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LLL of Missouri Annual Conference

This past week Mark and I went to the La Leche League of MO conference. It was the first time we’ve gone anywhere together without any kids for TEN years! (And, technically we did have one with us, but he’s still in utero!) We were very grateful for my parents who hosted our kids for overnight fun. The conference schedule was packed and very tight. We got there at 8:30 on Thursday morning and didn’t leave until 10:30 Friday night. (The first day was scheduled from 11-10 [vendor set up is why we were earlier] and the second from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. These LLL conference organizers don’t mess around!)

We set up our Brigid’s Grove vendor’s booth first and Mark spent the majority of twelve hours two days in a row sitting at that booth!

After getting our booth set up, I set up our LLL Group’s boutique table. We always have a pretty good table, if I do say so myself. I’m not sure if we sold much though, since the sales are handled by the conference and a percentage of the profits comes later on (based on everything I had to pack back up to go home, I’m thinking it was not much).

June 2014 017We then had lunch and some introductory presentations and then a keynote presentation about making medical decisions which was given by a wonderful physician I’ve known since before I had Lann. I then went to her breakout session on “vaccinations and other controversial topics.” Due to the tight schedule, the next session began immediately and I enjoyed listening to a very informative session on Pumping in the NICU, for moms establishing a milk supply while expecting to be pump-dependent on a long-term basis. At dinner, I got to sit with LLL founding mother Marian Tompson (this was a perk of early registration) and got a picture with her. (Not the most flattering picture of me, but oh well.) I’m so inspired by these seven founders and what they contributed to the world. (I reviewed Marian’s book a couple of years ago here.) In the picture she’s holding her copy of the Amazing Year workbook that we distributed (with permission) in preparation for my own session the following day.

June 2014 024After dinner, I went to a session on Slow Weight Gain. Even though I’d signed up for another session after that, I took a little break and sat with Mark instead before going to an Area meeting for my Group’s area.  We then packed up the booth and took our wares to our room where we FaceTimed with the kids for a little while before bed.

The next morning began early with re-setting up our booth and getting some breakfast and then going to my first session which was called the Proficient Pumper and was about helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals while expressing milk. This was followed by a helpful session on assessment of tongue tie and then lunch. The conference organizers bought two of our nursing mama goddess pendants as thank you gifts for the two primary speakers and I was delighted to see Marian Tompson wearing our little nursing mama while giving her lunchtime presentation (which was about self-compassion).

10277612_10204178609655464_2447639414533920230_nAfter lunch, I got my Womanly Art book autographed and a fresh picture with Marian, both of us sporting our mama goddess pendants from Brigid’s Grove. :)

June 2014 031I opted to skip the next session, since I’d signed up for another one about pumping and I’d already been to two other pumping presentations by that time. I wanted to have a little down time to focus on my own upcoming presentations and make sure I felt centered and prepared for them. It was hard to focus though as I was nervous as well as distracted by everything else going on.

June 2014 035I sat in for a while during the alumni presentation where different anecdotes from LLL history were shared by Marian and other LLL “lifers.” Then, I got set up for my own first presentation: Create Your Amazing Year, using Leonie Dawson’s workbooks and my own experiences. I started out pretty nervous, particularly because there were people I’ve known for a long time in the audience and somehow it is easier to present in front of “strangers” than to friends! I warmed up though and surprised myself by sharing more little snippets about my students than I originally meant to. I was worried about sounding like “commercial”–either for the workbooks (for which I make no money!) or for my own business, since my experience of the Amazing Year workbooks is integrally tied to the jewelry business Mark and I have co-created—but it didn’t feel that way at all. I’d worked really hard on making a little slide show presentation that was a good visually accompaniment to my ideas and had all kinds of happy, useful little pictures and quotes and inspiration in it. I finished my hour with exactly four minutes to spare, which was pretty good since I certainly had never rehearsed it verbally to make sure my timing was right! I learned from birth class work though that one page of notes gives me one hour of material and that held true for this work as well.

After this session was dinner and a nice presentation by Marian about LLL Leaders changing the world. Following dinner was my final session, Active Birth and Pelvic Mobility. Since my session was scheduled from 7:30-9:30 p.m., I anticipated that people would do “conference math” and decide to go home early and skip my session. I was right. I had 12 people signed up, but only three actually came and none of them were actually registered for the session! We  had a really great time together anyway and they seemed appreciative of the information and excited about what they learned. I finished early on purpose to make sure to get back for the close of the silent auction, but ended up having to wait around then for the other speaker’s session to finish before the auction actually closed. I got outbid on the lovely breastfeeding mermaid picture I wanted, but I did win a nice new, red BumGenius diaper and some Soft Star Shoes for new baby boy.

