Which placenta cake takes the cake?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

My doula & placenta encapsulation business is growing, and my first trainee has just finished her certification process to become a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist.  We need to celebrate – with a cake!  A placenta cake, to be exact. No, I … Continue reading

Trying for Labor on Labor Day (or Natural Induction is Still Induction)

Wouldn’t it be cool to go into labor on labor day?  Well, I tried.  And the next day, I’m left 39 weeks pregnant, with unpatterned contractions, and a sense of clarity over the fact that “natural” induction is still induction.


These two humans are riding a 4-wheeler ATV across a bumpy field to try and jiggle their baby out. Commence judgment and criticism now.

After a sweet 3-day weekend of cuddling with my family and doing 3 placenta encapsulations, yesterday we loaded up & headed out for some yummy lunch.  On the way, Husbo informed me that we would be eating spicy, spicy, spicy Chinese food.  But I don’t eat spicy food, so why…oh, labor!  We want to meet our baby, so ok, sure.  So at about 1pm I chowed down some spicy sesame chicken, and the lady across the aisle from us laughed when I couldn’t get the momentum to get my body out of the booth after our meal.

We headed home for our final weekend project of preserving 16 dozen ears of corn with 4 generations of my family.  When I went to pee at about 3pm, I found brown-tinged mucus where none had previously been.  I was audibly psyched.  After explaining why I was so excited about my toilet paper to the 4 year old who accompanies many of my bathroom visits, wee Ramona ran right out and shared with everyone that she just “saw brown mucus come out of Mommy’s jayjay.”  So much for pretending labor doesn’t exist until transition.

The excitement over the mucus led me to finally consent to the ATV ride my partner had been half joking about all day.  People do that, right?  Go for a ride on a bumpy road, do some cartwheels, horse back ride until the baby jiggles loose?


This is a pregnant lady and her partner on an ATV, trying to knock the baby loose. In case you’re tempted, I don’t recommend it. I’m still pregnant.

He drove the ATV across the corrugated rows of the pasture at my family’s homestead, over and over again, at about 5:30pm.  I tried unsuccessfully to find a balance between not sitting so close to him that my belly would smash against his back, and not sitting so far back that my ass hit the back end.  It was a few minutes of sweet, ridiculous fun, as I held onto him tight and my hips moved in directions they never have before.

After the ATV ride, I became immediately paralyzed with fear that at best, the baby had hated it, and at worst, he’d become tangled up or injured and wasn’t going to be ok.  After two straight glasses of water and zero fetal movements, I looked to my doula (I finally hired a doula at 38 weeks!) for support.  As a straight-up, full-fledged cowgirl, she reassured me that she had done exactly the same thing and taken an ATV ride to bring the baby on.  Phew.

Time to head to the park for a playdate with other rad mamas & kiddos.  By 7:30pm, within an hour at the park, I’d had 7 contractions and 3 fetal movements.  Woohoo!  Of course, that meant it was time to walk laps of the park behind my daughter who’s riding her bike with training wheels for the very first time.  The walking intensified things, bringing on contractions that required funny faces and deep breaths to cope.

These rad mamas totally just yelled “MUCUS PLUG” through the airwaves of the crowded park, to encourage my day-o-possible-early-labor to keep on comin’.

We walked, we went home, and we hoped.  It seemed entirely reasonable that this sequence of events was the beginning of new baby Emmett’s birth in this world.  The contractions were obvious, with my uterus rising up high and being hard as a rock.   Even when I wasn’t contracting, there was cramping low-down in my uterus, and jerky little painful twinges in my hooha.  Husbo curled up beside me to sleep while I watched TV, because he needed his sleep in case it was time to support me through labor and birth soon.  Now and then he’d reach over and do some not-so-subtle nipple stimulation, which was so adorable of him.  And who doesn’t want a hot guy rubbing their nipples in the middle of the night?


