Posts Tagged ‘midwifery’

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 Am A Doula

Monday, January 5th, 2015

CalebDoula.

I am a doula.

Those words, filled with so much meaning over the years, were my starting point in this birth journey I’m on. Doula is a weighty word. It’s a very different role than almost any other in birth. It encompasses so much that used to be taken for granted: that a sister, a mother, a grandmother, an auntie would be there for our births.

With our scattered society, and its driving desire to prove individual independence, that doesn’t happen as much any more. I think the rise in doulas in this country is just one sign of a shift in society’s thinking about that independence. The resurgence of old-fashioned life skills such as knitting, crocheting, quilting, canning, gardening, keeping small farm animals, bartering/trading for goods and services, and more all indicate that our society might be beginning to see the value in interdependence.

A very different concept than independence. Independence declares, “I can do it myself!” Usually in ALL CAPS. Interdependence says, “I can probably do it myself, but I would really like to have you by my side, because many hands make light work.” It’s a humble honesty that admits that we need each other, while acknowledging individual responsibility.

I like this shift in thinking. It means that each of us are needed by one another. Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to be needed?

We see it in the blog posts encouraging us to ask for help when we need it. We see it in the abundance of people who come out of the woodwork in order to sign up for meal trains. We see it in baby showers, scrapbooking parties, childbirth classes, book clubs, community gardens, homeschool groups, and knitting circles. We long for community, especially as women.

Birth is not an independent act. While it is “your” birth in one sense (individual responsibility), it is very much “our” birth in another (we need safe community in order to do it well). There are very few women who don’t need other women around them to birth, and each birth has a ripple effect on the community around it.

Enter the doula.

She brings interdependence back to birth. She encourages the mother’s individual responsibility in decision-making, while helping to meet the mother’s need for community. A doula bridges the gap between our precious, American independence, and our desire to have another woman to lean on. It is finally acceptable to need the help.

This is no bad thing, and is slowly, birth by birth, making a big impact on the way women, babies, and birth are viewed in this country.

“What’s a doula?” is a question asked less and less frequently, though we do need to keep putting the good word out there!

I am a doula.

The words still carry great weight. I have not yet burned out on standing beside women in my community while they usher new life into the world through their bodies, with the strength of Creation behind them. It is an honor, a privilege, and a blessing for me.

I am a doula.

I don’t yet know when the day will come that I utter these words for the last time, as I move forward into midwifery work. I wonder how that will feel, when it finally happens, as it surely will in the next few years.

Until then, I am a doula.

And I am grateful to be one.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

So It Begins.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
Image credit: knowyourmidwife.com

Image credit: knowyourmidwife.com

In November, The North American Registry of Midwives accepted my application into the PEP program.

That should really have about eleventy-one exclamation points behind it. After all, it is the ripening of a long-blossoming fruit. The result of  a dream hatched over seven years ago, when my youngest was just a baby. I called the midwife who had walked with me during my last two pregnancies, Merrie, and asked to meet with her in order to discuss becoming a midwife. In her wisdom, I remember that she said to me, “You don’t want to be a midwife,” and proceeded to tell me all the reasons why it was not something to just walk into.

It was at that meeting when I first heard the word, “doula.” A what-a? Her assistant at the time was one, and Merrie encouraged me to meet with her. She assured me that if I could hack it as a doula, then midwifery might become an option later. That is how I was born into the life of a birth professional. I took my training in the fall of 2007, when my youngest was only two months old. A lovely babysitter came with me, and I nursed him through sessions, and she played with him in between. I worked slowly through my training, taking the maximum amount of time CAPPA gave me to finish my certification, but it was worth it.

Through it, I gained experience outside my comfort zones. I learned that I can live on call, and work around my family.

Soon, it wasn’t enough. I wanted to teach. So, I trained through CAPPA (of course), under Desirre Andrews (who was a doula, lactation educator, and a dually-certified childbirth educator at the time), to become a childbirth educator. Teaching has always been at the heart of who I am. I often find myself teaching, even when it isn’t wanted or needed–a character trait I hope is being shaped into a far better tool than it has been in the past. At this point, it became obvious that I needed a place to teach, but not having a regular income, nor a family budget to pay for a place, I sought help from Desirre again. She had a lovely office and classroom space, and was wanting an educator to help her as she began to assist a midwife (the same one mentioned above, in fact). I approached her, and asked that she become my professional mentor, and allow me to work with her to grow, teach, learn, and have space and time to build Birth In Joy into whatever it needed to become.

I haven’t looked back since. It has been a wonderful working relationship, and I have been blessed with a treasured friend whom I feel is my “big sister.” Working with her has challenged my perceptions, my biases, my experience, my emotions, my mind, my heart, and my very character.

