Thursday, February 23, 2006

Comfortably Numb

Why Pink Floyd? Because, first, Hello? Is there anybody [out] there? I will try not to sound whiny and dejected but in the past week, only one person has posted a comment. Thank you Dr. Deb. But I really worry that I've gotten lame or something because suddenly I'm not hearing from anyone. Please take advantage of the next week to give me a hello or something to let me know if anyone's reading this any more. And if you are reading it less than you used to because of something I've done (is this starting to sound like a relationship talk?) than please let me know. I realize the knitting thing has become something of an obsession with me, but that doesn't mean I don't like hearing about your day or cuddling wi---WAIT! That's the speech I've rehearsed for my spouse.

Also, Pink Floyd because I hope to let my brain do some receeding during the next week. I am going to the wedding of a dear college friend in Durango, Colorado this weekend. From there, I fly to southwestern Florida where I join my family (and I mean FAMILY: spouse, sons, mother, father, sister, and aunt) for a week of poolside and beach-based play. I have checked more books out of the library than I typically read in a year, so excited am I at the prospect of four uninterrupted hours on a plane to read.

In short, you have a whole 10 days in which to leave just one little comment to let me know you're out there. I hope to return refreshed and relaxed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not making the best case for sexagenarian birth

Exhibit A:

Aaaaaah! Run for the hills!

I can't help but be uncharitable here, even if she did just have her thirteen baby at the age of sixty-two. Is this not one of the scariest photos you've ever seen? There is a reason women go through menopause: to prevent babies from having to bond with faces like THAT!

(Very un-doula spirit I realize, but puh-leez).

Exhibit B:

Sixty-two year old French woman reveals her new baby's father is her brother. It's not quite as tacky as it sounds, thanks to artifical insemination and donor eggs.

Is this really the direction we want artificial reproductive technology to be taking us? Frankly, it creeps me out a little bit.

Mazel Tov!

Earlier this week I went to the bris for my most recent clients' son. Can I just say how much I admire Judaism? I am not pro-circ, but I can abide it when there are 4,000 years of tradition behind it. And what a nice ritual for welcoming the new baby into his community, for giving the parents an opportunity to hear blessings and praise, for the baby's name to be shared and explained with those who will love and help care for him.

Unrelatedly, I am having a bit of a doula dilemma. I am interviewing in 2 weeks with a woman who is expecting twins, plans to deliver them vaginally, and for whom this would be her third VBA2C birth.

The dilemma? Bad timing. I would love to be at a twin birth, a VBAC birth, a multip birth. However, it's likely to be a month or less from now (given that twins often arrive early) and the past month has been crazy busy.

My head is saying "waive off!!" My doula heart is saying "What an opportunity." Maybe I, like the baby at the bris, need to drink some wine, have a good cry, and take it from there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mid-Olympic Progress Report

I have refrained from writing about my knitting for fear of scaring my few loyal readers off. What is the saying? The worst evangelizers are the most recent converts? (O.K., I made that up, but there is some famous saying along those lines).

Anyway, I just wanted to post a few photos of my blocked knitting project:

And detail of the embroidery:

Seriously? That is a sweater I bought last weekend. Pretty isn't it? Much prettier than what I'm working on for my Olympic knitting project. However, I'm pleased to say I expect to finish on time.

Which means a medal for me.

No matter how unfortunate my selection in yarn color.


Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Issue 22

Again I've fallen behind in linking to (and reading myself) Grand Rounds. This week's is hosted by our resident avian flu expert and ultramarathoner, Dr. Andy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Can't get my Visa out fast enough

"The Birth House is a sweet little piece of fiction. Set in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, it's a strong first outing for writer Ami McKay and features an element of magic realism — call it a hybrid of fabulist Gabriel García Márquez and prairie realist Sinclair Ross.

Dora Rare, the female protagonist of The Birth House, is born in the turn of the 20th century with a caul. Because of her supernatural condition, Dora is recruited in her late teens to become an understudy to the local midwife, Miss Babineau."

Need I share more? You know what I'm eager to get my hot little hands on. Did you notice it's set in Nova Scotia? Did you notice I'm knitting for Team Canada? Have I mentioned I'm interested in birth fiction?

