Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Birth Survey

The volunteer group Grassroots Advocates Committee of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services has founded the Transparency in Maternity Care Project.  The are trying to ensure the public in getting access to the best information.

So if you would like to help with this project and have given birth in the last year, please take their birth survey.

 Please take the survey here:  www.thebirthsurvey.com

What a Year

So much has happened this year.  Three of my sons graduated from high school, junior high and grade school and now are doing well in college, high school and junior high.  Our oldest lived in Spain and now is home and working as a reporter, our oldest son has had things to deal with and over come, but I am sure he will find what is right for him.  Our son Eric had three friends die in a months time and had to learn at to young of an age that life really can be short.  Our youngest just keeps on getting taller and is just so bright, well all the kids are.

I have had the pleasure of teaching some of the most amazing students this year, I have learned so much from them and feel blessed to have been a part of their lives during such and important time.  I hope I can continue to grow as a teacher.

I am blessed with a wonderful family and a husband.  No matter what life throws at us we can get through it.  I know that the love I have for my husband runs so deep and makes me want to always do all I can to keep that love alive.

So may you have a wonderful New Years.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

25th Cookie Party

I am blessed with so many amazing women that surround me. I have my online friends that are truly amazing and full of wonderful information and support, and then I have my Cookie friends. Yesterday I had my 25th Cookie Party. A slightly smaller group this year, sometimes life gets in the way of coming, there are 12 of us, but most show up with their baked goods (it doesn't have to be cookies, just bring something!). I am lucky my husband takes all the kids out, though Alexa was working and couldn't go, no matter how old they get they look forward to hanging out with their dad and then coming home to goodies.

It was a busy day, as my daughter Alanna and her best friend Hannah marched in the Christmas Parade, Hannah's mom comes to the Cookie Party, so we spent our morning in the cold and wind. I rushed home an hour before my party was to start to find Lenda knocking at my door, great, help! We finished up cleaning a few things, as Liz and Rachelle showed up and they pitched in to help. Soon, Lisa, Debbi (who came from Arizona), Freda, my sister who was at my first and most since, and Holly showed up. We may not always have time to get together during the year, but really try to make the time for "our" tradition. Lisa made beautiful stockings for everyone with her cookies inside and Holly (the crafty friend) made special towels with "Dorene's 25th Annual Cookie Party" emborided on it, how thoughtful and special of her. There was a time we cared what someone brought, now we just care that we show up. Sometimes husbands wonder why all the hassle of baking goodies for every woman there, it is a time where we eat lunch and just talk and catch up on each others lives, there is nothing to buy and no one to impress, just be there and listen and talk.

I thank my "Cookie Sisters" for always making my Cookie Party special, and for keeping the tradition alive.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks

We like to say in our family we are "Traditionally untraditional." Years ago to get what was then the little ones out of the house my husband decided to take them on a hike, which is where the tradition started. Each year they go to the same place, take pictures, eat oranges, and write what they are thankful for and bury it in a canister, to be dug up the next year, this has been going on well over 10 years, the three youngest could hardly wait to be old enough to go on the hike, which was 5 years old. They all come back in a good mood and laughing.

My husband are thankful that we have our six children to make memories with, he with the "Thanksgiving Hike" and I with a sit down dinner for 16-30 people. We are blessed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Son

Well because I don't think I could improve much on the birth story my husband wrote years ago about our son Oliver's birth I will post it here. I would like to add that in the years since he was born he has grown into a strong handsome young man, but still my little boy. He is very much like his birth, he is fast and hard, and then he is quiet and thoughtful. He still likes a "I want to hold you" and I love holding him.


I wonder how many fathers-to-be get really involved with changing the sheets on the bed while their wives labor alone in the bathroom nearing the birth of their new child. Not many is my guess, but that's exactly what I was working on just before our fourth child, Oliver William, was born in our home.

We had not expected this crazy scenario; the ideal birth we had planned for was to occur in the birthing room at our local hospital with our personally selected midwife. But one of the things you must prepare for is the unexpected. In our case, Dorene's labor came on fast and hard, and by the time she woke me up, she appeared to be in a state of I've come to call "the maternal odyssey," in which her awareness of external reality dims with the strength of her contractions. Her attention was clearly directed inward, her eyes closed and her breathing deep, trying to relax against the hormonal rodeo going on inside her.

When Dorene woke me, at about two a.m., she didn't bother speaking. I was just supposed to figure it out from the non-verbal clues, like a game of charades. That I could do. "You're in labor," I said, still half asleep. But what to do next? She was clearly too far along to be getting dressed, carting out into the car, and being driven to the hospital - and don't forget about the other three, already born children, that would also be coming along. No way. This birth, I knew, was going to happen right here, right now, at home sweet home. And this is where the sheets came into play.

After helping Dorene into the bathroom (she may have whispered the word between contractions) and seated of the toilet, I realized that she was not so out of this world that she forgot about our emergency-protect-the-bed-with-plastic-sheets plan, just in case of a fast labor. This she repeated to me, "did you change the sheets, yet?" For myself, when a baby's coming, I'm not worried about mattress-stain protection, but the fact that she was, meant I had to be as well. Skipping over little mother's wishes would only cause distress.

It seems now almost like there was some kind of bizarre sequence of events that had to happen for the baby to come - contractions, full dilation, sheet change, pushing - because just as I pulled that last corner over I heard Dorene moan a long loud moan that I recognized as a push. I rushed into the bathroom and asked - told - Dorene to scoot forward on the seat and then lean back against the tank. I took a look and sure enough the baby's head was crowning. "Okay, Dorene," I said, "Very gently on the next push. Very gently." Dorene followed my voice, eased out the next contraction, and like a little miracle my new son slipped out warm and watery right into my arms. I looked into his eyes, saw him looking back, and then cradled him over to Dorene, who cried with joy at the sight of him.

We tended to him with love rather than panic or haste, covering him with a towel, wiping at him here and there, clearing a little mucus out of his throat with a rubber bulb.

Sitting there in the smallest room of our house, holding in our arms our new baby son, a secret to the whole world but for us, his parents, it didn't take long for Dorene and me to realize that we had just experienced our ideal birth after

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's A Girl!

Two weeks before my father-in-law passed away they were here visiting. He said to me: “So you think you will have another child?” I said: “I don’t think so; I think Bill wants to stop at five.” He replied, “Babe sure would like another granddaughter.” I said there would be no guarantee that it would be a girl. Now one thing you have to know is my father-in-law wanted us to stop after two, so the fact he was asking for number six was amazing. Several months after he died Bill and talked about having a sixth, I wanted one, he didn’t, so just when I thought no more, Bill changed his mind and really wanted another one.

I soon found out I was pregnant and we were very happy. All the kids wanted a sister and my mother-in-law REALLY wanted a girl. She always said “I am praying it’s a girl.” She also said if it was a girl, she would take us on a shopping spree (after 4 boys I didn’t have much girl stuff left).

We planned on having a VBAC at home. On the morning of Oct. 7 I went into labor, it started off almost backwards. It felt like I was almost in transition, when I knew I wasn’t. I encouraged Bill to go to work and was getting the kids off to school when I felt like I was going to vomit; Eric went running out of the house and yelled at Bill “Mom’s throwing up.” Bill said, “That’s it I am staying home.” I labored slowly most of the day. Late in the afternoon Bill called our midwife to come, I lie down and fell asleep and when I woke up my contractions had pretty much stopped. I walked out to the backyard where Bill was playing with kids and said “Call the midwife and tell her not to come, I am not having this baby today.” Bill told me don’t worry about it and to go rest again, I did but felt like I was disappointing the kids. Soon my contractions picked up again and around 11 p.m. Bill called the midwife, she asked to speak to me and thought I seemed pretty calm so said to call back in a few hours. At midnight she decided to call us back to see things were going and after talking to Bill decided she better drive up from Simi Valley. She arrived around 1 a.m. and I was 8 cm. The kids got tired and decided to go to bed, Alexa said “Wake me up if something happens.” I said “I might be busy.” All but Ian went to bed; Ian just sat in the corner of the room. About an hour later he came up on the bed and put his hands around mine and said “You are doing such a good job mom and I am so proud of you.” So sweet, considering he was an 11 year old boy, at the time.

Bill had music playing, a tape he had made me a few days earlier. We had slowed danced to a Santana song out in the garage, our kids watching and thinking “only our parents would do this.” I remember a Jimi Hendrix song coming on and thinking “I don’t really like Jimi Hendrix.” My midwife checked me and said I was almost complete, but had a little lip and would push it back with the next contraction. The Santana song came on and I felt so much emotion remembering Bill and I dancing a few days before. I had a contraction and my midwife pushed my cervix back and all of the sudden I felt a VERY strong urge to push. My midwife said “Oh you want to push.” I could not stop it. I pushed about 5 minutes. I was lying on my left side and Ian was on my left side and Bill behind me holding my leg. Alanna was posterior and when her head popped out Ian could see her face first. Alexa hearing all the noise came rushing into the bedroom just as she popped out. I remember looking down and seeing Bill and Ian looking at each other and both saying “It’s a girl!” Alexa said, “What?” Ian said, “IT 'S A GIRL!” and she replied, “Yes! We get to go shopping.” It was a little after 3 a.m. Because we didn’t have time to wake the other kids up, Bill went to wake them, they were disappointed they missed the birth, but were excited that it was a girl.

