Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Finals this week.
Grad school is a nasty, nasty homewrecker.

Nitrous Oxide For Childbirth

Fascinating interview with one of the "Giants" of Midwifery, Judith Rooks.

I hate to go all "feminist patriarchy-basher" but as I read the portion about the male OB/GYN that was uncomfortable watching the woman in labor, it definitely occurred to me that if you are uncomfortable with the process, you probably shouldn't be involved.

Watching someone hurt is not a pleasant experience (or not for the psychologically sound, at least), but it is a part of laboring to give birth. It is, for better or worse, a natural part of the process.

As soon as finals are over, I'm considering writing to the director's boards of the hospitals in my hometown to let them know about this.
I may even reactivate my Facebook to get the word out for others to do the same.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Principles Of Pharmacodynamics

Found in my Pharmacology for Nursing Care text, " is neither appropriate nor desirable to hunt squirrels with a cannon."

Quite so, you may respond, but what on earth have either squirrels or cannon to do with pharmacology?

In short, nothing and everything, grasshopper.
This is very typical of my particular journey on the path to becoming a midwife.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some Like It Hot

I Love Natural labor. 
I love how unpredicably predictable it is. 
I love that women go through (almost!) the same pattern for labor and birth.
I love the cheerleading.
I love the nervousness of a first-time Dad. 
I love showing them what to do to help the laboring Mum.
I love the adrenaline of catching.
I love that it's  normal.
I love that it's a connection to all the women who've gone before me,
and all the ones to follow.
I LOVE Natural labor. 


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hands To Thyself

The mamas that don't need mothering disconcert me.
I'm unsure of my footing with them.

They are quiet, and hard to draw out.
And not in the "laboring quietly" sort of strong way; it's more of a disdainful sort of laboring.
I can almost always forge a connection with the women I labor.
The times that I cannot, though, are the awkward times.
I slip into the old feelings of being too young for midwifery. Too naive.

Even though, I know myself well enough to know that I will be one of those mothers.
The ones that don't really want your coddling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Birth Center Workshoppin

Went to the "How To Start A Birth Center" workshop in Charleston this past weekend, and it was entirely overwhelming with waaaaay too much information.
I went with these rosy expectations of what a birth center was - mostly a cute victorian house with an herb garden - and left utterly schooled.
I realized that attempting to open a birth center by myself was not only implausible, but rash and irresponsible. Doomed to failure, really.
(And since I am twenty-six years old with three shock-white hairs already...well, I'd prefer not to be completely white-haired by the time I'm thirty-five.)

But that's not the end. My busy little brain is reformulating and regrouping. Reconsidering battle strategy to save the women of my hometown from the Dreaded UnNecessarean.

To be continued....

Oh! And also, my undercover research is coming up on the six month mark, so the results to be posted in the next few weeks. Prepare to be shocked and amazed!

Friday, March 26, 2010

One Down...Nine (?) To Go.

First term of school officially over.
GPA intact and improved.
How the hell it happened? I have no clue.

Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The RockStar Delivery of Tiberius Achaemenes

Yesterday, I pushed with a Mum going natural from 0715am until delivery at 1134am.

Let me repeat, Mum was au naturale without so much as a Tylenol from the time her labor started (1730pm on the 19th) until she got a pudendal block for the forceps at 1130 on the 20th.

And she didn't even want the pudendal! We had to coerce/strongly encourage her to take it. 
And once the forceps were on, I'm pretty sure she was glad she got whatever little relief from the pudendal that she did. (A pudendal block is an intra-vaginal injection of anesthetic that supposedly numbs the perineum, vulva and vagina.)

She had a doula, who was (thankfully) awesome. 
But have mercy. 
I needed a doula, too. Someone to tell me to "keep breathing" and offering me water.
And maybe the Doula needed a Doula.
Over four hours of pushing, and we were all exhausted.

GooberDoc, who is not her primary but is just on call for the group wants the patient to have pitocin to increase the frequency of her contractions. The patient (literally) growled at him. 
Granted, in GooberDoc's defense, she did need at least a sniff of pit. Her contractions were 2-7 minutes apart, and this was after two hours of pushing already. 

Outside the room, GooberDoc says to me, "If she is so fucking crazy that she wants to do this her way, I'll let her keep going... It doesn't hurt me at all." (Side note: this is how he earned the title of "GooberDoc.")
Perhaps you should've been a dentist,
or a dermatologist.

Nothing perturbs me quite like a male doctor making some borderline (or even over borderline) comment about my gender, and expecting me to agree, or laugh along with their asinine comments.
It's the equivalent of telling a "black joke" to a black girl, and expecting her to giggle, just because you're sharing

Anyway, RockStar Mum had a tiny first degree (so GooberDoc is good with the forceps) and a gorgeous, gorgeous, baby boy.
 Tiberius Achaemenes isn't his real name, by the way.
But I am thoroughly convinced that it should've been.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today was a triumph.
I fought for my patient and we won.

