Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

Ricki Lake to appear on Leno May 15, 2007

Filed under: Activism,Current events,home birth,Natural childbirth,Pregnancy — amygeekgrl @ 3:06 pm

From “The Business of Being Born” mailing list:

Ricki will be appearing on Jay Leno tomorrow night, May 16th. (NBC, 11:35pm EST.) So tune in, as there is sure to be talk of β€œThe Business of Being Born!”

I will plan to tape it, watch it and hopefully report back.

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An evening with Ina May May 8, 2007

Ina MayAs I set out driving Friday night to hear Ina May Gaskin – called “the mother of authentic midwifery” by Midwifery Today – speak, I was filled with nervous excitement. When I was about 10 minutes out from the church in Lafayette where the event was taking place, a friend of mine called me to say she was saving some seats for me and other friends of ours and she was able to get pretty close to the front. I felt like a teenager going to a rock concert. Third row seats! We got third row seats to see Ina May! πŸ™‚

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw moms with their children in baby slings or carriers, groups of women without children, as well as some couples all making their way towards the entrance. I pulled in a spot, got Julian from the backseat and into the Ergo carrier when I overheard a woman a few cars down from me say, “I’m so glad I remembered to bring my book for her to sign.” D’oh! I never even thought to bring my copy of “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” Some groupie I am, eh?

With only five minutes to spare before the talk was supposed to begin, Julian and I hightailed it into the building, quickly saying hello as we passed a couple of women I know from our AP group on the way. I couldn’t wait to get inside.

We made our way to the front of the registration line and we were greeted by my midwife K with a big hug. I wanted to stay and chat with her, but there wasn’t time and she had a lot more participants to check in, so we agreed to try to meet up after Ina May’s talk to chat. My excitement and anticipation grew.

Once inside the church, I spotted my friends waving me down in, yes, the third(!) row, right in front of the podium. I may have skipped a little as I made my way towards them and settled down in my seat with Julian.

We chatted for a good 10 to 15 minutes before Karen Robinson, the president of the Colorado Midwives Association (CMA), came out to welcome everyone to the event, speak a bit about the CMA, and then, the moment we were all waiting for, introduce Ina May Gaskin.

The applause began immediately and Ina May walked in to a standing ovation.

She began her talk with a bit of history both about herself and about the history of birth and obstetrics in the United States. While I have read and heard before about how women used to be treated in hospitals (drugged to the point of being unconscious while their babies were extracted from their bodies using forceps, etc.), it gives me the heebie-jeebies every time. She told us how her first birth was in a hospital, where, despite her belief that she could’ve given birth naturally and without pain medication, she was drugged and her baby was taken out using forceps.

She spoke about the path that lead her to become a midwife, as she began attending births while traveling across the country (on hippie buses) with hundreds of others who were following Stephen Gaskin on a five-month-long speaking tour across the United States. 11 babies were born on the buses during the Caravan. She has attended more than 1200 births to date.

She talked about Sphincter Law which is described in detail in her book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.”

“The Sphincter Law recognizes the cervix as a sphincter along with the other excretory sphincters. These sphincters function best, Gaskin points out, in an atmosphere of privacy and familiarity.” —Midwifery: the Revival an Old Profession

So it is difficult for a woman to give birth in a hospital with nurses and doctors shouting “PUSH!” or making threats of “you’d better get that baby out soon or you’ll have a c-section” etc. Just as it would not be easy for any of us to shit (yes, she said shit! and ass too for that matter) on command. If you are sitting on the toilet, trying to take a crap and someone walks in on you – what happens? You stop crapping until you feel safe and no longer vulnerable. Same thing can also happen with birthing a baby.

She also talked about the mind/body connection, though I don’t know if she used that term. She described how she has witnessed a woman get stuck at 7 cm (or whatever) for hours on end with no apparent physical reason, only to later discover that this women’s mother died in childbirth, so this woman was afraid she would die too. Once the “secret” was out, however, the woman was able to dilate to completion and have her baby. She ran into something similar in another situation as well. But (and this is my own rambling here) had something like that happened in a hospital, how many doctors would stop to wonder what could be causing this woman’s labor to stall or would they threaten the woman that if she didn’t dilate by such and such time, she would need a c-section? Yes, I believe things need to change in the obstetrical world.

