Thursday, March 20, 2014

Midwifery Today

Wow! I am very excited to share that two articles of mine were accepted for publication in the magazine Midwifery Today. For me, this is a huge honor. As fledgling nurse and then midwife, this publication was a powerful source of inspiration for me.  There are no electronic links to the articles in this magazine, but you can learn about this organization at their website

If you are interested, you can order single copies of the magazine, my articles appear in the current issue #109, Spring 2014. Of course, you can also subscribe to receive the magazine regularly. (And as a disclaimer, I received no payment for my articles nor any percentage of sales.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Midwife Love

Midwife Love may sound silly or cliché, but it is the best description of how I feel right now. I am in love with my midwife-sisters! We are such a diverse and beautiful group of people. Through midwifery, I have had the opportunity to meet women that I otherwise never would have. And many of these women are now dear friends. This weekend, I am a town across the state and had the opportunity to visit one such friend who has recently opened a free standing birth center. She did a portion of her clinicals with us and I am so proud to have played a part in her growth as a midwife. The women and babies here are blessed to have her and her center. I can't wait to hear about their growth and success.

In particular, I am eternally grateful for my midwife-sisters at the birth center. They are a source of strength, humor, support and knowledge. Don't get me wrong, we can also disagree and challenge each other....but what is love without a little challenge.  Being able to disagree and then come to a mutual understanding is a hallmark of love; we don't change each other but make each other stronger. We don't mimic each other or think that we all have to make the same choices. There is great power in our differences.

Recently, I had an experience that really hit this home for me.  It was early morning, I was at the center to be in the clinic.  I was in the kitchen making my (very necessary and much loved) cup of coffee.  The on call midwife was there for a Mama in labor and the midwife who had been on call the day before was at the hospital as she had had to transfer another Mama. The previous midwife had had "one of those shifts"; long and tough, she had been up for 24 hours before the transfer. She returned from the hospital (after the birth and a healthy MotherBaby outcome) and was exhausted.  The first thing that happened when she walked in was a lovely and much needed group hug. The three of us just put our arms around each other and took some breaths, it was simple and took only a few moments but was powerful. These seemingly small moments are among the ones that keep us going in the hard moments. And for these moments, I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Their Names are Always With Me

Their names are always with me; the names of women that I have had to transfer to the hospital while in labor. I have wiped their brows, caressed their cheeks, massaged their backs, shoulders, arms and feet.  I have done countless flights of stair walking with them, lunge walked the hallways with them, supported them through multiple difficult position changes to encourage babies to rotate. I have fed them and made sure they were drinking.  I have shared this most intimate of experiences and forged a bond with them. I have had to look them in the eye and tell them that, in my opinion, the best place for them in that moment was the hospital. To tell them that all their plans and dreams for this birth will need to be drastically altered. I have shared tears with them over this decision, both in the moment and later in postpartum check ups.

This is what we do as midwives; we walk beside our families, holding space, guarding their health and sometimes making difficult and unpopular decisions. It is an extremely heavy responsibility that often feels lighter than it is. However, in these moments, every ounce is felt to the core. Like many midwives, I keep a Birth Log/Journal of all the births I attend and babies I catch.  I also keep a separate journal for these Mama's, their stories and their outcomes. In this way, I can remind myself of their faces and their strength.  I carry them with me always.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

And Then We Had a Picnic...

They were expecting their first baby. Her labor had come on fast and steady, more quickly than most firsts. We had a couple phone calls through the day and each time we spoke, it sounded as though progress was happening rapidly.

She arrived on a cloud of calm.  Glowing in that way, the glow of labor.  We went back to her room and she got settled. Baby sounded wonderful and all was well. Her contractions were strong but becoming less frequent in their pattern.  I did a cervical exam and she was completely dilated! She was concerned that the contractions were slowing down. I explained to her that sometimes women are given a "pause" by their bodies. A little rest after all the work of dilation and before the work of pushing. She thought about this for a moment, smiled and then said "great, let's eat!".  She began to tell some stories about a birth she had been to and other fun little anecdotes.  She was in the birth pool and we all gathered around, spread some food out and all enjoyed a picnic.  She continued to have contractions but they were relatively mild and still pretty spaced out.

Then about 2 hours after arriving, and after enjoying her picnic, she started to grunt. The contractions became stronger and closer together. Her body had decided that the time was now right and that the baby could make its appearance. She gracefully worked through pushing and brought her sweet little one Earthside, surrounded by peace and love.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Four Births in Four Days

Four births in four days! As usual, each birth brought lessons and unexpected surprises.  Together as a group they are a lovely picture of what out of hospital birth can be and do.

Birth #1
A first time Mama.  Another one of my midwife sisters had been with this family through their labor, I was called in to assist because the birth center became very busy. By the time I arrived, she had been working for quite some time, her first stage of labor had been long at just over 24 hours.  Her second stage was also long at just over 4 hours.  She was so brave, tough and dedicated to her birth.  I never heard her complain or falter...even through a difficult second stage that involved what I call "Birth Gymnastics", meaning multiple position changes, in every possible position imaginable.  Finally, as her darling baby began to crown, the reason for the hard work became apparent; her daughter was direct occiput posterior!  Mama worked hard but did eventually birth her lovely 9lb daughter, direct OP, to her loving arms.  Since I had not be present for most of her process, I inquired later about her labor pattern and contractions, wondering if the baby had given any clues to her position.  Apparently, other than a long labor, there had been no other signs.

Birth #2
A second time Mama came in in the early morning.  She had previously been to the birth center a couple days before and was sent home after her labor took a break.  This morning she was very nervous about it being another "false alarm".  She was laboring, but it did seem to still be in the early phase, so I suggested that she and her husband go out for some breakfast.  A while later, they returned, her labor was a little stronger but still not active.  They decided to go for a walk.  Her labor moved along slowly but surely, picking up little bits of steam here and there.  And then, the switch flipped!  After hours and hours of watchful waiting the baby decided to make his move and he did not fuss around. She had a beautiful waterbirth 13 hours after her first contraction of the day.

Birth #3
Another second time Mama who had also spent time in the birth center a day earlier and went home after her labor took a break.  She returned to birth center, clearly ready to birth her baby this time.  She had the look about her, the labor look.  When a woman is not really part of our reality, she seems to float above us and is so focused on her work.  After her round of stopping and starting, this time her whole process was completed in under four hours.  She had been nervous prenatally as with her first babe she had a serious postpartum hemorrhage and a fourth degree laceration.  I am happy to report that neither repeated themselves and she birthed a beautiful son with the sunrise.

Birth #4
Another first time Mama.  Her husband had called me that morning stating that her contractions had just become the 3-1-1 pattern.  Usually, with a first baby there is still some work to do at this point, so we discussed some coping techniques and support measures.  I asked him to call me back in one hour to check in.  When he called back, I did not need to hear his full "report" because I could hear his wife in the background and I told him to just get in the car and head over to the center.  When they arrived all I needed was one look to know that we would very soon be welcoming their child to the world.  Just under five hours from her first contraction she had her darling son snuggled in her arms.

All of these births had lessons within them.  What do you think some of those were?.....

Monday, September 2, 2013

Improve Birth Rally

Just had to share this photo of my darling daughter!We attended our local Rally to Improve Birth today and this is the sign she made; all by herself with no input from me.  She is another reason why I fight the fight every day doing what I do!