Monday, December 27, 2010

Going global

I'm coming out all over the place, as a feminist, as a Mormon, as an activist, as an aspiring midwife. Awareness and passion for all of these ideas and activities has led me to expand my focus for what is wrong with the world and what I can do about it.

There is a great deal of conversation on birth blogs that birth advocacy is a inherently biased by privilege, class and race. And I could honestly be a poster child for that. White, middle-class, advanced education, had a negative birth experience and got all uppity about it. In my defense, I had to start somewhere and have my feminist awakening in some way.

I truly believe that my experience giving birth to Willem humbled me in a way where I felt compelled to be more compassionate and empathetic to the suffering of other women. I felt the need to do something about it and one step at a time, my perspective broadened and I took in more of the needless, unethical suffering women experience the world over.

For a few years now, I'm worked with Solace for Mothers and the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services on The Birth Survey. In the last year however, I felt strongly that there is more that I can do than tackle birth from a privileged view.

Some of the efforts of others have brought me to this awareness of thinking outside myself and people most like me. Through their efforts I have found the solidarity of sistership that comes from just being a woman among women. I know I will never be able to set aside my race or my privilege entirely but I cannot let that be an excuse to not be involved in where help is needed and where I am capable of doing something that can help.

Two documentaries shaped this broadening of thought and feminist activist: firstly, Tanya Lee Jones' documentary on preconception education and reducing prematurity in low-income, black America (I cannot find the link for the life of me, maybe someone can help) and "A Walk to Beautiful" which is the story of obstetric fistula patients in Africa who for years, in cases, are unable to access health care to repair their childbirth injuries.

Then I was introduced to two books, "The Life You Can Save" and "Half the Sky" both of which I reviewed (links go to my reviews) where I learned some of the simple ways to make an impact in relieving the suffering and poverty of women in developing countries.

In some ways, the activism work that can be done there seems much more simple than the activism that I do there. In developing countries, often it is infrastructure building and small micro-loans that can make a world of different to women and children who are without means to care for and educate themselves.  Yet, here in the United States, and especially with birth activism, its not about lack of resources its about misplaced resources. It is easier to build something than it is to move a monstrosity of an establishment that is entrenched in its ways.

Maybe its an act of trying to comfort myself, when I feel discouraged in getting obstetric violence laws enacted in the United States, or changing the way providers treat women during labor, I know I can get on and make a loan that will better someone's life.

But yet it goes beyond that, I want my children to have an awareness of the world that extends beyond vacations and resorts. I'd like to take them to Africa someday, not to stay where the tourists are, but to work with an organization like THARCE-Gulu where they can play with the local children, while my husband and I work to make a difference in people's lives. If one is going to travel to see the country and learn the culture, than what better way than among its people?

Please excuse the disjointedness of this entry. I am making sense of what is available to me and what I can realistically do. As a child being raised an a Unitarian Universalist, I developed a desire to make a difference and change the world. Now as a young mother, I'm still figuring it out. For a while I thought it was through my own family and being a mother to my children. But in being a mother, I found that I can be involved in changing the world for them. And it is through those efforts, that they too might have a desire to change the world for others. I do not need to put off these efforts until they are older, Someday I do hope to be a service missionary for my church and travel to countries in need of humanitarian aid, but as I learn about volunteer opportunities, I find that I can do some of it now and with children.

My next step is to figure out which organizations will encourage families to volunteer together. I know of where families with young children can go and volunteer on organic farms around the world. I hope that someday my husband and I will do a trip like that, but I also would like to find opportunities that are more in line with my interests as a feminist, and birth activist.  Do you know of any?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Geeking out with Christ's birth

I found this tonight which I think is interesting:

December 8th: Immaculate Conception of Maryis celebrated in many Latin countries as, according to Catholic doctrine, the day of the conception of the Virgin Mary. The doctrine says that God had preserved Mary from original sin, giving her his grace, the divine life of Jesus Christ.

This is actually referring to Mary's conception and birth but my mind immediately went to thinking about Christ's conception, and Mary's pregnancy with him. Fitting as its Christmas time and all.

We know that Christ wasn't actually born at Christmas time with most scholars thinking that he was actually born early to mid-Spring. Latter-day Saints believe he was born in April. Using the date, April 6, I thought it would be very cool to know the date of his conception AND birth.

If he had been born at 40 weeks gestation exactly, he would have been conceived in mid July. Using the birthing window that many women not ever faithful in their calculated due date, He may have been born between 37 weeks to be full term and 44 weeks at the outside, meaning he could have been conceived as early as mid June or as late as early August.

Wit that, I then ponder what those last few days of Mary's pregnancy was like based on those 2 scenarios.

The Mary is compelled to go to Nazareth with Joseph to pay the taxes decreed by Cyrenius and she was full-term but not quite to 40 weeks. Maybe she was 37 or 38 weeks pregnant. She hopes that on the trip the baby will not be born and she can return to her home in Galilee to give birth after the tax collecting is done.

The long, arduous, dusty and dehydrating trip caused contractions to start before her due date. As she arrives in Nazareth and they are looking for an inn, she is having contractions and they are increasing in intensity and regularity. If she were me, she'd been freaking out a little. They settle into the stable and within a few hours, Christ is born into hers or Joseph's hands.

The other scenario:
She's past her due date like the majority of first time moms, the baby hasn't been born yet and they have to get to Nazareth to obey the decree of the governor. She hopes that either the baby will wait until after they get back or that the baby can be born before they leave. In most mother's minds, anything is better than laboring on the back of a donkey or giving birth far from home without the presence of wise women: mother, aunts, sisters and cousins. She doesn't get her wish and contractions start during the trip. She's contracting while trying to find a place to birth her baby. The stable does the job and the Christ child is born there.

Either way, my heart goes out to this young girl who gave birth far from her family and home amongst animals and hay. Maybe she was as Zen about it as she is portrayed in the scriptures, but maybe that was a very stressful and upsetting situation for her to be in. Either way, I've been in both of the situations described above. And honestly, I think the over-due scenario would be worse.

Though its not mentioned, I do guess that Mary and Joseph would have been able to locate a midwife to attend the birth if they so chose. Though perhaps it was in the day when the midwife only was called when assistance was needed after some concern or complication arose. Whether Christ's birth was attended by a midwife or unassisted is a toss-up. The unassisted birthers like to claim that Christ was an unassisted birth, so for the sake of not knowing, I won't rain on their parade.

Alright, end of birth geek mode at Christmas time, but that's what you get from a midwifery student...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

I've mentioned before that I've had intermittent hip pain since my last pregnancy. I had a spell for about a year where it didn't bother me (from August of 2009 to around May of 2010) so I thought it was something that I could just let work itself out. At some point, I realized that its become too much of a fixture in my life so I needed to do something about finding the root cause. On my birthday this year, it got really bad again so I became serious about addressing it.

I recently visited my naturopathic doctor/midwife who listened and poked around my hip and lower back to try to isolate where the pain was coming from. She mentioned the sacroiliac joint (a joint connecting the sacrum in the low back to the pelvic girdle. Its connected with ligaments and covered with cartilage). She then referred me to a physical therapist who specializes in lumbar-pelvic PT. While I'm waiting for an appointment with the PT, I've been doing some internet homework to try to figure out what is going on. With sacroiliac as a clue, I started my searches.

