Archive for the ‘All Things Doula’ Category

100 Things I’ve Learned in 100 Births

Monday, February 15th, 2016

100 Births blog post
So, my 100th birth happened last week, just before midnight on the 12th.

100 births since 2008. 44 doula births. The other 56 births were as a midwifery assistant and student. Those began January 29th, 2014–my late father’s birthday. The birth of a new life, and the birth of my midwifery journey. A significant day for me. Among these are two unplanned home births, in which I discovered I have what it takes to stay calm in unexpected situations.

100 births. Not counting the ones I missed by as little as a minute. I’m not sure how many of those there are, but there aren’t very many.

There is so much I have learned since I attended my very first birth as a doula in 2008. And there is still so much I need to learn. I am delighted, honored, and sobered at the distance I have traveled. Still more so at the distance I have left to cover.

How do I do it? The same way you do your life: One step at a time, one day at a time, to the best of my ability, with the help of others who have gone before, and the ones who walk it with me.

I will not turn away.

100 Things I Have Learned in 100 Births

  1. Just when you think you know birth, you are proved wrong.
  2. If it could go wrong, it probably won’t.
  3. But you should still keep your eyes peeled.
  4. Women are truly amazing. Every one of them.
  5. Babies are people too.
  6. And they deserve the same human dignity and respect as their mothers.
  7. Affirmations work.
  8. But they look different for everyone.
  9. The circumstances of birth don’t matter as much as how the mother is treated.
  10. Empowered women are formidable creatures.
  11. Midwifery isn’t for wimps.
  12. Being on-call is stressful for my family.
  13. I must be mindful of my priorities in ways many others don’t have to be.
  14. It does take a village.
  15. You have to choose your village wisely.
  16. My village kicks arse. Especially that portion made up by my husband and children.
  17. My husband and children have given me more grace than I deserve on this journey.
  18. Pay yourself first.
  19. You can’t control for what baby decides to do on the way out.
  20. Sometimes, perineal tears happen in spite of everything you try.
  21. A birth pool really is the Midwife’s Epidural.
  22. This job isn’t “fun.”
  23. Three o’clock in the morning midwife humor is fun, though.
  24. People will text you at six in the morning to ask why the sky is blue.
  25. You really have to know your “Why” for doing birth work.
  26. Your family has to know and believe in your “Why” as much as you do, or it won’t work. It just won’t.
  27. I want to be known as a praying midwife.
  28. As a doula, my bag of tools got lighter with every birth.
  29. Sometimes, my hands, my voice, or my presence were all that was needed.
  30. I am enough.
  31. Hard things are worth it.
  32. There is nearly always a learning curve to breastfeeding, even if you’ve done it before.
  33. VBAC is incredible.
  34. The medical reasons for interventions are real, and should be respected.
  35. The health reasons for natural, physiologic, unhindered birth are real, and should be respected.
  36. It’s okay to speak the truth in love instead of just saying “Whatever you want, dearie.”
  37. Healthy mom, healthy baby needs a new definition in this country.
  38. A healthy baby is not all that matters.
  39. How we birth matters. A lot. I didn’t realize how much until I began this work.
  40. Decisions based in fear are never good decisions.
  41. It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say “No.”
  42. I am stronger and smarter than I thought I was.
  43. But I still have a lot to learn.
  44. The day I lose my sense of awe and sacredness in the birth space, I need to quit.
  45. The day I think I have arrived, and have nothing more to learn, I need to quit
  46. Making cesareans more humane is good.
  47. Reducing the number of unnecessary cesareans is better.
  48. Formula is a medicine.
  49. Breast is not best, it’s normal.
  50. Boobs are not for sex, though they do help it along.
  51. Boobs are not fully developed until they have lactated.
  52. Breakfast is always appropriate.
  53. Humility is central to this work.
  54. Being teachable is absolutely necessary.
  55. Thinking outside the box is a skill that should be developed to its fullest.
  56. Becoming a midwife is hard.
  57. Like, really hard.
  58. And expensive.
  59. As it should be.
  60. Midwifery is an artisanal skill.
  61. It should never be allowed to disappear.
  62. When you hire a midwife, you hire her whole tribe.
  63. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to birth local.
  64. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to be responsible for your own care.
  65. Prenatal care is what happens between your appointments.
  66. Nutrition matters a lot more than we ever thought.
  67. Midwives have known this forever.
  68. Birth is made up of strong women doing very vulnerable things.
  69. Meconium happens.
  70. And sometimes, it really sucks.
  71. I have seen the worst, and I still want this.
  72. Midwifery isn’t a career.
  73. Midwifery is a calling, deep, strong, and undeniable.
  74. If I weren’t studying midwifery, I would want to be a hospice nurse.
  75. The end of life is very much like the beginning of life.
  76. Sometimes, the thing that shouldn’t work, does.
  77. You don’t always have to understand why or how something works, as long as it works.
  78. Pulsatilla is awesome.
  79. I love seeing a family hear their baby’s heart tones for the first time.
  80. I love watching men become fathers.
  81. Gentle loving touch is a big part of what’s missing from modern obstetric care.
  82. I don’t notice nudity anymore.
  83. Placentas are not always appropriate topics of conversation in mixed company.
  84. Circumcision is a rarely justifiable elective surgery. Look it up.
  85. Methods don’t work, except for a select few women.
  86. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
  87. Flexibility is everything.
  88. Never hesitate to speak out of fear of looking a fool.
  89. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I’ll still have a job.
  90. Birth is much safer now because of two things:
  91. Infection management.
  92. Hemorrhage management.
  93. Midwives know both. Really really well.
  94. Knowing your clients gives you good instincts.
  95. Your heart knows as much as your head, even if your head is late to the party.
  96. Sometimes, the only legitimate basis for a hard call is your gut. You have to trust it.
  97. Finding heart tones takes practice and patience.
  98. If I know what needs to be done, and how to do it, I should not hesitate.
  99. Midwifery is who you are, not what you do. You either have it or you don’t.
  100. I am a midwife.

