Tuesday, December 28, 2010


28 December 2010
I don't generally make New Year's resolutions, because they seem a recipe for failure. But I need to be writing, and am going to try to write more in 2011.

There was a time when I wrote everything
in hopes that nothing would be missed,
no part of myself would remain
unseen--by you, by anybody.
I never expected the exercise would yield
such lovely fruit, and in the yielding
steal my drive to capture every moment
on a page. What once came more like gasping;
grasping for air than breathing
now becomes an exquisite discipline;
straining to hear the sweetest melody
amidst the musical swell suffusing every breath.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Matters

The thought occurred to me today that some of the most important things in life are the relationships we keep (and *how* we keep them), being creative and resourceful when needs arise, and learning to be content with what we have. Or maybe I should say that those have been some of the most important things in *my* life. When I was a single mom, being creative with what I had--physically, relationally, and in all other imaginable ways--was extremely important.

I get *very* distracted from those things now that life is not quite so demanding as it once was. Relationally, my difficulty is most pronounced when my kids ask me to do thus and so on a Saturday, and I'm so busy folding laundry that I miss the opportunity entirely. Being Busy is the number one joy-stealing culprit of my relationship with my kids. Not to harp on it, but this may come of having been a single mother for years. There was one bread-winner, one house-cleaner, one child-rearer, one planner-of-all-things for said child. How much time did I have for fun with my kid back then? And yet during those very busy years, I was deliberate about making sure my son had time with people other than me, especially kids. And I made sure he was loved by as many healthy, stable adults as I could muster to my aid.

However, I also bore the burden of the aforementioned responsibilities alone. Now that I don't, I can't imagine why the sense of busyness and urgency persists. I have five days out of almost every seven when my children are at school, and plenty of time during those days to get stuff done when the baby is napping. If I don't get it done by the end of the day, there are two parents in this household, and we work together to get things done. Not to mention the fact that my school-aged children are PLENTY old enough to make themselves useful.

During the single-parenting years, I was extremely creative with my belongings--my clothing, my furniture, objects of high artistic potentiality (I find artistic potentiality everywhere), curtains, vases, pictures by my son. I didn't have much of monetary value, but what I had, I made count. If space was lacking, I was creative with my floor plan, and I used what I had to make it feel like home. If I couldn't find something dressy in my closet, I created it myself. I may have seemed a bit eccentric, but it was an honest eccentricism. I used what I had to make something beautiful, if a bit unorthodox.

So back to what was my original line of thought:

I need to unlearn busyness. I think my husband might giggle to hear me say that (I'll find out soon enough) because I'm the world's worst procrastinator. But even when I'm procrastinating, I live in a pretty near constant state of feeling as if there's something I'm missing, and if I don't get it done, no one will.

I also need to unlearn the assumption that if there's nothing in my closet that appeals to me, there must be something lacking in my wardrobe. PAH! There was a day when I was known for my creativity with what I had available to me in my closet. I have somehow gotten away from that creativity, and I'm intending to find it again.

In a related vein, when did buying things become the answer to the [lack of] space issues in my house? First of all, I know a great many people who make do with far less space than I have, and just as many kids. In the same way that I was once known for my creativity with my wardrobe, I was also pretty well admired for my ability to make any space my own, and comfortable, without spending a dime. Let's find that again, shall we?

And most importantly, I have GOT to learn how to give an unqualified yes when my children want to spend time with me and I am able. This is, perhaps, the most difficult item on my list, because I'm not looking to RElearn it. I am not good at stopping what I'm doing, whether it's a want-to-do or a need-to-do item, and giving of my person to my kids. I'm good at doing *for* them--painting, cleaning, cooking, driving to activities. But painting *with* them? Stopping cleaning to play checkers *with* them? Going to the activity and enjoying it *with* them? I don't think I'm so good at these things. Ok, so I hate checkers. I don't play checkers with anyone. That's quite beside the point. This brand of busyness I have learned, wherever I have learned it, has got to be unlearned.

On that note, I'll close this post, because there aren't any words I need to write at this moment that are more important than the sleep that's waiting for me. Priorities. I think that's what I was getting at here, though I never said the word.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Manufactured Need

It happens every year at the changes of the seasons--at the end of winter and at the end of summer: I forget why I avoid the mall, Target, Old Navy and the like. I have enough of anything I could possibly need, and yet I walk into places that tell me I don't have enough, and nine times out of ten, I go for the bait. Even if I don't buy anything, I walk out of the store with a sort of manufactured sense of need. I'm aware of what's happening. I know it's false. But I still experience it. This particular sort of materialism is one of the banes of my existence. It's particularly tempting this season, having just given birth and feeling rather uncomfortable in my skin no matter what I'm wearing.

This year, I think I'm going to make do with what I have, and try to realize at more than an intellectual level that I'm not really making do. I have so much more than I need. One more sweater, or that shirt or dress that seems so perfect I can't pass it up, won't add to my beauty or my worth. It's just another thing to hang in my closet with the myriad other items I couldn't live without last year or the year before.


21 September 2010

Every stretch once contained
the trying to learn each muscle effort
required to shake the shackles of sleep.
She's better at it now, looks
less dainty than she did just days ago.
Her muscles move intentionally,
in response to something more than reflex.
My little Daisy, already less little than before.

Early Morning

20 September 2010

Refrigerator hummmmmmms.
Scritch scritch scritch scritch.
Tapity tapity tapity tapity comes the dog
down the hallway, where
a clock ticks audibly somewhere out of sight.
I sniff sniff SNEEZE to the whrrrrr and whiff
of the ceiling fan;
watch the sun slowly sigh through
the autumn breeze; the silent trees.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Learning to Finish

I have said often in the last few years that I'm a starter, not a finisher. To wit, I had 2 murals, a dozen paintings, and a quilt started, along with various other sewing and other types of projects I was intending to get to. I think I had just accepted this as the way I function, and had ceased even to try to catch up.

Here lately, I've been attempting to remedy that. I finished my daughter's quilt, made significant progress on a bathroom mural, made my younger daughter's baptismal gown, and completed a computer bag for myself. I still have a quilt to make for my son, the mural in the bathroom and a mural in the stairway to complete, and several paintings for which I've never been quite sure how to bring about resolution. But I'm on my way.

In the interest of keeping myself accountable: I intend to finish the bathroom mural next, hopefully within a week. Pictures will be posted on Facebook. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When Home Birth Becomes Hospital Birth

I started blogging a few months ago about the process of choosing and preparing for home birth. I had spent over half of my pregnancy overly concerned about preterm labor, having giving birth to my son ten years ago at 27 weeks gestation. When I finally reached the 32 week mark (the point at which *early* preterm labor is no longer the issue), I pretty much stopped worrying and began planning for birth to happen the way I'd hoped it would happen the first time, only this time at home instead of at a birthing center.

Well, my daughter had other plans. Six days before the 36 week cut off (the midwife would not deliver at home before 36 weeks), my water broke as we were heading out the door to church. I had my frustrated, angry, upset cry before we left for the hospital as I was trying to find just one of our birth attendants who wasn't on vacation. My doula was available, and she met us at the hospital. I'm awfully glad she was there, though she told us more than once that she felt her presence was a bit redundant. We asked all the important questions ourselves, and the few times when it was necessary we advocated for ourselves and stated our own desires.

One such time, or rather one such issue (it came up several times) was the doctor's desire to get labor moving with pitocin. They're rather rabid about getting the baby out within 24 of a woman's water breaking, and that was the first thing that happened for me. My water broke at 9:45 AM Sunday morning, and labor hadn't really started in earnest by 9 PM. The nurse came and found us in the hallway where we were walking and reading, trying to encourage contractions by staying on the move. She said the doctor was ready to start pitocin. I said I didn't want to, and that if there was any leeway at all, I intended to take it. If they started pitocin, I was fairly certain I wouldn't make it through the process of labor and delivery without an epidural. She said she could give me an hour before she'd have to insist that we start it. That's a funny way of saying it--if a person refuses a treatment, there's not really much the physician or attending nurses can do about it. However, when a woman is in labor, or at least when *this* woman is in labor, and when she is laboring in a hospital, she automatically feels a bit as if she has to play by their rules. We did our best not to.

The nurse agreed to an hour, and we continued walking. There are, for those who are interested in knowing, a great many things you can do to stimulate labor. There's no need for me to go into detail here, but if you're planning a home birth, or even if you're just desiring to give birth naturally (without pain medications or unnecessary interventions that lead to those medications) do your research and know about those things in advance, so that you can ward off pushy doctors and nurses and get things moving in a natural way.

By 10:30 PM, contractions where coming regularly and intensely. I know I was in the birthing pool not long after that. And yes, they *did* allow me to use the pool, even though my water had broken more than 12 hours previously. Don't let anyone push the assumption upon you that they won't let you, because the pool was my best friend.

I'm fairly certain that transition started while I was in the pool. For me, it lasted a long time (at least an hour), which was discouraging in the midst of the process. But we did it, and the moment she was out, the labor and delivery pain ended and the wonder began.

So we planned a home birth. We *paid* for a home birth. What does one do when home birth is thwarted by pre-term labor? Luckily, our midwife has a method of prorating her services for situations like this, but we never talked about it beforehand. This made for a bit of an awkward situation once we got home from the hospital and knew that the bills were just around the corner. It took a couple of days for me to get around to calling the midwife, and once I did I realized I had nothing to worry about. However, this is a subject that I realized is best handled *before* the situation arises, and it would have been good to include questions about prorating of services in the interview process. Since we have no plans of doing this again, and this information does not serve us, I want to make sure that anyone who ends up using these blog posts as a home birth resource realizes what we didn't.

No one who is planning a home birth wants to assume that it will end up in a hospital--but it may. First of all, talk with your midwife about that possibility, and along with discussing what role she would play in that event, discuss also how she would charge you for her services, since those services will surely change rather drastically.

Also, consider how you would handle advocating for yourself in the event that you give birth in hospital and not at home. Our nurses were wonderfully supportive. Our doctor was amazingly tolerant, and even supportive, of our desires. I didn't push on my back, which I thought for sure would be an issue. I pushed on my side, and in the end, I think that's how I would've chosen to do it at home. My contractions were far too intense for me to want to be upright at all, let alone while pushing. Yet even with how supportive they were, there were still an abundance of opportunities for our desires to be pushed aside. If we had not actively put forward the fact that 1) we did not want an epidural or drugs, 2) I did not want an epidural or drugs offered to me at any point (I would ask if I wanted it), and 3) we did not want any unnecessary interventions, including pitocin-- we would have ended up with induction by pitocin and stripping of membranes (the doc was hot to trot on both of those as soon as she got there), probably an epidural to help me cope with the intensity of induced contractions, and whatever other unnecessary and unpleasant interventions which might have become necessary because of the epidural.

We planned a home birth for lots of reasons, not the least of which was to avoid medical interventions in a non-medical, non-emergency situation. In preparing for home birth, I did a lot of thinking about what I didn't want to have happen to me while I was laboring, and I read a lot about women who advocated for themselves in hospital and achieved the births they desired. I was not completely unprepared, and neither was my husband. But I had the experience of a previous, very early birth under my belt, and that gave me much food for thought as we prepared to give birth. If you are preparing for a home birth, prepare also for what probably won't, but possibly could, come.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Memory

16 June 2010

I emptied the sugar bowl this morning,
the Tour d'Eiffel disappearing through the hole in the lid.
That spoon hung useless on the wall, sat neglected
in the bottom of a box since a dark childhood
visit to the City of Lights.

Suddenly comes purpose, though
I keep running out of sugar. So much
coffee to drink, so many bottles of under-valued
wine to enjoy, so many sweetnesses to spoon out
that sometimes I forget the grief altogether
in the midst of forcing words, struggling to write
anything anywhere--keep poetry flowing
through the books that will someday fill
the shelves we have not built.

Those pages once were bound to be topped off
with bitter melancholy--so many caged and angry
women and their box of useless spoons.
I cannot possibly grieve again as I did back then,
and I wonder if there is less meaning now,
with joy and grief so unevenly matched--
one grown, contented woman stirring her coffee
with a new memory of Paris.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Husband's Job

Eight days ago, I gave birth to Elise Marguerite. She was 6 lbs 3 oz and about 20 inches long. She's lovely and healthy and content, and we are enjoying her in the extreme.

To say that I gave birth to her feels a bit like short-changing my husband. He left only once early in the process, before it became unbearable, to get himself and our older daughter something to eat, but he was present and working hard with me for every moment of active labor. Several people offered him breaks, including myself. I think I was the only one in the room who realized, after having offered the break, that he really, truly didn't want one. He was tired, but so was I, and I didn't have the option of a break. He stayed right beside me as I labored in the pool, let me squeeze the hell out of his hand while reading Dandelion Wine to me between, and sometimes during, contractions. When I had to get out of the pool for them to monitor the baby again, he lifted me out of the tub as I cried that I was afraid to stand up. He applied counter-pressure to my back for what seemed like hours (probably was minutes) while I endured transition. He never allowed the doula even to take *that* job so that he could sit down and just hold my hand for a while.

When it came down to pushing, he sat beside me, held both my hands, [turned off his hearing aid, I'm sure], and let me moan and scream in his face. There's no more intense moment with him in my memory than staring into his face, aware only of the pain and the color of his eyes, between the last few contractions. How frightening that must have been for him. I think it's probably normal for a woman to have thoughts of death in those moments, wondering if she can live through that pain. I know I said to him once that I felt as if the contractions would kill me. Did he believe me? Did he fear the same? If he did, he only let it come through in his voice once or twice. The rest of the time he was calm, reassuring, adoring, gentle. I have no idea how he maintained such a demeanor in the midst of so much of my emotional chaos, but I think that, in light of the experience, he will always be my hero.

So now we have this amazing little girl at home with us, often lying between us on the bed because at 3 AM, I really don't have the energy to get up off the floor (we don't have a bed frame) and put her back in her bassinet. I feared during the pregnancy that her presence might cause tension or resentment for one or both of us. We both liked our life very much the way it was. Contrarily, I think we're both experiencing that she belongs here, and her existence is just a natural extension of our love for each other.

Everything is changing. Everything is already different. But it's not a change to mourn--not entirely. There's an aspect for each of us of having lost something--I, my independence (I simply cannot do for myself in the aftermath of the delivery), Richard, his freedom, and both of us our spontaneity. But there's something here to replace those things, and eventually to exist right alongside them, that is so very precious and beautiful and sweet that I'm really not sure what we were doing before. I loved my husband. He was already my best friend. But now the ideas of Protector and Provider mean so much more than they did before as I am forced to rely on him for fulfillment of some very basic needs. As difficult as it can be to need him to fill those roles, he does so graciously and without resentment, even lovingly and, dare I say, joyfully. This is his contribution to the process of her birth. Mine was nourishing her for 9 (well, ok, 8) months, and then going through the pain of labor and delivery, and now healing from that process as I continue to make small sacrifices to provide her nourishment.