And this is what I found:

Another common cause of SI joint dysfunction is pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormones are released in the woman's body that allows ligaments to relax. This prepares the body for childbirth. Relaxation of the ligaments holding the SI joints together allows for increased motion in the joints and can lead to increased stresses and abnormal wear. The additional weight and walking pattern (altered gait) associated with pregnancy also places additional stress on the SI joints.
Any condition that alters the normal walking pattern places increased stress on the SI joints. This could include a leg length discrepancy (one leg longer than the other), or pain in the hip, knee, ankle, or foot. Patients with severe pain in the lower extremity often develop problems with either the lower back (lumbar spine) or SI joints. In most cases if the underlying problem is treated, the associated lumbar spine or SI joint dysfunction will also improve.
The most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction is pain. Patients often experience pain in the lower back or the back of the hips. Pain may also be present in the groin and thighs. In many cases, it can be difficult to determine the exact source of the pain. Inflammation and arthritis in the SI joint can also cause stiffness and a burning sensation in the pelvis. 1
Several things can aggravate the SI Joint too. Continual sitting or lying on the affected side will impinge nerves and skew the pelvis. Remember, the body will adopt a bad posture and accept it as normal after a period of time. The pain often worsens when riding in a car, sitting in a movie theater or putting weight on the hips while walking (for example, carrying a child). 2
As I read these findings, I was nodding along.

Pregnancy? Yes

Short leg? Yes (caused by scoliosis)

Pain in the low back, hip, thigh, and thigh, stiffness, burning, and difficulty determining the source of pain? yes, yes and yes.

Sitting or laying on the affected side aggravates? Yes

Worsened pain when carrying a child and walking? Yes (that's exactly what brought it on today, actually)

I'm still using chiropractic, yoga, massage and hip circles to address it. Hip circles, actually, make the most difference when my SI is tight and hurting. I'll have to remember to eat eggs for breakfast tomorrow and its probably time to make my grandma's famous baked custard because that's a mega dose of eggs and so good.

In addition to suggesting physical therapy, my naturopath suggested looking into craniosacral work. She also gave me a medical referral for massage. And she reminded me, which is embarrassing that I completely forgot, about homeopathic arnica for muscle soreness. I've also been seeing an Upper-Cervical chiropractor which is new and different for me than the typical pop and crack chiropractors I've been seeing.

At this point, my husband and I swearing off conceiving another baby. In my lower moments, I come close to despairing and giving up getting pregnant again ever. We even put the option of surgical sterilization on the table, which is a momentous and terrifying thought to me. In having those conversations, I realize in a new way how much I love and appreciate the children I have. I knew then that I can be happy being mother to my two and not regret having another. Still, if it is possible, I hope to recover enough that I can physically handle another one or two or three pregnancies and births. My hopes aren't so high so I can content myself with whatever that is coming my way.

Based on what Vanessa said on my blog page, I'm glad that I'm planning to put off more births. She told the story:
"That is what derailed my planned homebirth with Tess. It was excruciating and worse than any labor pain -at one point, I almost blacked out, threw up and peed myself from the pain. Thought I was in transition -except I was 1cm and 50% effac...ed. Saw an osteopath at 40+3 who tried her best to fix it, but couldn't really do anything. It took a long time to get better. I mainly saw the osteopath, but have also considered a chiropractor (and acupuncture) in case it comes up again in a future pregnancy."
I definitely hope I can avoid that. I have heard acupuncture being helpful for hip joint problems but I haven't pursued it yet either.

I'll update as I meet with and learn more from the physical therapist. I do hope that we can welcome additional biological children into our family and that it will not be at the expense of my physical well-being.

If you are interested in reading other posts that chronicle what I now know is SI joint dysfunction see the following posts (starting from earliest to most recent):
Belle's Birth Story: I describe the moment I felt my SI stretch abruptly.
Not a very interesting update: I describe the hip pain for the first time
Been Away: Started yoga at 3 months postpartum to be gentle on my hip (instead of returning to Irish dance)
Preparing to conceive again: I started wanting another baby but was feeling ambivalent because of my hip problems.
A remedy that might help my hip pain: I learned about lecithin to relieve joint pain
Check that Off the Bucket List: My husband and I took a massage class where he learned some strategies to help massage my hip when its hurting

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midwifery Inquisition: Enrolling in Ancient Art Midwifery Institute

Today I learned that AAMI is offering a new discounted price of $2850 for their 3 1/2 year advanced midwifery study coursework and I told some friends about it. I've gotten a couple of questions in response, so I figured I would share them with my readers because many others have the same questions or would also appreciate my answers.

Courtney wrote:

Hi Jenne,

I hadn't thought to start my education and training so soon, but this looks like a fabulous opportunity. There is a line on their website that actually mentions getting it done with young children so that it is possible to start practice when they are older. Just what I had in mind so it really spoke to me.

I know that you have started the coursework yourself, so I was interested in how easy you think it will be to truly work on it with babies around. Also, will I really be able to do it all at a distance, until apprenticing? And which of the extra coursework packages would you recommend? I like the idea of getting a bit more in depth education while I can and having longer to complete it, but was curious if you thought it was worth it.

Also, do you have an opinion on Doula certification programs? I've looked into several, and like the philosophies of Childbirth International, Birth Art International, and CAPPA and ALACE. DONA seems wise for referrals and recognition, but I don't like how rigid their restrictions and philosophy appears to be.

I was going to work on this first before midwifery, but maybe I will do them simultaneously.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Hi Courtney (and Chrissy who also asked)

I found myself in the same situation as you. I knew I wanted to do it and then was offered a discounted price and decided to take it up now instead of waiting until later. I've been enrolled since June and I have set aside Saturday mornings to work on it. I find that I can make really good progress if I have that 2-3 hours to just sit down, focus and get to work. Throughout the week I am able to get another few hours in after the children go to sleep at night. I've set up a work space right next to their play area so I can work on some of the definitions and worksheets (to help you take notes on important texts) while they play. Each definition takes a few minutes so if I'm interrupted frequently, there's no interference. Then there is nap time when I can get a bit done. That's how I've been able to work on all my organizations and schooling. I am looking forward to more interrupted time to work when my mom is closer to us and can watch the children, but so far I'm doing fine with my husband being my back-up and not hiring out for childcare.

At this point, I'm not planning on enrolling in any of the extras. I feel like I need to focus on the basic and minimum requirements and if I want to take on additional options later, I'll do that. I do expect to do a number of AEUs and will probably go for the Masters in Midwifery. Right now, I'm so involved in my phase of coursework that I haven't given much though to additional coursework. From what I've seen, AAMI offers so many extras that I have to streamline and learn to say no to some opportunities so I can be successful in my original commitments.

At one point, I looked into all of the doula certifying courses and I came to same conclusion as you about DONA. You might want to look into PALS which is local to the Northwest because its less impacted by political compromises like DONA has been. The in-person sessions would be in the Seattle area but only 3 days a time so you might be able to travel to the distance (and I don't know, stay with friends in the area...). I never got as far as choosing which doula certification program to do because I realized my interest was more in midwifery.

One thing to keep is mind is that AAMI does encourage its students to become childbirth educators in the course of the program so you may find that you'll end up do both, all three or dropping doula because support is covered in the midwifery training.

One thing that should be clear that AAMI is training midwives to be home birth attendants only. You would have the option of taking the test to become a CPM (certified professional midwife) which may allow you in some states to work in birth centers or hospitals. Basically by enrolling in AAMI, you are stating your allegiance to personal, in home, mother-centered care and supportive ultimately of a woman's right and ability to make choices for herself. These choices could include giving birth unassisted and the coursework provides training to you on the why's and hows of being supportive of women who choose that course. This is radical, feminist midwifery with a God-fearing bent. Its amazing and wonderful and I love it. In July I attended a Midwifery Skills Lab where I met other AAMI students, teachers and the founder and they are virtuous Christian feminist women, not what I was expecting from a profession that is stereotyped as atheist hippies.

Let me know if there are other questions I can answer. I would love to have a personal connection with someone also enrolled in the program.

Honoring our Veterans

Disclosure statement: this is not your typical Veterans Day message. I do appreciate the service of my ancestors, relatives, friends and fellow Americans in the armed forces and recognize the sacrifices that families throughout the world make when their nations and people engage in war. This post will be highlighting the fight that women find in the battlefields of their lives.