While our Brigid’s Grove booth was never exactly hopping with activity, we did double the (very modest) sales goal we’d set before leaving. I told Mark not to expect many pewter sales, because lots of people don’t have tons of extra money they bring to conferences, and to expect lots of small bead and charm sales from people wanting to bring little, affordable gifts home to people. I was totally wrong and most people skimmed right past the traveling bead shop (I think because it was too much to look at for the tight conference scheduling) and headed straight for the pewter. We sold completely out of our breastfeeding mama goddess pendant! We were invited to have a booth at an upcoming LLL mini conference in St. Louis in August and we’re strongly leaning towards going.

Pewter Breastfeeding Mama Goddess Sculpture Pendant  (custom sculpture, hand cast, LLL, IBCLC, nursing))…She’s just feeding her baby. Is she? Or is she healing the planet at the very same time?

Milky smile, fluttering eyes, smooth cheeks, soft hair. Snuggle up, dear one. Draw close. Nestle feet to thighs, head to elbow. And know that you are encircled by something so powerful that it has carried the entire human race across continents and through time for thousands upon thousands of years on its river of milky, white devotion.

via Pewter Breastfeeding Mama Goddess

The most beautiful thing about conferences like this is the sense of continuity with work that has been going on for 60 years, as well as a sense of connection with the many, many women present and past who have served other women. The face-to-face time with Leaders scattered around the state is invaluable and I am surprised by how connected I feel with these friends I only see at most once a year. I’m not sure what my role in LLL will be in the years to come, as I feel myself moving further and further away from my original interest in one-on-one helping, but I’m pretty sure I can’t help but be a “lifer.”

Opening Up…

Sacred Body  May 2014 070
Sacred Space
Sacred Womb

Holding
enfolding
protecting
nourishing.

Spinning cells into soul
into body
into breath
into life.

Unfurling without conscious control or effort.
Dancing together in the incredible might of creation…

Last month, one of the blogs I write for was doing a round robin topic on what makes a family. Though I missed my chance to officially participate I still have something to say about the topic anyway! For me, the question of what makes a family boils down to opening up to make room. In February of this year I found out I was pregnant again, even though we’d made what felt like a very firm decision not to have any more children. We’ve never experienced an unexpected pregnancy before. I’m a “planner” by nature and my children have all been very planned out (I even went for a “preconception” health care appointment before conceiving our first baby!) After my initial feelings of surprise and some degree of distress and even sadness, I was really amazed to see how very soon I started to feel space opening up in my mind, heart, body, and family for a new person. And, I thought, isn’t this the very essence of family? Opening up. I spent my childhood with three siblings, but geographically isolated from other family members and so almost all of our holidays were spent as just us, the immediate family. It used to make my mom feel sad not to have a houseful of company for Thanksgiving. However, then, even as the residents of the actual family house decreased as we grew up and moved away, our family opened and expanded to include more members (and more schedules!). I got married in 1998 and our family boundary expanded to include my husband. We then had our first baby in 2003 and the family opened up to receive a first grandchild and then later the spouses of my siblings and two more grandchildren from me. My brother and his wife are having their first baby in July and again our now-extended family expands to create room and joyfully anticipates his arrival. And, with my own new baby boy due in October, we again open and welcome with love.

My parents’ house at Thanksgiving is pretty full and pretty busy now!

Body opens
heart opens
hands open to receive

Birth mama
birth goddess
she’s finding her way
she’s finding her way…

via Birth as Initiation.

May 2014 043

 

The WHO Code: Why Should We Care?

“Knowledge serves no purpose if it is not spread around. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, an entrenched ignorance is kept in place through a culture created and maintained by commercial interests.” – Gabrielle Palmer, The Politics of Breastfeeding

The international WHO Code of marketing breastmilk substitutes reached its 33rd anniversary this week. This means that for 33 years the United States has failed to live up to international standards AND for 33 years infant formula corporations have successfully ignored the WHO Code. In addition, they have convinced over half of U.S. hospitals to serve as marketing shills for their products—distributing their marketing materials—-samples, coupons, booklets, and other ads-—in health care settings in a manner that is well-established to undermine women’s breastfeeding success and to have a negative impact on infant health. Quite simply, getting breastfeeding “advice” from a formula company in a form of a cute little booklet with a happy baby on the front is like getting nutrition “advice” from McDonald’s. It is not neutral or benign and it does not have the interests of mom and baby at heart, it is a skillful marketing tactic, nothing else. I have long repeated the Ban the Bags catchphrase: Doctors’ offices and hospitals should market health and nothing else. To be clear, I would consider all medication-sponsored posters, etc. to fall in same category, not just formula. Refusing to honor the WHO Code isn’t actually illegal, however. The US voted against the proposal in the first place—on the original signing of the Code there were 118 votes for the Code, one against (the United States!), and 3 abstentions. Eventually more than 160 countries participated in the WHO Code. When the United States did accept it, they adopted it as guidelines to distribute to large manufacturers. Providers should follow it, but they can actually can do what they want. UNICEF has a state of the code chart that breaks down which country does what with the Code. US is under the no action category along with a small handful of other countries that includes Somalia and Kazakhstan.

This issue is a systemic problem and it goes WAY beyond just the individual mom and her baby!  Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding is actually a political and public health issue in the US, not simply a “personal choice.” Personal choice is the language American people and formula manufacturers love to use and it is a very, very successful manner of appealing the individualist nature of our culture, but in this case it is actually code for, “let huge multibillion dollar corporations exploit women at will and our health care providers will even help them do it!

While the WHO code has no legal teeth in the US (it IS law in some other countries, but it was written in terms that allow national governments to make their own decisions about how/if to enforce or participate in it). It is still VERY important for health care providers and US distributors and marketers to be aware that their actions are out of sync with international guidelines and that they are in violation of international standards.

…breastfeeding, like all aspects of women’s lives, occurs in a context, a context that involves a variety of “circles of support” or lack thereof. Women don’t “fail” at breastfeeding because of personal flaws, society fails breastfeeding women and their babies every day through things like minimal maternity leave, no pumping rooms in workplaces, formula advertising and “gifts” in hospitals, formula company sponsorship of research and materials for doctors, the sexualization of breasts and objectification of women’s bodies, and so on and so forth. According to Milk, Money, and Madness (1995), “…infant formula sales comprise up to 50% of the total profits of Abbott Labs, an enormous pharmaceutical concern.” (p. 164) And the US government is the largest buyer of formula, paying for approximately 50% of all formula sold in the nation…

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue | Talk Birth.

These past posts take a look at the systemic context surrounding breastfeeding women and how it impacts their “personal choices.” January 2014 041

Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue

Preventing Culturally Induced Lactation Failure

A Bias Toward Breastfeeding?

Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding Research

Wednesday Tidbits: World Breastfeeding Week!

Controversies in Breastfeeding

The Impact of Birth on Breastfeeding

 

 

Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue: Collage Project

Processed with Moldiv

Since January I’ve been working with an independent study student from Prescott College on a self-designed course called Breastfeeding and Ecofeminism. Her class ended this month and her final project was a collage making the connection between the world body and the female body and reflecting the idea that how we treat women and their bodies as a culture is mirrored by our global treatment of the planet (and, conversely, if we change how women’s bodies our treated, our treatment of the planet will also change). As she worked on her collage, she also made a series of digital collage images for use on social media (see above), using quotes from her reading for the course.

“Governments and commercial companies will ‘invest’ billions in expensive new technology: roads, bridges, airports, dams or power generation plants, ‘for the good of society’. They may even ‘invest’ in schools and hospitals, but the crucial primary investment in the emotional, physical and mental health of all humans, which breastfeeding and mothering provide, is invisible.”

Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, p. 333)

As my student remarked, this is an atrocity. AND, it is one that is largely “invisible” to the average person.

I also find this quote relevant from The Politics of Women’s Spirituality:

“Human life is valuable and sacred when it is the freely given gift of the Mother—through the human mother. To bear new life is a grave responsibility, requiring a deep commitment—one which no one can force on another. To coerce a woman by force or fear or guilt or law or economic pressure to bear an unwanted child is the height of immorality…If they were genuinely concerned with life, they would be protesting the spraying of our forests and fields with pesticides known to cause birth defects. They would be working to shut down nuclear power plants and dismantle nuclear weapons, to avert the threat of widespread genetic damage which may plague wanted children for generations to come…” (p. 420).

