervention. We had his initial intake visit on Friday and it feels good to get the ball rolling. I have a feeling that once we know how to approach whatever is causing the delay, things will fall into place quickly.

Chim is extremely 3 years old. She is at one moment such a sweet young girl who loves us and the next moment an absolute demon sent from hell to destroy me. Regardless of her attitude, she sure does look cute while she's making me insane.

I have a client due in early June, and we're having our final prenatal meeting(s) on Tuesday. She suggested combining the prenatal visit with her care provider and our final meeting, since the price of gas is $3.79 a gallon (YIKES). She's really a lovely woman and I'm looking forward to working with her!

My husband may take a well-deserved fishing trip during my on-call time so hopefully my parents can come for a visit. Which will mean lots of cleaning on my part.

And that is nearly all our news. Hopefully the second half of May will find me posting much more.

Badger is 18 months old (and 2 days)

We're visiting the inlaws so time has become a bit crunched. On Badger's half-birthday, on the 27th, we took a cruise on Lake Tahoe. Just beautiful!

Anyway, my Badger Boy...

He's getting VERY independent and is determined to do anything by himself that he thinks he can -- and to his credit, his judgment is pretty solid there. He can climb like a monkey and scream like a banshee. However, still no words but uh-oh and vroom, and we're looking forward to the next step in getting him evaluated for a delay. I'm looking forward to hearing him say Mama!

He still LOVES cars and trains, as well as the princess toys his sister is always playing with. They're buddies, those two. They're playing especially well together this week while we're visiting their grandparents. He did very well on his first night without Mom and Dad, when we went down to one of the casinos for an overnight. He's such an affectionate little guy and he can really give some great cuddles and hugs.

Chim is 3 1/2 years old!

Three and a half years ago Chim came into this world. I remember the weekend before very clearly but by the time she was delivered, I'd had it and I don't remember as clearly as I want to about the rest of the day. Was I happier then than I think I was? Was it nice outside? What did I do all that day after she was born at 7:12am? I remember holding her on the way from the OR to the LDR, and I think from the LDR to the postpartum room.... and it's definitely fuzzy after that.

Now, every day is VIVID. I can't imagine forgetting any detail of this big, grown-up, lovely, lively girl. Not her sweetness, not her imagination, not her sassyness, not her smile. Not the way she chews her tongue when she's thinking hard. Not the way she is determined to do everything "all by myself" except the things she clearly can do all by herself... those things she needs help with.

I know I will probably have to depend on photos and videos to remember in a few years. It's tough for me to remember how she was when she was Badger's age. In videos, she's so perfectly, exactly, herself... but much smaller.

She doesn't get half-birthdays so she thinks I'm just a nice mom today, letting her pick out her own outfit (just terrible: yellow Cabela's t-shirt with a raccoon, peach shorts with flowers, hello kitty socks.) and have ice cream WITH A CHERRY after lunch.

Been slacking!

Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the preschooler who makes her way into our bed at night, maybe it's our upcoming trip to the inlaws but I've been sort of blah on the blog. So here are some updates!

What's been going on with our family...
Not too much with me and the hubby. We're looking forward to our trip to see the inlaws and maybe take an overnight trip without the kids.
We've been working with Badger to get him to start talking and we wonder if he is saying more words than we realize, it's just difficult to understand. We're looking forward to his next well child checkup so we can perhaps move forward in getting him evaluated for a delay. Other than that... he's awesome -- a funny, sweet, curious, nearly year-and-a-half old kiddo!
Chim is doing really well and is obsessed with princesses. Seriously. We got her some princess playsets as a reward for doing so well with her medicine and since then that's all she can talk about or think about.

What's been going on with my doula life...
I'm still hoping to do my first postpartum doula job before we go away but if Mom is doing so well that she doesn't need me, well, that's not the worst thing in the world either!
I have a birth client lined up for early June -- a really nice couple expecting their fourth child!
I was flattered to be invited to the christening of a client's son and I'm happy to report that not only is the family doing very well, the roof of the church did not come crashing down on my head.
Last night I went to the VBAC support group at the Midwife Center. Even though there was only one attendee I am glad that I went.

What I've been thinking about, birth-wise...
I don't know if it's just the line of work I am now in, or the stage of life I'm in, but it seems like I'm hearing about a LOT fewer cesarean births. I feel like when I had Chim, everyone I knew had a cesarean birth as well, but other than my late-March client, I haven't heard of one in maybe a year! Has anyone else felt this way?
Lots of folks are talking about the pregnant man. I find this fascinating on a sociological/personal level but pretty boring on a biological level, which is the angle most people seem fixated on. It's be awesome to be his doula!
A large contingent of Amish descended on Harrisburg to protest the prosecution of midwife Diane Goslin. Somewhere in the mess of my desk I have information about a grass-roots group that is being organized in PA to advocate for homebirth midwifery, and I will share that when I can find it!

And a request for prayers and good thoughts for a local midwife who we learned this week has breast cancer.

Reminder: Midwife Center's "Let Them Eat Cake" event

Midwife Center offers cake tasting and fun

I won't be there because of a prior commitment, so go and eat some cake for me!

Got my first spam on the blog!

What a rite of passage!

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the TV Digital, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

I especially like the hug at the end. A hug, to be precise!

Where lost toys go...

In our house, it seems to be under the stove. Gross. I spent way too much time this morning retrieving toys that were lost. The good news is, the "little girl" doll from Chim's dollhouse that she got for a Christmas present was found as were the rhythm sticks from the music set that need to be returned to the toy library today.

The bad news is that the doll was waaaaaaay in the back. I know that as industrious as my kids are, they couldn't hurl a toy 4 feet back, through an opening of 3". Even the cat couldn't pull that one off. And the fact that the doll was there when we went to my parents' for Christmas, and we couldn't find it when we got back... well, I've got to blame this one on the mice.

So needless to say, all rescued toys have gotten a scalding hot soapy bath!

Risk Calculus of VBAC and ERCS -- on Rixa's blog

The True Face of Birth: Risk Calculus of VBAC and ERCS

This article's findings show that a policy of ERCS comes with a weighty set of costs and risks. VBAC bans force women to assume those risks, rather than allowing each woman to decide for herself whether to have a VBAC or schedule a repeat cesarean. A no-VBAC policy is paternalism at its worst; it takes away women's right to bodily integrity and to informed decision-making.

INA MAY is coming!!!

Guess who is coming to Pittsburgh!?

This past conference was a hard act to follow but I *think* next year might just do it. The featured speaker? None other than... Ina May Gaskin!!!

March 28, 2009 -- save the date!

Family Centered Maternity Conference: Bob Monterverde, IBCLC

Bob Monteverde is a lactation consultant at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. Of course the first question he answered was the first question most people ask -- how did a guy become a LC? He recounted his time as a pediatric nurse in the military and some twists and turns with different patients and doctors that led him on his path.

I took away a great one-liner -- "It's not nipple feeding, it's breast feeding." I know a lot of women have flat or inverted nipples and some use shields, some pump first to draw out the nipple, but Bob's "Bob-ism" really reinforced what I knew already about the mechanics of breast feeding. If the latch is correct, the baby will draw out the nipple. The nipple shouldn't be anywhere near the front of the mouth (except in passing of course!).

(this is the type of blog post where I just cross my fingers that my dad doesn't read my blog today. Hi Dad!)

Another neat trick -- there's supposedly a pressure point on the baby's palm that triggers the suck reflex, and if mom or dad massage it while the baby's latched on it can encourage sucking. I wonder if that's why babies tend to do that hand-clasping motion so much, especially when they're nursing?

For me, this speaker reinforced my view that although childbirth and breast feeding are a woman's domain, when it comes to supporting those women, it matters a lot more what's in a professionals heart than what's in his skivvies.

Family Centered Maternity Conference: Manny Vallejo

The first speaker at the conference on Saturday was Manny Vallejo, the director of OB Anesthesia at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh. I have to say, regardless of whether or not I agreed with everything he said -- I have got to give him serious credit for speaking at the conference. I'm sure many would have seen it as nothing less than walking into the lion's den.

It was extraordinarily informative to see the thought process behind protocols at Magee and to learn that the actual policies the hospital has are not as conservative as many of the orders that doctors impose, as far as nourishment in an uncomplicated, unmedicated labor. A tray of clear food/liquid were fine with him up to 8cm. And who wants a cheeseburger in transition, anyway?

The epidural rate at Magee is 89-91% which elicited a groan from many. He rightly pointed out that the Magee also receives many high-risk women from suburban hospitals who have medical issues that warrant an epidural; but he also pointed out that there are 15 year old laboring girls who are terrified. I wanted to ask, well, how about making sure that mom-to-be has a doula? He did list the variety of analgesia Magee had at its disposal, and at the top of the list were Lamaze, birth ball, doulas, etc., and then gas/air, IV meds, and finally the epidural. He recognizes that other forms of pain relief are appropriate.

He also showed a photograph of a woman in labor, who was on her knees in bed, with her hands against the inclined head of the bed, with two women (nurse?) attending to her. (For those playing along, this is a lot like what my labor with Badger looked like.) I, like many others in the room, saw a woman being guided by her body. He saw a patient in pain, and said something to the effect of, "This is what you don't want to see," and that she probably should've gotten an epidural before this point. There is a difference between pain and suffering, and honestly, perhaps he had more background on who that woman was and how she felt in her labor, but I found it very interesting that he saw suffering where others saw the productive pain of labor.

Oh, and for TOLAC (ahem. not my favorite term.), he thought an epidural should be placed, even if "just in case." Aggravated me on many levels, although I did appreciate that he didn't feel that it needed to be utilized, just the catheter put in place.

All in all, a good speaker and we could've asked him questions all day long. He answered most questions in a fairly transparent way.

Oh, and if you're visiting... say howdy!

Let me know you've come and read the blog! Tell me when you think I'm full of it, or brilliant, or somewhere in between! Or just say hey!

Conference was a success!

I will write more tomorrow, because I'm about to fall asleep, but the speakers (head of OB anesthesiology at Magee Women's Hospital; a male lactation consultant at West Penn Hospital, and an accupuncturist with the UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine, and of course Jan Mallak) were informative, the energy was great, and I think the VBAC panel went well (I really really have a fear of public speaking so I confess it was a blur). It was terrific to put faces to names, meet new friends, and catch up with doulas, midwives, and childbirth educators from all around Pittsburgh and beyond.

Also, check out Heart & Hands Doula Service's new website!

Family Centered Maternity Conference is tomorrow!!!

If you are in the area, come join us tomorrow at Heart and Hands Doula Services Family Centered Maternity Conference. It's at the PPG Chemical Center in Monroeville PA. I am going to be speaking on the VBAC Panel. And MAN am I nervous!

Doctor "believes that women should get an epidural, even before pain starts"

OK, as I have said, hooray for choices in childbirth! But this is just a load of humbug, if you ask me.

Epidurals: Time to stop labouring over 'natural' childbirth

Says Dr Gilbert Grant, director of obstetric anaesthesia at New York University Medical Center:

"...that women should get an epidural, even before pain starts. According to him, much of the information that women receive is incomplete or inaccurate, and that the lucrative “natural childbirth industry” creates fear and guilt about epidurals. He believes that opposition to anaesthesia during childbirth is the result of a deep-seated misogyny: “There is no other situation in medicine in which pain relief is routinely withheld. No man would be asked to undergo an appendectomy, which lasts about 24 minutes, without pain relief, yet the pain of labour, which can last for more than 24 hours, is viewed as something women have to endure.

"Natural childbirth has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The fear of epidurals is promoted by those who discourage their use - and who have a vested interest in doing so."

I guess a few things jump out at me here.

1. The comparison of natural childbirth to surgery to remove something. There's so much in that one sentence that is just mind-boggling. The pain of childbirth does not last 24 hours, in a 24 hour labor. Surely the director of OB anesthesia at NYU Medical Center has heard of a contraction. A contraction does not last 24 hours. They are spaced several minutes apart for the vast expanse of a long labor. It's not constant pain, and the laboring women have time to recover and regroup before the next one. Now, again, surely the good doctor knows mounds more about anesthesia than I do. But isn't one of the purposes behind anesthesia in surgery like an appendectomy, besides the clear benefit of pain control, to keep the patient stationary and not bleeding to death? In the course of a normal labor, which is the apple he compares to the orange of appendectomy, that's not something that's necessary.

2. I'm not saying that there is not an industry around natural childbirth, and I'll believe it's a multi-million dollar industry. But please, do not try to insinuate that it's some avaricious enterprise that's taking advantage of women's fears and charging exorbitant fees. I don't know of anyone who is in this for the money. I sure could be making more money doing almost anything else.

There's also quite a bit further down in the article from Sheila Kitzinger and Michel Odent, which I found balanced this piece.

Shouldn't we stop bickering about whether ALL WOMEN or NO WOMEN should get an epidural? Shouldn't we start thinking about how we can facilitate ALL WOMEN making informed decisions that will leave them with positive, empowered memories of the day they became mothers?

Looking for Babywearing Recommendations...

What was your favorite way to wear your newborn? I never did except for a few brief times I put the babes in the Bjorn (I have to say, I really liked the dummy-proofness of that!) but I'd like to be better versed in a wider variety so I can recommend them to clients.

I love the mei tai but I never ever felt like a small one was secure.

Is a Doula for You?

An article written by none other than the doula who trained me and the founder of Heart and Hands, Jan Mallak!

Is a Doula for You?

Ever wondered who helps you and your husband during labor when the nurse has to attend to another patient’s needs? Or, what happens when it’s a shift change and the new nurse arrives not knowing anything about you or your labor? What if it’s really busy and no one is available to help you to initiate breastfeeding right after the birth? How about who is going to help out when you first arrive at home and probably feel a little overwhelmed about being totally responsible for the baby? The answer to all of those queries is…a doula!

Postpartum Doula... part 3.

Well, looks like I may get to try my hand at postpartum doula work! We're working out the details but it looks positive.

Isn't it fun to see what the universe sends our way?

Penny Simkin article

Great article about Penny Simkin (even if they do misspell her name in the title bar!)

Looking to nature, doula Penny Simpkin practices the art of delivery

Known as the mother of the doula movement, Simkin has trained thousands of these caregivers to provide physical and emotional support for women during birth — the only intervention scientifically shown to decrease time in labor (by 25 percent) as well as to reduce Cesarean-section rates by a third.

"Birth never changes," Simkin says. "But the way we manage it and the way we think of it has. Right now, we're in a culture of fear around birth."

In case you need a laugh

Thanks Megan for finding this!

YouTube: Hahaha

Post Partum Doulas, part 2

My client who had her baby on Thursday expressed an interest in my services as a postpartum doula... but I'm not trained. I am leaning more and more towards taking the training this summer because I feel very sad that this client values the relationship we've developed and I am not trained to continue serving her when she needs it (and recovering from major surgery when you have a 3 day old baby, she very well may need it!).

Ban the Bags

Free Formula Undermines Breastfeeeding

Mothers who take home a formula company gift bag are more likely to stop exclusively breastfeeding their babies by 10 weeks of age, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health .

With my Chim, I did get formula from the hospital and I did use it, although we breastfed for the vast majority of the time after my milk FINALLY came in.

With Badger, I got formula just in the mail and I gave it to a food bank. He never had a drop of formula (and for that matter, the little darling never took breastmilk from a bottle either. I think I dumped 500 ounces. Heartbreaking.).

Dyeing Easter Eggs

We just dyed eggs, Chim and I. Badger was aching to get in on the action but I am just not that good of a mother :) Next year, I promise, I'll try to make natural dyes, but I had gotten these PAAS kits last year on super duper clearance and, well, I'm tired. So very tired.

Now, onto the bath with the kids!

Lunch with "New Doula" today!

I had lunch with New Doula today and she's just a sweetheart. Dining with Chim and Badger, who took turns making mischief of one kind and another, is testimony to how great she'll be at mothering the mother since she swooped in and gave me a hand, knowing just what would be most helpful (short of adopting the both of them on the spot, that is. just kidding. mostly!). She's getting clients aplenty and I'm really impressed!

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl G!

Attended my first Cesarean birth (well, since Chim Chim's birth that is!) tonight. Mom E. had been feeling off all day, was having some contractions, and wasn't confident that she'd been feeling Baby move enough, so went in to be observed. Got a call from Dad S. that E was having a Cesarean section and to please come.

I got there as Dad was waiting to go into ER and filled me in -- baby's heart rate went very high and that was the reason they were given for the Cesarean section. I was able to be in the OR as well. Mom was just in a state of shock but excited to meet her baby. When Baby G was born, it was discovered that she had a quadruple nuchal cord -- that explains a few things! Baby was fine, with great APGARS, and just beautiful! Surgery went well. Mom got a cramp in her shoulder from tension and the "Braveheart" posture that she was in during the birth. So I did lots of rubbing the knot in her shoulder.

Welcome to the world, Baby G, on the first day of spring!

Circumcision and STDs

Circumcised men no less likely to get sex diseases

Circumcision does not appear to shield men from the types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) common in the developed world, according to new research from New Zealand.

I know this is a sensitive topic, circumcision. I know I breathe a sigh of relief when a doula client says they're having a girl because I don't have to talk about circumcision!!! But I think it's hard to talk about because it's important. This is one "check" erased from the "pro" column in the circumcision debate.

Cloth Diapers in Pittsburgh

This article was in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Better for baby? New cloth diapers also kinder on planet, advocates say

The old cloth vs. disposable diaper debate is flaring up again as a new generation of eco-friendly products are starting to toddle into the mainstream.

If I could go back in time 4 years when I was newly pregnant with Chim Chim, I would totally go for cloth. I didn't know cloth diapers were so cute and easy these days. By the time I knew better, I was expecting Badger and I didn't think I could commit to learning a new system while caring for a newborn and a toddler. Again, I should've just done it!

Now, Chim Chim is all but potty trained (her recent adventures in impacted bowels notwithstanding) but Badger probably has another 18 months in diapers, minimum. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we'll have a third child so they may get plenty of use after Badger. Perhaps I should take the plunge now -- what do you think?

The Midwife Center's Let Them Eat Cake

Heart and Hands is donating a belly casting service for silent auction for The Midwife Center's Let Them Eat Cake event.

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, why not attend this fun event, sample some yummy cake, and support this important option for women's health?

And, bid on the belly cast!

3 "R"s -- Rhythm, Ritual, Relaxation

No, not reduce, reuse, recycle, or even readin', ritin', and 'rithmatic (although those sure do come in handy!).

My doula trainer taught me that if a woman in labor has these three "R"s -- rhythm, ritual, and relaxation -- she is most likely coping well with the pain of labor. I have found this to bear true! Most moms in labor that I attend practice various techniques for breathing and relaxation which is really useful for a good part of labor. But almost without fail, she ends up doing something of her own invention, repeating it with every contraction. It's amazing to see, really wonderful. I find that in speaking to the moms after, this part of the labor is fondly remembered, that they impressed themselves when they let their mind stop fighting their bodies.

Anyone want to share experiences or observations?

Women 'unprepared for childbirth'

This has been discussed the past day or two on the blogs hither and yon. Here's one article covering the review of research:
Women 'unprepared for childbirth'

The gist of it is, childbirth educators downplay the pain of labor and women are unprepared for the pain of childbirth.

It's my belief that no matter how well-prepared one is, nothing can prepare you adequately for what labor feels like. I also believe that the typical, default, routine procedures that occur in a hospital birth remove a lot of the natural mechanisms that women laboring may otherwise employ, so that birth is more painful than it may otherwise have been.

In my observations -- the childbirth education I have observed have not de-emphasized pain. The pregnant women I meet realize that there will be pain, and they frequently say in our postpartum meetings that there's nothing that could've prepared them for exactly how it would've been.

What do you think?

Sage Femme has a new home!

Lookie! Sage Femme has a pretty new site! Update your bookmarks!

Post Partum Doulas

I'm in the process of deciding whether or not to take postpartum doula training. I confess I'm not quite sure what the job description is, since it will vary so much. It would be nice to increase my skill set and I'm sure that a lot of the baby care stuff would inform my work as a birth doula in the immediate postpartum period.

Here's CAPPA's definition of postpartum doulas:
A postpartum doula is a woman who assists the new mother, baby, and the rest of her family within the first few weeks after the birth of the baby.

I could probably swing that, eh?


I am totally going to take my omegas after I write this. I promise.

I'm very interested in this research about not only the benefits for babies when their moms are great about getting Omega 3s and 6s, but about the benefits for mom's body and mind.

Omega-3 deficient diet poses risk to infant health

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, fat consumed by the mum is transferred to the developing baby and breastfed infant, and this fat is important for the baby's developing organs.

