My Greatest Fear

August 1st, 2016

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

My light does frighten me. I am afraid of center stage, where hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and pride can so easily take over. I am afraid to face those who would admire and look up to me simply because of what I do for a living. I am afraid to do too well, be too successful. I can deal with and accept my darkness. My flaws and failings are all too apparent, daily. Even hourly. There are glaring gaps in my character that scream at me to stay in a place of condemnation and false humility. I am more comfortable with my sins and flaws than I am with my strengths and giftings.

No more.

I am a midwife.

This is a truth I am trying with all my heart to embrace fully.

No, I have not achieved certification, and still have a ways to go before I do, but it is still the truth. A midwife is who I am. I say it not as a credential, but as an identifying characteristic, like being a wife and a mother.

I have played small up until now, deferring to others rather than stepping into the role for which I was created with confidence and humility.

No more.

From now on, I will serve the world. I will be brilliant. I choose to shine brightly and make manifest the glory of God, in whose image I am created.

I will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God as a midwife. Confident. Able. Strong. All to reflect his glory and his Name.

I will liberate others to shine, and to walk in the strengths God has given them. Only then can I overcome this weakness of false humility and hypocrisy. I am a child of God, and I will conduct myself as such.

I am a midwife, and I will not play small to fear any longer, by the power of the God who created me, called me, and equipped me.

I will trust in Him. I will not be afraid.

And I will not hide anymore.



Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles

July 4th, 2016

2016-07-04-16.22.24.jpg.jpegHard water. The nemesis of all who have ever cleaned a bathroom in the history of ever. It’s awful. Combine that with the inherent dustiness of Colorado, and OH MY WORD I’M GOING TO DIE SCRUBBING.

I have tried every name brand bathroom cleaner I can find–not literally, of course, but enough that I became exasperated with how much elbow grease I had to put into the mildest of hard water stains. It was a lot, okay?

Lo and behold! I came across a version of this on a blog many moons ago, and have since adapted it to my own nefarious anti-hard water designs. This. Will. DESTROY hard water. With minimal work. It’s amazing. It’s safe. And it’s amazing. It’s my favorite homemade cleaner, hands down. Nothing is better. And it’s cheap.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 liter heavy duty spray bottle (HEAVY DUTY)
  • 1/4 c. regular Dawn dish soap
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • empty, clean parmesan/spice contanier with large holes in the lid for sprinkling

Pour the dish soap into the spray bottle, then top it off with white vinegar. Go slowly with the vinegar, to minimize suds. Gently swirl the bottle to mix, until the Dawn is evenly distributed and put the sprayer on. Place baking soda in the empty container.

Sprinkle your tub generously with the baking soda. Be sure to get it to stick to the sides of the tub if you can. You may need to moisten the surface a bit by wiping it with a damp sponge. Sprinkle some more.

Spray the Dawn/vinegar mixture generously over all that baking soda. Any areas that lack fizz need more baking soda and another spray of cleaner. Spray some more. You can’t use too much. Get a good fizz going. (I don’t recommend using this on tile, as vinegar can break down grout. Use it for the tub only.)

Set a timer for 20 minutes, and sit and read blogs. Oh — run the fan in the bathroom or open a window. Vinegar is a potent fragrance, y’all. Do NOT go into the bathroom for 20 minutes. Do NOT cut this time short. Ever. Visit Pinterest, read blogs, scroll through Facebook, read books, call your mom, clean something else. Just leave it alone for 20 minutes.

Put some HOT water in a bucket or bowl, grab a good scrub brush. (You may need a grubby toothbrush for hard to reach corners)That tub will be sparkling in about 5 minutes of scrubbing, probably less. Guaranteed. Rinse REALLY WELL. Turn the shower on and aim it all over the place.

Done.

Shiny.

You’re welcome.

PS: I’d share before and after pictures, but I forgot to take them. Seriously though. I don’t care how hard your water is. This cleaner will work. Really well.

 



VBAC: You’re The Number One Stakeholder

April 19th, 2016

Add headingIn this line of work, informed consent and refusal is paramount. There is not one factor more ethically important than accurate fully informed consent. Without it, a care provider is practicing unethically, and patients are deciding blindly. Without it, it is far too easy for doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to steamroll patients in their desire to protect the so-called “greater good.” The greater good argument is just a nicer way of saying “The end justifies the means.” An argument most people dismiss as childish at best and despotic at worst.