She talked a little bit about Ricki Lake’s new movie, “The Business of Being Born,” as she is interviewed in it. She mentioned that it received a standing ovation at the Tribeca Film Festival and that Ricki had recently been interviewed about it on “The View.” Someone asked how can we see the film and she recommended we start calling our local movie theaters to ask them when they will be getting it. Let them know there’s a demand for it.

At the end of her talk, she took questions from the audience. Questions were asked about VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccinations and breech births. I don’t recall all that was said since we were going on two hours of Julian being a happy camper in my lap and he was starting to get squirmy.

I know she said that she believes breastfeeding should continue as long as it’s mutually satisfying to both the child AND the mother. If mom isn’t enjoying the breastfeeding relationship anymore, she doesn’t believe in continuing to nurse out of guilt. She is currently in the process of writing a book about breastfeeding.

She doesn’t believe in routine circumcision, but has seen many circumcised boys in her years as a midwife, and even acted as a mohel for a while.

I didn’t get to hear a lot of what she said about vaccinations, since it was about that time that I decided Julian and I needed to move from our third(!) row seat and stand in the back, where I could sway with him and keep him contented. I recall her saying that she felt some vaccinations were OK, but she believes in starting them later than the recommended age. And that there were others (like chicken pox) that she wouldn’t recommend.

After I had Julian tucked back into the Ergo and we were swaying at the back of the room, someone asked a question about her thoughts on breech births (i.e. should they be automatic c-sections?). This, as some of you who have read Julian’s birth story* know, is a topic very dear and close to my heart. If you have a breech baby in a hospital with an OB, you are pretty much guaranteed a c-section. Of course midwives still perform vaginal breech births and believe that a woman should be able to choose to have a vaginal birth. Ina May helps educate midwives in her conferences (and through her videos) on the knowledge and skills required to successfully assist women having breech babies. In fact, one of the sessions from the following day’s midwifery conference was focusing on breech and twin births. “Vaginal birth of breech and twins has become a rarity for more and more OBs. Therefore the skills needed to assist in these types of vaginal births have begun to disappear and women are losing their right to choose a vaginal birth with twins or a breech.”

After that question was answered, Ina May wrapped up her talk and gracefully exited the room as everyone applauded with much gratitude.

Many people milled about for a while chatting with each other, meeting with Ina May or Debby Takikawa (the director of the movie “What Babies Want” narrated by Noah Wyle who was presenting at the midwifery conference held that day – by the way, it’s a great movie and you should definitely see it if you ever get the chance), etc. after the talk concluded. Yours truly was among them. I chatted with some friends for a while before realizing that Ina May was still around and signing autographs. I wished that I had my book with me, but since I didn’t, I asked her to sign a brochure from my midwife’s practice. She did.
“For Amy
Ina May Gaskin”
I talked to her briefly and told her a little bit about Julian’s birth, as he slept away in the Ergo. It was pretty darn cool to talk to her face to face. I knew she had had a busy day and another one ahead of her the next day (and still more autographs to sign), so I didn’t want to keep her for long. I thanked her and headed back over to my friends. We reminisced about how we used to get all excited about going to concerts or getting autographs from celebrities, etc., and there we were elated to hear a midwife talk and get her autograph. πŸ˜‰ Times have certainly changed.

I must add that I also wished I had taken my camera with me, when I later saw Ina May pose for pictures with a few women. I guess I now know what to bring along with me to my next midwifery rock concert event. πŸ˜‰

It was a wonderful evening and a great privilege to meet Ina May, a woman who has done so much to further the midwifery cause and offer women a choice, a very safe choice, when it comes to birth.