She was dead set against an epidural, and had gone natural with her first baby, over 17 years prior.
When I got report, I was told she was a medical induction for pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure). She had come in the night before, at only a centimeter or two, and the Doc had broken her water. Since then, she had progressed slowly to four centimeters, and at the last exam (@0630), she was finally seven centimeters.
So I went down to meet her, and it was just her and baby-daddy in the room, and she was side-lying in the bed. (Let me say now, that this is one of my pet peeves. Women in labor should be UP! Using gravity to its fullest advantages.)
I asked her how she was feeling, she said not so great, since they wouldn't let her out of the bed, and her hips were "killing her" from lying down so long. She said the night nurse had made her use the bedpan because her blood pressures were "so high" that she was afraid getting up and down to the bathroom would only increase them. Her blood pressures were running 140s-150s systolic, with diastolic within normal limits. (Normal BP is considered 120/80. The newest guidelines actually state 120/70. Fluctuation is normal, though, and this is only a guideline.)
So this is were I got a little pissed. Well, yeah, she's putzed along all night, because we stalled out her effing labor by making her lay in one of two positions and not letting her MOVE!
Ignorance gets my Irish up.
So we got her up to a rocking chair at bedside and she was much happier after that.
This was all at around 7:00am.
Doc shows up at 7:30, and checks her cervix. She's only 4 centimeters. He recommends an epidural so we can go ballistic with her pitocin (a med used to induce or augment labor). He didn't say "ballistic" but that's exactly what he meant. He also told her to start thinking of a cesarean section. He then proceeded to blindside me by announcing to the patient and baby-daddy that their nurse (moi) is an "anti-epiduralist."
He sarcastically asked if I had any suggestions, to which I stammered something about moving around more...I know, I know. I dropped the ball.
He and I left the room. As soon as the door was closed, I mimed kicking his shins. He feigned shock.
I told him that it wasn't fair of him to put me on the spot like that, in front of a patient that needs to trust me. He said that he had given me an opportunity, and I hadn't taken it. I got irritated, (i.e. grew a set) and told him that it wasn't like he would've actually taken my suggestions as he obviously just wanted his patient epiduralized anyway.
He again, feigned shock.
He asked me why I am so "anti-epidural."
I told him that it's because: we give the epidural, then the catheter into her bladder because she can no longer safely get out of the bed to urinate. This is a risk for infection. Then her labor will slow, so we have to intervene, to augment her labor even more. Then we stress her baby, or her uterus, so we have to give a med for that. Or we just take the big leap, call her a "Failure to progress" or a "Fetal Distress" and back she goes for a cesarean section. In a nutshell, epidural = more interventions = cesarean section likelihood increases drastically.
He rolled his eyes. But! I tell him, the literature supports these findings!!! And I have personally given this very doctor the printed research articles that show this. Because I am a Grade A Dork.
(But you can't argue with college kids that have access to online article databases. I can find the article to support my claim that the sky is in fact green, if I want to.)
Okay, he says. You've got an hour. If there is at least one centimeter of change in one hour, you can keep doing it your way. No cervical change in an hour, she gets the epidural.
Fine, I say, shall we synchronize watches? He rolls his eyes.
We go back into the room where the patient is sobbing and saying, "But why do I have to get an epidural? I know I can do it naturally. I've done it before." He tells her to stop crying, that her nurse "went to bat for her." I grin at her. He wants me to check her cervix, so we can both agree on what 4 centimeters is for this patient (This is because cervical exams are rather subjective. What I call 5cms, someone else may call 4cms, or even 6cms. The only two checks we all agree on are "Closed," or 0cms, and "Complete," or 10cms.).
I check her, we agree, he leaves.
We get to work.
The baby, of course, starts with the variables as soon as I get ready to put her on telemetry monitors so she can walk around the unit. (Variables mean the baby's heartbeat is having small decelerations with the contractions.)
I switch to plan B, the birth ball. I put her on that, and for the next hour, she huffs and puffs her way to a true 6cms. This was at 0850. The variables came back, so I left her in the bed, on her side with some O2, while I went to call Doc to let him know she was progressing. She was hurting, but still pretty well in control.
At the desk, she starts having deeper, more often variables (as most people involved with labor/birth can tell you, for a mum going naturally, this usually means the baby is moving down F-A-S-T). I ran back to check her. She is now 7cms. I tell a nurse standing by to tell the unit secretary to call the Doc. She does. I don't leave the room because I know I'm about to need to catch a baby...
Doc gets transferred to my phone (we carry unit cell phones), and I can hear that he is driving. He says he is about 13 minutes away. I tell him he is clearly not going to make it. Mum shouts that the baby is coming, and she is trying not to push.
The head comes out anyway. I drop my phone (with Doc still on it), sit down on the bed, and deliver Mum's baby. Mum's first words as she delivers:
"Oh my God! My Baby!!! Laura, we DID it!!! Camera! Camera! Is somebody taking pictures!?"

I felt so validated in the profession that I have chosen.
Doc congratulated me, and told me that I should be proud for a job well done.
I didn't gloat.
But I'm pretty sure I was glowing.
And maybe next time, he'll read one of those articles I gave him.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

Today's lesson was that no woman is an island...
As Lone Hero Nurse, I drowned miserably, while the tiny hospital-world kept spinning, in spite of my martyrdom.
It was a hard lesson for me.

And here I sit at ten p.m., awake since 5:30 this morning, having worked all day, and still have my portion of a paper to write that's due tomorrow.


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ugly Truth

Today was rough.
I stood in on a delivery with a first time mum that really had to work for it. She got the epidural, and it crapped out before the end. She could feel pretty much everything, but she did great, and stayed very in control. She pushed for around an hour and a half, and then Hero Doc breezes in, gowns up and delivers the baby.
Mum sustained one second degree laceration midway from vagina to rectum. She had another second degree laceration from clitoris to urethra. Double ouch.
As Hero Doc starts to repair, it becomes painfully clear that Mum can feel every, single thing he's doing to her.
Hero Doc continues to sew.
I offer local anesthetic.
Hero Doc ignores me.
I offer local anesthetic again, louder.
Hero Doc ignores me and continues to sew.
I address the tech behind Hero Doc and tell her to bring the man some local, STAT. While she's out getting it, he continues to sew on Mum. I'm wondering what in the world is so pressing that he needs to hurry and finish with this patient before he moves on...
The tech gets the local anesthetic and preps it on Hero Doc's table.
He continues to sew without it.
It was at this point, that it dawns on me, that Hero Doc is an apparent sadist, and quite possibly a He-Man Woman Hater.
The poor mother is sobbing, and trying to writhe in agony in a way that she hopes will not annoy her was really pitiful to watch.
I enlisted the help of her labor nurse (i.e. dug my elbows into her ribs) to prevail upon Hero Doc the prudence of using the lidocaine.
Hero Doc gave up and used the local, but he was really digging and gouging at her, a touch more than was really necessary.
It was then that I was wondering how he would like someone suturing his scrotum without local. 
I knew if I said anything to him, it would get ugly fast. So I squeezed Mum's hand, and encouraged her breathing.
But you better believe I a) glared two laser holes into the back of Hero Doc's head, b) ripped him a new one to the charge nurse, and c) wrote his ass up.
What a disgusting, miserable person, that can suture his patient, knowing she can feel every stitch...!
It was all I could do to stop from grabbing his hand. Good thing Mum had a death grip on mine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I'm learning a lot about myself.
I hate...abhor...and Loathe the overwhelming fact, that I am a procrastinator of the worst sort.
I just want to get to the meat of being a midwife, already.

Or do I?
Is this dragging of feet a subconscious plea to wait, and listen? That maybe midwifery isn't really for me?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The plan was always five steps:
    a) become a Doula
    b) get the associate nursing degree
    c) finish the bachelor nursing degree
    d) tackle the master's midwifery degree
    e) open the birth center

And so, here I am. On the eve of step four. I'm amazed that I've made it this far. Not because I doubted myself, I just didn't realize it would happen so fast. Or maybe I've been so intent on the journey, that I forgot all about the destination. That there actually is a destination.

But here I am. I have reached the peak of the mountain, and the view is...
More peaks ahead. Rough climbing. Solo-work. Social excommunication. And the nagging feeling of being tethered down, of staying in one place.
The rest of my life written.
I've always enjoyed the luxury of thinking, "One day, I will live in a gigantic, drafty, crumbly Italian villa, or cozy English cottage...I will travel frequently, and study flamenco in Spain. I will probably live in France for awhile and have a brief romance with a nerdy-but-charming French bookseller...I will do all of that and so much more."

But in the shower this morning, it occurred to me, that the odds are I will never do any of that. Especially if I stay here, devote myself to a midwifery practice and potentially open a birth center. There would be no room for any of those other things.
And it sort of saddens me, that the luxury of my youthful dreaming is so quickly running out.
I feel this loss keenly.
And it makes me doubt myself, and the foundations I have laid.

The Importance of Waiting

To A Delivery

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I am in my first term of midwifery school, and it's been a long journey to get to this point, so I am determined to savor every single drop of this experience.
I feel like this is the first profound thing I have done with my soul purpose in mind. Not "sole" purpose, but S.O.U.L. purpose. What I am meant to do. The work that my soul demands that I do.
Feminism, female-ness, birth, feminist theory, the relation of women to women fascinates me.
It captivates me and resonates in me.

As I am writing a paper on the history of midwifery in America, I am struck, finally, by a sense of innate belonging.
Something I have heretofore glimpsed, only.

I'm a mixed woman, from a poor family. Growing up, it was mostly my mum and I alone, in my formative years. My mum's family know very little of where they came from, and our ties to one another are, sadly, not very strong at all.
The older I get, the more I have come to regret and resent my lack of heritage.
I grieve for the lack of strong women and strong female ties in my upbringing. 

It is this grieving, regret, and resentment that have caused me to "mother" myself.

I have found my history in the history of American midwives. I have found it in the thousands of women-healers burned during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe during the Inquisition.
Those were my ancestors.
I'm not sure of the exact linear relations, but I know the blood of these women flows through my veins.

I speak with their voices, and see through their eyes.

I look at my hands, and realize that, these hands, in new skin, have been around for centuries.
They've caught babies for thousands of years.

This is my history.