List #13

Things I Love About My Job

On a day like today, I am struggling to find anything I love about my Apartment Manager job.  If the list was “Everything I Hate About My Job” I would have a list too long for you to enjoy reading!

But here is something I have learned: when I start to feel frustrated and begin throwing walls up, that is the PERFECT time to start listing the positives because it busts up all those stubborn feelings.

And because I work so many jobs lately (actually, always), I am going to make a few lists.

Here goes:

Things I Love About my Job: Apartment Managing

  • The flexibility
  • Living in a large apartment with a view of palm trees
  • My new found knowledge about plumbing, painting, and repair work
  • All the hard working vendors I get to work with!
  • Meeting nice people
  • Helping people find a home they love

Things I Love About My Job: Babysitting

  • Holding babies
  • Hugs and kisses
  • When I am playing with Asha and she clarifies, “It’s just pretend Kate!  I am not really a unicorn.”
  • When Akira shows me how to do something new she’s learned at camp or school
  • When Charlie smiles
  • When Olivia puts her head on my shoulder
  • Singing silly songs
  • Teaching a little one something new
  • Learning something new from a little one

Things I Love About My Job: Doula

*Note about videos: you can stream The Business of Being Born on Netflix instant, as well as Orgasmic Birth.  Birth Day is a BEAUTIFUL birth featuring Naoli Viniver who taught me how to use a Rebozo.  Psalm and Zoya is a video showing the (unintentional) unassisted birth of twins, one of which was BREECH!  I don’t think it’s for sale anymore, but if you can see a copy- do it!

Okay, so, yes, that did help, and I do feel better!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!


September 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Apartment Managing, Doula Stuff. 2 comments.

Picking a Doula- Part 1

I’ve been going on a fair number of interviews lately, which is really exciting for me!  I have met some amazing women and have more births to look forward to over the next few months.  Before each interview, as I am preparing my packet, I try to put myself in the shoes of the mom and consider what kinds of questions she will have for me so that I can be prepared with a thoughtful answer.  In an effort to learn more about where Mom is coming from, and to help any readers in their quest for a Doula, I asked Lisa to help me out.

The beautiful Lisa Deck from Before the Belly (my pseudo older sister) recently hired a Doula for her upcoming birth, and agreed to answer some questions for me about her process.  Now, I know every mom is going to have different needs, but Lisa is an “everywoman.”  She’s granola, but urban.  She’s natural, but understands the benefits of modern medicine and technology.  She’s open and smart and thoughtful.  Basically, she’s awesome!

Make sure you click on over to Lisa’s blog to read about her journey toward motherhood via IVF!

Kate:  When did you start doing your Doula research?

Lisa:  I started doing my research REALLY early, around 9-10 weeks.  This was on purpose.  I was trying to focus my energy somewhere positive during that scary 1st trimester when I had serious doubts about whether or not my pregnancy was going to “make it.”  This is my way of suggesting to the universe that it would.  It also gave me something to research on the internet other than early pregnancy symptoms.

How did you find out about Doulas?

My interest in birth started several years ago, long before I was married or planning to start my family.  I felt like a light bulb went off when I heard about how birth could be an empowering, beautiful experience rather than a scary medical procedure.  I started reading books and watching documentaries, much like I imagine you are doing now.  From what I learned, having a doula was a very important part of having a natural birth.

Why do you feel a Doula is important for your birth?

I feel really strongly that I want to try for a natural, unmedicated birth.  I also know that that puts me in the minority of hospital patients and that I will need a strong advocate to get where I am hoping to go.  Anything I can do to increase my chances of success, I’m willing to do.  And I also think the idea of having a woman experienced with natural birth, encouraging and guiding me, is such a comforting thought.

How many Doulas did you interview?

We interviewed 3 and all were awesome!  It was a really hard decision because I liked them all and could envision having a wonderful experience with each of them.

What questions did you ask them?

I asked a lot of questions.  🙂  I asked if she had experience with my midwife group and hospital where I planned to deliver.  I wanted to know if she would come to my house so that I could labor at home for awhile before going to the hospital.  I also wanted to know if she would be available if I went into labor prematurely.  One of the most intimate – and difficult – questions I asked was what her policy was if we lost the baby before birth.  I didn’t want to even imagine it, but I also wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t be locked into a contract we had to pay for if that happened.

Did you use a particular resource to find your pool of Doulas and the questions you asked them?

I did a lot of searching on the internet, reading yelp reviews and looking over the doulas’ websites.  I think I also searched and other online communities to see if other people had recommendations.

