Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

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

Two studies need participants May 22, 2007

Filed under: home birth,Mothering,Natural childbirth,Parenting — amygeekgrl @ 8:12 pm

A research study about parenting views and practices

From Research on Mothering:

You are invited to participate in a research study of parenting views and practices. We are interested in understanding what sources parents find useful in their parenting practices, how parents use different parenting information, and what views parents across the country hold regarding parenting issues. We are interested in getting responses from mothers of small children, ages 4 and under.

A research study about home birth

And from A New Look at Home Birth:

Welcome! I hope you will participate in my study about home birth. I am a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Iowa, investigating current home birth cultures, with a strong focus on unassisted birth.

There are several different surveys related to home birth and unassisted birth, including surveys for health practitioners, birth attendants, as well as if you’ve had a home birth or unassisted birth, want to share your thoughts on childbirth literature, intuition in birth, sexuality in birth and birthrape. Each survey takes from 15-30 minutes and must be completed before May 27, 2007.

Click on the links above to go to the surveys.

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A perfect kind of day May 16, 2007

Filed under: Ava,Food,Julian,Mothering,My life,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 9:11 pm

Ever have a day where it seems everything is going your way? Where you are almost afraid to stop and take notice of what a great day it is for fear of jinxing yourself? Today was that kind of day for me.

It didn’t start off perfectly though. I woke up with the same migraine that I’d gone to bed with last night. But after drinking a cola drink (the caffeine helps), I started feeling better. From then on, it was an awesome day, complete with sunshine and temps in the 70s.

Ava watched a bit of TV (Sesame Street) in the morning while I got a little me/computer time in. Julian took a nice long nap which allowed me and Ava to read some books together, eat lunch and bake cookies. I also got a load of laundry done – even folded and put away (which is the hardest part for me).

This afternoon I took the kids to the library for a bit. They have a big puppet playhouse there that Ava loves, complete with tons of puppets. Today, however, she noticed that there were only a few puppets in there. She asked me where they all were and I suggested that maybe some of them had to be washed, but we could ask one of the women who worked in the library if she knew. So we went up to the desk together to ask and the woman told us Ava was the first child to ask about the puppets. Turns out they had to “retire” a bunch of the old ones, but had a whole bag of new ones to replace them – they just hadn’t put them out yet. But since Ava asked so nicely she brought out the new puppets and, Ava and a new friend she made today had a great time playing with them.

She and her new friend also “read” some books together. Ava “read”: “Bears All Around*” (the title she made up) “by Eric Carle” (it wasn’t really by Eric Carle, but I was enjoying her “reading” too much to point that out). Then she went through the book and “read” it to her friend, while they both giggled at just about everything that came out of Ava’s mouth. It was pretty darn sweet.

After the library, we stopped at Vitamin Cottage to pick up a few things we needed. Ava’s favorite VC employee Aruna was working and Ava greeted her with a big hug. The shopping trip went off without a hitch, I got to use my new cloth grocery bag (a freebie from Wild Oats) and we were soon back in the car driving home.

I read Ava one of her library books, then she went outside to play while I started on dinner with Julian in the Ergo. I decided to try a new recipe – Spring Pea Tarts – from this month’s “Vegetarian Times.” (What luck that it’s also the featured recipe of the week on their website, so I can share it without having to type it out myself!) I modified it a bit since I didn’t have a pastry puff, and used a spelt pie crust that I picked up at VC instead. And I didn’t have time to let it chill for 2 hours, but it was delicious anyway, and I’ll definitely make it again. 🙂

Jody got home in the middle of my dinner prep and took Julian off my hands. Then we had a couple contractors come by to give us more estimates on fixing our bathroom, since the guy we thought we were going to have do the repairs never returned emails or phone calls.

Ava was a joy to be around pretty much all day. Not that she’s normally a pain, but she is almost 3 and she does have a way of pushing my buttons from time to time. Not today. There was no whining, no discipline issues, no time outs (for Ava or mommy), nothing bad at all to speak of. And Julian was his usual happy-go-lucky self. It truly seems that everyone got their needs met today. Amazing.

The night has ended well. Both kids are sleeping. The crickets are chirping outside my open window. I’m taping LOST (my guilty pleasure) and Leno to watch them both later. I’m going to head downstairs now to enjoy one of those cookies we made and talk with Jody for a bit.

These kind of perfect kind of days don’t happen often so I’m basking in the glow of it right now. Life is good. 🙂

*The title she came up with (“Bears All Around”) cracked me up because she was recently looking at “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears at our house and when I asked her what she was reading and she said “Babies All Around.” Apparently that’s a theme now.

 

My Mother’s Day May 13, 2007

Filed under: Ava,Julian,Mothering,My life,Pictures — amygeekgrl @ 9:12 pm

Amy, Ava and Julian - Mother’s Day 2007

I had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Jody made us breakfast, which I ate while I opened cards from him, the kids and my parents. After the kids had baths, we picked up a yummy spinach salad, some pizza and banana bread pudding from Whole Foods and went to our favorite picnic spot on the Boulder Creek for lunch. The skies looked like they might open up and sprinkle a spring rain on us, but they never did and eventually the clouds cleared a bit. We had a nice relaxing time eating, walking around, playing and breathing in the fresh air.

