Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Am Not Alone!

I met another birth doula the other day. In this area of the world, that's quite a surprising event! I thought I was the only practicing doula around these parts...we spent a good couple hours talking about birth, our experiences, our dreams for the future as far as maternity care. She, like me, is frustrated. We live in a small town, and although the medical community pays lip service to natural birth and doulas, we haven't exactly been extended the welcome mat. I have done a total of zero births in our community hospital. The only interest I have had is in the Big City hospital over an hour away. As my colleague says, we "can't give them away".

Here we are, ready, willing, eager. I know firsthand that we offer a service which can make a huge difference in the way a woman births. With a c-section rate of 1 in 3 (US stats, but Canada is near there), you would think that women would jump at the chance of halving their risk of cesarean. You'd think that they would love the idea of being more relaxed during birth, or dealing with the stress and pain better, of lowering their risk of mechanical births (forceps, vaccuum, etc). Breastfeeding rates in this province are the lowest in all of Canada, but this doesn't seem to bother the masses.

Last week, I called the guidance counsellor at the local high school. I explained who I was, what a doula does and asked him to please pass my name along to the pregnant girls at the school. He'd never heard of doulas, but he seemed interested and said that he'd keep me in mind. Obviously, these births will be pro bono - but when you can't give them away, what else can you do?

I need one more birth in order to get my certification. The deadline is May, so the pressure is on. I'm crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birth, Borscht and Bliny

Yesterday morning, my client's husband called. They were at the hospital and the biophysical profile results were not good. The doctor was calling for a c-section to take place at noon. I called Rich to come home and off I went to the hospital. The usual hour long drive only took about 45 minutes.

It was a strange day. So normal, so casual, almost dull and yet at the end there was a sweet little baby. The c-section wasn't actually until 3 pm, so we sat around and talked for hours. There was no pain, no physical effort, no labour as such. The nurses popped in every once in a while to ask a question, start an IV, shave prep, have waivers signed and listen to baby. My clients and I discussed everything from baby names to cesareans to our favourite foods.

The whole ride up to the hospital, I prayed that God would show me what to do. During a labour, there is so much to think about. You go from contraction to contraction. Often, you're sleep deprived, pushed to exhaustion, and emotionally wrenched by the end of it. However, you feel tremendously useful because of all the comfort measures you apply, the counselling, the educating, etc. Yesterday, though, I wasn't sure what I should do.

In the end, my role was very hands off. I think, though, that I did all I could. Prenatally, I educated, I counselled, I prepared. The day of, I listened, I reassured and I was there. I was there - and perhaps that was what they needed more than anything. A friendly face, someone they knew understood them, and who spoke their language (they are french, and this area is very english).

There's more, of course. As a VBAC, there were many things that I had to put aside in order to be a better doula. Some other day, I'll post on my impressions , but we'll leave a good thing as is for now.


I was home in time for Rich's and my date. We've enrolled in Ethnic Cooking classes. Last night, it was Russian fare - Borscht and Bliny. The picture is of Borscht - beet soup. It sounds so gross, but it was awesome! It's chock full of stuff like cabbage, beef, herbs, carrots, parsnips, and of course, beets. You serve it with sour cream. The Russian lady had us eat it the Russian way - you take a bite from a raw garlic clove, spoonful of soup, then a shot of Absolut Vodka. Hoo-ah. It'll put some hair on your chest.

Bliny was nummy! It reminded me of crepes - very thin pancakes. They aren't sweet, and they are almost rubbery. Useful, since you are supposed to fill them with whatever you want (I had Nutella, blueberries and strawberries) and roll 'em up. Yum!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Birth Control

It always surprises me how little people know about the medications they are taking. They don't know the names, they don't know what's in them, and they don't know how they work. This is especially true of contraceptives.

I'm not going to get into whether or not birth control is "right". That's a whole other can of worms. I will say, though, that it's shameful for a doctor or midwife to write a prescription for a woman without going over the basic info of the drug or instrument they are prescribing. By the same token, it's irresponsible of a woman to accept or take the meds without asking questions, or at the very least reading the fine print and educating herself (guilty as charged).

