Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maryland Midwifery in Crisis

Source: The Mandala Journey
I got some sad news this past week.  My midwife's license had been suspended by the Maryland Board of Nursing.  It's not because of what she did wrong.  Instead, it is because of what she did right.  It is because she is conscientious and careful.  She is reliable and has had outstanding judgment, as evidenced by her record.  She has a lifetime of experience. She stopped counting attended births at around 1500.  I would go to her again and again and again.  

Her license has been suspended because there are doctors in the area who have reported her to the MD Board of Nursing every time she has had a hospital transfer.  Obviously, this triggers an investigation.  I admit, there is a lot I don't know regarding the politics of midwifery and healthcare.  I'm not going to pretend to know all the details and I'm not going to speculate or create a rumor mill.  However, I do know that doctors are threatened by the push for more natural, intervention-free births.  Birth is a money maker, money in their pockets.  Labor & delivery brings in a very large portion of a hospitals income.  Midwives are taking their business.  I know I left my OB for a more personal, more understanding, more natural approach.  Many doctors will admit they have never even witnessed a natural birth and we all know the urge to judge and condemn that with which we are uncomfortable or don't understand. 

She had a hearing last week and won't know the results for several weeks.  If they need to appeal, it could take months.  I know she is heartbroken.  I am heartbroken for her.  I am saddened by the fact that there are mamas who are due to deliver their babies at any time and their trusted midwife can not accompany them through the process.  Her life's work has been put on hold and now these poor women may have their dreams of birth shattered or uprooted.  It's so unfortunate.

On a related note, if you live in Maryland and are an advocate for birth outside of hospitals and midwifery, please visit Maryland Families for a Safe Birth.  They are in the process of trying to get a bill passed that will license Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) in Maryland (to sign the petition, click here).  This will give women more options for prenatal care and alternative birth choices.  I have been in contact with them and plan to get involved in their outreach.  I hope Maryland can become a more friendly state to midwives and out-of-hospital birth.  More importantly, I hope my midwife can go back to what she does best; providing magnificent care to those who so desperately need her.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Date Night- no men (or babies) allowed!

I was blessed with two babies who are champion nursers.  But with their gold medal nursing skills they totally didn't even qualify in the bottle department.  Neither one of my boys accepted any nipples other than my own.  I just accepted it for what it was with Enzo, but this time around I am feeling differently.  I have been nursing since March 2010.  I am not complaining.  I love it and I am proud of it, but at this point, Mama needs a night out every once in a while.  It would be nice to be able to have an evening out where I could truly just let go and relax without wondering if my baby was shriveling to skin and bones from lack of boobie milk.  On top of that, I don't want to have to worry that my husband is totally fried, blood shot eyes, hair disheveled, with a glass of bourbon in his hand.  It's not fair to either of us.

Tonight, for the first time in almost a year, I went out with some girl friends.  These friends are other Moms I have met through kiddie activities.  Every time I hang with them our kids are around, begging for juice or pulling at our pant leg for one thing or another.  Our entire relationship has been centered around having children the same age.  I was really, very much, looking forward to spending some time with them as adults, not even as fellow Moms.  I needed the female interaction.  To be completely honestly, I need some new friends and I really like these women.

In preparation for this anticipated night out I pumped some milk.  I knew it was probably a waste of time but I had a talk with Massi and asked my 4 month old very nicely to chill with the crying and let me have a few hours.  "Just take the milk Mass, just this once!"  I nursed him prior to leaving at 6:30, kissed him and the rest of my boys and headed out.

I tried really hard not to worry or wonder how they were doing, but it was definitely hard.  I didn't want my baby crying and me not be there to help.  So you can understand my elation when I receive this picture text at 8:30.

It was a Mommy's Night Out miracle!!!!  It was amazing. Not only is he taking a bottle but the little genius is holding it solo, too.  I sighed with a great deal of relief and ordered another glass of wine.  It really was a lovely evening and the conversation was great, which isn't hard since the majority of my conversations are centered around Elmo and "Tootie" Monster.

At 9:20 I get a text asking me for my ETA.  Then another asking me to come home.  I skipped dessert (the best part of the meal at a fondu restaurant, but whatever), paid the bill and left my friends behind.  Then I get a phone call from a very frazzled husband and a baby with a blood curdling scream while I was driving home.  I frantically drive, park and walk into the house.  Poor Massi is practically purple from crying so hard.  Pablo looked completely spent.  Poor guys.

It turns out, he ate about an ounce and refused the rest.  Now I know, I need to work on this bottle thing. It's gotta work out.  After all, I am going to have placentas to encapsulate and I am going to have to be away from him.  He's going to have to get over it.

My time limit is about three hours though, without a bottle-just enough time to have a little dinner and wine with some girlfriends.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Path

Photo by: Tambako the Jaguar
I have been in search of something my entire adult life.  After college, my  friends all seemed to have it all figured out.  They found decent jobs in the field of their newly acquired college degree.  Some bought new cars, others moved into nice apartments.  Everyone seemed happy, except for me, of course. 

My degree was in art and design.  It was something I chose to do without hesitation.  After all, I heard time and time again, "it doesn't matter what your degree is in, as long as you have one."  I figured if I was going to spend 4 years studying something, it might as well be something I love and am half way good at.  Well, once I got that piece of paper and was shoved into the real world on my ass, I was lost.  I was completely and utterly clueless about what to do next. 

I landed a job teaching Spanish part time in a Catholic school 60 miles away (one way!) from home.  I made pennies doing it and the salary barely covered my gas each week, but I liked it.  I felt like I was good at it and it was something that made me feel good about myself.  I was living at home then so rent wasn't really an issue and I could afford to make pennies.

