Category Archives: Birth


A Patch of Birthy Pumpkins

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I’m usually not too into Halloween, but this year there’s been a plethora of birthy creativity going on at pumpkin carving time.  Check out some of these fantastic creations:     Thanks to each of these families and artists for … Continue reading

Today is not just my daughter’s birthday…it’s also my Birth Day.

This morning, I sang the happy birthday song to my daughter as we hung out in bed in the early morning sunshine.  Three years ago today, she was born–but that’s not all that happened that day.  I also gave birth.

Three years ago yesterday...

I became a mother.  I brought life.  I contorted my body in ways I never imagined.  I asked things of myself I had never conceived of.  I became a part of my very own family.

I had an experience–a birth experience–that will forever be ingrained in my mind, and that will inform my life choices and my self image and my personal reality every day for the rest of my life.

So today, August 29, is not just little Ramona’s birthday.  It’s also my Birth Day.

...and 3 years ago today.

In the photos above, I am two different people.  They were taken only hours apart, but those hours were filled with intensity and depth and things I can’t explain.  And I can say the same about the past three years.

So when I see mama-friends of mine celebrating their kiddos’ birthdays on Facebook, I make sure to wish them a happy Birth Day (or Birthiversary) as well.  I think I subconsciously hope that acknowledging them as mamas in this way will provoke them to celebrate themselves, to reflect on their time as mamas, to honor their role and their evolution in the time since birthing their babe.

Do you do anything special for yourself on the anniversary of your giving birth?  What’s most striking to you about looking back on your Birth Days?

The Most Intense Pregnant Belly I’ve Ever Seen

I came across this belly on Flickr earlier this month, and I’m enamored.  I have no idea who this person is, how many babies are inside that tight skin, or what her birth experience was like.  But I know that I love her stretch marks, her veins, her belly button, and her little one’s foot…or elbow, or knee, or whatever that is.  I don’t have any humor, analysis, or commentary here–just an intense, beautiful belly to enjoy & appreciate.

We Are Not All Women: Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work

Tucked inside the new issue of SQUAT Birth Journal #5 is my latest article “We Are Not All Women:  Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work.”  The article shares the experiences of a transgender midwifery student, and a male midwife who’s been practicing for 30+ years.

The article attempts to challenge our assumptions about the gender identities of birth workers, and to explore the estrogen-rich environment that is the birth world.

Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Kennedy Rollins,* a transgender midwifery student:

“Considering his experience of feeling alienated in the birth community, Kennedy wonders what effect his gender identity will have on his ability to serve birthing families.  “As someone who really wants to prioritize being accessible to people, and being able to be a competent care provider, how am I potentially restricting myself by transitioning?”

There will undoubtedly be families who are not interested in having a transgendered midwife as their care provider.  “I know that I would reach more people if I appeared to be female,” Kennedy admits.  But at the same time, there are also birthing families who embrace gender diversity as an element of the vibrant world around us, or who are themselves gender-non-conforming.  For these families, Kennedy and the handful of other publicly transgender doulas, midwives, and student midwives may be the ideal care providers.”

* A pseudonym has been used in this article to protect the privacy of the person being interviewed.

Why was I afraid of a C-Section?

As a doula, I knew what I was up against when my homebirth turned into a hospital transfer.  To make things even worse, the on-call OB happened to be a Resident who had sent three of my birth doula clients to “emergency” c-sections that were absolutely not emergencies.

This photo and caption ran in the LA Times in April, and reminded me of why I'm so scared of ending up with a c-section.

When she walked in, we both recognized each other, and I was terrified.

Sometimes I look back and wonder why her presence made me so scared.  I am a powerful woman with a strong will and a lot of information.  So why be scared?

Because of articles like this one:  C-Sections are a Major Factor in Pregnancy-Related Deaths, Report Finds, published last month by the LA Times.

And because of pictures like the one here, which ran with the LA Times article.  I have a daughter just as young, innocent and beautiful as Matt Logelin’s, and I don’t want her to end up without a mother.

No, I’ve never known anyone who’s died from having a caesarean, or from any pregnancy-related complication, for that matter.  But the fear and the increased likelihood of something scary is still there, whether or not maternal mortality has ever touched my life.

So when that knife-happy, on-call OB walked into my room, it wasn’t her or her reputation or her bedside manner that scared me.  It was her judgment.  Her judgment that had resulted in at least three unnecessary c-sections in my presence.  Her judgment that thought that 12 hours was too long to be in labor and was dangerous for the baby.  Her judgment that placed moms under general anesthesia because they were emotionally distraught over their ’emergency’ caesarean.

What terrified me was knowing that this OB didn’t take seriously that C-Sections are a Major Factor in Pregnancy-Related Deaths.

71% C-Section Rate at Hospital in Miami

When I spoke with Barbara Harper last week, she casually mentioned that one hospital in Miami-Dade County has a 73% overall caesaerean rate.  Uhmm, excuse me?

71% of Births are C-Sections at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami - Photo by Grendellion

I’m originally from Miami, and my partner and I flirt with the idea of moving our family back there one day.  So when I imagine being pregnant again, back home in the tropical circus that is South Florida, I keep getting a visual image of 73% flashing across my daydreams.  So I called Kendall Regional Medical Center.

The first nurse I spoke with was sincerely confused by my question about their caesarean rate.  She tried to explain to me what a c-section was, and eventually referred me to another nurse.

This second nurse explained that the hospital doesn’t actually have a caesarean rate, but rather the individual doctors do.  Absurd.  She also made sure to point out that, “Anywhere you go in Miami is going to be a high c-section rate.”  Awesome.

After persisting a bit about the hospital’s percentage of c-sections, nurse #2 admitted, “We know our doctors here who are quick to cut, and some who aren’t.”  She stated that some care providers at the hospital have individual rates of 5%, whereas some are 20%.  While I appreciated her effort to give me an answer, it didn’t jive at all with Barbara Harper’s mention of 73% or The Unnecessarean‘s published 2008 statistic of 71%. Continue reading

Two Years After the Murder of Dr. George Tiller, Doulas are Standing Up for Abortion

As I reflect on the fact that today marks two years since the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I’m proud of what we’ve done in that time.  In the two years since women lost access to the abortion care Tiller provided, we’ve gained something else entirely–something that I think Dr. Tiller would be proud of, too.

What we’ve gained is the role of the abortion doula, and the immense momentum surrounding this movement.

There have always been pro-choice doulas.  And there have always been pregnant women in need of compassionate support for their abortions.  Now, finally, there are abortion doulas, who extend their compassion and skills into the abortion experience.

As a doula, I’m committed to women’s choices in pregnancy–where and how they give birth, who attends their birth, AND whether or not they give birth at all.  Dr. George Tiller was a physician who acknowledged these inextricable links between birth and abortion.  He understood the importance of access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, and was one of the few brave folks in this country willing to risk his life to provide these critical services.

So today, while I’ve watched hundreds of pro-choice doula friends Tweeting and Facebooking in memory of Dr. Tiller, I’ve been reminded that his work has continued on, just in a different form.  Thank you to Dr. Tiller, and to every abortion doula and full spectrum doula, and to every other abortion service provider, for being so brave.