After the kids went back to bed and the midwife left, Bill asked me how I felt after having our sixth child and I said “Young.” I had told Bill if it was a girl I got to call his mom, so later that morning I called and because it was 5 a.m. she knew I must have had the baby. She asked “Did you have the baby?” and I said “Yes” She wanted to know if everything was alright and I said “Yes, she is alright.” She responded, “It’s a girl?” I said yes, she then asked what her name was and I said Alanna Saline, she started to cry, and said “First you give me another grandchild, then it is a girl and then you give her my middle name, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

A few days later she came down and all the girls went shopping, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Alanna is now 10 years old growing too quickly for all of us. I feel sorry for the guy who wants to date her, with 4 overprotective big brothers. She still has the sweet little face when she sleeps.

So glad my father-in-law seemed to know what would happen. Our family is so blessed to have this sweet beautiful young lady in it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Sandy a former student on mine sent this to me not too long ago. I found out it was taken from a book written by Nicole Johnson Many of us mothers feel this way, but in the end our job isn't thankless. So if you as a mother ever wonder is this all worth it? Yes, it is.

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of

response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room

while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on

the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on

the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even

standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me

at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a

pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie

this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of

hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to

ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to

answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm

a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held

books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that

graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared

into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's

going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating

the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just

gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and

on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,

looking around at the others all put together so well. It

was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was

feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a

beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you

this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me

until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with

admiration for the greatness of what you are building when

no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And

I would discover what would become for me, four

life-changing truths, after which I could pattern m work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals

we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives

for a work they would never see finished. They made great

sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their

building was fueled by their faith that the

eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came

to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw

a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He

was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so

much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered

by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman

replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into

place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,

'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make

every day, even when no one around you does. No act of

kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no

cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and

smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you

can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it

is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for

the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote

to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective

when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people

who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to

work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no

cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there

are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my child to

tell the friend he's bringing home from college for

Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and

bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for

three hours and presses all the linens for the table.'

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to

myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if

there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,

'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be

seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very

possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we

have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the

world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Everything Child

To some people we had the “perfect family”, we had the girl and boy, what more could we want? Two wasn’t our idea of the perfect family and we wanted another. We planned his pregnancy around Bill’s bicycle trip to Canada. He asked me if I wanted to travel with a baby or be pregnant, I decided it would be easier if I was pregnant. When people first found out I was pregnant, we got a lot of “Was it an accident?”

We had a big decision to make when we got pregnant, our midwife had moved that we had used with Ian and we didn’t want to go back to the hospital. A friend recommended we travel all the way down to Culver City to Salee and Vic Berman, a husband/wife team, he an OB, she a CNM. Bill and I went down to meet Salee and fell in love with her, so we prepared for the drive.

It was a busy time, besides the bicycle trip, Alexa was going to be starting kindergarten; Eric was due a few weeks into the school year. We planned to have both Alexa and Ian at the birth; a friend was coming down to keep an eye on them for us.

I started labor five days after my due date, around 3:30 a.m. Contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, but only lasting 30-40 seconds. Bill called Connie to come over, I was busy packing the last minute things, when Bill and Connie said “You labor, we will pack” and took the list. We finally got on the road at 6:30 a.m., as rush hour was beginning. A short time later Alexa asked “Am I missing school?” and I said “Yes, you can either go to school or see the baby be born.” She decided she wanted to see the birth. Just about the time we got down to the San Fernando Valley I was looking around the car and asked “Where’s my suitcase?” Bill said, “Suitcase? Was that on the list?” I said, “NO, I just thought if you put everything in it, should bring it.” I then did what any laboring woman would do in that situation, I started to cry and say “I have nothing to give birth in or put the baby in.” Bill pulled off the freeway and called my parents who had come in from Arizona the day before for their birthdays. They said they would go to the house and get the suitcase and bring it down. Fantastic, but then I panicked what if I was in the middle of giving birth when they were there? I mean, I do love my mom, but she is rather domineering, and I didn’t want her there.

When we finally got down there it was 9:30 and they were all guessing where we might have pulled over to have the baby. Once I found out we didn’t have the suitcase, my labor slowed way down. But since I was 6 cm. they weren’t sending me home. Bill and I went walking up and down Venice Blvd., around noon my parents arrived with the suitcase; I knew they had to leave soon as one of my sister’s was taking them to see “The Phantom of the Opera.” They took Alexa and Ian out to lunch and then just as they were leaving I had a contraction, my mom put her hands on my belly and Bill, who was standing behind me, said “She is having a contraction,” my mom said “I know, I just want to feel.” Bill said, “She doesn’t like to be touched when she is having a contraction.” My mom left her hands on my belly; I could sense Bill wanting to yank her hands off my stomach. They left soon after.

Bill and I went for yet another walk, this time with Connie and the kids, we went and sat in a beautiful church for a while and I think we all said a prayer. We came back to the Birthing Center and took a nap, when I woke up, I was having stronger contractions, and Vic said “Go out for another walk.” We must have walked at least 10 miles that day. We saw a MGM store and went in and bought a beach towel for the baby with the MGM lion on it. The guy in the store asked if I was in labor and Bill said “yes.” He pointed and said the hospital was right across the street, Bill said we weren’t having the baby in the hospital, you should have seen his face.