Were there any red flags?

There really weren’t any red flags with any of the women I met.  I have a close friend who also interviewed a few doulas recently and she had a crazy/funny experience.  She and her husband went to the doula’s home to interview her, and when she opened the door, the doula put her hands in the air touching the top of the door and invited them to duck under and “birth” themselves into her home.  If that wasn’t strange one time, she made them do it again on their way out.  Here’s a tip: don’t do that.

How did you make your decision?

As I said, it was very difficult.  We narrowed it down to the two doulas we really clicked with.  One of them had a personality that reminded me more of me – warm, engaging and easy to talk to.  The other’s personality was a lot like my husbands – more cool, calm and collected.  I could really see the benefits of having either of them at our birth, and I really LIKED both of them.  But in the end, I decided it was the person who I could relate to the best that would be the person I was most comfortable with.  Besides, I already have one John, and one is usually enough.  🙂

What would you say to parents-to-be who are on the fence about hiring a Doula?

Well, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say once I go through the birth experience with a doula.  But I can say that I’ve learned that having a doula can reduce your risk of having a c-section or other interventions as well as helping you have a more empowering and satisfying birth experience.  I also know that having someone who really understands birth – what’s normal, what’s not, how to cope with pain, etc – is very comforting to me and John.  We have no idea what to expect, so it will be a relief, I think, to have someone there to gently guide us through the process.

**Check out this article from  It’s a bit dated, but it’s got great information about how to avoid a c-section (#5 is my favorite!)**

What are the top 3 things you think a new Doula should do or say at in interview?

One of the first questions I asked my doulas was “what is your role and how is it different from my husband’s role?”  I think that a doula should have a good answer for that.  Men need to hear that they are still going to be necessary if a doula is part of their birth.  Women also want to know that there is a reason to have someone other than their partner present.  I also like when people who are going to be involved in my birth ask me about myself and my story.  As you know, it’s taken a lot of effort for me to get where I am now.  I want my doula to know these things about me and care about getting to know both me and John personally.  On the flip side, I also want to know about her.  What her philosophy is or why she became a doula.  Anything that gives me insight to her personality.  Like I said, for us, it came down to personality.  So, it’s important to let who you are come through during an interview.

How is your pregnancy going?

Great!  I am in the “honeymoon” stage where I feel good again and not big and uncomfortable yet.  I have a cute belly going, but it’s not cumbersome.  I’m really enjoying everything about being pregnant right now.  And oh – feeling the kicks is the BEST ever.  I love it.

Any strange cravings?

Nothing terribly strange.  I had my first cheese steak sandwich (ever) which has become a new favorite.  I also have been snacking on pierogies. 🙂

Thanks so much for your insight Lisa!

If you live in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a Doula, contact Lisa and I am sure she would be happy to share her list with you to get you started.  Or you can visit to find a Doula near you!

August 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Doula Stuff. 1 comment.

I Was Hired!

I was hired…by people who haven’t known me for 20 years…to…be at their birth…which is going to happen…AT THEIR HOME!!  Can you tell that I am excited?  CUZ I AM!

First there is the “getting hired” part.  That was thrilling! And let me share something with you: Interviewing to be someone’s Doula is WAY different than, say, interviewing to be the Marketing Coordinator for Whole Foods Market.  For the WFM interview, I needed to look as cute and professional as possible, and I had to talk about myself as much as I could, because that’s what you are supposed to do in the corporate world- sell YOURSELF.  But in the (beautiful) Doula world, listening is key, looking too cute can make a preggy mama feel insecure, and working from a place of “I want you to have the best person by your side, even if it’s not me” is ESSENTIAL.  This is not a selfish work we do.  It is truly my belief that I was put here to be a Doula and to Doula very specific women.  I don’t know who they are yet- we haven’t met (or maybe we have…)- but we will when it’s time.

Tara and Steve were my first clients, and Tara and I have been friends for over 20 years.  When she hired me, it was over brunch at her baby shower.  It was exciting and easy and SO special to me that she wanted me there.  There was no interview because we already knew each other!  And I certainly do not mean to diminish that experience simply because we do know each other, but there is something astounding to me that someone who doesn’t know me well would want to have me at one of the most intimate events of their life.  I am overwhelmed with the honor and I instantly put this family into my heart.  They will be my second birth and my first home birth (assuming nothing comes up before November) and that is so special to me.

