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The Spark

I have what I deem to be good news. It seems that after 3 months of being in a serious teaching rut and questioning many things about my ability to be a good teacher and my profession as a whole… I have finally started to come out the other side feeling ready to get back to it. 🙂 Sometime this past week while trying to compile my thoughts on a blog I am working on about Lactivism (sure to ruffle some feathers :P) and thinking about how I would like to approach teaching about breastfeeding in the future, I felt that spark inside of me. The spark has most definitely been missing. It felt really nice to know that it was still there and that I just really needed a break and time to sort some things out for myself.  I was deeply worried for a minute there that I had lost it for good.

Now that it is back, I feel excited. Making plans for the future and all. With school still coming up, I am hesitate to make any big commitments back to teaching but I feel comfortable with the idea of trying the weekend workshop again, maybe every other month. So any time now you can expect to see something new on schedule from me. 😉

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"It is best to learn as we go, not go as we have learned."

I have been contemplating this blog for a while now but haven’t been sure exactly what to say or how to say it. I guess I still am not sure…. I had mentioned in a prior post about feeling very disconnected from the “birthy” world and I know that there are many reasons contributing to that but the one that I wanted to blog about is one that feels almost wrong to talk about. Like I am breaking an unspoken rule. Hence, why it has taken me so long to do this. I feel like if there is any hope of moving forward and retaining some of my past birthy self, then I need to start working through and processing my feelings.

I have lived and breathed birth for the past four years. It has been a passion. It has been an obsession. Educating myself, feeling empowered by that and then working with families to inspire empowerment. There used to be nothing more exciting for me than watching a couple have an AHA moment. What has changed that?

I am not really sure what set off this round of negativity I am on at the moment, as it is recent. If I look to the past though, the very first time I had small doubts about my work was during my pregnancy with Addison. I was reading around on an unassisted childbirth site and happened across the opinion of someone who doesn’t think doulas are a good thing. At the time the idea kinda shocked me. I mean, how could doulas not be a good thing? She went on about how doulas, while their intentions are good, serve the purpose of being a tool of the system. That ultimately what a doula accomplishes is to make women feel good about their births. Isn’t that the point? Her point was that women that would have been traumatized by their births will leave the hospital having positive memories even when traumatic things were done to them. That in the end doulas are helping keep women in line for the doctors and further making sure that they don’t question the paradigm of medical thinking.

I don’t completely agree with this assement. I am not in any way saying that I think women should not have doulas, so that when they get worked over by the hospital, the nurses, the doctors or midwives that they damn well know they got screwed.  Or even at their homebirth because as much as we all jump on the homebirth wagon, not all homebirths are without trauma or unnecessary interference. I guess what I am feeling is that maybe it isn’t all good or bad. Which then lends me to think that maybe most things are a little good and a little bad.

When I first considered this, my first thought was that maybe the solution was in education. Good education. Arm them with information! Tell them about their options! Or hell! Just tell them that they actually DO have options. Talk about how important a “good” careprovider is to their birth. Talk about benefits vs. risks and evidence based medicine… then they won’t need a doula to make them feel good about their birth. They wouldn’t need that because their birth will be good. Right? Or is it?

I remember reading the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and running across a quote from the author of the book, The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence. I wish I had a copy of the book so I could actually quote it exactly but she had something to say that really got me thinking. It was along the lines that childbirth education has the negative effect of setting women up for disappointment with their births. We spend so much time telling women, “You have options!” All the while sending them into a system that they are very unlikely to get the birth that they want. The one that we help them want. Does that make sense?

Of course we talk about acceptance and flexibility. We talk about how there are no guarantees in birth and that most of the time birth won’t go exactly how you hope that it will. How you envision it. Still. There is that underlying message. The one about choices and how if you make good ones, especially prenatally, then you are placing odds in your favor that things will more likely go that way. No one really believes they will be the one to get screwed. Do they?