The authors of "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" cite a statistic that in the years during World War I, more women died in childbirth than men died in battle. An even more interesting and galvanizing statistic would be comparing the number of women who have died in childbirth compared to the number of men who have died as a result of war in the course of history.

Another recognized fact is that a woman dies in childbirth somewhere in the world every minute which is over half a million a year. In addition to deaths, one in three women throughout the world experience the surgical removal of the fetus. The trauma rates of childbirth, expressing itself as PTSD up to 6% of the time, is also about one in three. This trauma can be caused from fear of losing the baby, intense physical pain and even violence perpetrated by health professionals. The number of abortions that take place through the world is upward of 40 million a year and spontaneous miscarriages and stillbirths are known to happen in approximately 30% of pregnancies. In countries where rape is used as a weapon of war, many babies are conceived in trauma and horror. In the Unites States were one in three girls experience sexual assault or molestation in their lives, childbirth can be a triggering event leading them to recall their assault. That's a lot of death, grief, trauma and loss caused by or experience in a normal event and that's not quantifying the childbirth injuries or complications like obstetric fistula, nerve damage, postpartum hemorrhage, etc.

Its not just a developing world issue, women in the developing world face the same possibilities though in some cases with reduced risks.

I think its safe to say that giving birth is the woman's war. Its the battle between life and death coalescing into a brief period of time ranging from a couple hours to a couple of days and it can happen a number of times in a woman's life. Though the total fertility rate is around 1.7 in many developed countries, some women give birth many more times than that in their lifetime.

And every woman has her birth story. That she often remembers in great detail throughout her life and into old age.

Childbirth has been an intensely fulfilling, peaceful, joyful and safe experience. While men can beat their swords into plowshares and refrain from war, women cannot stop bearing children (if we want our species to survive). Yet we can make childbirth safer, more fulfilling and joyful for women around the world. By ignoring, and allowing the governments of our planet to overlook childbirth issues, we are saying that a war on women ought to continue.

Each woman who has given birth is a veteran. Whether she bears the physical scars of a C-section, episiotomy and stretch marks or the psychological scars of a traumatic birth experience or she can returned home the victor after an orgasmic birth experience, she has survived and come out the other side of an intense battle for autonomy, confidence, life and attachment.

Today may be a day to recognize Veterans of wars and armed forces, but my remembrance is called up to my mothers and sisters who give birth.

Any remembrance post that is calling attention to an important topic needs a How-To address this issue. I'll refer you to the appendix in Half the Sky as the authors have created an impressive lists of ways to address global issues impacting women.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Removed My Amazon store

In catching up with blogs today, I've become alerted to a boycott being instituted against Evidently they are selling, and defending their right to sell, a book written as a how-to guide for pedophiles.

This, understandably, has a few (read MANY) people upset and it leaves me wondering how it is even legal. First Amendment and Freedom of Speech, yes--all well and good, but basically an admission of guilt and incitement of others to commit a crime?

To find out more, read posts at We Are That Family and PhDinParenting.

My response is to suspend purchases from Amazon until they decide on the correct course of action. I also removed the link to my amazon store posted at the footer of my blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dreaming of a Garden

This last planting season, I experimented with a vegetable garden for the first time in my life. Our apartment community provided P-Patches and in our we planted a variety of vegetables. I was anticipating disappointment so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to harvest beets, carrots, kale, swiss chard and cabbage from our garden. I enjoyed watching my children eat strawberries off the vine. On the other hand, the tomatoes rotted on the vine before they ripened (it was a hard season, very cool, not a lot of sun), the spinach and basil didn't come up, the cilantro dried up.

Now that I've met with some success and learned some things, I am really looking forward to the next planting season. I've gotten an idea of the types of vegetables that we use the most and want to grow on our own. Kale is one that we want to grow a great deal of because we know we would use it. Basil is another. I'll try tomatoes again but I'd probably start them from a nursery bought plant rather than seed. We'd do strawberries again, but probably in ground rather than in containers. The carrots were probably the biggest success though a few ended up looking more potato shaped.

One of the reasons why I'm getting so excited is that we are currently house hunting so I'm keep my eyes open for yards that would make for good planting. The current leader on our list of possibilities has the perfect 15 x 15 area for a garden. There's a small fence with a gate to keep children from playing it and jutting off one side is a side yard large enough to plant a small orchard.

If we are fortunate enough to move into that house, I would be so very happy to plant a great deal more next season than I did this last year. I would hope for an over abundance of kale and carrots. And really hope that we get some tomatoes.

My husband has a colleague who grows large quantities of tomatoes each year that she can make a freeze soups, sauces and eat many raw throughout the season. I aspire to something like that, because we love tomatoes in this house.

This year I was going for simple success, next year I'll be trying for abundance. This is going to be a long winter of anticipation...

EC: 17 months

Belle is indicating more and more frequently when she needs to go to the bathroom. A couple of months ago, she would adamantly nod her head if you asked "Do you need to go potty?" when she did need to go. Then she transitioned to nodding every time you asked, regardless of real need. That was fun...

Now she will start to pull at her clothes, her diaper, point to her bottom, run to the bathroom or nod at the person closest to her. Sometimes she'll grab my finger and pull me towards to bathroom and other times, she'll look intently at me like I'm supposed to know exactly what she needs.

She's starting to vocalize what she needs and will say "Puh" when pointing to her bottom. That's when I know she needs to poop. I'm glad and I think she's glad she knows that having poop wiped off her bottom is unpleasant and unnecessary for us both.

After months of frustration with the little potty, we finally found one that works for her. The Bjorn Little Potty would slide on the linoleum floor and was often very cold so she refused to use it. She preferred the adult toilet with the child insert. This was fine, but it was often a challenge to get her all the way up the stairs to the toilet before she released. When I saw this design for a potty chair, I figured it was worth a try. It has rubber stoppers on the feet to prevent it from sliding and was of a more substantial weight and a better height for her to sit comfortably.

Now she will take herself over the her potty chair and sit down. Sometimes she forgets she has clothes on so I have to watch pretty closely. She's not able to get herself onto the adult toilet yet on her own but she can with her potty chair.

She is starting to keep herself dry most of the time. When visiting friends, she'll indicate that she needs to go to the bathroom. Out and about in the car or on walks doesn't work so well. She is mainly nonverbal when it comes to her communication so when she's sitting in her rear-facing car seat, I can hear or see if she's indicating her need.

There are times when its obvious she needs to pee or that its a normal time for her to pee (after waking up from a nap) and she will refuse. At those times, I won't push her and keep up asking her more frequently until she does go.

She is starting to communicate with others regarding her elimination needs and not just me. The other day when our neighbor cared for her, Belle kept her diaper dry all day. She let the neighbor take her to the toilet and indicated when she needed to go. I was very impressed.

Today, she stayed dry all day and this is becoming a more regular occurrence. I found some underwear for her to start wearing and I dress her in soft knit pants that are easy for her to pull down. She's starting to try to pull her pants up herself and put her underwear on too.

Some nights she will stay dry. For a few months, it was more reliable but these days its not so much. Belle isn't particularly a fan of undressing to go to the bathroom at night, and I don't blame her...

I don't know when I'll start dressing her in underwear full-time; probably when she has a verbal cue for needing to head to the potty. Right now I use diapers as insurance. I expect she'll keep it dry but if in case, she doesn't we don't have a puddle to clean up. And she will let you know if she's about to pee in her diaper. She gets really upset and will scream about it. This can be hard to understand the meaning of her screaming in the moment because there are so many other things she could be screaming about. I'm really looking forward to the day when I hear her yell "Potty!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Check that off the Bucket List

For a couple of years, Peter and I have wanted to be taught some basic massage techniques so we can give each other massages where both of us actually know what we are doing. Peter is built like a Viking (think a full size version of Glimli from Lord of the Rings). The muscles in his back are hard as bone, and its so broad that I have a very hard time massaging him. And for him, his hands are so strong and my body so bony and muscles so small in comparison that he has a hard time being gentle enough to not hurt me.