Ramona’s first serious biking experience, while I followed behind doing the Early Labor Walk. Yes, she’s all blurry because she’s going *that fast.*

But as I eventually let myself sink down into rest, the wheels of my brain finally kicked back in.  What were we doing?  And why?  This was exactly the opposite of our plan, to allow my body and our baby to be in charge of the process.  Sure I was contracting, but it certainly wasn’t spontaneous.  It was induced by an intentional series of events–which inherently meant that it wasn’t likely to take.  Why exhaust myself?  Why drain my patience?  Why get my hopes up when I absolutely know better?

I will go into labor.  My baby will be born.  And the entire experience will be much more positive if I treasure the end of my pregnancy right now, rather than beg my body to do something it’s not ready for.

It’s coming, and I can wait for it.

FetusBeat: The Sounds of 32 Weeks

This video clip shows my round belly, my midwife’s hands, my mother, my daughter, a prenatal exam room, and a doppler.  It also shows how I spend 40 minutes every other week, revelling in the thumpity noises that come out of that machine.

I thought about having everybody be quiet and sit still so I could get a “good” clip of *just* the baby’s heartbeat.  But the sounds of 32 weeks are much more than just the heartbeat – they’re the sounds of my 3 3/4 year old daughter chattering away, my mom and my midwife getting to know each other, and me pining away for my partner, who missed the appointment. 

At another visit coming up, I’ll record the sounds of the heartbeat plus the placenta and umbilical cord (did you know the placenta and cord make their very own sounds??).  But for now, this is what 32 weeks sounds like for my belly.  It’s noisy & hectic & fun & vibrant & exactly what a family should be.

Help Launch the Sycamore Family Resource Center

I don’t often post requests for funding, but sometimes there are projects that just scream for support.  This project, the Sycamore Family Resource Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, is one of them.

On a personal level, the Sycamore Center so closely resembles one of my own frequent daydreams–a grassroots community space for folks to learn about and engage in the full spectrum of their reproductive health.  My fantasy is becoming a reality, and even though it’s hundreds of miles away in a city I’ve never been to, I’m psyched to help it grow from afar.

On a support-your-community level, one of the core organizers, Stephanie Dank, is (a) a badass and (b) one seriously energetic mama and reproductive rights advocate, who I trust to make the Sycamore Center everything it can be.

So, based on those two thoughts, I busted out a debit card today and supported their Indiegogo campaign.  I hope you will, too.

Here are some of the down-n-dirty details about the project:

Our goal is to create an inclusive space that offers a wide variety of resources to help empower our community in making choices along the full spectrum of their reproductive health.

Our goal is to create access to resources that support informed consent in every stage of life.

Our ultimate goal is to restore an age-old model of care- one where community family support is rewarded and sustained by that community.

Sycamore Center is founded on these ethics:

  • inclusivity
  • diversity
  • accessibility
  • sustainability

We are advocates of:

  • peaceful parenting & fearless birth
  • healthcare for all
  • evidence-based medicine & traditional healing
  • sex-positivity

We have some real opportunities to provide education to low-income and minority childbearing families (eventually adapting a program designed by the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services to provide prenatal and postnatal education and advocacy based on the doula model of care).  We are currently expanding on our events to include support groups for fathers and people with postpartum depression, childbirth education classes, women’s health workshops, and more.

We’re starting the campaign to raise enough funds to incorporate with the State of Nebraska as well as file for tax exemption with the IRS (as a 501(c)3).  We’ve met with attorneys from MEEM Consultants for Creative Endeavors and they have generously agreed to donate half of the required services for us to file.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $400 flat fee
  • $300 filing fe

It’s been recommended to us that it would be wise to have a bit of a cushion financially, which is why our fundraising goal exceeds our legal fees.  Our goal is to raise enough money to file by January 1, 2013.

In addition to achieving tax exemption, our fundraising goals will help support the growth of our lending library, the purchase of teaching aids, and the ever-present costs of printing materials such as flyers and brochures.

