Hait or BUST!!!!

It is now one month and 2 days before I leave for Haiti by way of Kansas City then Florida. Signs say I will be taking a PRIVATE plane from Florida into Haiti itself… more on that later. I have MANY things complete for this journey, and many things still to do. Who knew I’d have to work for 3 months to go somewhere for 2 weeks!? [I'll also admit to being nearly giddy with excitement as my very own PASSPORT showed up in the mail!]

The support I’ve received from our local homeschool group, my church, people I’ve NEVER EVEN MET… well, it’s been nothing less than staggering. Humbled? Why, yes, I am. I have to CONTINUALLY remind myself that they aren’t giving to “me” but to Haiti. It feels so artificial for me (Mrs. Independent) to accept offerings from people I love and care about. Let alone strangers.

In the interim I’m so happy ton ave Robin here (my new apprentice). You can read her biography on the “Our Team” page. Look for more updates to this website soon, as it’s on my list of “MUST COMPLETE BEFORE HAITI”. To come: Placenta encapsulation, independent childbirth classes coming to your town, a better way to pediatric care, and an ONLINE STORE! At last! You don’t have to wait on me to get stuff shipped to you anymore! So excited to have this very very close to completion.

I am still a few hundred dollars short of my needed funds to serve in Haiti – please consider a donation. Every tiny bit helps. Paypal to psalms66@gmail.com as a “GIFT” and I won’t be charged any fees. Blessings to you all – love and hope only the best for you all.

Stay tuned for more!

Some things…

just never change. I have personally changed and grown SO much over the past…errr…. couple of decades…. that is is always a surprise to me that change is so difficult for some. A few of my children really struggle with it, but I personally and invigorated by NEW THINGS. What is really spectacular is when someone “NEW” turns out to be something “old”… and it’s better than what is “current”!!! I recently stubbled onto an old article on the importance of SALT for pregnant women. This particular article was an advertisement, endorsed by a physician, written in the 20′s. He was seeing so much swelling and lethargy that he posted the ad in his own name and on his own dime. His solution came from a long family history of farming, where lack of real salt is a common factor is preterm birth, lack of appetite and the general downturn in a female animals productivity.

Certainly, female HUMANS aren’t exactly the same as other female mammals from a physiological (or ethical) perspective. However, a woman’s basic need for trace minerals (found in sea/real salt) & potassium (also found in real salt) increase during the childbearing year. Swelling is your body’s way of screaming for more fluid and in all but the rare cases of true eclampsia can be “cured” by the liberal use of real salt and the removal of the commercially available fake kind.

Here is an “advertisement” (and I apologize for that) for Real Salt (the brand). There is just so much good information here on why real salt is important that I’m linking to the entire file. Enjoy the reading!

into the light…

The sunshine streams gently through the window. Dawn is breaking and a mother is gently guiding her baby into the light. Lace curtains flutter with the spring breeze. The smell of lilacs waft through the window. Dad watches in awe – say’s, “You just worked harder in 7 hours than I have all year.” The midwife stands ready, prepared for whatever… or nothing… that might need her attention. Siblings wait outside the door hoping to soon hear the coo of their new brother’s cry.

And it comes. Lovely water birth – vaginal birth after cesarean – the birth everyone told her she couldn’t have. After two cesareans she was told “Your chances of a vaginal birth are zero.” 
 
She beat the odds. But she wasn’t lucky. The research shows the risk for uterine rupture when attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean is somewhere around 3%. Of those 3% an unknown number of them will result in a fatality of the baby and life threatening hemorrhage in the mother. The risks are certainly real but often over-stated. Hospital policies usually hold the trump card and women are increasingly being forced to look at out-of-hospital options if they wish to attempt a VBAC. To illustrate the ridiculousness of some policies – the mother described above had 2 cesareans and then 2 subsequent vaginal births. She was THEN (with her 5th pregnancy) told she was now allowed a vaginal birth since she had previous given birth by cesarean. No mention to her of the data showing her risk of uterine rupture after 2 VBAC’s decreased to the percentage that every pregnant woman faces. No mention of the fact that POLICY dictated this physicians statement of her odds and not research.
 
If you are faced with making a decision regarding a vaginal birth after cesarean – follow your instincts. The benefits are numerous and the risks of repeat cesarean are often not mentioned or are understated by care providers. There are many online resources that can bring you to the data you need access to in order to make an informed decision about your birth. 
 
 
Look for local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapters with monthly meetings for support from other mothers. Local breastfeeding & mom’s groups can also be venues for finding an out-of-hospital providers or freestanding birth centers in your area. Whatever decision you make – make in an informed one. Your decision deserves the respect and support of your care provider. Don’t settle for less.

