A Thank You Letter to The Moms Who Have Invited Me To Attend Their Births

Dear Amazing Women,
You have made my life better.

Meeting you and witnessing the birth of your child, as well as the birth of you as a mother has altered my life in such a positive and profound way, and I will never be able to thank you properly.  You may think I did something for you, and I hope I have, but YOU have done more for me than you may realize.

You have shown me how powerful the female body is.

You have given me the courage to trust in my own body and see it as a very special and sacred thing.

You challenged me to get outside of myself and to be very present in the moment.

You have brought magic into my life.

When I left your birth (and I am talking to every.single.one of you) I felt MAGICAL.  It’s the only word.  What you did with your body and your mind and your female super powers was utter magic.  And that you would invite me in as a witness makes me feel so, so special.  Really.  You have altered my view of the world- made it so much better – and you have busted my heart wide open to take in the magic that is all around us.

I went to a restorative yoga class tonight and thought about what I wanted to say to you.  I want to hug you and thank you and prostrate myself at your feet because I am truly not worthy.  But I am so, so grateful.  Thankful.  FULL.

I thought about each of you during my practice and I sent you love.  Each time I attend a birth, I carry you with me.  When things come up at a birth that I learned how to handle at your birth, I think of you.  When I go to the hospital or drive through the neighborhood where you live, I think of you and I send you love.  I look at pictures of your beautiful babies and send them love.

Whether we are still in contact, or life has gotten a little too busy, please know that I hold you in my heart and I am absolutely in love with you.  Because you are super badass!

I hope you have an abundant holiday season!

Love, love, love,

Kate

November 22, 2012. Birth, Doula Stuff. 1 comment.

First Home Birth

Wednesday night I attended my first home birth as a doula, and something strange happened.  Strange for me at least.

Here it is:  I didn’t cry.

I generally cry at births, and sometimes even cry just talking about birth.  I find it a very moving and powerful experience, even though I am not the one giving birth.

But at this home birth, which was only my fourth birth overall, so it’s not as if this is “old hat” or something, instead of my brain going “OMG- THIS IS AMAZING!!  I AM GOING TO BURST WITH THE WONDER OF IT ALL!!!!” my brain went , “OMG- THIS IS AMAZING” and then immediately followed up with, “Oh yeah…duh…this is how it’s supposed to be…and how it’s been for hundreds of years.  Cool.”

Here’s the set up:

My client was having baby number two and although she had a great birth in the hospital for baby number one, she didn’t like the postpartum care.  All the machines and florescent lights, and the people coming in every two hours to wake you up and ask, “how are you doing?” when you were doing perfectly fine until they woke you up…it just wasn’t for her.  So she hired a midwife, and then hired me, and off she went!  She called me Wednesday night around 7pm and asked me to come over.  Her labor had started Saturday, but she had her bloody show earlier in the day and things had progressed.  So I made my way over and on a crisp night with a beautiful moon, we ventured out to take a walk up and down the street to kick it into high gear.  And boy did that work!  We started our walk at 8:15 and baby was out by 11pm!

About 10 minutes after we returned from our walk, mama’s water broke and things flew from there.  She went into herself, found her primal side, and on all fours in her bedroom, in the presence of her husband, midwife, midwives assistant, and her doula (aka: me), she pushed her perfect 8lb 8 oz daughter out.

And then she climbed into bed with her baby.

And baby latched on.

And mama ate a cheese stick.

(Other things happened in between and while all this was going on, but it was really that simple).

And today, in glow of the days after, it is the cheese stick eating, and the being in her own bed with her beautiful baby laying between her and her supportive husband, that is making my brain burst with the wonder of it all.

Home birth is not for everyone, and I don’t advocate it as something all women should do.  But if you are at all curious, or feel at all inclined to birth your baby at home, or a non-hospital setting, I implore you to do some research.  Visit a birth center and definitely interview some midwives.  If you live in the LA area, Davi Khalsa does a great talk called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Home Birth” at Bini Birth.

**This post was shared with the permission of the couple**

November 13, 2011. Birth, Doula Stuff, LA. Leave a comment.

Watch a Live Birth

UPDATE:  Nancy had her baby boy last night and it was so beautiful!  She was really focused and I felt so grateful that she shared this moment in her life.  I found it fascinating to watch her process and really learned a lot.  Thank you Nancy!

______________________

So, there are TONS of birth videos online for you to watch- TONS!  Many are scary, some are dramatic, ALL of them are beautiful in their own way.  One thing I run up against in my work as a Doula is the fear women have about giving birth, and it’s mostly because movies and television have taught us that birth goes like this:

–  Mom is standing in the kitchen making dinner, 9 months pregnant.