So, here's a link about hormonal contraceptives
Basically, here's a run-down:

"How Hormonal Methods Work
All hormonal contraceptives have at least three mechanisms of action. Artificial female hormones are the active ingredient in all hormonal contraceptives — estrogen and progestin. Some products contain both hormones and others progestin only. Using both hormones together is somewhat more effective than progestin alone, but the estrogen component is responsible for most of the serious health hazards associated with hormonal methods.

Hormonal contraceptives prevent ovulation. No egg is released so sperm cannot fertilize it. It is widely agreed that this is a major mechanism of hormonal birth control.

A woman may ovulate anyway.
Hormonal contraceptives may also prevent fertilization by changing the consistency of natural secretions in the vagina, making it harder for the sperm to reach the egg. It is not clear how effective this mechanism is in preventing fertilization.

A woman may ovulate anyway, and sperm may still reach the egg, resulting in fertilization. When this occurs, hormonal contraceptives make it difficult for the embryo to implant in the uterus by keeping the edometrium (lining of the uterus) thinned. This results in the death and expulsion of the embryo. Most scientists agree this occurs, but it is not clear how often. Some doctors do not prescribe hormonal contraceptives because they find this mechanism objectionable. [more about this...] "

For IUDs:

"Hormonal IUDs: Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing the hormone progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus, acting as a barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. This type of IUD also affects the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted, should fertilization occur. Progestasert IUD must be replaced every 8-24 months. Since this IUD was discontinued in 2001, any woman who had one implanted should have had it removed by now. The Mirena IUS is the next generation of hormonal IUDs and can be used for up to five years. More about the Mirena IUS...

Non-hormonal IUDs: For copper IUDs, the metal itself seems to exert a spermicidal effect. The copper also affects the lining of the uterus by not allowing a fertilized egg to implant, and it stimulates the production of prostaglandins, chemicals that affect the hormones needed to support a pregnancy. ParaGard is a long-term IUD that may be left in place for ten years. More about the ParaGard Copper IUD... "

So, women, ask questions! Get educated! It's not presumptious to ask your health care provider to sit down and talk for a few minutes. If they don't have time or answers for you, then look elsewhere. A pharmacist is usually much better prepared to answer questions on drugs, and it's their job to take that extra time to discuss it with you.

As for contraceptives, in the end, it comes down to this - when does life begin? If you believe, as I do, that it begins at conception, then this is a good time to evaluate what birth control you are using. Educate yourselves!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not My Birth

I was lucky enough not to go "overdue" with any of my babies. They were born on their due date, 7 days ahead and 3 days ahead. I have never experienced the frustration of being "late".

My client is now, officially, past-term. She was due on the 22nd, and it's now the 24th. She's being monitored twice weekly, OB appointments every Tuesday, and the pressure is on. She's tired, discouraged and uncomfortable. It doesn't help that being a VBAC has labeled her high-risk. That high-risk status will shatter anyone's confidence. The c-section she was trying so hard to avoid is whispering her name, and she's wavering.

What to do? Medical induction is out because of the extra risks it carries on the c-section scar. Natural inductions - nipple stimulation, sex, orgasm, walking, raspberry leaf tea (not an induction, only a uterine toner) have been encouraged. At 10 months pregnant, none of these are especially appealing...for the mother. I mention different herbal remedies, but caution her not to take them without talking to her doctor or Naturopath. Just because something is "all-natural", doesn't make it "all-safe". Now, we wait. Now, more than ever, I encourage. I think she is tiring of me saying it won't be long.

In the end, it will be her decision. Being a doula to a VBAC client, which is very personal for me, carries a risk to my emotions. As I watch her and accompany her in this journey, I often think of my own cesarean, and my own VBACs. It's tempting to interrupt with "I remember my birth...", "Well, I did this..." and so on. It's easy to let it become too personal, and too much about me. It's not, though. This is her journey, her hurdle, her achievement. I have to be careful not to rob her of this birth in order to make myself feel better.

If she chooses the cesarean, I need to help her make this cesarean the best section ever. I can not mourn that. I can not push or suggest or lead her into making a decision that may not be in her best interest or against her own values and desires. This is not about me.

In the end, I must remember that her values must become my values. I must adapt to her world, and support the decisions she makes. That's my job.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No More Babies

Well, it's official. I no longer have any babies at my house. My little Graedon turned a year old yesterday, and I was forced to acknowledge that soon he will be driving the family car and heading off to college. Sigh.