Ava 5/13/07 Flower child 5/13/07 Julian 5/13/07 Blowin’ raspberries 5/13/07

(Don’t ya just love Ava’s dress? I got it at that big consignment sale for $5!)

After our picnic lunch, we headed over to Pearl Street Mall (an outdoor pedestrian mall) to take our annual Mother’s Day picture in front of the tulips. I’ve had a picture taken there with Ava for the past two years, so, of course, we had to do it again this year and keep up the tradition. 🙂

Mother’s Day 2005 Mommy and Ava – 2005
Mother’s Day 2006 Mommy (pregnant with Julian) and Ava – 2006
Mother’s Day 2007 Mommy, Ava and Julian – 2007

After playing on the mall for a bit – there are some rock gardens that Ava has a blast playing in – we headed home. I made a quick and easy dinner of tacos with Smart Ground and, with the kids in bed, I’m thinking of turning in early and catching some extra Zzzzzzs.

Hope all of you mamas out there enjoyed a nice day!

And Happy Mother’s Day to you, Mom. Thank you for giving me life and helping me become the person I am today. 🙂

 

 

 

Mother’s Day May 12, 2007

Filed under: Ava,Breastfeeding,Julian,Mothering,My life,Pictures — amygeekgrl @ 10:48 am

Happy Mother’s Day (tomorrow) to all the mamas out there. I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating you! You deserve it!

Since it is the eve of Mother’s Day, I want to share two pictures that are very special to me as a mother. The first is of Ava nursing when she was 2 days old, and the second is of Julian nursing for the very first time. (A big thanks to my midwife for snapping that picture. I wish I had one of Ava nursing for the first time, but I don’t think that I do.)

Ava - 2 days old Julian’s first nursing

When I look at the picture of Ava and I, I feel warmth, love and peace. When I look at the picture of Julian and I, I feel love and pure joy.

Nursing my children has been one of the most amazing experiences for me. When I am holding them close as they are nuzzled up to my breast, I feel like they are perfectly safe and secure. All is right in the world and nothing can touch them as long as they are in my embrace. I love that feeling.

It will be all too soon that they start venturing out to do things on their own.

Ava is starting a preschool/enrichment-type program in a few short weeks, and while I know she is ready and I am too, part of me wishes I could always keep her safe in my arms. Yet I know I must set her free to grow wings of her own.

And Julian bonked his head for the first time this week when he toppled over from a sitting position and into the exersaucer. I wish I could protect him from all of the bumps and bruises he will get in his life’s journey, but I know those bumps and bruises will help define who he grows up to be.

Becoming a mother has been such an amazing, life-altering experience. It has it’s ups and downs and is loaded with challenges, but it’s such a privilege to watch these little people grow, learn and love. Every day is special. Every day is something new.

I love this quote by Elizabeth Stone…

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body.”

I feel truly blessed to be a mother.

 

Firsthand review of “The Business of Being Born” May 11, 2007

Below is a review of the movie “The Business of Being Born” by Rachel, from Queens, New York City, NY, a woman I met on Mothering.com. She saw the movie during the premier at the Tribeca Film Festival and gave me permission to print her review here.:

I was able to see this movie last night (May 3, 2007) at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was fantastic. You can read the synopsis on the website, but basically the film features women who choose home birth with a midwife, contrasting this with what happens in a hospital birth, the stats of US births v. other developed countries, some history about birth in the US like “twilight sleep” and Cytotec and cesarean rates, lots of interviews with mainstream OB/GYNs, labor and delivery staff, midwives, birth activists and educators, and women about birth. Michel Odent is featured, and a few short snips of an interview with Ina May Gaskin. We follow NYC home birth midwife Cara Muhlhahn as she tends to her patients in prenatal care and at the birth itself. One humorous segment has Cara talking about her own home birth spliced in with footage of her home birth. She admits she wasn’t an ideal patient and could write the book on “home birth midwife begs for c-section!” Less than 90 minutes long, the film was tightly edited and kept me enthralled the whole time.

The facts and expert opinions are mixed in with the experiences and birth footage of women featured in the film. I think 4 or 5 home births or birth center births were shown, all so beautiful and natural and moving in their simplicity. I cried through each one, and the audience literally gasped with joy as each baby was safely and gently delivered and given right to mom. It was a stark contrast to the footage of hospital births.

As one moviegoer said in the Q&A after, “thank you for making a film that celebrates life.”