Nowhere is this more true than in making medical decisions. No government has the right or the jurisdiction to decide ahead of time what would be in anyone’s best interests to choose one course of action over another. The only exception to this is when one’s decision would interfere directly with the safety or life of another human being. Very few medical decisions will directly result in putting another human in mortal danger. Even smoking isn’t guaranteed to produce cancer in every individual. Rather, there are risk factors linked to smoking that make it far more likely. Yet, we don’t ban smoking entirely! We understand that each individual has a right to do with their lungs what they like.

“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come
when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict
the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to
others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special
privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”
~Benjamin Rush
(one of our Founding Fathers)

Why does this change when it involves a uterus? Medical institutions seem to have the mindset that women give up their rights when they cross the threshold of the labor & delivery room. Up for discussion in Colorado are the midwifery regulations. Up until last week, everything was going smoothly, and midwives were going to be given some reasonable freedoms to better care for the women who choose home birth. At the last minute, ACOG tacked on an amendment to HB-1360 to remove the option for midwives to care for women desiring a VBAC at home. It passed the House, and is now on the Senate floor this week.

Rewinding a bit back to decisions that interfere directly with the safety or life of another human being. Doesn’t VBAC do that very thing?

No.

It does not.

Most medical decisions fall on a spectrum. They are not black and white, right or wrong. There are degrees of risk. And those degrees vary among different women. They even vary among different pregnancies in the same woman! How on earth can there be any government regulation that allows for every possible variation in these risks? How can any government regulation account for every arbitrary circumstance? Every irregularity?

They can’t.

And they should not.

Who then, is best equipped to balance the risks of VBAC against the risks of a repeat cesarean? The woman who is pregnant is the number one stakeholder. Period. End of story.

“But what about the baby?” Yes. What about the baby, indeed. That baby has a mother more intimately connected to him than anyone else. There is no one more fit to make decisions in regards to the risks baby may incur during any given birth than his or her fully and accurately informed mother. Not the doctor. Not the hospital. Not the insurance company. And certainly not the government.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Please — do your homework. Educate yourself. Speak up! Start here:

VBAC Facts
International Cesarean Awareness Network
Science & Sensibility: Too bad we can’t just ban accreta…

Want to do something about it? Visit the Colorado Midwives Association Facebook page, and follow their posts. They are posting updates regularly. They are sharing specifics like who to call, and what to say. Easy peasy.

When it comes to VBAC consent: You are the number one stakeholder.

Thank you!

Grace & Peace,
Tiff Miller, CCCE, Student Midwife

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Rock the Boat: Call the Colorado state senators TODAY!

April 8th, 2016

Maybe you believe your vote doesn’t count in general elections. That your voice makes no difference. I won’t try to convince you otherwise. However, what DOES count is your phone calls and emails to your Senators & Representatives–in your state AND in Washington! Whether you voted for them or not, EVERY phone call represents hundreds of voters to them.

I challenge you to set an example for your children, and pick up your phone. Teach them how, even if our favored politician loses the race, we can still participate and have an impact on the process of lawmaking on issues that matter to us.

It took me FIVE minutes to make five quick phone calls, and another five minutes to send five emails to our state senators.

Vote or don’t vote, but rock the boat!

Thank you!
Grace & Peace,
Tiff Miller

From Karen Robinson, former CMA president:
I’m seeing a lot of messages flying across Facebook asking people to contact certain members of the Colorado House Health Committee (Sue Ryden, Beth McCann, Susan Lontine and Lois Landgraf) to tell them not to Colorado Registered Midwives from attending VBAC at home.

It’s important to note that this bill is no longer in the House, it will move to the Senate next week. So while I think it’s fine to contact those four women, I strongly suggest everyone start contacting their individual state senators instead–along with the following members of the Senate Health Committee:

  • Kevin Lundberg (he will be the bill’s sponsor): 303-866-4853, kevin@kevinlundberg.com
  • Larry Crowder: 303-866-4875, Larry.crowder.senate@state.co.us
  • Irene Aguilar: 303-866-4852, Irene.aguilar.senate@state.co.us
  • Beth Martinez Humenick: 303-866-4863, bethmartinezhumenick.senate@state.co.us
  • Linda Newell: 303-866-4846, Linda.newell.senate@state.co.us

Copy and paste the following into an email to each senator (thanks to Ramona Webb for the suggested script):

Dear Senator __________,

HB-1360 will be voted on in the Colorado Senate soon, and it contains an amendment stripping away home birth parents’ rights to have a registered midwife attend their birth if they have had a cesarean before. This language was not in the previous bill regulating
direct-entry midwives …

If home VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with a registered midwife is made illegal, I am afraid that many VBAC mothers will choose to give birth at home without any medical assistance rather than plan a hospital birth and likely repeat cesarean. Registered midwives are trained to monitor the mother and baby for problems and transport to the hospital if complications arise.