The "tiny" newborn that blessed our home just a year ago is fast growing into a full-fledged boy. His favourite activities are chasing after the cat (believe it or not, he can bumscoot at break-neck speeds), lifting the furnace vents out of the floor and throwing his toys into the duct work, tossing my personal items into the toilet and laughing at the 'sploosh' sound, and blowing kisses.

We'll be having his birthday party on the weekend, so there are more pics to come. Until then, here are some pictures of Graedon Phillip Patterson in his first year.

At birth - all 9 lbs 8 oz of him.

About 6 weeks old.

Perhaps 6 months?

About 8 months.

Almost a year old!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boxing it Up

*Warning - This post may make very little sense. Can't seem to write it out correctly.*

I've been reading from a blog lately. You can check it out at The writer is a newly retired midwife, and her posts are extraordinary. She is frank, honest, intelligent and inspiring! Her posts have been more political as of late, but she wrote a lot about midwifery in the beginning of her blog.

Anyway, she wrote of a book she was reading called "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert. From the book, she quotes, " is a circle made of up circles yet you all choose to live in boxes built for you by others, without wake up in a box, and you drive away from that box to work in someone else's little box cubicle and then you return to a box, eat things out of boxes and watch images of life come through another box, and then you go sleep in a box; real life isn't a box...." Made me think. It scares me to take a good look at my life because I know what I will find - 4 walls, a tiny little box. There is so much out there, and I want to see it. I want to experience what is out there, outside my little box.

Every day, the same. I care for the children - healthy, intelligent children. I care for the house - warm, cozy house. I work in my office - happy, hairless clients (remember, I do electrolysis). My hubby goes to work - safe, secure job. Sunday, go to church - free, obvious church. It's a good life, but it's a limited life. In 20 years, more of the same.

Our news about the Philippines was not well received by all our loved ones. As one of them put it, "What are you thinking?? That's a 3rd world country!" and, when I explained about Newlife being a charity clinic which provides free prenatal & birthing care to the poor, "And you'll be one of those poor!" Yes, true. That's kind of the point. Leaving Canada to go to school would mean liquidating almost all that we own. It would mean leaving our family. It would mean leaving a country that has been more than good to us. It would mean giving up the jobs that have sustained us. It would mean relying entirely on God to provide through the goodwill of others. It would stretch our faith, our commitment to each other and place us smack dab out of our comfort zones.

It would also mean collapsing those box walls. Stripped of all that is easy, all the material stuff that defines us, it will give us an opportunity to really get to know ourselves. It will give us no other choice than to hand it all over to God and his will for us. Hard? Yes. Needed? What do you think?

I want to write more about why Newlife calls to me. I'll do that in another post. In the meantime, what would it take to change my life's shape from box to circle? In my wildest dreams I live in a little shack with no sustenance but a woodstove, garden and chickens. Me, God, the love of my life and my babies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tag! I'm It!

I've been tagged! Check out my Tagger (Taggist?)
. Her blog is awesome and I'm a regular!

Here are the rules, and I promise to abide by them! BTW, this is the post where you find out just how dull I really am :).


*Link to the person who tagged you
*Post the rules on your blog
*Write six random things about yourself
*Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
*Let each person know they've been tagged

My confessions:

1) I would love to have dreadlocks, but I don't think I'm nearly cool enough to pull it off.

2) I can't stand having my kids climb all over me during breakfast. I need to wake up first.

3) I love vintage clothing! If I had my way, I'd wear a different decade for every day of the week. Yet, I still can't seem to break out of the jeans & t-shirt groove.

4) If I've been on call for a client's birth, I will impatiently await the day the baby is born. As soon as that baby is out, I ignore any and all phone calls simply because I can. I love not being obligated to carry my cell around and I will sometimes take a book and hide in the woods away from any means of communication.

5) One of my simple joys in life is when I finally dig the last bit out of a condiment jar or dry goods box and get to throw it out! It makes more room in my fridge - genius!! Love it!

6) I've eaten scorpion, ants, mealworms, tongue, heart, squirrel, locust, and maybe a blue jay. The scorpion was my favourite.

And now, I am tagging:



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tummy Time

Graedon despises Tummy Time. Here he is moments after being placed on his belly (I have to place him, otherwise he would never do it on his own):
Liking it!

Um, not so sure anymore.

Flip me over!!

And that's Tummy Time.

Eggs & Masks

This week, we learned the names of different animals in French. Here is Eva's mask. I think it's a cow (?).

We also made Thank You cards for our Christmas gifts. They are footprint reindeer.

Maddie has been going through an egg obsession lately. She LOVES eggs. I think this may be caused from listening to her taped Ugly Duckling story. I keep finding raw eggs in the oddest places - in her jewelry box, between her sheets, in her coat pocket... A little heads up - it's wise to check for raw eggs under the cushions if you wish to sit on our couch.

Inevitably, this is what happens if you play with raw eggs. Notice the yolk and broken shell. I believe Maddie was trying to give it a bath? Perhaps it was swimming with the My Little Pony.

Eva, with her, "No, I didn't eat a whole pack of gum!" face. She can't fool me! LOL

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Three Rs - Restaurant, Reading, Raising Support

This will be a mishmash of a post...

It's been a tough couple of days. Maddie's moods have been swinging all over the place. Graedon has followed suit. Eva has taken the brunt of it with Maddie stealing toys and generally creating a ruckus. So, I needed out! We packed up the kids last night and sent them to their Grammy L's. Rich made reservations (!) at a restaurant we had never been to. I think that just might be my favourite thing to do. I love trying out new places.

The Vault used to be a bank, and it's now a restaurant. If you're lucky, you might get seated at the table inside the original vault, 18 in thick steel door included! The food was fresh, cooked just right, seasoned just so - wonderful! All around, we're going back and we're bringing friends! Check it out on Main Street in Houlton.

Mad and I had our 3rd reading lesson yesterday. I'm teaching her using the Phono-Graphix method. It's kind of like Phonics without the rules and exceptions that don't make sense. So far, so good. We're doing sound blending with three sound words (cat, sat, mat, rat, mop, etc). I wrote the word "fat" for her to sound out, and the convo went like this:

Mad: Fff - aahh - ttt Fat. *gasp* That's a bad word!

Me: What do you mean?

Mad: It's not a nice word. It can hurt people's feelings. Like, if you're outside, you shouldn't say, "Hey! How did that man get so FAT!?" You should always say kind things, like, "You are really nice. And fat."

Next order of business - By now, you all know about the Philippines. Well, I've linked to the Davis' sight before, and I'm sending you there again! God willing, they'll be on their way in June. We've been keeping them in prayer, and if you can do that, too, I know it would be appreciated. If you'd like to check them out, go to . Be sure to check out their Philipics, too. All the proceeds for sales of Peter's prints (he's a photographer) go toward their move. Hint, hint - wouldn't the print from the Monterey Bay Aquarium look smashing in Graedon's room? His b-day's coming up....:)

We're going pond skating today - pictures on next post!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bigger Than Me

If you've been a faithful follower of this blog for a while, then you know about our family's struggle with whether to go into the mission field or not. If you're not sure, then check out the "Struggling" and "Struggling #2" posts (sorry, not sure how to do links).

A few nights ago, I asked Rich what his biggest fear would be about moving to the Philippines so that I could go to school. His biggest worry was money. My biggest worry was being so involved with school & clinic for 2 1/2 years that I wouldn't be able to be with the kids full-time (or even part-time) like I am used to now.

My 2nd biggest worry was the afterschool issue. With the degree I earn at Newlife (Associate in Midwifery), would I be legally able to practice here? Would we come back to Eastern Canada? Would we have to move out west? To another country? Another continent? Newlife specializes in preparing midwives to serve in 3rd world countries - that's right up my alley. I've never actually been off this continent, though, so what if I'm wrong? What if Rich hates it? What if, what if, what if???

A while ago, I realized something. God hasn't asked me to plan out my life. He hasn't asked me to plan out what's going to happen in 10 years or next year or even next week. He's already got that covered, and all He asks of me is to TRUST him. He knows what He's doing, and He knows exactly what is going to happen and how my life is going to work out.

Right now, I'm confident that His answer to the "do we go to Newlife" question is no. I also know that if the question comes up again in a few months or years, the answer might be different. When and if the answer is "yes", then my job will not be to make it happen. My job will only be to let God work through me. He's big enough to make it happen, no matter how small I am.

If we go to Newlife, eventually, it will mean big changes. Perhaps it will mean a completely different country for the rest of our lives. Maybe it will mean a new province in Canada. Maybe it will simply mean 2 1/2 years serving the families in Davao and then back to life as we know it. I don't know, and that's okay. I'll let God handle it.

Here's my favourite verse. I'm really glad that when I don't know what's going on, then at least God does!

I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (God's Word Translation, C 1995)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Future Son-in-Law - Garbageman Extraordinaire!

Maddie, Eva and I were watching the garbageman do his rounds on Monday.
Maddie sighed, and said, "I just love the garbageman! I'm going to marry the garbageman!" She turned to me and in all seriousness asked, "What can I do to get his attention?"

I'm going to have to have a talk with that boy.

Childbirth Education

I've been playing with the idea of getting my certification in childbirth education. It's a lot more work and expense than it looks like. Takes quite a while to complete the program, it costs money that I don`t have, and there are some obligations that I wouldn't be able to complete without added expense (for example, sitting in on a class of the same kind would mean finding a class, and then traveling to this class which could be a few hours away). When I weigh the pros and cons, it doesn't seem doable.

In this town, and even in the "Big City" an hour away, people aren't really interested in a natural childbirthing class. Even if they are, they are not willing to pay the usual price. I know of some childbirth educators who are charging over $200 USD for their classes, and their spots are filled in no time. Here in NB, the general consensus is - why pay when you can get government funded classes for peanuts, or free?

Here's the dilemma, though. You get what you pay for. I've attended the gov't classes put on by the hospital, and they may as well call it "How to Give Birth in Our Hospital, Our Way 101". There`s some good info, for sure, but I found it to be biased. The teaching was heavy on what this particular hospital allowed, or didn`t allow. Mothers who wanted unmedicated births were openly (in half jest) called `crunchy granola`by the teacher/nurse. Over and over, they would stress the differences between their hospital, and the Big City hospital an hour away - and they wanted to be sure that you knew that theirs was better (hmmm...). It was a sales pitch.

In our community, though, this doesn`t matter. The class is only $35. The hospital gets its clients. Everyone is happy because ignorance is bliss.

Sure, if I taught a certain method I might get students. They might be willing to pay the suggested price set by the organization. Truth is, these students would already be looking for a natural birth. They would already be in tune with their bodies, and they would already have that confidence that goes hand in hand with good birthing. Those who especially need the extra education, the extra support and the extra self-respect would not be interested, and would not sign up. That`s just the way it is.

How do you change a system that has been in place longer than you have? How do you do it alone?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good Bad Day

I can't decide if today was a good day, or a bad day. It started out fairly normally. I left for the "Big City" after lunch to meet with a client at Trinitea, on Regent Street. I stopped by Value Village and there I found out that I can actually fit into a size 3/4 skirt. I can also fit into 9/10 pants, so that means nothing, I guess.

On the way to Trinitea, I got rear-ended by a car full of teenagers. I, in turn, rear-ended a car, which rear-ended another car. Luckily, the cops were right there and it was dealt with swiftly. I have slight whiplash, but I'm okay. I thought the car was, too.

At Trinitea, I found my client in an awesome emotional place. She's anxious for her baby to come, upbeat, positive about the VBAC and confident! Yippee! That's half the battle, right there. She's also lost her mucus plug and having on and off pre-labour. Cool, I might not be on call for the kids' birthdays after all.

Trinitea is awesome. It's very small and quiet and laid-back. It also has a sign that says "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and free New Testaments by the cash. Who'd have thought? I've never seen that before, but it's so refreshing. The owners are open about their faith, without being in your face - love it.

Anway, I got home and Rich inspected the car. Turns out there is more damage than I thought. Not bad, but we didn't need that right now.

Then, I brought Graedy into the bathroom with me and as soon as I flushed the toilet, he got ahold of my pen and threw it into the bowl! It went splash, sploosh, out of sight. Argh! My favourite pen! I retrieved it, in case you're wondering, but how gross is it to stick your hand into a pipe that is meant to flush away human waste?! Yuck. Graedon thought it was hilarious.

It's quiet now, with Rich gone to get groceries and the kids tucked into their beds. I think, after all, it was a good day.