Parts that stood out for me:
-The filmmaker interviews 3 OB/GYN med student residents and asks them how often they get to see a natural birth. They stare at her blankly before admitting “not very often.”
– All of the births: home, birth center, and hospital.
– A range of opinions from the OBs, those who don’t know anything about home birth and think it is crazy, to those who fully support it
– How women were treated in the hospital vs. at home

The message is very straightforward. It wasn’t preachy and condescending. They use a lot of humor, intelligence, facts, and humanness to illustrate their message that “hey! Women deserve options in birth and to learn what those options are.” Most of the audience seemed already open to or educated on the topic. Even the family physician and OB who spoke up at the Q&A were not newbies to the concept of home birth. The former said that he found the film very balanced and was now interested in learning how to offer home birth as an option to his patients, and the latter is an OB who had her babies at home and said this movie captured the message that she was always trying to give her colleagues. I’d be interested to hear what a skeptic would think of the movie.

Ricki Lake was the executive producer and is featured in the film, too, talking about her own journey to home birth and showing the experience itself. My opinion of her as a Jerry Springer-ish talk show host has definitely changed! She comes across as smart and strong and I’m so happy that she is using her wealth and celebrity to get this important message out. She mentioned that one journalist had written an article slamming her as an opportunist for making this tasteless film, and he wrote a long retraction after seeing it and finding it very worthwhile. I’d love to read both if anyone finds them.

On a more personal note, I was deeply moved by this film. Having been grouchy and depressed for days, my mood turned to elation watching this film and I still am high from it. I wish every woman thinking about having a baby could see it. But I know it would not impact many of them, since so many of us in the US are conditioned to see birth as a nightmare to just get over and do whatever the OB says and nothing really matters but getting a healthy baby in your arms at the end of the day. To me, my birth experience DOES matter. I want it to be the transformative, powerful, life-altering experience I know it can be. Seeing this made me so excited and proud that we are planning a home birth, and grateful that I live in a state and have an insurance company that makes it possible. And that my husband supports my choice despite his misgivings. I hope it gets distributed before our baby comes so he can see it.

Another funny story—the NY Daily News said this movie “wasn’t for the squeamish.” And when I picked up my tickets at will call, the woman who gave them to me said, “are you sure you want to see this? It is very graphic.” I said, “I can’t wait to see it! I’ve heard such great things about it!” She said, “well, won’t it scare you, you know, with all you’re about to go through?” [indicating my pregnant belly] I was a little tongue tied for a moment, and said, “It won’t scare me, it will prepare me.” And she seemed happy with that. I just think it would be so weird to be thinking, “Ok, my body is about to go through this tremendous experience, so I’ll just be sure to remain as ignorant about it as possible.” But I guess that is true for a lot of people. I didn’t get the “squeamish” or “graphic” comments at all. Considering what you see in movies and TV these days, these births were so simple and beautiful. Maybe I’ve just seen enough birth footage already that this wasn’t shocking to me. We are so cut off in our culture from birth and death. How it all starts and ends. Interesting.

Everyone should see this movie! Enjoy! You can sign up for the email list on the website, and I assume they will send an update when they get a distributor.

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me share this with my readers. 🙂

 

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! 🙂

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. 😉 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. 😉

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. 😉

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.

 

Giddy as a school girl May 4, 2007

Ina May Gaskin

I’m giving myself an early birthday present tonight (my birthday is actually Monday, May 7) and going to see/hear Ina May Gaskin, called “The Greatest Midwife In The World,” talk about her views on childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting at an evening talk. I was hoping both Jody and I could attend, but we didn’t have anyone available to watch Ava, so Julian and I are going ourselves and will meet several of my friends (and my midwife) there.

Since planning for a homebirth for Julian, I admit I’ve become quite the birth geek. I’m fascinated by and in awe of it and love to learn all that I can. I admire midwives so greatly for the work that they do. While I can’t picture myself ever becoming a midwife, I do think it’d be amazing, an honor and a privilege to be a birth photographer someday (when my kids are older).

Ina May is a midwifery pioneer, noted international speaker and author of “Spiritual Midwifery” – a book that “encourages Americans to view birth as a natural life process, rather than a medical emergency” – and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” She’s been “catching babies” since 1970. She also introduced to the world the Gaskin Maneuver, an important birthing technique, which allows for a safe, non-invasive solution to shoulder dystocia, one of the most perplexing and feared complications facing obstetricians. – The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

There’s a great interview with Ina May here.

Besides the fact that I get to hear this incredible woman share her views tonight, I feel it will be an awesome experience to be in a room with so many other women who are passionate about birth. Imagine the energy! After I sent my registration in, I received word that due to the overwhelming response, they were having to close registration. However, I found out last night that it has since been reopened as they found a larger room in which to host the talk. I’m glad that others who had wanted to go, but didn’t get their registration in in time, will now be able to. At least three women from my AP group have said they will now be coming since I posted that there is seating available. Yay! The more, the merrier.

Rest assured I will be posting about the talk in the next few days. Julian is usually a pretty mellow baby, so I’m hoping he’ll be content to either sleep on me in the Ergo or suck/chew on his toys while in my lap. I don’t want to miss a word Ina May says. Maybe I should bring a tape recorder? 😉

 

 

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

— Barbara Katz Rothman