We had thought about finding a massage therapist to teach us some basic techniques but we hadn't been able to arrange anything. Then through his university, we enrolled in the Extension program's course for couple massage, but that too didn't work out.

But then today, I had the opportunity to not only take a full day class with my husband learning together the elements and techniques of massage, I was introduced to the campus of Bastyr University. The campus is beautiful, their cafeteria fully vegetarian with vegan and gluten free options. I learned about their bookstore as a resource for buying used midwifery textbooks and other supplies which I'll make use of in my midwifery program. Now the trick will be to visit again with two little ones in tow...

They offer continuing education and community education courses one of which is an 8 hour, bring a partner and learn massage course called Massage Made Easy.

A neighbor cared for our children today while we went.

Now I know some ways to isolate those knotted muscles on my husband's back and massage each part of the body with basic massage techniques.

I learned the value of a massage table which we don't have and can't afford to buy but I do know that my mother at one point purchased a portable massage table. I hope she still has it and once she moves to be near to us, I hope we'll be able to borrow and use it. Maybe not every day, but when sleeping children, exhaustion levels and midnight work cooperate.

A highlight of the class today was when an elderly man said, "Why don't marriage therapists recommend classes like this to married couples to strengthen their marriage?"

I do believe I have heard marriage educators and therapists recommend massage to couples, but I'll echo the man's recommendation. I do know from my experience that giving massages to your spouse is a good way to come together and show physical love and care separate from sex, while providing relaxation and connection that perhaps, and often will lead to intercourse. I'm reminded of the post which taught me that daily routines and rituals of caring for one's family can be devotionals and moments of quiet reflection where prayers or thoughts of love and concern can be imbued into daily activities. I can see how massaging one's partner can have the same power.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Balancing Luxury and Charity

Last month, our family went on a cruise to Alaska. It really was an enjoyable trip but as I was thinking of the luxury of the experience I also thought of the life situations of many around the world that is so opposite from what I was experiencing. I've become more aware of global poverty and my role in being the change I want to see in the world that I knew if I could afford a trip like that that I could also afford giving more to alleviate the poverty of many through out the world. I started thinking about what I could give. It really was a vague thought while on this trip and one I knew I wanted to continue pondering.

Then this last week, like an answer to a prayer, I heard on NPR an interview with Peter Singer who wrote "The Life You Can Save" which is his call to the people of the world to give a portion of their income to causes working to address global poverty. The website The Life You Can Save provides a calculator where you can find out what 1% of your income is (since I assume most of my readers earn less than $105,000 USD a year) as well as a list of organizations that are addressing poverty in a sustainable and community building way.

It was a bit of a wake up calling knowing that 1% of my income is less than what my family spends in eating out at restaurants each year (blush...) and yet its also a good lesson that giving to causes that actually make a difference in the lives of people is more possible than I had thought.

One of the organizations named on The Life You Can Save website is the Worldwide Fistula Fund which helps repairs physical damage to a mother caused by prolonged labor and lack of access to emergency maternity care in poor countries. The documentary A Walk to Beautiful highlights what is like for a woman who becomes completely incontinent as a result of childbirth and how she becomes an outcast in her community as a result. The treatment is estimated to be about $450 to restore a woman where she is able to rejoin her community.

Another organization that has come highly recommended to me is The Hunger Project because it assists an entire village for five years. This one is highly attractive to me as it focuses on an entire community rather than an individual or family.

I am also familiar with the humanitarian work that the LDS Church does and I know that in addition to providing immediate emergency relief in natural disasters, they also work on community building in poverty stricken areas around the world. I look forward to the day when my husband and I can serve humanitarian service missions. Perhaps I'll be able to put my midwifery training to use in this way.

In taking a look at my finances, I know this is something that I can do even in addition the tithing that I pay on my family's income to my church. In viewing the comfort and opportunities available to me and my children, I know that it is something I should do.

I took the pledge on The Life You Can Save and used their calculator to figure out what the guidelines are for my income level. I am encouraged by the stories of the people on the site who report that they can comfortably give more than the recommended guideline even on low incomes. One man from the UK makes the equivalent of $25,000 a year and finds he can donate 5% of his income to global poverty efforts.

Have you heard of this idea of widespread societal giving? What do you think? Will you take the pledge? Which organizations do you feel drawn to support?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Help me use up our vegetables

I purposefully refuse to substitute items from my CSA because I want to encourage adventurous eating in our house. There's a disconnect however. We get it and then we don't know what to do with it and sometimes I don't get around to figuring it out.

So I'm going to make this a a little game: I'll list the vegetables (we know what to do with the fruit...) that I got and you guys can tell me some ideas for what to make.

Hopefully, I'll get a plan to use everything up.

In this weeks CSA, we have:
1 bunch of radishes
2 Baby Bok Choy
1 bunch Red Chard
1 (surprisingly large!) bunch green onions
1 acorn squash
2 lbs of yukon potatoes
1 bunch of basil
1 head red leaf lettuce

With the bok choy, I'm planning to make a red lentil dish with spicy red peppers and coconut milk with jasmine rice. A neighbor brought it over to us after Belle was born and I loved it. Now I've got all the ingredients and I'm going to give it a try on my own.

Swiss chard we usually do as a side vegetable with any meal so that's easy.

We just had caprese salad the other night so I'm looking for something different to do with the basil.

I'm stumped mostly with the radishes. We're not fans of them raw and have no idea how to otherwise prepare them so we're not overwhelmed by the strong flavor.

Extra points are given to anyone who can combine ingredients for a tasty meal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

German is in the House

Rixa inspired me to blog about one of our family's newest adventures.

Willem is going to preschool, and not just any preschool. Its a school for German immersion.

Given my educational and professional background, I had been opposed to sending Willem to a preschool when I am a fully qualified (and have make a hobby of purchasing all the supplies needed by a) preschool teacher. But I am not qualified in being bilingual.

My husband, however, is fluent in German, though he has not attained native fluency. So when we found out about the German preschool, I was willing to give Willem the exposure to a language that he could learn and then converse with his dad. The hope is then that Belle will be exposed to the language and learn it herself. I may never become fluent but I'll benefit from the exposure and learn some as well.

Willem has been in school for a month now. I wish I could say that he loves it but he hates waking up and getting ready to go to school in the mornings he attends each week. I hope its just a matter that he doesn't like the process of getting there, but I have heard other complaints like there are too many children there and that he only likes mamas who speak in English and not in German and that he doesn't like German.

We're not giving up yet though. So we try to explain to him the reasons for why its a good thing if he learns a new language and why its important to go to bed early to wake up in time. My husband tries to speak to the children in German more often than he has in the past.

We've tried to think of ways to bring the German language into the house more. And the preschool teacher in me says that the easiest and most effective way of doing that is through German language children's books, music and other media. Its really hard to access German language children's materials in the United States. His school does have a lending library, thankfully, which we will begin to make use of.

Yet, just today, Rixa has helped break through that barrier about blogging about her Stand and Deliver: Little Pim language DVD giveaway!

I'm entering and I hope I'll be able to win one of the German language DVDs and we'll give it a try with Willem and Belle. They really like the Singing Times videos and I hope that a German language video would be similarly popular in the house.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three years later, we get some answers

You know those questions that linger in your mind for years and one day you come along to the answer? That happened to me the other day while reading Holistic Midwifery by Anne Frey.