There is so much more I could add, but I wanted this to be off-the-cuff, and not over-thought. It was important to me that it be in my brain’s real-time, and not artificially cooked up to be more or better than what I actually am.  It’s just very random thoughts off the surface of my brain. Some deeper than others, but all true.

What about you? How many births have you had or attended? What have you learned about yourself or about birth through them?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

5 Things Midwives, Doulas, and Postpartum Moms Love

Monday, July 6th, 2015

5 Things Midwives, Doulas, & Postpartum

As I was in the shower today, after two births in 24 hours–one in the hospital as a doula, the other at home as a student midwife–I was appreciating the perfect temperature of the water, the smell of my shampoo, and the utterly clean feeling I had when I stepped out onto the mat. I was positively luxuriating in my shower! I couldn’t help but compare it to the first shower I took after my babies were born. That first shower post-birth is simply divine.

This got me on a train of thought I hadn’t really contemplated before.

Midwives, doulas, and postpartum mothers share a sisterhood in more than just birth. There are five things we all love after a birth, whether it was our own or one we attended.

    1: Taking off the sweaty/goopy bra.
    Taking off the bra at the end of the day is magnificent enough. Imagine peeling off a sweaty, potentially goopy and wet bra! Birthing a baby is hard work, and so is attending a birth. (Not on the same level, obviously, but we often get very physical, sweaty, and wet too) Oh, the glorious freedom of a bra slipped off and tossed aside!

    2: That first shower.
    Letting all the mess of birth wash down the drain. The sweat of hard work. The fluids, vernix, and blood of the birth. Even some of the heightened emotions are shared. They are on different scales but are sourced in the same hormones. And yes, birth professionals tend to get a little baptized with the birth fluids too. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to get into that warm shower and just feel clean again!

    3: The first meal.
    Whether it’s steak and eggs, sushi, fried chicken, gyros, cheese and crackers, bananas and peanut butter, smoothies, or a fistful of Cheetos, it doesn’t matter. No food tastes as good as post-birth food.