O.K. In other media news with a Canadian slant, Toronto native David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) will be directing a BBC production of "Eastern Promises," a thriller involving a midwife and a dead prostitute.

And have you heard that Joss Stone, who was the soundtrack of choice at my last birth, aspires to be a midwife once she's through with her singing career? Someone else famous said a similar thing lately but I forget who it was.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tired postpartum? Could be depression.

A Professor of Nursing at the Ohio State University has found that persistent fatigue is a more accurate predictor of postpartum depression than other often-used flags such as a history of depression or current stress levels. This raises the chicken and egg question: Are women fatigued because of some unique chemistry or physiology that predestines them for depression? Or is their depression brought on or exacerbated by being unusually fatigued?

If it is the latter, then the case for postpartum doulas is strengthened. Doulas can help in immediate ways, doing chores and providing care that permits the mother to rest, as well as in longer-term way, such as strategizing with a family how to rework routines so there is more time for recovery.

Incidentally, the researcher's article was published in the Journal of Obstetricl, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing. What a find! It has free access to articles on line and contains a treasure trove of research for those of us interested in the care of pregnant and post-gravid women and newborns. Expect me to post on its contents in the future.

Monday, February 13, 2006


My client had her baby yesterday and things could not have gone more perfectly. I commented that I couldn't have written a better script.

My family and I were on the way to my parents' for dinner when my cell phone rang and my client's partner said "Herwaterbrokewe'reonthewaytothehospitalbye." "Wait," I said, "Is she having contractions?" "NoBye."

This is the excitable partner. But what to make of that. Second baby, a few days after her due date, quick first labor, ruptured, no contractions. Hm.

I decided to deliver the kids to my parents and then return home right away. I showered and was just finishing when they called from triage. She had started to contract, maybe every 15-20 minutes. No need for me yet. I ate some dinner, puttered around the house, called T$ (remember these are the clients we had both been doulas for two years ago). They called again. Contractions were every 5-6 minutes, she was going to a room, could I come.

Thinking things were moving quickly, I pared down my doula bag (no need for all the massage balls and oils, the back heating pad, the CDs, and certainly not for my knitting) and drove right to the hospital. Where I found my client very chatty, strolling around the room, showing no signs at all of contracting. Oh, yes, they were on the monitor, but she never broke stride or stopped talking.

Because her water was broken, they did not check her in triage. So she walked and sat and chatted, whil her partner moved their bags, boppy, birth ball and car seat into the room. Was I wishing I'd brought my knitting? Yes I was.

When her mother showed up and things were still light and happy I asked whether they'd like me to see if T$ could come. They said yes. She could. So I went to pick up T$ (still recovering from her broken leg) and my knitting and returned 45-50 minutes later.

Our client was now in the tub, still chatty and happy, though now occasionally saying, "Here's a contraction." After a quarter of an hour or so, she decided she wanted out of the tub. As we were preparing towels and blankets for her, she got noticably quieter. After we dried her off, she stayed wrapped in a few flannel sheets and paced the room until a contraction came, when she froze -- no wait, dashed to the bed -- no, that wasn't working either, grimaced, half-sat, half reclined until it passed. Now she had that look in her eyes. She had seen labor and it wasn't pretty.

Her first labor, though induced, went very quickly. She went from 2 cm to delivery in just over 5 hours. She'd requested an epidural at 7 cm. This time she really wanted to go natural.

So when, after that contraction, she said "I don't think I can do this," I just focused on encouraging her, asking her to take them one at a time, telling her I knew she could do it.

Another contraction and she was certain she couldn't labor any longer. She asked to be checked and was five centimeters. Fabulous! we all said. You're doing terrifically! She had another contraction and said "I want an epidural." Oh, we reminded her about her desire to go natural, about how it takes much longer to do the first 5 centimeters than the last one, about how the last time she was at five centimeters she had her baby two hours later. Another contraction and none of that mattered. "Tell the nurse I want anesthesia."

Bless the doctor. She came in and asked if the client wouldn't give it ten more minutes, then she would check her again to see if her cervix was changing with the contractions. Another contraction and my client demanded anesthesia. The doctor put in the call, then checked my client. She was nine centimeters.

Another contraction, and she felt like pushing. She was complete. She pushed for maybe 10 minutes and delivered her healthy baby. This was 45 minutes after she got out of the tub.