–  All of a sudden, there is splash of water hitting the floor as her water breaks.

–  There is a lot of running around as mom and dad get into the car and rush to the hospital.

– By the time they arrive at the hospital, mom is screaming, she can’t walk, she is sweating, and screaming obscenities at her partner.

–  In a few more minutes, she is red faced, on her back in the hospital bed, and pushing out her baby.

–  Baby is delivered to her with eyes wide open, totally clean and pink.

Folks, this is not how it happens…EVER.  In fact, the number of women whose labors begin with her water breaking is small…I wanna say, like, 10%, but I am not totally sure that is correct, so don’t quote me.

Anyway, if you’d like to see a real home birth, check out this link.  Dr. Nancy Salgueiro is allowing us to sign up to see the homebirth of her third child- how cool is that?!

Here is what she says on her site:

Here’s what you will gain by watching my home birth live:

  • Be invited into a home birth
  • See how a woman behaves in labor
  • Create a new visual blueprint for what birth can be like
  • Watch how birth unfolds, you can never know what to expect
  • See a great support team in action
  • Witness how children experience birth (my 2 and 5 year old will be there)
  • Debunk the giant myth about birth being an emergency and why it’s untrue

So, go to this link, sign up, and you will be notified when her birth begins.  You will receive a link to the live feed and can see what real birth looks like!

I bet you’ll be surprised.

September 15, 2011. Tags: , . Birth, Doula Stuff. 3 comments.

List #15

Things I am Obsessed With

Nail polish

I was a loyal OPI user, but now I am leaning more toward Essie.

Finding a knitting project

I really want to find a project that is challenging, but something I can actually see through to the end.  With cooler weather heading our way, my hands are anxious to get the needles going.  I really want to do a sweater- like this one, which I found on Katie’s blog.  I have attempted sweaters in the past.  The first one was with my Sweater Club (yes, you read that right) through Arcadia Knitting, which I just learned closed down!  (side bar: it wasn’t the best knitting store in the city, but I’ll never forget the day Buck and I were driving around looking for apartments, had just looked at a great one on Paulina, but I was not thrilled to be so far north.  We pulled onto Lawrence, heading East and I looked out the window and saw the knitting shop.  It was all the sign I needed that this was the right place for us, and we lived happily there for 6 years.)  Anyway, my first sweater failed because the sleeves did not work- too short and too tight in the armpit.  I still have it, but have never worn it in public because it’s baaaaaad. The second sweater, a cardigan, just didn’t grab me and I got too frustrated to finish it.

Figuring out how to make a web page

Uggh, this is overwhelming and I want to cry when I think about figuring this out.  I bought my domain name, but just have no idea what to do next!  Suggestions welcome!

Tea

Friends, I am a coffee lover through and through, but a few times a year I get grabbed by the tea bug and it hangs on!  I am trying to establish a ritual with my mornings and evening, and I’d like it to involve tea.  When I stayed at Tara’s during Caden’s birth, I fell in love with this one.  My all time favorite is this one.  And I am on the hunt for something like this.  Do I currently have any of these in stock at my house?  No, but hopefully that is remedied soon.

Hoodies

Despite the fact that I only own 3 (blue, purple and gray), I have been forbidden by Amber to buy any others.  Annie may also have forbidden me.  But, I’m sorry ladies, I just love ‘em and may have to add another this season…or maybe something like this will takeover…

Lululemon Universal Wrap

Toms

My super great mama in law (Mama Jan as I’ve taken to calling her) bought me my first pair for Christmas and I LOVE them.  I need to expand the collection because they are PERFECT for me!  Lightweight, easy to get on/off, cute, comfy and flat.

These are the ones I have

These are pretty awesome

Lotion

I love lotion.  If you have some in your bathroom and I’ve been in there, odds are good that I stole a little to try.  I’m always on the hunt for another good one.

Making my “List of Luxurious Things I Want”

It’s currently a list in my iPhone and only has “Burberry lip gloss #1” and “Chanel Perfume.”  These are things that are so out of the realm of “me” or “my budget” or “my lifestyle” but making the list is kind of fun, even though it is unlikely to go anywhere.

Reading Birth Books

Currently I am in the middle of The Birth Partner, The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth, and I’ll soon be starting Hypnobirthing.  Suggestions welcome!

September 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Birth, Food, Knitting. 2 comments.

I Found the Most Raddest Doctor on the Planet

And her name is Deborah Gleisner.

And she is a Naturopathic Doctor.

And I love her.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?  Besides, awesome, she (or he) is a doctor with an integrative approach to healthcare that takes the whole body into consideration to promote healing, disease prevention and overall wellness.  She gave me a binder with information and that is a condensed version of what it says.