    4: The first nap.
    Most births happen in the wee hours before dawn, so everyone involved loses some sleep. Combine that with a hit of high-inducing oxytocin, endorphins, and adrenaline, and you have a perfectly natural sleeping potion circulating in your blood. The first nap post-birth is the best! Even if it’s interrupted by a hungry baby, or a text from a client (we’re usually still on call), it’s still lovely to sleep. Mostly because we are in bed. It’s all about the bed. And the cool side of the pillow.

    5: Seeing your kids again.
    There’s something about a family coming together again after the birth of a new baby. After you’ve come home from the hospital, or your kids were brought back home from Grandma’s, being together as a family with a new member to induct is just plain special. Some of my favorite post-birth memories, when my kids were born, were introducing them to their new tiny sibling. Now, walking in the door from the latest birth, and being greeted by four sets of arms hugging me, and four voices saying “Yay! Mommy!!!” is such a blessing.

What is your favorite thing after having a baby and/or attending a birth?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Doula For The Dying, Part 2: 5 More things I learned while doulaing my dying father.

Monday, May 25th, 2015

5 ThingsI LearnedWhen I set out to be by my father’s side in 2012, I had no idea what to expect. My sister and I both lived in Colorado Springs, so naturally we caravaned to Oregon together. We talked about it a lot. What would we have to do? How would we help our mom? This was not a typical visit in any way. I felt ill-equipped and unprepared.

Once we arrived in Oregon, and we settled in, I began to discover just how similar labor and postpartum doula work is to supporting not only the dying man, but his family.

Here are 5 more ways I found that my doula work had prepared me for this in ways I did not expect.

1. Dying has a natural, typical process.
I will never forget the social worker who came to visit and explain the process of death to us as a family. It’s a lot like labor, where the signs of impending death get “longer, stronger, and closer together,” like contractions do. Like labor, the dying process is made up of stages, but they are not set in stone, and it looks different for everyone. No one can ever predict when or how the dying process starts, nor how or when it will end. You just have to wait and see. Like labor, when you are more familiar with the basic physiology of the dying process, caring for your loved one is a lot easier. It helps to have a general idea of what to expect.

2. The family needs support as much as the dying one.
Much like the expectant father, the dying man’s loved ones need education and support to help them navigate this painful, sometimes confusing journey. The social worker told us that we would all feel like we were going crazy, “but that’s okay–it’s normal crazy.” Pretty much everything we would experience would be typical of the dying process, but we would all feel as though it wasn’t. And that was normal. Dying is weird. So is birth. And for those who haven’t seen it, it helps to be able to hear an expert tell you that it’s all normal. This is a major role a doula plays. Supporting the father, partner, or family members through the birth process largely consists of smiling across the pregnant woman’s back and giving the thumbs-up to a dad who thinks the love of his life just might be dying based solely on the sounds she’s making. That calm professional presence meant so much to us as a family and enabled me to put on my own doula hat and love my family through the process.

3. Doulas are comfortable with bodily fluids and nudity.
My only regret in helping care for my dad is that I didn’t step up sooner to help my mom with the actual physical care. It took seeing my mom in tears, needing help to get Dad up off the floor for me to see the need for what it was. Dad was reluctant to let me help, because he didn’t want his daughter seeing him that way. However, Mom needed me. So, I gently insisted to Dad that he needed to let me do this for Mom’s sake. He agreed, and it didn’t take more than one trip to the bathroom together for him to feel okay about it. I happen to have a natural bent toward a clinical mindset, and I knew it wouldn’t bother me to help Dad get to the bathroom while he could, and when he couldn’t, to hold the portable urinal. It’s not much different than letting a pregnant woman lean on you while she’s on the toilet during labor, or hold her hair and an emesis bag while she throws up. It’s just part of life. And death.

4. Everyone involved has a vital role to play.
Part of a doula’s job is to understand the roles everyone involved in a labor and birth are going to fill, based on their gifts and what the mother needs. She assesses the expectations, then sees where she best fits in, and can enhance and help everyone’s roles. It’s the same at the deathbed of a loved one. Everyone has natural personality quirks and gifts and roles, and it is vital to let each play the part they are most comfortable with. Granted, we all have to step out of our roles once in awhile and make do, but generally, we each got to do what came naturally to us. Our kids even filled a role, keeping joy front and center even in the midst of our death watch. It was comfortable and seamless for the most part.

