Thursday, December 18, 2008

Letter to the Editor: Ani.

I have been a devout Ani fan for the past 11 years and was thrilled to hear she was 1) having a baby and 2) delivering at home. She went through her life changing experience approximately 1 year before I went through mine. This post is in response to an article written on her homebirth experience. The article is directly below my post. I recommend you scroll down and read it first before further reading my comments.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started with a Nurse Midwife who delivered in a hospital and began to feel extremely unsettled so switched my birth plan and provider to a home birth. Everything was going great, emotional and mental preparations were being made, I felt powerful going against the grain. Despite my public display of acceptance toward hospital births, I had definite opinions and perspectives against them...not based on prior experience but the experience of others. I had the same view Ani had regarding the "lights", "the impatience" "the forcing of medicine" which is why I wanted to do homebirth.

My plan from the beginning was to preserve the health and well-being of my baby and myself and protect us from the "evil hospital staff." All of that changed 4 weeks prior to delivery when unforeseeable and unknown complications placed me on bedrest. My midwife kindly attended to me keeping my hopes of birthing at home still alive, but as the days went on she grew increasingly concerned for overall safety and recommended I change care providers to a Nurse Midwife. I was devastated. I felt like a failure. I grieved the experience I was hoping to have. Reluctantly and skeptically I met with my new midwife. I went in with my feet planted firmly of all the things that WOULDN'T happen in the hospital for me: don't give me medicine, no episiotomy, giving birth in normal clothes, use of a tub, no vaccinations...Without a pause she agreed to all of them and actually was client-centered not agenda-focused. It threw me completely off-guard because she's part of "them" not "us" who are enlightened and liberated from "the man" or rather the men :) Actually she was part of me. She met me where I was out while artistically and seamlessly weaving in her medical expertise. My new midwife was not threatened by my homebirthing midwife and was ready to join her in a team experience (the homebirth midwife moved to a doula), something that is not heard of in the both worlds.

Labor started and contractions were piggy backing at 2 minutes apart lasting 1 minute in length. Surely I was dilating, that's what all this endurance was for. I had done my preparation and my work and the natural course is to labor and deliver. 12 hours later I found myself at the hospital only to discover I was still sitting dilated at a two, with contractions indicating I was much further along. Home I went with a shot of morphine and a prescription to relax. Another 12 hours later with contractions hitting harder and faster I went to my doctor's office to confirm yet again...I was still at at a 2. With absolute frustration and disappointment we headed to the hospital because the pain was becoming unbearable despite my hynobirthing preparation...this was definitely not pressure but pain. After no relief laying over a ball, breathing deep or sitting in a tub it was time to, yes, get the epidural. I was exhausted and the medication brought on a relaxation that allowed my body to open up and start physically progressing...finally. When it came time to push, 29 hours later, my team of women surrounded my bedside cheering me on, giving me encouragement, strength and eased my fears. After 31 hours of labor my son was born. I watched him be deliver, I felt his head as it was crowning, I experienced his shoulders, arms and legs and they made their way out of my body and in to the world. It was beautiful, it was everything I thought couldn't happen in a hospital. Ocean waves in the background, lights dimmed, my delivery pace respected, my midwife meeting me where I was at.

This is the first time where I have veered from following Ani and gone toe-to-toe with her. This all or nothing mentality that further divides women in the birthing arena is getting worn out and old. This idea that the only way to have a positive experience is to birth at home is unnecessary and untrue. The idea that it's completely unsafe to birth at home is unnecessary and untrue. The idea that male doctors can and will come in to your room and induce, lift the legs up, put on the flourescent lights is naieve. Yes, there are those doctors out there but no that is not all the doctors out there.

I realize my place in this world is to continue to fight for the fight for finding commonality among what seems to be impossibly opposing ideas, to bridge women rather than further spread the divide. To me, this article that Ani has written is ignorant, misinformed and perpetuating more of an "us" vs. "them." Where I stand is for women to have the choice to deliver by someone and somewhere where they feel the most relaxed, the most confident and able to have the experience be the best delivery possible. I am sad for women who have aweful hospital births and sad for the women who have aweful homebirths. I am neither pro-hospital or pro-home...I am pro healthy baby and healthy mom. I am pro let's create discussion rather than creating further isolation.

Ani, I respect your experience, but while sharing yours, please do not feel a need to stereotype and compartmentalize mine...thanks.

Ani DiFranco on 'Club Sacrifice' and her homebirth
Tags: Homebirths , Natural childbirth , News , Quotes

Anidifranco_petahnapolitano2 Motherhood seems to open the door to a secret society, and celebrity mothers are no exception. Singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco shared that she felt the shift in how the world sees her and her relation to other parents with the start of her pregnancy with daughter Petah Lucia, now 15 months.

Being a mom seems to have changed the way the world sees me more than the other way around. Being pregnant really shifts your relationship to society, and then walking around with a baby shifts it again.

I love the feeling that I get from other parents — women in particular — of being a part of the club. Club Sacrifice, you might call it. It’s cool to have camaraderie, warmth, and openness with strangers. I wish that dynamic was more prevalent in general, but I am grateful to have it now.

Having chosen a homebirth for the arrival of Petah in January 2007, Ani discussed her experience. She previously said that she believes birth is "the epicenter of a woman's power;" here, Ani, 37, expounded on her statements and delved deeper into an explanation of her beliefs.

I was in labor for 43 hours. Pushed for five hours. It was brutal and scary and prolonged, and if I was in a hospital, they would have definitely cut the baby out of me. I thank the goddesses that I was at home with patient midwives who knew how to go the distance. The memory of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not.

Click below for more on Ani's homebirth experience and her thoughts on 'performance anxiety.'

I would definitely choose a homebirth again despite the fear mongering of this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines. I look at societies where women are marginalized and oppressed their whole lives (even covered head to toe in tarps!) but are still in control of birthing practice, in a whole new way now. I mean, who is really more advanced?

To take birthing out of women’s hands and deny us the continuum of eons of wisdom and experience is to eject us from the very seat of our power. I believe that women in hospitals are prevented from being able to have normal, healthy birthing experiences because of the intimidation of being on the clock, being pressured to take drugs to make it quicker, being inhibited in their movement and activities, and alienated by a sterile, fluorescent lit, feet-in-the-air type environment.

You know the classic “performance anxiety” of not being able to pee or poo because somebody’s watching you? Multiply that by a million! A cervix is a sphincter after all!

Then to add tragic insult to injury women are numbed through their great moment of revelation. I believe the act of giving birth to be the single most miraculous thing a human being can do and it is surely the moment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their power and connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done, you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — and afterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. If you can do that, you can do anything.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank God

A fantastic column in the Salt Lake Tribune:


I was crammed into a middle seat. The guy in front was practically in my lap and I had my arms drawn in tightly as I pecked furiously on the keyboard. God glanced over. "What are you working on?" He asked.

"A column," I said. "About you, in fact."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Oh? What did I do now?"

"Well, not you per se," I admitted. "It's about this atheist group, the American Humanist Association. They stirred up folks in Washington, D.C., recently by running a billboard on the buses. It said, 'Why believe in a god?'"

God was curious, so I passed Him the computer. Just then, the plane lurched violently. The guy next to me spilled his drink and muttered a curse. God paid no attention. When He finished reading, He passed the computer back. "That's not about me," He said. "It's about defending their right to free speech."

"Sure," I said. "What else would I do?"

God shrugged. "Why not just answer their question?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well you know," He said, "you've got that Thanksgiving holiday coming. Might be appropriate to remind people of who they're thankful to."

I considered it. "That could be a good idea," I said.

He gave me a look. "OK, OK," I said, "All your ideas are good. But you know, proving you exist is a heavy-duty philosophical chore. I suppose I could go with the complexity of life argument, talk about how if people see something as unremarkable as a cardboard box they assume it had a maker, but if they see something as intricately designed as a person -- or heck, an amoeba -- some folks say, 'Oh, it just … happened.'"

God was unimpressed. "I don't need you to prove I exist," He said. "I am the great I am, remember? Besides, that billboard doesn't ask for proof of my existence. It asks, why believe? Isn't that a fair question?" He gave me an expectant look.

I looked past him, out the window. We floated above a deck of clouds, the sun falling toward the horizon, the whole world the color of gold. It was like poetry in midair. I said, "I believe because I've seen you. And because I've heard you."

The plane jolted again. Two rows behind, a baby started shrieking, hitting notes I'd have sworn were impossible for a human larynx. The man ahead of me shifted heavily in his seat. My tray table pressed hard against my stomach.

God gave a smile I couldn't read. "It's not all poetry in the sky," he said. "Where you see poetry, somebody else sees only a flaming ball of gas circling the earth, light refracted through crystals of ice and pollution in the air. Where you see eternity, someone else sees an ocean. Where you hear my voice, someone else hears thunder."

"What are you getting at?" I asked.

"What do you see then?" He said. "What do you hear when no one else sees or hears? When you walk in places where no one knows your name? When you curse the brokenness of your own life? When flood and famine strike the wretched and the vulnerable? When the diagnosis is cancer? Do you see me then? Do you hear me then?"

It took me a moment. "Sometimes," I said finally. "Not always." I thought about it a second, then added: "But I'm always trying."

"Why?" asked God.

I looked past him. The sun seemed to be sinking into the clouds. The sky was growing dark. "Because nothing else makes sense to me," I said.

God smiled.

The captain announced that we were about to land. We were asked to shut down and stow our electrical equipment. The guy in front returned his seat to its full upright and locked position. The baby kept squalling. Moments later, the plane touched the tarmac. It had been an awful flight and I was glad to be home.

"Thank God," I whispered.

"You're welcome," He said.

Photo on Flickr: I Believe in You - aepoc

Sunday, September 28, 2008

KKK at Presidential Debate

This really shouldn't come as a shock to me, however, I am shocked. When the news reported the KKK was planning on attending the Presidential debate my face became long and sorrowful and my heart turned to Michelle Obama. I can only imagine as a wife and mother what she is feeling at this point. Somewhere in my idealistic spirit I would like to believe this ongoing display of ignorance, hatred and anonymity would come to a close. Watching movies like Mississippi Burning seem like a chapter of history that needs to be remembered so it is never again repeated. But not a story that continues to exist in our modern day in a more "appropriate form" meaning not blatantly murdering, coconspiring with the police and active cross and church burning.

No where in my rational or irrational brain do I find a place to wrap around hatred for skin color. No where. Yet it still lurks in the silence places of America. The Klan members chose to remain anonymous in their interviews, stated they would not be wearing their "clothing regalia" and people would just have to "guess" who they were. Additionally, they chose NOT to use the designated protest zone as a location to display their silly cross-burning antics. A cause that cannot be backed by a visible face and a name seems weak. Hiding behind statements that are said but not owned and sheets that show only calloused eyes by no means seems like a strong force in society. However, I'm sure those African-Americans or blacks (however you choose to define yourself) living in the south or other parts of the country where the Klan exists don't really care the size of the group. It's just knowing their is a hate group that exists where they despise you for no substantial reason. Knowing you can't' speak logic to someone or someones so illogical.

That takes me back to 2001, 21 years old, where I went to Atlanta, Georgia to meet my business partner at the time. He was black and I was white and rather than pretend we were the "same" we had great discussions about the differences that were present in both of our lives and how they effected us. I think it was through these conversations we connected at deep levels revealing more similarities and differences and opened doors beyond what we thought. He told me that as a black man or black community in Georgia, you tend to not go outside the "parameter" that loosely surrounds the full radius of Atlanta. He told me how a high school out the "parameter" was celebrating their first integrated prom in 2001 after a long fight the kids put up because the parents were still supporting segregation. My little naive Utah mind jumped wildly through the roof thinking, "What? This stuff doesn't still exist! People have evolved, moved on, let go!"

It is sad to me that it does and is present at the most incredibly diverse election. Even during the primary's we had a Mormon, a Woman, a Black Man--it was great! Not that anyone of these candidates it to be defined by their outward trait, but I'd feel amiss to not at least acknowledge for the first time we moved beyond the white, male candidates!

There was a fantastic article that explains more in depth about the history of where the presidential debate took place, Ole Miss or more formally, University of Mississippi. A historic place where desegregation began, and where James Meredith was escorted by US Marshalls to class as the first black man to attend the university. With a 16% black population as of today, the debate location was more than mere availability and geographic location.

It boils down to 2008 and we're still hearing about hate groups spending significant time and energy to perpetuate what...more hate. I hope to see the day where my children are not writing about the KKK or the significance of a diverse primary pool but that the norm is reestablished and we have moved on.--@DP

To read more from Time magazine, CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Alright. I'm going out on a small limb here but I need to voice a political observation. Not being pro-McCain but not in the Obama camp, I have some real issues with the Obama Lemming trend going on all around me. I see all these people LOVING Obama but when I ask them to tell me what they love about them, one maybe two can actually articulate reasons with substance as to why he has their vote. Most people love his idealism, his hope, his statements of change but no one seems to know about his international policies, domestic policies, his proposals at large. That makes me really nervous. I am all for idealism, but not ignorant idealism. I believe there is a place for substance based idealism and it's really not asking too much for me to expect the kids on Obama's "street team" camped around NY coffee shops to know a thing or two about their candidate. Everyone says he's inspired my generation to have a passion for politics but I highly disagree. If you know a thing or two about politics you realize change happens at the local level and moves to the national level. If my generation cared about politics, we wouldn't have had the national low for district voting. It's not that I am against Obama, but I am against the blind lemmings I am seemingly surrounded by. I am opening the forum to hear why people like Obama simply for the refreshing substance based opinions, not looking to disagree or agree, just looking to hear an actual perspective other than he's a celebrity, he has "soft eyes", he's an international superstar or he's just really going to make a change for this country.--@DP

Monday, July 28, 2008


Good Morning America had a segment on "cross nursing" which is breast-feeding your friends or families babies. Not looking to make my judgment as of now, but honoring my initial knee-jerk reaction which is, "Hmmmm, this might be a little beyond my realm of comfort bordering on weird." As if I'm one to talk and be a noter of "weird", I think this topic warrants some good dialogue. So prior to putting out judgments, but acknowledging our initial reactions, let's just put some facts, arguments for or against out there, basically let's have some fun with this and intellectually grapple for a moment.

Totally Functional Vs. Relationship
If you look at breast feeding as a matter of function or in my sister's words, viewing "boobs as bottles" it would really be a matter of your children's friends "eating over at your house." It would boil down to smashed peas, carrots or breast milk? However, if you look at it in a relationship or attachment perspective, it feels like a really intimate experience with your baby that doesn't warrent sharing with others.

Health Concerns

The Le' Leche league doesn't support cross nursing due to the unknown disease and health risks associated with another mother's milk. Diseases such: HIV, TB, Hepatitis among others. They recommend if a mother can't breast feed but would like her babe to have breast milk, to obtain the resource from a "milk bank" where the milk is screened prior to distribution.

Bonding but not Sexual
Though the feeding is associated with "breasts", breast feeding is not a sexual act. Our society tends to sexual acts that simply arn't sexual in the orgasmic sense. Breast feeding is the natural form of feeding babies. Cross nursers feel a bond with the friends they share their breasts with.

With some of this initial information, what are you thoughts, reactions, facts?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Birthing Wars: Part II


My original birth plan was to birth with a Clinical Nursing Midwife. A nursing midwife goes through nursing school and typically/traditionally births (catches) in hospital. I really liked my midwife but didn't love the idea of birthing in a hospital. Like I said in part I, it's not that I feel hospitals are "bad", they're just not as conducive for the experience I was looking for. So after 2 of my 3 appointments canceled last minute (not for birthing babies either) and my midwife's assistant being fairly aloof and not returning phone calls I started to feel insecure and unsafe about the path I was currently on. The search began.

My friend Eden pointed me towards another new mom who loved her midwife and birthed in a birthing center. I had heard of birthing centers not too long ago and was intrigued at this middle-of-the-road option between a hospital and a home birth but dismissed the idea because my midwife didn't feel they were very safe nor could she birth there. (I'm learning in the whole CNM and CPM arena, it's a very us vs. them deal). This other mother used a Certified Professional Midwife*. A CPM goes through Midwifery school and has an intensive apprenticeship followed by taking an 8 hour licensing exam. Jake and I decided to meet with a couple CPM's to compare and contrast and get a feel for the one that felt right.

I met with one in the morning but she mostly did home births and typically didn't birth in birthing center. Though I am interested in birthing at home, for our family and our first baby, Jake and I thought a birthing center was a good starting point. She seemed great but there were a few concerns we had such as her quick dismissal of birthing in a birthing center and biases towards things such as vaccinations and things. I have my opinions as well, but because of my "client-centered" training for my profession, being supported in an informed choice big deal to me. I like to be informed, educated and empowered to make the choices right for me. The second one met with Jake and me in our home for an hour and a half answering all of our questions and concerns. She really struck a chord with me when I asked, "What is the difference, as you see it, between a birthing center, birthing suites and home birth?" She said, "You don't want me to discuss a hospital? I think it's important to talk about a hospital as well because it's not a bad option just different so let's talk about them all...then you decide." Halleluia! When it came to vaccinations she gave me material from an anti-source, a pro-source and a source that provided the pro's and con's of them all and a schedule. She eased Jake's concern of driving 40 minutes to get to a birthing center rather than dismissing it. I was elated! She was definitely the one for us.

So in a nutshell I will tell you my new birthing plan:

Natural Birth: Jake and I are going to learn the skills of Birthing from Within and Hypnobirthing to provide ourselves with a variety of tools and methods being we don't know what we are getting into. Hypnobirthing is a husband-coaching approach and Birthing from Within is not. Both offer complimentary tools so why not?

Birthing Center/Birthing Suite: I copied this from BellaNatal, our birthing center, because they explain this really well. Like a hospital or birthing center, BellaNatal Birthing Suites is a facility specifically designed to support the process of childbirth. But unlike a hospital or birthing center, at BellaNatal the care is separated from the facility in which that care occurs. This means your chosen provider is 100% responsible for your delivery and care. Why is that so great? Because this is the person you want to be responsible for you! This is the person you have chosen, the person you know and who knows you. Many women are surprised when they go to a hospital for their delivery and they don’t see their doctor until the last few minutes. Most care in a hospital is provided by nursing staff you’ve never met before. At BellaNatal, your provider will attend you for your entire labor.
We believe in the ability of healthy women to safely give birth in the setting of their choice, and we want to provide the most comfortable, supportive, and safe setting possible. We believe any facility in which women give birth should be flexible and accommodating to the needs of the mothers and babies who use it. We believe you and your care provider should make decisions regarding your care, not the facility. We believe normal healthy birth should not be expensive, and we have adopted a strategy to keep costs as low as possible.

Certified Professional Midwife: Cathy Larson! She can't deliver in a hospital but can do home or birthing center and actually apprenticed under the owner/founder of BellaNatal and my sister's current midwife! Small world, had no idea until making the connection later.

All of the other stuff such as wanting to be able to rub in the "white stuff" after birth (packed with vitamin K and other good stuff!!), not have my baby taken away, etc. are also part of my plan.

Another important thing to note, in the state of Utah you have to be deemed a "low-risk"pregnancy in order to deliver outside of a hospital. If issues arise, which they can be spotted early on, not as Hollywood would have us believe, you are transferred.--@DP

Monday, May 19, 2008

Birthing Wars: Part I


At 4 1/2 months into my pregnancy I have felt strongly impressed to switch my birthing plan and midwife. Not an ideal situation on any level. I have always planned on birthing naturally using the skills and tools of hypnobirthing, but was going to birth in a hospital because I liked my midwife. First things first. I am amazed that this is such a sensitive and
controversial topic among women. In the beginning I have shared with people I was going to birth naturally and so many were quick to shoot it down with, "Oh yea, I was planning on doing that too but there's no way..." "Good luck with that, let me know how that works out for you" OR just the "Oh..*nod* *nod*" My choice to birth natural is not an attack or judgment on anybody else's choice, it's just the beginning of many choices I will have to make as a mother that feel right to me. Really it's not a better than or best choice, it's just a different choice amongst the choices we have as women...and isn't that great we have choices?

I am also looking into birthing in a birthing center. I would consider doing a home birth, but I don't think our family is quite ready for that. I have been part of 4 home births all successful and simply have really good examples and experiences with them. When I tell people I would like to birth in a birthing center it's as though I have told them I am going to let my children play in the middle of a busy street. Hollywood has really done a number with dramatizing labor and giving us inaccurate visuals as the norm not the exception.
The bottom line is I have learned to be very selective with whom I discuss and share my thoughts with regarding this topic because rather than the conversations being one of dialogue and understanding they turn into debates, opinions and anger/fear.

I have thought through, researched and have many reasons as to why I feel it necessary to switch birthing plans halfway through my pregnancy. This choice is not based on popular or unpopular opinion for that matter, what someone else has done or is doing, or trying to make things more complicated then they need to be. My research isn't based on bias information or from the companies and/or agencies that are policitally aligned or financially invested.

Birthing a human being that on average can weigh between 6-8 lbs is a matter that for me can't be taken lightly. Nor is it merely a medical procedure. It's actually really unsettling to currently be without a midwife and navigating in unsupported, turbulent waters. But I know that all things uncomfortable cause movement to find comfort, security and a sense of peace.