For one of her digital images, she chose one of my favorite quotes from Reweaving the World in an article that touches on birth as an ecofeminist issue:

Here are some photos of her final collage project:

photo 1 photo 5 photo 3

“Knowledge serves no purpose if it is not spread around. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, an entrenched ignorance is kept in place through a culture created and maintained by commercial interests.” – Gabrielle Palmer, The Politics of Breastfeeding

Thesis Tidbits: Feminism, Midwifery, and Motherhood

“Feminism catches fire when it draws upon its inherent spirituality. When it does not, it is just one more form of politics, and politics never fed our deepest hungers.” –Carol Lee Flinders (in The Millionth Circle)

Yesterday, I spent several hours finishing a blog post for Feminism and Religion regarding empowered self-care (it won’t run until next  week). It is a primarily a personal narrative, rather than a political commentary, but as I was writing it, I learned about new legislation introduced in Missouri in an effort to effectively destroy the practice of independent midwifery here. I also have a friend whose family March 2014 082 member just experienced terribly abusive treatment during the immediate postpartum period. I typed feverishly away with an absolutely excruciating headache and a million things on my mind, primarily the very many injustices experienced by women during the childbearing year. I was also left wondering HOW we can truly take care of ourselves when legislators and health care workers actively take dramatic and even cruel steps to prevent us from doing so?

Another friend wrote a comprehensive blog post about this malpractice insurance legislation and the issues involved with it. Midwifery advocacy organizations have already introduced a perfectly appropriate piece of legislation this session and do not need the proposed bogus piece of legislation that offers nothing in the way of protection for Missouri midwifery consumers and instead simply serves to drive midwives out of practice:

…Fortunately, midwives in Missouri do offer a grievance process and adhere to the practice standards set by the certifying agency NARM (North American Registry of Midwives). While there is already a high degree of professional accountability practiced in Missouri, this is because the state professional organization (Missouri Midwives Association) believes it is important and necessary for the professional practice of midwifery and not because the state has directed midwives to do so.

The state of Missouri has continued to be uninterested in working with midwives and home birth families to improve and safeguard the practice of midwifery.

Is there a better option? YES! HB 1363

Instead of HB 2189, we would like to suggest directing legislators to support HB 1363. This is a comprehensive midwifery licensing bill which does provide a mechanism for oversight and responsible, regulated practice. It also addresses the issue of malpractice insurance by requiring midwives to have coverage under the same conditions as physicians. It would also require Medicaid reimbursement for families desiring the care of Certified Professional Midwives and home birth.

via Missouri Legislature Works Against Women, Families and Midwives….AGAIN. | Midwives, Doulas, Home Birth, OH MY!.

I also recently finished a class on ritual theory for my doctoral degree program. The text for the class was To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy by Charlotte Caron. In it, I was repeatedly reminded that gathering with other women in a circle for ritual and ceremony is deeply important even though it might just look like people having fun or even being frivolous, it is actually a microcosm of the macrocosm—a miniature version of the world we’d like to see and that we want to make possible. Returning to Caron, she explains something similar: “Ritual change is symbolic change, but it can lead to direct action or to ideological change, so it can be an important element in strategizing for change. One way of causing change is to re-form or alter the system. This involves recognizing that we are part of the system and that the system is dependent on feedback from its parts to keep it in balance, which means that we have the capacity to change” (p. 209).

Ritual experience can lead to practical action: spiritual praxis. But, this action does not need to look the same for all women, nor does it always have to involve large structures of society or even sweeping societal change.

“It is important to recognize that not all women will choose to act in the large structures of society. While it is hoped that all women will act toward justice, still electoral politics, lobbying, and revising the economic system may not be the spheres in which some women exert their energy. Ritual actions, raising children to be just and caring people, living in just ways in intimate and community relationships, and modeling different patterns and values are political actions to change patriarchal ideology. The choices of what spheres to devote energy to are important to honor. The constraints of women’s lives—when they are disabled, when they are dealing with past traumas, when they are raising young children, and when they are doing the many other things expected of women in our society—mean that women need to make choices that will allow them to live with integrity and well-being.” (p. 211)

A number of options of action are possible. “What is important are women’s choices to act in concrete ways in every circumstance, to know our neighbors, to raise children to be caring people, to live as if justice exists, to be just in personal relationships, and to live in the community in ways that model the values of justice and well-being for women and all of creation.” (p. 211)

As a mother who works extensively with other mothers, I appreciated Caron’s acknowledgement that raising children is a feminist act with potential to create change as well. “Another strategy for change is through raising children to be just and caring people. A media image portrays feminists as being against motherhood—but in fact, feminists make the best mothers. They raise children aware of themselves and the world, of options and values, of what justice means and how to work toward it, and how to be self-critical and self-respecting” (p. 203-204). Caron also explains that “in a just society, women would be free to make whatever decisions they needed to, for however long they needed to, in relation to political action in the public and the private sphere. All people would participate in the decision-making, and women would be supported in their decisions rather than, as sometimes happens, made to feel guilty for not doing enough or not valued for what they do.”