We went back to the Birth Center and labor was moving along nicely. Bill was a wonderful coach, sensing my needs even before I did. Around 10 p.m. Connie and Bill were talking out in the hall and she asked when he thought the baby would be born, he didn’t want to guess, she said around 2 a.m., Bill said he thought it would be by midnight. I thought “How dare they guess when I would give birth.” Soon after I felt like I was going to vomit and Bill handed me a trash can, when I vomited, I felt a “pop”, my water had broken, Salee checked me and I was 9 cm. A short time later I needed to use the bathroom and walking back down the hall was so hard, when we got back to the birthing room, Alice, Salee’s nurse popped her head in and asked if everything was okay, Bill said “Yeah” kind of unsure, Alice then yelled to Salee, “Dorene is grunting, get in here.” I had no idea I was grunting, Salee came in and said “We have a head.” My mind went racing, she said it had dark hair, Bill yelled to Connie to bring the kids in. I pushed a few times and we let him be born gently. He was born at 10:32 p.m. Salee placed him on my chest, where I began to cry with joy. Ian seeing some blood started to cry and I told him they were happy tears, Alexa and Ian went running out of the room, a short time later they both came back with little cups of water saying “Mommy, you must me thirsty after all that work.” Eric started nursing right away, Salee then asked to weigh him, the scale said 10lb. 8 oz., she thought for sure he was 11 lb. and made Bill go get her scale out of her car, he was 10lb. 8oz. As Eric nursed Bill looked out the 5th story window down on Venice Blvd., he saw a man walking down the street, and he said “That guy has no idea the world just changed.” Eric was born with a serious look on his face and Salee said “What do you have to be worried about it, you just got here.”

Eric is now a young man of 18. We called him our “Everything Child” because he just was always trying to figure out things, not a bad child, just always with his mind going. His appetite has remained the same, he is always eating. He has graduated from high school and is attending college now. Recently he has had more than a young man his age should have to go through, loosing three young friends in the last month. I told him I just want to wrap my arms around him and not let him go.

He has grown into such a tall, handsome young man, who still loves to say “Love you Mama.” I never tire hearing that from my kids.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

He is Just so Sweet

We had planned a homebirth for our 5th child, but things didn’t go as planned. The last few months of my pregnancy was very stressful, found out my father had terminal disease, my family (parents and sisters were causing problems) and my oldest son’s 4th grade teacher was not doing the proper job in her teaching. Isaac seemed to turn like a clock in my belly, never staying in one place for too long. Women under stress tend to hold their babies in malpositions. A few times I started having contractions, but I was not happy and did not want to bring a child into the world if I wasn’t happy and almost willed myself to stop. But two weeks after Isaac was due my body could no longer stop nature. I started having contractions while at a party, it seemed like things were moving along by the time we got home I was 6 cm. dilated. My oldest and most wonderful sister was babysitting our children. She left and we told her we would call when the baby was born, I labored all night long, I had dilated up to 8 cm. and the baby just didn’t seem to be coming, I labored in many different positions trying to get him to change his position, I could feel pressure in my right hip. The kids woke up and were surprised that I hadn’t had the baby yet. Bill decided to call my sister and have her come over, Bill suggested we go to the hospital, but I knew that meant I would end up with a c-section and I didn’t want that, I wasn’t ready. We waited another 2 hours and I decided to take a shower, where no one could hear me, I cried my eyes out, knowing I had done all I could, when I got out I told Bill we should go to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital they insisted that I have an ultrasound to make sure it wasn’t twins (I knew it was just one of my big babies). That was the most pain I was in during my labor, laying on my back with my head tilted down and having cold jelly spread all over my belly. Bill told the tech that if he saw anything not to say anything because we didn’t know what we were having, he said “You don’t want to know?” Bill said, “We have come this far and I think we will know soon enough.” He couldn’t believe we didn’t want to know. We have never found out what were having, we like to be surprised. It was decided that I would have a c-section. I won’t go into details of how the doctors and nurses treated me, let’s just say they rather enjoyed the fact that the Bradley teacher was having a c-section. We aren’t against c-sections when they are NEEDED.

In the operating room they have my arms strapped down and a drape up so I can’t see anything and I kept saying “Where is my husband?” Finally they brought Bill in. Bill watched as they cut me open and could see that the baby had his head on his shoulder and had turned toward my right hip, a head a shoulder just don’t fit through the birth canal. As they lifted Isaac out, Bill said “It’s a BOY!” and started laughing, he thought for sure it was a girl, but I told him it HAD to be a boy because it was so stubborn! Bill rushed over to where they had brought Isaac and I started crying (I cry after every baby is born) and was trying to get a glimpse of my new son, all I could see was dark hair. Finally they brought him over for me to see, for all of about 30 seconds. I remember his little sweet face and his little hand wiggling out from the blanket, he was beautiful, they unstrapped one of my hands and I reached out and stroked his sweet face.