It seems my husband never forgets those things. I wish very much that I could be as relationally, psychologically, and emotionally constant as he is. Unfortunately, I'm tossed about rather violently by the biological realities of pregnancy and of the post-partum period. Who am I kidding? My emotional stability is questionable on the best of days, pregnant or not. I suppose that's why there are two of us, and why we're wired so differently. I'm certain my mode of existence serves us in some way. Apparent to me, however, is the fact that it does not provide stability. I guess that's my husband's job.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Recovering Gifts

A Piece of Her
5 June 2010

I bought a chinois just like Grandmother's--
Ebay has its uses. She never called it that--
it was just a colander with a wooden pestle,
and she couldn't have told you where or when she got it.
She was always so elusive about the recipe--some flour,
a bit of baking powder, a pinch of salt (I'm fairly certain
it was Bisquick), and the dewberries, of course,
which I always thought were just blackberries.
Turns out I was wrong--and right.
Dewberries and blackberries are related,
and the name is legitimate. That makes me smile
as I press pestle against colander, juicing the blackberries;
coming one step closer to the mind of Bernice.
She's been gone for years now,
and I thought her cobbler was gone with her,
but I've found a piece of it, by trial and error--
a piece of her.

It wasn't perfect, but it was very close. It's definitely close enough to satisfy my memory. The taste of it brought tears to my eyes. I think I'll try it again this weekend. Although The Boy wants me to make a strawberry one. That feels like blasphemy. :-) But I guess I can alter tradition a bit here and there for the sake of my children's preferences. But the *norm* will be blackberry--and I'll probably call them dewberries. I'm going to try to find someone who sells berry bushes and plant them in the back yard. I'm very excited about the prospect of having the berries in the backyard like grandmother did.

It's always such a joy to find some small gift that has been passed on to me from my family members. Mother's quilting, Grandmother's cobbler, Vovo's chorizo & eggs (eaten in moderation--whew!). None of these gifts was ever handed down directly--I'm learning them now by consulting the poignant memories I have of the smells, the sights and the sounds associated with watching these women create beautiful things. And now I create beautiful things, both theirs and my own. I feel more whole every time I recover one of these treasures in myself.

Today, I should quilt. Of course, when I say that to myself, and especially when I say it out loud to someone else, I always pay for it later. The Boy wants to go to Gamestop, The Gril wants me to fix her hair, or I find housekeeping tasks that need to be done, and I feel badly sitting down to something "non-necessary" until those things are done. The trouble is there will always be a household task to complete. If I don't *make* the time for these small but very important creative tasks, I will always find reasons why it's not a good time to get to them now. I'm learning as I recover well-hidden gifts inside myself, though, that it's important to pull those to the surface, and to give them to my children.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Until I Can

27 May 2010

So many projects sitting around
unfinished. The mural I started
years ago, forlornly in the stairwell
stands against the wall, hoping someone will notice
the beauty, ignore the naked; the parts-in-
progress. I measure
the merit of the day in terms of
what I accomplish, regardless of my circumstance.
The quilt sitting in a heap on the dining room table
reminds me each morning how very many things
must wait until a more convenient moment--
after a nap,
when the living room is tidy,
once the laundry is done,
after the baby arrives.
Oh, the things I would accomplish if not for
exhaustion. All the things I didn't do before,
must now wait until I can.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Borrowed Clothes

22 April 2010

I don't think I can stretch
much farther (but I will) as I bend to find
the next shorts, pants, skirt
I probably wouldn't have chosen
for myself--but I'm grateful for clothes
that will cover my unfamiliar body.
I whisper a thank you, a Lord have mercy;
write the lender's name on the tag,
if it fits; consider more creative
ways to identify them as someone else's
if my marker won't show up on the tag.
Choice is a luxury right now. I knew
this would be the case, this process
highlights my vanity nonetheless--
I don't wear an XL.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Something to Give

16 April 2010

Everything defeats me rather swiftly
these days. The lawnmower, a brisk walk,
a careless moment bending over to collect
mail from the floor--I missed the coffee table.
I can't even enjoy a cup of tea
without consequences. My body is not
my own any longer; for a time.
Such things once caused
deep resentment, wondering
if there had ever been a time
when my body was my own. Now I know;
it is. A skipped cup of tea, or the admission
that I cannot start the mower on my own
are sacrifices, not deprivations. Finally
I have something to give.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Home Birth: Talking with My OB

When we first decided we wanted to give birth at home, one of our first concerns was how and when to tell our OB. She has been wonderful from the beginning, handling with compassion, tact and honesty what we all thought was going to result in a miscarriage. She's been very attentive and supportive and concerned throughout the pregnancy.

The anxiety I've experienced at the prospect of talking with my OB about the choice to birth at home has been a bit over the top. It's my choice, right? I'm never going to do this again, so I should go for the gusto and do it the way my husband and I are both now excited about doing it, right? The majority of folks I talked to suggested not telling her. This struck me as dishonest and even a little unkind, but I had been leaning toward doing just that--nothing. As much as I want to give birth at home and as excited as I am at the prospect of doing so, when folks start naysaying, I start feeling the pressure to placate and appease. I'm very suggestible that way.

I threw my anxiety to the wind today and talked with my OB. She was amazingly supportive, considering how worried I'd allowed myself to get over telling her. She said that, as an OB, she would obviously prefer that her patients deliver in hospital, but that life's short, and we should make this choice according to our convictions and preferences. She asked me to consider continuing to see her until 36 weeks (given my history of early preterm labor), but after that, we could be done.

I feel a bit foolish about how much time I've given to worrying about this. I was afraid she'd try to talk me out of it. I'm very glad I did talk with her. *Not* telling her was not sitting well with my conscience. It's a professional relationship that one has with her OB, but it inevitably turns personal. She's caring for me and my baby, and doing all that's necessary to ensure our health and safety, and if she's doing her job well, she really cares. I'm happy to have given her the benefit of my trust and vulnerability. I'd highly recommend her to anyone looking to give birth in hospital.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


14 April 2010

I must have something to say.
Seems unlikely that the well has
dried up like the skin of my very pregnant abdomen.
But none of the images work. None of the words
come together like they used to, and I can't
force them to make sense to anyone but me.
I'm hungry.
Unpoetic, but necessary. Life continues
in it's very earthy vein: breathless, sleepless,
swollen and uncomfortable,
but amazing in a way that lacks art, though not beauty.
It is a truly lovely thing to carry your baby.
It's just not very poetic.

Friday, April 30, 2010


30 April 2010
Inspired by the Weekend Wordsmith

I had thought all of my strings were taken--
or broken. I guess we all think
there's only so much love to give and take.
But there's a growing space, making room
for more than I thought I was, and something
of you as well to sweeten the deal.
Come summertime, another string
will resonate alongside the others--
a quartet of sorts, making my heart sing
in four part harmony.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Deep Magic at 27 Weeks

Today, I am 27 weeks pregnant.

Yesterday, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time since I found out I was pregnant.

I don't think these two realities are coincidental. I've been on pins and needles throughout this pregnancy, waiting for the fateful 27 weeks to pass. Not that it's a magic number; I know it's not. Or maybe it is--"Deep Magic", as a friend of mine at church quoth (very C.S. Lewis of her...) the other day when the incessant back pain I'd been having for 5 months suddenly vanished in the middle of the Holy Unction service of Holy Week. Not magic--but God's hand, God's grace, God's peace--and the little girl in my abdomen finally choosing a more comfy position for what I hope will be the duration of the pregnancy.

I think most people would be surprised to hear me talk like that. The years between 2000 and 2005 beat a lot of things out of me, including the ability to speak in platitudes. But it has struck me constantly, in the midst of those years; in the midst of the Blessing Years that have followed, that God's grace and love and peace are not platitudes. And they are certainly not to be hidden away, but they are very precious, wonderful, mysterious, unfathomable realities that work even when we can't see them. Even when we are so reduced by our circumstances that we wonder if He's even there.

