Monday, March 28, 2011

Leaving Tomorrow!

My flight itinerary is printed. My bag is (almost) all packed. Backup doulas for my clients are arranged. Childcare for my kids is set up. I have roommates for the conference, to pitch in with the room cost.

I still need to put gas in the van so the babysitter or Tim doesn't have to, buy a notebook to take with me, pick up some more food for the family for while I'm away, clean out the van (so it isn't embarassing) and straighten up the house again.

I've never been away from the kids for this long (it'll be a week). I'm excited, and not as nervous as I thought I would be. I've been wanting to go to the Midwifery Today conference ever since my ten year old was a baby and now, for the first time, I'm really going.

My plane leaves from Syracuse tomorrow at 10:10am. I'll be back here blogging next week.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homeschooling, Work, Getting Ready to Go...

This week has been busy as usual. I took James to speech at the school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30am. It's 1/2 an hour on Monday and Wednesday and an hour on Friday. The other kids and I went to the nearby library while we waited to go pick him up.

Monday, we had our art class at the Manlius library, followed by playtime in the gym that's in the building. On Wednesday, we had our P.E. at the YMCA (1/2 hour of swim and 45 minutes of gym). Thursday, we went to the zoo with a bunch of other homeschoolers, 15 children in all.

The kids had fun this week with their Gladiator activity kit that we got from the Rainbow Resource catalog. It came with a plastic gladiator and his gear, a paper Colossium to make, a map, a little poster and a book. We're on chapter 23 in Story of the World this week.

I've been busy getting ready for my trip to Oregon next week (all alone!) to the Midwifery Today conference. I fly out Tuesday morning and come back to NY the following Monday. Tim will be here with the kids (still working, as we have lovely babysitters). I can't decide if the kids will get almost no schoolwork done when I'm away, or if our one amazing babysitter will keep them right on track (pretty likely). I'm really looking forward to the conference; it's something I've wanted to attend for years and, thanks to my wonderful husband, I'm finally getting to go.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Next Thursday!

Next Thursday, I'll be at the second day of the Midwifery Today Pre-Conference!

Here's what I'm signed up for:

Midwifery Skills

These classes are designed to improve and enhance your midwifery skills and knowledge. This is a great class for beginning and advanced midwives.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Keeping Birth Normal — Sister MorningStar
Midwives are the protectors of normal birth. Keeping birth normal is the biggest challenge in childbirth today. Learn how nutrition, love, communication, continuity of care, intervention and other factors can affect the normal birth process. Learn why pregnancy care is essential for preventing complications.

10:10 am – 11:10 am
Third Stage Difficulties — Marion Toepke McLean
While the placenta usually comes out easily and in a timely fashion, there are problems that can occur which demand immediate action. Learn what problems may arise in third stage and how to be prepared to attend them. Bleeding, various problems with placenta retention and other issues will be discussed.

11:15 am – 12:15 pm
HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — Maryl Smith
Maryl will discuss protecting the privacy of the families we serve and how to integrate privacy law into a midwifery style of practice. How does this affect what we do?

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm
Hands-on Midwifery — Carol Gautschi
Don’t let technology make you lose your hands-on skills. Midwives “see” with their hands. Hands and senses are our best tools. Carol will explain the true art of hands-on care, including the why, what and how of working with women in a way that utilizes our hands, senses, intuition and the ability to observe.

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
How Is the Baby? — Carol Gautschi
We will learn about Leopold’s maneuvers as well as other fetal palpitation techniques to determine both position and station, including how to check for the cephalic prominence. Carol will explain how to listen to the fetal heart with a fetoscope or pinard horn, how to do a home Non-Stress Test and Fetal Movement Counts and how to use these tools successfully.

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Suturing Overview — Marion Toepke McLean
The purpose of this session is to increase knowledge in the recognition and repair of lacerations. Preventive care will be discussed along with new ideas for types of repairs.

7:30 pm – 9:00 pm General session

Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and Jan Tritten
Tricks of the Trade
Share the techniques you’ve perfected in your practice or bring your burning questions to this roundtable of pertinent tips on a wide variety of topics. Previous sessions have included facilitating effective contractions, dealing with prolonged labor, preventing perineal tears, helping the slow-to-start baby and holistic first aid. This is always a much-appreciated session, for its sense of sisterhood as well as its information. “Worth at least two weeks of academic training,” said one participant


I am both looking forward to the week of learning and hoping that Tim and the kids will be ok for the time I'm way. I've never been away from them for this long. Tim is a great dad (and obviously a wonderful husband since he's letting me go). I'm going to miss all of them a lot.

I'm trying to get in "quality time" with the kids this week; even though I'm on here blogging, James is sitting on my leg and Ben is playing with Legos on the floor in front of me. This afternoon, I'm going to fit in taking them to the zoo before tonight's Doula Connection business meeting.

Like the ladies on Wife Swap, I'm tempted to write out everything that needs to be done with the house and the kids while I'm away. I don't think that I'll get around to writing anything comprehensive, but I will be leaving notes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Next Wednesday!

Next Wednesday, I will be waking up in Eugene, Oregon, in a room with three other women who are midwives and aspiring midwives. It will be the first day of the Midwifery Today Pre-Conference program, a full day. I am taking the Beginning Midwifery classes that are being offered that day, which means that this is what my day will look like:

Beginning Midwifery

Learn the art, the essence and the basics of midwifery care in this full-day workshop designed for the aspiring and beginning midwife. Our experienced teachers share their wisdom and love of midwifery in a way that will nurture your interest and make you feel welcomed to the world of birth. They will teach the basics of normal pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. Come learn if midwifery is the profession for you.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Emotional Issues in Labor — Sister MorningStar

10:10 am – 11:10 am
Prenatal Care — Elizabeth Davis

11:15 am – 12:15 pm
Normal Labor Physiology — Maryl Smith

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
With Women — Sister MorningStar

2:10 pm – 3:10 pm
Student-centered Midwifery Education — Elizabeth Davis

3:25 pm – 4:25 pm
Anatomy of a Birth Bag — Maryl Smith

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Trusting Yourself to Trust Birth — Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Christian Midwives Meeting

Facilitated by Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and Maryl Smith

8:30 pm – 10:00 pm  Talk Story and Birth Stories

Gail Hart and Sister MorningStar
From earliest history, women have shared their personal experiences of strength and healing. Stories wrapped with love and trust in the birth process have transmitted wisdom and confidence to each generation. Come to share or just to listen

Nine a.m. to ten p.m.! I'm going to learn so much in just the first day! I will be taking copious amounts of notes so that I can blog about all of the amazing classes and sessions.

It's not too late to register:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sweet Little Weekend

Friday, Saturday and today, I could be found at the Sweet Little Repeats consignment sale off of the food court at Shoppingtown Mall in Dewitt, NY. The lovely ladies who run the sale let me and a few other doulas from our group spend the weekend talking to the many shoppers about what we offer as doulas.

They are planning another great consignment sale for August. For more information or to get on their email list, you can visit

I met a lot of mamas at the sale who are due in July and August, which is hopefully a sign that our doulas will be busy this summer.

A couple things kept coming up when we talked to people. The first was that folks said, "Oh, well I'm having my baby in a hospital." Suprise! Doulas are mostly hired by people who are having a hospital birth with a midwife or OB. We don't replace your caregiver; we are part of the birth team.

Another thing is that people said, "Oh, I'm not having a natural birth." While I can admit that I am a fan of natural birth (and have done it four times myself), people hire doulas for all kinds of births and part of what doulas are trained to do is to support moms through all different birth choices. One hospital in Baltimore offers doulas for moms who are having a planned Cesarean delivery:

Package 2 "Cesarean Section Support"

A GBMC Birth doula will arrive with you two hours prior to your scheduled c-section. She will work with you on relaxation, help to answer questions and concerns, provide emotional support and offer massage services prior to your surgery. After the delivery she will assist in breastfeeding support if you choose to breastfeed. Cesarean doula support provides a constant presence of reassurance for you, your partner and your family.

The Gentle Beginnings website has this to say about doulas and moms who choose an epidural:

I am planning on getting an epidural, would a doula still be helpful?

A doula will still be helpful, offering emotional and informational support both to the laboring mom and her partner. Often, laboring moms will wait until their labor is well established before choosing an epidural. A doula can help you with the physical support and comfort measures during this time of your labor. Once the mom has made the decision to get an epidural, the doula may still offer assistance by offering ideas on pushing positions, reminding mom to have her bladder emptied or giving the partner a break to grab something to eat. Any medication or medical procedure is bound to be more effective if you feel informed and supported during the process.
More than one mom mentioned choosing not to have a doula because they couldn't afford one. What I'd like to say to this is that the doulas I work with are generally flexible about working out payment plans with families, offering gift certificates that friends and family can get for mom and being willing to serve and help out families who truly cannot afford a doula. It's a job, and we do want to get paid, but we also want moms who want/need us to have us there. People also seem to assume that we charge thousands of dollars. The truth is that we only charge around $600, but if you want to pay more, we're happy to accept tips.
Here in Syracuse, our Doula Connection doulas offer support for all kinds of families, all kinds of moms, having all kinds of births.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Working & Homeschooling

On Monday night, I took one of my doula clients to the childbirth class at Community Hospital here in Syracuse. Wednesday, I spent the morning with her at her OB appointment. Last night, I was "at work" from 4pm to 9pm, picking up brochures for the Doula Connection and then driving out to Auburn Memorial Hospital to talk to their childbirth class about doulas. From late this afternoon through Sunday afternoon, I'm going to be spending most of my time at Shoppingtown Mall, at the Sweet Little Repeats consignment sale, talking to folks about doulas and our group. I'm still working on reading through Silent Knife so that I can write a book report about it for BirthWorks.

On some of the homeschooling boards I frequent, moms have been talking about planning out their curriculum for next year. I'm not even close to being there yet. We still have half of Story of the World left to go, Patrick is 1/4 of the way through the Saxon Math that I bought him in December and Delilah has just started the new grammar and spelling books that our friend Donna gave us. My guess is that the stuff we're doing now will take us into September.

Here are Patrick and Delilah this morning, working on their math lessons. Patrick did Saxon Math 6/5 lesson 38 and Delilah did CLE Math 206 lesson 6 today. Delilah seems to be having trouble with her math lately, and has needed extra help. Both kids have been doing math practice on

Tim finished the book of Luke with the kids last night. I don't know how many times that makes it that they've heard it read aloud; it makes me really happy that Tim reads the Bible with them every day.

We did chapter 21 in Story of the World this week. The kids read the chapter aloud to each other and they read books from the library to go along with the chapter (which was about the Medes and the Persians). Yesterday, they watched an episode of Liberty's Kids that we had taped.

In art, the kids had their art class with Miss Donna at the Manlius library on Monday. They painted with her, using a cut cucumber to make prints. Delilah and Ben made rainbow pictures with glue and Fruit Loops at the Y on Wednesday. Today the kids have been making collages with boxes we were going to recycle and old magazines.

We had our regularly scheduled gym & swim class at the Y on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday afternoon, we went to a "Learning about Ireland/ St. Patrick' Day" thing with our homeschool group.

Balancing working and homeschooling has worked really well this week. Even though I've had things to do for work most days, I've been able to fit in all of our homeschooling work and activities.

There are only 11 days until I fly to Oregon for the Midwifery Today conference. I'm very, very excited. I should probably write up a list of assignments before then so that the kids don't have an entire week off school while I'm away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Holistic Approaches to Fertility in Syracuse

Here in Syracuse, we have the CNY Fertility Center and the CNY Healing Arts Center (located across from each other), where they take a holistic approach to fertility.

At the CNY Healing Arts center, they offer massage (prenatal, Maya abdominal and regular old relaxation massage), reiki, acupuncture, facials, nail care, waxing, nutrition consultations, yoga classes and a monthly fertility support group.

The news page of their website offers posts about Maya abdominal massage, yoga, nutrition for fertility, and more:

In this video, ladies from the CNY Fertility Center share information about yoga for fertility:

The CNY Fertility Center and Healing Arts Center can both be found on facebook. They are "friends" of the group I work with, the CNY Doula Connection and post our events on the CNY Healing Arts page.

And, as always, if you are looking for a doula in Syracuse, feel free to email me at or call 443-690-6212.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Super HomeschoolDoulaMom!

I feel like this week I managed to strike a really good balance with homeschooling, work and everything else I try to get done.

Here is what our Monday looked like:

8am- Helped dh shovel the driveway so he could get to work. Stupid snow. Put clean dishes away. Flipped the laundry and started another load. Took 3yods to the potty. Made kids pb&j sandwiches for breakfast. Washed a load of dishes. Straightened up around the house a little bit.

10am- Finally ate breakfast myself. Helped 10yods with math and Latin. Answered emails.

11am-1:50pm- Out of house. Went to the Y and sent the kids to the playroom so I could work out, read about sixty pages of Birth Matters by Ina May Gaskin between the elliptical and the stationary bike. Stopped at the library and the grocery store.

2pm- Took a call from a reporter for the "In Good Health" newspaper. Called a doula from our group to let her know. Made lunch. Talked 10yods and his friends into shoveling the rest of the driveway. Baked cookies for them and all of the kids. Called local hospital to set up tour/interview with a l&d nurse for my BirthWorks certification project. Did math with 5yods and 7yodd. Did spelling and grammar with 7yodd. Put clean dishes away. Swept dining room. Checked 10yods' lesson from Saxon Math 6/5. Got paperwork ready for tonight's appointment.

5pm- Went to the bank to get dh gas money. Had first appointment with new doula client from 6-7:15pm. Hired! Stopped at Barnes&Noble and bought Hypnobirthing book.

9pm- Got home. Talked to another doula from our group on the phone. Ate my dinner.


In history this week, we read Story of the World ch. 20 and Patrick and Delilah read a couple of library books about Ancient Greece. The kids also watched two episodes of "Liberty's Kids."

In math, Delilah did lessons 2-4 in CLE Math 206. Patrick did lessons 34-36 in Saxon Math 6/5 and James did one lesson in Saxon Math 1.

Delilah has been working on Growing With Grammar 2 and Soaring With Spelling 2. I only did one lesson from Writing With Ease 3 with Patrick this week. We made two trips to the library.

Delilah did the Lightunit test for CLE Science 101 and scored 96%.

Patrick worked on chapter 8 in Spanish for Children A and all four of the kids watched Spanish videos at Patrick did chapter 28 in Latin for Children A.

On Wednesday, we went to the kids' homeschool gym & swim class at the North Y.

They can play Catan without a grownup now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doula Connection Meeting this Thursday!

This Thursday, March 10th, from 6-8pm at Cicero United Methodist Church, the Doula Connection will be having our monthly parents' meeting. Expectant parents can come get answers to their questions about pregnancy, birth, local birthing options, breastfeeding and more!

The Doula Connection meetings are relaxed and comfortable, and usually end up looking like a cross between a natural childbirth class and a LLL meeting.

Light refreshments will be provided and older children are welcome to come.

If you live in Syracuse, Watertown, Utica, Tully, Cortland, or anywhere in Central NY, this is the perfect place for you to come find the right doula for your birth or postpartum care.

The church is located at 8416 Brewerton Rd, 13039.

For more information, you can call Liz at 443-690-6212 or Roz at 315-320-4232.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birth Matters:The Doulas Meet Ina May!

The vibe I got watching Ina May Gaskin speak is that she's a "cool person," someone I would enjoy hanging out with. She feels very approachable, likable, etc. Roz, one of the doulas who went with me yesterday, said that Ina May reminds her of me. That, of course, made Roz my new favorite best friend.

Roz, Ellen, Naomi and I left from Syracuse around 7am yesterday to go see Ina May speak in Ridgewood, NJ. The drive there was almost as fun as one of our Doula Connection meetings; only these women can make four hours in the van seem like a short trip.

Since we were making the trip to attend, we all signed up for both the general talk and the session for professionals.

Ina May's new book, Birth Matters, was available at the event and quickly sold out. It seems the publisher underestimated the number of people who would want to buy books.

During the first session, Ina May established her birth history, the things that got her interested in birth and the early days of The Farm. She spoke about the births that she attended on their caravan of buses and how she and her partners got their midwifery training. She emphasized that birth works and that our culture has scared pregnant women into accepting interventions that don't make birth safer for them or their babies.

One quote that I wrote down during the first talk was, "The common assumptions that form the basis of our beliefs about birth are really screwed up." I wholeheartedly agree with her. I think that women have been backed into a corner by (mostly) male doctors who have taught us that we need them to "save" us.

The professional session focused a lot on reclaiming birth as a feminist action. Ina May said that "millions of women have been convinced that their bodies are gross." She gave several examples of how society is cruel to our mothers and asked the question, "Where is our compassion?" She referenced the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an organization that works to defend the rights of pregnant women. While I disagree with roughly half of the actions that the organization seems to be working on (I am what you could call anti-abortion), I like seeing that this organization takes a stand against shackling pregnant prisoners, coercing women to have C-sections and defends young, low-income, minority women who choose to continue their pregnancies despite those who think they shouldn't. Ina May talked about how wealthy women of the past had their ovaries, clitorises and uteruses removed as punishment for what the men in their life viewed as sexual sins. She asked, "Why is the American male so bullying to the woman in the realm of birth?"

Near the end, she showed a chimp birth video that clearly illustrates that mammals know how to birth their babies:

Look at this mama! She knows just what to do!

Ina May talked about this elephant birth video, where a baby elephant is born and takes a few minutes to start breathing. The mama elephant resucitates the baby in her very elephanty way. The question Ina May asks is "How did she know how to do that?"

At the very end, Ina May brought out a portion of the Safe Motherhood Quilt and shared about the many people who had contacted her since she began the project. You can learn more about the quilt here:

When the quilt came out, every camera flash in the audience was going off and every cell phone that could take pictures was doing so (including mine obviously). It is a very sad and powerful thing to listen to someone talk about mothers who died because of things that could have been avoided, prevented or detected.

I am now working through her book, Birth Matters. I can't wait to see her again in a couple of weeks at the Midwifery Today conference.