In connection with women being valued for what they actually do, Caron makes an interesting note about the visions women in her research hold for the future, for the possible:

“Interestingly, none of the visions described by women was based in self-fulfillment, in gaining personal power, or in one’s group having power and the expense of others. Instead, the interviewees talked about the elimination of social, economic, military, and other patriarchal problems, and about living in a world of valued individuals, healthy and diverse relationships, economic and environmental sustainability, equality for all, and shared decision-making and power” (p. 220).

Connected to these themes, one of my classic favorite quotes about women’s spirituality groups is this one:

“…Women’s spirituality groups can become birth centers for social change”

–Anne Rush in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality (p. 384)

March 2014 127

Breastfeeding as a (s)hero’s journey?

Every single human being was drummed into this world by a woman, having listened to the heart rhythms of their mother.

––Connie Sauer

February 2014 003

Recently I re-posted an article I wrote about breastfeeding and parenting as spiritual practices. I received a comment on the re-post that really gave me pause and some food for thought:

I’ve really liked your writing about preparing for birth as a warrior’s rite. I only wish I’d had materials that prepared me for breastfeeding similarly…

I’d like to have at least one breastfeeding book out there that supports women in breastfeeding even when it’s hell, and that doesn’t assume any pain is due to some tiny, easily fixed problem. I continue to get the most condescending advice when I talk about this in public — I don’t know how anyone thinks, with the amount of pain I’ve experienced trying to make this work, that I haven’t already tried every obvious solution.

Anyway, that is all a bit tangential to your post. I do think breastfeeding can be spiritual, though for some of us, it may be an ordeal as much as birth is. I would love to see that acknowledged better in breastfeeding resources.

 

I’ve been a breastfeeding counselor for nine years. I’ve written before that I have much more often marveled that a mother kept breastfeeding than I have wondered why she didn’t! Mothers are amazing and they go through a LOT. Reading this comment made me wonder why I’ve never really written about my own breastfeeding stories in the sense of a hero’s journey—perhaps because the difficult parts, once overcome, then fade into the fabric of that ongoing relationship? Perhaps because of the sheer ongoing involvement of breastfeeding, rather than the more discreet, definable event of birth? Perhaps because the path can be even more twisty and intimate and embodied and thorough and invested than even pregnancy and birth? Perhaps because, for me, my early breastfeeding stories are very bound up in my overall feelings during postpartum and the struggles I experienced there? Perhaps because for me personally the breastfeeding relationship continues to evolve into toddlerhood and so some of visceral, newborn, early journey elements are subsumed into the more habitual and every day? Why have I never written about the bloody, messy, tearful, painful parts of breastfeeding in my own personal motherhood story?! They’re there. And, when I counsel mothers in person I do talk about those parts. I also never tell people that breastfeeding hurts because they’re doing it wrong—I tell them they will read that phrase over and over, but that in reality, most women experience some degree of discomfort and even pain in the early weeks. Where it becomes not normal is when there is blood or blisters or open wounds, but if someone suddenly started sucking on ANY of your body parts 8-12 times a day, I think it is logical that we can expect some adjustment or difficulty or stress or pain in adjusting to that degree of intense, sustained, body contact/involvement.

I wrote the following at the end of one of my blog posts last year: January 2014 041

I’m also reminded again, however, of why breastfeeding support holds such a lasting pull for me and that is because postpartum is where it is at, that is where we are so very, very deeply needed as support people. Birth is amazing and exhilarating and women most definitely need us there too, but in the nitty-gritty, day-to-day, unglamorous, nipples and breast infections, teething, crying, dirty-haired, exhausted, wrung-out maternal web of daily being is a very tender and delicate beauty that becomes visible only when we’re willing to spend months and months, or even years, serving as a listening ear, a medication lookup, and someone to trust with both her laughter and her tears.

Talk Books: Laughter & Tears: The Emotional Life of New Mothers | Talk Birth.