———————————————————————
I’m sure I forgot something from the evening and if anyone who was there wants to chime in in the comments with anything I overlooked, please do so. It really would’ve been nice to take notes, but there’s no way I could’ve kept the pen and paper out of Julian’s mouth. πŸ˜‰

Salon.com has a great article about Ina May called, The Midwife of Modern Midwifery from a series called “Brilliant Careers” in the June 1, 1999 edition for those of you who’d like to learn more about this amazing woman.

*If you haven’t read Julian’s birth story and would like to, please e-mail me. It’s not currently on my blog.

 

Ricki Lake’s “awesome” vagina May 5, 2007

There was a great article on Salon.com yesterday discussing Ricki Lake’s new movie, “The Business of Being Born”:

Ricki Lake’s “awesome” vagina
The actress and former talk show host takes us on a magical mystery tour through natural childbirth in her new documentary.
By Rebecca Traister

Also, someone on Mothering.com posted a link to the whole Ricki Lake segment on “The View” from the other day.

Check them both out! πŸ™‚

 

Ricki Lake produces “The Business of Being Born” May 1, 2007

Photo from The Business of Being Born

It’s hard for me to express just how excited I am about the new documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” with Ricki Lake as the executive producer. From what I have read and seen, it looks like it was very well done. It is my supreme hope that it will continue to build momentum towards a shift in how birth happens in this country.

There was just a brief discussion about it on The View this morning. I don’t normally watch The View, but a friend told me Ricki was going to be on, so I tuned in to catch what I could while Ava chattered in the background. πŸ˜‰ Ricki said she isn’t trying to say that everyone should have a home birth or that she’s anti-hospitals, but she wants all women to know that they have a choice. Rosie O’Donnell sounded very supportive of it and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who’s pregnant with her second child, seemed very interested as well. Joy Behar said she was skeptical. I guess ya can’t win ’em all. And Barbara Walters wasn’t there. (aww, bummer. ha!)

Here are a few clips from the segment. It sucks that I can’t find the whole thing online yet. Maybe later.

Added on 5/5/07: Someone on Mothering.com posted a link to the whole Ricki Lake segment on “The View” from the other day.

About the documentary from The Business of Being Born:

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN

Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big
business.

Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki
Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have
babies.

Epstein gains access to several pregnant New York City women as they weigh
their options. Some of these women are or will become clients of Cara
Muhlhahn, a charismatic midwife who, between birth events, shares both
memories and footage of her own birth experience.

Footage of women having babies punctuates THE BUSINESS OF BEING
BORN. Each experience is unique; all are equally beautiful and equally
surprising. Giving birth is clearly the most physically challenging event these
women have ever gone through, but it is also the most emotionally rewarding.
Along the way, Epstein conducts interviews with a number of obstetricians,
experts and advocates about the history, culture and economics of childbirth.
The film’s fundamental question: should most births be viewed as a natural life
process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency?
As Epstein uncovers some surprising answers, her own pregnancy adds a very
personal dimension to THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, a must-see movie for
anyone even thinking about having a baby.

Want to read more? Here’s an interview with Ricki Lake and the Huffington Post discussing the movie. Here’s a bit of it:

Why did you want to produce this film?
I wanted to make this movie after my two very different birth experiences with my children. I felt like I had an opportunity to explore and question birthing practices in this country and perhaps be an advocate for mothers’ rights and better maternity care.

How did your personal birth experiences influence you?
After the birth of my sons, particularly my home birth with my second son, I thought I wanted to become a midwife. Then I looked at all the years of schooling and training that I would have to do and felt that the time could be better spent doing a documentary on the subject of birth.

How intimate does the film get?
I am naked at 195 pounds giving birth in my own bathtub. It can’t get any more intimate than that!

What do you hope people take away from the film?
A lot! I hope this film educates people and empowers them to really know their choices in childbirth. We do not want to make any woman feel bad about the outcome of her birth, or the choices she made (or will make).

The film is currently premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and, according to Rosie O’Donnell on The View, it was the only film that received a standing ovation. πŸ™‚

I leave you with some quotes about birth:

“If we are to heal the planet, we must begin by healing birthing.” — Agnes Sallet Von Tannenberg

“$13 to $20 billion a year could be saved in health care costs by demedicalizing childbirth, developing midwifery, and encouraging breastfeeding.” — Frank Oski, MD, Professor and Director, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

“Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call “obstetrics’ and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.” — Michel Odent, MD

“The experience profoundly changed my perspective. In the hospital, I hadn’t perceived the anxiety and foreboding that permeated birth until I experienced the impact of its absence among the midwives. The peace, wonder, and intimacy were infinitely greater. What a compelling difference!” — Heidi Rinehart, MD (as quoted in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin)

 

Go Green! – Earth Day 2007 April 21, 2007

Because living green is important to me and my family, I turned on Oprah’s Going Green 101: What Your Family Can Do Today! show on Friday to see if I could pick up some more tips. While we’re already doing several of the things they discussed on the show, I learned quite a bit more that we can start doing to help save our planet Earth.

I decided to make a list (in no particular order) of things YOU can do RIGHT NOW to help save the world. Many of the things are from Oprah’s show, while some are things I came up with myself or got elsewhere.

Choose one or two to get started, or do them all! Every little bit helps. πŸ™‚

Help save the world by…

— Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) – CFL’s are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

— Buy natural cleaning products like Shaklee, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s. Or, make your own cleaning products – Homemade Cleaners!

— Buy organic foods whenever possible.

— Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Or buy Smart Power Strips to conserve energy and cash.

— Use cloth napkins.

— Use cloth diapers or if you must use disposables, consider buying gDiapers (which are flushable!) or Seventh Generation diapers.

— Use a reusable menstruation product like The Diva Cup or The Moon Cup or use cloth pads like Glad Rags.

— Take public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.

— Reuse one bottle for your water instead of buying bottled water.

— Bring your own coffee cup/mug/thermos when you go to Starbucks, etc. for your coffee. Starbucks even offers a discount when you bring in your own cup.

— Use cloth grocery bags.

— Breastfeed.

— RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.

— Shop at second hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others.

— Keep stuff out of the landfills by Freecycling items you no longer need. One person’s trash is another’s treasure!

— Take shorter showers.

— Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.

— Reduce your meat consumption, better yet – eat vegetarian, or even better still – go vegan. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

More Earth-friendly tips, contributed by Leigh:

— Purchase wooden toys, or at least used toys.

— Practice sustainable, green building practices for new homes or remodels (low VOC paint, renewable floors like bamboo, solar/passive solar, native planting, sustainable materials, low-water usage appliances, and so much more).

— If you can, convert your car to a bio-diesel or SVO powered vehicle.

— Compost and use in your garden

— Support businesses who invest in sustainable, earth-friendly practices

— Buy fair-trade (while it’s not directly linked to the earth per se, I believe that peace and fair living practices = respect for the Earth).

— Thank the earth daily.

Some more tips, contributed by Bazu:

— Use cold water when doing laundry. I was a little hesitant at first, but I haven’t noticed any difference in the level of cleanliness in the clothes, and it saves a good amount of energy.

— Keep your freezer full, it cools more efficiently. If you don’t have a lot of food, even ice packs or bags of ice will do.

— Convert your yard/lawn to natural native plants instead of non-local plants or grass. Lawn maintenance is a huge energy sucker.

Caroline suggests:
— Use biodegradable dog poop bags

And Erica recommends:
— Even better than vegan – eat RAW! No energy used to cook the food, and your body will thank you.

Check out these related links:

GreenDimes – Reduce your junk mail by 75-90% and have a tree planted for you each month – all for a dime/day

The Green Book – Full of hundreds of simple environmental solutions that can make a big difference in the world

Breastfeeding and the Environment – Breastmilk is a valuable renewable natural resource that is the most ecologically sound food source available. It is produced and delivered to the consumer without using other resources, and it creates no pollution. In contrast, artificial baby milk production pollutes our land, air, and water and uses up natural resources.

