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.