Soon, even that was no longer enough for me. I have always taken a light client load, because my family needed me to. So, I knew I wasn’t beginning to burn out. Far from it! My passion and love for this work has only grown, over the years. Thanks mostly to my fabulous, beautiful clients and students, who have shown me quite a cross-section of birthing women and the strength they each have in common. What a world we live in, and what a privilege to have walked with so many through such a sacred, intimate time in their lives!

Desirre declared to me, when she started assisting Merrie, that she only wanted to gain insight and skills she could use as a doula. She wasn’t going to become a midwife.

Ahem.

She is now a Certified Professional Midwife, registered in the state of Colorado. Ahhhh, life. We never really know, do we?

Except that I do know. Midwifery has always been my goal. My dream. What I want to be when I grow up.

So, as soon as Desirre became a preceptor with NARM this past September, I started my paperwork. Phase 1 has been accepted by NARM, and I am working on both Phase 2 and the 43 pages of skills I must master and prove. (No, shaking chicken bones and chanting are not on the skills exam. Just so you know.)

So it begins.

My journey to becoming a midwife. “With woman.”

I didn’t know I was ready until one day, I was.

What is your passion? What dreams are you pursuing?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Book Review Friday: “Giving Birth” by Catherine Taylor

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Giving BirthGiving Birth by Catherine Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books which I wish I would have taken notes throughout, to better enable me to review it accurately. Her tone, her writing style, and the content were all excellent.

Her writing style is accessible, honest, frank, and open–the way a good journalist’s should be. Her descriptions of the various women she meets, the places she goes, and the births she attends as an observer or doula are vivid without being wordy.

I found myself moved to nearly to tears several times (I’m not much of a crier, so “almost to tears” is saying a lot) throughout the book.

It’s picture of midwifery as a profession, from Certified Nurse-Midwives to direct-entry midwives is respectful and unbiased. She shares the reality of the political landscape all midwives must work in, the challenges they face, and the little triumphs on behalf of women and their babies.

Even if you are not into birth, I would recommend this book to every woman – whether you plan to have children, have children already, or plan to never have children. It can speak powerfully to any of us.

View all my reviews

Preparing For Birth Has Moved!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

We are still at the same address, but we have moved upstairs into a new, more spacious office suite. We are now in Suite 201, just at the top of the stairs. The very first door. We now have three midwives working out of this office, and five doulas, all of whom are a joy to work with. Classroom space is bigger, too, which excites me to no end!

As I grow in my business, I am learning so much, and I am grateful to be a part of Preparing For Birth as it grows to better serve our community with more options for women during the perinatal period. From Early Pregnancy classes, to Essentials for Childbirth, to Life With Baby, Pregnancy Fitness, and Breastfeeding classes, we really are covering a wider range of needs at an affordable price.

Stay tuned for more information!

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Birthy Weekend Links

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

This weekend is coming up fast! What plans do you have? I have family coming in for a five-day visit, I’m on call for a midwife, and I’m trying to put together some bouquets for my sister’s upcoming wedding. In the meantime, here are a few things worth reading this weekend.

Interested in reading more? “Like” my Facebook page, since I tend to share a lot more of these on my Facebook page, almost daily!

Happy weekending to you!

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Glimpse of the Homebirth Difference

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A client of mine had her home visit from me this morning. It coincided, on purpose, with the 36 week homebirth visit from her midwife. I cannot say enough how lovely the experience really is.

My client was asked many pertinent questions about her physical and emotional health; her stress levels and what she’s doing to cope; her nutrition, hydration, and rest; and what she was hoping to have on hand at the birth for her comfort. Everything from essential oils, to where the birthing pool would be, to checking the availability of all of her supplies was covered. Then, oh joy! the midwife listened to the baby, and we got to stand in silence and awe of the precious sound.

I was delighted when my client allowed me to palpate her belly, under the supervision of the midwife and intern midwife, to get an idea of baby’s position.

Everything about this appointment was professional, warm, friendly, thorough, and centered on the mother – my client.

For a whole hour of her day, my client got to experience attention and love being centered on her and her baby. She got to be loved at the beginning of her busy day.

It was beautiful, and I can’t think of a single hospital experience — no matter how kind and warm the nurses are — that equals the time devoted to my homebirth clients. What a privilege to be a part of the journey of those who choose this “road less traveled.”

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

From the Cheap Seats to the Choir Loft

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Image Credit: oxfordbaptist.com


As a certified “birth junkie,” it’s easy to preach to the choir. What can be difficult is getting new members to join. I think a lot of that is due to society’s general lack of knowledge about birth, and the entrenched medical mentality that is so difficult to overcome. Difficult, but not impossible.

I also think it’s partially due to over-zealousness on our part, as birth advocates. How we communicate about home birth is far more important than we think.

There are quite a few acquaintances and friends of mine who have chosen the lesser-worn path of midwifery and home birth care, at least in part, because of my influence.