In my first pregnancy, one of the most upsetting events was being inaccurately diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension. At a 34 week prenatal appointment, my blood pressure at the start of the appointment was 160/89. That is a higher reading than my normal which was closer to 140/70. It also just happened to be a particularly stressful day where I was having a hard time holding down food, was late to my appointment by a traffic jam on the freeway and parked a half mile from the clinic and walked/ran to get there as soon as possible, all after facilitating a class for 14 2 year olds for the morning.

In researching the clinical diagnosis standards of PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension), I found that its only diagnosable after two systolic (the bottom number) readings over 90. First, it wasn't over 90 and second, it didn't happen twice. But regardless that was enough for the midwives in the practice to tell me in no uncertain terms that I needed to go on bedrest immediately.

In trying to understand the statistical risks of increasing blood pressure in pregnancy, I couldn't get very clear information from my providers. Not on what causes it, what it means and what the chances were of a poor outcome to occur, or effective ways of lowering blood pressure, what my physical needs were at that point in pregnancy. My husband and I were both frustrated but decided that bedrest might not be a terrible thing since it would give me time to work on my masters degree before the baby was born. At the time, we figured that we were hedging our bets and being more safe than sorry.

The side effects of bedrest could be a whole other post, actually. But to what I learned about high blood pressure and what it had to do with my pregnancy.

Anne Frye taught me that it was pretty obvious that I was malnourished during my pregnancy.

"Liver-related demands increase as pregnancy advances. Maintaining lifer function at peak efficiency requires a well-balanced diet with enough protein, calories, vitamins, salt, other minerals and fluids to meet the demands of increased metabolic activity. The liver can only make albumin (maintains blood volume through attracting an appropriate amount of fluid into the bloodstream) from dietary protein. If the diet in inadequate in an essential nutrient, the pregnancy suffers. If calories are inadequately supplies in the mother's diet, she will burn protein for her energy needs. Malnutrition due to a lack of either calories or high quality proteins can result in many complications of pregnancy...[including toxemia or blood pressure issues]. (p, 195)."

Because of the increased blood volume of pregnancy (+50-60%!), the liver must work harder to meet the requirements of the baby and placenta. The kidneys respond when there is not adequate blood volume by reabsorbing larger amounts of water and salt as they filter the blood and/or by producing a substance called renin which constricts the blood vessels. When the blood volume is low and the blood vessels constrict around the available fluid, blood pressure is increased and it can be seen in blood pressure changes like what I experienced.

Its no surprise that day I was feeling terrible with dehydration and lack of food!

It wasn't just an isolated day that led up to it. Throughout my second and third trimesters, I was exhausted most of the time and really struggled eating enough. I would get home from work, eat a can of prepared soup and then take a 2-3 hour nap. I felt like I couldn't get enough protein no matter how hard I tried. Even carrying around snacks and eating often, I was either too busy working or too tired from working that I didn't have enough energy to prepare food for myself. I frequently skipped or did not have a good breakfast and then my insubstantial lunch.

With this information, I'm able to make sense of why I was so tired. Working while pregnant, though not a terrible decision, placed stress on me that I did not prepare or compensate for very well. There has been some research that shows that pregnant women working can predict high blood pressure and preeclampsia, which could also be its own post...

The bottom line is that I struggled to eat well during that pregnancy. I even remember a time that I was so weak and tired that I called a woman from my church who came and brought me food. Eventually it negatively affected my pregnancy.

Unfortunately, its pretty common for providers to not understand the physiology and connection between nutrition, blood volume and PIH. My husband also appreciates learning this because it finally filled in the missing information we wished we had and struggled to access at the time.

Anne Frey's calls this blindness in the medical community a political as well as feminist issue. It is very important to understand the cause of increased blood pressure in pregnancy instead of treating it after when it becomes preeclampsia and a woman is experiencing seizures.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Late Announcement

I failed to post on my blog that I bit the bullet and enrolled in midwifery school. If you've been following my Facebook page, this is old news. I just haven't gotten around to telling my blog readers about it.

After my first child was born, I got fascinated by learning about childbirth. I learned that while the physiological process is pretty simple, the cultural process of pregnancy and birth for a woman is much more complicated. Being a birth junkie became a hobby and my blog here was its product. If you are a regular reader here you know the process I've gone through. If you are a new reader, it doesn't take long to get an idea.

There came a certain point where I knew that my knowledge about birth had hit a plateau. In preparing for my second child's birth, my husband and I basically took a childbirth education class that was more like a crash course in emergency midwifery skills taught privately by our midwife's assistant. After my daughter was born, my midwife told me that if I ever wanted to attend a birth with her all I needed to do was ask.

I felt uncomfortable with that offer, though appreciative and excited at the same time. I didn't feel right inviting myself into a woman's labor because I had a compulsion to see birth as a witness rather than the subject. Attending a birth in that way would give me no official standing, no reason to be there other than voyeur. I would not welcome a person into my birthing space for that reason, I wasn't about to enter someone else's.

Perhaps though, it was my midwife's attempt to lead me into an apprenticeship. Now that I'm a midwifery student, I feel I have that official standing and the desire to become an apprentice formally. I'm hoping in the near future that I'll take her up on the offer and be available for prenatal visits as well.

Details, you ask?

I've enrolled in Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute in their Advanced Midwifery Studies certificate program. The school is owned and operated by Carla Hartley, founder of the Trust Birth Initiative and force behind the Trust Birth Conference. Its a 42 month program and an apprenticeship is not required during that time. Just in time for Christmas 2013, I will need to be done with the coursework.

The program started out as the Midwifery Homestudy Course which means that then, and now, its an independent study, apprentice based program where students get their book learning through completing the coursework and get their practical experience through apprenticeship and in person skills labs offered periodically.

Its perfect for me because I am dedicated to staying home and caring for my young children. I'm also dedicated to my sanity and developing my skills and talents. This course provides me with the balance to be anxiously engaged in a good cause though learning by study as well as being present with my children and their primary care provider. If I was able to complete a master's degree with the support of my husband while gestating two babies, I can do this program with his support as well.

I had been contemplating enrolling for awhile because I recognized the value of the education. Its very affordable in comparison to all on-campus midwifery programs. I also endorse the philosophy of practice and share the believes that birth belongs to mothers, not midwives or doctors or even the dominant culture. Earlier this summer, Carla was offering discounts to people in various places to enroll and I jumped at it. I later learned that she uses this trick to get potential students to take the step to enrollment. Clever and I'm glad she did it.

Part of the decision to enroll came because I had applied to PhD programs at the University of Washington to start this fall but I did not get in. I felt strongly that I needed some form of continued education and learning so when that didn't pan out, I saw the wisdom in becoming trained as a midwife as it would serve me in my academic career later. I think it might also help me get accepted into a PhD program in the future as well. I'm not disappointed that I'm not able to pursue a PhD at this time and I'm excited to immerse myself in birth at a new level.

My goals in becoming a midwife are not to own and operate a busy independent midwifery service. I'm not interested in maintaining a business. I'm more interested in the research, public policy and advocacy that will help midwifery become a more recognized and respected profession and provide a warning voice on the pitfalls of licensure and regulation. My birth experiences will continue to greatly inform my ideas as a birth advocate and I pray that I will never forget the primary need for the woman to consent and be the ultimate decision maker for her births. Please correct me if you ever suspect that I'm drifting from that position.

That's my hope for my future involvement in birth. To have the knowledge of a midwife which will inform academic research. When the time comes for me to apply to PhD programs again, I'll be looking at public health, women's studies, human development and public policy. Until then I'll be learning, serving as a midwifery assistant in a limited capacity and loving and enjoying my children.