Bill went to the nursery with Isaac and made sure they didn’t do things that we didn’t want to him. When they moved me from recovery the nurse asked “Do you want to stop by the nursery and see your baby?” I said “YES,” I hadn’t got to hold him yet. Bill brought him out and asked if I was up to nursing him and I said yes. The nurse said, “Let’s get her to her room.” About a half hour later they brought him in and I nursed him and held him, I never wanted to put him down. Because I didn’t get to hold him right away (yes, I was jealous that Bill got those first few hours with him), I wanted to hold him even more.

There are some people that say, what a waste 18 hours of labor for nothing, no it wasn’t a waste, I needed all that time to do everything I could to try to turn him in a more favorable position, I NEEDED that time to come to terms with everything. My mom’s first words to me were: “I knew something would go wrong” my response was, “Nothing went wrong, I was fine and the baby was fine, things just didn’t go as planned.” There were those who said “Bet you wish he was a girl,” no, no I didn’t. Bill and never got pregnant because we wanted a boy or a girl, we wanted another child. I wanted what came out and that was Isaac, this sweet, innocent, beautiful baby boy, my boy.

My sister Freda was wonderful, she went grocery shopping and made lists up for Bill what there was to put in lunches and what to make for dinner. The best thing my parents ever did for me beside give life, was blessing me with such a wonderful older sister.

Twelve years later, the first words that most people use to describe Isaac is “He is just so sweet.” He is, he is a good brother to his brothers and sisters. He never seems to amaze Bill and me with his level of thought and his kindness. I can’t help but look at his face and smile; he still is just so cute!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

At Your Cervix

There is a new project underway, it is a documentary on how pelvic exams are performed and taught. As a woman and a childbirth educator I have experienced and had students that have complained how a pelvic was performed. Many woman have been told their parts do not have nerve endings and therefore can't feel pain. We woman know our parts "feel" on many different levels.

This is a very interesting project and I encourage you to check it out.

“Uncomfortable”; “Humiliating”; “Traumatic”; “Scarring”--words women too often use to describe pelvic exams. Most of the 90 million U.S. women who get pelvic exams think they are supposed to hurt. Women show disbelief when told that if done correctly on a healthy woman, pelvic exams should be pain-free.

The documentary, At Your Cervix, enters U.S. medical and nursing schools and breaks the silence around the unethical ways in which medical and nursing students learn to perform pelvic exams. These practices—which include nursing students being required to perform exams on each other in front of faculty and medical students “practicing” on unconscious, unconsenting patients—lead directly to the reality that most women find pelvic exams to be humiliating and painful. The existence of these egregious practices are challenged in the film by highlighting an ethical and more effective way of teaching the pelvic exam that has existed for nearly 30 years: the work of the Gynecological Teaching Associates (GTA) of New York City, in which the “patient” herself is the teacher.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

August 8, 1981

27 years ago today, I married the love of my life, my high school sweetheart. We were just 15 when we met, but within weeks of meeting Bill, I knew he was special. He pulled me in with a "hi" and a smile, he still can just melt my heart with a smile. When we married not everyone thought we should and some like my nephew Kyle, at first hearing we were getting married said, "FINALLY I can call him Uncle Bill." Our wedding was different to some, we married in a walk-in theater, I went down the aisle to Jethro Tull, we came back up to a Led Zeppelin song (they were both instrumentals and soft). He quoted me Shakespeare, I Robert Plant. Our first dance was to the "Rain Song." But in more ways our wedding was very traditional. We were happy, in love and knew it was the right time to get married.

As we were driving to our honeymoon, Bill had his left hand resting on the side mirror and the sun shone down on his wedding ring, he lifted his hand up and looked at his ring and said "Wow, I am married, we are married." He turned smiled at me and took my hand, he melted my heart all over again.

The first few years of being married we both worked full-time, he as a janitor and I at Carl's Jr. and Bill went to school full-time (I typed full-time). We lived in a 10 x 60 mobile home. We paid for everything in cash and only bought what we could afford. Four years later he had graduated with his B.A. and M.A. in English (with a high GPA), we paid for his college on our own, no loans, grants or financial aid, and also 2 weeks before he graduated with his M.A. we had our first child. We worked hard, and enjoyed every minute of it.

27 years later, we have six beautiful children, all of which were planned. Besides being married to each other, there could be no greater blessing than our children, there isn't anything we would rather spend our time and money on.

My sister-in-law once said to me "Don't you know, you aren't suppose to be so in love after this long?" Bill and I think "why not?" It isn't that being married is easy, we have had to work through the good, the bad and the difficult, but if you love each other on the day you marry, you should do everything to make sure that love grows.

