Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Doula's Reflection

(picture not from actual birth)

My client gave birth to an early, but healthy little girl at 6:30 am on Saturday morning. Every birth has been so different for me, and I relish in every raw emotional moment. They called me Friday evening to say that her water had broken. My personal stopwatch began, because I knew that this baby would be born one way or another 24 hours from now. Even though my client wanted to stay at home longer, the hospital insisted she come in right away. I drove to the hospital lost in thought, predicting all the possible scenarios. My clients were already upset because of the on-call doctor's attitude on the phone. I knew their emotions would be high, and there were many different ways a birth could unfold with a less than cooperative doctor.

When I got there, the doctor was finishing up her review of medical information when she told my client she would have six hours to progress before she would "suggest" Pitocin augmentation. My client looked at me with fearful eyes because it was not the path she wished for her birth. The doctor felt aggravated by her look so she repeated the six hours and left the room while slamming the door. The nurse and I comforted the now crying mother-to-be, reminding her that she had six hours, and not to worry until then.

Her labor got stronger, and with only a half hour until the "six hour mark," she made the progress they were looking for. My client and her baby had worked together to make the birth their own. Not much longer after that she was ready to push. A first time mom just breezed through active labor in only two hours! She was strong, and determined to work through every contraction, letting her daughter come out on her own, and in her own time. Then the birth...and the return of the doctor. While she was no longer slamming doors, she clearly had the "tough doctor" persona down pat. She commanded that the room understand that she was the one in charge. As the nurse said "she is not the hand-holder" type.

After speaking with my client it was clear that she was thoroughly ecstatic with her new bundle of joy, and the way she made it through labor and birth unmedicated, but her story still remained slightly tainted to her. The doctor's lack of all nurturing ability left my client feeling let down, because she was not happy with the one who was fortunate enough to physically bring her baby into the world. She was even more thankful that I was there, and that she had a supportive nurse, but personal violations still resonated. I feel terrible for any woman to have her birth story tainted in such a way. I am sad that while this doctor may have been an excellent physician, she misses the mark on what a laboring woman needs most. The doctor even gave her an episiotomy without her permission, not even saying she was getting ready to do it. While I have seen this before, I have never had a client truly believe in her heart that it was done "out of spite". I doubt the doctor did it out of spite, but it truly hurts my soul that my client believes she did.

I am not the first, and will not be the last person who will point out the deficiencies in hospital care. I agree that hospitals are necessary and imperative when complications arise with a birth, but it doesn't mean the quality of service should resemble swiss cheese. As a keeper of the birth memories, I will try and make sure that my client only remembers her amazing hard work, the support of her husband, and her beautiful little girl. Nobody deserves to have their birth memories tarnished by someone that is not truly invested in the emotional well being of the mother.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What HE said

Those who know me are aware of my deep love for philosophical discussions. I wish I could have them more, but the ones I do have tend to leave me thinking for a long time. Justin has said many times that "technology has surpassed our humanity". When he first said it, I just agreed and moved on...maybe because I spend much of my day with the purest form of humanity...children. After lots of thinking and processing he is right...but, I'd like to add a twist. I think technology has brought us closer together and further apart. Technology such as email, Facebook, blogs, etc. have helped to keep us in touch with friends and family, and reconnect with friends lost. In that way I would give technology a good pat on the back. But, with it I see the downside. Because we can email, or get updates about friends on Facebook statuses or blogs, do we take the time to write letters, make phone calls, or visit as much in person? I would lean towards no, because I am as guilty as the next person. For example, a friend from work came up to me (awhile ago) and said "I had no idea you were in a car accident, until I read it on your blog!"

On the radio, I heard that contacts are being developed with built-in televisions. Not only that, but they will be able to manipulate our emotions to feel what the characters are feeling. Seriously? Do we need artificial means to control our emotions? Have we separated ourselves so much from what is "real" that we risk losing what makes us human?

I decided to take a stand. Not against technology, because I still embrace it, but I am determined to nurture my human side. Within a month time period (realistic goal) I will write a letter, make a phone call to a long lost friend, and visit with someone I have not seen in awhile.
I challenge you to do the same.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter...oh, winter...Where are you?

Living in Richmond, VA you would think that we would have the best of both worlds, winter from the north and warm temperatures from the south. An opportunity to relish in the changing of every season. Well, we seem to only have three seasons; spring, summer, and fall. I diligently leave my "let it snow" door wreath up for the entire winter, cheer when Phil sees his shadow, and stay glued to the ever changing forecast. But, all my efforts are to no avail...winter has yet to be seen.

I know what you may be're a teacher, and just want a free day off. Well, in all honesty, that is how I start the winter season. Holding on to the off chance that I will wake up to a blanket of snow and a school closure posting on my television. But, as winter lingers on without much more than a snowflake, my perception changes. I wouldn't care if it snowed on a Saturday or Sunday, I just want a true winter storm. I am a full-blooded snow fan, and feel extremely cheated by mother nature when I am unable to fully experience the season. Richmond doesn't hesitate in providing us with beautiful flowers in the spring, hot sticky summers, and breath-taking fall foliage. But, snow? Oh, no...that is just too much.

I am tired of listening to the news and hearing, "you warm weather fans will enjoy this week," "it looks as if the storm will remain north and west of town," or "expect winter precipitation south of Interstate 95". Seriously? Is there a bubble looming over Richmond that protects us from snow, sleet, and even freezing rain? I am beginning to feel like I am old, because I catch myself saying "do you remember the great blizzard of '96?" It is incredible, but so many of my students don't even know what a real snowfall is like because we haven't had one since they have been born!

So, what is one to do, other than vent my frustrations on this blog, secretly curse mother nature and every weather forecaster (despite the fact they are just doing their job)? Well, I have until the first week in March before I totally lose hope...maybe, just maybe winter will decide to make an appearance.

Check out this seems as if I am not the only one who is noticing the absence of winter...
Look at the comments under the "Ups and Downs" blog post. Someone submitted a link to a Style Weekly article from another snow lover's perspective.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


it is strange when you enter a part in your life when you and everything around you feels like it is just hanging. Things are not bad right now, just unsure. my personality craves an anchor...something that is secure...grounding me. i look around me, and with happiness there is still fear, anxiety, and worries almost embedded in the air. some may consider this time an opportunity to be surprised as to what life has to offer. i wish I could be like those people, taking each day as it comes. i need a tunnel, a light I can see...which is the goal I am aiming for.

The Door of Stone

A leaf falls, and a door opens

That is made of stone.

-Sarah Kidder-Lyne (1972-1990) Grade 6

so many doors are opening, but i still can not see the other side...