I already had the chance to participate in the Basic Midwifery Skills Lab. These labs are taught a few times throughout the year in various locations across the country. In July, one was being held an hour from my home so I jumped at the chance to attend. In the lab, we were taught about the basics of midwifery practice as well as the hands-on skills of giving injections, starting IVs, suturing, inserting catheters, palpating fetuses, listening with fetoscopes, assessing blood pressure. The highlight, perhaps, was my introduction to the Vagina in a Box. I later learned that the midwifery and nursing students at the University of Washington wished that the nursing school would invest in this teaching aid. That was an indication to me that I'll be getting a better education than CNMs at one of the nation's top universities.

I met some amazing women at the SkillsLab. i even won a half price discount to the 2012 Trust Birth Conference. I've become friends with one of the women who lives just a couple of hours away from me. Together, we are planning to attend the Advanced Skill Lab being held in Oregon next year as well as rooming together at the conference.

If you've got any questions about the AAMI program, let me know, or if there's anything I left out or you want to know more about.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Best Night in a While

Belle, now 14 1/2 months old, is sleeping awfully. At six months, she was night-waking once for breastmilk. That continued until she was 13 months old and even for a while she did not wake for milk in the middle of the night. It was wonderful.

Now she's discovered that she can come into bed with us and that she actually enjoys bedsharing--a complete reversal of her wants and needs at 6 months old.

While I'm pleased that she likes to cuddle during sleep which is in fact what I would have preferred all along, she has not been sleeping well until she comes into bed with us and continues to not sleep well when in bed. Because of that, we've all been exhausted. I've been pretty worn down since she mainly sleeps and cuddles with me, thence I'm the one she keeps awake most. I wondered when the inevitable sickness from not sleeping would come. It hit over the weekend. Impressive given this sleep situation has been going on for 3-4 weeks.

Last night we found something that worked better and at least got me the sleep I've been sorely lacking. When she woke up at 1 am, my husband went into her room with her and they cuddled the night away. Because she's congested, she didn't sleep so soundly but from what my husband said it was better than recent nights. He actually got a deep sleep between 3:30 am and when he got up at 10:00. I got a sound sleep and I'm feeling invigorated.

I hope this is not the solution for getting enough sleep. I know that if I were to switch off on nights with him that the nights she sleeps with me wouldn't not work as well as it does with him. With bedsharing, its very much like the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." If you give her a spot in the bed next to mama, she will ask for mama milk. All. Night. Long.

She's perfectly happy to not eat during sleeptime but if its available, she'll take advantage. And harass me until I give in. It just seems like a happier arrangement for all of us, if she's sharing the bed next to my husband and not me.

I'm tempted to rearrange the sleep arrangements for her sake again. At six months old, we moved the sidecar crib into the children's bedroom (where at the time no children slept). That necessitated a complete rearrangement of other furniture too. I wonder if this time, the answer is to rearrange the twin bed that's in the other room. I think there's enough space between our queen size mattress and the wall in our room for a twin to fit. I'm on the same page with my husband, though, we hate moving. In the first few years of our marriage, we moved frequently and since then we live in a transient neighborhood so we are often helping neighbors move. Even the thought of rearranging furniture in our house is enough to make us less than willing.

We'll see how long we can be happy with my husband not sleeping in our marriage bed, with my young son with me and him with our daughter. Maybe we'll break down in the not distance future and try the extended to king bed in our room.

In preparation for that, can anyone recommend bed connectors that work well and don't leave a big gap between mattresses?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A remedy that might help my hip pain

ve blogged about the right hip pain I've had since my second baby's birth and how I'm trying to address it now before it becomes chronic and so it doesn't interfere with my plans to have more babies. So far the things I've found that make the most difference are yoga and practicing proper posture throughout the day. When its been really bad therapeutic massage has been more effective than chiropractic. I've also found that the exercises and heel lift for my shoe that my chiropractor gave me for correcting my scoliosis makes my hip pain much worse so I've taken those out of my routine.

Tonight I learned about another thing that might help when my hip starts to bother me (which is much less than it has in the past). Buscando La Luz who blogs at Birth Faith posted about Lecithin supplementing for remedying joint and pelvic pain. In an impressively comprehensive post, she taught me that lecithin can address the same type of issue I'm trying to address and that eggs are a good source of lecithin. She tells about learning this for herself and how regularly eating eggs when she is pregnant can keep the pelvic pain at bay.

I think I know what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Adding to my Public Policy Toolbox

There are lots of proposals for improving public health and infant mortality rates. I've had a package in mind for a while and it generally includes:

federally paid maternity and paternity leave
tele-commuting, work from home and flex time options for workers
incentives to employers to provide on-site child care to employees
subsidies for stay at home parents
homeschool resource and support centers in every community
Family Child Interaction Learning Programs to encourage school readiness and parent/child attachment

But today I learned of a new one. Taught to me by none other than Feminist Guru of our times, Gloria Steinem. In this article, she mentions the Caregivers Tax Credit which as she describes,
"we can also pass legislation to attribute an economic value to care giving at replacement level (whether care giving is raising children, talking care of elderly parents, AIDS patients; whatever), make this amount tax deductible in a household that pays taxes, or tax refundable in households too poor to pay taxes (thus substituting for the disaster of welfare reform). This Caregivers Tax Credit unifies the so-called soccer mom and the welfare mom because both benefit. You can find out more about this legislation, which just expands the refundability principle we won in the Child Tax Credit – though a lot of people don’t know they’re eligible; you should publicize that – to care giving."

She also links to the website: which includes the opportunities to sign up for the campaign newsletter, an endorsement form and an invitation to write to your representatives in Congress to support the creation of this new tax credit.

There is also a survey that you can take where you can report your thoughts on this tax credit and if its something that you would benefit from.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing to conceive again

Last weekend, I went to a training to learn the more clinical aspects of midwifery and I came away from it with some upheaval. Not about birth but about my future children.

First there were lots of Moms with Many or Quiverful Moms there with 6-10 kids each. This is a big deal for me because I've never gotten to know personally mothers of large families so I've never been able to envision me being the mother of more than 5-6. That is further complicated by my husband not wanting more than 6. Then I learned that my fears of pelvic floor dsyfunction was real and my concerns about my hip pain are getting stronger. And I realized that if I want 5-6 (or more) kids that I'm not going to have enough time before I get to 40. And then the physical issues might make it hard to have that many more kids.

So one at a time:
On our first date, I told my husband I am aiming for 6 or more children and he didn't feel confident that he could be a father to that many so he said he'd be comfortable 4 (which is one more than his parents had). For the sake of an easy compromise, I said 5 and that's what still remains the agreement now because I haven't felt like pushing for more. As of now, he doesn't know that I'm now thinking of more than 6.

Then is the fear of not being able to physically withstand more than 6 pregnancies. After two pregnancies so far, I have chronic hip pain that I fear might be arthritis. Through yoga, working on correcting my posture, chiropractic adjustments and regular massages, I can keep the pain from being all the time but it often nags most of the time. There was a point just after Belle was born that I couldn't walk it was so bad and I had to find a chiropractor in a state I didn't live in so I could get the joint put back in place. It was really uncomfortable at the end of Belle's pregnancy and I'm scared if I don't get it healed before I get pregnant again my next pregnancy will be really difficult and it could be worse after. And the older I get, the worse it will be.

The other effect of two pregnancies I'm worried about is the prolapse (cytocele and rectocele to more precise). Basically, it means that my vaginal walls have been weakened so when my bladder or colon is full, both can be felt weighing on the vaginal walls. Its really common in women who have had children and it really only negatively affects me when I'm on my menstrual cycle. It makes wearing regular or super sized tampons difficult because they get pushed out by the collapsing tissue. Its also the reason why the Diva Cup doesn't work for me. I am concerned however that if I don't work to rectify it now that it will get worse in more pregnancies and become a problem.

Between those two things, I'm scared that I will be so effected that having a third baby will make life after that baby so difficult that I wouldn't be able to care for the children I have, let alone have more children.