It makes me think about my birth with Haden. What a cluster fuck of interventions. But the ME of 5 years ago had no expectations about my birth. I had no preconceived ideals on what I wanted my birth to be or how I SHOULD be giving birth. I just wanted my baby. So now, although I look back at it with irritation because of the things I know now, there is no trauma in that birth for me. How differently would I have felt if I had something completely different in mind?

There is no safety in a “good” careprovider. I used to believe that there was but then I used to believe a lot of things. There is a handful of “good” providers in the Atlanta area and really they have been known to practice their fair share of non-evidence based medicine. Isn’t that what lead me to go to the opposite end of the birth spectrum to have an unassisted birth with Addison? Fear of this intervention. Well, and many other strongly held beliefs that maybe aren’t so strong anymore…

Ignorance is bliss, so they say and I sure do believe it. Does this mean that I think women are better off knowing nothing so that they won’t be disappointed in the results? No. However, it does mean that while I know  I have helped many women in my career, I also wonder how many have I also hurt?

I know this is a terribly cynical post of me. I don’t mean to offend anyone with it, although the first person it should offend would be me. Since this is my life.

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Ummm…..

I can’t seem to pick just one topic to talk about tonight so be prepared for me to be ALL over the place. 😉 Like that is unusual…..
As I blog, I am drinking a carmel macchiato gifted to me by Michael (among other things…) and patiently awaiting my second try at vegan brownies to get done. Who knows if they would be edible. I do however think that just about anything would be an improvement over the brownies that I made last night. Bleh. The whole pan went in the trash. Sometimes this exploration into vegan meal planning, shopping and cooking irritates the crap out of me but on the flip side it is kinda fun finding my way through something new.
This week has been absolutely fabulous, on all counts but the beautiful weather definitely helps. My moods are so sensitive to dreary weather. I will be sad to see the winter and I am sure it will be here before I know it. Time seems to go by so fast now.
I feel like I am starting to reach a good place with Haden, in our relationship and in his schooling. It seems that after roughly a month of de-schooling, he is starting to show more interest in learning! Thank goodness. There was a small part inside of me that worried that maybe I had broken him with my mania. I think 5 will be a good age for us. I have recently noticed the interesting quality that our conversations are taking on and I love it.
Addison is just as mischievous as ever but is starting to listen a wee bit better and therefore is a bit easier to manage. She talks all the time now, although I am sure most of it wouldn’t be understandable to people that aren’t around her a lot. I love the way she say “shoes”.  Adorable. She also officially calls me Mama when she wants my attention, instead of just yelling at me. 😛 She likes to take off her diaper every chance she gets so I have started letting her run around naked. She loves to play outside but I think what she loves most is her brother, which I think is the sweetest thing EVER.
I haven’t been teaching recently and I have no immediate plans to teach anytime soon. Probably not until the beginning of 2012. I am in a little funk where I don’t much feel like teaching and without the passion behind it, I don’t think it would be good for me to have students right now. All the thought I have put recently into my priorities and where I want them to lie, has left me feeling more estranged from the “birthy” world. I have spent the past 4 years, completely consumed with birth and looking back I feel a little sad knowing that at times my family has definitely taken a backseat to my career. At least by my standards.
Live and learn. I am trying hard not to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. I will say that the changes I have made, have gone a long way to making my life feel less overwhelming. In the long run, that was what I REALLY needed. I don’t see myself back tracking. 😉
See! Naked! 😛 We are experimenting with making our own compost and the kids were helping mix it up. This was some post composting dirt digging fun.
Brownie UPDATE! Brownies = Success! Woot!
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My Doula Hat

My thoughts are all kinds of scattered tonight. Probably because I have a million different things I want to say but I know that if I try to say it all in one blog post it would most definitely bore everyone to tears that might try to read it. I know my attention span is not that long, so in an effort to be realistic and considerate of the 5 people that read my blog (:P) I will try to limit myself tonight.