Please vote to remove this recently added amendment, and preserve the rights of Colorado home birth parents!

Thank you,
(name)
(address & phone)

Last, but not least, please take the time to sign this petition, right now. Just click on the heading.

Safe Homebirth VBAC options for Colorado Women

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100 Things I’ve Learned in 100 Births

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



Learning Curve

October 11th, 2015

12983954_10208481659654579_6833767883080805340_oHomeschool. Husband. Midwife studies. CAPPA. Childbirth classes. Home management. Family. Friends. It’s a lot, folks. No wonder things, and sometimes people, fall into the cracks and get lost.

“Can’t you just cut something?”

Well, sure I could. Anyone could cut anything if necessary.

That isn’t the question, and I’m not complaining. I’m entering a new season. A season of growth and change for my  business and in my family.

And it’s hard.

Really, really hard.

But it’s good too.

So, so good.

I am stumbling my way through a new learning curve. It’s the road less traveled, and I’m not looking back.

Has it really been two months since I’ve written anything?

Speaking of cutting things. Guess what goes first?

Writing anything that doesn’t fit in a Twitter post.

All those good habits a writer is supposed to have? I don’t have them. But I need to write. I’ll figure this out eventually. Perhaps, one day, I will choose to write and write and write instead of scroll.

Facebook is gone from my phone. And more words are tumbling around in my mind and heart, trying to break out. I see it in my list of drafts that is ever-lengthening, and never turning over into a publishable post. Or even a coherent thought.

What, even, do I write about?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff



A letter to a midwife’s mamas

September 15th, 2015

This, So, so much, THIS.



Menstrual Monday: Lunaception

August 14th, 2015

Well, this is interesting. I’ve never even heard of this process. I think I might try it.



5 Things Midwives, Doulas, and Postpartum Moms Love

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



Drink More Water: Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated in Pregnancy.

July 6th, 2015

Click to see more posts on healthy pregancy.

Click to see more posts on healthy pregancy.

“Drink more water.”

It seems to be the pregnancy panacea. Having a lot of Braxton-Hicks? Drink more water.

Feeling tired? Drink more water.

Having headaches? Drink more water.

Constipated? Drink more water.

How many of us feel like we are paying our care provider to tell us to stay hydrated? In Colorado it’s doubly tough, because of the arid climate and extreme temperature changes. It feels like we have to drink twice as much as those in other areas of the country to maintain any decent level of hydration, even when we are not pregnant.

Of course, the best way to stay hydrated is to drink water. So, since we should drink more water, we don’t want to drink water. We begin to crave soda, sweet tea, and chocolate milk instead. This is because we are drawn to that which we should not have, by our very nature. Silly humans!

Still, we do get bored drinking plain water. Especially when we think our choices are between crushed or cubed iced. Hydration doesn’t have to be boring though! There are myriad ways to stay hydrated, and here are just a few–some with recipes linked–to get you started:

  • Herbal teas, hot or iced. Most do not contain black or green tea, and are naturally caffeine-free, if that is a concern for you. They also come in a plethora of flavors. The fruit flavors are especially delicious iced in the summertime.
  • Infused water. This is the “in” thing right now. At least it’s in for a reason–it’s delicious! Explore Pinterest for infused-water recipe overload! Like these unique combinations, or these that have an interesting twist.
  • Flavored sparkling water. This works better if you make your own. That way, you can avoid sugars, artificial sweeteners, and artificial dyes. Just mix up some sparkling water with a little bit of your favorite fruit or vegetable juice. Add ice, and enjoy!
  • Eating high-water fruits and vegetables. Think watermelon, cucumber, celery, and others. Of course, you can’t measure those in ounces, but every little bit helps!

“That’s great,” you might say. “But how am I supposed to get that enormous quantity of liquid into me in one day? The simplest way is to treat yourself like a toddler. Rewards. Positive consequences. Bribes. Whatever you want to call it. The simplest form of this is to make it your goal to get your water in by dinner time. Then, if you reach your goal, treat yourself. A square of chocolate, a scoop of ice cream, that movie you’ve been dying to watch, or any other treat that will help you stay on track.

Hydration is important in pregnancy, for so many reasons, but that’s another post for another day.

What are your favorite ways to stay hydrated in pregnancy? What are your least favorite?

Warmly,
Tiffany & Desirre.