On the other side of that, is if those things can be resolved so I'm no longer in pain and don't need to worry about more severe prolapse, then how long will it take? 3 years? That was my original plan, I knew that having both children so close together meant I needed to have more time before the next one. Now I'm concerned if I wait that long, I won't have enough time before I decide I'm too old to have another baby. If I turn 40 in 2024 and I have my next baby in 2013, that's 11 years of time to have more babies. Every two years, I could have 5 more. So I feel my upper limit is 7 then which means that only 7 of the 9 names we have chosen would be used for our children. And I'm scared that having babies every two years will be too much for my body because having two babies in two years already has been too much for my body and I'll just be older which will means pregnancies are automatically going to be harder than if I was younger.

Meeting the Quiverful moms was really an inspiring experience for me. Many of them had their first babies younger than I did. So I'm already feeling "behind" like I was getting a late start. Though I know that even having a baby at 21 is still plenty young aside from the fact that it was perfectly right for me. I also am realizing that my body, because of breastfeeding, is going to space children a little more than 2 years apart, which I feel is great and good because its a sign of how Heavenly Father created us to bare and care for our babies.

I don't want to be in competition with other mothers to have as many babies as they do, but I do like seeing the fruits of their families. The older children learn how to be parents by caring for their younger brothers and sisters. Mothers get help in managing and caring for so many people, and from what I've seen the older siblings caring for the younger allow mothers to be involved in activities that take them outside the home (in this case, to become midwives). I also like the idea of not worrying about fertility and accepting pregnancies as they come, having faith and reliance on God.

I know that's the answer. To trust in God, pray to know what to do about my hip because, really, that is what concerns me most.

I think what I wish is that my hip pain could be gone and not a worry because if it were, I would be excited to conceive again as soon as possible. I'm already feeling stirrings for another baby but I'm so scared of how painful that pregnancy would be if I were to get pregnant now with my hip the way it is.

And even if my hip was fine and I could conceive again so early (I'm thinking that my luteal phases are still too short), I'm almost positive my husband would be opposed because according to his plan, we are not going to have another baby until he graduates and we move. I have to throw this in too: he frustrates because to me it appears that he does not consider God's plan for our family at all when it comes to trying to conceive. I think he might think that he's going to decide whatever he wants and just trust thats what God wants for him. I'm not feeling like I can agree with that.

To further complicate things is the circumcision issue. As far as I know, he still is obstinately supportive of circumcising our next son and he refuses to even talk about it until we know we are having a boy. I want to be surprised with the gender our next babies so that is the recipe for an all out fight after the baby is born. I don't want to put off finding consensus until after or even while pregnant. I'm pretty sure a large portion of the reason why he doesn't want to discuss circumcision is because he would rather not face the idea his parents did something to him when he could not stop them and it may now have negative affects on him.

Oh my goodness, this thought just occurred to me: what if my hip problems and his not wanting to discuss circumcision is linked? Karma could make it possible...

So there you go, those are all my issues. I'd love advice on any of the above.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dreaming Again: Dream House Features

The other morning my husband and I came to the conclusion that its really not a good idea to bathe and then feed young children in the mornings. It makes much more sense to feed the child (especially messy things like oatmeal, fresh berries, etc) and then bathe said child. That doesn't happen in our house because the only bathroom is upstairs while the kitchen is downstairs. So of course, we asked the question: wouldn't it be nice to have a small kitchenette area upstairs so the family can eat breakfast before going downstairs and then shower after eating?

Which then, of course, led to a conversation about what else we would want in our dream house. Below is that list. I'm probably missing a sunroom or screened patio or office or something downstairs. A few years ago we bought a design software program where we could design everything down to the landscaping. When we got started with putting it together, we didn't know what rooms would be in it and its kind of hard to design a house not knowing the features of the interior.

There's a good chance we'll never design our own house, but its fun to dream.

Top Floor:
2 child/guest bedrooms
1 bathroom
Master suite with bathroom (stall shower, jetted deep tub, double vanity)
great room

Bottom Floor:
2 bedrooms
open concept kitchen to living room
dining room
2 bathrooms

full finished basement with bathroom

Separate building:
upstairs office for me
downstairs office for husband

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mothering Styles: INTP

A quiz based on the Meyers-Briggs Personality test specially designed to asses mothering styles showed in my Facebook newsfeed the other day. The results are very accurate for me and give me some insights into what comes naturally for me and helps to assuage some of the guilt I feel in certain circumstances.

Now if only there was accompanying findings on which styles are most effective and if certain styles are effective at gaining the results they are seeking to get from their kids.

One interesting thing though is that I make a concerted effort to maintain interdependence and community as values for my children and I often find it in conflict with my natural tendency to encourage independence and autonomy. I hope that my children display both sides of it and get a good balance passed on to them.

The 'Love of Learning' Mother
INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)

Intellectually curious and patient, the INTP mother relishes those times with a child when they are learning something interesting together. Whether they're at the zoo or computer terminal, she sparks to answering his or her "whys" with in-depth responses or new knowledge.

The INTP mother is also objective and introspective. She listens to and discusses children's ideas and questions as she would those of a peer, fostering self-esteem and confidence. Open and non-directive, she allows children the freedom to do for themselves and quietly encourages them to believe they can do it.

Independence, autonomy, intellectual development, and self-reliance are probably the INTP's highest priorities for her children. An avid reader, she naturally imparts an appreciation and love of reading as well.

Drawn to all types of learning, the INTP may also value her mothering experience for all the new insights about life it provides her.


Fostering her child's intellectual development. The INTP mother has respect for her child's mind, thinking, and reasoning, regardless of his or her age. Her goal is to shape her children's intellectual development, taking seriously their thoughts, ideas, and questions. She enjoys watching how they absorb and use new information.

Teaching. Desiring to meet her children's need to learn and know, the INTP mother is born to teach. She instills a love of learning by finding ways to build on a child's natural curiosity. Beyond tirelessly answering a multitude of questions, she enjoys leading him or her to new books, real-life experiences, or hands-on activities.

Encouraging independence. The INTP mother gives her children the space they need to develop independence. Although it might be easier for her to carry out a particular task herself, she can back off and let them try to do things for themselves so they will begin to master the task. She lets her children test themselves and has high aspirations for their competency, but she seldom pushes.

Calmness. The INTP mother is usually tolerant and calm, not highly critical of children's mistakes—she may see them as learning experiences! She seldom gets upset if they do something that displeases her. Her children may find her a model of patience, kindness, and fairness.


Noise and confusion of family life. The INTP can become easily exhausted by children's non-stop chatter, constant activity, lack of self-control, and their never-ending demands for her to look, listen, and respond. She may retreat, physically and emotionally.

Routines. The INTP mother is likely to struggle when a family member needs to meet a schedule. Getting young children dressed, fed, and out the door for school on time or keeping them on task for bathing, teeth brushing, and bed times can seem like overwhelming tasks.

Singular focus. When she is focused on reading, thinking, or work, the INTP's children may feel as though they can't break through her concentration. She may worry that she seems distant and detached.


The INTP mother can benefit from setting aside regular times when she can turn inward and lose herself in reading, thought, or work. Energized by time alone to think, her "mind time" is a necessity, not a luxury. To do her best mothering, the INTP may need to get up early, stay up late, or use children's nap time to read, daydream, or gaze out the window in thought.

Believing she is different from other mothers, the INTP may feel uncomfortable if she compares herself to more traditional mothers. If she can learn to trust in her own unique strengths and enjoy her relationship with her children (rather than compare hers to other mothers'), she can boost her mothering confidence and take greater pleasure in day-to-day living.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beware the Nurse Shark!

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.

As a breastfeeding mother, I have been, some would say, assertive about breastfeeding my children wherever I am. I love seeing other mothers comfortably nursing their children in public. I even had the honor of working at a preschool where mothers would breastfeed their toddlers as I was giving circle time.