I have been called a “home birth evangelist” by some. It was meant as a compliment, and I don’t mind the association.

I’ve been asked how I “do” that.

The short answer is: “I don’t really know.”

However, there are some things I know I don’t do.

For one, I don’t walk around with a copy of Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, hitting people over the head with it and screaming that home birth is the only way to birth heaven. Whatever “birth heaven” is.

I don’t wield statistics in favor of home birth like a weapon, with the goal of hacking to pieces any naysayer who would stand in my way.

I don’t preach that home birth is the magical panacea to all birth dilemmas.

Half the time, I don’t even bring it up unless it comes up naturally.

So, how on earth did I “convince” the women I did to choose home birth?

Well, I didn’t.

There is simply no way I can “convince” anyone to do anything. I can barely convince my children to make their beds; I cannot convince anyone that home birth is right for them, no matter how much I want to.

All I try to do is to meet women where they are in the moment.

My method isn’t super-scientific either. I didn’t even know I had a method until I tried to write about it. For better or worse, this is essentially how I operate:

I follow hunches that tell me when women are open to exploring other options they may not have been aware of. I follow hunches that tell me when all they want is someone to listen, and I keep my trap shut.

When the hunch tells me they’re open, I share how home birth might alleviate some of the difficulties they are dealing with in their particular circumstances, and offer to refer them to a midwife if they would like. I do this by asking them questions.

“How do you feel about talking to a home birth midwife about _________?” is the primary question that leads to a great conversation in which I find out more about what she wants in her birth experience, and why. The more questions I ask (especially those open-ended ones), the more I know whether or not sharing the home birth option is the right way to go.

I have learned to try to really hear the heart behind the stories women share with me. And, when I really listen, I often find that choosing a home birth would likely be a great way for these women to meet those needs they have that aren’t getting met in the medical model they’re currently under.

I think it boils down to the simple fact that I have something to offer that I can believe in, and that I am real and honest with women.

I have found that I can open doors for people that they didn’t even know existed. Even if they choose not to step through that particular doorway, they now have the option to do so, and therefore, become more active participants in their care. And a woman who is an active participant in her care is a well-served, happy woman with a beautiful outcome, no matter where she births.

Ultimately, I think my “home birth evangelism” works because women know that my desire isn’t to increase the number of home births — though that would be cool — but that I truly want them to fully understand all their options, and that I believe in them to choose the very best for themselves and their babies, regardless of what their actual decision ends up being.

They know that no matter what, they have a friend and supporter in me, and that is what leads them to take me seriously, and oftentimes, to take the plunge into the birthing pool in their living room.

Of course, once they experience their home birth, they become “evangelists” themselves, singing the merits of this fantastic, realistic, safe option to their friends and families in their own new-found voice of strength!

That, I think, is how we reach the people in the cheap seats, and bring them into the choir loft.

For me, it’s about genuinely caring, learning to listen and gauge a woman’s need, and educating sensitively the women I meet. It’s about balancing between that place where I don’t care how people react to me, and meeting women where they are. What does it look like for you? What can you do, today, as a birth advocate, to soften your message without compromising the facts?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Homebirth Preparation Classes are Open for Enrollment in 2012!

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I have been blessed to join the team of educators at Preparing for Birth, in order to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to be mentored by Desirre Andrews.

Under the Preparing for Birth name, I am offering classes in my personal specialty: homebirth. As a mother who has only birthed out of hospital, I feel a strong pull to equip and prepare women to birth in this non-traditional setting. Many women aren’t quite sure just what typical homebirth looks like, or how to prepare well for it. I aim to fill in that gap, and supplement the education your midwife is probably already doing with you.

The home birth preparation class is based in the evidence of healthy birth practices using a variety of techniques and tools for successful real life application by class participants.

  • Connect more deeply with your labor partner(s) and baby.
  • Learn how your body works and why during pregnancy through postpartum.
  • Understand how you and baby labor, birth and bond together.
  • Utilize tried and true techniques.
  • Be encouraged and grow in confidence for the entire process.
  • Practice role-playing of common scenarios.
  • Solidify your birth and parenting philosophies.
  • Sharpen communication and consumer skills for real life application.
  • Gain strategies and techniques for the postpartum period.
  • Apply knowledge and information into life skills.

View the complete class outline HERE.

Tuesday Evening Homebirth Prep 4-week Series

  • February 7th-28th
  • April 3rd-24th
  • June 5th-26th

What does it cost?

  • Homebirth Prep Class: $100
  • Homebirth Prep Class (military): $85
  • Homebirth Prep Class (community discount): $60
  • Ask about other options when you call.

Call or email me now to reserve your spot:
tiffany@prepforbirth.com
791-432-9712

Or register and pay online HERE.

I am also volunteering my childbirth education services at the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany Miller CLD, CCCE