Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Taught My 5 Year Old To Swear

I taught my 5 year old to swear

I taught my five year old to swear.

It wasn't on purpose that I did this great deed, just on accident. Like most of parenting, the stuff you plan on doesn't work and the stuff you suck at is the stuff they pick up on.

I told the five year old with the dirty mouth that she had to get in the back of the Suburban yesterday. We had an extra passenger and I had moved her seat. She said, "D@#n it! I don't want to sit back there."

"What did you say?!" I reply in shocked horror. (My virgin ears, you understand.)

"D@#n it, I don't want to sit back there," she replies. Matter of fact, mind you.

"You may not use those words. They are bad words," says horrified and indignant me.

"Why not? You say them," says my little smart a$$.

Blah, blah, blah. I don't even know how long this stupid conversation went on, but eventually she got in her friggin' seat.

Shocked? You must be. I am a Mormon housewife so I shouldn't be swearing at all. I have given up lots of bad habits, but the dirty language is one that stuck. I don't use all swear words, but the ones I like have become more frequent as I have gotten older, more tired, and my patience has worn thin.

The older two kids learned quickly that there were some things that mama said that they were not allowed to say. Oh, are you wondering how I dare be so hypocritical? It's easy. You should try it. In fact, you probably do it already. (Like most human beings, I assume that others are just as flawed as I am. I apologize for that accusation.)

Oh, but my five year old is number THREE. As you know, the third child of four is a rare breed. You could consider them a course in advanced parenting skills. I have written about her many times since she is the one that turned me into "that mom," many years ago.

The older kids I just told that they couldn't say "those words" and they seemed to understand. This one says, "Why not? You say it."

I must be able to control myself with the foul language since I sure don't throw it around when I am teaching a lesson at church or chatting with friends. And yet I continue to talk like this in front of my innocent children. Believe me, my language spilling out of their sweet little lips is a horror to behold. It is a shameful parenting moment. I won't even tell you about one of the first phrases my first born uttered. You would hate me. You may hate me already. I can't even blame you.

(Can we just pause for a moment and talk about those parents who tell their children that the "S" word is stupid, rather than the word that it actually is? I mean, seriously, are you trying to make me look bad? Because that really isn't fair. I have heard parents who act like "crap" and "poop" are bad words. "We say potty around here, OK honey."

My head may explode. Crap is the least of my worries. I shudder to think about the ice cold beads of sweat trickling down the lily white backs of these wonderful parents when my children talk about how pissed they are.

I may actually be making the world an uglier place.)

In my defense, my father is a sailor and I was probably 10 before I realized that "s@#t bird" wasn't a culturally normal term of endearment for one's children. I come by it honestly and (you probably respect me more already) and I don't even use the more fun and enjoyable forms of profanity that I learned as a youth.

Not really sure what I should do now. I guess I should stop swearing, especially now that the whole world knows about my dirty little habit. But man, habits are so hard to break. Especially the ones that live in your head. Even when I don't say naughty words I think them.

The best part of all is that I find profanity offensive and unprofessional and inappropriate. I will turn off a movie if there is too much. Yet here we are.

Being a parent really sucks sometimes, especially when your kids mirror the yuckiest parts of you. It is really kind of disturbing to see my hypocrisy shoved in my face, my bad moments shouted back at me, and my mistakes acted out again a few days later.

I guess this is one of the reasons why being a parent is such a powerful thing. I don't know if anything else in the world gives you the chance to grow, learn about yourself, and face your daemons the way that this does.

D@#n it.

Photo credit: Alice Chaos / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Friday, May 1, 2015

Becoming A Doula

I never seriously considered becoming a doula myself. In fact, a few years ago when the childbirth education company I work for first started talking about adding a doula program, I was firmly against it! We sat in a beachfront condo (thanks Abigail H!) debating the merits of expanding to include doula training and I was a big naysayer.

Fast forward a few years and I was obviously overridden! Birth Boot Camp DOULA launched and I still was a little nervous. In all honesty, the new program required a ton of my time and work and I didn't always feel the love. But then my brother and his wife got pregnant and we chatted about me attending the birth, I got interested in doula training.

Amanda, a Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer
Amanda of Nola Nesting, one of my doula trainers.
I started the Birth Boot Camp DOULA reading before I even signed up for the training. Eventually I officially signed up and got working. The more I read, learned, studied and immersed myself in the doula culture, the more I loved it. I have truly gone from being a grumpy ride along on this journey to one of its biggest fans.

I attended training just over a week ago and was so impressed. Maria and Amanda do a beautiful job. I love all the things that came together to make this training different than others out there. Of course a huge part of training was comfort measures and helping a woman with practical things in labor. But it was so much more than that.
Maria, a Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer
Trainer Maria of Great Expectations Birth
Learning about emotional support and really listening to someone was so helpful. I have to admit that I am a crappy listener. I always have other stuff to do and it feels like my mind is buzzing with all of it. Slowing down and really tuning in to another person isn't always easy. But Amanda and Maria taught us about relational support and how to provide that for birthing women. This so translates to the rest of life. I am even trying to listen to my husband when he talks about lifting weights...for real.

Amanda and Maria, Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainers
Unscripted doula moment- showing how you listen.
As I studied to become a doula I may have been most impressed with the business training aspects of the program. Maria and Amanda were handpicked for this program because of their success and respect in their own doula communities. I have learned so many things from them that translate to my childbirth classes and other aspects of my life. Even though I have taught for years and trained over a 100 childbirth educators, having the confidence to value myself and feeling unashamed about getting paid...that has been a harder lesson for me to learn.

I don't know if I can communicate how big this was for me. I now set my price and feel confident in it. Learning to value yourself and your work...this too translates into so much more than just business. I know people can attend special doula business training nowadays, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE that our training includes it. How could a doula training NOT include that? What chance do women have of making it as a professional doula without that?!

People- I even bought a rebozo and learned to use it a little better. I will never say it out loud, but I am kind of in love with it. What is it with birth scarves?! Turkish birth scarves. Made by men. Epic.

Rebozo techniques at Birth Boot Camp DOULA training
Some rebozo/ birth scarf demo time. Love this stuff.
I am so glad that I took the time to "become a doula." I was totally intimidated. I don't know how this will all play out. My kids are still young and I travel often for my work. But this was a beautiful journey and I learned so much. I am glad I took the leap.
Bendy Straw- Doula Bag
Yes, a bendy straw. One of the most important things you can have in a doula bag. And the ability to build relationships. Love it.
In the end, I feel like I have become so much more than a doula. I have learned to listen better, value myself, balance my life, appreciate change, and run a better business. Isn't it funny how life works out when you make one simple choice and it blossoms into your very being? I am so glad that I chose to become a doula.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Doula Work Isn't About The Money...Except Doula Work IS About The Money

Nancy, administrator for Birth Boot Camp DOULA, applying counter pressure.

I have been a "birth worker" for a few years now. I started teaching childbirth education about seven years ago and it is an important part of my life. I am currently doing the coursework for Birth Boot Camp DOULA training, and I am learning so much. I am currently reading "Birth Ambassadors," as part of my doula training and I came across a most interesting paragraph.
"As much as doulas strive to be the 'latest addition to the maternity care team,' their limited presence at US births has not yet generated a strong enough moral agenda to stand alongside that of obstetricians, maternity nurses, and hospitals... Doulas struggle to sustain their practices, as individuals and in their multiple organizations, and have, as yet, been less effective in advocating for humanistic care during childbirth within a medical and institutional framework that does not put women's emotional needs, or perhaps even their emotional health, at the center."
What does this paragraph have to do with getting paid to be a doula? Well, let me explain my take on it.

Charging for birth work. Oh, this seems to be a hot button topic, doesn't it? At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, the co-creators, Amanda and Maria use the word "sustainability" a lot. Like all the time. It is very much a buzzword around these parts.

Amanda and Maria, co-creators, Birth Boot Camp DOULA
I am all for making a living doing birth work. For real. But I don't think I started to really understand what they were going on about until I read this paragraph in "Birth Ambassadors." I am sure I will learn a ton more from Amanda and Maria when I actually go to doula training in April, Eeeek!!