The weekend that they hired me, I had been in a workshop about how to start a Doula business taught by the talented Tracy Hartley.  If you are a Doula in the area and need some guidance, go to her workshop.  I literally walked out of it Sunday at 5pm, drove to my interview, spent just over an hour with the family, and got the email the next day letting me know I was hired.  It was amazing!

And to tell you the truth, I walked out of the interview feeling a little frustrated that I didn’t say some of the things I intended to say.  And this wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own!  I just get so interested in hearing their story, their expectations and fears, that I forget until the end to talk about my services (which are a work in progress anyway) and then rush to get it out!  But I learned a really valuable lesson: listening is my strength and it will work in my favor as a Doula.  And thank GAWD cuz if there are two things I love in life (besides my husband and ice cream) its listening and helping people.

August 20, 2011. Tags: , , , . Doula Stuff. 1 comment.

What is Support?

Starting today, I am waking up 2 hours early to study Doula stuff.  There is so much to learn and I just need to carve out some quiet morning time when the phone isn’t ringing to make this a priority.  Because I want to.  And because I need to.

So, this morning Buck and I woke up early, I made a quinoa breakfast thing from the Trader Joes cookbook I am borrowing from Michelle (will share recipe this week), and we set about doing our work.

One of the first pages in my binder from my training class has a page that says this:

What is Support?

Support it unconditional.

It is listening…

not judging, not telling your own story.

Support is not offering advice…

it is offering a handkerchief, a touch, a hug…caring.

We are here to help women discover what they are feeling…

not to make the feelings go away.

We are here to help a woman identify her options…

not to tell her which options to choose.

We are here to disucss steps with a woman…

not to take the steps for her.

We are here to help a woman discover her own strength…

not to resuce her and leave her still vulnerable.

We are here to help a woman discover she can help herself…

not to take that responsibility for her.

We are here to help a woman learn to choose…

not to make it unnecessary for her to make difficult choices.

– Anonymous

I love this.

As a middle child and an older sister, I have trained myself to turn the other cheek, and to get the work done, and to fill in the gaps when they arise.  But I realize that this behavior isn’t always the healthiest for me, nor the most helpful for my partners.

“We are here to help a woman discover she can help herself…not to take that responsibility from her.”

What beautiful work this is!

August 8, 2011. Tags: , . Doula Stuff. Leave a comment.

“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.

Becoming a Doula

In March I decided to take the steps to become a Doula.  It was not something I ever imagined for myself, but now that I am stepping into it, it feels right.  It was a light bulb moment for me.  My good friend, Angela, had her beautiful daughter in January and used a Doula.  At one point she asked me, “Have you every thought about doing this?  You’d be so good at it!”  I think I laughed at the time and told her I wasn’t a “hospital person” and not able to handle a lot of poop.  Side note: my older sister’s roommate, Abby, is a nurse and has 1000 stories related to poop that are disgusting and make me respect nurses even more.

In January I went back to Chicago for a family emergency (more on that another time) and spent a considerable amount of time in a hospital.  I learned a lot about the hospital system, but more than that, I learned a lot about myself and the importance of patient advocacy.  When I came back to LA, I was lost.  I literally got off the plane and said to myself, “What do I do now?”

I got myself into therapy, as every good LA resident should, and began doing some soul searching.  My dear friend, Michelle, knew someone becoming a Doula and asked me if I had considered it.  Her enthusiasm infected me and I looked into it.

I didn’t know much about it at the time, and maybe you don’t either, but a Doula is a labor support person.  She supports the mom in achieving the ideal birth- and this is my favorite part- as the mother defines it.  So, it’s not about what I want her to do, or what the doctor wants her to do, or what her neighbor thinks she should do.  It’s about what the woman giving birth wants and feels and allows her body to do.  It is judgement free.  It changes from moment to moment, but remains in the mother’s hands.  That is what I love about it.  It’s about giving control BACK to the woman doing the work.

I sound like a doctor hater, don’t I?  Well, I don’t mean to.  I just feel strongly that birth is not a “sickness” or a disease we need to hurry up and cure.  It’s a process and a passage into motherhood that should not be dictated by the doctor, hospital, or insurance company.

As I go through my certification and talk to more people about this process, I feel the Doula identity emerging, and I like it.  When I think back on past work I have done, so much of it has been in leadership positions where I am called upon to guide and inspire people to do things they don’t think they can do.  I was a marathon runner for many years, and convinced more than a few people to try it.  And they did, and many of them continue to run today.

In case you would like to learn more about what a Doula is, or look into certification yourself, check out DONA International.

April 25, 2011. Tags: . Doula Stuff. 1 comment.