We are completely volunteer driven but are working toward a future in which we can create nonprofit sector jobs for birth workers and other professioals who are dedicated to creating safer and stronger communities.

Please join us.


What’s an Abortion Buddy?

What’s an Abortion Buddy?  It’s a friend or acquaintance who you can ALWAYS talk about abortion with. Someone who doesn’t get all jumpity when the subject comes up–and who actually, instead, is excited to dialogue.  Someone on the same page.  Someone who loves the-A-word, too.

I live in a conservative, dusty, desert town, and I don’t often get to have (real live) conversations with folks who’ve made a commitment to working toward abortion access in their daily lives.  So my Abortion Buddies are really effing important to me. Having reproductive justice allies in my life–whether in person or online–makes my work more effective, and my world better.

You know who you are.  And thanks.


The homebirth witch hunts have finally hit home. Please support Marlene Bergman, RM.

When I read stories about midwives being prosecuted, I cringe in sympathy and frustration–but there’s always a little piece of my mind that’s skeptical, wondering if maybe the midwife really did do something irresponsible.

Marlene Bergman measures my fundal height at 38 weeks and 2 days, back in 2008.

But recently, the reality of the homebirth witch hunts hit home.  A midwife that I know, love, and trust is being hung out to dry–and she really didn’t do anything irresponsible.

I’ve known for a while that the wonderful Marlene Bergman, RM, was being investigated by her local hospital in Gunnison, Colorado, two hours from where I live.  But I didn’t know that the investigation had become so serious that her career, her practice, and her family’s livelihood are all at stake.

Marlene was finishing up her direct-entry apprenticeship with my midwife, Bill Dwelley, RM, as I prepared for the birth of my daughter in 2008.  She attended all of my prenatal visits, and helped me believe everything would be ok as early labor set in two weeks before my estimated due date.  And now, four years later, I’m studying under the same midwife who she apprenticed with, and Marlene’s enjoying a successful homebirth practice–and enduring a completely unnecessary and inappropriate investigation of her practice.

When she was caring for me during my pregnancy, Marlene and I felt a sweet little kinship with each other, the kind where you know you would have easily become friends if you didn’t live a couple hundred miles apart and both have extremely demanding lives.  I really, really enjoy Marlene.  And I trust her.

So it breaks my heart to see that her situation with the Gunnison Valley Hospital has become so tense that she’s asking for public financial support to pay for the TWO attorneys that she’s been forced to hire.

I’ll be making a donation to her account today, and sending her a note of support.  Please read her “Open Letter to the Midwifery Community” below, and if you take away from it that she is enduring a terribly unnecessary challenge, then please offer your support, too.

An Open Letter to the Midwifery Community:

My name is Marlene Bergman. I am in my third year of practice as a Registered Midwife in the state of Continue reading

Doing away with the Sit of Shame

I spent an hour in the Family Planning Clinic at the Health Department this morning, doing the Sit of Shame with about a dozen other people.

Although I was there to joyfully confirm a planned pregnancy and get lined up for Medicaid, nobody else knew that. As far as they were concerned, I may as well have had gonorrhea like the married guy begging for an appointment at the front counter, or been on my way to talk to the RN about abortion options like the nervous lady across the waiting room.

But I've been those folks before (ok not the gonorrhea guy, but definitely the abortion lady). Everybody has been those folks before. And while we all kinda avoid eye contact and hope to be as anonymous as possible during the Sit of Shame, all that psychological pressure is bullshit.

There's no shame in an unintended pregnancy, or in a rogue case of the crabs. Those kinds of things can happen to sexually active folks, no matter how good their intentions are or how sexually responsible they are.

So let's do away with this whole Sit of Shame thing and make the Health Department waiting room a place where we can just acknowledge that shit happens.

And to all the folks I tried to be friendly with this morning: lighten up. I know you're embarrassed to be here, patient. And nurse, maybe working in a family planning clinic isn't a dream job for you like it would be for me. But the fact that we all are here this morning is evidence enough that shit happens.