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s movie about global warming

Ten Tips for Earth Day: Preserving Biodiversity

The History of Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Tips from National Geographic’s The Green Guide

Logical Environmental Reasoning for a Vegetarian Lifestyle

Climate Teacher – Focused on helping people understand, communicate, and take action on climate change.

===================================
Do you have more tips or sites to share about going green or Earth Day? Please share them with me and I’ll add them to the list.

Mother Earth thanks you.
Happy Earth Day! πŸ™‚

 

thoughts on Blogher and being proud April 17, 2007

Filed under: Current events,Family and Friends,Miscellaneous,My life — amygeekgrl @ 1:31 pm

I’m sitting here at the computer with a sleeping Julian on my chest, while two men from South Africa clean out the air ducts in my house. Ava and Grandma left for a few hours to go to the library and buy material to make clothes for her baby “Trajan” and to get away from all of the noise. I figured I’d use this time to catch up on some Group Talks on Maya’s Mom and I came across some posts about Blogher, specifically the upcoming annual Blogher conference which is in July this year in Chicago.

I never gave any thought to attending the conference before, even though I’ve been blogging for over 2 years now, but after reading many women say what a great time they had in the past and how they are planning to return this year, I started wondering if it might be something I’d like to do someday.

My reading on Maya’s Mom lead me to Elizabeth’s blog Table for Five, specifically this post about her experience at Blogher ’06 and some things she took away from the closing session.
She wrote:
“1. Find your voice.
2. Stop apologizing. Be proud of who you are and what you do.
3.Stop hesitating. Move yourself forward.
4. You ARE worthy.”

Those things really hit home for me, especially the part about “Stop apologizing. Be proud of who you are and what you do.” and “Stop hesitating. Move yourself forward.”

There are sometimes things I want to write about, but don’t for fear of offending someone, somewhere. Or if I do write about something controversial, like circumcision, I’m so careful to be as politically-correct as possible, that I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. But then I wonder, why is it my responsibility to protect people? It’s my blog and I should be able to write or not write about whatever I want. If people chose to read it, that is their prerogative, and if it bothers or offends them, they have the option to stop reading it.

I admire the bloggers (and several come to mind) who lay it all out there and say whatever the hell is on their mind, without regard for who it might upset. They are proud of who they are what they do. They don’t apologize for sharing THEIR thoughts on THEIR blog. I respect them for being true to themselves.

While I don’t imagine I will make it to Blogher this year, maybe I will make it a goal to go next year. It sounds like a very empowering and fun conference to attend. Maybe I can talk a few of my friends turned bloggers to go with me. (Hint, hint – you know who you are – Nicole, Heather, Julie, Sonja…) And in the meantime, I’m going to try to be more true to myself in my blogging and speak my mind. I am proud of who I am, so why should I be so afraid to put myself “out there”?

======================================

And now for a “shout out.” Thank you Caroline, for including my blog among the five blogs you recommend. I think it’s awesome that you choose to read my blog even though it’s far removed from the world you are familiar with. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your open mindedness.

 

Shutdown day – March 24, 2007 March 23, 2007

Filed under: Current events,My life — amygeekgrl @ 1:24 pm

Jody just shared this with me…

Shut down day – March 24, 2007 – http://www.shutdownday.org/

“It is obvious that people would find life extremely difficult without computers, maybe even impossible. If they disappeared for just one day, would we be able to cope?
Be a part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the internet. The idea behind the experiment is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate!
Shutdown your computer on this day and find out! Can you survive for 24 hours without your computer?”

What an interesting (and scary, at least to me) experiment. Anyone going to do it? Jody and I will probably give it a go. It’s a great way to insure we spend a full day of family togetherness, and that’s gotta be good, right? Though going without my computer for a whole day may very well kill me. πŸ˜‰ We’ll see what happens! *Gulp!* Guess I’ll report back on Sunday to tell ya how we did.

Edited at 3:30 p.m. to add: I’m having serious 2nd thoughts already. Not sure it’s going to happen.