I think at the top of my priority list, I want to mention that I got to attend a birth this week! My second doula birth since I officially quit doulaing after I got pregnant with Addison. The last one taking place about 5 months ago for a previous doula client and now friend, that birthed her 3rd baby at home.

This time I was able to attend the birth of one of my students. A couple that I just loved, who had already hired an awesome doula before taking my class. I agreed to attend the birth to help Talitha, their doula, since she was recovering from a surgery. I ended up being able to attend part of the birth with Talitha and the other part with Que, her back up. I mention this because I wanted to say here that getting the opportunity to work with these women, was very much a privilege for me.  I have always considered myself to be a sub par doula and this birth only reenforced that to me. LOL

There is something to be said about knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. I think that being a great doula isn’t something that can be learned or taught. It isn’t just about what you know. It is something that is just naturally within you.

Liz and Derek (the parents) did amazing. I was so proud of how strong and flexible they were. I am just feeling very thankful that I was able to be a part of their journey. Hopefully at some point in there I was useful. 😛

In other news, we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives last week. It re-inspired Michael to want to take better care of ourselves nutritionally than we have been. This makes me happy because I do better when I have a good support system. We did good for over a year the last time we tried and once he gave up I slowly struggled with keeping it up. So we start this week with mostly trying to keep to a plant-based diet. We are fazing out all the meat, dairy and eggs. As well as processed junk foods and cokes. Not the cokes!!! I will miss you the most. 🙁 Wish me luck. My will power isn’t what she used to be.

Honestly, my only promise to myself is to not buy these things and regularly keep them in my house. Now… what happens once I leave the house is a whole different thing. 😉 Starting in October I am going back to the finish up my Free belly dancing classes that were gifted to me by my sister last year. I am hoping this will motivate me start exercising again almost daily. I do miss all these things but it is just so much easier to be lazy.

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"This trick is like no other…"

Last night I taught the first class of a Preparing For Your Birth class through Baby Steps and it was such a good time. I have been working really hard over the past month on implementing new ideas and making teaching aids that were inspired by the amazing weekend I spent at Passion for Birth. The workshop opened my mind to teaching in a different way and after actually using some of the things I learned tonight for the first time, I feel like it was a much more conscious way of teaching. The class flowed better. Breaks came at just the right time. I did a better job of chunking the information and changing pace up enough to try and avoid the set in of boredom. I am incredibly pleased with the way it all went.


One of the things I tried this class was making the environment more visually stimulating. Having things out for them to see or look at that might make them feel excited about attending a class.

The signs on the wall are our “Questions of the Day”. They are questions that provoke students to think. Not questions I want them to answer to me but for themselves.
The table includes our snacks for the class. All healthy. This was to emphasis my speak on eating well during pregnancy and to take good care of yourself. In class we say to make sure you get in your healthy calories before you “splurge”. So as a surprise about 30 minutes before class was up I surprised everyone with brownies, since we had already gotten in our “healthy” calories. 😉 I think it worked out well as a good “artichoke”. That is what they call something that you just throw in that surprises and excites people. Thanks to my Boobie for baking them!
There is also a very funny book called Safe Baby Tips for Pregnancy, that is quite hilarious. I encouraged everyone to check it out during our breaks and it was really nice to hear them reading them and laughing over it. I also laid out helpful brochures for people to take and a positive birth quote sign.
In the main area where were sitting. I arranged some of my main teaching aids on the table (baby, pelvis, uterus and placenta). Laid out the handouts packets for the class and the dilation name tags and pens so everyone could make their own name tag. Those name tags are representative of 6, 8 and 10 cm dilation. 🙂

Another thing that I tried out was the Kegel Song. I recently downloaded the mp3 of it for a couple dollars. Ann Tumblin had played it for us at the Seminar and I thought it was hilarious! That is my sense of humor for ya. 😉 So when doing exercises and talking about kegels, I played it on for them. It really has quite the catchy beat and lots funny lyrics. It is kinda on the long side and I only played it for a about a minute. The lyrics for the part I played….