Because as I said to Bill all those years ago . . .

If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.

Monday, July 28, 2008


If you are buying a new home or thinking of redoing your old countertops. You might need to think harder about granite. I know we are planning on redoing our countertops, between cost and and something that is "green" makes the decision hard. But this article from the NY Times might make you think a little harder.

SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.

“He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

“My first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,” Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, “I had them ripped out that very day,” and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. “The health risk to me and my family was probably small,” Dr. Sugarman said, “but I felt it was an unnecessary risk.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Orgasmic Birth

I just received a copy of this wonderful new movie by Ina May Gaskin. The movie has 11 different births in it and what is most powerful is the commentary by the professionals. Their comments are truly thought provoking. Don't let the title confuse you, it about women putting the pleasure back into childbirth.

Marsden Wagner, MD, former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization. He says in the film:

Very clear hard evidence in the last 10 years [shows that] the number of women who are induced—that is, their labor is kick-started—is doubling. You kick-start labor by giving them a powerful drug. And then you give them more drugs to keep the labor going. Now, there are about five to ten percent of women in which there's a good medical reason to do this, and you’re saving lives and all that. But if you go above ten percent, you’re not saving lives anymore. These are powerful drugs with all kinds of risks, including brain damage to the baby, a dead baby, a dead woman. And yet we do it twice as much [as we used to]. And there’s so much pain in induction—incredible pain. And so they have to come with all the pain relief and the epidurals and all of that. So we get induction, leading to epidural, which leads to cesarean. And that is what’s happening in this country. Now, why? Did something happen? Did American women’s bodies suddenly go bad? Did American women’s bodies suddenly lose the ability to figure out when it’s time to go into labor? Goodness, no! You know, why do 60 to 80 percent of American women have to have powerful drugs and interventions to their bodies? Well, it has nothing to do with there being anything wrong with their body. And it’s not because of bad doctors. It's a bad system.

This movie I think helps empower women to once again believe in their bodies. To trust ourselves. . .

Friday, June 20, 2008

Proud Mom

Well Wednesday was the last day of school for my three youngest. Oliver graduated from 8th grade and will be our fourth child to attend PHS, like his parents did. Isaac graduated from 6th grade and Alanna finished 4th. It was a very busy week with one of my best friends retiring from teaching, she taught 5 of our 6 3rd grade and now she is moving to Arizona. Another very good friend who moved to Omaha 2 years ago was in town and we had a very short visit, miss her so much. But more importantly is our three youngest ended the year making us very proud parents. They accomplished a lot and we are proud because they did the work. People will try to give me credit for what my kids have done, while I gave them the best start I could, I tried to take care of myself while I was pregnant and I nursed all of them, made sure they got to school on time and did their homework, the things a parent should do, they decided to be examples to their teachers and peers. They are truly bright and beautiful children, that are just growing up way too quickly.

Click to play Oliver, Isaac and Alanna's Year
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Keep Home Birth Legal

The AMA and ACOG are trying take this option away from parents. I believe parents should birth where they feel it is best for them, for some that is the hospital, for others a birth center and for some it is home. I have given birth three times at home and would have given birth all six times if I could have. Please sign this petition to keep our rights.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Make Him Stop

Well today was the end of an era. When Eric was a little boy and started to walk to school with his older sister and brother, he would jump off the planter and blow me kisses and walk backwards down the driveway and sidewalk until he couldn't see me anymore. The next year, Alexa and Ian said "When is he going to stop doing that?" I told them I would take it for as long as he wanted to do it. Soon, Alexa and Ian started blowing me kisses as they left too. Eric continued to blow me kisses all through grade school, junior high and high school, today however is his last day of classes as a senior, I watched a little harder today, as after today when he leaves for college classes it will be in a car and not a walk. I am glad he never stopped, he started a tradition with all his siblings, it has always been one of my favorite parts of my day.
Click to play Eric's Senior Year/Grad
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to you. I believe everyday is Mother's Day when you are a mom. Your day isn't always perfect and the kids don't always do what you would like, but at the end of the day, I know I can't help but feel blessed that I have been lucky enough to give birth to six children, six children that my husband and I chose to have. Some people think I am a super woman to have "that many kids." They always ask "How do you do it?" my answer is "I just do." I don't think that I am better than another mother because I might have more kids, we all adapt and we "do" because we have to. I love being a mom and couldn't imagine doing anything better with my time. My youngest always says I am the "best mom in the world," I know that I am not, there are so many things I could have done better, so many I should have done better, but it is nice that she believes I am the "best." My kids bless me every day when I hear "thanks, mom" or "love you, mom." The best gift you can ever get from you kids is their love.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

One Day

The idea of her was conceived a few months after meeting my husband, we were just sophomores in high school. One day at lunch he asked me what my middle name was and I told him “Alexa.” He promptly said, “One day we will get married and have a little girl with dark hair and name her Alexa.” Pretty profound for a 16 year old boy, some years later that dream came true, our first child.