Big things…

come in small packages they say. But they come in big packages too. One of the “big packages” that comes with midwifery care is the apprenticeship model of learning. It’s not enough to read about, “practice”, and then take a test to become a midwife. The apprenticeship model includes hundreds of hours following around an experienced midwife, asking questions, packing bags, asking more questions, practicing, seeing, watching, being still and in the background, being in the front and center of the action, sitting in the other room, and sometimes (finally) gloving up and being ready to catch a baby! And only THEN do we “take the test”! :)

I’m so thankful for the midwives that were willing to see me through my apprenticeship. To be willing to be available for a student is almost like adopting a child. Even if they don’t need that much from you in terms of actual TEACHING, you are putting your name on the line – saying that you are responsible for what they do and don’t do correctly, being willing to be accountable for your actions and theirs as well is a big commitment and I’m thankful for those who took that responsibility for me. The gift is immeasurable in it’s enormity and I will forever be thankful. This is one of those things that you simply must be willing to do if you become a midwife. “Each one teach one” is not only a cool slogan – it’s a way of life for quality midwives: to train up women in traditional midwifery care while balancing the political and legal challenges that factor in to everything we do.

With that being said, I’m pleased to announce the addition of two more students into the Dar a Luz family of Student Midwives! I’ll be posting introductions and photos as soon as their preliminary requirements have been met. To current clients, you may be meeting these women soon at prenatal and postpartum visits. Future clients in the northland area – you are in for a treat. I’m expanding my services in the area (that means LOCAL prenatal care!) to accommodate these students learning needs and offering a significant discount for those of you willing to participate in this process. Rest assured, I am still the one accountable for your care and YOU are in charge of what the students do and do NOT do for your care. It can be individualized for your level of comfort with the student. However, I can promise you that the students who work with me work VERY hard to be ready for this phase of their training. And they are ready or I wouldn’t put my neck out there for them. :)

If you are interested in promoting quality midwifery care and would like more information on working with a student midwife under supervision please give me a call for more information! Kelly @660-383-6059

Natural vs. Un-natural

“The intrinsic intelligence of women’s bodies can be sabotaged when they’re put into clinical settings, surrounded by strangers, and attached to machines that limit their freedom to move. They then risk falling victim to the powerful forces of fear, loneliness, doubt , and distrust, all of which increase pain. Their hopes for a normal birth disappear as quickly as the fluid in an IV bottle.” ~Peggy Vincent -The Baby Catcher

Such truth here in this quote: birth can be “painful”. But the pain is NOT like stubbing one’s toe or breaking a leg, etc. It is a normal pain (and yes, there is such a thing). Much different than that of an injury, easier to cope with and rhythmic rather than startling and sharp. Contrast this to the normal interventions one receives in a hospital: IV “HepLock”, epidural needle, episiotomy, un-natural position for birth… etc. etc. etc.

There are very real emotional AND physical consequences of placing a woman outside of her familiar space while she is bringing forth her child.

Touching me touching you…

“Our culture may be changing, but our evolutionary need for touch remains the same. Babies’ brains are designed to expect closeness and proximity — to be held for their safety, psychological growth, physical growth, mental growth, to aid and stabilize their physiological processes and keep their immune systems strong. Touch is not an emotional fringe benefit. It’s as necessary as the air we breathe.”
~James McKenna

I was at a family event yesterday and saw two mothers. One mama carried her baby in a Moby Wrap, tucked safely inside, sweet and snug as a bug. She had a diaper bag on one shoulder, and her toddlers hand held on the other side. They both looked content and happy. The other mother carried her baby in one of those big bulky infant carrier/carseats. Neither looked happy or content. Baby was screaming loudly, mom’s posture was twisted to one side – loaded down with diaper bag on one side and carseat+baby on the other.

I can’t say enough about how different the mother’s AND baby’s appearance and demeanor are when using a carrier versus a carseat. Try it! The benefits of wearing your baby are far-reaching, both physically and emotionally, developmentally and relational.

Rant or Rave?

I just have to put this out there – to the universe, families I serve, etc. etc.

BIRTH BELONGS TO WOMEN and FAMILIES. It does not belong to midwives, obstetricians, anesthesiologists, etc. etc. etc. I get so tired of hearing about all the hoops pregnant and birthing mothers are made to jump through – “You must do XYZ at weeks 1, 2 and 3. And of course an ultrasound at 20 weeks to confirm dates and make sure baby is ok. Oh, and the quad screen. Of course you’ll want that.” FEAR, fear… FEAR.

Poor mother is sitting  there stunned, shocked, frightened, bullied… certainly with a continual onslaught of emotional and physical affronts during her pregnancy she will experience some – SOME – hiccup in her labor or birth. If we treated animals this way while pregnant entire species would die out and become extinct.

Sigh. Remember Mama: you are the ONLY PERSON ultimately responsible for your womb-baby. You carry her, you feed and nourish him. You ALONE birth this person into the outside world. Choose carefully those whom you would invite on your journey.

Gunnarr’s Blanket

(Gunnarr has the traditional Scottish spelling and is pronounced “gun-er”.)

I began an afghan for Gunnarr before he was born. Of course we didn’t know if “he” was a boy or girl so I chose a lovely green color – organic cotton – a lovely yarn and a challenging pattern for my knitting skills. Certainly doable though. I’d been knitting for a couple of years and knew all of the stitches.

Well.