Why does having a sustainable practice as a birth worker or doula actually matter? First, I think it is important to decide what sustainable means. To me it means a profession that actually functions well within my life. That would mean that it works well for my family and myself. For me, something that is worth my time means that I am able to afford childcare, my husband doesn't hate it, and I can function and feel like it is worth what I am giving up to do it. (Because let's be real, you are always giving up something. Choosing one thing means not choosing another.)

Why does it have to be "sustainable"? Because if my work as a doula or childbirth educator is ruining my life then I am not going to last very long. I will quit because I just can't do it any more, because I am losing money, because I could make more doing something else, because my family is suffering, etc.

This really matters in birth work because birth matters. If, for example, a doula has a practice that is sustainable then she will be able to practice as a doula for an indefinite length of time, as long as her health permits it. A doula that practices for 20 years is going to  make a much larger impact on birth than one who burns out in two. She will help more couples and babies, she will make a bigger difference in her community, and hopefully, she will build respectful and trusted relationships with doctors, nurses, hospitals and midwives in her area. She will not just help more people, she will have a positive impact on the entire birth community as a whole.

And let's say we have hundreds, even thousands of these professional, sustainable, respected doulas in the country. Expand that influence out. We will see an exponential improvement in not just individual births but even in the attitudes and practices of birth professionals like doctors and nurses who work in hospitals. They will see the value of a woman who supports a woman, who listens to her, who recognizes the emotional impact of birth, who helps make breastfeeding more successful, and so on.

So, is doula work about the money? Well, yes and no. You may not make a million dollars as a doula, but for most of us, you will need to make SOME money working as a doula (or birth worker) or you will QUIT. I really care about birth. I mean, I deeply care about it on an emotional level. But if this work is ruining my life or my family and I am spending 20 hours with someone at their labor and losing money on it, then I am going to have to step aside and do something else.

Doula work is about the money. Not so much the money in itself, but the ability money has to make a profession sustainable. No matter how much someone loves and cares about something, if it doesn't pay the bills, it probably won't last for long.

In birth work this is even more important, not less. (And yes, there are too many birth workers who shame those doulas who are able to be profitable and successful in their business. Shame on the shamers, I say.) Why does it matter more for birth? Because change will come not when we hold a picket line, but when there are so many of us doing so much incredible and good work, that there is no other option but for people to take notice and improve birth.

I believe that sustainable doula practices (and other birth workers like educators) have the power to create positive change in the birth world, lower the cesarean section rate, improve birth outcomes and save lives.

But that won't happen if those doing the work can't pay their bills.

"Birth Ambassadors- Doulas and the re-Emergence of Woman-Supported Birth in America" is written by Christine H Morton, Ph.D. and Elayne G. Clift, MA
Join me at training and change the world!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Forced Vaccinations- This Isn't About Measles

I read that the two senators in my home state of California will be pushing a bill forward removing vaccine exemptions for children. This will essentially force vaccinations for children to enter public school. Frankly, I am horrified. I try not to be riled up by stuff like this, but mandatory vaccinations?

Am I horrified because I think vaccinations suck and kill people and cause autism? Actually no. I don’t really think any of those things. I am horrified that the state/government/hysteria etc. would even consider that mandatory vaccinations is anything other than morally reprehensible and a clear flip of the bird in the faces of individual medical rights.

I believe (and I like to think that you do too) that parents should have a right to raise their children in the way they best see fit. This includes and covers things like freedom of religion, medical choices, and teachings within the home.

If you think this vaccination legislation has anything to do with Disneyland or measles, you are quite mistaken and you have most certainly become drunk on the measles hysteria Kool Aid.

There is an old saying about how if we do nothing when those in power try to take the rights of our neighbors, then there will be no one left to protect us when it comes time for our own rights to be taken.

To turn this around for a moment, lets talk about forced vaccinations in a different way.

Let’s say for instance that eating fast food, puffy cheese flavored snacks, jelly beans and basic “crap” food is bad for you. Let’s say that we can prove this with science. People that eat junk food get more diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Let’s say that that they take more than they give in regards to medical insurance.

Let’s assume for a moment that our tastes and the foods that we prefer are learned in childhood and that we could prevent the eating of crap food and the associated diseases that come with it, in adulthood, by changing the way we feed children.

Changing the way children eat would be a huge benefit- not just to them individually, but to the society at large today and 50 years from now. Children that learn to eat well (what the heck, why not organic!?) will be adults who eat well and require less medical care as they enter their 40s, 50s, 60s and social security years.

The evidence is clear, the epidemics are widespread and EXPENSIVE as all get out. It is time to do something about it.

We need to start forcing children to eat well. If their parents don’t comply and continue to feed them Happy Meals and Cheetos, they will be prosecuted. There will be no exemptions. After all, the unhealthy among us hurt everybody so to allow any individual to be exempt from healthy food (especially as a child) would be damaging to them and future generations.

If parents don’t comply then action must be taken. The children can be prevented from entering public school. Public schools have standards that keep everyone safe. After all, if a child comes to school with a soda in his lunch he MIGHT share it with his desk partner and then THAT child could get diabetes someday or develop a taste for corn syrup (I hear it is even addictive). This could most certainly end in disaster.

Sure, people have individual rights, but not when they can damage and harm the group as a whole. We want ALL the children to be safe. Those that don’t comply can keep their kids out of public schools or face charges. Keep the number for CPS on hand. Station patrols at popular fast food outlets. Test blood sugars regularly.

Expect medical doctors to enforce this rule. Institute detailed checklists that must be covered in visits so that they can make sure that they have maximum patient compliance. In fact, make medical doctors liable if parents are dumb enough to feed their kids jelly beans. I mean, if they allow those lunatics (who don’t care about their children or the rest of us) to be part of their practice, then they are part of the problem and thereby encouraging awful and harmful behavior.

First do no harm.

Sure, there will be celebrities who bestow the merits of the friendly, ticklish fizz of corn syrup laden drinks. Some few, ignorant, and easily swayed, WILL fall for their witty banter. You can’t expect everybody to give a crap about their kids.

Seems like a great idea, right? Healthier kids, healthier adults, lower social costs, muscular senior citizens. Sure, the compression sock industry and dialysis companies will take a hit, but somebody has to sacrifice.

Now I hope that no matter how much you love organic food and detest corn syrup that you see the error of this way of thinking. Just because something isn’t good does not mean that the government should force people to comply, even with their children. Of course we need some checks in society. People do some awful things and hurt their children intentionally. They abuse them and kill them. Some people harm their children just because they are misguided. We must have protections for these children.

But choosing not to vaccinate a child (or choosing to let a kid have a soda) is not a choice that the government or public opinion has any right to punish. No, not even if there is a sketchy weekend at the happiest place on earth. Not even then.

This is America. This is the land of the free. People don’t have a right to be happy, but they do have a right to make their own choices, especially about what they put in their bodies regarding their medical care, and especially about what they put in the bodies of their children.

I am not going to tell you what I think about vaccines or the status of my children. You can guess all you want. But I don’t think it matters, quite frankly. I respect the right of parents to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children. I respect the right of a mother to breastfeed or bottle feed her child. I certainly don’t agree with all of those choices. I most definitely will do all I can in my power to work to educated people so that they make the choices that (I think) are best for their children.

There is nothing wrong with telling people what you think. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing. I am an old fashioned girl so I even think there is nothing wrong with thinking I am right and other people are wrong or even stupid or mean.

But there is something very wrong with taking away the right of a person to make their own stupid choices.

So if you think vaccinating is stupid, go ahead. If you think not vaccinating is stupid, then go ahead and think it. Call people names. Make a big deal about it. Educate in a way that you think is most effective. Fight the power! Show them who is boss!

But don’t you dare take away their right to make a choice for themselves and their medical care- no matter what the herd is doing.

Heaven forbid we live in a country where the government (by push from the people) dictates to me what I can and cannot put into the body of my own child.

This is not a one stop bus. Oh no. When you start this trip then it keeps going and there are no brakes. What comes next? Should homeschooling be illegal? I have met some really awkward homeschooled kids. We don’t want that! Home birth? That ain’t safe! All doctors know that home birth is for people with rocks in their head! For the sake of babies that should be illegal.

And the ride keeps going, until someday, the rights taken are not from you neighbor with her silly views and her Jenny McCarthy obsession. No, someday they will come for you.

Yes, I sound a little fatalistic. Well, Cowboy, I am feeling a little fatalistic. I can’t believe the idea of this could even be entertained. The right of a parent or anyone to make medical choices for themselves must be protected. What is next? Maybe we should force people with cancer to undergo treatment XYZ, because everything else is just not proven to work?

Don’t let this happen, even if you think that vaccinations are one of the greatest inventions ever. They very well may be one of the best things to happen to the world. They have saved countless lives around the world and will continue to do so. But if we want to get more people to vaccinate, you don’t require it by law. You teach. You educatate. You actually LISTEN to the concerns of vaccine hesitant parents. You don’t force them. You don’t make it near impossible for them to find a physician who will actually see them. You don’t make it difficult to put their kids in school. All of these things further marginalized people that are starting to get a little scared.

Forced vaccinations are not the way to increase vaccination rates. Listening to parents and their concerns is the way to create change- and if it doesn’t have the impact you want, then let them be. Education and empathy will do a lot more than force in this fight.

Be kind. Remember that there are never rights that belong to “other people”. There are only human rights, and when one group loses them, we all do.

The two senators sponsoring this legislation in California are:
Benjamin Allen (contact page)

or you can call or write :

Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 2054, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900; (916) 651-4026
District Office
2512 Artesia Blvd., Suite 320, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; (310) 318-6994
and Richard Pan (contact page) or you can call or write:

Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 4070, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900; (916) 651-4006

District Office

1020 N Street, Room 576, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 651-1529
All other California State Senators can be found on this page:

Photo credit: pennstatenews / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Can't Make You Feel Ashamed of Your Birth (Unless You Really Are Ashamed of It)

Oh, ladies.
"Shame on you!" is something my sweet mother used to say to me every now and again. Usually when I really fouled up. It usually involved a shaking finger in the vicinity of my face and a raised voice. Those were the good old days...

Ironically, now that I am a mid-thirties lady, it is actually pretty hard for somebody to make me feel ashamed of myself unless I am actually...ashamed of myself. (This is the big blessing of your 30's that nobody mentions. Man, I freaking love being 35.)

Shaming is a hot topic in the birth world though, isn't it? If you are dumb enough to have an opinion and share it then you are undoubtedly going to be accused of shaming somebody who did otherwise. If you state that formula is a poor substitute for breast-milk or mention that the cesarean section is a perverse form of birth control (OK, I admit the language was a bit harsh, but you have to understand how the internet works before you judge me on that one), or (gasp) talk about how much you loved your natural birth, then stand back. Because what happens next is you will be accused of shaming people.

Never-mind that the people who you have forced into feeling guilty because you had an opinion are full fledged adults who you have never actually met---never mind that! You got in their head, you twisted their emotions, you are now in charge of their brain. This is called brain control. Sadly, the only person who has it, is you.

Sure, it would be really nice and convenient if every time we felt bad it was actually somebody else's fault. Then nothing would be our fault. And if we did screw up, the bad feelings that went along with it would not be our responsibility.

But I don't buy and and I don't think you should either. (Yeah, I just shamed you. Did you notice my finger wagging in your face?)

Here is the thing- life gets real miserable, real fast, with this mentality. I have seen it happen. Trust me.

I have watched women go from happy with their epidural birth to ashamed of it when they met somebody who had a different birth. Then they love their awesome home birth. Until somebody told them how unsafe home birth can be and how they know somebody whose baby died in a home birth. Oh no, now mom feels bad again!


True story- I had an episiotomy with my first birth. It, of course, was not what I wanted or planned. But it happened. It might have been prevented, but all in all, I think it was probably necessary given the situation and wasn't the end of the world. I still had a great birth. I still can teach about episiotomy being unnecessary "most" of the time. It doesn't make me cry to talk about it. It doesn't make me ashamed that I had one. It doesn't make me jealous when other women didn't have or didn't need one. It is what it is and even though it was part of my birth, I have no problem telling women that they probably don't need them and they are often (almost ALWAYS) unnecessary.

I had two home births, one (accidentally) unassisted. I have read some really angry blogs from some really smart people who think home birth and/or unassisted birth is horribly dangerous. It CAN be dangerous. But the opinions of those people don't make me feel any different about my birth. I loved my home births. They were incredible.

You know why?

Because it is MY BIRTH and I can feel any way I want about it. As an added bonus, I am strong enough to handle it.

And ladies, so are you.

So stop accusing people of fit or fat or formula or birth or cesarean or natural birth SHAMING. Own it. We are women and we should start acting like we are. And women are tough. I pushed roughly 35 pounds (total) of baby through my vagina in my lifetime. I have caught vomit in my bare hands, fished toys out of public toilets, lived in Texas and even puked in a bag on a full flight. I can handle your opinions about my birth.

Chances are, I don't even know you. And if I did, you would think I was hilarious.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America- A Book Review

Ever wondered why the c-section rate is so high and just seems to keep growing? Ever wonder what, if anything, we can actually DO about it as citizens, women, mothers, and voters?

Sometimes I literally feel like I live and breathe birth. I write about it. I read about it. I teach about birth. I train teachers to teach birth. My paid work even revolves around childbirth. With all of that and all that I see others doing, we do see good things happening on an individual basis. But we continue to see a ridiculously high c-section rate and so many women convinced they needed a surgery when the data clearly shows we are doing too many c-sections.

Enter Theresa Morris and her recently published book, Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America. Morris is a sociologist whose academic background, and her own cesarean and subsequent VBAC, seem to have inspired this fabulously important book.

While separating the reality from the assumed, Morris delves into the institutional constraints that drive cesarean. From insurance companies to peer review to an oppressive fear of litigation that physicians face, her approach is systematic, unemotional, and exactly what is needed to more fully understand the crisis in obstetrics.

As I listen to women's fears as they prepare for birth, many want to avoid a cesarean. They are afraid of doctors in general. They have heard of these men who schedule cesareans around their golf games and ski vacations. While surely such men exist, the cesarean section rate hovering over 30% signifies a problem much bigger than golf games.

When I talk to women after their cesarean, many are fine with their surgery. They were told by their trusted physician that the surgical delivery was necessary. They were there. They know the explanation. They feared for the safety of their child and so did their doctor.

Morris dispels the myth of a rate driven by jerk doctors as well as the myth that every cesarean is necessary. Instead, she describes a reality much more complex. Weighed down by excessive insurance premiums, constant fear of litigation, and a hospital culture that encourages (possibly without meaning to) cesarean, doctors are often only players in a brutal game much bigger than their own desires. While women often are told they needed a cesarean, their physicians motivations may be very different than we realize. Fear and liability, not golf games are driving factors in cesarean rates. Doctors and women are making the best choices they can within a system that desperately needs improvement.

I love what Dr Morris has done in deconstructing this problem, in an unbiased and academic manner. I love to see people from different disciplines approach childbirth in America and look at it with their own lens. When we read the works of people like anthropologist, Robbie Davis-Floyd, journalists Dr Jennifer Margulis and Jennifer Block, and a sociologist like Theresa Morris, we gain a bigger picture and greater understanding of what is really happening with birth.

Perhaps most important of all is that Theresa Morris provides lists of things we can actually DO to lower the cesarean section rate. Did I cheer when the first thing she mentioned was recommend that women take an independent childbirth class? Maybe, just a little...

Morris' solutions were more than just for women but for their providers, for insurance companies and policy makers. Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America, is an important book and one I would strongly encourage anyone who seeks change in childbirth to carefully read.


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