Xtina and breastfeeding

OK, so I was less-than-generous in my words about Christina Aguilera's elective cesarean. I'll make up for it now in some small part for applauding her for breastfeeding little Max:
Xtina: Breastfeeding is Best

I agree that breastfeeding can be a great way to shed the pounds. Hopefully moms will also be eating really well during this time of their lives, which can surely help not only weight loss (it really is just a number) but overall fitness and health for moms and babies!

Myself? I lost the weight OK each time but after the second... well, this is where "it's just a number" is very true. The number is where it used to be... but that's about IT. Oh well, thankfully I have a toddler attached to my boob half the time -- it helps hide my jelly belly :) Thanks Badger!

Nubain -- informal poll, please?

I saw Nubain in action this past week. From my classes and reading, I had learned that about half the women who use Nubain in labor will have rest between the contractions and be better able to cope with the contractions when the next one comes. The other half would find themselves loopy as all get out.

This link from gives us what the PDR says about Nubain in labor:

The most frequent adverse reaction in 1066 patients treated with NUBAIN is sedation 381(36%).

Less frequent reactions are: sweaty/clammy 99(9%), nausea/vomiting 68(6%), dizziness/vertigo 58(5%), dry mouth 44(4%), and headache 27(3%). Other adverse reactions which may occur (reported incidence of 1% or less) are: CNS EFFECTS Nervousness, depression, restlessness, crying, euphoria, floating, hostility, unusual dreams, confusion, faintness, hallucinations, dysphoria, feeling of heaviness, numbness, tingling, unreality. The incidence of psychotomimetic effects, such as unreality, depersonalization, delusions, dysphoria and hallucinations has been shown to be less than that which occurs with pentazocine.

My client was loopy and it was not a good situation. The other women in the room (nurses, midwives, etc) who had Nubain in their labors ALL felt like that as well. Other doulas have concurred, they see the unpleasant out-of-control hallucinations, dreams, confusion, etc., more often than not.

Any input, kids? If you've had Nubain, what was your experience? If you're a childbirth professional, what have you observed?

Baby P in the NICU.

He should be fine shortly and it doesn't seem to be a serious issue, but please do keep this new family in your kind thoughts!

Baby Boy P's Birth Story

OK -- I started to write the birth story but it's such a peculiar story that I felt I was violating confidentiality.

So the basics: Mom's water broke Wednesday morning, started labor naturally at the birth center but transfered to hospital Thursday morning for augmentation. Baby born shortly after midnight on Friday. No c-section -- a miracle!

Here's what I took from the birth -- as I concluded their birth story:
This birth was a truly amazing experience for me – although I surely wish it had not been so difficult for [client]! I absolutely learned new things and it was amazing to get to work with three of the midwives, plus the student midwife, in the course of one birth. Seeing the effects of Nubain firsthand was certainly a learning experience and I knew so little about amnioinfusion, and had never heard of a velamentous cord insertion before.

More than any of this, though, I am honored to have been part of this birth because I saw a woman become a mom through hard work and force of will, and a man become a dad as he firmly advocated for his wife. I learned that sometimes one can do everything just absolutely correctly – take all the responsible prenatal steps to ensure the safest, most satisfying, birth – but sometimes things just don't fall into place the way we think they will. However, I saw a couple become a family by staying flexible when they needed to be and remaining firm for the things that truly mattered.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy P!

I was just at my longest, most complicated birth as a doula. I'm very tired and very proud of the brand new mom!

AROM not recommended for shortening of first stage of labor

Amniotomy for shortening spontaneous labor

On the basis of the findings of this review, we cannot recommend that amniotomy be introduced routinely as part of standard labor management and care. We do recommend that the evidence presented in this review be made available to women offered an amniotomy and suggest that it may be useful as a foundation for discussion and any resulting decisions made between women and their caregivers.

I'm glad to see this although I don't think this is news per se. It's still surprising to me when I hear the resident explain to a client "what we'll do" during her uncomplicated, progressing-just-fine labor, including, "And then we'll just break your water." Most of my clients have a strong preference not to have their water broken as a matter of routine if their labors are not stalled out, and the research they've done before labor gives them the confidence to tell the doctor that they don't want their water broken as a routine intervention.

Two Articles on VBAC/Repeat C-section

Our Bodies Our Blog did the hard work here and I'm happy to link to it!
Our Bodies Our Blog: What Do These Two Article Say About Cesarean Section?

Reviewed are an article that I wrote about earlier and an article about repeat cesarean sections.

Ultimately, what these studies suggest is that VBACs get safer in some ways and more successful for women after they have had one prior successful VBAC, and that each successive c-section may result in more complications for the mother.

And no, I'm not going to write about that damn NYT article.

There was an article in the NYT about doulas. It stunk. At first I thought it stunk, then I thought it was OK, but upon further consideration, it stunk. So I'm not going to link to it because the fewer people who read it, the better. Not because it was negative but because it was classless and careless journalism.

Strangers Making Me Happy.

I posted on a message board when someone had a question about doulas. I got a private message:
I have given birth eight times, one of them (the most wonderful) at home. It is so nice to know that such support is offered now. Thank you on behalf of all mothers for making this your life's pursuit.

Isn't that sweet?! Isn't it amazing that someone who I've never met, will probably never meet, can make my day with such a kind thought!

Any Leap Day Babies?

Hmmm??? Any Feb 29thers born yesterday?

As for myself, I am kissing February goodbye and saying, "good riddance." February was NOT my month. Hellooooooo March!