I remember the moment I found out I was pregnant; I placed my hand on my belly and thought “Wow, there is life in there.” While I didn’t feel any different, I knew our lives were soon to be.

Bill read to my belly almost every night, she loved the sound of her father’s voice and always moved gently as he read. She was surrounded by words, as her father was in grad school and working on his thesis, I helped by typing his thesis, and as his thesis grew, so did my belly.

On a Friday morning, ten days after she was due, labor began; I timed them for a few hours before calling Bill to come home. We labored at home for a few more hours before heading to the hospital. The hospital was very busy and we started out in a recovery room, Bill and I laughed as we heard another couple also in labor arguing over whether they we suppose to “Hee, hee ho” or “Ho ho, hee.” We had taken Bradley and were just trying to relax and breathe deeply. We were finally moved to a labor room where we continued to labor for a few more hours; I remember thinking at one point “Am I doing okay?” I heard several other women screaming and I thought, “I am not screaming, I am okay.”

A few hours later they moved us to the Birthing Room, where they wouldn’t let Bill in until he scrubbed and put scrubs on. The nurses pushed me in a wheel chair down the hall in hard labor and then said “Hurry and get in bed before the next contraction” and then walked out of the room. Bill came running in a short time later asking if I was okay, and I responded “Get me in bed, cover me up and shut the door!” They checked me and I was 9 cm. dilated, I thought “I am going to get the urge to push soon, but what if I don’t?” A short time later the urge hit, they checked me and said I had a small “lip” of my cervix left and not to push, and left the room. I breathed and breathed until I could no longer resist and Bill yelled out the door “She is pushing and I am not stopping her.” They came in and said “Oh yes, you can push.” Twenty minutes later, our little girl came into the world, I began to cry, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was our dream child. The nurse was carrying her and Bill walked up to her and said “Well hello, little miss ruby red lips,” she turned right to his voice. Bill later said “Wow, there is nothing like looking into your child’s eyes for the first time, it is instant love.”

Alexa amazed us from the beginning; she grew into a strong willed little girl with the funniest sense of humor, who loved listening to her daddy read to her and helping her mommy out. Now she is a grown woman, a UCLA grad and well, words still surround her as an assistant editor. She is still strong willed and has that quirky sense of humor, and yes, she still continues to amaze us . . .

Monday, April 7, 2008

Death twice as likely by caesarean

This is something to think about. For all the celebrities that have their planned c-sections, for hospitals that aren't giving women a choice to have a VBAC. Babies should be born vaginally unless there really is a reason for a c-section. Even if you knew you needed a c-section it is best to wait until you go into labor and have the surgery, than have a planned c-section. Read this article written by Kate Benson

BABIES born by elective caesarean are almost 2½ times more likely to die within their first month than babies born vaginally, researchers have found, adding weight to the argument that caesareans should only be carried out in emergencies.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

What is Cesarean Awareness Month? An internationally recognized month of awareness about the impact of cesarean sections on mothers, babies, and families worldwide. It's about educating yourself to the pros and cons of major abdominal surgery and the possibilities for healthy birth afterwards as well as educating yourself for prevention of cesarean section. Cesarean awareness is for mothers who are expecting or who might choose to be in the future. It's for daughters who don't realize what choices are being taken away from them. It's for scientists studying the effects of cesareans and how birth impacts our lives. It's for grandmothers who won't be having more children but are questioning the abdominal pains and adhesions causing damage 30 years after their cesareans.CESAREANS are serious. There is no need for a 'catchy phrase' to tell us that this is a mainstream problem. It affects everyone. One in three American women every year have surgery to bring their babies into the world. These women have lifelong health effects, impacting the families that are helping them in their healing, impacting other families through healthcare costs and policies, and bringing back those same lifelong health effects to the children they bring into this world.Be aware. Read. Learn. Ask questions. Get informed consent. Be your own advocate for the information you need to know.
Subscriptions are reduced for this month!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's a Son

Twenty-one years ago I gave birth to our oldest son, our second child. He was our first home birth. Labor was fast and intense, only 4 hours. Contractions started 3 minutes apart and 90 seconds long, they soon got closer and longer. Our midwife arrived and said I could start pushing anytime I wanted; a short time later I had the urge. I pushed for 45 minutes, but had good rest between pushing contractions. Soon his head was emerging, there was a cord, the midwife slipped it over his head and said I could push again, he shot up into the air, he was posterior, she said "catch him" Bill got him by a leg, her, by an arm. Bill laughed as he put him on my chest and said "It's a son." He cried, I cried, as I looked down at his beautiful face and stroked his cheek with my finger and said "Don't cry," he gazed up at me with his big brown eyes and stopped crying. So much has changed since then; he has grown into a handsome man. This morning as I woke him and wished him Happy Birthday and stroked his cheek it was no longer soft, but full of stubble, but those big brown eyes still looked up at me, as he said "Thanks, Mom." Thank you, my son.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Breast Crawl