5. It’s not about me.
No birth I attend has anything to do with me. I am along for the ride, for better or worse. I am there to comfort, support, encourage, and anchor. I am not there to fight battles, rescue anyone, or to make a statement. My father’s death had nothing to do with me either. It was his journey, and I was there to comfort, support, encourage, and anchor as well as I could. I could have done a better job, I know, but I did the best I could with what I had, and I know that it was enough. It had to be, because I offered everything I had. We all did.

We each of us, my mother, sisters and I were utterly drained at the end of it all, but we had no regrets. Dad passed into his Father’s arms exactly the way he wished to: with minimal pain, at home in his own bed, surrounded by those he loved. We all of us were his doula team. And we didn’t even know it.

To read the first part, click HERE.

If you have lost someone, what would you add to this? Feel free to share your story in the comments.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Doula For The Dying: 5 Things I Learned at My Father’s Deathbed

Monday, May 18th, 2015

5 ThingsI LearnedAlmost three years ago, I packed up my four children and drove to Oregon to help care for my father. His melanoma had metastasized to his spinal fluid, and everything that could be thrown at it to kill it, had been. There was nothing left, but to wait. Probably only weeks were left.

His decline was gradual, over the course of about three and a half months. During that time, I discovered another purpose to my doula training and work.

The end of life is much like the beginning. It is mainly about waiting, comfort and support. There isn’t anyone who can do the dying work, except the dying. Those in attendance find themselves with not much to do but wait. At the most, we bring comfort through physical touch, slow conversations, and just quietly being present. It is so much like waiting while a woman labors. The main difference being that we are on the wrong side of the veil. We do not get to see our loved one birthed into the next life. It is all darkness on this side.

I have never been so grateful for my training as a doula. Everything I learned is very nearly directly applicable to the dying process. Here are 5 things I learned while doulaing my dying father.

1. Pain can be a normal part of the process.
Granted, the pain of death was not something I believe that we were ever designed for. It is often pathological, but it is also a natural part of dying. As in labor, it is a signal that something needs to change. Perhaps a massage will alleviate it. Perhaps a dose of morphine will help the man laboring to die to rest a little easier. Pain also allows and invites loved ones to minister to the dying simply by being present, holding a hand, or stroking the hair.

2. The same comfort measures used in labor often work well for the dying.
Massage. Gate control. Supporting the five senses. Medication. Acupressure. Essential oils. Music. Bathing. Hydration. Light snacking to their level of hunger if it exists at all. The dying, much like the laboring woman, do not need much food if any. It’s important to follow their lead. All these techniques we learn in our doula training are applicable to the dying one. Of course, some causes of death render certain massage strokes unbearable, much like transition may do in a laboring woman. It’s all about trying different things, and allowing the dying to accept or refuse it without taking it personally.

3. Holding space is the foundation for dignity.
We know as doulas that a mother’s pain level, or even the kind of birth she has will have little bearing on how satisfied she is with her experience. What matters most to her is that she is the decision maker and that she feels supported throughout the process. We as doulas hold the space for that to happen. We are constantly directing attention back to the laboring mother: “How do you feel about adding Pitocin to the plan? Would you like time to talk about it?” It’s the same with the dying. They often struggle to decide, and just need the space to settle in with what they want. This gives them the dignity they deserve as a human being while they go through an undignified, and often painful process.

4. Writing an end-of-life plan is much like writing a birth plan.
It’s written before the active dying really begins, much like a birth plan is written prenatally. It outlines the dying person’s desires, wishes, and medical decisions ahead of time, so that if and when they become incapable of decision-making, those who are caring for him can use it as a guide to know what he would most likely want to do. Unlike a birth plan, it is a legal document, and only power-of-attorney can override it. The principle is the same, though. And as a doula, upholding these desires came naturally to me.