So--27 weeks. Not a magic number. But definitely a point of new vision, and hopefully a point of rebirth of creativity. Deep Magic.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pregnancy-induced Memories

My son was born 9 1/2 years ago, 12 weeks premature. I had no idea at the time, and have no idea now, why.

Everything past the first 13 weeks in my current pregnancy has gone very smoothly. I have been monitored and checked, and will be checked again, for signs of preterm labor. So far, so good. Both the high risk obstetrician and my regular obstetrician have left off being cautious in choosing their words--everything looks good, everything looks healthy, and I should stop worrying about an early delivery and start preparing myself for the probability of a full term pregnancy.

Despite their reassurances, every little feeling that remotely approaches pain tends to set my mind whirling down the What If Path. My desire for this time around to be different is very strong, and my anticipation of the prospect of having a measure of control in the birth of this baby and her care immediately following delivery keeps me on the edge of my seat--and I still have another 16 weeks to go.

Going through pregnancy again, even ten years after the difficulties of the first, is proving to be a poignant experience. I observed the birth of my honorary nephew last Monday morning, and as I held the video camera in the moments immediately following his birth (I was *asked* to do this, and I preserved the mother's dignity as far as was possible), I struggled to hold the camera steady as my chest heaved and tears fell. Such precious moments, and in such contrast to my own experience and the experience of my son.

There's not much in the way of self-pity in that statement: My son was born early, but healthy. He was born in a facility equipped to meet all of his needs. He was never intubated. And he came home a month and a half sooner than the doctors had originally predicted. Ten years later, he's a healthy, intelligent, *extremely talkative* little boy who bears not a scrap of evidence of his rather frightening beginning.

All that said, his birth and the days following were a painful experience, and one I'd rather not repeat this time around. Whether or not I will still feels like a bit of a waiting game.

I wrote a poem for/about my son about five years after his birth, and about five years ago. Find it here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Birth: Interviewing a Midwife

This should be obvious to anyone in this process, but I didn't think about it until the last minute: Consider carefully what it is that you hope to accomplish as you interview a midwife. About five minutes before she arrived, I realized I had given *no* thought to deliberate organization of my thoughts and questions. This was a rather unfortunate mistake, redeemed only by the presence of my very level-headed husband, who asked all the right questions. I did come up with a few myself, mostly after he got the ball rolling.

Insurance and the Expense of Home Birth
We had read that home birth tends to cost more out of pocket than hospital birth, primarily because a great many insurance companies don't cover midwife services or home birth expenses. There's also the reality that, even if your insurance company *does* cover midwife services, your midwife may not accept your insurance. Insurance aside, we had read that home birth in the United States is *crazy* expensive, and I was gearing up to be disappointed by the reality that we simply couldn't afford to give birth at home.

My fears proved unfounded. There may indeed be places in the U.S. where home birth will cost you your first-born (pardon the expression), but at least in Kentucky, or perhaps just with the midwife we interviewed today, this is not the case. We, at least, will end up paying less out of pocket for a home birth than we would to give birth in a hospital. Unfortunately, we will need to maintain a relationship with our current OB in case I go into labor early again and need to deliver at the hospital (I delivered 12 weeks early with my first pregnancy), and this will mean a bit more expense over all. But if the midwife we choose has a fee as reasonable as the midwife that we interviewed today, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Husband as Primary Birthing Partner
My strongest desire regarding labor and delivery is that my husband be allowed to fill as active a roll in the process as we both desire and he can cope with. My husband is my best friend, hands down, and no one knows me as well as he does. Granted, there will be plenty of moments in labor and delivery when a trained professional will know better than my husband what my body needs, but it's not her face I'll be looking for in my moments of distress, and if it's my husband I want (and I foresee that it will be), everyone in the room had darn well be ready to get out of the way and let him through.