This is an amazing video of how a baby will naturally attach itself to the mother's breast if just left alone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrwfIcPB1u4

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Government Concedes Vaccine-Autism Case in Federal Court

The Government has conceded that vaccines can lead to autism. Certain children may be more prone to have reactions than other children. David Kirby wrote on the Huffington Post that: "After years of insisting there is no evidence to link vaccines with the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the US government has quietly conceded a vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims." Please read the whole article.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Child With DS

In my all my years of teaching childbirth classes, I had my first couple have a Downs Syndrome baby. I am very proud of them in how they have dealt with the shock of finding out after he was born to now knowing their little boy will always be perfect.

Here is a poem that my student wrote:

So now a new life begins
One I never dreamed of, one I couldn’t possible have imagined
Something has been given to me, entrusted to me that I thought is only given to “others”
Not me, no way, it never even crossed my mind, when they asked “ Do you want to take the test”
“Oh no, we don’t’ want the test, for if there was anything “wrong” we would never abort
Truthfully it didn ‘t occur to me that yes I could be a chosen one
No way, not me! Only happens to other people, poor , poor people
They can handle it though, as long as I don’t have to deal with it, face it, look at it, live it everyday
It doesn’t even cross my mind. Honestly I can count on my fingers how often I have come across a person with DS.
Now that it is my reality, my everyday, I wonder, why do I never see DS. Do they not get to go to the malls, the market, the stores, everyday life. Are they unable to act normal, or are they such a burden to take out that their families would rather just leave them at home?
Do their families whole lives change because of this person? Do they become recluse? Do they have a permanent pain in their broken hearts? Do they age much quicker because life has taken such a difficult toll on them?
Do they stop going to parties, and family gathering, weddings and vacations, because they are ashamed, tired, not up to all the questions and stares???
I know I am saying some things that may seem rude and certainly ignorant
This is all still so new to me, still just such a shock, I honestly can’t believe that I am even writing about such things
So I join support groups and I desperately hang on to all that these wonderful and experienced souls, soldiers in a fight for a great life for their loved ones
They tell me, it’s ok, what I feel is normal. They tell me that they felt exactly the same, they felt that they would never be able to handle it
Then they said, life happens and my baby, my child will heal me, he will teach me that everything is ok
He will show me the way, he will lead me in this dance. I will look at him with a pure love and so much pride, just like any other mother of a “typical” child
In fact I will probably love him more because I went through so much and I see how much harder everything this precious child struggled to learn what he learns
It will not bother him though
Just take my time, take it one day at a time
I am not alone
And everything is going to be not just fine, but amazing, filled with joy and laughter, not just tears and heartache
Hold my baby close for now, let his smile make me smile
Don’t be afraid to love him completely
Capture the milestones in picture and in words, feed him and change him and most of all
Just love him day by day, he is after all, just my baby first and foremost
Ds will not be who he is, just part of his genetic structure
DS is not his heart or his mind or his soul
That comes from what God has put in him
DS is for the rest of us, “typical” people
It is for us to learn to love the way Jesus loves
These chosen people, they say love so completely and deeply with all their hearts
They will not judge us, they will always be ready with a hug, a smile
Time will be my friend, as my baby grown into a man
As his personality forms and I get to know who he is
I just know he will be my greatest joys
You know what? He is already my greatest inspiration
He will be everything I never knew that I wanted and needed
Thank you God

Jessika Young - God Be With You

Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy Place Green Vaccine Ad in USA Today

Since Jenny McCarthy's son was diagnosed with autism, she and current boyfriend Jim Carrey have launched an ad campaign questioning the safety of today's immunizations, which studies have linked to a drastic rise in autism. Here's the text of their ad:

Are we poisoning our kids in the name of protecting their health?

Green our vaccines. And administer them with greater care.

Mercury. Aluminum. Formaldehyde. Ether. Antifreeze.

Not exactly what you would expect or want to find in your child's vaccinations.

A picture accompanying the ad compares the amount of immunizations kids got years ago with how many they get now. Check it out.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pioneering midwife crusades for natural birth

Ina May Gaskin has inspired so many women over the years to believe in their bodies. She continues to fight for the right for women to have natural births and for women to take their births back. In a recent article she said of her hippie beginnings:

"At the time we began, I couldn't have dreamed that in 25 years' time women would be actively seeking Caesareans," she said.

Right now, Gaskin is working on a movie called "Orgasmic Birth."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Push You to Read Pushed!

Journalist Jennifer Block rounded up several interviews with underground midwives and their clients to reveal the history and current state of American maternity care, which isn't so hot right now.