Afterward she was very pleased and in shock over how fast it went.

T$ and I were thrilled to have been present for this couple's second birth.

My children were happily in the care of my parents.

I did not miss work or any of the social/doula engagements I had scheduled before and after yesterday.

I was home and in bed before midnight.

It could not have gone better.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Caffeine Talking

Forgive me. I had a coke with lunch.

My great idea from last night? Pick an album (or, for you kids who don't remember albums, a CD) and write a short story that accompanies each track.

I got the idea while listening to Lucinda Williams' Essence. What is the rest of the story behind the person singing the title track? Or behind the woman who would wants to Get Right with God?

What album is crying out for a companion short fiction collection in your opinion?


There are a few little things I want to post about but none really merits its own post, so here they are:

1. Ann Arbor's City Council voted to approve a "Breastfeeding in Places of Public Accomodation" ordinance last week. They have to vote on it a second time to make it official. It remains to be seen how this will affect the YMCA's prohibition on breastfeeding and other food/beverage consumption in the pool.

2. Britney.

3. Researchers have identified a gene that can produce a 24-fold increase in SIDS risk for African American babies. The good news: the gene's action can be mediated by drugs. The bad news: this only explains about 5% of SIDS cases.

4. My client? The one who's due today? No baby. She's in early, early labor, has been for a few days. But nothing imminent.

[photo roundup]

5. I love this excerpt from a photo I took at the birth a few weeks ago, the one where the baby arrived just as the midwife entered. This is as far as she got with putting on her glove!

6. My olympic gear. Games begin tomorrow and I still haven't found the right sized needles. Apparently I'm a very tight knitter (no surprise to those who know me, I could anything that comes from my hands be loose and easy?), so I've moved past the suggested size needles and the next size up. Tonight I swatch with size 17 needles and hope they're right.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meme of Fours

Thanks to T$ for the tag. Sorry it's taken me so long to do this.

Four Jobs I Have Had:

1. Babysitter: includuing the children of our local morticians; they lived over the funeral home, which meant I was upstairs with dead bodies below...very creepy to a high school student. Oh-- and one time they picked me up IN THE HEARSE. I was mortified.

2. Freelance lawyer: I worked for several different firms writing briefs, taking depositions, etc. as needed. Everything from criminal defense to medical malpractice to contract disputes.

3. Newspaper staffperson: again, for our small town weekly newspaper when I was in high school. I wrote articles, took photographs, developed film, used the half-tone camera to get camera-ready art, laid out the paper (old skool style: with typeset copy and wax), took the paper to print, put labels on the paper when it came back from the printer (by hand), inserted the grocery story circular (again, by hand), and dropped bundles of papers at local businesses around 1:00 a.m.

4. Assistant to the Dean for Recruitment: at MSU's James Madison College. I met with prospective students on-campus, traveled to college fairs and individual high schools in the metro-Detroit area, and did academic advising for a group of 35 first year college students.

Four Movies I could watch over and over:

1. The Big Lebowski (the only DVD I own)
2. Amadeus
3. The Royal Tennenbaums
4. Chicago

Four [three, really] places I have lived:

1. Milan, Michigan (18 years)
2. East Lansing, Michigan (6 years)
3. Ann Arbor, Michigan (13 years)

Four places I have vacationed:

1. Costa Rica
2. Texas (by car!), including Big Bend National Park
3. Wasaga Beach, Ontario
4. Nantucket (with very rich friends who owned a "summer home" there)

Four TV shows I watch:

1. The Simpsons
2. Arrested Development
3. Rick Mercer Report
4. Scrubs

Four Websites I visit daily:

1. The UM jobs web page
2. The Panopticon (at least since I started knitting I visit it daily)
3. The UM directory (for work)
4. Weather Underground

Four favorite foods

1. ice cream
2. popcorn
3. smoked salmon
4. tapas

Four Places I would rather be:

1. the hospital (with my doula client who's due tomorrow)
2. home (in bed, reading...napping)
3. getting a massage
4. at an indoor water park with the family

Four people I am tagging with this meme:

1. Mark Maynard (who will not do it but whose responses I'd love to see)
2. Sarah the Doula (who's relatively new to blogging AND is a doula AND is Canadian)
3. The Mommy Blawger (who needs one more thing to do besides care for her new baby)
4. Inland Empress (as a "thank you" for leaving a comment here)