Unnecessary Interventions
I want very much to avoid unnecessary interventions--epidural, forceps, suction. This desire is near the top of my list of reasons for wanting a home birth. Specifically, I want to avoid an episiotomy. I'd rather tear naturally. I'd rather not tear at all. I know there are no guarantees, but I've read about (and observed) a great many techniques for avoiding tearing, and I wanted to know that the midwife we choose is versed in these techniques and ready to employ them.

Finding a Relational Fit
The one issue I *had* thought about was how my husband and I would mesh with each of the midwives we interview. What I have been told is that, with a home birth, it is absolutely essential that the midwife and laboring mother have a positive, trusting relationship--not simply a luke warm, I-guess-I-can-live-with-this-person kind of relationship. I assume that it's helpful if the midwife is also a good relational fit with my husband. In this respect, I feel I was very well prepared to interview. It doesn't take long to figure out if I can manage to mesh with someone. We got answers to important questions (most of which were brought up by my husband, God bless him), but I also talked with her about my first experience with labor and delivery, and was able to gauge her responses to my anxieties and desires for my next experience. I felt heard and affirmed, and I think this is one of the most important things (for me, anyway) that came out of the interview.


These were some of our questions and anxieties--the information we considered key in our process of choosing someone to attend us in the birth of our baby. Your questions and concerns may differ from ours, but thinking through them ahead of time--even writing them down--will help you get the most out of your interviewing process.

Home Birth: Choosing a Midwife

The next step in this process, it seems, is choosing a midwife. I'm fortunate in that I have several friends who have chosen to give birth with a midwife. Only two of them, however, have chosen to give birth at home--not all midwives will attend home births. Both of my friends who are planning to deliver at home are using the same midwife. Therefore the word-of-mouth venue, at least within my immediate social sphere, yielded only one recommendation. But at least that's a start.

I searched the internet for midwives in my area. This yielded more results, but again, not all midwives attend home births. Most of the midwives I found work within medical practices with doctors and nurses, and my understanding from the websites of the practices for which they work is that they attend births in hospitals, but not in homes. I did find one home birth midwife. So I now had two names (with email addresses) on my list.

The third name on my list came from the friend of a friend. I was chatting with her on FB about my search for midwives whom I could interview, and she did a little digging, made a phone call, and got back to me with a name.

I've sent emails to these women explaining my history of early preterm labor. As of yet, I have received only one response, and we interviewed her this afternoon. I'll tell you more about that in my next post.

In the meantime, I'm very open to suggestions. If you know of midwives in my area (Lexington, KY) who are willing to attend home births, send me an email with names and contact numbers or emails.

Home Birth: Making the Choice

Last week, I talked with my husband for what I thought was the first time about the possibility of a home birth. Much to my surprise, he was very, very open to the idea. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I thought he wouldn't be. Regardless, I can clearly see that he is 100% behind me, and we're both looking forward to taking the reins in this experience and making it what we want it to be.

As we have begun to move through this process, the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps there are folks who could benefit from watching our decisions unfold. Also, I'm a bit of a verbal processor, so writing these things out is helpful to me as well. I hope others will find something in these posts leading up to our home birth that will help make these same sorts of decisions in their own lives feel a little less chaotic.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Praying for family in Haiti

My sister in law and her husband live in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with their two children. My thoughts have been with them constantly since the earthquake on Tuesday, which left most of the city in shambles. Their house is standing, as is the school where my brother-in-law is headmaster and my sister-in-law is a teacher.
I can't help but sit at the computer and search for article after article, picture after picture, trying to understand the trauma they've experienced--and that they're going through in the aftermath. The children are foremost in my mind. It must be such a terrifying experience, and confusing for ones so young.
That said, I think of them and their situation, and I realize that while they've been severely traumatized and terrified, they're with their parents every night, and their home is intact. There are children all around them sleeping in the streets. There are children trapped in the rubble. There are children who have lost their parents, or parents who have lost their children. It's all so very overwhelming, even from this distance, and I'm dreadfully thankful that my nephew and my niece are alive and well and being cared for by their parents, and not by strangers or relief workers.

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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