To offset the poor teaching salary I got a part time job at The Sunglass Hut.  After the school year was over, I decided not to go back to teaching.  The commute just wasn't worth it.  However, I always intended to go back to teaching someday.  I thought, "who knows, maybe I will get a masters degree in it someday."  This part time job selling expensive sunglasses turned into a full time position, which led to a management position, which led to a multi-store management position.  I stayed for 4 years.  I was miserable.  M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E.

I was good at this retail job but it was meaningless.  I wanted to make an impact.  I missed feeling like my job was worth something.  I needed a purpose that was important and protecting peoples eyes from UVA & UVB rays with polycarbonate, polarized lenses was just not it.  I was so lost.  I had no idea what to do or where to look.  I looked aimlessly for a meaningful job, but found I lacked experience or a specific degree to do any of the things that peeked my interest.

Eventually, it did come and it was great.  I got a job as a manager of the transportation department in a program for the elderly.  I loved these elderly people.  They made me so happy.  Most were demented and toothless and most of the women had whiskers on their chins.  They decorated their walkers with all kinds of chotchkies and told stories and napped in recliners.  They were absolutely wonderful and I truly, with all my heart, believed in the mission of the program I worked for.  I believed that even though my job was not in direct service to these delightful people, I still made an impact.   Maybe I will study geriatrics?

I soon found a better opportunity and left the elderly program for another management job in a not-for-profit working with children.  I wrote grants, managed employees and facilities among a slew of other things.  I loved the kids but sat in my office behind stacks of papers under fluorescent lighting.  Again, I was making an impact but it was very indirectly.  I want to be in direct service!  At this point in my life I was older. I had met Pablo and we were newly engaged.  My life was progressing nicely, but I was still missing the "thing" I had been searching for professionally.  Enough was enough.  After discussing it with my then fiance, I decided to throw caution to the wind, quit my job, wait tables and go to grad school full time to be an art teacher.

We got married, then pregnant shortly after and we decided collectively that I would stay home to raise our family.  So far, it has been the best job of all.  Nothing beats it.  Becoming a mother has sparked a new passion.  It has opened me up to something wonderful, emotional, intense, profound, life changing- birth.  Since experiencing pregnancy and birth I have been overwhelmingly interested in it.  Birth nerd, birth junkie, call it what you will.  I've got the bug.  And to be honest, I have never felt so completely consumed and passionately interested in something in all of my life.  All of my life.  I believe in the power of natural birth.  I believe in the power of healing through placentophagia.  It has crept into my gut and is a part of me and now, finally, I know what my path is supposed to be.  I am meant to help women during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.  This is it.

Today, I passed the exam and am now, officially, a placenta encapsulation specialist.  Before Massimo goes to preschool I will become a childbirth educator (I have to use that teaching degree for something!).  I also have a DONA certification on the agenda as well.  But for now, I will give women the wonderful gift of energy, health, and healing after their births and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hollywood & Homebirth

 As you know, famous people have a ridiculous amount of responsibility.  They have to be very cautious about the words that they choose and the messages that they are broadcasting to the world.  When you are famous, your words are packed full of power; they can have a larger impact than, say, my words.  Like it or not, society holds these people up high and their influence can be great, both positively and negatively.

As you have probably heard, Evangeline Lilly had a homebirth.  By Hollywood bringing more attention to homebirth, it gets the message to the mainstream public that homebirth is a viable option.  I commend and congratulate her on her successful homebirth, especially after such a difficult labor.

She was recently interviewed on Jay Leno.  I have to say, I was very disappointed in what she chose to highlight from her birth experience.  Here she is, in front of a national audience.  She is beautiful, graceful and charming.  People listen to her, look up to her.  This was her chance to really make an impact.  This was her chance to set an example and get the word out.  Birth is natural.  Homebirth is safe.  Our bodies are made to do this.  There is nothing to fear.

She went on to tell America how long and difficult her labor and delivery were.  She was in labor for 30 hours, 8 of which were pushing.  I'm not making light of this.  This sounds extremely difficult.  She clearly worked very hard and the fact that she was so committed that she stayed home through all of this is truly amazing.  That took a lot of strength and courage. 

However, I would think that she would want to highlight the pride, euphoria and the high that occurs from a natural birth.  I wish she would have highlighted the rush of endorphins and the boost of energy that occurs when that baby finally arrives after a natural birth.  I would imagine this feeling of pride would especially be overwhelming after a 30 hour labor.  Why not talk about it?  I wish she would have emphasized that despite the pain, the work, the exhaustion, it was worth staying home; it was worth doing naturally.

Instead, I feel like she just fed into the mainstream belief that you should fear birth.  She perpetuated the fear that many American women possess, instead of being an example of why you shouldn't fear it. She had her chance to empower women but came up short.  It's really a shame.  Evangeline Lilly, thank you for putting homebirth on the front page of tabloids, but you blew it.

To read some quotes from celebs who didn't blow it, click here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Food Truck Rally

 Beginning this summer, every month there is a food truck rally here in Baltimore.  It has about 12 vendors selling everything from crepes to cupcakes to Ethiopian.  I had a very tasty curry, basil falafel taco. Enzo ate a brie, apple and chicken crepe and Auntie Grace ate lobster mac 'n cheese and some Ethiopian yums.  We finished the meal off with a dulce de leche cupcake and a glass (or two) of sangria.

Hi Mass!
I forgot the camera and didn't even realize it until most of the picture worthy happenings were over.  Here are a few crappy cell phone pictures to give you a taste.  It was a lovely evening.  I'm sad it going to be really cold in a few short weeks.
Enzo played with hula hoops and danced.
A rose water lossipop from the Ethiopian truck.  I thought it tasted like soap, but he loved it.


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