5. Dying doesn’t look at all like what is portrayed in the media.
Birth in the media is always an emergency, there is a lot of screaming and hating of husbands, and demanding of drugs. It’s almost never clinically accurate or true to life. It is the same with death in the media. Death in the movies is always grand or gory or like watching someone fall asleep. Watching my father die was none of those things. There is no way to portray the sights, smells, sounds, or the heaviness of the room where the dying man lies. There are as many ways to die as there are to give birth. As beautiful as Dad’s final moments were, as dignified and peaceful as it was, I found death itself to be ugly. Just as I find birth to be beautiful, in spite of the “mess” and the pain and the noise and the smells. Death and birth are studies in contradiction. They are each a paradox. And both are sacred.

I loved being with my dad while he lay dying. I felt honored, privileged, and blessed to witness a man’s leaving of this world to enter the next. For Dad, to live was Christ, and his death was gain. Every time I enter the sacred birthing space of another woman, I am reminded of the gravity of life, and how important it is to have dignity at both birth and death. As a doula, I now know that I have the skill and compassion I need for either. If I weren’t a doula, or pursuing midwifery, I think I would want to be a hospice nurse. But that is an entirely different post for a different day.

Thanks for sticking with me. I know this is a tough subject, but it’s close to my heart, and it was time to write about it. How have you experienced death or birth in your life? Have you seen both? Are there other parallels you noticed?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Do’s and Don’ts in Labor & Delivery (a.k.a. Getting What You Want, Kindly)

Monday, April 20th, 2015
Created using canva.com

Created using canva.com

Birth plans. Epidurals. Natural Childbirth. Doulas. Induction. Cesareans. And more…

The list of decisions about birth goes on and on…

More women are becoming dissatisfied with the status quo in American maternity care, and are asking for something outside the norm for the hospital where they plan give birth. Naturally, this might make for some conflict between a birthing mother and her care provider and nursing staff.

Conflict.

There. I said it. Right out loud.

There might be conflict in the labor and delivery room when a mother is giving birth. I am not writing this post to tell anyone how to avoid conflict, but how to manage it in a healthy way, so that the birth experience is not characterized by the conflicts that arise, but by the solutions everyone involved is able to come to.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that may help you in the labor and delivery room to self-advocate effectively, while creating a human connection with the nurses and provider caring for you and your baby.

DON’T: Expect care providers or nurses to offer much in the way of comfort during labor.
It is not the responsibility of a care provider or nurse to make a birthing mother comfortable. Their first priority, and indeed, their entire job, is the safety of mother and baby. Period. Your comfort is a distant second to safety, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

DO: Hire a doula to offer you comfort and support.
Your comfort is the entire responsibility of your doula. Period. That is all that she is there for. Emotional, physical, and informational comfort and support are her expertise. You will not be disappointed if you lean on a doula for this need.

DON’T: Make demands.
This only causes a heightening of conflict. If you want something different than protocol, shaking your fist and demanding it is not the right tack. You might get your way, but you may not end up getting the best care if you treat the nurses as if they were there to grant your every wish.

DO: Ask for exceptions.
Think about it. How would you feel if a stranger came to your house, and began to dictate to you how to load your dishwasher, feed your kids, or fold your towels? You would be offended. This is what we do when we demand our way in labor. When you want something outside protocols, try this: “I understand that this is your normal protocol, but I need you to make an exception for me this time. Thank you.” This invites conversation and cooperation, and is less likely to put a nurse (who is technically your advocate) on the defensive.

DON’T: Be rigid.
Refusing to budge on the smallest things is unfair, especially when you are asking for things outside the box. Remember, you are a rare breed to these nurses. Asking them to step outside their norm is a big deal. Respect that.

DO: Be flexible.
Compromise is the name of the game. For example, here in Colorado Springs, a Hep lock buys you pretty much anything you want in most of the hospitals. It helps them to see that you are reasonable, and that you understand why they do what they do. It makes them far more open to your requests and out-of-the-box needs.

DON’T: Wait until you are in labor to make your birth plan known.
It is completely unreasonable to spring a birth plan on unsuspecting staff and providers. You can’t count on appointment conversations to be remembered, simply because of the sheer volume of patients a hospital-based provider might see in any given month. Not to mention the fact that you are likely to have a care provider you’ve never met catching your baby!