The bullet points on page one say this about their practice:

  • First Do No Harm
  • Support the Body’s Inherent Ability to Heal
  • Identify and Treat the Cause
  • The Doctor as Teacher
  • Treat the Whole Person
  • Emphasize Prevention

For me, this is GOLD.

Not only is Dr. Gleisner a Naturopathic Doctor, but she is also a Midwife who does home birth, AND she does pediatric care!  So not only can I go to her for my general wellness, but also she can deliver my babies AT HOME, and then treat my babies when they need it!

Our visit was everything I have ever wanted in a visit: an hour of uninterrupted time where we talk about the 7-page questionnaire that I filled out (and actually enjoyed doing so) and then I had my exam.  She made suggestions, filled in gaps of information where I had them, and made me feel comfortable to talk about anything with her.  Now, I should say this: I really care about my health and love being in tune with my body. I also avoid doctors because I don’t like NOT being listened to, and I don’t want to put chemicals in or on my body.  She really listened to what I had to say, explained everything she was doing and why she was doing it, took my worries into consideration, and then talked with me about how we could work together to handle them.

As a part time Vegan, full time Vegetarian, we talked in length about my diet and how it will affect my ability to carry a baby, and be healthy in general.  She drew some blood to check my iron stores, vitamin D and wanted to see if I am anemic.  I got the results back today: my iron stores are low, as is my vitamin D, but I am not anemic- yay!  And her suggestions?  That I eat iron rich foods, get on an iron supplement if I like, and take some vitamin D drops.  She educated me about the difference in supplements, and in her handy binder there is tons of great information on promoting health through food, rest, and activity.

And she emails!

Overall, I feel really taken care of, and that was only the first visit.  I actually look forward to seeing her again, although I hope it’s only under positive circumstances.

If you are in the LA area and are looking for a great doctor, please call her.  She is in Hollywood now, but moving her office to Marina Del Rey sometime soon.

Dr. Deborah Gleisner

dragonflynaturalhealth.com

We drive the same car =)

August 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Birth, LA. 3 comments.

“Home Birth” in the Hospital: Possibility or Myth?

Thursday night I attended a lively panel discussion entitled “Home Birth in the Hospital: Possibility or Myth?”

This panel was made up of some stellar women:

Jessica Schneider, MD– Cedars-Sinai
Deborah Frank, CNM – Cedars-Sinai
Ann Trudell, CNM – Cedars-Sinai and UCLA
Susan Minich, CNM – Kaiser Permanente, Sunset
Monica Lundry, RN – Labor and Delivery nurse -Cedars- Sinai
Alisha Tamburri – Hypnobirthing Instructor, Doula

The audience of 100 was made up mostly of Doulas, but also of some expectant parents.  There was a lot of talk about how we can work together with hospital staff to provide a beautiful experience for the women having their babies.  But at the end of the day, the answer to the question “Is it possible to have a home birth feeling in the hospital?” was no.

I appreciated their honesty.

The hospital is not your home.  It will never be your home.  It doesn’t smell the same, or look the same, and the pillows are not nearly as comfortable (although I encourage you to bring at least one of your own pillows).  When you choose to have your baby in a hospital, you make this exchange: for the security of knowing that you will be cared for in an emergency, you agree to putting in a heplock, answering questions, getting your bp taken, filling out paperwork, and talking to a lot of people you don’t know all that well.  There are policies that the hospital has that they want you to follow.  If you don’t want to follow one of them, ask questions and see if you can find a compromise.  As one of the panelists said in response to the question, “Why won’t you let the women eat if they are hungry while in labor?” she said, “If you want to eat, don’t let me see it!”

The way to get the best of both worlds, according to the panel, is to labor at home for as long as possible.  Because when you come into the hospital, you are going to have to follow (most) of their rules. Just like when people come into my house and I ask them to take off their shoes and do 13 jumping jacks while singing “Happy Birthday,” I respect that the hospital also has rules that I follow when I am there.

One rule you should definitely follow: putting in the heplock.  You don’t necessarily have to be hooked up to anything, but allowing them to put it in makes the staff feel better.  And it makes sense.  If you suddenly needed fluids, taking the time to put in the IV  when you are already suffering is no fun for anyone.

The consensus of the panel was to do these things:

1.  Find a care provider you love and trust.  If at any time there are red flags, change doctors.  You must be able to trust them 100% and feel comfortable talking to them.

2.  Hire a Doula.  Duh.

3.  Do not see the hospital staff as your enemy.  They want the same outcome you do: a smooth birth and a healthy baby.

4.  Bring your nursing staff chocolate.

August 7, 2011. Tags: , , , . Birth, Doula Stuff. 1 comment.