Spirituality/religion as a doula

We're "nothing" here in the Karen household. Or as we like to say, secular humanists. I was raised in a religious upbringing, my husband was not. As I came into adulthood, my experiences and exposure to different people and ideas changes my views on some important social teachings of the faith of my upbringing and I couldn't any longer, "in good faith," remain part of that religion.

It really surprises me that I'm so frequently asked about my faith, as a doula. I've been asked about my faith before being asked about my experience or philosophy about birth! I try to understand that a prospective client is PROBABLY asking in order to see if I would judge her for incorporating her spirituality into the birth, since I've never misrepresented my beliefs and it's never driven a client away. The way I feel about it is, if it helps a woman be more comfortable/strong/herself in labor, she can dance the Charleston -- whatever works, I'll meet her there!

Dads and Doulas

I've been thinking a lot about dads and doulas. Both dads for my upcoming births are very keen to be active participants in supporting their wives and one in particular was concerned that a doula could usurp his role. It's something that I have to be very conscious of because I do have the instinct to swoop in and comfort and do my thing. I try to model the behavior for the dads if that is to be my role. In some births though, Dad wants to be there to see his child being born but does not want to be active in support -- for whatever reason... personal comfort level, past experiences, cultural or religious beliefs. And that's OK too, honestly. My husband is one who isn't entirely comfortable with the whole biological machine thing. Honestly, if it wasn't so important to me, I think he'd rather be in the waiting room.

So, dads, doulas, interwebs? Any thoughts on how doulas and dads can complement each other?

Interesting links I've found regarding this!
DONA International: Dads and Doulas

Kim James: Do Doulas Replace Dads? (I love Kim James, I really do!)

Met my late-March clients tonight

What a nice couple! Her first child, his third. Interesting back story and you can tell by their interactions that they're going to be giving this little one a good foundation. They're aiming for a natural childbirth at the women's hospital here in town. Apparently her mom is a former LLL Leader so she is super excited about her having a doula -- yay doulas!

Of course it took me nearly an hour to get home because of the SNOW. Of which I have had ENOUGH. Hear me, sky? ENOUGH! We're starting to look more like the North Pole than Pittsburgh.

I guess it depends on who you ask!

Moms-to-be rejecting natural childbirth in favor of anesthesia
I find this article totally off-base in a lot of ways -- especially the doctor comparing unmedicated childbirth to unmedicated dental surgery (and for the record, I've had both. My unmedicated birth was awesome and my unmedicated dental surgery hurt like hell.), and this gem:
"It's nice to involve fathers in the delivery process, but I don't know how much they enjoy it, and I don't know how much they want to be traumatized."

Outside the Hospital: Local women discover natural birth
Ahhhh, and then there is this article, which includes this quote:
“Natural birth means different things to different people,” Herta said. “To me, it’s the sensation of delivering your child and participating in the delivery to some degree.”

Isn't that nicer?!

Another client, maybe!

Another client may be on tap for late March. First time mom, hospital birth. Hopefully I will still be able to attend Heart and Hands Doula Service's Family Centered Maternity Conference and be on the VBAC panel, but I am excited about being doula for another mom for sure!

Ina May Gaskin

At 67, hippie-midwife who changed childbirth in America still crusades for natural method

Somehow this article is running in the sports section of a Minnesota TV station's website, but I can get by that! Ina May Gaskin's role in reviving homebirth and her influence beyond the Farm. I think this observation is especially astute: "Part of Gaskin's success has been that she combines an analytical mind with an instinctual understanding of birth." By not being satisfied to having the experiences at the Farm stay on the Farm, she's made all the difference to so many women... me included!!!

Amber Teething Necklaces

I've heard about these just recently and I've heard wonderful things about them. I have been "blessed" with cluster teethers -- each of my kids got teeth in spurts of 4-8 at a time (I'm not kidding -- Badger is right now getting 8 teeth at the same time). So instead of 20 weeks of crankiness, I get maybe 4 weeks of 5x the crankiness. Good times, great oldies. At any rate, with teeth numbers 9 through 16 popping through, I hope my kids' teething days are numbered.

So anyway. Amber. It's apparently analgesic when worn against the skin and they release healing oils. Not teething beads like you see but meant to be worn close to baby's skin so that they're not gobbled up. The necklaces are supposed to be quite safely made, so that if the cord does break, the beads don't come off.

Something to perhaps look into if anyone's teefers are giving them grief!!!

Doula Certification

I'm gathering up my paperwork for certification through DONA. I want to be able to send it all off after I've completed my childbirth education series in March and attend my client (edd 3/15) so I have yet another birth from which to choose to submit for consideration.

It's exciting to be approaching this milestone! Hopefully all the paperwork will be in order and the childbirth education classes are appropriate, the births satisfy the requirements, and that my essays are good enough. I had hoped to get my paperwork in by Badger's first birthday but that didn't come close to happening -- I hadn't even attended one birth that would have counted.

A New Client!

A new client, due 3/15. Wouldn't it be something if I attend a Christmas birth AND an Easter birth?

This is a nice couple. Really well-educated about birth, switched from an ob/gyn practice to the Midwife Center. Dad wants to be very involved which is super nice. Mom is awfully sweet and smart. This should be a really fun birth!

Negative Breastfeeding Language

I rambled around this topic a few weeks back, but this article is much better at addressing the topic!