There’s an exercise that every woman needs
It’s called the Kegel, the pelvic squeeze
Its great at any age
Lets make it all the rage
It’s good for you, it’s fun and it’s a breeze 



You can do it in the bank or on the bus
You can do it with the minimum of fuss
Find the muscle you’d locate
When you don’t want to urinate
And squeeze, squeeze, squeeze …… and relax



Do the kegel , the pelvic squeeze
Come on with me ladies and kegel please
You’ll adore your pelvic floor
When you squeeze, squeeze, squeeze … and relax 



You can kegel when you’re talking on the phone
We can kegel together or alone
But when you’re with your lover
This trick is like no other
It’s guaranteed to make your honey moan



Good stuff! SO I just had to share my excitement. I was a little anxious before class, just putting too much pressure on myself to try and be more engaging and thought-provoking and afraid that it wouldn’t go the way I hoped. It required a lot more work to prepare for class this time but my hope is that as I implement everything in and get more used to these things being my routine it won’t seem so time consuming. I also had to get to class 30 minutes earlier than I would have used to, so I could set everything up. Now I want to go to the store and get some things I need for next week’s class. 😉

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Telling is Not Teaching

It was almost 4 years ago that I decided I wanted to be a Childbirth Educator. The information overload I was going through at the time as I began my Doula training, had me feeling angry about the things that had happened at my son’s birth. I felt very strongly that more than anything, my long term goal was to be able to help make the information that there ARE options in birth more available to women. I researched all the different organizations and methods out there for CBE and ultimately decided that I felt like I fit best with ALACE, who would later dissolve and become International Birth and Wellness Project.
Not long after beginning my CBE program, I read more about Lamaze’s Passion for Birth Seminars and I REALLY wanted to eventually be able to attend one. I loved the idea of not being a boring educator. 😛 I was almost set up to host one for Feb. 2010, when I found out that I was pregnant with Addison and being due in early March figured the timing would be bad. So I postponed my plans BUT I finally got to host one this past weekend through Georgia Birth Network and I wasn’t even remotely disappointed. It was even better than I expected.
I came away with so many innovative and interactive ideas. There would be way too many to actually use in a series but now I have so many choices, it will be hard to decide which ones I like best.
Just for fun…
This one is a good visual to show that by accepting one intervention you inevitably end up with more. Each intervention card has a string attached to it, that attaches to mom.
The postpartum robe. It is covered in objects to spark conversation about postpartum issues.
This one is harder to see but it is a Pie of Pain. You add slices to the pie, things that can help reduce pain.   Movement, partner’s support, comfort measures, etc. At the end you leave a slice of the pie open because nothing can completely get rid of the pain, not even medication. I think it would be a good lead in to a discussion on the purpose of pain and reframing how we think about pain during childbirth.
I was also very privileged to get to spend 3 days with an awesome group of women! It was so sweet that at the closing ceremony for the seminar, they gave me and Ann Tumblin a card and a wooden sign of the word “Celebrate” as a thank you. It actually made me tear up cause I am such a baby.
So here I sit with my mind in overdrive and not enough hours in the day to be working on all the projects I want to do to improve my classes! I am really trying to pace myself but it is SO hard…
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Story of My Life

I have really been slacking lately on the things I want to do, but I am determined to try and get my priorities straightened out and try to make my life some what manageable! I think I need to set aside designated times that I will work on my volunteer stuff & my business stuff, then the rest is focus on family time. Or even maybe a little ME time in there. That would be nice. OMG! Wouldn’t that be nice??!!!

I haven’t been putting enough effort into my time with Haden, mostly just letting him run around the house and play or letting him watch TV. Now it is time to get over and start trying to get my crap together. Today we did actually manage to do some “homeschool” stuff, somewhere in the midst of, cranky baby that won’t nap and ALL the Monday cleaning, which really I’m not even done with yet. I have a very scary looking mountain of laundry in my bedroom that I am going to try and tackle after dinner.