Birth has been one of my biggest passions for many years. It is so exciting and interesting and almost “glamorous”—it is where the thrill is, the big work, and the big moment: the baby’s emergence. But, guess what, it is in the breastfeeding relationship and the first year with the new baby in which the mother’s strength is really tested. Breastfeeding is the day in and day fabric of connection. It is a huge physical and emotional investment, the continued devotion of one’s body to one’s baby. Breastfeeding support may not as exciting or thrilling as birthwork for me, but it is so very REAL and so very needed, and part of the nitty-gritty reality of individual mother’s complicated lives as they find their feet on the motherhood road. It really matters.

In what ways has breastfeeding been a hero’s journey for you? I’ve written a lot about birth in this context—the idea of the birth warrior or birth as a shamanic experience or birth as a labyrinth path, etc…but what about the breastfeeding journey? How were you tested, how were you challenged, how did you rise, or make peace, or triumph, or cry, or scream, or dig so deeply into yourself that you had to gasp in wonder at your own capacity? What is your breastfeeding story…?

cropped-tbjanuary-2014-039.jpg

 

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Courage

“Her courage is written on her body.” –Molly (Talk Birth)

March 2014 009Last year I made several cesarean birth art sculptures by request. It felt like a “risk” of sorts to make them, like I was trying to interpret another woman’s experience artistically, but I did it and they were well-received. I chose to imprint words in the figure’s cesarean scar because I kept thinking about how that mother’s love and hope and courage are all permanently written on her body. Recently, I had a request to make another and so I re-visited my Cesarean Courage idea and made some new figures. She is wearing her baby and her scar with pride and strength. These sculptures are not supposed to send an “at least you have a healthy baby” message, they are communicating that her birth journey with her baby is seen and acknowledged and validated.

“I became a mama goddess, too. I became a wonder of fertility, of softness, of late nights and warm beds; a body capable of unimaginable things. I labored and tore open, too.”

–Amanda King (in Being a C-Section Mama In the Birth Goddess Club)

When I shared the cesarean courage mama picture on Facebook, someone responded: Usually I look at the scar as a forever reminder of my failure. The idea my courage and love is forever written on my body in the marks of a surgeon’s knife is so transforming. I am humbled and amazed and inspired and encouraged by the ways in which birth art “speaks” to other women. It is a powerful experience and I feel so honored to communicate and share in this way. When I stopped teaching birth classes, I worried about no longer being “of service” to birthing women, but through my sculptures, jewelry, and writing, I still am doing this work and I am grateful.

Thinking about it reminded me of this wonderfully powerful photo of a mother-assisted cesarean birth in which the mother (a midwife, IIRC) caught her own baby…

You can read more in the accompanying article.

WHEN a baby is born by caesarean, the hands that lift it from the womb to the world usually belong to an obstetrician. But now, there’s someone else who can help deliver the baby: the mother.

via Delivered safely by caesarean with his mother’s hands – National – theage.com.au.

This picture and article were published several years ago and also covered in a Radical Doula post.

There are lovely photos from an online doula friend at Plenitud of a family-centered cesarean birth as well. And, two more recent posts with family-centered cesarean births here and here.

This week I was also touched to read a mother’s story of homebirth plans turned hospital birth plans turned cesarean birth after the baby developed an atrial flutter and was risked out of homebirth:

This has been a big week, with deep shifts that I’m sure will keep happening as we go through the coming days. March 2014 036Sometime in the next three weeks, I will subdivide into two women — one a mother, and one a fresh newborn infant, each with our own developing story and life path. I will find that I care more deeply about some things than I ever thought possible, and other things that were important markers of my life and identity are no longer significant. I’ll celebrate and I’ll mourn…

via Pregnancy Not-So-Blahs: My Story of Fetal Atrial Flutter | Amanda Aguilar Shank.

I knew I was going to be a mother very soon. I focused on not freaking out, and on enjoying my last moments of being so intertwined with my baby. I sent her telepathic messages of love and reassurance. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her right after the surgery and that likely she would have to go through some trials before I could be with her again.

The operation itself was not as bad as I expected. One critical piece of my experience was having the accompaniment of a labor and delivery nurse friend, who served as a kind of impromptu doula, helping me to hold my ground when treatments being offered were inappropriate or unnecessary, and to fully embrace with less fear and more trust the life-saving help that hospital staff had to offer…

via From Home Birth to Hospital: My Story of Fetal Atrial Flutter | Amanda Aguilar Shank.

smallMarch 2014 059These mamas have taken powerful birth journeys. They have laid down their bodies for their babies. They hold their experiences, they wear them, their courage, love, and hope, upon their skin. The birth experience is there, loud and clear, and yet new experiences and joys are too. She is whole.