But this picture, I think, takes the cake for breastfeeding in public:

This is a picture I took of a woman breastfeeding her infant dressed in a shark bunting costume while trick-or-treating at a shopping center in Seattle.

Get it?

Nurse Shark?

I couldn't help but think it was awesome. The woman (I wish she was my friend) gave me permission to take her picture and probably was thinking, "Who is this crazy woman who thinks this is so cool?"

That would be me and probably a few thousand mamas who are passionate about a mother's and baby's right to continue their breastfeeding relationship in public. Its for this reason that I'm participating in Code Name: Mama's and Baby Dust Diaries Nursing in Public Blog Carnival.

Art by Erika Hastings at

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

Art by Erika Hastings at

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Monday, June 21, 2010

Responses to Survey on Unnecessary Medical Treatment

The Safe Patient Project is soliciting stories of medical overtreatment and medically unnecessary treatment. The Consumer Union asks:
Have you or a loved one had tests, surgeries, procedures or medications that you thought were unnecessary? If so, we would like to hear your story. We'd also like to know if you declined tests or treatments offered to you that you thought were unnecessary and found a medically appropriate alternative. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Your personal experience can really help us stop unnecessary and inappropriate medical care in the future, and improve the quality of care for patients.

One of the the areas in which medical overtreatment is done most is in maternity care. Its a multi-billion dollar business where each delivery costs almost triple than it otherwise could. There is evidence to suggest that childbirth in a hospital after a low-risk is overtreatment. Midwives are able to safely assist women in birthing their babies in their homes in the vast majority of pregnancies at the fraction of the cost. Choosing to birth without a medical attendant is also a valid option given preparation, planning and access to emergency services.

If you, one of my readers, have a story to tell about unnecessary medical treatment during your child's pregnancy, labor and birth, the Consumer's Union Safe Patient Project is giving you the opportunity to tell about your experiences. If your experiences were traumatic reporting on it may be triggering. There is a chance that your story will make a difference in maternity care and you'll face better and more appropriate treatment the next time you have a baby. You may also be making maternity care better for other mothers and their babies. The URL for the survey is:

The following is the story I told. I'm including my responses to the question. I tried to explain as clearly as I could that I feel like the admission to the hospital in early labor was medical overtreatment. I recognize that in the big picture and in comparison to other birth experiences I may have had, its a small thing. But as I learned, it can and did have strong consequences.

1. Question - What type of medical overtreatment did you experience?

Answered: Other

2. Question - In what kind of facility did the event occur?

Answered: Hospital

3. Question - Describe your medical overtreatment experience in your own words (the space below allows you to include as much detail as you like):
I was admitted to the hospital in early labor (38 weeks pregnant) where the midwives proceeded to attempt a induction. This strategy is sometimes called a "backdoor induction" because it misleads the pregnant patient into believing that her labor is more progressed than reality and that a hospital admission is warranted. In response to this question, I'm considering the hospital admission medical overtreatment. There was no need to be admitted to the hospital at that time. The result of the admission was stress in response to the coercion used by the midwife on duty who attempted to get me to consent to an induction that was unnecessary. I felt bullied, manipulated and scared for my health and my unborn baby. I experienced PTSD as a result from what I feel like was fighting off a potential rape of my body.

4. Question - Did you report this incident to your state's Medical Board or other licensing agency?

Answered: Yes

5. Question - If yes, what was the Medical Board or Licensing Agency response?

Answered: None

6. Question - Your experience or that of a loved one resulted in:

Answered: minor injury or minor disabling condition

7. Additional Comments:
I explained above that I experienced PTSD as a result of overtreatment in my pregnancy. Often the psychological response is not classed as "morbidity" but considering how debilitating it was for me, I consider it a minor condition that had far reaching effects on my life. I still suffer the effects of the emotional trauma but felt recovered enough to not longer need treatment after 1 year.

8. Question - If you or your loved one experienced medical harm from overuse, how long did it take to fully recover from the incident?

Answered: More than a year

9. Question - Did the medical professional fully inform you of the risks of the procedure or treatment.

Answered: Did not provide full information about the risks

10. Question - Please describe additional information that you received about the risk or found out after the procedure from another source.
I was not informed that the risk of early admission to the hospital was increased intervention that could lead to a hasty attempt at induction which is associated with a higher likelihood of c-section, mortality for mother and baby, respiratory distress for the baby and NICU stay. If I had know that quickly, upon admission to the hospital that an induction of active labor would have been suggested, I would not have consented to being admitted.

It was later that I found out about backdoor induction from a labor and delivery nurse who blogged about it at:

11. Question - Were there unanticipated costs associated with the medical procedure or treatment?

Answered: Yes (therapy, an extra day of hospitalization)

12. Question - Did your health insurance company pay for expenses associated with this care?

Answered: No (not the therapy)

13. Question - If you declined medical care you thought was unnecessary, what tests or treatments were offered to you that you declined?

Answered: Other

14. Question - Please describe why you thought the tests or treatment were unnecessary and declined them.
I declined the induction that the midwife attempted to force on me. She lied to me telling that she wanted to augment my labor. I after learned that using pitocin and breaking water before 4 cm dilation (and active labor) is a complete induction.

I also declined the morphine and sleep aids that I was offered. I felt that the midwife was attempting to coerce to me take them and that she did it with the intent of knocking me out so she wouldn't have to deal with me. When a woman is coping well with her established labor pattern and is not expressing any exhaustion or discomfort, the offer for pain relief or sleep aid is unnecessary.

15. Did you seek a second opinion?

Answered: Yes

16. Question - What did you do?

Answered: Pursued another treatment

17. Additional Information:
Because I was told that there was a good reason to be admitted to the hospital, I was very confused why I was then rudely told to leave the hospital when I declined the offered procedures and drugs. I continued laboring and progressed to active labor after being kicked out of the hospital for my lack of cooperation. I was then afraid of going back to the hospital fearing that I would be told to leave again, forced into intervention I knew to be unnecessary or that I would be lied to regarding the health and well-being of my baby.

In the hospital, I considered trying to switch providers to one of the OBs on staff and I learned that the OB supported and was going to sustain the midwife's plan for my labor. When I was told that I would not consent, the OB told me to leave.

At home I considered the options of not seeking further treatment or consulting with another hospital or maternity care provider. Because I was in labor and the baby would be born within hours, I could not bring myself to go to a different hospital and provider that I had not planned on working with. I was very fearful that if I even tried another hospital would not admit me. That left my other option of giving birth at home unattended by a medical professional or calling a homebirth midwife to attend me which I did not think a midwife would be willing to do without a prior working relationship with me. I was worried about the legal implications of birthing unassisted and thought perhaps my child could be taken away from me because of my neglect is obtaining proper medical attendance for his birth. I felt like my only option was to return to the hospital where I had been treated badly and hope for the best in spite of my fear.

Upon returning to the hospital, labor progressed easily and I birthed my baby unmedicated and without further intervention within 6 hours. By that time the midwife who had troubled me the day before was off shift and I didn't have to deal with her anymore. No further attempts to alter my labor were made though AROM was done with my consent. It was unnecessary at the time too but I did consent to it and did not feel pressured to do so.

In effect, the treatment I pursued was "the tincture of time." I knew that a first time labor could be slow to establish an active labor pattern that with the supportive emotional and physical assistance I could bear the labor as it progressed and that in time, the baby would be born without difficulty.

My story does not highlight the most egregious ethical lapses of a maternity care provider but yet, her treatment and tactics still were not right, not in line with the midwifery model of care and unfortunately indicative of the greater obstetric culture where its just fine for providers to withhold and manipulate information to hurry births along. I can only speculate on the motivations for why they do it and even with an explanation, the "care" cannot be excused. I truly hope that my story and others will have an impact on how patients are treated and that they are given the respect they deserve to make completely informed decisions.