Posts Tagged ‘birthlocal’

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

30 Days of Gratitude, day 18: Scrubs.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 18Scrubs. Those ubiquitous uniforms worn by most health care workers. Whether they are hospital issued, color-coded for security, or fun designs to please the kiddos, they are a genius invention.

Today, I am thankful for scrubs.

Many midwives don’t feel quite comfortable wearing them to births, as they feel it brings a too-clinical/medical air to the home birth environment. I get that, in some ways, and can empathize. However, I happen to disagree.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) I have yet to meet a mother who takes issue with scrubs being worn in her home. (That’s not to say there aren’t any, just that it doesn’t seem to be the norm in our area. I’m sure I would accommodate if a request were made. Though, I’d insist on the pants at least…)

2) Our job is, in fact, clinical. It just happens to come from an entirely different worldview and care model. A midwife’s responsibility is still rooted in clinical health and safety, though it goes far beyond that into supporting wellness. It makes sense to wear clinical duds.

3) At a birth, we are often likely to be “baptized” with various bodily fluids, and you can’t beat a good pair of scrubs for drying time. Not even a bathing suit dries faster. I can’t imagine having to finish work at a birth in sopping wet jeans.

4) They are snazzy. We can express ourselves with the wide variety of options available though I have yet to find TARDIS scrubs…help me out?

5) They are easy to clean. Seriously. It’s like they’re incapable of holding stains. So, I can essentially guarantee that I will look professional.

Their only downside? Those elastic waistbands like to migrate downwards. A lot. So, midwife’s crack might be a thing. Totally worth it, though.

What are you thankful for this fine fall day?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife

30 Days of Gratitude, day 10: Time Off-Call.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

There is nothing a doula or a midwife looks forward to more than time off-call throughout the year.

Since we have¬†chosen this line of work, you won’t often hear us complaining of being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. Yet, this work is demanding. It stretches our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our relationships. It affects every area of our lives profoundly, and we must make sure we find the balance we need in order to keep ourselves from burning out.

Ideally, we want more than that. We want to thrive in this work, in our personal lives, and in our relationships. So, we schedule time off-call. Here at Preparing for Birth, we choose to set aside two months a year in which we take no clients. We still have prenatal and postpartum appointments, but we will have a glorious 3-4 weeks in which we can turn our phones off sometimes!

We can take time for family vacations, field trips with the kids, or days to just do nothing. We can enjoy more than one margarita if we feel so inclined, and not worry about a late night of karaoke.

For us to be at our best in serving our clients, we must take this time. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. And we are so grateful that there are enough midwives and doulas in this town to go around, so we are free to take that time off and not worry that any clients will be left without a care provider.

Time off-call. It’s a beautiful thing.

How do you take time off? What are you thankful for today?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller,
Student Midwife & Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 6: A Warm Bed

Friday, November 6th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 6The days may have been warm, but the nights are getting pretty darn chilly in these parts, so we are all finding ourselves thankful for our warm beds. There is nothing more satisfying to on-call birth professionals than falling into our own warm bed after an all-nighter. Except, maybe, that first cup of coffee upon awakening. I think it might be a tie.

“It includes lots of my favorite things: my pillow, quilts, sleeping, and (usually) solitude,” quothe Erin, one of our midwife assistants and childbirth educators.

I think it’s safe to say that it goes for all of us.

Beds are incredible places, full of dreams, cuddles, and the cool side of the pillow. Our beds are our havens. Some of us have a little coffee station close by, so as to be able to drink that first cuppa without leaving the cozy sanctuary.

Some have beds full to the brim with children, those natural hot water bottles of cuteness.

Some have beds that move, making reading in bed more luxurious, and lower back pain less noticeable.

Many have bedside tables stacked with books, and have a hard time choosing which ones we’ll be reading from evening to evening.

Some have our beds gloriously to ourselves, and it has become our haven when we are overstimulated and touched out from a day caring for other humans–whether they be our own tiny humans, or our clients is immaterial.

Beds, beds, glorious beds on a cold and biting autumn night, or a crisp day after a long birth. They are things of beauty, whether made or unmade, spartan or covered in fancy pillows, king size or queen or full or twin. They are our beds, and we thank God for them on this lovely day in November.

What are you thankful for today?

Warmly (possibly from my bed),
Tiffany Miller
Student Midwife, Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Day 4: Midwifery Books

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

I am so thankful for the abundance of excellent midwifery texts that I can use for a self-paced academic study as I walk out my apprenticeship. Without such material, my education as a midwife would be sadly lacking. I value a balance between the experiential nature of my apprenticeship and academic knowledge, because this balance lays a solid foundation for me to establish a safe, healthy practice as a CPM someday.

That said, here is my short review of the very first midwifery text I have finished reading, cover to cover. Next up? Anne Frye’s Holistic Midwifery Vol. 1. All 73-bajillion pages of it.

Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and BirthHeart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Elizabeth Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being my first ever midwifery text, I am glad for Elizabeth Davis’ writing style. It flowed so well, affirmed so much I have already learned during my apprenticeship, and expanded my knowledge on even the most basic of topics. I think it’s the perfect first book for anyone contemplating whether midwifery could be their calling.

I think it had a good, logical flow, with excellent supplementary charts throughout, as well as a few basic “case study” style stories to illustrate concepts outlined more academically.

View all my reviews

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 3: Community

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

thankful 2015 day 2Today, Team Preparing for Birth is grateful for the community of birth professionals and birthing families here. We have a special dynamic in the Colorado Springs area, thanks to a few pioneers of community building here–Desirre Andrews among the most vocal supporters of a unified community for her entire career. She says:

We live in a unique region that has excellent in-person and online connecting points for pregnant and postpartum families. Midwifery care for home or hospital birth is readily available. There are all types of doulas, several educational options, and fantastic lactation support accessible locally.

I’m thrilled to have Preparing For Birth as part of this thriving community since January 2003.

Specifically, Desirre has cultivated a strong community in the Preparing for Birth office space. We share our space with three other midwives and their assistants, as well as childbirth/breastfeeding educators, and a doula. (I’ll save those for another post!)

The four midwives confer regularly, share the client load when needed, and back each other up regularly. This is one of the safest ways to offer home birth, for both our clients and the midwives. Desirre has worked hard to build a solid foundation, and it proved itself invaluable this year. It was a tough year for all the midwives in the office, but they have walked it with grace, unity, and a stalwart courage I have never seen the equal of.

I am proud and grateful to be a part of the community here, and I hope to contribute to its structure as I grow in my own career as a midwife.

It’s Day 3. What are you grateful for today? Share in the comments, and link to your own blog post, if you have one!

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife