Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seven years ago...


August 31, 2003. Delilah Rose Baer, our second child, was born at the Baltimore Birth Center.

The night before, at two days past the "due date," I was feeling impatient. I know I'm not supposed to put any stock in dates, but my first was born at 39 weeks, and I really thought she would be out by then. Tim and I went out to dinner at the One World Cafe in Baltimore. When we got home, we did the thing that makes babies (me thinking it sometimes helps get labor going), then Tim and Patrick went to bed and I stayed up reading on the MotheringDotCommune message boards.

I tried some accupressure points that were supposed to cause contractions, hoping it would do something. Around midnight, I started having contractions, which settled into a regular pattern of every four to six minutes. I walked around our apartment, posted on MDC about how I thought I might be in labor, laid down to see if the contractions would keep going if I rested (they did). A few hours into it, I woke Tim up and told him we should go to the birth center.

At the birth center, the midwife on call checked and told me that I was only about 4cm. We stayed at the birth center for about an hour and she said that I should go home and call them back when things picked up. I was not happy about that plan, but we headed home, stopping at Dunkin Donuts on the way home for the guys to get breakfast. Sitting in the car having contractions was not a fun thing to do. Pretty much as soon as we got home, the contractions started getting more intense and closer together. About an hour later, we got back in the car and headed to the birth center.

My mom met us at the birth center so that she could take Patrick (then almost three years old) back to her house for the day. I distinctly remember her needing to use the bathroom at the birth center and me telling her that no, she needed to just take him now. (She did get to use the bathroom). My friend Alexis, who was about five months pregnant with her first, joined us there around the same time.

Evelyn was now the midwife on call and she had a student midwife there with her. We hung out for a little bit, then I got into the tub, hoping it would help me deal with the contractions. It helped so much that I decided not to get out. I hadn't been planning on a waterbirth, but the tub ended up being the place where I was the most comfortable and was the place where Delilah was born.

She was born on a Sunday morning, before the service at Horizon, the church we were attending, would have started. Tim asked if he could go to church and tell everyone, since I had Alexis with me. We told him no, that he was going to have to skip church. He did get to go pick up pizza for us, which was just the right thing after having a baby.

That baby is seven years old today. She is the big sister to two little brothers (James and Benjamin). She is starting second grade as a homeschooled student this year. Not suprisingly, she has developed my love for pregnancy, birth and babies. She likes the "baby shows" on TLC and Discovery Health, plays "having a baby" with friends, and says she wants to be a doula or a midwife when she grows up.

I'm grateful to the people who ran the now-closed birth center, who gave me the birth experience I needed. To the poor student midwife, who I kicked out of the room when I didn't want people in there, I'm kind of sorry. If you had found something to do other than just stand in the corner and watch, I might have let you stay. To my mom, thanks for taking Patrick and for putting up with me when I was being unreasonable. To Tim, who agreed to have another baby and to let me choose the birth I wanted. To Alexis, who was there with us. Thanks, everybody.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BirthWorks Discounts!

BirthWorks has sent me a list of discounts that they're offering to people who want to attend the Childbirth Educator training in Syracuse October 8-10th:

Join Now and Receive Discounts!*

BirthWorks Doula & Educator Workshops:

$45 off within three months
$35 off within two months
$15 off within one month


Bring a friend and each receive $20 off workshop fee

Dual Doula Certification Discount

Receive 20% off certification fee if currently certified by another national doula certification program.

Must send proof of certification.

BirthWorks Modified Childbirth Educator Certification

Receive 15% discount if currently certified by another national childbirth education certification program.

Must send proof of current certification.

BirthWorks Dual Program Discount

If you are currently in a BirthWorks certification program (childbirth educator/doula) and joining a second BirthWorks program, receive $50 off your certification fee.

*Contact the BirthWorks office 1-888-TO BIRTH(862-4784) to receive discounts. All discounted fees are nonrefundable.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Answering the Call

Eight o'clock Thursday morning, my phone rang. A lady, who had emailed me days prior looking for a doula, was in labor. We hadn't met. I had things to do. I wasn't "on-call," as I didn't have any clients who were due soon, but there was a need.

We talked a little on the phone and I realized that if I didn't go, it was entirely possible that she would be having this baby alone. In a hospital, yes, but without someone who was there to support her. So I chose to literally... answer the call.

I got people to watch my children, called my husband to let him know I was leaving, stopped to put gas in the van and drove the hour from Syracuse to Watertown, to the hospital to sit with her. And sit I did. I stayed from 10am Thursday morning until 4am Friday morning. Thankfully, her husband was able to come Thursday evening, and the two of us supported her through the birth of their baby. Driving home Friday morning, I thought about how I felt called to support women and their families during this life-changing experience.

What I did was something that doulas all over the world do every day. Someone calls, needing support, and they go.

Penny Simkin, who may well be considered the mother of the doula profession, teaches her doulas that how a woman feels during her labor, how she's supported is something that she never forgets. Details of the memory may change over time, but the feelings stay the same. What I do, and what doulas the world over do, is try to protect that memory, to help women and their partners feel nurtured, supported, empowered and loved.

I'm grateful for other doulas. The ones who started years ago when the idea of labor support was unheard of. The ones who are practicing today. Who serve families who can afford to pay and those who can't. Who can make teen moms feel like they're being taken seriously. Who hold the hands of moms who are in the hospital alone. Who serve dads by getting them a drink and suggesting ways to help their partner. Who show hospitals and OBs that quietly supporting laboring women makes a difference in birth outcomes. Who "answer the call."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Always Knew Women Were Amazing

This video, from the Mother's Advocate website, shows us ancient images of women giving birth. Throughout history, women have given birth with the assistance of other women. Only recently has birth taken place in hospitals, with male doctors. It is my belief that in most instances, the best place for a woman to give birth is at home or in a freestanding birth center, with midwives and doulas in attendance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good Things Are Happening!

Things are really picking up with the CNY Doula Connection group! We had a good planning meeting this past Wednesday; we managed to work on our brochure and plan several fall events. We're definitely going to be at the "Yeah Baby!" Expo at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool on September 26th, so come see us there. After the event, we've scheduled two outreach events for potential clients to hang out with us and meet our members.

A new doula who just moved to the area was at the meeting. She needs two more births so she can send in her DONA certification and is interested in helping teen moms. If you know a mom in Syracuse who could use some extra support for her birth, let me know and I'll get you her info.

Our next business meeting is Wednesday, August 25th. It is open to any local, independant doulas (not affiliated with a doula agency) who may be interested in joining our network. If you are a doula who is interested in attending, you can email cnydoulaconnection@gmail.com

Today, Doula Chris Herrera and I are heading up to Watertown to have lunch with a group of pregnant mamas. They'll be able to ask us their pregnancy and birth questions and learn about what the Doula Connection has to offer. Hopefully, some of them will be interested in our services.

The other exciting thing is that in just under eight weeks, BirthWorks Childbirth Educator training is coming to Syracuse. You can learn more about becoming a BirthWorks educator and how to sign up for the workshop by visiting http://www.birthworks.org/ I'll be attending, along with other local Birth Professionals.

Monday, August 9, 2010

All sorts of ways to find me...

This afternoon I got a call from a lady who found my contact info at http://www.greenpeople.org/ Their site is an online directory of eco-friendly products and services. I have a listing there because as a doula, I promote and support people who are interested in natural birthing and parenting.

In the past 30 days, at http://www.doulamatch.net/ my name has appeared in search results 52 times. My profile there has been viewed 12 times and 4 people have clicked on the link for my website.

www.mothering.com/discussions is the web's largest parenting discussion board. My business listing in their WAHMarket forum has been viewed 1,499 times.

At http://www.drmoz.com/NYdoulasinnewyork.html I have one of the big listings.

On facebook, you can find me by searching for Syracuse Natural Parenting Support. At the present, my page has 62 "likers."

All of these are ways that I make my presence known online. Most of them are free.

I've also bought ad space in the Holistic Resource Guide and Family Times. Buying ad space isn't something that I do regularly, but recently I've been offered good deals to do so.

As a transplant to the Syracuse area, a concern I had was how people would find me. I almost joined up with the local doula agency because of this concern. After I met with the owner of the agency, I knew that I didn't want to work under someone else. If I had chose to work with the agency, clients wouldn't be able to call me first; they would have to call the agency and talk to the owner/other doula, who would most likely end up with their business. I wanted people to be able to contact me directly.

To avoid having to work for someone else (and pay them a big chunk of what I make), I've put a lot of effort into marketing. If there's somewhere online that I can place an ad, I do it. Everyone I run into ends up hearing about the work I do and if they know someone who's pregnant, I put a business card in their hand. Two of my recent clients were ladies that I met at the YMCA.

If you're a doula whose business needs a pick-me-up, make sure that you're utilizing every available free advertising resource. Tell everyone you know that you "still have room for clients in the fall." Make friends with local childbirth instructors, yoga teachers, LLL leaders, etc. And most of all, don't be shy about telling people why you love what you do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sweet Little Repeats!

The organizers of the Sweet Little Repeats consignment sale are being kind enough to allow me to have an information table at their sale at the East Area YMCA at the end of this month.

Please come out to see me, hang out, shop the sale.

If you have things to get rid of and want to be a consigner, you can sign up at http://www.sweetlittlerepeats.com/

The sale is August 27-29th.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


For the next step in my education, I'm tossing around the idea of becoming certifed as a childbirth educator through an organization called BirthWorks. I'm definitely going to take their training workshop, as I think they offer a lot of information that I could use with clients.