It just wouldn’t come together. I tried and tried, frogged and frogged… and only NOW, with his 9 month birthday looming, is it nearly complete. It was quite a journey, but of course, so was his pregnancy and birth. I’ll blog about the pregnancy another time, but for now will talk a bit about his birth.

I had the MOST lovely home labor I could have dreamed of. Predictable labor pattern, totally what I wanted with my husband at hand, in the water, candles.. music… got the 10 cm and felt like pushing after about 6 hrs. I couldn’t believe how fast it was going! :)

And I pushed. And Pushed. And PUUUUSSSHHHEEDDD. Nothing. Changed positions, used homeopathics, contractions hard and strong… the little fellow wouldn’t budge.

Now, of course we hasn’t a little fellow at all. :) He weighed 10 pounds and 8 ounces and was 23 inches long! But I’ve seen 10+lb’ers be born slick as a whistle, easy and in a state of bliss… it just wasn’t happening for me.

6 hours later, Gunnarr plugging along just fine, he was born surgically in our local hospital. He was fine, I was devastated. Even though I made the decision to transport, even though he was ok and so was I (physically) it really REALLY hurt.  A few months later I attended a butter birth… big baby whose mother I now call my friend… and she had MY birth. And it hurt again.

Then today, as I am finishing up Gunnarr’s afghan…. it suddenly started just falling into place… the last few stitches, the edging… all of it. And it hit me: “This doesn’t look exactly like I envisioned it but it still is a nice little blanket!”

Sometimes crap happens. Sorry for using that word, if it offends anyone. But it does. And it’s messy, and it stinks, and well… who wants it? Not me! But it happens. So we clean up the mess and move on. And once in awhile, something beautiful turns up in spite of it. :)

Salt in pregnancy

I’ve been recently compiling a few more resources on salt intake during pregnancy. There simply is no science to support the idea that REAL, WHOLE salt should be reduced or eliminated during pregnancy NOR that doing so will decrease swelling.

Here is a great handout on SALT in pregnancy (not to techy). It is from the UK with some US sources.

MidwiferyServices.org has a lovely section on salt to this tune:

What’s Up With Salt?

Sodium is an extremely important component in your diet and yet many women still get misguided advice to not eat salt while pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stopped recommending salt-restriction to pregnant women in 1974, when it was finally acknowledged that this was not only not beneficial, but was potentially harmful!

Sodium works together with protein (albumin) to maintain a normal circulating blood volume. A pregnant woman needs additional sodium to help support her expanding blood volume. Additional sodium goes to the baby and to the expanding breast and uterine tissues also.

Commonly, friends and family will offer advice to cut back on salt if you are experiencing swelling. This is not a healthy solution to this problem (if it really is a problem) and can in fact cause problems. The correct response to swelling is to increase protein and fluid intake. You may even need additional salt if it has been hot or you have experienced increased perspiration. The general rule of thumb is: Salt your food to taste.

And this is my all-time favorite article on the salt-myth because it includes some discussion (often lacking) about the importance of the TYPE of salt you use. Thank you Maryn!!!

Momentum

I’m tired tonight. I’ve driven roughly 600 miles this week, and that’s not counting driving for family matters. That adds about another hundred miles or so. Now, I’m not complaining. I’m really not. I am blessed beyond words, and HUMBLED by the number of colossally awesome families I meet in a given day. For instance:

The last minute meeting with a gal I’ve only talked to in passing that turned into a real “Ah-hah!” afternoon while we both nurse our babies and spoke of ways to improve MOTHERING support in our community.

The family I served this week (albeit BARELY!) who will leave for Mexico as full time missionary’s as soon as this baby’s birth certificate arrives. The mama wants to learn about herbs and homeopathics, and essential oils – she wants to mother her family to the fullest in a possibly hostile and surely third-world environment.

The family who is trying their level best to deal with well-intentioned but sometimes annoying family members who question their choice to homebirth. To see the GRACE with which they do this, and the STRENGTH behind their choice is astounding. I’m SO proud of them for standing their ground REGARDLESS of the choice they make (hospital birth vs homebirth really isn’t the issue here).

The young family that chased me down on the highway because they recognized my vehicle and wanted to see me again (I served them at their birth a few months back). We chatted about organic farming and their recent chicken killing activity over a latte’ at Starbucks. Well, I was the only one with a coffee… and I HAD quit until THIS week hit me! The conversation ranged from that to rare hogs to missing hens and non-GMO corn. Oh, and I got to cuddle THE sweetest baby boy who is getting SO BIG!

Really, I could go on and on. The text conversations with my sister-midwives, my daughter’s dreams of life after high school, my oldest calling home (sniff, sniff), my wonderful sons and husband who cook and even clean in my absence with nary a complaint. They even let me sleep the afternoon away until I can reclaim my home-post. :)

The real meaning behind my original statement is that when one is walking out their life-calling it can begin to move really really FAST. Once things get going the momentum is breathtaking! I know Staples has an EASY button, may I have a SLOW one? Because I certainly wouldn’t want to stop, skip or fast forward this journey. I simply would like time to enjoy it a bit more. :)