DO: Discuss everything on your birth plan prentally.
Write your birth plan early, in second trimester, and tackle one issue at a time in those 7-10 minute appointments. Discuss the benefits, risks, and alternatives ahead of time, and really make sure you and your provider are on the same page. If they are willing, have them sign it–this doesn’t make it a legal document, but it proves to the staff and on-call doc that your care provider is on board with all your requests.

In short, it pays to be kind. Always be kind. You never know what kind of day your nurse or care provider has had. You have no idea what is going on in the room next to you. I am not making excuses for bad or disrespectful or hurried care. I want to remind you that everyone in scrubs is a human being, just like you. There is rarely a reason to walk into a labor and delivery ward with guns blazing. Even if you had no other choice in your care. The ones providing it are just as human as you are, and if you can leave them feeling respected and understood, you are helping to pave the way for the next woman who wants out-of-the-box care.

It may be your birth, but it has ripple effects. Whether it’s for the positive or negative is, at least in part, up to you.

How do you handle differences of opinion in your care? What are the most diplomatic ways you have used to self-advocate without a situation erupting into WWIII?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

What to Expect When Your Baby Is Not Who You Expected Him to Be: 5 Strategies for Parenting a High Needs Baby

Monday, April 13th, 2015
Image credit: bbburkefineart.com (Click for original source)

Image credit: bbburkefineart.com (Click for original source)

You can never be quite sure of who this tiny human is going to be after he or she emerges from your womb.

We often expect an image like this one (Artist: Brenda Burke). Mom and baby awash in the sweetness of new motherhood. You picture the days snuggling away in quiet and coos, with only occasional crying.

The reality is usually different. The vast majority of us have to soothe an intensely crying baby at more than one point. Everything can be difficult to navigate when you are sleep deprived, and your postpartum hormones are in full swing.

However, if you have a baby who seems to have a more than usually intense personality, and a higher than normal demand for all things Mother, you may have a high needs baby.

That said, there are a lot of simple tools that can be helpful when you find yourself facing a high needs baby. Here are five good starting places:

1. Get help yesterday. My top advice would be to hire a postpartum doula, who will be able to assess the situation, and make good recommendations. She will know a lot of tips to help soothe your crying baby, and many postpartum doulas do overnight work, so you can get some much-needed sleep, and tackle the issues with a clearer head.

2. Relax as much as possible. (I know that sounds crazy.) I’m not talking about spa visits, necessarily. I’m talking about learning basic relaxation techniques. Remember the breathing lessons from your childbirth class? Those are life skills, and you will need them as you manage the stress of parenting a high needs baby. It can be as simple as stimulating a yawn, or putting baby in a safe place while you take a shower.

3. Learn about a baby’s normal development. I have found that this one factor can make all those mountains seem like molehills again! When you know what normal looks like, it is much easier to recognize what isn’t normal, and therefore get specific help.

4. Visit a chiropractor within baby’s first few weeks of life. Find one who specializes in care for women and their children, if possible. Many high needs babies fare better after a few adjustments, especially if their birth was very fast or very slow.

5. Learn about babywearing, which can be a lifesaver (sometimes literally). Babies who are worn, or at least held often, cry less, because their needs are met more quickly, and they have less chance to get worked up.

Now, these are very basic, ground zero strategies. These are not going to solve all your problems. They are only a springboard to get you started. Pick one, and give it a try!

What would you add? Have you had a high needs baby? What worked for you and your family? Why? Where did you turn for help?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

It’s World Doula Week!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

How are you celebrating?! Share your own video response in the comments on YouTube! Who are the doulas in your life?

Awe & Gratitude

Monday, February 9th, 2015

I have been putting together a scrapbook of pictures, cards, letters, and memorabilia from the doula clients who have so graciously shared such items with me. As the 8×8 book comes together, I find myself full of memories of each story. I have not forgotten a single birth. Not one. Each one is a treasure I carry with me wherever I go.

There is a weight to each memory. A weight characterized by humble, gritty, glorious women at their peak vulnerability and strength. Never is a woman so beautiful as when she is bringing new life into our small world. A brand new human being, who has never existed before, has been formed painstakingly, and brought with blood, sweat, and tears into the arms of his loving parents.

It is exquisite.

And I get to be a part of it.