Negative Breastfeeding Language: Summary of Diane Weissinger’s Essay, “Watch Your Language”

Consequences of Improper Formula Use

Formula Anyone? From Bellies and Babies

I'm so glad that Nicole Deelah's blog reminded me of this incredible illustration.

This is such a dramatic photo and story of a woman who was told that she would not be able to breastfeed both her twins, so she formula fed one and breastfed the other. Of course in many parts of the world, the water used to mix formula powder is unsafe; and the expense of formula leads mothers to water down the formula in order to stretch their supplies. This leads to the state of the child on the right. Absolutely tragic.

Do some babies need formula in order to thrive? Yes, and thank goodness that it's available for those babies. I'm thinking of one friend in particular who had a post-cesarean infection that resulted in her milk supply never being fully established (even so, she breastfed and supplemented with formula for four months, before switching to formula exclusively). But I'll be darned if I don't see the majority of babies on formula who don't need to be and it makes me upset, in part because it funnels money to these companies who continue to market their product to women who live in parts of the world that just don't support the proper use of formula.

It's unfortunate that women are given terrible breastfeeding advice; that we live in a country where the chips are stacked against women breastfeeding for longer than 6 weeks; that our maternity care system includes standard interventions that interrupt the natural cycle of hormones and bonding that can be vital in establishing breastfeeding.

Family Centered Maternity Conference

My doula group is hosting a conference on March 29 here in Pittsburgh and I'm going to be on the VBAC panel! So, I have about 6 weeks to come to terms with my fear of public speaking. And, of course, being a doula, I will be talking about the importance of having a doula when going for a vbac. Personally, I didn't use a doula and looking back I'm not sure that anything would've been all that different if I had. Of course my midwife has a doula's heart and did not leave my side once we were in the hospital.

But was the support vital, regardless of the job title? You betcha. And without the VBAC prep class that was taught by Jan Mallak, who is the owner and coordinator of Heart and Hands, I'm not sure the prep work and healing would've been as established for me by the "big day."

So any VBAC moms who may be reading this -- please feel free to talk about what sort of emotional or physical preparations you did for your VBAC and the sort of support you found important! I'd love your input.

And if anyone has anything more helpful than, "Picture everyone in the crowd in their underwear," I'd love public speaking tips too!!!

Meet The Doula Night

On Thursday I went to Magee Women's Hospital's Meet the Doula night. I should've posted about this BEFORE the event, but just so you know, there's another one coming up on May 19th at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh!

It was fun! There were some community-based doulas and doulas employed by Magee, and the two private doula agencies, Heart and Hands (the agency I am working through) and the other agency in Pittsburgh ;)

We had a nice hour or so talking about what a doula does or doesn't do, when in pregnancy to hire a doula, what if you're not sure you don't want an epidural, etc. There was such a level of respect between the "competing" doulas -- there sure is enough work to go around and we'd rather see another doula be hired than for a woman who wants a doula, not have one.

Had the scare of my life today.

This morning started like usual... got Badger up and dressed, got ChimChim up and dressed and headed down the stairs with my 3yo Chim going first and me holding Badger. Next thing I knew -- I see my daughter falling down the steps. All 14 of them. I have never been more scared. Not when I was in a car accident. Not when I was prepping for the c/section. Not even when we thought Badger wouldn't make it. I couldn't do a damn thing but watch her little body bounce down the stairs.

I screamed for my husband as she was falling and I was down at the bottom of the stairs quickly. I was afraid to move her so I asked her if she could get up and she was FINE. Scared but uninjured. We asked her what hurt and she said, crying, "THE STAIRS!!!" That's my girl.

Thank you to whatever protection the universe offered my little girl!!!

Vaginal Birth after C-sec predicts future success

Vaginal Birth after C-sec predicts future success

A woman who has had one successful vaginal birth after cesarean delivery is even more likely to succeed during subsequent trials of vaginal birth, new research suggests.


"Women planning large families ... should be reassured by the increasing success rates and decreasing risks associated with VBAC attempts in successive pregnancies," Mercer and his associates conclude.

I am happy to see this! My vbac journey also happened to begin my doula journey (although you could also say it began with my cesarean birth). I am unimaginably glad that I vbac'd and had a great care provider who helped me gain confidence.

Although Pittsburgh has its challenges for pregnant women, it seems like every day I hear about another awesome story about some doctor who tells a mom that VBAC is an excellent option that statistically has excellent outcomes, or a wonderful nurse in the women's hospital who took the time to help a new mom breastfeed, or a pediatrician who doesn't like to circumcise, or a midwife who goes above and beyond the call, or a doula who helps a dad-to-be gain confidence to be a wonderful labor partner.

Pregnancy Does Cause Memory Loss, Study Says

Pregnancy Does Cause Memory Loss, Study Says

Science has now confirmed what expectant moms already know: Carrying a baby makes them more forgetful.

A recent study by two Australian researchers has found that pregnant women do experience a slight loss of memory -- and in many cases, the forgetfulness continues after birth.

I meant to write about this yesterday... but I forgot ;) And no I'm not pregnant, just the continued memory loss. Seriously, it's for real! When I was pregnant with Badger I started a job as a marketing assistant and friends, was I terrible at this job! It wasn't hard, I just couldn't remember how to do it from day to day. I was so embarrassed. Oh well, just another fork in the road that led me to be a doula!

An article about my midwife!

Oakland male midwife is one of 3 in state

Thornton delivers babies at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Oakland. He prefers to practice almost like an old country doctor, making house calls when necessary and staying with the mother at her bedside until the baby is born.

He said he doesn't like the "large, impersonal, almost conveyer belt process" of delivering babies at some hospitals.

"There is no substitute for spending time with people," Thornton said.

As a doula, I am thrilled to see illustrated yet another choice women in Pittsburgh have when pregnant.

On a personal note, I think that Patrick is a paramount professional and a compassionate care provider. I don't know how we would have made it through the first few months of Badger's gestation trying to get support from an ob/gyn in 4 minute appointments. It meant the world to us to have someone lay out the possibilities and options regarding the unexplained bleeding and suspected anencephaly. We declined some tests that we probably would've been bullied into from another health care provider and he was willing to refer us to imaging centers for ultrasounds even though he probably wouldn't have chosen that himself. For the first time in my life I was a participant in my health care, and I think the confidence that began as I made my own decisions during the first trimester fostered my commitment to VBAC!

Postpartum Visit Today

Saw Baby A and her momma today -- what a CUTE BABY. Big time!!!

Mom is recovering splendidly and whether it's the combination of being proactive with medication, getting more rest than she was able to with her older girls, or being a more confident mother this time around, she's not had even an inkling of baby blues, which is wonderful. She had PPD before and I hope it all keeps going well for her this time!

Being a doula is such a wonderful position and in addition to it being personally fulfilling, I really appreciate the chance to provide a service of value to other women. I know there are a ton of great resources in Pittsburgh for women's mental health but when one is experiencing the onset of postpartum depression, it's important that a third party be there to see the signs. In some lives we have mothers, sisters, cousins, and experienced friends all around. In other lives, we're not so lucky. I'm desperately glad that I can be that "someone" for someone.

Watch this Video: Autism Speaks

Five for Fighting... as if it wasn't enough that they're hockey fans, further proof of their awesomeness. Each time someone watches this short video, Five for Fighting donates $0.40 to autism research.

Autism Speaks/Five for Fighting

Breast-Feeding Protected Mice from Asthma

Breast-Feeding Protected Mice from Asthma

Breast-feeding helped protect baby mice from developing allergic asthma, a new study found.

The mice that were breast-fed by mothers that had been exposed to an allergen "inherited" the allergen and developed tolerance to it.

A lot of folks are talking about reframing the way we talk about formula and breastmilk, in that breastmilk should be the standard and formula should be the other. So instead of saying, "Breastmilk helps prevent asthma," one should say, "Formula puts children at risk for asthma."

I don't know exactly how I feel about that. I guess I'm just a positive person (ha) and framing things in a positive way just seems, well, nicer. There are more important things than being nice, though.

Ran into my recent mommy!

My client who delivered 10 days ago came to an indoor playplace here in Pittsburgh yesterday with her 2 older daughters. She looks just fantastic and feels great! We were able to chat a little about her birth and how I interacted with her for pain management. She's so sweet -- she's very direct and honest and absolutely kind. As a newer doula I really appreciate feedback like that! She is very happy with her birth and I'm really proud of her, and I'm thrilled that she's having a relatively easy time as a Mom of Three Girls! Seems that Baby A is a mellow little baby, which every mom deserves at least once.

Welcome to the House of Yuck.

Seems like both kids have something. Badger's been throwing up for 2 days (today was a doozie) and Chim broke out in hives this evening. I was supposed to schedule my postpartum visit this weekend with my client who recently delivered but I do think that she'd rather have a later postpartum visit than for me to spread my children's lovely barfy, splotchy germs to her newborn!

Pregnancy Problems Tied to Caffeine

Too much caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage, a new study says, and the authors suggest that pregnant women may want to reduce their intake or cut it out entirely.

Many obstetricians already advise women to limit caffeine, though the subject has long been contentious, with conflicting studies, fuzzy data and various recommendations given over the years.

The new study, being published Monday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds that pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the amount in 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea — may double their risk of miscarriage.

I am frankly a little surprised at how dramatically the risks increased!

Hooray for choices!

N.H. House votes to require insurance coverage for home births
The House voted Wednesday to require insurance companies to pay for children delivered at home by midwives in New Hampshire if the mother's plan would have paid for the birth in a hospital.
more stories like this

Supporters noted that the federal government reimburses women for home delivery under the Medicaid program.

Currently, a woman with health insurance that includes maternity benefits must pay the entire cost if the delivery is at home.

Welcome Baby A!

My remaining client had her little baby girl yesterday. The labor was much more difficult for her than her two previous labors and I hope I did a good job for her. I need to know how to be a good doula when a client who had previously expressed a strong desire to go natural changes her mind. This mom was going SUPER fast, I could tell. She wanted the epidural. She got checked and was found to be at 7. Still wanted an epidural. Got the epi-man speech, dad sent out of the room, epi cart rolled in. Nurse asked her if she was having second thoughts. Was it in MY scope of practice to ask her this? Or was I working within my scope of practice when I made sure she understood all the risks and benefits of an epidural? I'm very glad the nurse did ask because the client did have second thoughts, and was checked, found to be at 9cm, and birthed her baby less than 30 minutes later. It was amazing, one good contraction and a new person entered the world.

Welcome Baby A!!!