Today we took some leaves that we had put inside our flower press and made something with them. They were actually leaves that we collected at the park in Woodstock we visited a few weeks back with the homeschool group. Maddie and Grace helped too. With collecting leaves, I mean.

We made a tree! And talked about the different parts of a tree, types of animals that might live in one and fruits that grow on trees. After that he lost interest. 😛
It has actually been a fairly crazy couple of weeks with everything that has been going on. Last week was the Baby Steps teacher training, which now has me all pumped up. Hopefully there will be so craft nights in my near future so that I can spruce up some of my teaching aids. Addison went to the whole thing with me and was the best baby ever. She took some really awesome naps. I wish she would take naps like that here. I love my little girl. She is such a fun baby when she wants to be. 😛
Then I had a busy week, teaching the last class of a private class series & a homebirth class, had a CBE meeting that felt a lot more like a GNO, plus 2 sick kids thrown into that mix. I would have also had 2 play practices for the play Birth but it got canceled, which was slightly disappointing and relieving all at the same time.
By Saturday we were ready for a family day of togetherness. We went shopping at a thrift store and the Goodwill to find costumes for Melissa’s Halloween party next weekend, Fangri La. I am so excited about it. I found the perfect dress and shoes, so that Michael and I can be Jessica and Hoyt from True Blood. We are going for a date night look. 😛 I just need to buy some hair spray, a hair comb, some fangs and blood and we are good to go!
After shopping we spent some time at Chastain Park to decompress…
Me and little butt spent some time relaxing on our blanket and playing with anything we could get our hands on… well mostly she did.
While Haden pretended he was Spiderman climbing through a web.
Then yesterday was the BOLD Red Tent, which was fun but I wish I had been sans family so I could have enjoyed it more. I missed lots of the stories, having to go in and out. In and out.
And that is the story of my life. Well… a tiny chunk of it anyways.
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Wiggle Worm

Last night I had a Childbirth Educators Mentorship Meeting to attend for Georgia Birth Network. It ended up being a very small gathering, that I would have enjoyed more if Addison hadn’t been with me. Usually I am totally fine with taking her places because she is such an easy baby and she is so funny to be around. Always smiling and talking. Last night though, she about killed me with the way she squirmed and wiggled. In the end I was really wishing I had brought a blanket so I could have just laid her in the floor to play. I don’t know how much the Thai restaurant would have liked that but oh freakin’ well. The service was poor anyways!

Next week I have a Girl’s Night Out! Woot! We are going to the Melting Pot in Kennesaw. So yummy! Who doesn’t love fondue? If you don’t… you are weird. 😉 But now I am semi- dreading it because of the wiggle worm. I think her teething is adding to it but she is just growing up. She doesn’t want to be held anymore. She wants to be on the move. I am thinking I am going to bring her bumbo seat with me and let her sit in the booth and give her a pile of toys on the table and hopefully she will be ok? Hopefully.

Not having the world’s best day today but I am hoping to turn it around. Haden has gone to his granny’s house, which would be great if he hadn’t spent the whole morning and early afternoon laying around whining and asking when she was gonna get here to pick him up. I think I am going to have to stop telling him when she is coming and he can just be surprised. It is an issue every week. He doesn’t want to do anything with me. Just wants to stare out the window and wait for her.

I am almost done with my grocery list for tonight so that we can hit the Kroger. We are so in need of some food. 🙁 My fridge and pantry look so sad. Trying out some new stuff this week. So exciting cause I really love to eat. And me and Haden have big plans for learning about Denmark and making Smorrebrod, which are open sandwiches that are popular there. Of course, I will take pictures and blog about it!

I guess I will go finish ordering some brochures from the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services & getting some work done for my ALACE certification. That is the game plan anyways.

Big Day tomorrow… Imagine It!