Four charities I wish I could give thousands (millions?) of dollars to:
1. Doctors without Borders
2. The Center for the Childbearing Year
4. Save the Children

Monday, February 06, 2006

Knitting Olympics: I'm in

Not only that, I'm on Team Canada, thanks to the generosity and inclusiveness (would you expect anything else from a Canadian?) of team captain Kelly. Here is the e-mail exchange we had to determine my eligibility:

"On 1/23/06, doulicia wrote:
I am a Candianphile or whatever you call someone who loves Canada. I sing my kids to sleep with the Canadian National Anthem, I observe Canadian Thanksgiving, and I know today is election day. I even know your top 3 candidates (Harper, Martin, Layton). The U.S.'s politics are completely embarassing and I'd love to affiliate with Canada instead. For the knitting olympics that is. May I?

From: Kelly
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 12:11 PM
To: doulicia
Subject: Re: Can I join Team Canada if I'm American?

Hi doulicia! Of course you can :) Once the CAL blog is set up, I'll be sending out a mass email with directions on how to rego for it. That way you can show off your project.
ps -- I know Canadians you know less about our country than you seem to. You should move here! :)"

Do I need more invitation than that?

Mind you I began knitting in January and have yet to finish a project (though the scarf I started for my son is nearly done). In typical bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew fashion, I have decided to try this for my first real, i.e. with directions and a gauge, project:

Am I inviting a nervous breakdown, or what?


Obstructions to Healthy Families

As if there aren't enough impediments to creating healthy, well-adjusted families, states are taking away the right of birth parents to permit another person to adopt their child. Usually a parent must terminate her parental rights for her child to be adopted by another person who is not her spouse or the child's other birth parent.

In states like Michigan, which does not recognize same sex unions, this means a lesbian birth mother cannot remain the legal parent of her child AND permit her partner to adopt the child and get legal standing as the other parent.

Aside from being mean spirited and homophobic, this policy also denies the child access to health care and other benefits that her non-birth mother has.

You can read a perfect example in this story. The two mothers in the photo are former clients of mine. Denying one of them legal role of parent to their daughter is just plain idiotic. But that's what the Michigan voters and courts have decided to do.

Read more about the issue (and make a financial contribution to the cause) here:

I'm sending $100 out of my doula fee for my next clients (also a lesbian couple) to this organization. If you work with lesbian or gay families, you might consider doing the same.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Still Waiting

Well, my client did not call her due date. It's two days past and we're still waiting. I thought for sure last night with a snowstorm blowing through the area and high winds today. "Baby energy" I call it. But nothing yet.

My other client, the one who delivered last week, continues to have great luck with her baby. The baby is nuring well, sleeping lots and seems healthy all the way around. Her largest issue is lack of support. She had family lined up to help around the house for a few weeks but by day 4 postpartum she found herself cooking dinner and serving the family member supposedly there to help.

I am putting her in touch with postpartum doulas.

I've said it before but it's just too bad that our culture and my generation's mothers' experiences have not put us in a good position to get support after we give birth.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And the Delivery Date Is...

I had another meeting recently with my client who is due in a week. She told me she would have the baby tomorrow. She had many reasons, some including familial numbers and patterns, others involving her partner's determination to maintain their Super Bowl Party tradition, approaching its eleventh year.

Another doula (a fine substitute for T$, but no replacement for her) accompanied me to this meeting so the clients could meet her. She's been to double the births I have and her sister is a homebirth midwife. When we left the house she told me she'd put money on Friday for the delivery. She says when women are that sure in their due date, they're often right.

She told a great story about a client of hers whose water broke on a Tuesday. By Wednesday, the midwife was at the house. The woman was in active labor, contracting well. A day later, same story. No progress from a delivery point of view. Finally the midwife called a huddle and said to the family, "What's going on here? Why isn't this baby coming?" It took a little talking but it eventually came out that they had been certain the baby would come on X date, still 4 days away. The midwife said, "I'll see you then," and went home. The baby arrived four days later, as the family originally planned.

Apocryphal, possibly. Believable, certainly.

I'll share my next birth story tomorrow. Or whenever it happens!