My gratitude for this work will never wane. Sometimes, it is hard for me to believe that this is a path God has called me to so clearly. Unequivocally, with women is where I belong.

With women.

The root meaning of the word “midwife.”

Thank you for being part of my journey. Whether you are a client, a mentor, a colleague, or a member of my amazing family, I could not do this without you.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

I Think I Can!

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Image credit: laughingdevil at deviantart.com (Click to visit.)

Image credit: laughingdevil at deviantart.com (Click to visit.)

2015 is going to be my “Little Engine That Could…” year, methinks.

Personally and professionally, I am encountering challenge after challenge to take Action (my OneWord for the year), and get things done. To dive off the deep end, into the depths of the unknown. At least, that’s how it feels to me. I do tend to be a bit more dramatic than I need to be sometimes, but that is neither here nor there, right?

My first challenge is represented by the time needed to grow as a student midwife. Desirre, my preceptor, has set aside four hours, one day a month, for my fellow students and me to learn necessary skills. The first day we got together covered a lot of basics we already knew, like hand-washing, gloving/de-gloving, and basic prenatal skills like vitals and urinalysis strips. The last time we met, we learned how to do a complete physical exam (minus all the pelvic stuff), and practiced on one another. It definitely requires the full four hours to understand the need for each skill, be able to explain it back, and then to demonstrate how to do it. It is finally sinking in that, at the end of all of this, I will be able to sit for the NARM exam, and hopefully earn the CPM credentials.

I think I can, I think I can…

Another challenge is one I didn’t want to announce until CAPPA made it official. I have been asked to be their YouTube manager for the CAPPA Vision channel. *Gulp* I almost didn’t accept the position. Me? Make, edit, and post videos for an international organization? The largest childbirth professional organization in the world? Couldn’t be possible. Could it? Somehow, the folks on the leadership board of CAPPA seem to think so, and they couldn’t be wrong, right? So, I’m taking a giant leap of faith in taking this position. What a privilege it will be to work with CAPPA’s leadership to make some great content for its members! With respect, some trepidation, and a lot of self-teaching, I am ready for this.

They even put me on the website already! It’s real, now, folks.

I think I can, I think I can…

Then, of course, there are my doula and childbirth educator careers. Both have slowed somewhat, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it. Being a small business owner requires some serious willingness to stay on top of marketing trends, social media, and other aspects of building a business. I can never take for granted that word-of-mouth will always be enough. I have to earn the business of clients and students, and never let go of finding fresh ways to reach out to people. For someone like me, who would rather have a set of instructions than write my own, it’s an especially big challenge!

I think I can, I think I can…

Bring it on, 2015! I will play this game with you, and I will win! Graciously, of course.

 What are your big challenges this year, and how are you planning to meet them?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Little Birth Poetry.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Birth is amazing.

I attended three in the space of about 40 hours this weekend. Two butter births on a Saturday morning. Both filled with intense power and work, capped by peace when they were all over. The other a triumphant victory, and a step toward healing of a past rough experience.

Women are incredible.

There was the most spectacular sunrise on the way to one of the births. I have never seen one that struck my heart so deeply. The very sky seemed on fire. Too bad I was driving, and couldn’t capture it to share with you. A fitting beginning for the act of creation that is birth.

Though the baby didn’t enter the world with the dawn, the dawn greeted him anyway.

I was struck, as I watched each mama work hard to bring her baby to her arms in her own way. Each one unique. No two women labor alike. And thousands do it together everyday. What a marvelous sisterhood we share!

I was reminded, yet again, why I do this work. Why I am a doula. Why I want to be “with woman” as a midwife. This work is sacred. Beautiful. Insanely difficult. But so very worth it.

I rarely write poetry, but I hope these verses hit home. Each one represents one of the mothers I served this weekend. They’re kind of silly. Just haikus, but I had fun writing them. Enjoy.

Labor at sunrise,
Intensifying slowly.
Care, quiet, tranquil.

A hint, it’s coming.
Giant, crashing, clamoring,
“I can’t, but I did!”

Freight train rolling fast,
Can’t quite keep up, but she does.
Dad meets tiny pirate.

How did you spend your weekend?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff