Being Born Isn't the Only Thing That Hurts…

In the last two years I have changed my work-life balance. One may look at my 4 or 5 spinning plates and not find a shred of balance…It’s a practice; not a destination. At least that’s what I tell myself. One of the ways that I have radically shifted my life is not being on call anymore.

I started being on call nearly 20 years ago, working with adolescents who were becoming young parents or were already parenting. And then I shifted into being on call as a midwife attending births 13 years ago. Pagers and phones have accessorized my outfits and my social life for the majority of the last 20 years. Literally everyone in my life knows the drill…sometimes I am here…and then I am gone.

It was a good run while it lasted. I loved that work. I loved that liminal space in a person’s and family’s labor and birth where so many things were happening that were unseen, but so incredibly palpable. It was so rich. Like everything you can think of when you imagine abundance, fullness, and the most beautiful things in life. Not everything was hands-on; in fact, there was a lot of hands-off. But my heart and my mind were always on. Always. On.

It was powerful, thrilling, and exhausting. Like my own birth. And at some point my strength diminished. I needed sleep. I needed to not be Always. On. I needed to not be feeling like I was slipping away and becoming less and less myself. I felt like I was dying and didn’t even know it.

My heart and mind were in constant demand by everyone around me; everyone except me.

That’s kind of what postpartum feels like. You’re not just tired; that is an oversimplification x 1,000. It’s more like you have disintegrated. Slipped away. Sometimes completely unnoticed by everyone, including yourself. You feel like you are dying sometimes.

There’s a video making the rounds about the dim and raw reality of those postpartum moments, and the decision to keep it out of a mainstream television event. Keep the postpartum experience unnoticed by everyone. Can’t help but reflect upon that irony.

If you haven’t checked it out, take the 90+ seconds to notice: https://youtu.be/3GePXGfRP04

I still provide midwifery care in a very different way now. I midwife students, newly postpartum families, growing docs. And finally, I am midwifing myself. I have to say, I am really mesmerized by this rich, liminal space. It’s a little scary, really hard, and mostly powerful and thrilling.

Being born hurts…

I mean they don’t call it labor for nothing…
 It’s been a awhile.  I have been taking my own advice that Winter is For Sleeping (you can check out the Muse-letter archives to read that one from last year).  I have been sleeping, thinking, reading, writing, and hibernating within myself quite a bit in the last 2 months.   And then all of a sudden it was Rohan’s 9th birthday and I realized it was time to step back out.  Time to stop growing on the inside and get born already.  If you remember those last weeks of pregnancy, you know what I’m talking about…Let’s get this party started!   

So here’s a little chronicle that I created on IG about what it was like to be born those 9 years ago… 

01/26/2020:
9 years ago I was in labor with this cherub (below). It started in the middle of the night after a long, fast hike the day before

I was at home, hanging out in my robe (that I wore for weeks after), my friends all came by at different times to distract me. I remember Michelle bringing me candy

My dog doulas walked around with me eating all the food I dropped but was too lazy and crampy to pick up

I didn’t even know yet I was going to meet the most incredible human I have ever known in all my life. And that I had done and I was going to do the coolest most fantastic thing I have ever done in all my life

Today’s not his birthday…it’s not for 2 more days. I’ll tell you a little more about Day 2 tomorrow…😜 But this day 9 years ago things were in motion that couldn’t be stopped, things that were so, so hard, that I thought could break us. We ain’t broken, that’s for sure ❤ 🔥 

01/27/2020:
Today was Day 2. Crossing the threshold into the Nether

At this point 9 years ago, I had been working my ASS off for many, many hours. It wasn’t being handed to me; it was kind of being blown apart

Labor is a lot of things. Fucking intense. Hard. Thrilling cuz every time you do a contraction, you never have to do that one again. Powerful cuz holy shit you just did that. I had hundreds of contractions at this point. I was thrilled, powerful, exhausted

And as a midwife who had helped hundreds of babies and parents enter into this world safe and loved, I knew…it was time

Time to go get more help cuz even thrilled, powerful, strong people need help. Sometimes we need the most.
Stay tuned for Day 3 ❤ 

01/28/2020:
Today was Day 3 and our birth. Before you get your knickers in an knot about “OMG! 3 days!” know that he was great. I was great. We were both healthy and well

In a country where we heavily pathologize birth, know that our beliefs about what is ‘normal,’ is very much a cultural construct. And that countries that witness low risk healthy people’s births as just that (and utilize midwives as primary maternity care) have FAR better outcomes than we do in our system for parents and babies. Hands down

Now… back to our regularly scheduled program

By this morning, I had a tube coming out of my back that was bathing the nerves of my pelvis in pain meds. This meant I had to stay in bed. And couldn’t get up to pee. I had a tube in my urethra to my bladder because #peehappens . I had a tube in my vagina measuring pressure of my contractions to make sure my baby was getting squeezed hard enough but not too hard. I had a tube in my arm connected to another tube that brought fluids and meds into my blood

Sounds pretty healthy and normal, huh?

The most annoying tube though was the one that was connected to the blood pressure cuff that squeezed the fuck out of my arm every few minutes. For hours

But the parts that I always look back on with deep pride are these: that he kicked like mad all the way out, that I pushed him out like a motherfucking queen even while strapped down like a wild animal, and that my community of friends were all there smiling, loving, and protecting us all the way

And…that when he was coming out, *I* got to bring him out and up to me. I’m pretty sure I told my friend and colleague to give me *my* fucking baby. She let me get him

I didn’t even know that this magical human who arrived, who I already loved more fiercely than I had or have loved anything, was going to get more magical

They say kids are gifts. They teach us more than we teach them. What isn’t always said is that each day they are alive and with us, those gifts and lessons multiply. Like exponentially

I don’t just feel lucky to be his mom. I feel mesmerized. And aware of the deep honor I have received cuz we have also lived as people pass on or life changes. This dude 💗 

Measles and Immune System Function: A Closer Look on NDs For Vaccines

My collegue Les Witherspoon ND has written a really nice piece grappling with the concepts and conversation around Measles infection and the Immune System response.

I also invite you to read, learn, and enjoy other articles here at: NDs For Vaccines.

Enjoy!

Who do you look up to?

As a I move further into my adult life, and am making “bigger” moves, it occurs to me that I have never had a clear picture of who I look up to. I have never even articulated or seen the one person that I most revere or emulate.

Of course I have seen bits and pieces, namely in my parents. They are incredibly smart, industrious, practical, successful, and, most importantly, generous and kind people.

The reality of being an immigrant family in the 70s is that we were distanced from our extended family. I never grew up with my grandparents; I only got to know 2 of them a little bit and mostly right before they died. The aunties and uncles I knew growing up were not ‘blood’ family, but dear family nonetheless. They were also immigrated and distanced like us in blue AirMail, pre-What’s App family life.

I don’t know when I knew that I was a different person than my lineage, sex, and family history would have me be. But I remember having a realization, around 13 years old, that if I was going to be ‘me,’ I was going to have to invent that. While my teachers and parents were clearly fantastic humans and role models, they did things the right way, as did my aunties and uncles. And I knew I wasn’t meant for that.

Where was I going to find a mouthy, woman, activist/advocate, who also understood what it meant to be unliked? Maybe even to be unloved?

Some kids wanted to emulate Michael Jordan. The closest I found was Noam Chomsky. Though he sure as heck isn’t a brown woman, and most likely had a much wider berth in saying unpopular things!

Years later I learned of an ‘aunt’ that I had (wife of my mom’s cousin). I got to know her very briefly after our families reconnected, and then unfortunately she passed away 2 years later. What I learned about her is that she was an activist/advocate social worker who got her roots in Chicago. It sounded like she was pretty badass.

Where the heck was she when I needed a role model?!! Of course my mind rattled with all of the possibilities of her mentorship, what it could have meant to have known someone who picked a less lucrative and ‘weird’ career path, and of having been just a little more normal as a result.

When I think about my little inner self, and hopefully compel you to think about yours, how could knowing someone ‘like you’ in the world to emulate have changed you?

And if you never got to know that person, well, maybe you can be that person for someone else. Someone who is looking for your unique brand of doing shit your own way. Someone you haven’t met. Including yourself 😉

Can you love your little self?

I have an eight year-old so I think a lot about what they are doing right now at this time in their lives. Sure, they are growing and farting a lot. But mostly, I am curious about their inner lives and how that plays out into adolescence and adulthood. Is he going to be OK? Will he always know his worth and how loved he is? Will he hold himself as dearly to himself as I see, appreciate, and love him? Will he know that he deserves to?

If you are reading this and wondering about self-love, self-worth, and self-care, I don’t mean, “Will he take himself out for pedicures and PSLs?” I mean- will he look himself dead in the eye in the morning and be able to respond with irrepressible kindness? Will he fill his well with deep, enduring love all on his own so that when life gets really shitty and rough (which it will), he has something to draw from? That’s the kind of self-care I’m about.

Many of you know that I teach, and one of my favorite classes is Lifespan Development and Psychology. But I don’t really teach the books (no shocker); I love for us to think about why some aspects of development and behavior are normal and what that says about us. Because whether we were “normal,” or seen and loved, kind affects everything, right?

I don’t really see anyone overdosing from too much love, too much irrepressible kindness, or being seen and acknowledged for who we are. Which means, we could always have more. We could do that all that time for ourselves; you don’t even have to wait for someone else to love or see you for yourself.

You could look your own self dead in the eye, see yourself, and say, “I love you.” And mean it.

Try that out today. Let me know how it goes.

PS- If you need a little inspo to start talking to your littler self, check out this Ted Talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD4O7ama3o8

Happy Acupuncture Week 2019!

I love talking about how acupuncture has been part of my life for 16 years, even before @jp.boisvert brought it full circle to our clinic and home

We have used acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na, gua sha, and cupping for years to treat fevers, stave off colds, deal with whiplash and sticky shoulders, vanquish back pain and migraines, and generally manage our health for a long time

It’s true that we also take care to move our bodies and sleep, but I definitely credit acupuncture and Chinese medicine with our family’s pretty rocking health. And I credit @jp.boisvert for being our family doctor

He has some awesome stories about how acupuncture has flipped the switch for debilitating anxiety in teens, how a Chinese herbal formula worked like a charm in families trying to get pregnant, moxabustion and turning babies at the ends of pregnancy, and more!

More than just pain management, people are looking at acupuncture as a way to manage mood, anxiety, and to work alongside our other therapies like medications or nutrients that we use to adjust our chemistry.

Stay tuned this week for Acu Adventures!

#acupuncture #chinesemedicine #cuppingtherapy #guasha #tuina #ilivewithaneedler

The Pediatric Teaching Clinic starts again this week!

Hey all, we took a little break beween Summer and Fall Quarters, but the Pediatric Teaching Clinic starts back up this upcoming week. We have moved the day and time to Thursdays 2:00pm to 5:00pm and you can schedule online via our Patient Portal.

We had a great time with our inagural run of the Pediatric Teaching Clinic this Summer and are looking forward to working with our new team of students this Fall!

#docere #naturopathicpediatrics #nds4vaccines #teacherforlife

Miles For Midwives!!

Saturday October 19, 2019 9am-1pm

I am personally involved in planning this wonderful event that helps support birth in Washington State and the local non-profit Families of Color – Seattle.

Better yet, Rohan and I are run/walking!

Join us on Oct. 19th at Marymoor Park for a family-friendly run/walk 5K! Strollers and leashed pets are welcome to join in on this community enriching event!

Register for the race at https://runsignup.com/Race/WA/Redmond/WAMilesforMidwives5K

To learn more about Miles for Midwives please visit our website: https://www.wamilesformidwives.com/

We are also looking for sponsors. If you are interested or know a business who might be, please let me know.

I would LOVE to see you and your family/friends there – Please spread the word!

Location:

Velodrome Shelter at King County’s Marymoor Park
6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE
Redmond, WA US 98052

Join us for the MAWS Clinical Update!

We are getting together on Thursday September 26th to discuss new changes to our laws and legend drugs for Licensed Midwives in Washington state.

If you are a midwife, an aspiring midwife, or other birth attendant serving families in WA State, please come learn more about how this affects midwives, their support teams (including doulas), and families! #washingtonmidwives